Hello everybody! This is my first article on StarCityGames.com so I will start out by telling you a little bit about myself.
I am a San Diego native and play Magic at San Diego Games and Comics. My brothers and I started playing Magic with our friends in junior high school around the time that Revised was released. I have played off and on since then but mostly just whenever I got the chance to smash my brothers with a Giant Growthed Scryb Sprite.
Since I started playing competitively I've gone to three SCG Open Series and have made Top 8 twice. I've also played in two Grand Prix and got 68th at Grand Prix Anaheim. I recently became a Level 1 judge and work at Prereleases and Grand Prix Trials.
I was looking forward to SCG Open Series: Los Angeles since it was so close to where I live not to mention that I got to stay with my brother and his family in Orange County Saturday night. I couldn't wait to see what kind of trouble my niece and nephews are getting into these days!
I hadn't been playing much Standard lately so the week before the tournament I tried out a few U/W Delver builds on Magic Online. I got third place at SCG Standard Open: Phoenix in April with U/W Delver but hadn't been able to find a build I like since Cavern of Souls was printed.
I went to Thursday Night Legacy at San Diego Games and Comics and ran into my friend Michael Boland who was in town from Santa Cruz for the weekend. Boland had taken down a PTQ with U/W Delver and he showed me the build he was currently running. It looked pretty sweet. I ran basically his list with a few changes.
Boland's sweetest tech was the Twisted Image. I Twisted so many Birds of Paradise on Saturday that I lost count. Sometimes it just cantripped or saved a Snapcaster Mage but it was pretty solid. Twisted Image is also lights out for Blood Artist and Spellskite.
In my second round I got paired against Patrick Sullivan. When I sat down someone else was already at my table and I said "So I guess you aren't the Patrick Sullivan then?" He looked at me funny and it turned out he wasn't any kind of Patrick Sullivan because he had gotten his table number wrong. The real Patrick Sullivan then arrived who I knew from when he played at a Prerelease I judged at San Diego Games and Comics.
The maindeck Phantasmal Image won me game 1 when I Cloned his Geralf's Messenger to blank his Geth's Verdict and then rode a Geist of Saint Traft to victory. I sideboarded in Spectral Flight for game 2 and was able to stick one on a Geist of Saint Traft in time to hit him for lethal the turn before he killed me. Sullivan did not lose another match until the last round of Swiss while I ended up 6-3 just barely out of the money at 68th place.
My Standard finish was disappointing but I was able to hang out with my brother and his family.
After a good night's rest some French toast with peanut butter I was ready to battle in the Legacy Open!
Here's the deck I played:
I didn't have any doubt that I would be sleeving up Delvers again for Legacy since I have been playing the deck since April. I bought the duals and Tarmogoyfs I needed with my winnings from my finish at SCG Standard Open: Phoenix in April and have been honing it at Thursday Night Legacy ever since. I also have the deck on Magic Online and play on there from time to time.
My decklist is pretty stock but I do feel I have refined it pretty well. What I like about the deck is that there are so many decisions to make during a match and all your threats can take over a game if left unanswered.
When I play the deck again I am going to swap the Naturalize in the sideboard for a Seal of Primordium. Most RUG Delver decks run two Ancient Grudge but I'm running a split because there are not enough matchups where I want two Ancient Grudge. Disenchanting Omniscience is pretty sweet and having something to board in against Enchantress is a bonus.
Everyone I talk to says this slot should be a Krosan Grip and given that I played three U/W Control decks with Counterbalance in LA I should probably have taken their advice. I like being able to drop Seal of Primordium whenever I have the mana to spare and possibly pump Tarmogoyf from time to time. Seal is also good against Counterbalance if I get it out first.
My main beef with Krosan Grip is that it costs three mana and RUG Delver is a deck that never wants to have more than two lands in play at a time. I cut Snapcaster Mage and Sulfuric Vortex because they were only good with three mana in play and it is just better to shuffle away that third land and play cards that cost two mana or less.
I would also cut the Scavenging Ooze for a third Pyroblast. These days it just seems like Scavenging Ooze is a Grizzly Bear much too often to justify the slot. Against Maverick it is often too slow since RUG Delver is so tight on mana and it takes a couple turns to get it going. Against Dredge it is only good if you have something else to hold them off. I think it is still solid against Reanimator but that's probably the only matchup that I actively want it against.
Rough / Tumble did a lot of work out of the sideboard for me in LA. I brought it in against Merfolk Goblins U/R Delver Maverick Junk Charbelcher and other random matchups. It is like a Pyroclasm that only targets their creatures; if you set it up right none of your creatures will die.
I'd leave the one Grim Lavamancer in the sideboard at this point but I am not in love with the card. It doesn't have synergy with Nimble Mongoose or Tarmogoyf but it is an added threat to board in against decks like U/W Control where you just need an extra constant damage source on the board.
My matchups were as follows:
Round 1: Chas Anderson – BUG 2-0
Round 2: Adam – Goblins 2-0
Round 3: Mike – ? 2-0
Round 4: Jonathon – RUG Delver 1-2
Round 5: The Sammy Tukeman – U/R Delver 2-1
Round 6: Danny Batterman – U/W Control 2-1
Round 7: Nick – Dredge 2-1
Round 8: Frankie – Dredge 2-1
Round 9: Patrick Sullivan – Burn ID
Quarters: Joe Lossett – U/W Control 2-1
Semis: Ricky Cummings – Merfolk 2-1
Finals: Michael Hetrick – U/W/R Control 0-2
I definitely had some intense matches during the tournament. I started out winning the first three rounds without dropping a game. Then I won game 1 of round 4 and lost game 2 because of a misplay.
I had two lands and a fetchland in play and I cast Tarmogoyf before cracking my fetch. My thinking was that I wanted my fetch in case I drew a Brainstorm and wanted my mana open to Spell Pierce. After my Tarmogoyf resolved I changed my mind and decided to cast a Nimble Mongoose.
I also made a misplay in the semifinals when I had a Grim Lavamancer out against my opponent's Kira Great Glass Spinner. I used Lavamancer first and then cast Lightning Bolt which left me open to getting blown out by a counterspell. Luckily he didn't have the counter and my Bolt took out the Kira.
The last two rounds of the Swiss were both against Dredge. I ran Surgical Extraction as my graveyard hate because it's also good against Reanimator decks that sideboard into Show and Tell decks to try and blank your graveyard hate. I also bring it in against decks that my burn is bad against.
Surgical saved my bacon both rounds. In a game 3 I mulled to five but it was a pretty sweet five:
First turn I played Delver and then I Dazed his discard outlet. Then I Pondered into Surgical to rip his dredger Wastelanded his only land and forced him to spend a couple turns getting up to eight cards to discard. I rode Delver to victory before he could get anything going.
I have to say that it was a great tournament and I'm very happy with how the deck performed. I was also happy to see Patrick Sullivan play so well since his articles on Burn were some of the first competitive articles I read when I was getting serious about Magic. I piloted Burn in Standard and Legacy for a season and I really love the deck.
Delving in Legacy with Return to Ravnica
Once Return to Ravnica is released I'm planning on trying out BUG Delver with Abrupt Decay and Baleful Strix. I think my deck will look something like this:
I'm really looking forward to trying this deck out and to Standard rotating soon.
Thanks to everyone from San Diego Games and Comics for playtesting and cheering me on during the tournament. Congratulations to my friend Keyan Jafari for winning the Standard portion of the tournament. And thanks to my girlfriend for getting me my go-go juice to help me wiiiiiin!