Stop Digging and Start Delving: Unbeaten in Swiss and 3rd Place in Legacy at GP Birmingham

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Hi all, I’m Peter van der Ham, longtime Legacy enthusiast and competitor. Back in 2007, around the release of Future Sight, and after a hiatus from Magic since Judgment, my friends and I got into Legacy. At the time, Legacy was a wild land of brews, dominated by three fair strategies: Death & Taxes, Goblins, and the new kid on the block: Threshold.

We have been playing the format ever since, during which time I have dipped my toes into many different ponds, playing decks such as Goblins, Cephalid Breakfast, Dreadstill, Dredge, It’s the Fear, Landstill, Quinn, blue Lands variants, and many forms of black midrange and blue control decks. Some of my more successful periods have been with variants of tempo-based decks, ranging from R/U/G Threshold—headlined by Nimble Mongoose and Tarmogoyf—to Kiln Fiend-based U/R versions, and later all the imaginable iterations that contained both Lightning Bolt and Delver of Secrets.

Flash forward about 10 years, and I found myself in a new meta trying to find a deck to play. After the banning of Sensei’s Divining Top in early 2017 I had a bit of a rough year, trying to find decks that fit the new metagame and my personal play style. In the past year I’ve played some tournaments with Eldrazi Aggro, Esper Deathblade, and even Rebels. After a lot of doubt and months of testing I found myself playing my final round before the Top 8 of Grand Prix Birmingham.

Turn 1? Underground Sea, Deathrite Shaman, go.

This list reflects a combination of strong convictions I have about Grixis Delver, questions that fellow Legacy enthusiasts have been asking, and an unbeaten Swiss record, so I decided that it might be a fine time to share my views about Legacy’s top dog and enemy number one, Grixis Delver. I threw in some of my process on landing on the deck for good measure.


It has been a while since I got to go to a Legacy Grand Prix, so for the last six months I’ve been brewing, and not just a bit. Brewing… 10, 20, 30 decks, and testing them all. First to see if any new cards could explode onto the scene, then to see if any old standby decks could match up to the current Legacy environment.

The feasibility check for any new brew was simple: it should at least hold its own against the current quintessential Legacy deck: Grixis Delver. Ideally, I was looking for a deck that could run cards like Karakas and Swords to Plowshares, due to their strength against cards like Dark Depths and Gurmag Angler. Many weird and slightly adjusted decks came and went—none of them could consistently stand up against the efficiency of Grixis Delver.

But there was one deck—one deck with which I’ve had a positive record against Grixis Delver across many tournaments and many years: Esper Deathblade.

Esper Deathblade is the prime deck to take out Grixis Delver. It is strong, efficient, and, most of all, consistent. It plays a lot of the same early power that Grixis Delver plays and then stabilizes with cards like Stoneforge Mystic and goes over the top with 2-for-1s such as Snapcaster Mage and Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

Esper Deathblade, which is a trusty sword to me, was the deck I finally decided on as the way to beat Grixis Delver, as I had done for many years. Though there was one major problem—the increasing popularity of Czech Pile (a.k.a. 4-Color Leovold Control). Kolaghan’s Command made it such that the main control deck of the format had late game against my Stoneforge Mystic deck.

Now that I had decided that Esper Deathblade was the way to beat Grixis Delver, my next problem was Czech Pile. I saw two options moving forward:

  1. Hope that Czech Pile was less popular than it seemed and dodge it, or;
  2. Make the Esper deck resilient against the Czech Pile matchup.

For a short while I started brewing and testing Esper midrange/control lists without the Stoneforge Mystic package in order to warp the list around Kolaghan’s Command. I was looking for the most efficient combination of cards to keep up with Grixis Delver. It came out as a Czech-Pile-style list with Swords to Plowshares, Tombstalkers, and one of each of the 3-mana Lilianas in the main deck. The mana base was mathematically off by a few sources, such that I had to cut Karakas and still wanted to go up to 21 lands.

After testing that version against Grixis Delver for a bit, I kept dying with all the cards I needed stuck in my hand, making it seem significantly worse in the tempo matchup than the Blade version.

This wasn’t the answer.

Why not play Grixis Delver, you ask?

Okay, time to address the giant, smelly fish in the room.

I believed that everyone was going to be prepared for Grixis Delver, public enemy number one. And that anyone who would take the tournament seriously had to either play Grixis Delver or believe that they were at least about 50% against the deck. Decks like 4-Color Control and Lands had been gaining in popularity because of their matchup against Grixis Delver. For me to play Grixis Delver I would have to say that all these people were wrong and were overestimating their odds against Grixis Delver, which didn’t seem that attractive a bet to go all-in on.

Then I remembered what I had been doing myself. During the later stages of my preparation I had repeatedly made an overview with decks I expected to face on one axis, and decks I considered playing on the other axis. I filled in my expected matchup strength in each of the pairings. And, like clockwork, everything scored better than Grixis Delver. I had been playing the tempo style decks for years, and jammed everything I could think of into them for six months, just to decide that it wasn’t the best deck? No, that had to be wrong. I just thought that it wasn’t the best deck.

Brainstorming about expected matchup strength is an efficient way to find the expected best deck in a metagame (or to find out which decks are worth exploring in detail), but it does come with its own set of pitfalls. For example, when thinking about matchups (instead of actually jamming hundreds of games) it is very easy to overestimate the impact of the individual card strength, and underestimate overall efficiency. Could this be why I overestimated the strength of other decks compared to Grixis Delver? Were other people doing this as well?

I remembered playing against my teammate Kasper Euser while testing the Esper versus Grixis Delver matchup. I got pummeled by Gurmag Angler time and again, thinking: “I have Sword to Plowshares, and Snapcaster Mage, and Baleful Strix in my deck—this must be a fluke.” It wasn’t a fluke. This was just how the deck worked. This wasn’t a fair matchup where both decks got their punches in. This was one deck running circles around the other and hitting them before they knew what was happening.

That was it. The Monday before the tournament I was convinced—Grixis Delver was the best choice for the tournament. And even though there was still the problem of trying to win the mirror match, I was going to throw down the Grixis Delver gauntlet and see what people brought to beat it.

Side Note: On the final day when we were at the GP Birmingham site, I decided to jam one last GPT with a fringe deck, just to be sure that I wasn’t missing out on playing something sweet. I grabbed my Rebels deck, headed over to tournament registration, and got into the 15:15 GPT. I got handily crushed in round 1 by Grixis Delver.

Grixis Delver

Oh Grixis Delver, you beast of a deck. Here we are. Six months and about 30 decks later, I’ve tried to throw everything I could at you, and you just wouldn’t back off. There were still some significant issues I had with the lists some people were playing, and I had some spots to fill in order to tune the deck for the expected metagame.

Here’s the list I ended up playing, after which I’ll explain the card choices.

The Mana Base

Let’s start with the base of the deck—the mana base. Eight (8) fetches, eight (8) blue duals, and four (4) Wastelands, for a tight but tried and true 18-land mana base. With the above configuration of duals lands this nets me the following number of sources for each color:

  • 14 blue sources
  • 12 black or green sources
  • 11 black sources
  • 10 red sources

For some of the mana base building basics I like to refer to the doctor, Frank Karsten, who had an excellent article on ChannelFireball back in 2013. If you haven’t read it, I think that it is one of the most important articles for both Limited as well as Constructed deckbuilding: Frank Analysis – How Many Colored Mana Sources Do You Need To Consistently Cast Your Spells?

What I need out of my mana base:

  • I want to have a single source of blue mana on turn 1 to cast Delver of Secrets or Ponder, and want it to be an Island for Daze. I don’t necessarily need double blue for my natural draws, and I can rely on Deathrite Shaman or cantrips to find my second blue, as long as I don’t play too many UU cost spells. This means that I need to have a minimum of 14 blue sources.
  • I want to have a single black or green mana on turn 1 to cast Deathrite Shaman. This means that I need to have a minimum of 14 black and/or green sources.
  • I want to have a single red mana, but not necessarily on turn 1. Especially on the play, it’s fine to get the red mana on turn 2. This means that red has a bit less of a priority than my other colors.
  • Except for green, all of my colors should be generated by at least two lands, so that I can continue to play my spells after a single Wasteland. But I would like to have at least three for matchups that attack my mana base.

As you can see, the mana base that I listed and the requirements for my mana base don’t match perfectly. I am running a lower number of colored sources than required. Yet, as long as I adhere to the required amount of turn-1 blue sources, my cantrips can help out, and I’ll need to rely on those to get me where I want to go.

The conclusion of this analysis, and my colored mana needs, is as follows.

  • You should optimize the amount of black and/or green mana sources in the mana base.
  • You can’t mulligan hands that need their cantrips to hit the required colors. This is a direct result of how the mana base is built—deal with it.
  • The mana base is fragile and can be attacked (if done efficiently enough).
  • Adding significant, additional nonblue mana requirements to the deck (e.g., post board) must lead to a change in the mana base.

The reason I wanted to go into the mana base is because I have seen a significant amount of Grixis Delver lists with three Volcanic Islands. I think this is a mistake and believe that even the 19th land (after eight fetches, four Wasteland, three Underground Sea, two Volcanic Island and a Tropical Island) shouldn’t be a nonblack/green source. I’ll get back to the last bullet when I get to the sideboard.

The Threats

The threats of Grixis Delver are where its true strength lies. Yet, for people without experience with or against the deck this might not be obvious.

First off, the threats are (almost) all mana efficient. Delver of Secrets is a blue Wild Nacatl with flying, Gurmag Angler is a 1-mana 5/5, Young Pyromancer is a 2-mana army without any further required investment, and, as we all know, Deathrite Shaman makes the world go ’round.

The key is in their resiliency—not only to removal, but especially in their resiliency to engage in any sort of combat.

  • Deathrite Shaman’s beatdown only gets stopped by graveyard interactions.
  • Delver of Secrets can only be blocked by flyers.
  • Young Pyromancer is perfectly fine being an enchantment.
  • True-Name Nemesis can’t be blocked.
  • Gurmag Angler is simply the biggest fair creature in Legacy.

Now then—why stray from the beaten path? Normal configurations play a 4/4/3/2/2 configuration of threats, respective to their order above.

Three Gurmag Anglers

An increasing number of Marsh Casualties are seeing play, both in the sideboards of Grixis Delver as well as in other black decks. Other effects punish the small amount of toughness that many of your threats have (e.g., Toxic Deluge, Izzet Staticaster, Zealous Persecution, Holy Light). As such, I wanted to decrease the number of 1-toughness creatures in the deck.

In addition to this, I believe that (after Deathrite Shaman) Gurmag Angler is the best threat in the mirror, due to its resiliency to both the main deck and the sideboard configurations, and its low mana cost, which gets around both Daze and Wasteland. Many of the Grixis Delver mirrors play out in a way where both players struggle to keep their early threats alive and to have mana to cast the bigger threats. Gurmag Angler is by far the best in these highly interactive early games.

The combination of the increasing number of cards that punish small creatures, its efficiency in the mirror, and the limited number of Swords to Plowshares in current deck lists have convinced me that three Gurmag Anglers is correct.

On the other end of the spectrum is True-Name Nemesis, a card that is very strong against Swords to Plowshares . The 3-mana cost is rather steep in game 1 of the mirror, and it is weak against a number of staple sideboard cards such as Pyroblast and Marsh Casualties. I have decided that I want to cut a True-Name Nemesis to compensate for its inefficiency in the mirror.

This being said, True-Name Nemesis is the most resilient threat in the deck if you can resolve it game 1 against decks such as Czech Pile, before they get access to additional cards to remove it. In order to compensate for this, I was looking for another resilient threat for that matchup.


In line with the threat-base of the deck, it is important to have enough threats that can go wide, to make cards like Diabolic Edict less efficient to bring in out of sideboards. In line with my earlier explanation, however, an increasing number of Marsh Casualties (et al.) makes creatures that are weak to sweepers a liability. This made me want to cut down on Young Pyromancers.

The decks that have been rising in popularity due to their prowess against Grixis Delver are the slightly more efficient builds of Czech Pile and Lands. Czech Pile cuts down on Abrupt Decays in favor of more 1-mana removal in order to keep up with Grixis Delver. This makes their deck very weak to enchantments, and while they can otherwise keep up and stabilize against many of Grixis Delver’s threats, Bitterblossom is a real problem.

The other reason I was testing Bitterblossom was because of its efficiency against Lands. They can Punishing Fire the tokens away, but this costs them 3 mana per turn, and it’s even harder to get back after a couple of Faeries are already out. This wouldn’t be a problem against normal decks, but against a tempo deck such as Grixis Delver, it’s hard to keep up.

The easiest way to lose to Lands is to get attacked by a 20/20 flying, indestructible Marit Lage token. Guess what blocks that all day long?

Bitterblossom isn’t a perfect answer for the spot, as it can be a liability in the mirror and has to rebuild against the aforementioned sweepers, but it does the job and is well positioned against some of the tougher matchups. I decided to cut one Young Pyromancer for a single Bitterblossom, which also reduced the amount of main deck red cards by one.

Wild Slash

The card I got the most flack about at GP Birmingham was Wild Slash, as most people didn’t seem to grasp why a person would play this card over the conventional Forked Bolt. To answer why I played Wild Slash, I should start by explaining why I didn’t play Forked Bolt. Fairly easy, actually—Forked Bolt is a sorcery. Okay, that probably didn’t add much that you didn’t already know.

The thing is, sorceries are bad. Consider a few examples against decks where Forked Bolt should be good.

  • Death & Taxes, end of turn: Activate Aether Vial, Vial in Mother of Runes.
  • Death & Taxes, end of turn: Activate Aether Vial, lay down Flickerwisp. Take turn, equip Umezawa’s Jitte to Flickerwisp.
  • Elves, end of turn: fetch for Dryad Arbor.
  • Grixis Delver: You are on the play and your hand is Forked Bolt, Young Pyromancer, a couple of lands, a Brainstorm, and a Force of Will. Your opponent plays a turn-1 Deathrite Shaman. Your sorcery just Time Walked you.

The main arguments in favor of Forked Bolt is that it can kill two creatures against Death & Taxes and against Elves. I will give you some more example situations so you can decide how good Forked Bolt is at killing two creatures.

  • Death & Taxes, turn 1: Plains, cast Mother of Runes, go.
  • Elves, turn 1: Forest, Birchlore Ranger, go.

These are cherry-picked examples of course, but what I’m trying to get across is that playing a sorcery removal spell has a real downside.

I fired up Gatherer and went looking for alternative removal spells under the following conditions: They should be instant, they should be able to damage my opponent, they should deal at least 2 damage, and they cannot cost more than 1 mana.

A handful of Shocks with upsides came up:

  • Burst Lightning: Deals 4 damage instead if you have 5 mana to kick it.
  • Galvanic Blast: Metalcraft is no upside because you don’t have (enough) artifacts.
  • Tarfire: The tribal type is a downside because you don’t play Tarmogoyf.
  • Wild Slash: Damage can’t be prevented this turn if you have ferocious.

Of these four only two have a true upside in this deck: Burst Lightning and Wild Slash.

Burst Lightning’s upside is quite real, but 5 mana is a steep cost in a deck such as Grixis Delver. And while you might get there in some matchups, it gets tough if your opponent has any sort of interaction with your mana base. Wild Slash seemed a bit narrow in its applications at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it started to make sense.

The main reason I decided to play Wild Slash is because of the following archetypes that I expected to be popular, each of which attacks your mana, which makes kicking Burst Lightning increasingly unlikely: Grixis Delver, Death & Taxes, and Lands.

  • Grixis Delver: Gurmag Angler is one of the more resilient and easy to resolve threats in this matchup, but if you are low on interactions your opponent can completely stop your offense with a True-Name Nemesis. Wild Slash gives you a main deck out to this situation. Just remember to make them commit to the block first. As long as people are playing two True-Name Nemesis and I am playing three Gurmag Anglers, I’m happy to have Wild Slash in this matchup.
  • Death & Taxes: In this matchup the instant speed is the most significant upside of this removal spell, but I believe that Wild Slash is actually a decent card against Mother of Runes, killing both her and the creature tangling with Gurmag Angler. The ferocious upside here is very narrow but it seems better than Burst Lightning due to all their taxing effects.
  • Lands: Lands has three ways to win the game: Attacking with a 20/20, killing your lands, or by answering all of your threats. Two of these lines will (most likely) at some point involve stopping your Gurmag Angler with a Maze of Ith or stopping your entire team with Glacial Chasm. If they do, the chance that they survive a Wild Slash to the face is rather slim.
  • Bonus: U/W Rest in Peace Control: Some U/W control variants are currently running the Rest in Peace + Energy Field combo to lock up the game against decks such as Grixis Delver. If your opponent spends 4 mana and two cards to prevent all further damage against themselves, Wild Slash is pretty rough.
    [Full Disclosure: I didn’t actually think about the Energy Field one until I faced this situation at the GP, where my opponent was digging for his out, which was Energy Field. Sadly, he never found it and died while I had the Slash in my hand.]

Main Deck Cabal Therapy

Putting one of the (originally) three sideboard Cabal Therapies in the main deck is a tough call that I’m still not sure about. Ideally, I would like all of my interaction to be tempo positive, which Cabal Therapy isn’t and Spell Pierce could be (but usually isn’t).

The reason I went with the main deck Cabal Therapy over the Spell Pierce is because I expected a decent number of Death & Taxes, against which Cabal Therapy is great. In addition to this, I was short on sideboard slots and would rather have the Cabal Therapy in my 75 than the Spell Pierce.

Sideboard Badlands

With the exception of the Badlands, the sideboard I ran looks a lot like a stock list, except that as a result of the sideboard guide I made for myself, I concluded that I needed one more flexible spell in my sideboard, which became the Collective Brutality over the third Cabal Therapy (I switched it the day before the Grand Prix). But for the rest, I won’t go into the exact choices for each of the sideboard slots.

About the Badlands. As I hope I have made clear in the section about the mana base, the main deck mana availability is extremely tight, and actually low on black, green, and red mana sources. The reason that this is acceptable is because of the low count of both red and black spells in the main deck.

The current sideboard runs 13 red or black spells, and even contains two double-black spells, which come in against fair decks. The double-black spells aren’t an uncommon sight, but I honestly have no clue how people are expecting to reliably cast those in the mirror or against Death & Taxes.

As such, I decided to put the Badlands in the sideboard, which should come into the deck in the following situations:

  • Whenever you board in a double-black spell.
  • Against any deck that runs three or more Wastelands and/or Rishadan Ports.
  • Whenever you board in more red spells than you take out.
  • Whenever you board out most of the Dazes.
  • Whenever Tropical island isn’t required (i.c.w. boarding out Daze)
  • Whenever Wasteland isn’t required.
  • Against Choke.
  • Against Carpet of Flowers (out of fair decks).

If your sideboard looks anything like mine, don’t leave home without an additional mana source. Some people suggested that I should run the Badlands in the main deck, if it is indeed required for the mana. But I disagree with this statement, since most of the B/R requirements are in the sideboard.

Note: I would normally always advocate a 2/2/2/2 split on blue fetchlands in Grixis Delver, unless you’re looking to snipe some fetchlands with your own Pithing Needle (in which case you should run with the least popular lands). But in case you’re running Badlands in your sideboard, you should max out on Polluted Delta and Scalding Tarn before anything else. Don’t forget that little detail.

The Tournament

The tournament went really well, I played a decent number of insane games on Day 1, of which I think I would’ve lost about two on any normal day. I really felt that I had to fight for every single win, and even thought I got some wins on the back of my opponents’ mistakes, it’s good to have a deck that punishes even the smallest of them, and it felt really rewarding not to have auto-wins in any round.

I played a lot worse on Day 2, but still good enough to be scraping in the wins.

Some other highlights of the Swiss rounds were:

  • Gitaxian Probing my Death & Taxes opponent on turn 1 and seeing two Stoneforge Mystic and two Council’s Judgment in a game that looks to go long, then topdecking a Cabal Therapy the next turn.
  • Almost winning game 1 against Dredge without any graveyard interaction, and then going on to win game 2 against Dredge without any graveyard interaction (he decked himself).
  • My opponent noting that he didn’t find Energy Field in either of our games, while I had an active Wild Slash game 1, and a Pyroblast stuck in my hand during all of game 2.
  • Topdecking a Lightning Bolt for the kill in game 2 of the mirror, while racing his Bitterblossom with my Deathrite Shaman. This tilted my opponent significantly and might have gotten me some free percentage points in game 3.

After 12 Swiss rounds I was the last undefeated player, leaving the eight 8-0 players from Day 1 behind me. In round 12, I was up against the last other undefeated player—Lukas Muller with his Elves deck. Thankfully, I am fortunate enough to have a great Elves player (Sabrina Kool) on my testing team, which definitely helped me 2-0 that round, as Lukas duly noted after we finished the match.

After winning two more I looked at the standings and found that I could easily ID myself into first place and lock my opponent into the second spot, which meant that I would dodge my opponent’s Steel Stompy deck until the finals.

In the quarterfinals I had some interesting and seemingly very close games against Yuta Takahashi, who had to check with the judge if I could write down his entire 60 on my notebook after we gave back the deck lists. In the end I got away with the third game against Yuta on the back of him Brainstorming an important Spell Pierce one card too deep in his deck, which allowed me to counter his Toxic Deluge with my own Spell Pierce.

In the semifinals I faced off against Grzegorz Kowalski and we had a close game 1 where I managed to make a mistake on turn 1 while I was on the play, which seems pretty impressive (Gitaxian Probed after casting my Deathrite Shaman instead of doing so before the Shaman). After that blunder we traded enough resources on the first turn-cycle that I could resolve a turn-2 Gurmag Angler. Together with a Lightning Bolt that was just enough to race his Insectile Aberration and Deathrite Shaman.

In game 2 of the semifinals I was forced to mulligan to four cards but got some hope in the midgame, as the game was stalling out and I seemed to have quite a few outs to get there. In the end I couldn’t make up for the card disadvantage and we went to game 3.

In game 3 I had a mediocre hand with a turn-1 Delver, two Ponders and some bigger cards. I couldn’t find my second land, and even though Grzegorz was also bricking on finding a Wasteland, I just didn’t have enough time to draw out of it.

For extra value: Even though I went undefeated in the Swiss, my first minutes on camera were of me losing to Grzegorz in the semis. I’m still waiting for my first on-camera win, so maybe I have to thank the coverage team for waiting until the semifinals.

My round-by-round results were as follows:

1: Grixis Painter (Michael Evans) [DRAW] / 2-1
2: Sultai Food Chain (Miguel Angel Santin) [PLAY] / 1-1-1
3: Death & Taxes (Liam Canning) [DRAW] / 2-1
4: Lands (Russel Soper) [PLAY] / 2-1
5: Dredge (Jonathan Hart) [DRAW] / 2-1
6: UW RIP Control (Noah Cohen) [DRAW] / 2-0
7: Grixis Delver (Marcio Cavalho) [DRAW] / 2-1
8: Czech Pile (Jesper Christensen) [DRAW] / 2-1
9: 4c White Leovold (Juha Ionen) [PLAY] / 2-0
10: Sultai Food Chain (Szegho Dalibor) [DRAW] / 2-1
11: Sultai Leovold (Niklas Holtman) [DRAW] / 2-0
12: Elves (Lukas Muller) [PLAY] / 2-0
13: Grixis Delver (Grant Fishman) [PLAY] / 2-0
14: Grixis Delver (Bernardo Santos) [PLAY] / 2-1
15: ID vs Steel Stompy
QF: Czech Pile (Yuta Takahashi) [PLAY] / 2-1
SF: Grixis Delver (Gregorz Kowalski) [PLAY] / 1-2

If you were counting along, that was 11 Deathrite Shaman decks, with the last non-Deathrite Shaman deck in round 6. I seemed to have dodged all of the Stompy and combo decks, which led to a lot of grindy and close games.

The most nerve-wracking games of the bunch were rounds 2 and 10, both against Sultai Food Chain, who both had me dead to a lot of topdecks for multiple turns.


The choice to run Grixis Delver seemed to pay off, not only because I won a lot but because the games also felt rewarding. My prowess with the deck felt good enough to win a lot of close games and mirror matches, which I had feared would not be the case.

For the most part I was really convinced of the build I submitted for Grand Prix Birmingham, given my presumptions about the metagame. The Wild Slash was definitely better than the Forked Bolt, purely on the merit of being an instant. But I could see exploring the possibility of a Dismember or a Fatal Push, pending on how the format shapes up.

The main-deck Bitterblossom and sideboard Badlands both won me a lot of games, and were also the two unique slots I was the most convinced about before the tournament. I haven’t seen as many Lands decks as I expected (this might have something to do with the price of Tabernacle in paper), but as long as people start to one-up Grixis Delver by going slightly bigger, Bitterblossom will do some great work. And remember, friends don’t let friends leave home with BB casting costs in the 75 with only 11 reliable black sources.

I’m still unsure about the second Spell Pierce versus the Cabal Therapy in the main deck. It’s close, so unless I find a sideboard slot I would keep it as-is. If Stompy decks get a decent push in popularity it might be worth it to switch back to a second main deck Spell Pierce.

The least impactful cards out of the board were definitely Ancient Grudge and Pithing Needle. I could see exploring a Kolaghan’s Command in the spot of the Ancient Grudge but it’s probably too mana–intensive. I also expect a bit more Stompy in the coming months on the back of Gary’s win, so keeping the Grudge is probably wise.

If Red Stompy becomes a lot more popular I would even explore a Hydroblast in the board instead of the Collective Brutality, or a Spell Pierce over the Flusterstorm if there isn’t already a second in the main.

The sideboard guide I made for myself wasn’t solid, as I ended up changing it up a lot throughout the Grand Prix. I had a first draft based off of my experience with tempo-based decks and consulted with my teammates as well as available online resources. The surprising fact was that every single source I used gave me different information. Even on seemingly straightforward questions such as, “should you board out your Dazes against Miracles, or do you board out Lightning Bolts first?” As such, this is definitely an area of attention if I play this deck moving forward.

Thank you all for reading, and I hope this write-up could help some Grixis Delver players with their decisions or, at least, spark some interesting discussions.

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