Modern BUG Delver

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Posted January 23, 2017 by Abdullah Elhawary in Nerdy Bits

With Fatal Push being a serious contender for best removal spell of all time, a lot of Modern decks have to adjust to accommodate the powerful spell from Aether Revolt. For me, however, Fatal Push is the tool that various archetypes like Sultai, GB and UB needed to become serious contenders as they were lacking a powerful one mana removal spell like Path or Bolt. Sultai is the really big one for me – with access to the GBx removal/threat base it always seemed to be right on the edge of Modern playability. It has been pushed over the edge (I’ll try to make that my one and only pun this article). I tried various midrange builds with Snapcaster Mage, Cryptic Command and Ancestral Vision but I found inspiration in another format; Legacy. The premier tempo decks in Legacy all revolve around Delver of Secrets and other cheap threats backed up by cheap spot removal, deck manipulation and counterspells. I took this recipe and modernized it.

BUG Delver

Test deck by Abdullah Elhawary

Maindeck:

Lands (20):
2x Botanical Sanctum
1x Breeding Pool
3x Darkslick Shores
1x Forest
1x Island
4x Misty Rainforest
1x Overgrown Tomb
1x Swamp
4x Polluted Delta
1x Verdant Catacombs
1x Watery Grave

Creatures (15):
4x Delver of Secrets
4x Grim Flayer
1x Gurmag Angler
2x Tasigur, the Golden Fang
4x Tarmogoyf

Sorceries (6):
4x Serum Visions
1x Collective Brutality
1x Maelstrom Pulse

Instants (17):
3x Abrupt Decay
4x Fatal Push
3x Spell Pierce
3x Mana Leak
4x Thought Scour

Planeswalkers (2):
2x Liliana of the Veil

Sideboard:

2x Fulminator Mage
1x Dismember
1x Scavenging Ooze
1x Disdainful Stroke
1x Collective Brutality
2x Surgical Extraction
1x Golgari Charm
2x Natural State
1x Shadow of Doubt
2x Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
1x Thrun, the Last Troll

Card Choices

Threats

The threat base here is very similar to that of the legacy version without Deathrite Shamans, which are replaced with Delve threats in the form of  Tasigur and Gurmag Angler. You can usually cast Tasigur or Angler on turn two off a turn one Thought Scour. The best turn one play is almost always Delver of Secret, pre- and post-board as there 23 cards in the deck that transform it. Additionally, Serum Visions usually ensures that your Delver flips. There is a slight non-bo between Tasigur and Tarmogoyf, so keep in mind which card types you’re Delving away, as they may shrink your Tarmogoyf too much. Grim Flayer also sets up your draws nicely and interacts favorably with Goyf, Tasigur, Angler and Delver. There is another shell that play Snapcaster Mage and/or Dark Confidant which is definitely worth exploring.

Removal

Your removal suite is pretty basic with a 4-3-1 split between Fatal Push, Abrupt Decay and Maelstrom Pulse. Usually the most mana efficient removal spell is the best, however be wary of the threats that these individual cards can’t answer. Decay and Pulse are weak to manlands, Push and Decay are weak to 5 mana+ threats and Push can only kill a 3/4 mana creature if you triggered revolt. Lastly, Decay is your best answer to a resolved Blood Moon. I tried fitting in a Murderous Cut or Dismember but the list was too tight. If you’re looking to diversify your removal suite, that’s where I’d start.

Counterspells

Man it’s been a while since I could to play counterspells in Modern. Honestly, I haven’t liked them this much in a deck since Splinter Twin was banned (Rest in Peace Splinter Twin). Despite being a staple in older formats, people have no respect for Spell Pierce in Modern outside of Infect, and it’s phenomenal against non-Abrupt Decay removal spells early, planeswalkers in the mid-game and Cryptic Command late. Mana Leak is similar, but the extra mana allows you to stop opposing creatures which buys you key turns. They are also your best cards alongside the singleton Collective Brutality against the various combo decks of the format. The reason they’re so good is that Modern is ruled by efficiency and playing your cheap spells on curve which makes cards like Mana Leak and Spell Pierce premier answers in the format.

Match-up Guides:

Dredge:

In:

2x Surgical Extraction
1x Scavenging Ooze

Out:
3x Abrupt Decay

Infect:

In:

1x Golgari Charm
1x Dismember
2x Fulminator

Out:
1x Maelstrom Pulse
3x Mana Leak

Zooicide:

In:

1x Shadow of Doubt
1x Dismember
1x Scavenging Ooze

Out:
1x Maelstrom Pulse
1x Mana Leak
1x Liliana of the Veil

Burn:

In:

1x Collective Brutality
1x Scavenging Ooze

Out:
1x Maelstrom Pulse
1x Liliana of the Veil

Affinity:

In:

2x Natural State
1x Golgari Charm
2x Fulminator Mage

Out:
2x Spell Pierce
1x Mana Leak
2x Liliana of the Veil

Tron:

In:

1x Shadow of Doubt
2x Surgical Extraction
2x Fulminator Mage
1x Disdainful Stroke
2x Natural State

Out:
4x Fatal Push
3x Abrupt Decay
1x Collective Brutality

Jund/ Abzan:

In:

2x Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
1x Scavenging Ooze
1x Thrun, the Last Troll
1x Fulminator Mage

Out:
4x Delver of Secrets
1x Collective Brutality


About the Author

Abdullah Elhawary