Delver of Secrets has made a firm impact in every format of Magic: The Gathering’s history. The sheer power level of a 3/2 flyer for 1 blue mana is not to be underestimated. Recently, Delver of Secrets has seen a lot of play in UR styles of aggressive deck-lists prior to the banning of Treasure Cruise. Now the deck has pretty much fallen off of the map.
But not for me.
I love Delver of Secrets. It is honestly in my top 5 favorite cards of the game. I love cards that tell their own story as I play them (another favorite is Obzedat, Ghost Council). Delver is no different. I have been watching a lot of coverage of the Modern format and have come up with, what I think, is quite possibly the best setting for Delver in the current meta-game. I decided to combine Sultai with the old UR strategy with a twist. Let’s take a look at the list before I break down our card choices.
Let’s talk about my playset of Snapcaster Mage. Snapcaster is so good in every matchup, especially when he can flash-back spells like Terminate and Lightning Bolt. I honestly have never understood playing less than 4. He definitely makes waves in a deck like this. Re-buying spells is not to be underestimated, especially in the late game damage race!
Young Pyromancer is such a great card against a lot of the current field. She does her job extremely efficiently, especially if we can play her and then clog up the board with tokens through casting free spells like Gitaxian Probe. Young Pyromancer also tends to have synergy with Tasigur and Snapcaster, since they allow us to re-buy our spells. I can see lowering her to a 3 of or maybe even 2. Right now I like 4, especially in a meta full of aggressive strategies.
Delver of Secrets can be a 3/2 flier for one blue. Enough said. Our deck is chock full of instants and sorceries, so there is a strong chance he will flip on turn one. We want four because we always welcome a hand with a Delver, especially if it is full of lands as well.
Oh man. This is the card that made me finally sleeve up this deck. Tasigur, the Golden Fang just is such a beating and we can cast him as early as turn 2! If we have two fetch-lands and a Thought Scour in our hand alongside a Tasigur then we’ll have a turn 2 4/5 that re-buys spells and fuels Snapcaster Mage. He is very strong! There is a lot of synergy between representing Cryptic Command or a Tasigur activation. Just watch these professionals struggle to comprehend how to deal with Gerard Fabiano’s Tasigurs time and time again. (I’ll give you a hint, they often make mistakes). He is playing control! Imagine if he would have had the pressure we will have with Delver and Young Pyromancer!
Counter-magic: Remand and Mana Leak are in our deck and I like it that way. Remand became surprisingly good once Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time got banned. Mana Leak is just the solid, 2 mana counter-spell that allows us to tax our opponent in the early game and punish our opponents for casting spells on curve (haha turn 4 Siege Rhino). We have a singleton Cryptic Command, but I will get to that later.
Draw spells: Thought Scour is in our deck to fuel early Tasigurs. Thought Scour is a dead draw in the late game, especially if we do not have an active Tasigur. This is the first card to go when it comes to side-boarding versus a lot of the creature decks in the format.
Serum Visions is perfection in this deck. Delver didn’t flip turn 2? That’s ok, we’ll make sure it flips next turn. Need some land? Let’s go 3 cards deep and find some! Now, it isn’t quite Brainstorm or Preordain, but it will do.
Gitaxian Probe is a great card in this deck. It is a free draw spell, and we get to see our opponent’s hand! Probe also has a lot of synergy with Young Pyromancer, making its slot even more important. I love Probe, but I could see you playing Thoughtseize or Inquisition over probe. I just really liked the probe more through the extensive testing I did because Probe advances our board, whereas Thoughtseize-effects slow it down.
Gitaxian Probe > Thoughtseize
Removal: Lightning Bolt! This card is quite possibly one of the most iconic pieces of cardboard to ever be printed! Bolt is irreplaceable in this deck. It tends to be really good against a lot of the aggressive decks and also can present a clock with an active Tasigur, the Golden Fang. This card never comes out of the deck. EVER.
Terminate is our answer to Tarmogoyf, our opponent’s Tasigur, or pretty much any other creature that is causing us a lot of problems. Terminate tends to be really good against a lot of midrange strategies, especially Abzan. Terminate is fantastic. That being said, it tends to be a dead draw a lot of the time. That is why we only have two. It just does not have the versatility that Lightning Bolt has.
Murderous Cut is such a blow out in our deck. No one tends to expect this card and it more often than not punishes our enemy for attempting to over-extend into, what they perceive, to be an empty board. I like this card a lot. I play two because my meta-game is heavy with creature decks, but I can see only playing one. This card is very good and deserves a spot. The only downside is when something like this catches a Remand after we delved away 3 or 4 cards.
Now it is time to talk about Cryptic Command. This card started out as a 2-of for me, and more often than not, I didn’t need the second one. I felt like this card was really good when I drew it, but I didn’t need more than one. Cryptic Command is very versatile and tends to matchup very nicely against every deck in the format. I just did not want to lose focus as I moved into a more aggressive style of play. Cryptic has excellent synergy with Tasigur! I love leaving four mana up with a Tasigur in play and a Cryptic in hand. It tends to stump players and can lead to them making mistakes that we can then profit from. Try out Cryptic for yourself in this deck! I like it, but I’m not married to it.
Fetchlands are vital to controlling the board with Tasigur. Honestly, if you have Scalding Tarns, I would recommend playing 12. For now the deck is running very smoothly at 8 (4 Mires and 4 Deltas). I don’t really think I would change a thing at this point. 2 of each shock and then some basics round out or list. I like it. The mana base is simple and tends to be very versatile. We rarely run into mana issues. I play 20 because most of our spells only require 1-2 mana to cast. If you wanted to include some Vendilion Cliques, I would bump the land count up to 21, adding another Island or Watery Grave.
The cool thing about Grixis is that we can play cards like Slaughter Games and Rakdos Charm in our sideboard! Rakdos Charm is really good against Splinter Twin combo. Slaughter Games works really well at stripping our opponents of their resources, especially combo pieces (bye bye Ad Nauseam). We also can board into hate cards like Ancient Grudge and Blood Moon in order to stop our opponent’s game plans. Here is what my sideboard looks like:
Sowing Salt tends to make a lot of players very salty, especially against big mana decks (take that UrzaTron!). Batterskull is just worth so much value, especially against the very grindy matchups. B-Skull is just so good at destroying our opponent’s tempo while simultaneously gaining us a competitive edge. It is very hard to keep this card out of the deck post-board against any creature decks. Batterskull is just so efficient.
Let’s talk about how we destroy any form of combo decks (Splinter Twin and Ad Nauseam). Slaughter Games is excellent on the play against any combo decks (or decks that rely on one or two spells to function). On the draw against Splinter Twin we want to board in our Rakdos Charms because they just destroy the combo. Be sure to ask your opponent how many Deceiver Exarchs or Pestermites they are making. Blood Moon is also very good against any combo deck that does not run red. Combo decks rely on colored mana more than you think.
Another great use of Blood Moon is against decks like Naya Zoo and Junk. These decks normally will play 2 or 3 basic lands, which makes Blood Moon infinitely better. Some more cards that are just ridiculous in creature deck matchups are our Go For The Throats and Black Sun’s Zenith. Very efficient answers in our colors. We bring in Dispel and Negate against decks that heavily rely on noncreature spells. Our deck already plays a lot of efficient counterspells so we tend to have great game 1’s against control. Remember that my sideboard caters to my local metagame, therefore it might not be the best for your local tournaments. Affinity is prevalent at my LGS, so I play Ancient Grudge. If no one is playing Affinity in your local meta, don’t play Ancient Grudge.
I hope this primer has been of some help to you. I love the color combinations of this deck, so I tend to have a lot of interesting and fun games with it. Our deck is very interactive!
Also, remember to pick up all these cards from your local game store! You can’t pick up your singles at Target or Walmart.
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