[Deck] Grixis Delver

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Post by mtotatm » 2 years ago

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Grixis Delver



Grixis Delver is a aggro-control deck that utilizes the namesake card Delver of Secrets as a 1 mana 3/2 flyer in conjuction with early disruption via counter magic, discard and removal. With access to the delve threats, such as Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Gurmag Angler, we can applying early pressure combined with our great disruptive spells we try to hold our opponent off balance long enough to take over the game before they can recover and deploy their more effective cards. For grindier match up, Kolaghan's Command allow us to pull ahead!


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Grixis Delver evolved from the original UR Delver as players tried to address the main weaknesses of the UR build, mainly the inability to kill fat creatures, and the lack of a way to pull ahead in grindy games, and as a result. These made UR Delver weak to most midrange and control decks in the format. Original builds started with Dark Confidant, Inquisition, Thoughtseize, Terminate as ways to address the problem with grinds and fat creatures, but still had problems, as the deck used too much of its life as a resource without a real way to gain it back. Grixis Delver only really became viable with the printing of Tasigur and Kolaghan's Command.

Alternatives Color Selection

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UR Delver: UR Delver is a strict tempo deck, since to have a chance to win it needs to come out fast and strong so that it has enough burn to finish the opponent off before it runs out of gas, most list runs Blood Moon to lock out opponent while they beat them down. Jeff Hoogland has some success with a UR wizard version of it.

Temur Delver: Essentially UR Delver, but with better proactive threats such as Hooting Mandrills, Tarmogoyf, Hexdrinker and Nimble Mongoose. This version has more threats and run alot more free counter spell such as Force of Negation and Disrupting Shoal to disrupt the opponent and set them back in tempo while they beat them down with their beefy threats.

Jeskai Delver: UR Delver with much more efficient spells and resilient threats. The removal of choice, path to exile doesn't really fit a tempo plan and can create headaches for you by ramping the opponent. The main draws to UWR is the lifegain that allows you to stabilise late into the game, as well as the ridiculous sideboard options that white provides, but though its sideboard is powerful, they only answer very specific matchups. With the latest unban of stoneforge, Jeskai delver might rise again.

Why Grixis?

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Most versatile and efficient answers
Able to grind out advantages in long games due to Kolaghan's Command
Has the potential to be the most explosive variant due to 1 mana delve threats like Tasigurs/Gurmag Angler

No way to gain life to counteract damage from mana base
No answer to problematic enchantments beyond countering and discard
Increased weakness to graveyard hate

Core Cards

These are the cards that define Grixis Delver. Running less than 4 of them is completely inaceptable as it drastically weakens the deck. There are alternative lists like Jeff Hoogland where he choose to run Opt over Serum Visions due to the ability to scry before drawing.

4x Delver of Secrets
4x Snapcaster Mage
4x Lightning Bolt
4x Serum Visions or 4x Opt
4x Thought Scour

4x Delver of Secrets: The decks namesake card and probably the best blue beater ever printed besides True Name Nemesis. Delver is the card that let this deck has some kind of "free wins" against slower strategies and opponents who stumble to remove him. He can start beating down for three as soon as turn 2 and completely run away with the game on its own while we are disrupting our opponent.

4x Snapcaster Mage: Snapcaster Mage has earned its spot as the best blue card available in modern and he is without a doubt the most important card in the whole deck. Grixis Delver is filled with cheap interaction and Snapcaster mage just makes you run 4 more copies of each of your best spells. Beside the obvious Bolt-Snap-Bolt interaction, he gives you card advantage in grindy games alongside Kolaghans Command and makes your removal density a nightmare for creature heavy decks.

4x Lightning Bolt: Lightning Bolt has been the premier removal spell in modern since the formats creation. He does everything Delver strategies want, being cheap and thus able to trade up on mana, killing creatures and burning out our opponent.

4x Serum Visions or 4x Opt: Serum Visions is (odly) the best cantrip blue mages have access to in modern and is the clue that holds the whole deck together. Digging for answers, setting up your draws and Delvers, Serum Visions does it all for a single mana. However some people prefer instant speed cantrip and the ability to scry before drawing so they choose to play Opt over Serum Visions, it all depends heavily on your playstyle.

4x Thought Scour: Similar to Serum Visions, Thought Scour is what makes this deck work. At first it may seem like a narrow and weak card but someone couldn't be more wrong. Grixis Delver makes heavy use of it's Graveyard so getting more cards in the yard when you have a Snapcaster Mage in hand is equal to drawing those cards while also acting as pseudo Dark Ritual for your delve creatures. On top of that, Thought Scour cantrips, is an instant and can be used to mill your opponent too. This can be very useful against decks that rely on certain cards (Ramp/Combo) which can then be exiled with Surgical Extraction to destroy their gameplan.

Tweakable Cards

Grixis has a good number of strong creatures to support it's aggro gameplan. Most lists run between 12 - 15 creatures and while they will most likely always contain 3-4 delve fatties, the creature suite should represent your main game plan depending on how reactive or proactive you want to be.

2-3 Tasigur, the golden Fang: Tasigur is our most important beater after Delver and he becomes the clear #1 against grindy mindrange strategies. His main selling point is that you can easily play him on turn 2 with Thought Scour + a fetchland and if you have used another fetchland/spell on th first turn you even have mana left for interaction. Besides beeing a one mana 4/5 Goyf most of the time he can net you some cards in longer games due to his activated ability. The only thing not to like? He's legendary so most lists play only 3 or even 2 copies because he sucks in multiples.

1-2 Gurmag Angler: Our second delve fattie. This card is just a dump beater for B most of the time but has a bit more power and isn't legendary so getting multiples stuck in hand is okay as long as you can fill your graveyard frequently to cast them. Most lists run either a 3/1 or 2/2 split of Tasigur/Angler. Due to the recent printing of Fatal Push, both cards have become a bit better because they dodge the new and heavily played black removal spell

0-3 Young Pyromancer: A legacy staple card for Grixis Delver, Young Pyromancer is a lot weaker in modern and the loss of Gitaxian Probe even further hurt the little red 2-drop. Even if Young Pyromancer has seen better days, he is still a card that can get completely out of hand if not dealt with immediately. He shines against non interactive decks and against midrange strategies but suffers against fast decks where you don't have the time to deploy a 2/1 before casting your interactive spells. Pyromancer supports a more proactive gampeplan, as his army of 1/1 tokens gets worse the longer the game goes.

0-1 Vendilion Clique: Similar to Young Pyromancer, Vendilion Clique has seen better days in the past. Modern is choke full of removal and every spell played is able to kill a resolved Clique. Often relegated to a sideboard card, in metas full of Combo and Tron Clique as an disruptive beater remains a very solid choice. It should be noted that more reactive lists with a higher amount of countermagic will most likely always choose Clique over Young Pyromancer because she supports that kind of "draw go" playstyle better as a flashy threat.

0-1 Grim Lavamancer: Bet you haven't seen this guy in a while. Grim is a repeatable source of small creature removal which is really helpful. Our creatures don't have the highest toughness around so being able to keep the board clear helps them actually attack. Grim gets rid of many problem creatures without spending any card resources such as Thalia.

Delver decks are armed to the teeth with all kind of spot removal. This ensures our few offensive creatures can get in for some damage quite easily on an empty board and claim a fast victory before our opponents recover. It also frees up our Lightning Bolts to crack in for the last few points of damage. Besides the obvious 4x Bolts, you should at least run 4 other pieces of hard removal, the more creature haevy decks you expect to face, the more removal you should pack. Around 6 pieces can be viewed as the "to go route" if you are not preparing for specific metagames.

2-3 Fatal Push: The new all star removal. It hit's nearly almost every common played creature for just B when revolted and nearly all relevant creatures in it's basic mode. Bare some Eldrazi nonsense, Delve creatures (watch out in the mirror!) and cards like Primeval Titan or Thragtusk, this card will serve you very well and some lists are running additional copies in the board to go up to the full playset after boarding.
Besides Bolt-Snap-Bolt, Push-Snap-Push is one of the most feared plays this deck can make.

1-3 Terminate: Where a Push often isn't enough, Terminate ensures your target is not going to survive. This unconditional removal is relevant in the mirror and when facing a high amount of bigger creatures your other removal can't deal with. Also ensures your high removal density even if it's cmc2 casting cost can feel clunky against faster decks.

0-1 Dreadbore: A terminate at sorcery speed that is able to hit planeswalker as well, plain and simple.

0-1 Magmatic Sinkhole: A delve instant speed removal that hits both planeswalker and creature.

0-1 Electrolyze: Your choice against go wide/small creatures strategies. Also useful in grindy MU's where drawing one additional card can make the difference between winning or loosing. Has lost some ground due to the incorporation of Fatal Push but still not a bad choice in the right meta or as a flexible 1-off.

One of Delvers hallmarks are it's counterspells. Sadly, modern counterspells are quite lackluster when compared to their legacy counterparts and often very situational. Most lists opt for 4-5 counterspells in the maindeck, although more controling builds can run as many as 8+ pieces of countermagic. Discard spells are anti tempo and are unusually not included in grixis delver however some "unusual lists" runs a combination of counterspells and discardspells.

0-3 Mana Leak: Your to go counter spell. Gets every card in the early game and hits most relevant spells even if the game goes longer. Delver has the ability to close out games before Mana Leaks drawback will really matter and as long as wizzards refuses to print better cmc2 counters, this card will stay our universal answer.

0-3 Spell Snare: This was once one of the decks best cards as it counters a variety of powerful modern cards such as Tarmogoyf, Terminate, Dark Confidant, Eidolon of the Great Revel, Voice of Resurgence, Arcbound Ravager and most commonly used counterspells for just U. The usefulness of this card will almost always vary between awesome and meeh, depending on the current decks you expect to face. Since the printing of Fatal Push, many of this cards former targets can als get answered by the new removal spell which further decreases the need for spell snare.

0-2 Remand: Being once one of modern premier "Tempo cards", Remand has always shined more Twin than Delver lists. If you expect a slower meta, Remand can buy you enough time by timewalking your opponent to clai victory but it's more or less useless against decks with lots of cheap spells as they can just replay it on the same turn. More controlish build sometimes feature some copies of remand as it still represents one of the better counterspells in modern.

0-2 Spell Pierce: A tech option to consider, some list run to to 2 while other run none, heavily depends on your playstyle.

0-2 Force of Negation: One of the new toys that were printed for blue decks, depending on your list, it is recommended to have at least 22 blue spells to be able to successfully use it for free.
https://www.channelfireball.com/article ... -negation/

0-1 Cryptic Command: The best Swiss army knife in Modern.

0-4 Inquisition of Kozilek: Discard is an anti tempo option and dislike by many, however due to the printing of new 3cmc planeswalker, some lists have begin running it.

0-2 Thoughtseize: Same as Inquisition but with the exception that it can hit everything, mainly use for scapeshift or tron however the loss of 2 life is quite harsh combine with our painful mana base.

Multiple Use:
1-3 Kolaghan's Command:
The card advantage engine of this deck alongside Snapcaster Mage. Kolaghan's command is a highly flexible card and almost every of it's modes can be put to great use in Grixis Delver. Most likely it will be used to shock a creature/your opponent or let them discard if they have only 1-2 cards left in hand and buy back a creature. Having milled your Gurmag Angler/Tasigur with Thought Scour? Just get them back while roasting that pesky Dark Confidant on your opponents side. The best play you can make is to get back a Snapcaster Mage with the recursion mode only to replay him and flashback Kolaghan's Command for even more value. The so called "Snapcaster-KCommand-Chain" makes you able to even outgrind Midrange decks in the long run.

0-2 Collective Brutality:
Another highly flexible card, Collective Brutality especially shines against aggro decks where you can make them discard a burn spell, get rid of their Goblin Guide and maybe even drain some life while discarding clunky/useless cards or excess lands. It can be used against combo decks too if you are in dire need of interaction with their spells.
Most lists are running 2 copies somwhere in their 75 and it sorely depends on your meta if you maindeck them or let them be your flexible anti aggro/combo sideboard cards.

Nothing works without a solid landbase. Grixis Delvers manabse has been optimized over time and excluding some minor tweaks, such as running 2 Watery Grave/1 Steam Vents or the other way round, is pretty much set in stone. You need at least 8 fetchlands to ensure not getting mana screwed and getting your delve creatures into play asap although some lists go up to 10. The rest of the manabase is pretty streamlined, most lists feature 4-5 basic lands, 4 shocklands and 1-3 fastlands which makes for a total number of 18-20 lands. Some list are currently trying out Fiery Islet as a one of.

4x Scalding Tarn
4x Polluted Delta
0-1x Bloodstained Mire
1-2x Steam Vents
1-2x Watery Grave
1x Blood Crypt
1-2x Spirebluff Canal
0-1x Darkslick Shores
1x Mountain
1x Swamp
1-3x Island
0-1x Creeping Tar Pit

Sideboard Card Choices

Grixis has access to a great pool of good sideboard cards for a wide variety of MU's. You will almost always want a good mix of additional Disruption, Graveyard/Big Mana hate and some universal answers in the form of Engineered Explosives. The following list contains potential choices for a well build sideboard.

Additional Disruption: Additional Removal and Sweepers: Grindy Cards: Ramp/Big Mana hate: Artifact Hate: Graveyard Hate: Multi Purpose Cards: How to play Grixis Delver

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So now that you have figured out your exact 75 you think you are ready to go and beat the hell out of your opponents right? Well, playing a reactive blue based strategy in modern has proven to be not as easy as it may look. Grixis Delver is a solid deck choice, especially if you know your meta and tailor your sideboard in the right direction but it requires a high number of games and knowledge to truly master this archetype.

It's important to know your deck but it's even more important to know what your opponent is going to do. While this may sound obvious, it's requires time to know which spells to counter, when to keep up mana for reactive plays, how to play around certain cards and when starting to race. This deck relies on synergy and making mistakes WILL punish you in the long run.

The first and maybe most important point is to know who's the beatdown? Check out the articles sector for an excellent read on that topic. Basically this means you have to adapt your playstyle depending on the deck you face. For example, if you play against aggressive decks that are faster, you become a reactive control deck. This means trying to answer their creatures and counter their spells in the first turns until they have exhausted their resources and then switch gears and start playing your threats. Pressuring aggro decks is a underestimated way to screw their gameplan. Burn can't handle a resolved Tasigur preboard without spending at least two of their creatures or burn spells to deal with him and when burn can't deal enough damage to you in the first few turns, it's going to loose in the long run.

Against Combo or Ramp decks on the other hand you become the aggressor and should try to deploy a fast threat or two to pressure their life total while keeping up your reactive cards for their game ending spells. Just durdling around wont get you far because at some point they will just draw more threats that you are able to answer. The fewer draw steps you give them, the more likely you are able to keep them of balance with your cheap interactive spells and kill them before they can recover.
Tips and tricks:

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Delver of Secrets has a unique Upkeep Trigger which you can always respond to. This means after looking at the top card you can crack a fetch to shuffle your library before going to the draw step. If you have any kind of instant speed library manipulation available, such as Thought Scour, Tasigur ability, you can also cast/trigger those cards in response to mill unwanted cards away or if you run Opt over Serum Vision, you may opt pass the unwanted cards too.

Always fetch before playing Serum Visions - sounds obvious.

Many of your hands will be one-landers. Keeping those hands depends on a few parameters.
Are you on the draw or play? Do you have mulliganed? Do you have any kind of cantrips available? Are you able to interact with your opponent even if you miss your second land drop for a while? Generaly speaking, most one land hands are keepable as long as you have a cantrip or two, especially if you have already took a mulligan and are on the draw.

Snapcaster + Kolaghan's Command
Value town. If a snap is in the yard, almost always choose to bring snap back, and depending on the match, force discard, shock, or shatter. Continue the chain for as long as you can and see your opponent's hand get shredded.

Kolaghan's command vs spellskite
Spellskite CAN redirect both Shock and Shatter to it. Sometimes its best to force discard and shatter or reanimate and shatter rather that shock and shatter.

Electrolyze and forked bolt vs spellskite
If you direct 1 point of damage to spellskite and the other to another target, spellskite cannot redirect the other point since he is already a target of the spell.
There are many stock list that has slight difference in their card collection, do let me know if you guys would like me to include a stock list here. :)

Useful Stuff and Articles

Modern archetype overview - or what is Tempo?
http://modernnexus.com/pigeonholing-for ... rchetypes/

Who's the Beatdown?
http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/fund ... tdown.html

An old series by Kevin Jones
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Constructed Accumulated Knowledge - Grixis Delver by Kevin Jones: Part 1:

Constructed Accumulated Knowledge - Grixis Delver by Kevin Jones: Part 2:

Constructed Accumulated Knowledge - Grixis Delver by Kevin Jones: Part 3:
Gameplay by Jeff Hoogland
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Original Thread
[Credits to Jonny_Tempel from mtgsalvation]
https://www.mtgsalvation.com/forums/the ... xis-delver
Last edited by mtotatm 2 years ago, edited 1 time in total.

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