Grixis Delver in Legacy at GP Niagra Falls

Rich Cali
May 01, 2019

Magic Fest Niagara Falls has come and gone and it was a ton of fun. I traveled with good friends, met a lot of very nice people, and played a lot of Magic. I felt prepared for the event, but didn’t place a lot of pressure on myself going in. I knew I'd have a fun weekend no matter what, and i’ve been looking forward to seeing people for a few weeks.

The Main Event

I played the Grixis Delver deck I have been writing about for the past few weeks:

Here is a breakdown of how the event went:

Esper Stoneblade 2-1 Win

Infect 2-1 Win

Death and Taxes 2-1 Win

Izzet Delver 2-1 Win

Miracles 0-2 Loss

Food Chain 1-2 Loss

Food Chain 2-1 Win

Sneak and Show 2-0 Win

BRg Arclight Phoenix 1-2 Loss

The first thing I want to note is that I played against Food Chain twice, which was wholly unexpected. Considering that they have a lot of meaningful tools against Delver decks, as well as a random combo kill, that matchup actually seems pretty difficult. In any matchup where Baleful Strix is an issue, I try to lean into Young Pyromancer as hard as I can. The problem is that they run a lot of random creatures that effectively block 1/1 tokens. The best of these is Leovold, which serves the double purpose of turning off cantrips and preventing the Young Pyromancer from getting out of hand. Most decks don’t really get to run these days but it remains a potent creature in Legacy.

On the note of underplayed cards, I think Zealous Persecution is an excellent card at the moment. While Esper Stoneblade might be the only real shell for it right now, I think Esper could be well-positioned. Getting a leg up in the race to True-Name Nemesis is a big deal and Thoughtseize goes a long way in Stoneforge mirror matches. I don’t know if Black is currently adding enough to any other matchups, but I think this is an avenue worth considering.

I kept struggling against Miracles in testing and this weekend was no different. I do think the deck can be heavily tuned to make the matchup a lot closer (main deck Bitterblossom, for example) but that has always seemed to cost more than it’s worth in other matchups, so i’m not exactly sure how to proceed.

As for my last round my opponent’s deck was bizarre. It was a Land Grant/Bedlam Reveler/Phoenix deck with a lot of explosive power. While I would have never expected to play against this, Phoenix in general is still a concern of mine. I don’t really feel comfortable playing against these weird Phoenix decks yet as they are still pretty new to Legacy. I think I need to get some focused 1 on 1 time against the various lists in order to understand what makes them tick.

I still really liked this deck list. I did mulligan a lot, which didn’t feel good. I’m not attributing it to random chance, and do think the way I built my decklist makes it more prone to mulliganing. Playing more cards like Gurmag Angler, which can’t be cast early, in addition to running narrow cards like Fatal Push might lead to hands that aren’t really keepable in the blind. However, I won almost every game in which I mulliganed, so the power is clearly still there.


Stifle might not have helped against Miracles as much as I wanted this weekend, but when faced with random, otherwise difficult matchups like Food Chain, the extra mana disruption can really help keep opponents off-balance. UW decks seem to be the top dog right now, and I think that’s worth addressing in the decklist, though. It might be time to brush off some Thoughtseizes and Cabal Therapies and see if that can help swing the pendulum in the Stoneblade matchup.

Right now I suggest the following changes to the maindeck:

-1 Gurmag Angler

-1 Fatal Push

-1 Stifle

+1 Young Pyromancer

+1 Forked Bolt

+1 Spell Snare

Regarding the event, starting day 2 at 6-3 means that the rest of the tournament would be an uphill battle. It’s definitely possible to convert a 6-3 start into a solid finish, but combined with the fact that even if I won out I didn’t think that i’d make the top 8 (incidentally, this turned out to be right), I wasn’t particularly motivated to play out day 2. After a night of good food (albeit far too much food), drinks, and a good night's sleep, I decided my heart wasn’t really in it and I would pursue other endeavors on Sunday.

The Rest

After deciding not to play out the GP, I entered the MCQ with the same deck. While I did really want to qualify for a Mythic Championship, I didn’t feel a lot of pressure to do well and planned on dropping after my first loss. From past experience, I know these often end up being single elimination events and I wasn’t looking to play out the event simply for value. I was viewing it as a weird win-win situation: If I keep winning, hopefully I can convert that into a MC slot. If not, I get to have some fun around the Magic Fest with my friends and go sightseeing.

After a quick round 1 loss to Death and Taxes, it seemed as if sightseeing was in the foreseeable future. I played a quick Legacy side event (the GP Double-Up event are amazing value) and then went with my partner to go see Niagra Falls!

While it was an incredible sight, and I’m really happy I had the chance to see it, I don’t think that’s enough to justify traveling more than a few hours to see. If you are planning a long road trip and can work it in, even at a slight detour, I highly recommend it. If you need to drive 3+ hours to get there, you might be better off waiting until a more convenient trip to see it.

Post-Event Thoughts

Despite testing a fair amount for this event, I don’t think I had a killer instinct going in. When I place too much pressure on myself, I tend to enjoy Magic less. The trade-off might be in my results to some degree, but most of the time I would much prefer to not burn myself out on my favorite game. I came away from the weekend pretty happy, and didn’t have any regrets at all.

As for now, I don’t have any events on the horizon, which is kind of nice. I have been testing a lot lately, so a longer break from that is well needed. I’m excited to see what the new rules changes and sets have to bring not only to Legacy, but to Magic as a whole! Changes are scary, but rejuvenating, so I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Magic’s future!