Deck Tech: Delirium/Marvel Fusion with Jan Ksandr

Posted in Event Coverage on December 3, 2016

By Tobi Henke

There really appears to be no end to the constant stream of young talented players coming out of the Czech Republic. Jan Ksandr had been on our radar for a while now, ever since he came in second at Grand Prix Sydney earlier in the year, which he followed up with a Top 32 finish at the subsequent Pro Tour Eldritch Moon.

He was of particular interest to the coverage now because of the deck he had brought to Madrid, an interesting build with which he had just won a large Standard tournament in Prague the previous weekend. Was it fair to call it a mix between Red-Green Aetherworks Marvel and Black-Green Delirium?

"Yeah, I like that," said Ksandr. Now, Red-Green Aetherworks Marvel was nothing new and a black-green version had popped up before as well. What set Ksandr's list apart was the inclusion of all three colors and how little he relied on the namesake artifact. "There are definitely some games when it looks like I'm playing a delirium deck rather than Aetherworks Marvel."

Jan Ksandr

For the origin of his deck Ksandr pointed to Pro Tour Kaladesh. "We had the Red-Green Marvel deck when we playtested for the PT. Niels Noorlander even finished 8-2 with it. I was really close to playing the deck at the PT myself, but I switched to Black-Green Delirium."

Ksandr didn't like Black-Green Delirium much and didn't do well with it either, even though he developed an appreciation for certain parts of it. So it was back to the drawing board for him.

"I wanted to try something similar to the Marvel deck we already had," Ksandr explained. "I didn't like Chandra, Torch of Defiance in the deck though. I added black for Liliana, the Last Hope and some cards in the sideboard. You might think that Chandra fits the deck better because it can generate mana to cast your big threats in the absence of Aetherworks Marvel. But if you have Liliana active you can mill yourself, so the acceleration for Emrakul, the Promised End ends up being almost the same. Liliana can also be great when you play the Vehicles matchup, much better than Chandra."

Yet he had to admit to some disadvantages. "On the other hand, Liliana costs double black so your mana is definitely worse than in the red-green deck. But after playing so many games with the deck I felt like that wasn't that huge of a problem. The problem almost never is that you can't cast Liliana, but that you need to spend some energy and end up missing that for the Marvel."

I was interested to learn more about the deck's matchups, especially in comparison to its more popular red-green cousin. "It's hard for me to say because I haven't played the red-green version that much. The decks are still doing many of the same things," said Ksandr.

"I think red-green might be better versus delirium before sideboarding, as Chandra can kill Grim Flayer and Tireless Tracker. Post sideboard, you have your own discard and Pick the Brain. The latter is particularly great. If you can stop them from pressuring you early and hit their Emrakul, the Promised End with Pick the Brain, you've basically won. On the other hand, they may Pick the Brain for your own Emrakul. But then the game just goes longer and if you start spinning the Marvel you just win through card advantage.

"Before [Grand Prix] Warsaw I figured the matchup would be really great for Marvel, but when I was testing with Petr Sochůrek and Ivan Floch I realized it's not as great as I thought it would be. It's still favorable though."

His discard package out of the sideboard gave him a natural advantage over other Aetherworks Marvel players without access to black. As for White-Blue Flash, commonly considered to be the archnemesis of Aetherworks Marvel, Ksandr didn't think the matchup was all that bad. "From my experience when I was playing before sideboarding, I can say that you're even a little favored then. After sideboarding it gets way worse of course. That's the reason why I changed my sideboard to play the matchup more grindy, less focused on the combo."

In fact, Ksandr was running four copies of one card in his sideboard which he considered to be his secret weapon against White-Blue. With emphasis on "secret"—check his decklist later in the weekend if you want to know.

About the fourth pillar of the metagame, red-white aggressive decks with Vehicles and possible splashes, Ksandr said, "Vehicles was the reason to play Liliana over Chandra. Because Chandra is really bad in the matchup, while Liliana can kill some creature and then set up the delirium for Ishkanah, Grafwidow. But still I think the matchup is not good for you. The Vehicles are the definite favorite here.

"The deck has a lot of variance. Sometimes you draw your one Kozilek's Return versus Vehicles and you crush them. Other times, you're stuck with Vessel of Nascency, a Servant of the Conduit, and nothing with any real board impact. If Vehicles play Thalia, Heretic Cathar it's really hard to stabilize because then even Ishkanah can be too late or too slow to save you."

Here's to dodging the aggressive decks and to getting on the right side of variance!

Jan Ksandr's Delirium/Marvel Fusion

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