Legacy Blue-Red Delver Deck Guide

by Andreas Petersen on 11 January 2019, Friday

Andreas Petersen

After the new exciting tournament structure on Magic Online, I got really motivated to play more Legacy than before. As most of you know, I used to play the Four-Color Leovold deck a lot and quickly transitioned into Grixis Control after the Deathrite Shaman banning. The Legacy Challenge takes place on Sunday and overlaps with the Pauper Challenge, which has super long and grindy games. That meant I needed a more proactive deck so I could play both tournaments at the same time. I searched the internet for inspiration and came across old versions of Blue-Red Delver. They all played four copies of Gitaxian Probe. I was skeptical, but then again, I would never miss an opportunity to play with more Preordains, so I started assembling the deck.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the new Magic Online tournament structure, here is a short summary. You obtain Format Points in Leagues or Challenges and qualify for the Playoffs. The top 8 of those qualify for the Championship and the winner of that play in the Magic Online Championship Series and tabletop Mythic Championship.

The Creatures

In the early versions, I only played only eight 1-drops and a pair of True-Name Nemesis to diversify my threats as much as possible. Stormchaser Mage played the swiss army knife role. It has evasion, can pitch to Force of Will, plays around Chalice of the Void on 1 and withstands a Lightning Bolt as long as you can cast a single instant. Those are just the most key reasons why I liked it. At the time I also played two Risk Factor which let me gain some reach against slower decks in games where they managed to stabilize around 8-12 life.

After a few more games, I noticed that this deck's strength was its super high velocity. The free counterspells would ensure that I could finish the job and punish every little stumble from the opposition. The 3-drops didn't fit into that plan and I cut them from the maindeck. Note that cutting the expensive cards make you softer to mana flood. That way Brainstorm easily becomes the best card in your deck after the first three land drops. To maximize the effect of Brainstorm is super important to learn if you want to succeed with this deck. After I talked to Magic Online user Gul_Dukat (a Constructed phenomenon) I decided to maximize the 1-drops and added three Soul-Scar Mage. Most games it will be a non-hasty Monastery Swiftspear, but sometimes it will blow out an opposing Gurmag Angler with Lightning Bolt.

The Spells

The beautiful part about this deck is that a big chunk of its disruption package also helps the primary gameplan to finish off the opponent quickly. In Grixis Delver, Bolting your opponent doesn't feel very good because you lack cheap aggressive creatures to back up that plan and with Burn it feels awful to target your opponent's creatures. In this deck, both are valid plans because you have repeating sources of damage from the creatures. The free counterspells are great because you can play your creatures, chain your cantrips and cast burn spells while you can still disrupt your opponent for zero mana. Vapor Snag is weak on the surface, but covers some nasty angles like Gurmag Angler, Tarmogoyfand the Marit Lage token from Dark Depths. At the same time it’s a servicable defence against a removal spell or as Force of Will fodder.

The First Part of the Sideboard

My sideboard hasn't changed a lot since my first version of the deck, but the last few slots are changing from week to week. I'm 100% sure that I want the full four Smash to SmithereensChalice of the Void and equipment are great against this deck and the extra 3 damage is relevant in an aggressive shell. Flusterstorm is currently useful against all combo decks and all Blue decks where it acts as at least Spell Pierce most of the time. The exception is that it can't hit artifacts, enchantments and planeswalkers, which could be useful from time to time. In exchange for added flexibility I would give up percentages against Storm and Show and Tell variants which I'm not sure I like. 

For graveyard hate I've liked Surgical Extraction because it's a free instant spell in a deck full of prowess creatures.

I like the one-sided sweeper in Rough // Tumble (prowess creatures and fliers survive) to help out against Death & Taxes, Elves, Young Pyromancer and Storm's Empty the Warrens. I always felt that two is the right number thanks to all the juicy Blue cantrips I get to run.

The Second Part of the Sideboard

In the last tournament I played, I had two True-Name Nemesis in the sideboard as a way to improve a lot of matchups a little bit as opposed to improving a specific matchup by a lot. I have a lot of low-impact cards in the maindeck that I wish I could sideboard out. Daze on the draw, Force of Will in fair matchups and Vapor Snag are examples. That way I was very happy with an overall decent Magic card in the sideboard.

The two copies of Price of Progress will keep Grixis Control, Lands, Four-Color Loam, Eldrazi and other greedy manabases honest. Hopefully it also creates a huge damage swing that will win you the game in most cases. Disguising the fact that you're playing Price of Progress is vital and can be done with fetches on Volcanic Islands only in game one. Sometimes even in game two if you have an aggressive draw and don't care about the 4-6 damage it will deal to you.

Other Sideboard Options

I could see myself trying out Tormod's Crypt if Dredge becomes a thing again because a single Surgical might not cut it. For now, where Reanimator is the primary graveyard deck, I'm fine with the current setup of 2-3 Surgical Extraction.

Sulfuric Vortex is a resilient threat against Miracles and Grixis Control and it stops the lifegain from pesky Stoneforge Mystic decks. I could see myself running a copy of it again in the near future if I expect to face a lot of control at the top tables.

If Storm was a bigger part of the metagame, I would strongly consider either Pyrostatic Pillar or Eidolon of the Great Revel as ways to K.O. them. As it stands right now with the huge Legacy metagame, those cards are too narrow.

As Counterbalance slowly impacts the format more and more, it could be time to include a Pyroblast or two in the near future. I could see myself cutting a Flusterstorm or maybe the Surgicals to try and fit it in, but I'm not sure yet. All I know is that it's always in the virtual pile of twenty cards that I build my sideboard to this deck from, but it hasn't seen play yet.

The Final Decklist

To sum things up, here is my current decklist that I would recommend for your next Legacy tournament. It changes a card or two every week, so don't be shy to reach out on Twitter @ecobaronen to find my newest list.

Thank you so much for reading and look out for the next part where I cover all matchups with tips and sideboard plans!

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

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