Let’s compare Pteramander to its direct competitors. A 1-mana 1/1 flyer that might become a 5/5 flyer later in the game is huge, and while 8 mana does seem like a lot, in a format with cheap and free spells like Legacy it’s easy to exploit, like Gurmag Angler. Fetchlands are a huge factor, however, when casting these delve cards, and Pteramander does not take them into consideration. Gurmag Angler is better than this Drake, but you might want to stay out of black to exploit the power of cards like Bedlam Reveler and Young Pyromancer in straight U/R and to be less vulnerable to Wasteland.
Many people are already thinking about adding Thought Scour or even Manamorphose to their deck to fuel Pteramander, but I don’t think that’s better than maxing out on Brainstorms, Ponders, and Preordains, as those will generally be better later in the game to avoid flood and give you more card selection. A 5/5 flyer in the late game is super powerful, and the payoff is so great that it’s worth trying to build a U/R list with four copies.
I don’t expect your opponent to hate on the graveyard, but even if they do, a 1/1 flyer is still better than a 7-mana 5/5 against a Leyline of the Void.
The last pro is that this is a blue card. Therefore, you can pitch it to Force of Will, and that’s no small advantage in Legacy.
There are versions of U/R that I call U/R Prowess with four Monastery Swiftspear, three Stormchaser Mage, and three Soul-Scar Mage. I’m still a fan of Young Pyromancer and Bedlam Reveler, so I’m going to cut the prowess package in favor of that.
You don’t have to treat this deck as a U/R Burn deck, as it used to be in the past. Young Pyromancer, Bedlam Reveler and now Pteramander give you a clean late game. Use your cantrips to avoid mana flood due and you’ll win on the back of your cheap and efficient threats.
Why is this deck better than Grixis Delver?
First, let me say that this is an experiment and needs to be tested. But generally, being only 2 colors makes you better versus any deck with Wasteland since you can basically never get color screwed, a problem that often happens to decks like Temur Delver or Grixis Delver since they operate with a very low land count and might get Wastelanded out.
Yes, you saw correctly—I listed some Steam Vents. This is because some crazy person might sideboard in Surgical Extraction against you. That, paired with Wasteland, could leave you without any Volcanic Islands to fetch for, and I would never put a basic Mountain in my 12 blue cantrip deck since I’m already playing 1 Wasteland and that’s a concession to the fact that playing 16 colored sources could make you flood too much.
While some might argue against having Spell Pierce in a deck that proactively wants to put spells in the graveyard is good, we are still playing Legacy, and cards like Counterbalance and Show and Tell need to be countered. It’s hard to just disregard what your opponent is doing, so I like to have a bunch of countermagic.
Chain Lightning might be replaced with Dismember or Fire // Ice, but I like being able to go upstairs in a deck that can be very aggressive, and we deal with Gurmag Angler already with Young Pyromancer going wide.
Is this card playable in other Delver strategies, like U/B Shadow or Temur Delver?
Gurmag Angler is still better than Pteramander in U/B Shadow, and the two cards obviously can’t share that slot.
With the help of Street Wraith and the large number of fetchlands and 1-mana spells, Gurmag is such a threat in U/B Shadow that I would never cut it. I can see Pteramander being played in Temur Delver over Nimble Mongoose. Hexproof is indeed nice, but being able to fly over a True-Name Nemesis or Young Pyromancer is not something to sleep on, especially in a deck that already dominates the battlefield with Tarmogoyf.
I can’t wait to record with this deck and pick up my playset of foil Pteramander while waiting for Ravnica Allegiance to come out!