Flavors of Delver

Posted in GRAND PRIX KYŌTO 2015 on April 18, 2015

By Chapman Sim

With almost all the cards in Magic's history at your disposal, Legacy is an extremely diverse format with more archetypes than you can imagine. Despite the power level being higher than Standard and Modern, it is comforting to know that no deck is particularly dominant and even the most represented ones occupy a small percentage of a typical tournament's metagame due to the large number of viable strategies.

Having said that, there are still fan favorites. The blue-based tempo deck.

The deck that was cited by many pros such as Hall of Famer Kenji Tsumura, Gold Pro Ken Yukuhiro and Pro Tour Top 8 Competitor Chikara Nakajima as the deck to watch this weekend.

The Delver deck.

Ever since the days of Innistrad, Delver of Secrets has quickly taken its place as one of the most important creatures in Legacy of all time. With the aid of Brainstorm and Ponder, it almost always is a 3/2 flyer for a single mana and it is a quick clock when backed up counter magic and a sprinkle of support cards from other colors. For blue mages who enjoy playing with Force of Will and partners-in-crime Daze, Spell Pierce and Stifle, it is difficult to resist the allure.

Let us take a quick look at the many flavors of Delver of Secrets!

Jacob Wilson's Temur Delver - StarCityGames.com Invitational

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Staying in line with the theme of efficient and oversized creatures, Temur Delver features the green splash for Nimble Mongoose and Tarmogoyf. While the creature base deck may not have the best utility, they are worth every bang for their buck. A red splash for Lightning Bolt is almost customary and sideboard options such as Pyroblast complement the beatdown strategy and provide additional reach and support.

SIN's Grixis Delver – Magic Online Legacy Daily (4-0)

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Pairing up Delver of Secrets with Lightning Bolt and red creatures is nothing new. While Masahiro Kuroda was sighted summoning Young Pyromancer and generating a bunch of Elemental tokens, Monastery Swiftspear is also a reasonable option.

In particular, Tasigur is probably one of the best trumps in the attrition matchup should the game go longer than expected. Not only is it decently sized and stacks up against Tarmogoyf, it also costs half the price thanks to the myriad of cheap spells and fetchlands that are cornerstone of the entire Delver strategy. The Grixis version is particularly good against combo and control decks, since it not only has the ability to play with both Pyroblast and hand disruption cards.

Thomas Trovato's Jeskai Delver - StarCityGames.com Legacy Open

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We're starting to see a pattern now. Play the standard suite of blue cards. Add Lightning Bolt. Choose third color that you like the most. Stir and mix well.

In this case, Jeskai Delver gets the best utility of all. Stoneforge Mystic not only tutors up Batterskull and Umezawa's Jitte to wreck the mirror, it cheats them into play unmolested by countermagic. Also, Jeskai players gain access to Swords to Plowshares, possibly the most efficient creature removal spell to ever see print. Containment Priest is a relatively new addition considering the format's heritage and is a great option if you expect "cheaty" cards such as Show and Tell, Sneak Attack, Dread Return and Natural Order.

Ross Merriam's Sultai Delver - StarCityGames.com Invitational

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Perhaps the next most annoying creature for one mana would be Deathrite Shaman, a card good enough to get itself banned in Modern. It's great in the mirror, as it renders Dazes and Spell Pierces ineffective and it provides "damage" and "lifegain" depending on what you fancy. In fact, it is good enough that players are willing eschew Lightning Bolt altogether, using Disfigure as the lackluster replacement.

Abrupt Decay is also one of the biggest reasons to go Sultai, since it's uncounterability clause is exceptionally important in Legacy and allows a main deck solution to enchantments and artifacts as well. With your manabase already in three colors, feel free to toss in Tasigur, Liliana and Thoughtseize into the mix.

Steve Mann's Esper Delver - StarCityGames.com Invitational (Richmond)

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The Esper version is all about maximizing True-Name Nemesis as it seems. You have Deathrite Shaman to power it out faster than usual (in addition to the utility it provides) and Stoneforge Mystic to tutor up the equipment required to make it invincible! Zealous Persecution is particularly good against your opponent's True-Name Nemesis while saving yours against Golgari Charm and also randomly good against Affinity, Empty the Warrens and what not.

zumekun19850204's Izzet Delver – Magic Online Legacy Daily (4-0)

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Lastly, if you're in a hurry or developing a migraine by the time you reach the end of this article, you can also stick to the basics and replace the recently-banned Treasure Cruise with Dig Through Time. The two-color version has the added advantage of being able to play basic lands, great against all the opposing Wastelands!