One of the most budget-friendly archetypes in Commander is the “thievery” deck. (I will definitely cover the Thievery archetype in a month or two in my Monday article series!) There are two big reasons why this is. First, you don’t have to spend your money loading your deck up with powerful creatures – you can let your opponents do it for you, and then take control of them! Second, because the deck is reactive in nature, it doesn’t have to be particularly fast – meaning you can load your mana base up cheaply by using lands which come into play tapped.
With this in mind, I have designed a $50 Thievery deck to share with you all. I call it, “The Dimir Steal Everything.” It uses the guild leader from Gatecrash, Lazav, Dimir Mastermind to steal your opponents’ creatures and spells… from everywhere! We’ll steal them from the battlefield! We’ll steal them from the graveyard! We’ll rip them right off the stack! We’ll flush them out of our opponents’ hands and libraries and make them our own! They have no secrets from the Dimir! Even if an opponent manages to get a brutal creature with hexproof or shroud onto the battlefield, then we’ll clone it and get our own copy!
Sadly, our budget won’t support the inclusion of the greatest theft card in the format, Bribery. This is a sacrifice we’re just going to have to make – though if you can get your hands on a copy, by all means throw it in the deck!
So, let’s empty our pockets for the Dimir!
Using our standard calculation method (TCGPlayer optimizer through Heavily Played), this deck just barely squeaks under at $49.77. For the price, I think this is a very solid thievery deck.
Looking over this decklist, you might have noticed the inclusion of Encroaching Wastes, and wonder what it’s doing there. You are right to wonder – that card is terrible. However, thievery decks have a problem, one I will expand more upon at a later date. That problem? Homeward Path exists. Homeward Path wrecks ALL your plans – that creature you reanimated from your opponent’s graveyard? Yeah, it’s now back under your opponent’s control. Did you have a creature Mind Controlled? Homeward Path taps to make that card now useless. The creature goes back under the control of its owner, and you’re hosed. So, we need means of dealing with Homeward Path – that means land destruction. We can either devote spell slots to it or land slots to it, and since there are budget options available in the land slot, that’s what I’ve done. So yeah, Encroaching Wastes is not a good card – but it’s a quarter and it kills Homeward Path. If you can replace it with a Strip Mine or Wasteland, by all means do it – that’s the better card. But, with Encroaching Wastes we have a card that kills Homeward Path in our budget.
As previously mentioned, once the budget allows, this deck really wants Bribery to pull one of your opponent’s best creatures right out of their library. Desertion would also be a great addition – if you can take control of your opponents’ creatures (or artifacts) when they’re on the stack, this slows down their game every time you have mana open. The third spell that comes to mind for this deck is Treachery, because it is a direct upgrade for Mind Control or Persuasion.
There were several Clone-type creatures I wanted for the deck but had to cut for budget reasons. Sakashima the Imposter, for example, is strictly better than Clone since he can bounce back to your hand. Sakashima’s Student is the same way, being a clone that can come into play at instant speed during the combat phase after blockers are declared. Vesuvan Doppelganger, though she costs one more mana than Clone, is also superior because she can choose a different creature to copy during your upkeep.
Coffin Queen and Dimir Doppelganger could be interesting additions to the deck, allowing you more options to steal from your opponents’ graveyards. I ended up cutting them both for budget concerns, though these creatures don’t just swap out for worse versions of themselves – you’d have to choose something specifically to cut in order to include them.