Last weekend at GP Portland, I played an updated version of GB Delirium, the deck that I had piloted the week prior at the Pro Tour. I made a lot of changes to the deck, some good, and some bad. The long and short of it is that I got beat up pretty bad by the UR Spells deck but had a pretty good record against the rest of the field. I went 11-4 overall—the classic “bread and butter” finish.
To me that suggests I could just fix the UR Spells matchup with some powerful sideboard options and then go right back to playing GB Delirium again. And that’s basically what I’m planning to do. I played GB Delirium the last 2 weeks running, and I’ll probably play it again this weekend.
I have this nagging fear that GB Delirium is ultimately a flawed deck, and I’m throwing away a handful of events playing something that isn’t good, even though I’m getting closer and closer to the mark each time I pilot the deck. When it’s all said and done, however, it doesn’t matter if you get close to the mark if the mark isn’t good enough in the first place.
Regardless, I haven’t put the work into any other deck, so I’m probably just going to run it back again and use this next event as a barometer for whether I should even bother to stick with it, or if I should just give it up for good and move on.
Let’s take a look at my current list:
I’ve tried out a ton of cards and builds, and this is the build I keep coming back to. I tried out Pilgrim’s Eye, Terrarion, and Hedron Archive for the artifact subtype. I tried out Explosive Vegetation for the synergy with Nissa, Tracker, Sylvan Advocate, and Woodland Bellower. I tried versions with almost no removal and heavy delirium with 3 Ishkanah.
None of them really worked out that well. It was cool when they did their thing, but when it comes down to it, I just want to play the best and brightest cards GB has to offer and not mess around with cutesy stuff. You don’t play to just play. You play to Winnower the game.
I’m going to talk about some of my numbers and then discuss how I ended up on the sideboard slots I did.
First of all, I cut a Swamp for a Blighted Fen. It’s risky to trim on the Swamp numbers, but I’ve been pretty pleased with Blighted Fen. It can only target opponents, so it’s pretty good against Emrakul. You can also find it with Traverse the Ulvenwald, and rebuy it over and over again with Grapple with the Past. I think it’s worth a slot.
Playing Grapple with the Past and Vessel of Nascency are necessary evils to assemble delirium. Without any main-deck Languish, the deck relies a lot on cards like Ishkanah to hold down the fort in some matchups, so it’s imperative to assemble delirium so that Traverse or Grapple can find an Ishkanah and then make some Spider buddies.
Vessel is pretty mediocre, but provides a needed effect. Grapple is just a great card on its own and could very well be right to play even in decks that don’t care as much about delirium. Being able to rebuy powerful creatures throughout the game is amazing, especially because it doubles early as a way to find more lands when needed.
To the Slaughter has greatly overperformed. It’s great with delirium and it’s one of the few instants that actually can kill Emrakul. A+, would recommend.
Gilt-Leaf Winnower ended up making it into the main deck because it is great against both Bant Company and the UR Spells deck, which together only made up a mere 8 of the Top 8 decks of GP Rimini last weekend. 8 of 8? I guess that’ll have to be good enough. I have been pleased having this card in my deck. Having access to Blighted Fen and Gilt-Leaf Winnower is nice as it can turn Traverse the Ulvenwald into a removal spell.
In the sideboard, I added in 2 Call the Bloodline and 1 Orbs of Warding for the UR Spells matchup. Both of these cards have greatly overperformed. Orbs of Warding gives hexproof and shuts out the damage that Thermo-Alchemist deals so it’s a huge beating for them. It’s important to note that Orbs of Warding does not stop Fevered Visions from dealing 2 damage, however.
Call the Bloodline may seem like a loose card, but it’s actually exceptionally good vs. the deck. For one, they just have a bunch of spot removal spells and are trying to slowly burn you out while keeping the board clear, so a bunch of 1/1 lifelink creatures is surprisingly effective against that strategy. Their creatures all have 0 power, so they can’t even brickwall the 1/1s in combat. Secondly, their absolute best card in the matchup is Fevered Visions. GB can’t pressure their life total fast enough through all of their removal spells and can’t deplete its hand fast enough to avoid losing to Fevered Visions.
Call the Bloodline lets you stay underneath the hand size needed to avoid dying to Fevered Visions and provides a steady stream of lifelinking threats to pad your life total to prevent you from dying to a flurry of burn spells. One important thing to note with Call the Bloodline is that you can only activate the ability once per turn, so if you’re planning on making 2 tokens, make the first one on your turn so you can make the second one on the opponent’s turn. Call the Bloodline can also help assemble delirium, which has come up on a few occasions.
Transgress is really strong against Bant Company. Being able to steal a Collected Company out of their hand or even a Tireless Tracker goes a long way. Almost every game I lose to them involves Tracker getting out of control and sometimes I will actually take Tracker over Company when given the choice. I also lose the occasional game to getting “Banted” where they just go 2-drop, 3-drop, Company, Company and I die, but then again, who really is beating that hand?
Vessel is a “necessary evil” kind of card and when I am siding in another enchantment like Dead Weight, I’m happy to cut Vessels.
Caustic Caterpillar shines in this matchup as a way to handle Evolutionary Leap, Stasis Snare, and Quarantine Field. With Liliana and Grapple with the Past, this is one Caterpie you won’t be transferring to the professor.
You would think Kalitas would be good in this matchup, but he actually isn’t. They have a lot of spells that deal 4 damage, and tapping out for Kalitas only to have it eat a Collective Defiance is bad times. Liliana is quite weak here as it kills nothing and is ineffective vs. cards like Thermo-Alchemist and Thing in the Ice, but I leave in 1 copy for the -2 ability and for delirium reasons.
I think this is a very good matchup. If you can Obliteration Emrakul it’s hard to lose, and Liliana can ultimate against them fairly easily. I would basically name Emrakul with Infinite Obliteration every time, no matter what. I had a situation last GP where my opponent had Mindbender in hand that I knew about and Kozilek’s Return in the graveyard that would sweep my board and I still named Emrakul with Obliteration. I knew I could beat the Mindbender, but beating Emrakul is not easy, and they play 2 copies post-board so they find it often.
My sideboard is a little light for this matchup, but it isn’t a popular deck and I believe it’s a good matchup even with a weak sideboard.
What to cut depends a lot on their version and build.
I wouldn’t touch any of the delirium enablers or Liliana. Liliana ultimating is a good game plan against them, and getting a fast Emrakul is likewise a strong strategy.