Pulling Three Micro-Steps Ahead!

Updated:
Unlock the secrets of the Dimir Micromancer deck in MTG. Discover three crucial strategies to outsmart your opponents and dominate the game.

Welcome Magic lovers!

While countless Magic: the Gathering players wait for the greatly delayed, yet now looming, Standard format rotation that will occur once Bloomburrow releases on August 2nd, the pace of innovation in the format has stagnated. Pro Tour Seattle, only two weeks ago, ushered no new archetypes into Tier 1, disappointing many who thought perhaps at least one of the pro teams may have something spicy to debut on the big stage, such as the Pioneer Rakdos Vampires deck which took the last Pro Tour by storm.

While insufficient testing time for the pro tour may have been a factor, as the set released a mere two weeks before the tournament itself, another reason may also have been that the archetypes which now have a stranglehold on the format, namely Domain Ramp, Esper Midrange and Boros Convoke, among others, are too well-tuned and optimally built to justify working on or developing something new. While Four-color Legends may still be the new kid on the block, even picking up recent addition, Honest Rutstein, to complement its gameplan, at its core the deck is still the same thirty-land Slogurk pile we’ve seen show up on the ladder and in the hands of recent top 8 finisher, cftsoc, for months now.

The Deck

However, even at this late stage in the Standard format, there are still glimmers of innovation lurking beneath the surface, hoping to be unearthed, admired and perhaps tinkered with before placing them on the shelf to await further consideration once the Standard landscape has shifted. One such deck may be this intriguing Dimir Control list, rocking a very interesting ‘toolbox’ package, all built around the underplayed Dominaria wizard, Micromancer, and its ability to find any and all of the powerful spells which utilize the ‘spree’ mechanic.

 

Check out Dimir Micromancer:

Total Cards:

 

The Plan

Magic the Gathering Card - Micromancer - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Three Steps Ahead - MTG Circle

As its namesake implies, this is a control deck that’s trying to resolve a copy of Micromancer, which, once it enters the battlefield, can act as a Swiss army knife of sorts, fetching up removal spells, counter magic, card draw or the extremely powerful Three Steps Ahead. In fact, the Micromancer works beautifully with Three Steps Ahead, as once one has enough mana, one can counter a spell or draw cards while also making a copy of a creature, in this case producing another Micromancer, which can then pull another copy of Three Steps Ahead from the deck to keep the chain going. By chaining Micromancers into Three Steps Ahead, then continually copying Micromancer to get more Three Steps Ahead, all while countering the opponent’s spells or drawing more action along the way, its easy to establish a game-winning board state.

How it Plays

Magic the Gathering Card - Cut Down - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Rona's Vortex - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Black Sun's Twilight - MTG Circle

However, the Micromancer can do so much more than that. Being able to pull any one-mana spell, including those with the spree mechanic, out of the deck gives the pilot plenty of options when it comes time to deploy this wily wizard. Powerful removal spells that can be fetched up include the ubiquitous Cut Down when facing off against Raffine or small creature decks, or March of Wretched Sorrow when confronting more aggressive strategies where the life gain can be back breaking. Rona’s Vortex is a versatile little instant that not only functions as hard removal, but can also be used as a one-mana bounce spell to regain tempo in a pinch. Black Sun’s Twilight is an oft-forgotten, instant-speed removal spell that can not only remove a troublesome obstacle from the board, but also bring back a previously-used Micromancer in one fell swoop in order to keep the chain going.

Magic the Gathering Card - Duress - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Dreams of Steel and Oil - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Insatiable Avarice - MTG Circle

Another portion of the toolbox is dedicated to disruption. Discard spells such as Duress and Dreams of Steel and Oil can be called up by the Micromancer to nab that late-game Atraxa, Grand Unifier before Domain can slam it, or a Worldsoul’s Rage before the Temur Analyst decks can roast you with it. Counterspells include the previously mentioned powerhouse, Three Steps Ahead, as well as another hard counter in Wash Away, plus a single Spell Pierce in the sideboard.

Card advantage pieces can also be fetched up in the form of Insatiable Avarice, which not only provides raw card draw, but can also be used in turn to find a sweeper like Path of Peril or another Micromancer, or perhaps a Memory Deluge to keep the gas flowing. A single Consider also makes an appearance as simply another cantrip that can be pulled from the deck in order to keep digging up action.

Magic the Gathering Card - Go for the Throat - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Long Goodbye - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Sheoldred's Edict - MTG Circle

The rest of the list is filled out with the usual suspects one would find in a control deck. Solid, black removal spells such as Go for the Throat, Long Goodbye and Sheoldred’s Edict to manage the opponent’s board of creatures. A couple of Path of Peril do excellent work against all the aggressive strategies, from Mono Red and Gruul aggro, to Bant Toxic, Simic Cookies and, of course, the potent Boros Convoke lists.

Magic the Gathering Card - Memory Deluge - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Three Steps Ahead - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Tishana's Tidebinder - MTG Circle

Additional card advantage is covered by preeminent draw spell, Memory Deluge, as well as a playset of Deduce. This, combined with the third mode on Three Steps Ahead, means the deck won’t have any trouble ensuring its pilot’s hand is full of action. Tishana’s Tidebinder makes an appearance here as a necessary tool to fight non-creature permanents that may slip through the counter magic net the deck is casting. Cards like Urabrask’s Forge or Simulacrum Synthesizer can be almost impossible to interact with once they’re on the battlefield for a deck playing only blue and black mana, so having some way to at least slow them down, if not stop them entirely, is paramount. Planeswalkers have always been a thorn in the control deck’s side, and while Sheoldred’s Edict can be utilized to good effect against them, having a couple of Tidebinders also in the mix makes it feel a lot less vulnerable to decks leveraging that sort of plan.

The Sideboard

Magic the Gathering Card - Aclazotz, Deepest Betrayal - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Temple of the Dead - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Unlicensed Hearse - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Faerie Mastermind - MTG Circle

The sideboard contains all the usual suspects a good control deck may want, with additional copies of Duress and Dreams of Steel and Oil, as well as more counter magic in Spell Pierce and Negate. Large, life-gaining creatures, such as Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and Aclazotz, Deepest Betrayal, come in against aggro decks, while powerful graveyard-hate card Unlicensed Hearse acts as a great way to stifle Temur Analyst or the Four-Color Legends decks. Faerie Mastermind is an excellent tool against other decks looking to draw a lot of cards, such as Esper Raffine, while also providing a cheap, flash threat in the control mirror once both decks have sideboarded out all of their small creature removal spells. Outrageous Robbery can also come in as an additional haymaker against the other late-game decks like Domain Ramp, Temur Analyst and the control mirror match.

Get Brewing!

Magic the Gathering Card - Final Showdown - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Smuggler's Surprise - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Great Train Heist - MTG Circle

With a veritable cornucopia of amazing options across several different colors, the sky is the limit when it comes to filling out the Micromancer toolbox! One could play Esper, adding white in order to be able to fetch up a powerful sweeper like Final Showdown or a potent sideboard card like Requisition Raid. How about a Temur list, touching red and green for a more aggressive/combo oriented version of the deck, which can utilize Micromancer to tutor up something back-breaking like Smuggler’s Surprise or Great Train Heist? With all the insanely powerful spree spells available to us in Standard, as well as the other excellent one-mana spells which already exist, its not hard to envision a powerful shell forming around the combination of Micromancer and Three Steps Ahead, especially once the format rotates, so get out there are start brewing!

Hi, I'm Damien! I'm a Canadian television and voice actor turned streamer! I've been playing Magic: the Gathering since the early 1990's when the game first released, and was heavily involved in competitive Magic for many years.