Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review: House of Dimir

Dimir isn’t real, right? Or is it? Either way, it introduces something new.

The House of Dimir in Gatecrash introduces two main concepts to Magic: Grinding and Cipher. Grinding is the new milling X lands ability that seems to be specially made for casual mill decks and gives multiplayer millers some impressive spells.

But more exciting is the ability Cipher. Turning sorceries into Auras in a way, Cipher allows you to cast the same spell again and again off combat triggers. And yes, it casts the spell which allows for some great abuse.

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Hands of Binding

Cipher Detain? Oh I hope that becomes a thing when Dragon’s Maze happens! Hands of Binding is a neat little trick, but the value really comes from Cipher. Encouraging attacking is nice, but getting essentially auras that can’t be two-for-one’d is much better. As far as an ability, this isn’t great but could be awesome for limited.

Last Thoughts

How much would you pay to turn a creature into an Ophidian? For older players, I see the allure of this card being much greater. But the casting cost is just painful. 3U for a Curiosity that can’t be Disenchanted? That feels expensive.

Stolen Identity

While Hands of Binding is Cipher Detain, Stolen Identity is Cipher Populate! This crossing of abilities is something I find utterly fascinating, and as a card, I really like Stolen Identity. 4UU is a lot, but in Commander, that’s a perfectly reasonable amount for a Clone or Copy Artifact. In fact, I see this being terrifying in Commander and really good the rest of the time because it can copy anything! If this card didn’t have Cipher, I would still like it.


This is a weird Cipher card. Flickering is a fun ability, and easy to abuse, but it can’t be used on itself – and sorcery speed Flicker isn’t nearly as fun. In the right deck, this is easy to abuse but it will take some work.

Horror of the Dim

Well, I wouldn’t play this.

Mental Vapors

I love the symmetry of this with Last Thoughts, but the casting cost kills it. Turning a creature into a specter shouldn’t set you back 4 mana.

Midnight Recovery

Continuing the trend of spells that usually cost only a single mana, but adding Cipher somehow adds 4 mana, Midnight Recovery is more interesting to me. Recursive engines are important in Commander, but this card feels a touch too expensive for what it ends up doing.

Shadow Slice

Okay, so this Cipher costs four more. But I’m okay with it because in casual formats, the ability to hit twice is a beautiful thing. The fact that target opponent loses the life is great for two reasons. First, it won’t come back and bite you with Misdirection. Second, this allows you to beat down someone with Commander damage while draining someone else.

Undercity Plague

One-sided Pox is very, very mean. In long games, this can utterly devastate a single player as you whittle away all of their resources. The life doesn’t matter much, but taking two cards each round will quickly make you an enemy.

Bane Alley Broker

Drawing cards is good, and protecting your hand is as well, but this card worries me a lot. Losing her and a card or two could be devastating in a singleton format, but with a way to untap her, she could be a cheap way to fill your hand.

Call of the Nightwing

A Cipher card that always has a target is great – and a Cipher card that makes its own swarm is even better. While a 1/1 flier for 4 isn’t the best, the simple fact is this allows you to cast a blue-black spell each combat. Add in evasion and you’re left with a card that does far more than you think.

Consuming Aberration

First test of a good multiplayer, does it say “target” or “each” opponent? Oh, this one says each twice. It’s basically a Vulturous Zombie that doesn’t use counters… wait a second. Each card in each opponents’ graveyard?

And then the second line is about casting spells, when won’t you cast a spell? … Oh my. Cipher counts as casting doesn’t it? So take your pick: do you want to kill someone with Cipher-Mill or good old fashioned giant monster beat down?

Dimir Charm

Oh the charms, this one doesn’t wow me as much as I would like for multiplayer antics. Countering a sorcery spell is okay, and a mini-Smother is nice, but can quickly get outclassed. So you end up with a Forbidden Alchemy, which is great in the right deck but this charm needs a specific home and can’t just be thrown into any blue-black deck.

Dinrova Horror

Recoil on legs? I love this! Sure, I wish the card was a Jellyfish but while expensive, this is a fine six-drop for the mid-Commander game. Bounce and discard can be a devastating blow. In a deck with flicker or bounce abilities, I see this horror ruining decks. Oh, and it can bounce lands. I hope you like being as mean as I do.

Duskmantle Guildmage

Infinite mana and you win! Expensive to activate, this guild mage yet again feels a bit too specific. It mills, but it also does life loss and I feel like it doesn’t do either well enough to merit inclusion in many decks.

Duskmantle Seer

I love Bob. I also love Bob with wings. And I really love Bob with wings who triggers for everybody on your upkeep so they all get punished for those six, seven or eight drops. He speeds up the game while taking a bite out of everyone in the process. The only way I would love this card more was if he were red.

Lazav, Dimir Mastermind

I love the idea of this card, especially as a Commander. The mana cost is just difficult enough to cast, but the ability to have hexproof and become any creature put into a graveyard from anywhere makes him perfect for dealing 21 points of Commander damage. You don’t even need to build around him, just pack some removal and watch him become your opponents’ best creatures over and over again as you see fit.

Mind Grind

It might finally be here – the mythical multiplayer mill deck! Mind Grind says, “I win” if cast for 10 or more midgame. Grinding out that many lands will decimate most decks – and eliminate anyone pushing the boundaries of what constitutes as “enough” lands. I expect this card to be a fan favorite for years to come.

Mortus Strider

It still bothers me that Skeleton and Zombie are two different creature types. It really should just be like “Undead.” But Mortus Strider feels like a card just begging to be abused… like with Aluren and any sacrifice engine.

Paranoid Delusions

Continuing the trend of multiplayer mill, Paranoid Delusions allows you to attack one player and mill another to victory. Not the most exciting Cipher spells (even if you are playing Kraken’s Eye and Demon’s Horn), but I could see this being a staple in a Dimir mill deck.

Psychic Strike

A hard counter for only three mana that is easy to cast? I like how this is shaping up. The milling clause is minimal, but could do some extra damage in the right deck. If you’re playing black-blue control, see if you have space for this. It might even replace Cancel depending on your mana base.

Soul Ransom

This is a weird card that still trips me up when reading it. Gaining control of a creature is good and the self-destruct clause is fascinating. It allows you to 3-for-1 a player… but in multiplayer, any opponent can be the good Samaritan. Now I just want it for an evil bear hug deck…

Whispering Madness

This card makes me very happy that it is a “may” on Cipher. Windfall is still a card that scares me and giving Commanders access to multiple castings of this is terrifying. It won’t always be used, but the amount of card advantage you can generate from this is absurd.

Coerced Confession

Five mana feels like a lot for a mill of 4, even if it could turn into an Opportunity. It isn’t going to turn into an Opportunity.

Deathcult Rogue

I love the card on this guy, but there is no way he’s blue. The unblockable clause is nice, but is he different enough from Phantom Warrior?

Nightveil Specter

I love the potential of this card, but that might be because I find cards like Knowledge Pool absurdly awesomely stupid. At the end of the day, I think this card is going to draw far more attention than it is worth.

Dimir Keyrune

It’s a rock, it becomes unblockable and if you Cipher onto it, it stays encoded even after turning back to an artifact. That is awesome.

Dimir Guildgate

Slightly better than Salt Marsh. Maybe.

Watery Grave

If you play black and blue, play this. Seriously.

The Top 5 Dimir Cards for Casual & Commander
5. Call of the Nightwing
4. Duskmantle Seer
3. Stolen Identity
2. Mind Grind
1. Consuming Aberration

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands