Delving the Depths

Posted in Feature on September 6, 2013

By Luis Scott-Vargas

Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).

Look how far we've come since Scars of Mirrodin rotated. Delver of Secrets used to be the scourge of Standard, the most-feared deck by a wide margin. Less than a year later, and a Delver of Secrets deck can legitimately be classified as a rogue strategy. Granted, the deck did make Top 8 at Grand Prix Kitakyūshū, but that just makes it more exciting.

Delver of Secrets

Yuuta Takashi remade Delver of Secrets in last year's image, playing only nineteen lands and relying on twelve cheap cycling spells to make the mana work. Hilariously enough, two of those spells are Quickens, with zero sorceries in the main deck (and just two in the sideboard)! Besides using the cheap card-draw to cheat on lands, this deck also gets to increase its options by milling cards with Thought Scour, flashing back Think Twice, and using Snapcaster Mage to take a second crack at anything it finds. Later in the game, Runechanter's Pike makes use of your stacked graveyard to finish things off, taking advantage of all the cycling you've done.

Besides churning through cards, what does this deck actually do?

As it turns out, the answer is "beat down." With four Delver of Secrets and four Geist of Saint Traft, this deck is definitely the aggressor in most matchups. Four Restoration Angels make attacking with Geist very safe and combine well with the full four Snapcaster Mages the deck also gets to play.

These days, Augur of Bolas has been crowding out Snapcaster, but all the cheap spells make Snapcaster Mage more appealing here. Plus, the full four Unsummons both support the beatdown plan and make Snapcaster an excellent tempo play.

Still, I'd call this deck aggro-control more than just aggro, mainly because of the seven counterspells and four Azorius Charms. Essence Scatter is the blue Doom Blade, and Dissipate is the blue Vindicate, so having access to nearly the full amount of each lets the Delver of Secrets deck press the advantage. The plan is to have turn-one Delver of Secrets into Essence Scatter into Dissipate into Snapcaster, and even if you don't hit each spot on the curve, that's still a sick start.

Because of the low land count, Yuuta wisely chose to stick with all cheap spells in the sideboard, including the underutilized Tidebinder Mage. Finding a blue deck aggressive enough to take advantage of the Mage is sweet, and I could even see playing three or four of them in this metagame. This deck is also focused enough that I'd recommend against sideboarding too many cards at once. You don't want to mess with the Delver of Secrets/Snapcaster/Geist/Angel/Pike package very much, and in order for all the cards to work you still need to keep a high number of cheap instants in the deck.

Yuuta Takahashi

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