I am one of those players that likes to target the best deck rather than play it. However, at a certain point if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Dimir Inverter has established itself as the number one deck in Pioneer, to the point where we have to ask whether it is actually too good. For Players Tour Phoenix I didn't choose to play Inverter, thinking that Lotus Field had the edge in the matchup. Now, I no longer believe Lotus Field is favored against the current build of Dimir Inverter. It seems like in every major Pioneer tournament for the past month, Dimir Inverter has been at the top of the standings.

This past weekend there was a Pioneer Open in Indianapolis where four Dimir Inverter decks made the Top 8 of the tournament. The tournament was won by Pete Ingram, who also made Top 8 of PT Phoenix, so you may notice a bit of a trend here. We are seeing Dimir Inverter continuing to do well, but also many of the same pilots are finding continued success with it. At least this indicates that play skill and learning the deck are also quite important.

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Dimir Inverter by Peter Ingram

'Dimir Inverter' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Peter Ingram

Event: SCG Open Pioneer - Indianapolis - 02/23/2020

Rank: 1

Pioneer

Market Price: $287.58

Cards

Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222819_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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Thassa's Oracle

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $4.59

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206926_200w.jpg

When Thassa's Oracle enters the battlefield, look at the top X cards of your library, where X is your devotion to blue. Put up to one of them on top of your library and the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order. If X is greater than or equal to the number of cards in your library, you win the game. (Each {U} in the mana costs of permanents you control counts toward your devotion to blue.)

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Damping Sphere

Market Price: $1.40

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/162250_200w.jpg

If a land is tapped for two or more mana, it produces {C} instead of any other type and amount.
Each spell a player casts costs {1} more to cast for each other spell that player has cast this turn.

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Drowned Catacomb

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $5.73

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/142036_200w.jpg

Drowned Catacomb enters the battlefield tapped unless you control an Island or a Swamp.
{T}: Add {U} or {B}.

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Dig Through Time

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $3.39

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/180836_200w.jpg

Delve (Each card you exile from your graveyard while casting this spell pays for {1}.)
Look at the top seven cards of your library. Put two of them into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

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Choked Estuary

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $2.69

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/115920_200w.jpg

As Choked Estuary enters the battlefield, you may reveal an Island or Swamp card from your hand. If you don't, Choked Estuary enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {U} or {B}.

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Legion's End

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192565_200w.jpg

Exile target creature an opponent controls with converted mana cost 2 or less and all other creatures that player controls with the same name as that creature. Then that player reveals their hand and exiles all cards with that name from their hand and graveyard.

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Doom Blade

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145420_200w.jpg

Destroy target nonblack creature.

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Thoughtseize

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $12.44

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218934_200w.jpg

Target player reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. You lose 2 life.

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Jace, Wielder of Mysteries

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $3.73

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/187141_200w.jpg

If you would draw a card while your library has no cards in it, you win the game instead.
+1: Target player mills two cards. Draw a card.
−8: Draw seven cards. Then if your library has no cards in it, you win the game.

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Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $14.31

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/110836_200w.jpg

Lifelink
If a nontoken creature an opponent controls would die, instead exile that card and create a 2/2 black Zombie creature token.
{2}{B}, Sacrifice another Vampire or Zombie: Put two +1/+1 counters on Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet.

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Narset, Parter of Veils

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.88

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188705_200w.jpg

Each opponent can't draw more than one card each turn.
−2: Look at the top four cards of your library. You may reveal a noncreature, nonland card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.

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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222820_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $17.49

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/100191_200w.jpg

{T}: Draw a card, then discard a card. If there are five or more cards in your graveyard, exile Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, then return him to the battlefield transformed under his owner's control.

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Inverter of Truth

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/110992_200w.jpg

Devoid (This card has no color.)
Flying
When Inverter of Truth enters the battlefield, exile all cards from your library face down, then shuffle all cards from your graveyard into your library.

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Watery Grave

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $9.39

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175205_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U} or {B}.)
As Watery Grave enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

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Hero's Downfall

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.79

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/71183_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature or planeswalker.

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Cast Down

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.21

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/226354_200w.jpg

Destroy target nonlegendary creature.

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Opt

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215840_200w.jpg

Scry 1. (Look at the top card of your library. You may put that card on the bottom of your library.)
Draw a card.

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Thought Erasure

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175178_200w.jpg

Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card.
Surveil 1. (Look at the top card of your library. You may put it into your graveyard.)

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Fabled Passage

Market Price: $6.30

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215556_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Fabled Passage: Search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library. Then if you control four or more lands, untap that land.

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Mystical Dispute

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $1.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198683_200w.jpg

This spell costs {2} less to cast if it targets a blue spell.
Counter target spell unless its controller pays {3}.

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Fetid Pools

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $3.03

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/129682_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U} or {B}.)
Fetid Pools enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Fatal Push

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218830_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature if it has converted mana cost 2 or less.
Revolt — Destroy that creature if it has converted mana cost 4 or less instead if a permanent you controlled left the battlefield this turn.

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If I had a Pioneer tournament this weekend, I would be playing this. The deck is incredibly difficult to attack, which I learned after throwing essentially the entire Pioneer gauntlet at it.

Why Is Inverter so Resilient?

First of all, the combo is only a small part of the deck.

This is extremely important. Look at a deck like Lotus Breach. Essentially every single card in the deck is working toward facilitating the combo. Here, we have the Inverter of Truth, alongside Thassa's Oracle and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. That is all you need in terms of win conditions in the maindeck. Jace, Wielder of Mysteries and Thassa's Oracle are also reasonable cards on their own, if you are still digging to find the Inverter.

By spending only a few deck slots on the combo, you can fill the rest of the deck out with generic good cards to disrupt what the opponent is doing, and there are plenty of options in the Dimir colors. There are a whopping seven discard spells in the deck, which is almost unheard of for any combo deck. Each time I see a Dimir Inverter list it seems like there is another copy of Thought Erasure in it. Not only are discard spells good versatile cards but they are also cheap, and good fuel for Dig Through Time.

Dig Through Time is the card that ties everything together, and is the most common way to set up a win. This is going to sound redundant to players who have played with Dimir Inverter, but being able to exile cards from your graveyard with Dig Through Time is a benefit. This way you have a smaller graveyard when you play the Inverter of Truth to set up your new library. You want to keep high-impact spells and cantrips in your graveyard while exiling lands and lower-impact spells with the delve from Dig Through Time.

Besides the discard spells there are some additional flexible slots, and you know what that means—countermagic! The metagame has become so blue dominated that it is now okay to maindeck multiple copies of Mystical Dispute. There are also two copies of Narset, Parter of Veils, which is a relatively new addition to the deck. Narset is a nice way to dig for a missing combo piece but the passive ability is really annoying for other blue-based decks also. Lists have shaved a little bit on removal because aggressive decks have become a bit less popular.

It is weird to think that a month ago we were talking about the dominance of Mono-Red and Mono-Black Aggro. The fact is that against those matchups a turn-four Inverter into an Oracle or Jace is almost always going to be enough to get the job done.

Of course, there are still the four copies of Fatal Push which go nicely alongside Fabled Passage, but outside of that the removal spell of choice is Hero's Downfall. Hero's Downfall is good because it is useful in the mirror as a way to deal with a Jace—one of the easiest ways to win a mirror match is to have a Jace advantage.

Another luxury the Dimir Inverter deck has is getting to pick and choose sideboard cards. The sideboard is going to change based on the metagame, as now we see two copies of Damping Sphere in the sideboard, as hate for the Lotus Breach deck. The Jace, Vryn's Prodigy in the sideboard are there instead of Pack Rat. You want to have access to a creature threat in matchups where the opponent is boarding out some of their removal, and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy accomplishes this. Looting with it and eventually flashing back a key spell is very powerful.

Rounding out the sideboard are some odds and ends, like additional removal spells for creature decks and the fourth Thassa's Oracle for the matchups where you are heavily relying on a fast combo. The deck has become Dimir Control with an easy win condition.

Can Inverter Be Beaten?

In other words, is there a deck that consistently has a good matchup against Dimir Inverter? We have seen White Devotion decks also finding success, with three in the Top 10 of the Open.

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Mono-White Devotion by Chris Iaali

'Mono-White Devotion' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Chris Iaali

Event: SCG Open Pioneer - Indianapolis - 02/23/2020

Rank: 4

Pioneer

Market Price: $212.39

Cards

Knight of the White Orchid

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $1.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212397_200w.jpg

First strike
When Knight of the White Orchid enters the battlefield, if an opponent controls more lands than you, you may search your library for a Plains card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

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Stasis Snare

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.17

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/104875_200w.jpg

Flash (You may cast this spell any time you could cast an instant.)
When Stasis Snare enters the battlefield, exile target creature an opponent controls until Stasis Snare leaves the battlefield. (That creature returns under its owner's control.)

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Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $1.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/96515_200w.jpg

Whenever another nontoken creature enters the battlefield under your control, bolster 1. (Choose a creature with the least toughness among creatures you control and put a +1/+1 counter on it.)

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Gideon of the Trials

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $4.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/129778_200w.jpg

+1: Until your next turn, prevent all damage target permanent would deal.
0: Until end of turn, Gideon of the Trials becomes a 4/4 Human Soldier creature with indestructible that's still a planeswalker. Prevent all damage that would be dealt to him this turn.
0: You get an emblem with "As long as you control a Gideon planeswalker, you can't lose the game and your opponents can't win the game."

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Archon of Sun's Grace

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206838_200w.jpg

Flying, lifelink
Pegasus creatures you control have lifelink.
Constellation — Whenever an enchantment enters the battlefield under your control, create a 2/2 white Pegasus creature token with flying.

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Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222818_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

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Arcanist's Owl

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198553_200w.jpg

Flying
When Arcanist's Owl enters the battlefield, look at the top four cards of your library. You may reveal an artifact or enchantment card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.

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Elspeth Conquers Death

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $1.75

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/207052_200w.jpg

(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — Exile target permanent an opponent controls with converted mana cost 3 or greater.
II — Noncreature spells your opponents cast cost {2} more to cast until your next turn.
III — Return target creature or planeswalker card from your graveyard to the battlefield. Put a +1/+1 counter or a loyalty counter on it.

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Rest in Peace

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $6.33

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222471_200w.jpg

When Rest in Peace enters the battlefield, exile all cards from all graveyards.
If a card or token would be put into a graveyard from anywhere, exile it instead.

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Damping Sphere

Market Price: $1.40

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/162250_200w.jpg

If a land is tapped for two or more mana, it produces {C} instead of any other type and amount.
Each spell a player casts costs {1} more to cast for each other spell that player has cast this turn.

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Baffling End

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/155676_200w.jpg

When Baffling End enters the battlefield, exile target creature an opponent controls with converted mana cost 3 or less.
When Baffling End leaves the battlefield, target opponent creates a 3/3 green Dinosaur creature token with trample.

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Daxos, Blessed by the Sun

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.37

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206144_200w.jpg

Daxos's toughness is equal to your devotion to white. (Each {W} in the mana costs of permanents you control counts toward your devotion to white.)
Whenever another creature you control enters the battlefield or dies, you gain 1 life.

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Tomik, Distinguished Advokist

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188207_200w.jpg

Flying
Lands on the battlefield and land cards in graveyards can't be the targets of spells or abilities your opponents control.
Your opponents can't play land cards from graveyards.

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Walking Ballista

Market Price: $9.48

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218628_200w.jpg

Walking Ballista enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it.
{4}: Put a +1/+1 counter on Walking Ballista.
Remove a +1/+1 counter from Walking Ballista: It deals 1 damage to any target.

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Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $5.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222339_200w.jpg

+1: Until end of turn, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar becomes a 5/5 Human Soldier Ally creature with indestructible that's still a planeswalker. Prevent all damage that would be dealt to him this turn.
0: Create a 2/2 white Knight Ally creature token.
−4: You get an emblem with "Creatures you control get +1/+1."

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Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Market Price: $22.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222763_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{2}, {T}: Choose a color. Add an amount of mana of that color equal to your devotion to that color. (Your devotion to a color is the number of mana symbols of that color in the mana costs of permanents you control.)

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Glare of Heresy

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/71090_200w.jpg

Exile target white permanent.

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Thraben Inspector

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218615_200w.jpg

When Thraben Inspector enters the battlefield, investigate. (Create a colorless Clue artifact token with "{2}, Sacrifice this artifact: Draw a card.")

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Heliod, Sun-Crowned

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $11.49

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206666_200w.jpg

Indestructible
As long as your devotion to white is less than five, Heliod isn't a creature.
Whenever you gain life, put a +1/+1 counter on target creature or enchantment you control.
{1}{W}: Another target creature gains lifelink until end of turn.

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Gideon Blackblade

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $2.21

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188704_200w.jpg

As long as it's your turn, Gideon Blackblade is a 4/4 Human Soldier creature with indestructible that's still a planeswalker.
Prevent all damage that would be dealt to Gideon Blackblade during your turn.
+1: Up to one other target creature you control gains your choice of vigilance, lifelink, or indestructible until end of turn.
−6: Exile target nonland permanent.

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Idyllic Grange

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199256_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)
Idyllic Grange enters the battlefield tapped unless you control three or more other Plains.
When Idyllic Grange enters the battlefield untapped, put a +1/+1 counter on target creature you control.

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This deck has been finding more success over the past couple of weeks. It is capable of loading up on hate cards after sideboard, with cards like Damping Sphere and Rest in Peace being easy to find with Arcanist's Owl. However, it seems the Inverter decks ultimately beat out the White Devotion decks in the Open.Rest in Peace is decent against Inverter because of what it does against delve for Dig Through Time, and it means you will always have no cards in library after playing an Inverter. However, Dimir Inverter can still win through Rest in Peace, as you don't need cards in the graveyard to actually win the game through Jace or Thassa's Oracle. White Devotion does have access to a combo of its own, but it is much easier for the Dimir deck to disrupt the Walking Ballista / Heliod, Sun-Crowned combo thanks to interaction like discard and Fatal Push.

Ultimately, White Devotion is another deck that has tried to dethrone Dimir Inverter, but can't do it. I have heard players warp their decks in crazy ways in order to beat Dimir Inverter, but by doing this, you end up sacrificing other matchups. This isn't a recipe for a healthy metagame. A red aggro deck like Ben Weitz's from GP Phoenix might be the answer because of the ability to steal an Inverter with Eldrazi Obligator. However, that deck hasn't actually caught on in popularity as much as I would have thought.

I think something needs to be done.

Is a Ban Warranted?

At this point, I'm throwing in the towel and playing Dimir Inverter myself until someone can beat it consistently, or there is a ban. My guess is that a ban will come soon, as we haven't seen Wizards shy away from banning cards lately. Pioneer is meant to be a format where a wide variety of archetypes can find success, and right now it is quite inverted (get it?)

I think banning one card from the deck is the right move. Let's talk about some options.

Inverter of Truth: This would kill off the deck. It doesn't mean there couldn't be some version of Dimir Control that still existed, but if Wizards doesn't want Inverter to be a thing in Pioneer anymore, ban the namesake card. Sometimes interactions or old cards that haven't seen play in a long time are overlooked, and this was likely the case with Inverter of Truth.

Jace, Wielder of Mysteries / Thassa's Oracle: I think seeing one of these cards banned is fairly unlikely. You could still build a version of Inverter that has just one of these alongside Inverter as a way to win. While that would hurt the deck, I don't think it is the right direction. Also, Wizards is more likely to ban an older card than one that is legal in Standard like both of these are.

Dig Through Time: This one makes me sad. I really like Dig Through Time, but it is also extraordinarily powerful. In my opinion, this is the card Wizards is most likely to ban. Right now, Inverter is the deck that best utilizes Dig Through Time, but before it was Nexus, and if Inverter does get banned there will be another combo deck that pops up that utilizes Dig Through Time well. (The only issue is that there are replacements for Dig Through TimeTreasure Cruise is also legal.)

If the goal isn't to completely invalidate DImir Inverter but to take it down a notch in power level, a Dig Through Time ban is likely the way to go, though that would affect other decks in the format as well. Dig Through Time is so generically powerful that it will be a Pioneer staple for as long as it is allowed to be legal in the format.