Standard BUG Delirium

In the wake of last week’s bannings, the future of Standard is kind of up in the air right now. Three of the most important cards in the format – Emrakul, the Promised End, Smuggler’s Copter, and Reflector Mage, in order of rarity – are gone, and Aether Revolt is adding nearly 200 cards to the format. There is no better time to brew than right now.

In the lead up to Pro Tour Eldritch Moon, I got really excited about a BUG Control deck that Ali Antrazi piloted to multiple respectable finishes at SCG Opens. The deck did show up in small numbers at the Pro Tour as well – big names like Eric Froehlich and Olivier Ruel played the deck. It took advantage of Delirium cards, like Ishkanah, Grafwidow; Traverse the Ulvenwald, and Emrakul, the Promised End. It wound up being overshadowed by the straight BG versions of the deck, but man, was it fun to play.

Now, with Emrakul gone, Delirium strategies need to adapt. My first inclination was that BG Delirium was dead – now, I don’t quite think that’s the case. But the strategy definitely needs to change, so I tossed this list together:

Lands (23):
4x Aether Hub
3x Blooming Marsh
3x Botanical Sanctum
4x Evolving Wilds
2x Forest
2x Hissing Quagmire
1x Island
2x Sunken Hollow
2x Swamp
Creatures (15):
4x Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
2x Ishkanah, Grafwidow
4x Rogue Refiner
4x Servant of the Conduit
1x Torrential Gearhulk
Sorceries (3):
3x Traverse the Ulvenwald
Instants (12):
3x Fatal Push
3x Glimmer of Genius
3x Grapple With the Past
3x Grasp of Darkness
Enchantments (3):
3x Vessel of Nascency
Planeswalkers (4):
3x Liliana, the Last Hope
1x Kiora, Master of the Depths
Sideboard (15):
2x Appetite for the Unnatural
2x Disallow
1x Ishkanah, Grafwidow
1x Kiora, Master of the Depths
2x Negate
1x Nissa, Vital Force
1x Noxious Gearhulk
1x Painful Truths
1x Ruinous Path
1x To the Slaughter
2x Yahenni’s Expertise

The Gameplan:

Similarly to BG Delirium lists, BUG Delirium plays a midrange/value game. The early game focuses on stocking up the graveyard and killing key threats, while deploying value creatures if possible. Once the deck reaches the mid/late game, its card advantage engines should create openings to start deploying game ending threats. It’s fairly simple, really.

Why Splash Blue?

Since the printing of Torrential Gearhulk, I’ve wanted to put it into a deck with Liliana and Grasp of Darkness. The effect is reminiscent of Snapcaster Mage + Kolaghan’s Command, a powerful interaction in Modern. However, it previously made more sense to just play BG, since Blue didn’t given many other benefits. Kiora was solid, but not quite worth a slot.

Rogue Refiner changes that. It fits perfectly into the value plan of the deck, providing a clock while gaining card advantage. The other key card to making the Blue splash worth it is actually a Black card: Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. Glimmer of Genius is obviously a powerful card, but previously the Delirium strategies didn’t really have an outlet for Energy. But in this deck, Glimmer effectively draws you three cards, and the Energy gained off of Rogue Refiner draws half a card.

The Energy Subtheme

Since I’ve already talked about it a little bit, I might as well dive into an explanation of all the Energy cards. Because I wanted to play Rogue Refiner, I wanted to ensure I was able to make full use of it. Hence, the deck has three energy outlets: Siphoner, Aether Hub, and Servant of the Conduit.

Some of the deck’s most busted draws are enabled by a turn 2 Servant of the Conduit. Getting ahead on mana is huge for this deck, as it allows you to out-tempo opponents with ease. The Landing a Kiora on turn 3 and +1’ing it to deploy an additional two drop is huge – you basically got to spend double the mana you would normally be allowed to.

Aether Hub is a big get for the deck. This card doesn’t require a ton of explanation, considering it became a Standard all star as soon as it was printed. It enables the Blue splash with ease, and also provides energy if specific colors aren’t needed.

So, finally, we’re back to Siphoner. I’ve explained the card a bit already, but having a two mana Phyrexian Arena is more than a little bit of work. It can fuel itself, but in this deck, it doesn’t really need to. It also just adds so much value to all the cards that make Energy, as they represent either half a card or a full card off of the Siphoner.


As with all good midrange decks, BUG Delirium has an excellent removal package. Fatal Push is, well, pushed. It kills early threats, allowing early threats like Siphoner, Refiner, and Servant to get in if necessary. It has some utility in the late game, especially with the full four copies of Evolving Wilds.

Grasp of Darkness, much like Aether Hub, doesn’t need much explanation. It’s an incredibly efficient removal spell that deals with a variety of threats present in Standard.

The Delirium Package

This package is fairly standard (get it?). Grapple and Vessel fill the graveyard with card types while replacing themselves. Traverse lets the deck skimp on lands a bit and grabs big threats and sideboard bullets. Ishkanah locks down the board and enables a win. Liliana is just a stupid Magic card – killing creatures, recurring threats, enabling attacks, and maybe winning the game eventually. Kiora can also help get to Delirium, and provides a ton of other utility.

The Sideboard

Because the format is in a state of flux, this sideboard is subject to change – and a lot of it. For now, there are some answers to specific card types in the form of Negate, Ruinous Path, To the Slaughter, and Appetite for the Unnatural. Painful Truths, Nissa, Ishkanah, and the second Kiora help the deck in grindier matchups. Noxious Gearhulks shores up matchups against Creature based strategies. Yahenni’s Expertise is incredible value, providing a sweeper against aggro decks and getting insane card advantage. Disallow started as a main deck card, but was moved to the board to stop control and combo decks from winning the game.

Going Forward

Honestly, I don’t know how good this deck is. It does some sweet test, and it’s performed pretty well in the limited testing I’ve been able to cram in between pre-releases. But I’m no pro, and with SCG Opens and the Pro Tour coming up, the deck’s future is in flux. I sincerely hope it’s a real player in the format, and even if it isn’t, I’ll continue tweaking it to attack the meta. I’ll keep you in the loop.