Last updated on March 19, 2024

Mirko, Obsessive Theorist (Murders at Karlov Manor Commander Decks) - Illustration by Heonhwa Choe

Mirko, Obsessive Theorist | Illustration by Heonhwa Choe

There have been a few legendary creatures suitable to command a surveil EDH deck, but none have pushed the limits so much as Mirko, Obsessive Theorist from Murders at Karlov Manor Commander. Mirko’s built-in reanimation means it already synergizes with blue-black cards that fill your graveyard.

Mirko focuses a typical Dimir self-mill deck into a surveil deck; slower at filling your graveyard overall, but with more options for exactly what you put there.

How does this Mirko, Obsessive Theorist deck work? Let’s take a closer look at Ravnica’s favorite vampire (sorry, Szadek).

The Deck

Dimir Strandcatcher - Illustration by Iris Compiet

Dimir Strandcatcher | Illustration by Iris Compiet

This Dimir deck looks to use the graveyard as a resource full of creatures that we can cheat into play with Mirko, Obsessive Theorist’s ability. We’ll fill up our graveyard with just what we need using our surveil cards, all the while pumping our vigilant Mirko for flying attacks right into opponents’ faces. The real trick here is removing the finality counters from the creatures Mirko reanimates. A handful of less-common cards remove counters from permanents, so we’ll make use of those to keep our reanimated creatures around.

The Commander

Mirko, Obsessive Theorist

Mirko, Obsessive Theorist comes to us from Murders at Karlov Manor’s Revenant Recon Commander deck. Mirko’s abilities play well into a deck built around the surveil mechanic. Mirko gets stronger with each surveil, which in turn allows us to fill our graveyard with lots of juicy reanimation targets. Its only drawback is the finality counter it places on the reanimated targets, which exiles the creature if it would die. Luckily, there are a handful of ways to remove counters from permanents – and not just +1/+1s and loyalty! Mirko gives a home to some odd cards we’d never see in another deck.

At 3 mana, Mirko’s on the cheaper end of legendary creatures, and it's the kind of card that wants to hit the field as soon as possible to capitalize on all those surveil triggers. Flying and vigilance means it’ll connect with opponents almost every turn and can still block for us, keeping pace with the average blocker by buffing itself as we surveil.

Digging Your Own Grave

Mirko, Obsessive Theorist Deranged Assistant

First and foremost, we need to start tossing cards into the graveyard for Mirko, Obsessive Theorist to reanimate later. The best way to do this is usually milling cards directly from your library, but in our case we want to use surveil (don’t worry Dimir players, we’ve still got Deranged Assistant and Millikin here for you).

The best surveil cards are either cheap or stapled onto some other on-curve spell. Barrier of Bones and Consider are great 1-mana follow-ups to Mirko hitting the field, but having Nightveil Sprite or Sinister Starfish in play before dropping Mirko will usually net you more value over time. Dimir Strandcatcher is another new creature that was clearly designed to be played alongside Mirko. Its second ability is easy to trigger, considering we won’t even need to attack with the Strandcatcher to get three cards into our graveyard.

Doom Whisperer It That Betrays

Doom Whisperer is the best surveilling creature we can run out. The lack of a mana cost on its activated ability means we can chuck as much life as we need to top out Mirko’s power and reanimate that It That Betrays on our next end step.

Some of our surveil spells are tied to our interaction pieces, and they replace the typical Negates and Murders you’d expect in a deck like this. Sinister Sabotage, Unauthorized Exit and Ephara's Dispersal are fair blue removal and interaction for their cost, but Price of Fame is basically our better Doom Blade. We’ve got Notion Rain instead of Read the Bones, too.

Access to a variety of options is always beneficial in a singleton format like EDH. To that end, we’re running both of the split Dimir cards from Guilds of Ravnica: Connive / Concoct and Discovery / Dispersal. Both help us control the field, or can just be chucked for an extra surveil trigger while Mirko’s in play.

There are five non-creature surveil sources in this deck, three of which are cards from the past few sets or so. Sword of Once and Future is the next-best equipment for Mirko behind Swiftfoot Boots, while The Grim Captain's Locker and Case of the Shifting Visage will both generate one free surveil every turn. The last enchantment, Think Tank, hails from Odyssey and has an un-keyworded, proto-surveil that has since been errata’d to work with Mirko, Obsessive Theorist.

While these surveil triggers mesh well with Mirko by buffing it up at the same rate that they put creatures in the graveyard, there’s something to be said for some good old-fashioned milling. Stinkweed Imp’s dredge ability is infamous for how quickly it dumps cards into your graveyard, and Thought Scour, Forbidden Alchemy, and Court of Cunning compound that effect quickly.

On The Case

Mirko, Obsessive Theorist is our prime target for synergizing with our surveil effects, but it doesn’t have to be the only one. Thoughtbound Phantasm and Dimir Spybug also toughen up whenever we surveil. They won’t become game-ending threats, but it never hurts to have another 5/5 blocker around. Whispering Snitch is our surveil-themed pinger, and works similarly to Syr Konrad, the Grim in this deck to gently drain our opponents’ life totals whenever we surveil.

Lazav, the Multifarious can double up on whatever creature we need it to be from our graveyard, be it a second Archon of Cruelty or just a Soul Diviner if we’ve lost our finality-counter removers.

Prime Suspects

Mirko’s hot on the trail of our prime suspects and they all seem to have hidden themselves in the graveyard, squirreled away safely until our end step when Mirko will return one lucky winner to our battlefield.

The standard array of popular reanimate targets is here, including It That Betrays, Ancient Brass Dragon, Sheoldred, Whispering One, and other big baddies. However, there are a few interesting choices we should pay attention to.

Notice that we’re running two different clone cards in this deck: Spark Double and Body Double. Both of these cards can be recurred by Mirko the turn it hits the field even if we haven’t surveilled, since their power is 0 and, last I checked, that’s less than 1. Spark Double can copy Mirko immediately, effectively doubling our deck’s efficiency, while Body Double can copy any other creature in our graveyard, skipping the wait for Mirko to be strong enough and coming right into play as an Ancient Copper Dragon.

Necropolis Regent Carnifex Demon

Necropolis Regent and Carnifex Demon both play into the +1/+1 counters subtheme here, and are of course huge threats in their own right.

Barrier of Bones Fain, the Broker

Finally, absent access to any of our true threats, recurring the small surveil creatures over and over with Mirko is a fine strategy in the early game. Sacrificing Barrier of Bones to Fain, the Broker just to bring it back with Mirko and surveil again isn’t half bad for its investment.

Not So Final

Mirko, Obsessive Theorist

The only downside to Mirko, Obsessive Theorist is the finality counter it places on those reanimated creatures. That counter exiles the creature if it would die, locking us out of access to the creature again should it catch some removal. However, there are a handful of odd cards we can use to remove the finality counters before our opponents can destroy the creatures.

Thrull Parasite

Thrull Parasite is our cheapest option, originally designed to… destroy planeswalkers? This little freak is our quickest way to remove counters, but has no inherent “upside” like the others.

Soul Diviner Power Conduit

At 2 mana, our options start to open up with Soul Diviner, who draws us a card whenever we un-finality a creature, and Power Conduit, which turns those finality counters into extra +1/+1s for Mirko!

Fain, the Broker

Fain, the Broker is an all-star in this deck, making our reanimated creatures permanent and generating a Treasure token to boot.


Hexavus fills out the top end of our counter-removers, and has the added bonus of having 0 power inherently, so it can be recurred by Mirko on the turn they arrive! Its only downside is it can’t remove the finality counter from itself, so it’ll have to rely on having another remover around if it wants to survive long.

The Mana Base

While many of this deck’s key cards have a high mana cost, we aren’t actually planning on casting most of them. Instead, we really only need to hit 4 mana by turn 4 and stick Mirko to win. To that end, we’re running a little low on lands for a deck without green, coming in at just 36. Four mana rocks help support our base; Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Dimir Signet, and Dimir Locket. The two mill-based mana dorks Millikin and Deranged Assistant are useful for ramp in a graveyard-based deck, as well. Solemn Simulacrum is a classic for colorless ramp and can be reanimated with Mirko as needed. Troll of Khazad-dûm and Marauding Brinefang can help search for lands, too.

The Strategy

This Mirko, Obsessive Theorist deck works much the same as any other Dimir reanimator EDH deck; we’re going to fill the graveyard with valuable creatures, then recur them to the field for fun and profit. The key difference is how we’ll be getting there. While traditional Dimir decks can afford to mill with abandon, our focus on surveil and the need to buff Mirko means we’ll have to be a bit more considerate when piloting this deck.

Good opening hands for this deck will have three mana sources and at least one or two spells we can cast in the first three turns. Dropping Mirko immediately isn’t so important, especially because it won’t do anything if we don’t have anything in our graveyard yet. Instead, keep a hand with access to free, repeatable surveils like Nightveil Sprite, Sinister Starfish, and Think Tank.

Vile Entomber

The best early game plays for this deck involve milling or surveilling one of our clones into the graveyard and reanimating it immediately when Mirko hits the field. Our second best early game play is setting up this combo with Vile Entomber. Really, getting one of our 6/6 creatures onto the field before turn 5 is our deck’s big move.

If we haven’t been able to stick one or more of our big threats by turn 5 or 6, don’t worry! If the board state is too hostile and we don’t have access to one of our counter-removers, don’t risk losing something like The Ancient One or our Body Double permanently. Instead, start digging and tutoring through the deck on the hunt for those cards. Unshakable Tail, Dimir Strandcatcher and Starving Revenant can pump out some fair draw power, but it's our surveil cards that’ll really help us filter for what we need.

We have a couple options for our endgame scenarios. The first and most common will be winning with straight-up combat damage. Mirko, Obsessive Theorist has the potential to get huge if left unanswered for long enough, and any other huge creatures it pulls out of our graveyard will be just as much if not more of a threat. Sheoldred, Whispering One, It That Betrays, even Troll of Khazad-dûm or Marauding Brinefang are big enough to make us a target. So long as we’ve removed the finality counter, we’ll get them right back at the next end step if we’ve removed their finality counter. Either that, or we can always hit a late Rise of the Dark Realms, get everyone’s graveyard, and swing for game.

Combos and Interactions

Body Double Hexavus

There aren’t any infinite combos in this Mirko deck, but there’s one interaction players might not catch at first glance: Mirko can target cards like Body Double and Hexavus even if Mirko’s power is only one. This is a great way to guarantee Mirko recurs something the turn it hits the field, and can really put us ahead in terms of value.

Rule 0 Violations Check

There aren’t any interactions or combos present here that I’d personally find super salty or oppressive. If you can see any, or can think of anything on-theme that we could add, let me know!

Budget Options

This Mirko, Obsessive Theorist deck clocks in at just under $100 for singles. Many of these cards just received a reprint (or first printing) in the Revenant Recon Commander precon, so that $40 purchase makes for a good jumping-off point to acquiring the rest of the cards.

The most expensive additions to the precon are our biggest creatures. Sheoldred, Whispering One, Archon of Cruelty, and Ancient Brass Dragon are about $35 combined, but can easily be cut for any other big, dumb creatures in blue-black. I suggest Grave Titan, Frost Titan, and one of the annihilator Eldrazi cards like Hand of Emrakul.

Other Builds

Mirko, Obsessive Theorist’s abilities really push a deckbuilder into a surveil-themed deck, but that doesn’t need to be Mirko’s only build. As a vampire, Mirko could make for an interesting vampire commander in atypical vampire colors. Running blue and black means you get access to Duskmantle Seer, Runo Stromkirk and Memory Vampire, plus a whole host of blue interaction and counterspells missing from the usual Edgar Markov deck.

Wrap Up

Fain, the Broker - Illustration by Lius Lasahido

Fain, the Broker | Illustration by Lius Lasahido

Dimir decks’ focus on graveyard strategies is a tried and true tactic that’ll stand the test of time, especially if we keep getting new and interesting ways to build around the graveyard like we have with Mirko, Obsessive Theorist. Mirko is one of the only legendary creatures with surveil, and just about the only one playable in the command zone (sorry Uurg, Spawn of Turg).

What are the best reanimation targets in a Mirko, Obsessive Theorist deck? And how would you improve this deck? Let me know in the comments, or over on Draftsim’s Twitter/X.

Thanks for reading, and remember to keep an eye on your library with surveil!

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