All In Madcap Moon

Hello everyone!
Today I’m bringing you a sweet All In Madcap Experiment and Blood Moon deck.

The combo in the deck is to cast Madcap Experiment and have only 1 artifact in your deck in Platinum Emperion. Platinum Emperion prevents you to take damage from Madcap Experiment.

Madcap ExperimentPlatinum Emperion

I don’t know who the creator of this archetype is, but the first time I saw it in action was from a friend of mine at GP Dallas – Fort Worth. He did great at the GP. He was 12-1 with 2 win-and-in rounds to go. Unluckily he lost both matches. The first one to BBD on Dredge and the last round to Skred-Red (the Blood Moon mirror).

Here is the list Dylan played at the GP:

After that GP, I thought that interest on the deck died down. But recently Gerard Fabiano played the deck in the Modern Unified GP San Antonio. Him and his team got 3rd place in the event. He played a revisited version of Dylan’s deck. Some numbers are really interesting (only 2 Madcap Experiment, 1 Mana Leak and only 2 Blood Moon).

This is the list Gerard played at the GP:

After GP San Antonio and discussing with Dylan, I got interested in trying out the deck. While I enjoyed a lot to play the updated version of Dylan’s Madcap Moon, I decided to try out an ALL IN version of the deck.
This deck has:

All In Madcap Moon:

Here are the pro/cons of this version over the Blue Red version:
Good: This version is faster and more reliable to get the Moon or the Emperion combo.
Bad: Not having access to Cryptic Command to push damage through and not having access to Snapcaster Mage will make the games go long and give your opponent the chance to have enough blockers that you cannot attack and win.

Keep brewing!
– Andrea

Falcon Fly By: GR Energy and WU Midrange

the-falcon

Hey Everyone!

We are now going into the second week after the pro tour and it seems as though we have found the best avenues to victory in this current standard format. I would like to take some time and talk about the two decks that I would personally recommend to anyone asking me what to play.

I’ll start with my current pet deck and what I believe is a very broken deck: Infect. I mean G/R Pummeler.

Electrostatic Pummeler - Kaladesh

Electrostatic Pummeler – Kaladesh

For those of you who play Modern, you know that Infect is a very good deck. Even against strong hate the deck can persevere and win games. Little creatures and efficient pump spells go a long way to winning games. Now the difference is we have to use slightly bigger and more expensive creatures and less efficient pump spells. However, standard has even less efficient kill spells so we are at a huge advantage in that area. When you look at this deck it looks sort of like a green Stompy deck and Electrostatic Pummeler is probably not worth what we pay for it. However the deck has so much built in extra energy it’s not even hard to use Pummeler’s ability two to three times in a single attack even in the early turns. Its no secret that Pummeler is a must kill on sight creature, but the actual power in the deck lies in other cards. The most powerful card in the deck lies somewhere in between these two cards:

Blossoming Defense - Kaladesh

Blossoming Defense – Kaladesh

Bristling Hydra - Kaladesh

Bristling Hydra – Kaladesh

Blossoming Defense makes it so that when we go to kill someone they need multiple spells just to try to combat us and it really gives this deck a free win aspect. Bristling Hydra can just grind an opponent down before they can try turning corners. That was the biggest issue in the Jund vs. Infect matchup. If Jund had enough kill spells and a threat, Infect couldn’t keep a creature on the floor to win with. Now we have our own Thrun, the Last Troll. You can’t just be on the “kill everything in sight plan” if you’re playing the midrange deck. If we land a Hydra with three extra energy laying around then you’re in some trouble. Now one thing to note; you can respond to the enter the battlefield effect of the Hydra and kill it because the energy isn’t there for the player to use yet.

What I love about this deck is that it is fairly consistent, we have a very low land count, and get to basically play free spells in Attune with Aether that allow you to lower your land count and still hit all the land drops for you to have 5 mana for the most expensive combo kills.

Another part I love about this deck is your opponent really cannot afford to play the game hoping you don’t have it, because there are multiple card combinations that can take them from 20 to 0 with little to no effort.

Another build I am really fond of is the 4-5 color build with Woodland Wanderer and some sweet sideboard cards such as Fevered Visions and Ceremonious Rejection. If I had all of the lands and cards required for that it is the version I would play. But it would require a lot more time with the deck before you can play it optimally. With Reflector Mage on the uptick, it is hard to really sign off on playing a 4 mana threat that doesn’t affect the board when it is played. If the card doesn’t get maged then we are in business because the removal that deals with a threat like this is few and far between. If they do manage to get it off the floor then the Hydra comes down and they have no answer for that.

The second deck I would advocate that you play is W/U Flash/Midrange. The deck is very powerful at every point in the curve and plays multiple cards with an impossible to beat line of text: Flying. What makes the deck so much harder to play against is the Flash aspect of it. Trying to play turn after turn against a deck that always leaves their mana up is so much harder then an opponent who only has a few instant speed spells. The plus to being the person with all of their mana available every turn is your ability to bluff has been buffed.

It could be anything. It could even be a boat.

griffin-box

Skysovereign, Consul Flagship - Kaladesh

Skysovereign, Consul Flagship – Kaladesh

Luckily the boat doesn’t have flash, otherwise we would all be in trouble. Turn 5 would be the worst turn in history. Is it Archangel Avacyn or is it a boat??? It could be anything.

On top of all of this the deck plays the most powerful planeswalker in standard, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. It is very difficult to beat a deck that can play some cheap flying threats at instant speed, remove one of your threats, at instant speed, and then land a Planeswalker that can take over the game by himself.

The list for this deck is pretty common. You will have the same base with a few flex slot modifications, but here is Brad Carpenters Milwaukee Classic winning list:

This deck is great. It is the level 1 deck that Bant Company was last format. It plays some of the best cards at any point in the mana curve. Efficient creatures and some removal to back them up. The sideboard being full of counter magic and more threats is great. You have the ability to change up the plan game two and three, and leave your opponent fighting the wrong deck. Blessed Alliance is a concession to the fact that G/R Pummeler is a real deck that people are trying to prepare for. If I was to attend a tournament I would bring one of these two decks. I might try to make a few changes depending on what metagame I believe I will see, but overall these lists are tuned and ready to take on any tournament you have in the near future.

Remember everyone, play tight, and it could even be a boat!

Thanks for reading!
Stay hungry and stay humble

~Falcon~

All I see is red in Kaladesh

All I see is red in Kaladesh

Ahh standard rotation. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so excited to say goodbye to a format as I am now. Collected Company and Dromoka’s Command were quite the dynamic duo, but I think I speak for everyone in saying good riddance. With Kaladesh fast approaching I’ve begun to work on some day one decks and I continually find myself slanting toward the aggressive end of the spectrum. The lack of 4 mana sweepers, and mid-range decks looking clunky as ever, may mean it is aggros time to shine.

Smuggler's Copter - Kaladesh

Smuggler’s Copter – Kaladesh

The card that continually draws me to these strategies is Smuggler’s Copter. I find myself including it as a 4 of in every deck I begin to work on, and for good reason. It does everything you would want out of a 2 drop, and then some. Its evasive, hits hard, gives you card selection, and dodges a decent amount of removal with its modal nature. The only downside is the fact you have to crew it each turn, but in a creature heavy aggro deck, I don’t think this will be a huge problem. The first shell that came to mind was a mono red beat down deck:

I think this deck has a lot of good things going for it, but the lack of hard removal and no direct damage made me want to examine some other variations. Red/Black was my next idea. Unlicensed disintegration drew me in, as it seems like the perfect card to clear the way and deal with more robust threats while potentially bolting our opponent.

Some numbers here are a bit experimental and will be refined once the format fleshes out, but I’m a big fan of what this deck is doing. It has the same aggressive nature as the mono red version, but goes a bit bigger and has more synergies built in. Some of these (IE syndicate trafficker with scrapheap scrounger) may prove to be too cute, but I think they are worth exploring.

Speaking of cute synergies, we can’t talk about Kaladesh without mentioning the new resource, energy. Seeing as none of us have gotten to play with these cards yet, its tough to say how good these energy based cards will be, and how to quantify what exactly 1 energy counter is worth. Personally, I think only a few cards using this mechanic will make the cut in constructed, but Voltaic Brawler is one of them, which makes Green/Red seem like a good place to start the brewing.

This deck is by no means all in on energy, but has some great uses for it. Smugglers Copter may not be the most at home in this shell, but as I mentioned earlier, I just can’t bring myself to build an aggro deck without them. Galvanic Bombardment is another card I’m not 100% sure on due to the unknown nature of the metagame. Typically formats begin with an aggressive slant, however, and having some efficient removal will be key. The choice of Arlinn over Chandra may also be surprising, but in a beat down deck like this I believe Arlinn’s modes will be more beneficial than Chandra’s. We’re not in the market to play a long card advantagey game, we want to beat down and get ya dead. Arlinn Kord being able to pump out her own threats, haste out our creatures, bolt you, and even give a mini overrun seems like exactly what this deck is in the market for.

While all I’m seeing is red in Kaladesh, I’m sure the new cards will shake up the format quite a bit. Collected Company leaving may also allow some existing cards and/or archetypes to get their time to shine as well. Temur Emerge, G/W walkers, and G/B Delirium don’t suffer crippling blows with rotation and I would expect them each to find a niche in the format. I’m sure people will revisit B/W control, Spirits, White weenie, U/R Spells and even a company-less bant deck as well. The possibilities seem endless right now and I encourage everyone reading to get your brewing hats on and take a crack at breaking the format before it gets “solved.” I would love to hear about your lists or critiques upon my own in the comments.

Until next time.

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Grixis Delver Primer: Part Two

KevinJones

Welcome back! So, last week we went over the cards I played in the main deck and sideboard. We were also privy to the ridiculous spectacle that was my travel situation. This week we’ll be talking about the actual tournament and some of the side boarding choices I made. I won’t cover a sideboard plan for every deck in modern because that’s not a time effective endeavor, but I will talk about the most popular match ups and let everyone know how I boarded in the rounds I played. Let’s get into it!

The morning of the event started off in fantastic fashion as we stepped outside, jersey clad, into 95 degree Texas heat. We hopped in an Uber (Uber code wjcxk) and fortunately our driver was awesome! He had a huge shiny silver pickup truck, an Alamo sticker and a Punisher sticker on the back window, and numerous small trinkets with the names of popular gun brands on them. One perk of traveling around the country slinging cardboard is the chance to meet people who are every bit as diverse as America itself. This experience was no exception. It was cool to talk to someone who had many of the common traits of Texans. It made the trip feel very real to me and for that I thank our driver as well as the awesome waitresses and bartenders we met throughout our four day visit. Everyone did a great job of making us feel welcome in our very temporary homes. When we got to the site a quick resleeving of my deck was followed by an exhaustive search for a Countersquall that was fruitful at the cost of four whole dollars. The tournament was huge, capped out at 1,000 people. I wandered around during the end of round one and saw lots of the aggressive decks, mainly Burn, Zoo, and Infect. I also saw a fair amount of Jund and a few Grixis and Jeskai decks. Eventually round two was paired and I sat down in the feature match area to battle. My first few rounds went as follows.

Round 2: Win 2-0 vs Bradley playing Jeskai Control. Jeskai is a bad matchup game one and a good one post board. This is one matchup where Hero’s Downfall would’ve been way better than Dreadbore. I would’ve loved to board out 2 of the 3 Terminates but Dreadbore doesn’t answer Celestial Colonnade. I want all the removal that doesn’t go to their face in a pinch to kill Colonnade. I had to leave Dreadbore in because it’s so good against Nahiri, the Harbinger. It ended up winning me the match because it killed a random Elspeth, Sun’s Champion that my opponent was surely going to stabilize with.

Round 3: Win 2-1 vs Jeff Hoogland on Blue Kiki Chord. This match was on camera and I thought Jeff played pretty well. My deck definitely looked a bit scrappy here but it got the job done with a couple copies of Delver of Secrets.

Round 4: Win 2-0 vs David with Naya Allies. David is a former Massachusetts resident and we’ve battled before at the famed Jupiter Games legacy events years back. It was great to catch up with David and a pleasure to play him again. Unfortunately his draws were pretty bad and Tasigur, the Golden Fang backed by removal spells made short work of his allies deck.

Round 5: Loss 0-2 vs Andrew Jessup with Green Blue Infect. Against a great player and teammate was a poor time for my deck to not show up. I didn’t draw very many removal spells in game one and was forced to take a bunch of damage. By the time I had removal spells I was at a high amount of Infect damage and a timely Spell Pierce killed me as I was forced to play out all my interaction in combat. I missed a few too many land drops in game two and that was that.

Rounds 6 and 7: Wins, 2-1 and 2-0. I bounced back from my loss with a close 2-1 win over Paul’s 8-Whack Goblin deck and a convincing 2-0 win over Chris’ Scapeshift deck. These decks are both doing unfair things, albeit differently.The Counterspells shined in both of these match ups, as did the delve creatures.

Round 8: Loss 0-2 vs Timothy Thomasson with Blue White Merfolk. I feel like this match up is pretty bad. I was significantly far ahead in both games and just kinda lost. He played to his outs and hit them, especially in game two. The more I think about it the worse I think the match up is. They have a fast clock, interaction and disruption. Their interaction (Vapor Snag and Harbinger of the Tides) adds to their clock and is good against your delve creatures as well as your Delvers. I believe Cavern of Souls makes the match up even worse since it causes your counterspells to be dead. I didn’t have enough cards to board in to take out all the counters. Kira, Great Glass-Spinner is pretty tough to beat as well. Tim was a great player and a classy opponent, so hats off to him. This was a match up I hope to dodge in the future. His white splash also gave him Path to Exile which helps with Tasigur and early flipped Delvers.

Round 9: Win 2-1 vs Josh with RG Valakut. Game three of this match was the closest game I played on day one. I had Crumbled his Valakuts to dust only for him to untap and Through the Breach Hornet Queen into play. What the hell?!?! I was so mad, but I was also alive. Between careful management of my removal spells, and attacking exactly when I had to, I was able to manage the tokens. Two turns before his last 1/1 token was poised to kill me he drew a Primeval Titan. The Titan would’ve easily finished me even without the Valakuts. Luckily I had drawn my one Vendilion Clique and it stole his Titan and blocked the token. The next few turns involved a standoff where he held a lethal Bolt and I held the Countersquall he knew about. I also had a second one he didn’t know about and he decided to go for it when he drew a Summoning Trap a few turns later. I Countersquall it and he Bolts me. I squall that too. Then I’m able to win a few turns later with Tasigur and a couple running Snapcaster Mages. I was very fortunate to win this match and Josh took it in stride, partially because he “wanted to play legacy anyway.”

After squeaking into day two on the thinnest of margins I was just happy to be playing some free magic on Sunday. After an awesome Texas dinner, and some unbelievable gelato, we headed back to the room for some much needed rest. I slept great and woke up ready to battle. Little did I know how strange the first three rounds would be.

Rounds 9,10,11: vs Bant Eldrazi all three times. Win 2-1, 2-0, 2-1. My round 11 opponent was Max Dresslar. Our game two was the closest game I played in the entire tournament. I was able to survive after he top decked back to back Reality Smashers. The one Vampiric Link on a Tasigur bought me enough life to top deck a Kolaghan’s Command on the last turn I could to squeak it out. This match up seemed very close to me. It is definitely one of the match ups where Delver of Secrets pulls it’s weight. Similar to the Merfolk match up, you have way more counterspells than you can possibly board out. I left in one Spell Snare because of Spellskite and the possibility of Rest in Peace. It’s probably better to leave 1-2 Mana Leak in because it’s better if they happen to not draw Cavern of Souls.

Round 13: Win 2-0 vs Tuan with GW Bogles. My opponent was sitting next to me the previous round and had played Jim, so I was paying attention to the match. I knew he was playing Bogles, a nightmare match up for Grixis decks. However, the combination of a heavier focus on counter magic and cheap proactive threats like Delvers and delve creatures gave me the draws I needed to win 2-0. I also think my opponent’s draws were very bad and he was admittedly inexperienced with the deck. The deck is fairly straightforward but it has some important decisions and I would say with confidence that it’s not as easy to play as people tend to think.

Round 14: Win 2-0 vs Pete Ingram with Jeskai Control. I was paired up to my teammate at table one and he elected to concede since it would lock both of us for top 8. I was in the zone and ready to battle a win and in and was slightly relieved/disappointed when I was paired against Pete. I’m not sure what I felt initially but after the concession locked us both for top 8 I felt great. I knew there was still work to be done, but it had been awhile since I had even cracked the top 8 of an open. It’s odd to get basically scooped into top 8 and something like that has never happened to me before. As a team we have the goal of putting as many of us in the Players’ Championship as possible. When Pete is locked for top 8 regardless crushing me out of contention (12-3 would only make it with great breakers) undermines the larger goal we have as a team. Like I said, it’s a strange situation, but it means several of us are going deep in the same tournaments. So in that regard I think it’s a good problem to have. Pete, Andrew, and I all shook our round 15 opponents’ hands and drew into the top 8. Jim was playing Jacob Baugh but was mathematically locked for 7th even with a loss. Jim lost and ended up in 7th. Occupying half the top 8 with my teammates in an event I really didn’t even want to attend was a surreal feeling. I was growing frustrated with my mediocre performances as of late. I felt like I was letting the team down and not pulling my weight. This event marked the dissolution of those sentiments. I know one event doesn’t actually change much, but it does provide confidence and I did throw a few “told you Grixis doesn’t suck” jabs at the other guys on the team. I can’t thank these guys enough for putting up with me week in and week out. We all have our own quirks and the team mentality requires you to sacrifice a bit of yourself at times. That can be tough for some people to reconcile with, but all these guys have given their all for us to ride this awesome experience as far as it goes. I’m not even referencing stuff like concessions. Lots of energy is put into all the work that it takes to get there and shuffle up with a deck in hand and a yellow jersey on. Getting there is half the battle. So I just wanted to thank these guys for being awesome teammates and for giving me someone to share the anxious flights, late nights, and long days with.

I’m not going to say much about the top 8 matches as they were all covered.

Sideboarding with Grixis Delver is pretty flexible and oftentimes obvious. Unsurprisingly, the issues lie in the gray areas. Ancestral Vision is often swapped for Delver of Secrets. Jeskai, Grixis Control, Abzan Midrange and possibly Jund are decks where you might seek to win an attrition game instead of a tempo based game. It often depends on play style though, if you think such a plan is overly anticipated by your opponent you can leave the Delvers in and get ’em. I also like doing this when there’s a short amount of time left in the round and am much more likely to do it on the play than on the draw. I’ll go over some of the more common match ups.

Burn:
-2 Remand, -1 Vendilion Clique, -3 Terminate, -1 Dreadbore
+2 Countersquall, +2 Magma Spray, +1 Vampiric Link, +1 Kolaghan’s Command, +1 Dispel
The BR removal spells often cause you to take damage and blue mana is essential early to keep Spell Snare on. Magma Spray kills everything the Terminates kill anyway, just be careful of Atarka’s Command and prowess tricks.

Affinity:
-2 Remand, -1 Mana Leak, -1 Dreadbore, -1 Gurmag Angler
+2 Magma Spray, +1 Kolaghan’s Command, +1 Engineered Explosives, +1 Vandalblast
Your cards are very good here. Mana Leak stays in as a concession to the power of Etched Champion but countering any 2 or 3 mana spell is usually fine in a pinch.

Infect:
-2 Remand, -1 Spell Snare, -1 Mana Leak, -1 ?
+2 Magma Spray, +1 Kolaghan’s Command, +1 Engineered Explosives, +1 Dispel
Take damage, stick threats with mana untapped, don’t cast your removal unless you have more or have to. Be careful of their Spell Pierces on Snapcaster turns. Don’t be afraid to leave Tasigurs, Anglers, or Aberrations back to block. The match up is about forcing them to act.

Jeskai:
-4 Delver of Secrets, -1 Terminate, -3 Lightning Bolt
+4 Ancestral Vision, +2 Countersquall, +1 Kolaghan’s Command, +1 Dispel

I was pretty happy with how I played (excusing the turn against Pete in game three where I thought I had another K Command in the graveyard and had to sheepishly Electrolyze him with my Snapcaster Mage). Most of you probably know that I was able to grab the trophy after three close games against Andrew, who played his Infect deck masterfully, as usual. Those matches are covered and they were pretty interesting to play so I can imagine them being great to watch as well. It was great to be holding an SCG Tour trophy again after an almost 2 year drought. Thanks to everyone who watched me from home in New York, it’s great to have friends and family that support what you do. Thanks to all the people who had kind words to say over text or on social media. Thanks to everyone at Kirwan’s for a warm welcome back to work and for letting me write this extremely wordy two part article. And lastly, thanks to the SCG guys for giving us this awesome forum to sling our spells and make our own stories.

Jim and I ended up at a Jazz club late Sunday night that was literally underground. Sometimes my life feels normal. I go to work during the week, play some softball, hang with my girlfriend, and play some magic at the local stores. Just the same things most of my friends in my town do. But then it’s midnight central time on a Sunday night and I’m in an underground Jazz bar in Texas wearing a bright yellow jersey and talking about life with another professional magic player. Not what I would’ve expected when I was in college and staring off into the perceived abyss that is one’s late 20’s. It might be objectively weird and cause me to fly way more than I want to but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The arc of competitive magic is so awesome and so unique that sometimes I feel like a secret agent in the real world. Maybe that’s slightly hyperbolic, but it’s interesting to have a whole world that you’re a part of that most people have little to no understanding of.

“You were in Texas last weekend, why?!”

“I’m a professional Magic: The Gathering player. My teammates and I are funded to travel the country competing in tournaments to garner exposure for our brand and the brands of our partners. It’s an interesting life but I like doing it.”

or

“The Daddy was born to battle. So the Daddy must battle. If he’s called to Texas for the battle, he must go! Through wind, rain, missed flights and state lines, the Daddy must battle on!”

Which answer do you guys think I gave?

Grixis Delver Primer-Part One

KevinJones

I feel like I’ve been talking about this a lot lately. I suppose winning a tournament kind of boxes you in to talking about that deck in the subsequent article. Most people want to hear about the winning deck right from the mouth of the winner. And I don’t blame them. So today, I’ll give the people what they want. This article will be long and fairly in depth. Because of this I’ve elected to break it into two parts. Today we will discuss the deck list and the time leading up to the event. Next week I’ll tackle the actual tournament and a rough sideboard guide. So let’s jump in!

Most magic players, myself included, will tell you that being results oriented is bad. Most of us will then attach an unnecessary amount of weight to results. That’s pretty silly, but it’s rampant in the community, even among the top players. Sometimes it’s presented in direct ways like winning a tournament and then playing the same deck in the next event without accounting for changes in the metagame or it can happen in reverse; 0-2 dropping an FNM or PPTQ and then being off a deck you previously thought was very good. Now sometimes both of these things can be the correct choice to make. The issue is that you likely aren’t making the decision for the right reasons. The information that catalyzes your decision process is of limited scope and incomplete. While not being immune to this behavior I think that I put more stock into how things feel than how they play out. I had played Grixis Delver in one large event, an SCG Classic in Atlanta, and dropped at 3-3. But the deck felt pretty good and I was constrained by card availability. It had a noticeable impact on my event. I had a slot in my sideboard that should have been a Countersquall but unfortunately couldn’t find a second one. I decided to replace it with a Stubborn Denial and my inability to turn on ferocious cost me twice in the six rounds I played. The second copy of Countersquall would’ve been great for me, however. I decided that I still liked the deck but would likely play something else for the upcoming Dallas open. There was a nagging thought at the back of my mind saying that the deck was probably bad because I went 3-3 and wasting all the energy, time, and funds of such a long trip on playing what could be a bad deck was a scary proposition. I left New York on Friday with the intention of playing Infect. Even going so far as to borrow the deck from my brother so I could get Andrew’s 75 when I got to the hotel. Then some stuff happened that changed a bunch of things.

Do as I say, not as I do. Actually don’t even do as I say if you have someone else to ask. I say you should leave for the airport so that you arrive between 70 and 90 minutes before your flight departs, thus having ample time to navigate the constantly changing variable that is airport security and to take care of whatever you have to before boarding your flight. I arrived at Laguardia on Friday morning with a mere 45 minutes to spare. By the time I parked my car and the shuttle dropped me at the terminal it was 2:15 and the flight was boarding for a 2:45 departure. I wasn’t purposefully trying to cut it close, some terrible traffic in the NYC area led to delays and rerouting myself on the fly. Security was a nightmare and American wouldn’t print my boarding pass. They said I was too late to even try. I was angry, Jim was angry, the managers were angry and I was ready to go home. However, being part of a team comes with a certain degree of sacrifice that you must make. Team MGG gets a lot of perks, awesome jerseys, free flights, breaks on hotels, etc. But these things are earned because we all commit a certain amount of our lives to this. Dedication is required, not recommended. After rushing to make it to the airport and still missing it I was ready to write this one off. I called my manager, Frank, in hopes that he could provide some insight. I was disillusioned with my SCG Tour performances in 2016 and wondered if the team wasn’t better off with someone else, especially if I couldn’t show up on time. I half hoped that I would get kicked off cause at least I could go home. Giving up is really easy sometimes but he asked me which decision I would regret more, getting on a plane or going home. It wasn’t close, and despite the usual anxiety that plagues me whenever I fly, I managed to board my flight (it had been changed from a flight with a connection to a direct flight). As they say, “mise!” When I finally arrived at Dallas/Fort Worth international airport I hopped in an Uber and after getting some supplies (read: water, red bull, and cigarettes), and an awesome Texas treat called a Whataburger, I was at my hotel. All my teammates were asleep, except for Pete, who was taking selfies in the hallway. That allowed me to sneak in and register my beloved Grixis Delver deck before anyone could wake up and stop me. Here’s what I finally submitted.

There’s a few interesting card choices and I’ll explain those here.

1 Electrolyze / 1 Kolaghan’s Command – Kolaghan’s Command is the backbone of the new Grixis shell. It’s absurd synergy with Snapcaster Mage has kept the struggling archetype afloat. And I think anyone looking to pick up the deck would be remiss to cut Kolaghan’s Command. I would honestly recommend two maindeck to anyone picking the deck up for the first time. Cut the Electrolyze for the second one. You really only need one though so I played a card that replaced itself over the second command because I felt that while three lands allowed you to reach the important threshold of playing two interactive things in one turn (bolt and leak, Tasigur and leak, Snapcaster and bolt, leak and spell snare), the deck had much more flexibility when it reached four mana. You could activate Tasigur for value, snap back a remand or leak, or protect your command or Electrolyze with Spell Snare. I thought the Electrolyze would help you get to four and five mana while also replicating the effect of Kolaghan’s Command against the aggressive decks like Infect and Affinity. Electrolyze wouldn’t do exactly the same thing but it would be close enough that I was willing to play the cantrip effect.

3 Tasigur, the Golden Fang / 1 Gurmag Angler – I was very close to playing a 2/2 split and had been doing that in my local events occasionally. I recognized that a turn one Lightning Bolt, Serum Visions, or Spell Snare followed up by a Thought Scour and a Tasigur represented one of the best openings the deck could produce. I played more copies of Tasigur because it’s much easier to cast on turn two. Thought Scour, bolt, fetch or scour, fetch, fetch or scour, bolt, snare/visions all cast a turn two Tasigur while none of these combinations yield a turn two angler. Having as many spells as possible cost one or two mana is essential to the functionality of the deck. I wouldn’t change these numbers and would prefer a 5th delve creature but you likely can’t support it with the current spell base or mana base. One interesting way to mitigate the drawing of a second Tasigur is by attacking with your first one and then playing the second untapped post combat and sacrificing the first. The only times I would ever do this are when I am facing down a lethal counter attack or when I’m playing against Jeskai Nahiri and putting their life total under heavy pressure. This prohibits them from killing your best threat with the minus ability of Nahiri. I would only do this if you’re planning on closing the game within the frame of 1-2 turns because attrition is also very important in the matchup and throwing away a threat could also cost you the game.

1 Vendilion Clique – After Ryan Overturf’s top 8 with Grixis Delver at SCG Indianapolis in May I started playing the deck. I didn’t love every card choice and threw a single Vendilion Clique in the deck over the fourth Spell Snare. I don’t think the fourth snare is necessary unless you’re expecting a ton of Burn and Affinity type decks. My local meta was rife with Cavern of Souls decks, often also playing Aether Vial as well as Tron and Eldrazi decks. The Vendilion Clique is a huge upgrade to the Spell Snare in these matchups and that’s why I chose to play it. I just liked the threat base and didn’t really feel like the large scale modern metagame really justified changing it. The clique was great all weekend, including against Merfolk, one of the deck’s worst matchups.

2 Remand – While I boarded this card out quite often it’s one of the best cards in the deck against combo and midrange decks. Because your Snapcaster Mages are extremely important for closing games against decks like Jeskai it’s essential that you have a few Remands to both combat their Snapcaster Mages and insulate your own copies against cards like Spell Snare and Cryptic Command. Remanding your own spells is extremely important against other blue decks and one of the best targets is Snapcaster Mage. The reasons for this are twofold; your deck is relatively bad at fighting their Spell Snares and you often need to resolve both Snapcaster and the spell it flashes back. You won’t win game one by running your Jeskai and Grixis opponents out of cards but you will kill them with cards in their hand. And interestingly enough, if you do grind them out in game one it’s likely because you were on the right end of some Remand battles.

1 Dreadbore – The one copy of Dreadbore was a concession to the strength of the Jeskai Nahiri deck and going forward I think it should be able to kill both Nahiri and Celestial Colonnade. Ryan Overturf suggested Hero’s Downfall and I think it does exactly what you want. Three mana at instant speed isn’t too different from two mana at sorcery speed in a lot of situations. The one drawback is that it makes you fetch Blood Crypt more than you want to. I hate Blood Crypt. It’s a necessary evil but I try to have as many blue producing lands in play as possible to facilitate chaining spells and big Snapcaster turns.

Sideboard.

4 Ancestral Vision – This package comes in against decks like Jund, Grixis, and Jeskai. You often board out Delver when you board in vision. The Grixis and Jeskai matchups are two great examples of this. I could see cutting Delvers against Jund too, but I’m unsure if it’s correct. It’s kind of awkward because you’re boarding in Ancestral Vision and trying to go long against a 23/24 land deck also playing Vision when you have 20 lands. You’re both less likely to have the mana to fight over the initial Vision and less likely to hit the land drops to prevent from having to discard, but this doesn’t really happen in practice. Just prioritizing lands very highly and getting your delve creatures into play to make them cast Path to Exile can go a long way towards keeping pace with them. The huge upside is you’re way less likely to flood in longer games. I had every fetchable land in play against Jeskai last weekend. One deck I could see having both Vision and Delver in your deck is Scapeshift. More often than not it’s a clean swap though.

2 Crumble to Dust – Pretty obvious; Scapeshift, Tron, Eldrazi, RG Valakut. There’s a case to be made for boarding them in against Colonnade decks but I don’t think a four mana sorcery is what you want.

2 Countersquall – Bring this in when you feel it’s good. I don’t bring it in against Infect. It’s pretty intuitive. Best against Chord/Company decks, control decks, ramp decks, and burn. Also Ad Nauseam. I hate that deck so much.

2 Magma Spray – Weaker than Anger of the Gods but more efficient on your mana and doesn’t require double red. You’ll usually get double red at some point in the midgame but I prefer not to have to work for it early on, especially against decks that pressure your life total. Burn, Affinity, Infect, Bant Eldrazi, Merfolk, etc.

1 Kolaghan’s Command – Any midrange deck or control deck where you have time for the three mana effect. Also, Ad Nauseam, Infect, and Affinity.

1 Vampiric Link – I was told to expect a ton of Aggro decks and last minute I added this card. It’s not a great card because people often have path against you. But it’s best against Burn and Zoo and also I was bringing it in against Bant Eldrazi cause I had to take out so many counterspells.

1 Dispel – Not much to say here. Remember you can Remand your own Dispel in counter wars. Much better than Remanding their Dispel most of the time.

1 Vandalblast – Great with Snapcaster and also self explanatory. Affinity and Lantern. Probably also Ad Nauseam. Don’t bring it in against Aether Vial decks. Just go up to two K Command instead.

1 Engineered Explosives – Great against any linear aggressive deck that plays creatures. Not great against burn in my opinion. Infect, Affinity, Zoo, Elves, Merfolk, Allies, etc. Also Lantern control and Tarmogoyf and/or Liliana decks.

That concludes the overview of the main deck and sideboard and marks a great place to break for part two. Check back next week for the recap of the tournament with some interesting match analysis and how I boarded. Thanks for reading!