SCG Philly with UR Delver in Legacy

Rich Cali
July 31, 2019
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I had just top 8’d the MOCs Quarterly playoff with an Izzet Delver list that cut Young Pyromancer. Young Pyromancer wasn’t really cutting it in a world of Dreadhorde Arcanist and Wrenn and Six and True-Name Nemesis was overperforming for me. I knew I had SCG Philadelphia coming up in July and this list was an early front-runner for me.

Bye!

As I continued to get some games in, I kept having the same problem come up over and over again: I couldn’t stick a threat in a Delver mirror. 8 of my 11 creatures died to Lightning Bolt, and the True-Names were difficult to resolve when facing down Dazes and Pyroblasts. On top of that, the most common Delver variants around this time were Temur and 4-Color, both of which ran a large number of Tarmogoyfs. This meant that while my threats were pretty easy for them to manage, I couldn’t easily handle my opponent’s with my removal spells all essentially being Lightning Bolt. Even if True-Name Nemesis would resolve on my side, it was somewhat easy for them to resolve a Tarmogoyf and they could more easily set up a situation where they had 2 Goyfs and could attack through my single blocker.

In efforts to manage the Tarmogoyf issue, Magmatic Sinkhole made its way into the decklist. Not only would this give me a relatively clean way to answer Tarmogoyf most of the time (Wrenn and Six could be a problem here), it also helped answer Wrenn and Six in a lot of circumstances. Having the ability to answer my opponent’s threats more easily, I decided my list might be more suited to play the control role in the post-board games against Green-based Delver decks. If my threats would be all be accounted for, I’d try to rely on efficient answers to help the game go long and use Back to Basics, Narset, and True-Name to try to end the game.

Here is the list from that period:

 

There were some key issues with this strategy. The first and most prominent is this decks inability to remove creatures that can’t be targeted. While True-Name Nemesis is certainly a problem, Nimble Mongoose ended up being the biggest wrench in this plan. It was cheap enough that it was never able to be tagged by a Daze and they almost always had mana up to back it up with Spell Pierce or Pyroblast. This meant that my plan of taking the control role couldn’t work because the board was impossible to fully answer.

Beyond that, though, my game plan still relied on me resolving a 3-mana Blue spell, which didn’t happen often enough. During all of this, I was losing a lot more often to the broader, less-represented Legacy metagame (Hogaak, Nic Fit, Alluren, Food Chain, etc…). While this isn’t normally a big deal, happening in conjunction with having difficulty beating the most popular deck led to me shelving this for the time being.

Detour into Tarmo-Town

While I definitely liked the way Tarmogoyf was positioned, I was having some difficulties with Temur as well. While Nimble Mongoose was great against Izzet Delver, it was also a bit weak when facing down a Tarmogoyf. Temur does get access to some cards that manage the Goyf issue (Dismember, Submerge, and even Magmatic Sinkhole), but the 4-Color Delver decks do a much better job of answering Tarmogoyfs. 

The best route I found to approaching that match-up is to keep their mana off-balance while you apply pressure with an early Goose or Delver, and then try to snowball the mana advantage with additional pressure before they can answer everything. The problem is that Wrenn and Six makes it difficult to attack their mana consistently. In the head-to-head where both players are able to cast spells, it is far too difficult to defeat the power of their cards.

Furthermore, the addition of Wrenn and Six means there are more cards that don’t play well against combo decks. I felt like those matchups were playing out worse than I expected. Combine this with my tendency to not like playing Stifle in larger tournaments, I decided that Temur wasn’t for me this time around.

While I have been putting a lot of time into 4-Color post-Philly, I didn’t put more than 10 matches into it leading up to it. It is a good deck, and very fun to play, but I was getting around to testing it pretty late in the process and I didn’t want to deal with a 4-Color mana base for the event. The mana works a reasonable amount of the time, but not always and it feels horrible when it doesn’t.

Resuscitating Your Sacred Cows

Hello, my old friend

In the end, the conclusion I came to wasn’t groundbreaking, but it certainly helped: Play Young Pyromancer. In essence this helped both of the issues I was having:

  1. My threat density was higher so it would be easier to stick a threat in Delver mirrors.
  2. It was an aggressive 2-drop that helped me win against decks I couldn’t prepare for.

My results definitely improved across the metagame as a whole. I was still having some trouble against Delver decks, but I was certainly winning a lot more often. Young Pyromancer even helped against the Mongoose/Goyf issue by allowing me to turn a lot of situations into safe races.

While I wasn’t overly confident in my deck choice, nothing else felt better so I was comfortable making the choice.

This is the list I settled on, which could be described as stock: 

 

1 Force of Negation - I don’t think this is strictly better than any of the other countermagic that can be played in this spot, but I have been impressed with it. With a game plan against combo that involves tapping out on turn 2 for a threat, extra copies of Force of Will go a long way. I think the 2nd copy is definitely worthwhile.

1 Blood Moon - I liked the idea of Back to Basics, but Blood Moon just does it better much more often. I found myself with Volcanic Islands in play too often, even with 4 Basics, and Blood Moon was much more consistent, and diversified the color of my 3-drop spot.

SCG Philly Main Event

The team ended up with a final record of 4-3 before dropping. However, I was fortunately able to go 7-0 in the event, which was certainly better than I expected.

Here’s how the event played out:

Miracles 2-0

Miracles 2-1

Mono-Red Prison 2-1

4-Color Control 2-0

Grixis Control 2-0

Temur Delver 2-1

Miracles 2-0

 

I know I spent most of this article discussing the issues I was having in testing, but I certainly didn’t feel bad about all of my matchups (or else I wouldn’t have played the deck). In fact, I felt the most comfortable with my Miracles matchup. Dreadhorde Arcanist gave the deck an unbelievable power boost in the matchup, and my overall game plan against them felt well-rounded. You can pretty easily set up situations where they need an answer for a Delver or Arcanist right away. If they don’t have an answer, they die most of the time. If they do, it’s easy enough to follow it up with a more sticky threat like Pyromancer or True-Name. This played out time and time again that weekend and I was pretty pleased with the situation.

Blood Moon was absolutely key against 4-Color and Temur. My match against Temur was long and drawn out, and in games 1 and 2 we traded off cards left and right. This left us with a small amount of time in game 3, but a fast Blood Moon came down and prompted the concession.

Just Draw the Bolt!

My match against Mono-Red was absurd, and led to a completely bizarre situation in game 3. I led with an early Delver and started attacking right away. I stopped a Chalice and Abrade with some countermagic, which allowed them to resolve Blood Moon and Boil, cutting me off of Blue mana. After I got them to 3 life, they were able to answer the Delver but were completely out of gas. I just needed a Lightning Bolt, but could only draw cantrips. 

This allowed them to resolve a wide variety of spells, including Ensnaring Bridge, Walking Ballista, and Karn, the Great Creator. Fortunately I still had some time, and even more fortunately, I drew an Abrade. They untapped, -2’d their Karn, got Mycosynth Lattice and cast it. I floated 3 Red mana, let it resolve, and cast Abrade, targeting their Karn (destroy target Artifact). It resolved, and then I cast Brainstorm. My opponent said I couldn’t and I reminded him of the final line of text on Mycosynth Lattice. I then untapped and cast 5 (!!) cantrips and didn’t find a Bolt. After finding a second Abrade to answer the Ballista and Force of Negation to make sure a Chalice didn’t come down, I eventually found a Bolt roughly 10 turns later. My opponent and I were having a good time, and it was a very funny match, but I was pretty happy to take it down.

SCG Philly Legacy Classic

This event was much less exciting, but certainly enlightening:

4C Loam - Win 2-0

4C Loam - Loss 0-2

4C Loam - Loss 0-2

This is not a matchup I feel comfortable in. I don’t have enough dedicated practice against it, and largely feel like i’m just casting spells and trying to attack. It’s actually pretty easy for them to answer my threats 1 by 1. Leaning in on Blood Moon seems alright, but not in every game. Narset’s static ability doesn’t do anything, but maybe just using her as a source of card advantage could be good. Honestly, i’m not entirely sure. If someone has solid insight on a game plan in the match up, I would love to hear it!

 

At the end of the day, I was pretty happy with my performance. I thought I played well, and had a lot of fun doing so. I don’t think Vapor Snag is very good right now, unless you expect a lot of Marit Lage. Even then, I think Submerge is much more well-positioned and might recommend playing up to 2 of those. I think all of the Delver decks are very close in power level at the moment, and can’t fault anyone for choosing any of them. I still like the way this list is positioned, especially with Miracles up ticking with Back to Basics being well-positioned right now. I’m going to keep working on my Delver plan, and try to come up with something cohesive against 4C Loam.

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