Hey guys,

I haven’t written an article recently because I haven’t had much to talk about.  The last event I played was SCG Nashville.  I played all 10 rounds of Standard to finish out of the money.  Legacy went better for me, as usual.  I drew in to the top 32.  The new prize structure gives 9th-32nd the same prize, so there isn’t a reason to play for top 16 anymore.  My goal for the weekend was to make at least top 32 in one of the events so that I would reach Level 5 in the SCG Player’s Club.  I’m glad I was able to succeed because now I will receive a bye round 1 at the Invitational this weekend in Indianapolis.  This is big deal for a tournament like the invitational.  Have you seen the prizes?!

 

Speaking of the invitational, I’ve been spending more time than normal playing magic online to try and figure Standard out.  Everyone knows what the deck to beat is.  Restoration Delver has a giant target on its head, and for good reason.  The deck is even more unfair than the old versions of Delver.  It’s very tempting to just play what I know is the best deck is and do my best to outplay my opponents in the mirrors.  I don’t really like this plan though.  At a normal open this would be fine with me because I believe I’m a better player than the average person who would show up with Delver.  The invitational is a different story.  All of the best players make an effort to get to this event because of the large prize pool.  I’m more likely to play against someone who is more experienced with the mirror or a flat out better player than me.  At the last invitational, I played Invisible Stalkers and equipment like most everyone else.  The mirrors were less skill based and much more draw dependent.   Even if I was playing against a more experienced player, the matchup was more or less a coin flip.  I really want to do better than my 31st place at the last Invitational in Baltimore.  Don’t get me wrong, I was pumped getting 31st, but I can do better.  It all starts with making a good deck choice for both formats.

After I decided I didn’t want to play the obvious best deck, I started thinking about how I could get an edge against the Restoration Delver decks.  My roommate and I quickly thought Solar Flare would be a good choice because Phantasmal Image is the best removal spell for the most annoying card in the deck, Geist of Saint Traft.  But who likes playing Solar Flare? Not me. (Adam’s Note: I like playing Solar Flare!)

I opened my MODO account which I had barely touched in the past month. The only cards I own online are the cards for Delver so I started thinking about a different delver build that would give me an edge against the “slower” Delver decks.  This was about the same time Sam Black had just done well with his Delverless U/W deck.  The decks are all about going bigger, doing their best to abuse Restoration Angel and Blade Splicer.  I decided it wasn’t the worst idea to try and go smaller/faster than them.  I added an old favorite to the deck, Phantasmal Bear.  I also wanted to add a few more Snag (Unsummon) to the deal with Blade Splicer’s token and Dismember seemed important to get the big, flash 3/4 out of the way.

 
Moar Bears:
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Phantasmal Bear
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Ponder
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Mana Leak
4 Vapor Snag
2 Unsummon
2 Dismember
2 Gut Shot
2 Mental Misstep
3 Moorland Haunt
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Seachrome Coast
9 Island
 
Sideboard:
3 Celestial Purge
2 Steel Sabotage
2 Timely Reinforcements
1 Revoke Existence
2 Negate
3 Phantasmal Image
2 Ratchet Bomb / Corrosive Gale?

 

As soon as I started entering 2 mans with this deck, I had success.  The deck was doing what I planned for it to do, consistently having a faster draw than my opponent.  After my first day of playing with the list, I was 3-1 against the bigger delver decks and 3-0 against the Sam Black Delverless deck.  I wasn’t sure if I actually had a good deck or not because I could have easily just played against a lot of sub par players.  I played it locally a couple of times and jammed some games against my competent roommate playing Naya and I kept winning.  There are a few things that the list struggles with.  Number one is Lingering Souls because we don’t have any swords.  Solar Flare is not a good match up.  They have the images for your Geists and Lingering Souls is very good at slowing down delvers and bears.  I think it is OK to be soft to this though if almost all the players will be on Delver.  Knowing me, I’ll probably have to play against it at least twice though. Hopefully I can steal one of those matches.  The other match up I found to be difficult was zombies.  I’ve always had a rough time against zombies with delver though so I don’t think it is specific to this delver list.

I decided to play in my first Magic Online PTQ with this deck on Sunday.   The tournament was pretty big as far as PTQs go, 250 I think.  I guess that is normal for Magic Online though.  I started off well, taking a loss to Invisible Stalker/Sword of War and Peace in round 3 but I was 5-1 with 2 rounds left.  In round 7 I played against solar flare and got crushed.  So many lingering souls…  That loss knocked me out of contention for top 8 and led to me to not take my last round seriously.  I played poorly, got another loss, and ended up in 31st.

Obviously repped Roxie Cards even during the online PTQ.

 

I was satisfied with the deck overall though.  I beat 2 or 3 Restoration Delver Decks along the way.  If they have Gut Shot and Snapcaster it’s rough, but they’re only playing one Gut Shot now right?  I think I’m going to be playing this list or something very similar this weekend in Indy.  The sideboard will change a bit and I’m not sure how good Misstep actually is.

In the Legacy portion I will definitely be playing U/R Delver again.  This is the list I’m running.

 
U/R Delver:
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Goblin Guide
4 Snapcaster Mage
3 Grim Lavamancer
3 Force of Will
4 Spell Pierce
4 Brainstorm
3 Ponder
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Chain Lightning
3 Price of Progress
4 Volcanic Island
2 Island
2 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Misty Rainforest
1 Flooded Strand
1 Polluted Delta
2 Arid Mesa
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Wooded Foothills
 
Sideboard:
4 Submerge
4 Surgical Extraction
3 Red Elemental Blast
2 Crush
1 Force of Will
1 Sulfuric Vortex

 

I don’t expect many people to be playing Stoneblade at this event.  It has been showing up less and less and that makes Sulfuric Vortex worse.  Vortex is definitely a card for the miracle matchup but I also don’t expect to see much of that deck either.  The singleton will probably change to another card for the show and tell matchup.  The two Crush over Smash to Smithereens might look weird.  Trust me, I’d rather have Smelt from M13 if it was legal.  I’ve been having trouble with my Smashes getting Spell Pierced and me not having the mana to pay for it or counter back.  I’m hoping Crush costing will help prevent this.  It’s easier to use Snapcaster with it too.  I’m sure I’ll hate this decision when someone plays chalice of the void for one on turn one.

That’s all I have for now.  Hopefully I’ll have a report next week about how I won lots of money!  If you have a question, you can put it in the comments or message me on Twitter.

 

Thanks for reading,

Andrew Schneider

@On__The__Grind on Twitter  (double underscore)