What’s good, Spirit Squad! Today we’re still talking about March of the Machine and what it’s done for Pioneer/Explorer, except we’re not talking about Spirits!

Instead, we’re talking about a Tribal deck that adapted from an old Standard deck to become a tempo deck full of Blue Creatures with Flash and Flying, backed up by some counterspells and solid sideboard cards.

Dre, that’s a little… familiar-sounding.

Stop looking at me like that. It’s still not Spirits.

Instead, we’re talking about Dimir Rogues, and this is a deck that’s existed in Standard ever since the release of sets like Magic 2021 and Zendikar Rising, which brought us Thieves Guild Enforcer and Soaring Thought-Thief. That deck played Ruin Crab to enact a dedicated mill plan, and even had access to Lurrus of the Dream-Den. Different times, indeed. Today’s deck doesn’t have anywhere near a Lurrus power level, but the deck has technically existed in Pioneer for awhile. You got the good parts of Black, namely Fatal Push and Thoughtseize, you got the good parts of Blue, namely countermagic and Brazen Borrower, and that by itself is generally enough to make a deck playable.

The problem with this formula is that you end up not being the best Black deck or the best Blue deck, giving you a weird mix of a deck that wants to play like both Rakdos Midrange and Mono-Blue (or Azorius, now) Spirits, without having most of the key highlights of playing either. So the deck fell by the wayside.

Enter Faerie Mastermind!

This relatively unassuming Flash 2/1 flier should be a little familiar (Fae-miliar?) to anyone who follows high-level tournament Magic: it’s the card our world champion, Yuta Takahashi, created! The Faerie King himself has given us a Faerie of course, but more importantly for most competitive players: a Rogue! This card has four exciting parts, all of which Spirits players can relate to.

Flash and Flying are, of course, the main reason you’d consider playing a card like this in a tempo deck. Just like Spirits, Faerie Mastermind allows players to hold up two mana and represent the ability to either present itself as a threat or hold up interaction. Soaring Thought-Thief certainly does this as well, but Faerie Mastermind gives Rogues a similar level of consistency in this line of play to Spirits, giving them access to one of our strongest lines of play.

The other two parts of Mastermind aren’t necessarily the most back-breaking, innovative additions to a 2/1 but they can come up and be important sometimes. Drawing a card when your opponent draws an extra card is pretty big against some decks, like Izzet Phoenix or 4-Color Omnath builds, specifically. The 3U ability should remind us of Spectral Sailor, since we’ve been using that to occasionally draw extra cards for years now. Allowing your opponent to draw a card does make this ability generally worse than Spectral Sailor’s, but even having the option to let your aggressive 2-drop draw you extra cards and close out a game can come up huge!

Cool. So Dre’s excited about another 2/1 flier. Why would I play this over Spirits?

You wouldn’t😉

On a more serious note, Rogues has a similar matchup spread to Spirits. However, due to the difference in how each deck disrupts its opponents, my finding is that Rogues has a lot of matchups that are closer to 50/50 than (for example) 70/30 in either direction. Here’s a quick rundown of why this is the case against just a few of the most popular decks.

Against Rakdos Midrange: you get to play your own copies of Sheoldred, the Apocalypse making life relatively difficult for your opponent and cards like Drown in the Loch, Power Word Kill, and Go for the Throat help to deal with cards that give Spirits huge fits. Namely, their copies of Sheoldred and Graveyard Trespasser. Being able to deal with their threats makes the matchup a lot more palatable than it will ever be for Spirits. However, the fact that almost all of your Creatures are able to be hit with Fatal Push means it’s still not favorable.

Against Greasefang: you get to play a lot of the same reactive plan as Spirits does, except you also get to play some real removal to deal with an on-board copy of Greasefang, Okiba Boss. However, you have 2 major downsides in this matchup. First, Thieves’ Guild Enforcer and Soaring Thought-Thief put cards into their graveyard for them, meaning you can accidentally help them assemble their combo. Second is the fact that you don’t have any “I win” buttons that Shacklegeist or Nebelgast Herald provide.

Against Azorius Control: you get the best parts of Black against control, namely Thoughtseize. You also get to play cards like Brazen Borrower and Mystical Dispute, as you’re a Blue deck. The White tools are what really help to make the matchup swing into Spirits’ favor, and Rogues doesn’t get any of that. The Selfless Spirits, Spell Quellers, and Invasion of Gobakhan that can all help against Supreme Verdict can’t be played in Rogues, making the Control matchup a lot closer with Rogues than it is for Spirits.

Against Mono-Green Devotion: you get to enjoy the Flying part of the game that Spirits gets to, and you get to use Fatal Push on any copies of Llanowar Elves or Elvish Mystic that pop up. You even have cards like Go for the Throat that can help against Cavalier of Thorns or Polukranos Reborn, generally the only cards you care about in these matchups. Even with all of that, you’re not playing the most threat-dense deck (Spirits plays, on average, about 8 more Creatures than Rogues does) and you don’t have the instant-win button that is Shacklegeist, so the matchup becomes a bit more work than you’d otherwise have to do as Spirits. What’s worse is that Thieves’ Guild Enforcer might as well not be a card in this matchup.

Against Mono-White Humans: you get a lot of the same problems that you have when playing as Spirits against Humans. Spell Pierces in the main are basically dead cards, your 2-drops can almost never block effectively, and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben generally ruins your day. However, Rogues has access to Fatal Push in the main, Nighthawk Scavenger to gain life, and Sheoldred to provide a real top-end threat that Spirits could literally never. This makes the Humans matchup a lot closer to 50/50 than you’d get out of the same matchup as Spirits, especially when you don’t win the die roll.

OK, so you’re just playing a bunch of 50/50 matchups. I can get behind that. Where’s a deck list?

I thought you’d never ask. Here’s a sample list:


Thanks. Should I pick this deck up?

I think this is a real deck! Will I switch off of Spirits to play it, though? Absolutely not. You do get to play real removal and Sheoldred is probably the best card in the entire Pioneer/Explorer format, but even those two reasons aren’t enough to outweigh the wild matchup spread you get when playing Spirits.

If I were to play this deck “for real”, I think I’d look into a more mill-based plan that utilizes Ruin Crabs and gives the deck a second “real” win condition. However, I don’t think this means that I’d go too deep into that direction and play anything like Jace, the Perfected Mind. The Mill plan allows your Drown in the Lochs to be effective much earlier than they are with the current iterations of the Rogues build, and Crabs are absolutely the best thing to be doing with your early game against decks like Azorius Control. You do lean a little harder into your Grasefang non-bo like this, but if you can mitigate that then I think the deck evolves into a pretty good place!

Hopefully this helps everyone to understand more about the best up-and-coming deck in Pioneer! Make sure to get all of your Rogues cards at FusionGamingOnline.com, and I’ll see y’all on the next one!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.