All I should have to say is holy UW Delver Batman!
Check out the top 8 of the SCG Nashville open for standard. The top six slots are all UW Delver! That’s a pretty amazing feat. On top of that, four of them are almost identical lists that were created by Gerry Thompson. This article isn’t going to discuss the health of standard, sorry, but instead break down the changes to the new Delver lists and how new cards from Avacyn Restored have changed things. Let’s start by breaking down the list Gerry T won with!
A Standard Magic deck, by Gerry Thompson
1st place at a tournament in Nashville, Tennessee, United States on 2012-05-27
2 Sword of Feast and Famine
4 Geist of Saint Traft
The first thing different from recent UW Delver lists from the last couple of months is that Gerry T’s list lacks Sword of War and Peace, but instead there are two Sword of Feast and Famine. With decks like Wolfrun Ramp gaining Cavern of Souls along with popularity, the protection from green has an increased value since their key spells are now green and uncounterable. There’s also the ever-popular deck that took me down in the top four of providence – RG Aggro.
Sword of Feast and Famine shines in this match-up. RG Aggro has two creatures that can block a creature equipped with Feast and Famine. They happen to be Hellriders. If Hellrider is on defense there’s a chance you’re very ahead in that race from the sword.
Lastly, Feast and Famine is good against Zombies. Although, I’m unsure of how much this is relevant. The Zombies numbers have decreased dramatically since Avacyn’s release. Pillar of Flame has been doing a number on the recurring monsters.
Restoration Angel?! In slots that previously have been occupied by either Dungeon Geist, Invisible Stalker, and/or Porcelain Legionnaire. I’ve never liked Dungeon Geist, I hate tapping out on my turn while playing a control deck without knowing it’s going to be absolutely devastating. Geist doesn’t have that effect. Stalker has been incredible for me the last couple of months, I don’t have too many poor words for this fellow besides the fact that it’s often a terrible draw without equipment. Sorry dude, but it’s true. If there’s a Runechanter’s Pike or Sword of War and Peace, feel free to be my best friend. However, it’s very swingy on whether or not it’s a good card based on the situation. Porcelain Legionnaire is a card I’m a big fan of but in a format where Gutshot is so popular it is very weak. Especially now that Tragic Slip is a thing.
The nice thing about Restoration Angel is that it’s a 3/4 flying creature, this means it can block an opposing Delver of Secrets and live. This is huge, but it also has the added bonus of having flash so that it’s always a surprise. On top of that, it has another bonus! It also blinks a creature, hopefully that creature is a Snapcaster mage for extra value. Another option would be Blade Splicer but that creature doesn’t seem to be too popular at the moment.
Dismembers were very popular back when Hero of Bladehold was everywhere, those times have changed. But due to the recent adaptations of Restoration Angel they’re back. Angel is a creature that isn’t an ideal Vapor Snag target due to it’s Enter the Battlefield trigger. Meaning, there needs to be a removal spell to kill the annoyance or eventually lose to the creature.
Main deck Divine Offering is a slot I’ve never been satisfied with, it’s very random and dependant on if the opponent has drawn and resolved a two to three of in their deck. I’d much rather this slot be for another equipment, possibly a Sword of War and Peace. I understand that it can potentially be huge in the mirror, but it can also be terrible in other match-ups.
Moving onto the sideboard, Consecrated Sphinx is now an option due to the added land or two to the list to support Restoration Angel. While it’s an option, I’ve never been a fan of the card. It’s such a huge investment in the match-ups where it’s desirable. It’s wanted for the mirror and other control match-ups. The problem with this is it’s extremely vulnerable to Mana Leak and Vapor Snag. The last thing about Gerry’s list is the two-of Ghost Quarter. I’m not a fan of this slot because it’s card disadvantage against a match-up where they’re already accelerating into something dangerous. Every card matters, I’ve had great success just ignoring the Caverns and removing the Titan with Oblivion Rings.
A Standard Magic deck, by Brian Eason
2nd place at a tournament in Nashville, Tennessee, United States on 2012-05-27
4 Geist of Saint Traft
On to Brian’s list. Brian’s configuration for equipment is a bit different. He opted for two Sword of War and Peace and one Sword of Feast and Famine instead of Gerry’s two Feast and Famine package. Personally, I would be more inclined to play something more along these lines. This is why:
Sword of War and Peace is better in the mirror. While untapping your lands can in fact be huge, the protection from white is huge. When you look at lists, it doesn’t seem that important since there aren’t any white creatures besides Geist of Saint Traft. Well, Moorland Haunt makes white spirits that buy what seems like infinite time in long games until someone can find a way to break through. Sword of War and Peace is often this breakthrough. While neither of these lists play Lingering Souls plenty of my opponents do in Esper Spirits or Token based decks. These tokens are usually white tokens, keeping a hand with War and Peace has extreme value in these match-ups much like Feast and Famine against RG Aggro.
I often value the life gain and damage dealt very highly especially compared to the card advantage from Feast and Famine. I know, I know, it’s card advantage. But a lot of the time with these Delver lists, we’re buying time until stabilization. War and Peace stabilizes earlier due to large life-total swings. Feast and Famine will stabilize a UW Delver player, just longer down the road in a locking-the-opponent-out sort of way. Which is why I would still run one copy of Feast and Famine, probably more likely I would play it for the protection from green though.
Faith’s Shield, this card has just never been good for me. It’s a semi-counterspell protecting Delver of Secrets or a late game blow out when below five life for a large swing. But I’ve had these situations few and far in between. More often than not for me it has sat in my hand while I hold a white mana for it, then the rest of the deck does the relevant work. This card in my eyes is the definition of win-more.
The sideboard is something that’s quite different than mine, Batterskull is a great addition due to the added lands making it more reliably cast thanks to Restoration Angel. I’m not at all a fan of the Act of Aggression, UW Delver isn’t aggressive enough for that card to be relevant on turns 4-5 when Wolfrun casts it’s Titans.
Finally, if I were to play UW Delver tomorrow, my list would look like…
A Standard Magic deck, by Bryant Cook
3 Geist of Saint Traft
2 Phantasmal Image
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
2 Celestial Purge
2 Ratchet Bomb
1 Divine Offering
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Timely Reinforcements
It’s a nice combination between the two lists and is more of my style. I’m a big fan of a high number of cantrips and Thought Scour. The equipment package contains both War and Peace AND Feast and Famine. I was only running twenty lands with eleven cantrips before the changes. I’ve definitely noticed the changes in the mana base because I wasn’t running any basic Plains at the time. Mainly because they weren’t as many white spells so they weren’t necessary. I’ve also never been a big fan of playing four Geist of Saint Traft, I understand how important they are in the mirror, but there’s something about drawing multiples early that makes me cringe.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource