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Modern Mentor: Week of March, 16, 2015

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

Have you ever been on a cruise?  I haven’t.  It seems like fun.  I’ve been on “boat tours” where you spend an obscene amount of money to go down a shoddy river and look at rich people’s houses, but I’ve never been on a real cruise.

Oh wait…yes I have!  I’ve been on a…Treasure Cruise!


Oh I crack myself up sometimes…I’m also a big fan of Dr. Who.  Do you wanna know why?  Mostly because the T.A.R.D.I.S. is the coolest thing ever.  It travels through time!  Some would say that it can…Dig Through Time (cue “yyyeeeeaaahhh” meme here).



But why am I talking about these cards in a format such as Modern.  Aren’t they banned?  What purpose do they serve in our discussion here?  Remember a few weeks ago, in a Modern Mentor article, how I argued that the death of UR Delver may have been oversold as a result of these cards being banned?  Well, direct your attention to the most recent SCG Premier IQ that was held this past week in Dallas, Texas.[1]

In cute little seventh place, we see Eddie Solis top 8ing the event with a post-bannings list of U/R Delver.

This list holds the same elements that were true weeks ago when U/R Delver came in first place at another SCG Premium IQ: it plays some of the best cards ever printed in Delver of Secrets, Snapcaster Mage, and Young Pyromancer.

If you’re not familiar with the Vintage Super League, first off, you’re missing out, I encourage you to check it out.  Secondly, it is an awesome event put on by Wizards where popular Magic personalities play in a weekly MODO Vintage league for cool prizes.  They publish the decklists every three weeks when they change, and you can find the most recent week’s decklists here.  I mention the Vintage Super League to showcase the fact that the U/R Delver decks that appear in Vintage are playing these EXACT SAME CARDS.  Delver, Young Pyromancer (which is the real enabler in the deck), and Snapcaster Mage see vintage play in the exact same type of shell: cheap can trips that power up a Young Pyromancer that out card advantages the opponent.

I say all that to say that these cards are still extremely powerful even without Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time.  In comparison to the list that did well a few weeks ago, this most recent list cuts one Spell Snare in favor of an additional land.  19 feels a little low, and the 20 that this build runs is probably much more consistent.  If anything is true, I probably like these decklists a lot more post-Treasure Cruise bannings.  Yes, Treasure Cruise made the deck hum like a nice machine, but I enjoy the more tempo oriented build that this attempts to play.  You don’t have dead draws in your deck like Thought Scour and the painful Gitaxian Probe.

Anyway, about this build in particular: The sideboard choices made by a U/R Delver player have a lot to say about whether or not they will succeed in a tournament.  You know what card is absolutely everywhere right now? Lingering Souls.

This card is so good that it is disgusting.  Look at almost every list we discussed for the past few weeks and you will see an upward trend of Lingering Souls.  Abzan is playing this card (30% of the field), Monastery Mentor Esper Midrange is playing this card (a surprisingly growing number of players), and every deck that can cast at least one half of this card feels like it should be playing it.  When your opponent decides to +1 their Liliana of the Veil, you can have a giggle.  When they Thoughtseize you when this is your only non-land in hand, you can have a second giggle.  Anytime you get your opponent to spend resources on literally any part of this card, you are coming out way ahead.  Can your opponent honestly Mana Leak this?  Getting blown out while playing this card is very difficult to try and do, let alone get surprisingly crushed with it.

The efficiency of this card is killer, and it is especially true against decks that like efficient tempo plays like U/R Delver.  Casting Vapor Snag against a token has to be one of the worst feelings of all time.  This iteration of U/R Delver, however, is more suited to deal with tokens than the pre-banning Delver would have been.  Electrolyze is a great Magic card against Lingering Souls and pairs up nicely with a Snapcaster Mage and a flashed back Souls.  Remand, a card that was also sparse in the Treasure Cruise lists, is effective against this card whether it be in the graveyard or in the hand.  Cycling, Time Walking, and sometimes hard countering the flashback portion of this spell is big game.  Remember: if you Remand the spell as it is being flashbacked, you still draw a card and your opponent still exiles Lingering Souls!

But sideboards.  I said something about sideboards…ah yes!  The way a sideboard is built has a lot to with the success of any Magic deck yes, but this is even truer of these U/R Delver builds.  We talked about the efficiency of Lingering Souls and how important it is.  How do you beat such efficiency?  You cram a lot of X-1’s or X-0’s into your list as humanly possible.  Look at this decklist: Izzet Staticaster, Engineered Explosives, and Electrickery.  This guy came prepared to beat some amount of tokens that day.

In short, if you want to dust off those Delver of Secrets, Young Pyromancer, and Steam Vents, feel free!  This deck is still completely viable and has good game against a lot of decks in the format with the appropriate amount of sideboard hate.  Blood Moon is still a Magic card that can just win the game on turn three, and the three Dragon’s Claw out of the sideboard shows that this particular deck builder understood what his worst matchup is: burn.  Granted, burn isn’t as bad of a matchup in a post Gitaxian Probe world, but U/R Delver does do a lot of damage to itself and makes the job easy for a Burn deck if one goes unprepared.

If you’re playing in a Modern tournament this weekend when not at a pre-release, don’t be surprised if your opponent goes turn one Serum Visions into turn two Delver of Secrets followed up by a turn three “flip my Delver!”  Make sure you understand how to break up their tempo oriented game plan and know what threats of theirs are worth destroying immediately!

Meta-Game Analysis

When the SCG Premier IQ last took place a few weeks ago (darn you GP Miami and your awesome coverage!), we saw a pretty “standard” top 8 and top 16 of deck displays: Abzan Midrange and Splinter Twin were all over the place.  This week, however, the Dallas meta-game has given us quite the general shake up.  Long live combo!

What’s really good to play in a world where Twin reigns supreme?  Decks that are either faster than turn 4 Splinter Twin/kill you, or decks that break up the combo!  That’s what we see here in Dallas.

Infect by Joel Heath took down the tournament, and Joel certainly adapted to the idea of “kill them before they kill me,” because you know what’s easier than taking 20 of your opponents life points?  Giving your opponent 10 of a different type of point instead!

Not a whole lot to say about this deck, but if you like to win quickly and crush slower combo decks in the process, infect is where you need to be.

We also saw a Sultai Control list and an Abzan Midrange list come up in the top 8 this past weekend.  These decklists took the approach of “if I can’t be faster, they won’t get to do their thing either.”

The Abzan Midrange deck packed three Abrupt Decay, a Dismember, six discard spells in Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek, and three Path to Exile.  The Sultai Control deck, on the other hand, packed two Abrupt Decay, a Golgari Charm (which kills Pestermite and stalls Deceiver Exarch for a turn), a Putrefy, one Slaughter Pact, and seven discard spells.  That’s just the main board!  It is obviously apparent that these decks were built with the Twin decks in mind from the week prior.  Dying to combo is never a fun world, and if you pack enough hate, it is difficult to lose to those matchups.  It seems as if this theory is correct by the actual zero Splinter Twin decks present in the top 8, and heavily modified versions of Twin present in top 16 (because of article space, I’ll save these editions of Twin for another article, but feel free to check them out!  Some nice card choices that make them less “all in” on the combo!).

Next Week…

Next week we’ll be taking a look at Dragons of Tarkir cards that may make an impact in the Modern format!  What cards have you been brewing with?  Anything that may “break” Modern for the next few months?  I’m excited to go “back to the future” with Dragons of Tarkir next week in Modern Mentor!

Minor Schedule Update

A couple of things!  First, these articles will be normally coming out on Thursday.  I’m moving this week (hence the delay), and the StarcityGames Invitational is in Richmond, Virginia next week, and I’ll be there with the rest of team At Your End Step!  I’ll do some writing over the weekend, but no guarantee that it will be polished and ready.

Secondly, I’ll be doing a lot more streaming over on Twitch (link below).  My streaming schedule, for right now, is going to look like this:

Wednesday: 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Thursday: 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Friday: 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Most of these are centered on the standard daily events.  If I x-2 and fail at life, I’ll be drafting, doing a sealed pool, or cubing if it’s currently online.  So stop by at those times, and we can hang out together and talk some Magic!

Until Next Time…

As always, you can find me on twitter with both Magic and non-Magic related thoughts @imjorman, over at my podcast’s twitter @atyourendstep, on http://www.twitch.tv/ayesTV streaming random constructed events, and at practically every Magic: The Gathering tournament within a few hours of Columbus, Ohio.  Until next time!

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