BUG Delver

This week’s Pick of the Week comes right before the Magic Online Championship Series Season 12 Final, which is Legacy. I started off with the deck list played by Tomoharu Saito at Grand Prix Seattle to a 12­-3 finish. His deck was awesome and I was so impressed by it that I had to try it for myself. I was practicing Legacy on Magic Online with Infect to mixed results, and in one match I played against this version of BUG Delver. The games were utterly noncompetitive—I got trounced. The deck looks clean and there are no bad cards, only super efficient ones.

I’ve played my fair share of Delver decks in the past and I started on RUG Delver, which I played at a few events but eventually dismissed, moving on to UWR Delver. I was especially proud of that deck—I designed it myself, and I wrote about it for weeks leading up to Grand Prix DC, which I eventually won. I didn’t create a new archetype, of course, but there were many unique card choices that contributed heavily to the deck’s success. It didn’t take much convincing for me to get behind a deck sporting the following cards:

That’s just good living. That’s how you win with Delver of Secrets in Legacy—it’s a proven formula. They’re the best cards available. Now it looks like Ponder and Brainstorm are there to help ensure the Delver of Secrets flip more often, but that’s true more by virtue of the fact that they are an instant or sorcery than because of their effects. I only use those cards to leave instants and sorceries on top of my library for the purposes of flipping my Delvers when it’s convenient or even pure coincidence.

The biggest mistake you can make with a Delver deck in Legacy is to Brainstorm when the Delver trigger is on the stack, especially on turn 2. It’s almost always a better play to take your chances on the Delver flip so you can Brainstorm after you’ve drawn for your turn. Now you have an extra card in hand, which means more information about which cards you do not want, it gives you an increased shot of drawing a fetchland to turn that Brainstorm into an Ancestral Recall, and lastly when you Brainstorm in your upkeep you have to draw one of the two cards you put back on top which is only a good outcome if you have an excellent hand.

Now I already have a fondness for decks that run 4 Wasteland and 4 Daze, but when you throw Hymn to Tourach into the mix you’ve got something really beautiful. Recently I was having a conversation about what would happen if they unbanned Mind Twist in Legacy. There were some thought-provoking answers, but by far the most interesting result was the number of world-class Magic players who all agreed that Hymn to Tourach is just a better card than Mind Twist. I found that surprising, but I couldn’t disagree with it. Hymn to Tourach has historically been underappreciated in Legacy but I don’t think that is the case any longer.

Wasteland is one of the sickest ways out there to make it so the opponent doesn’t get a chance to play a fair game, and Hymn to Tourach is similarly broken because it makes the opponent discard at random and doesn’t discriminate against lands. Someone could reasonably keep a three-land hand and have no lands in the face of a simple Bayou into Deathrite Shaman—they play a Tundra, you Wasteland it and Hymn their last lands.

The original list had 2 Marsh Casualties in the sideboard instead of the two Disfigure I run now, and that’s largely because of Lingering Souls, Young Pyromancer, and Elves. I’ve found Disfigure to be better because of the nature of the deck and mirror matches. If your opponent plays a turn-1 Deathrite Shaman you want to kill it immediately, and you feel largely disadvantaged if you can’t. Even with Delver of Secrets, it’s very common that this is a card you want to kill and spending 1 mana versus 2 is huge, and that’s not even mentioning that some games it will flip and you’ll have no chance to kill it. I will concede the fact that Marsh Casualties is a reasonable and reliable answer to True­-Name Nemesis, but I haven’t seen those played much recently.