Legacy Blue-Red Delver Additional Sideboarding

by Andreas Petersen on 25 January 2019, Friday

Andreas Petersen

Hola chicos y chicas! There seems to have been quite a bit of interest in reading about my take on Blue-Red Delver. So today, I bring you four more matchups that you can expect in any Legacy tournament and therefore need to be prepared against. If you missed them, check out parts one and two. At the end of this article I’ll also go over some miscellaneous tips for success with the deck.

The Death and Taxes (Mono-White Control) Matchup

Fellow Snapcardster magician Thomas Enevoldsen's weapon of choice got a much needed boost when Deathrite Shaman got banned. It regained its positive matchups against fair Blue decks that it used to be favored against. Its gameplan is disruptive and universal while the tuning of flex slots depends a lot on the metagame.

You typically win the games where you Daze their 2-drop and press the gas pedal with hasty creatures backed up by burn spells for the win. The hard games are when you have to beat Aether Vial, multiple Swords to Plowshares and/or an active Mother of Runes. Those should be killed on sight at any cost. True-Name Nemesis adds another angle of attack that they have no reactive answer for in the main deck, but if you don't run Progenitus' little Merfolk sibling, all you can do is force through as much damage as possible and hope it's enough before they connect with an equipped creature.

Sideboarded games are very positive for the Delver side of the table because I get to bring in a playset of Smash to Smithereens alongside sweepers and True-Name Nemesis. Watch out for that awkward interaction between Nemesis and Rough // Tumble.

-4 Force of Will, 2 Vapor Snag, 2 Daze

+4 Smash to Smithereens, 2 True-Name Nemesis, 2 Rough // Tumble

The Storm Matchup

Storm is another deck that gained popularity after Deathrite Shaman's demise because their graveyard is left alone for game 1. That makes Past in Flames a reliable way to win, no matter your life total.

The winning plan is to pressure them as much as possible and to give them as few turns as possible to find a winning combination of cards. Assuming I already attack their life total, I found that when I draw double Force of Will and another blue card like Delver of Secrets or a cantrip, I like to hold on to that card and be Duress-proof.

After sideboard we get to improve with multiple copies of Flusterstorm. Use them on discard spells and business spells only, unless you just need to buy a turn to win the game. In that case you should consider to use it on a Dark Ritual. We also get Surgical Extraction and a couple of sweepers to hedge against Empty the Warrens, which on paper is a great plan against us. A fast clock will negate Ad Nauseam and Surgical Extraction will answer their plan B in Past in Flames.

-3 Stormchaser Mage, 2 Vapor Snag, 2 Chain Lightning

+3 Flusterstorm, 2 Surgical Extraction, 2 Rough // Tumble

The Elves Matchup

A very flexible deck with a lot of good game plans depending on their draws. That will make the games very challenging and different from match to match. The short version is that you need to hope that your disruption lines up well against them. Force of Will is great against Natural Order and less impressive against Green Sun's Zenith. Kill their mana creatures to hinder them from achieving critical mass and prevent a hardcast Craterhoof Behemoth while you keep the pressure on with attacks. Keep in mind that they will frequently sandbag a Gaea's Cradle and win the game out of nowhere.

The sideboard doesn't offer that much except for the two sweepers which are great against them. It's not unusual that you kill off 4-5 critters and win the game easily after that. But on the other hand they can also kill you on their second or third turn. Daze is very low impact unless you get extremely lucky, so I add Flusterstorm as a fine counter for Glimpse of Nature and Natural Order.

-2 Vapor Snag, 4 Daze

+2 Rough // Tumble, 3 Flusterstorm, 1 True-Name Nemesis

The Mono-Red Prison Matchup

Chalice of the Void and Blood Moon have been put in the same deck for many years in Legacy. But finally the deck actually has good threats available instead of bad cards like Arc-Slogger. Goblin RabblemasterLegion Warboss and Chandra, Torch of Defiance offer relatively fast and cheap clocks. That’s often enough to finish the game after you have semi-locked the opponent out of the game. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to exploit this deck from Blue-Red Delver's perspective. Chalice of the Void will win the game a lot of the time game 1 if it resolves.

Using fetchlands to get a basic Island will let you cast all spells in your deck even under Blood Moon. So with hands without Force of Will or Daze it can be a winning line to play like this on turn 1 instead of enabling a Red 1-drop. They have Fiery Confluence as a sweeper, so you need to play carefully with your prowess creatures. Do you play your Brainstorm and Lightning Bolt on your own turn to force through damage? Or do you keep them up during the opponent's turn to "counter" Fiery Confluence? Daze helps this scenario immensely, so keep in mind that Daze doesn't have to actually counter anything to be relevant.

Conveniently, Rough // Tumble deals nicely with Rabblemaster, Warboss and their friends while leaving your board unaffected.

-2 Vapor Snag, 4 Chain Lightning

+4 Smash to Smithereens, 2 Rough // Tumble

Optimize Brainstorm: Your virtual card advantage

In a low curve deck with very few lands like this one, it is very important for your win percentage to optimize your Brainstorm. In other decks like Grixis Control and Miracles, you need to develop your mana to be able to do multiple things each turn, but Blue-Red Delver is different. If you keep lands in hand and uncracked fetches on the battlefield, that will help you optimize a potential topdecked Brainstorm, which will let you draw more gas. While this deck doesn't have any actual card advantage, your low mana curve and number of lands in combination with Brainstomis your virtual card advantage.

Some advice on lands: They're more important than you think

On the play I don't worry too much about Wasteland, but on the draw I can see an argument to fetch for basics so you have an untouchable manabase. Keep in mind that some hands can't afford to fetch basics because you might need to play Monastery Swiftspear and Lightning Bolt on turn 2 if you face a matchup where the opponent plays a creature on turn 1. Fetching the right lands is a big deal, so practice that a lot and take notes to evaluate later.

Even with a one-lander I like to play out my 1-drop on turn 1, even if I could dig for land number two. If you play it safe, you will miss out on important damage that could’ve helped you win the game. You would rather lose to a random Wasteland, which is very bad tempo for the opponent if you have another land and just play a creature than lose to your own slow start.

Some advice on certain spells

Preordain first over Ponder if you don't have a fetchland available. Exceptions can be made if it's super important to flip a Delver of Secrets because Ponderis better at doing that.

Force of Will on a removal spell is a fine play that you need to do from time to time. Your creatures are your repeated source of damage and are very valuable. The same scenario applies for double Daze.

Against Grixis Control, Eldrazi and other matchups that are weak to Price of Progress, fetch out as many Volcanic Islands as possible in game 1. That way they might not suspect Price of Progress and you can catch them off-guard in game 2 or 3. It's very hard to track how effective this strategy is, but I think it makes a difference.

I'm sure I missed a bunch of little things, but as always don't be shy about reaching out on Twitter if you have any questions. Have a good one!

This article was written by Andreas Petersen in a media collaboration with Snapcardster.com.

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Thomas Enevoldsen continues to delve into detail about this Legacy deck!
Andreas Petersen goes over the top five matchups with Blue-Red Delver!

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