Friday, November 23, 2012

The Obsolescence of Quintessential Disparate Grandiolquence

Before we get started, one thing:

I totally called Archwing Dragon being an awesome sideboard card.

I have evidence.

I feel awesome.

The last deck I wrote about pretty clearly foreshadowed my great desire to play U/R. Mono Red is (and, more or less, has always been) a cheap and easy way to play a relevant deck in Standard, so I play it a lot. I'm cheap and I like easy things. The thing that I found interesting, though, was the staunch digital-ness of Red Deck Wins. If you're playing Mono Red, you're playing Mountains. If you have any other color of mana in the deck, you're playing a completely different deck. Maybe you're playing Boros humans. But if so, you're very white. It's at least 50/50 or even less red than that.

Our mana is very good right now. It'll be better in Post-Gatecrash Standard, but the fact is, Shocks are the second best Dual Lands in the game. So it seemed natural that now would be the time to take mono-colored decks and de-mono them. But what do I know.

Anyway, I didn't really get the Steam Vents, Sulfur Falls and Snapcasters so much for that deck as I did because I like those cards. I mean, look at them.


Holding a playset of each of those cards just feels sweet. If a format has red and blue in it, I'm probably trying to play them. Niv-Mizzet is the Commander of my only EDH deck. If I ever build a Modern deck, it'll be U/R Electromancer/Pyro Storm. I build Izzet whenever I play RtR limited. When I play Legacy on Cockatrice, it's U/W/R Miracles. Granted, the red is just a splash in the sideboard, but there's Volcanic Islands and Snapcasters, dammit.

Anyway, two weeks ago at FNM I decided to finally build the deck that I had been toying with for a few weeks and built U/R Delver.

I have some frickin' opinions about the state of the Delver deck. I feel like there are a couple very obvious problems with the way people are trying to pull it off, and I'm pretty sure it's a Deck. Tell me if you guys think I'm crazy.

Number One: Izzet Charm is a bad card.

It's really not what you want to be doing. Let's skip ahead past the situational stuff and talk about it's "fall-back mode": very few decks want to play Faithless Looting. You have less cards when you resolve it than you did when you cast it. Did you ever notice that? It's true. If you have Snapcaster Mage in your deck and you discard some spells with Izzet Charm, you're not getting value. You're recouping losses. That's something very important to realize, because people are playing Izzet Charm in decks that. Nope, I'll end the sentence there. The only deck that should run Izzet Charm is a deck that (unfortunately) shouldn't be run: Veilborn Ghoul Grixis Control.

So with that said, do you really want a Spell Pierce? Did anybody ever really run Shock? How often did it go to the dome?

Number Two: Goblin Electromancer belongs in Storm. That's it.

Goblin Electromancer has an effect that I adore. I spent months playing frickin' Arcane Melee. But Arcane Melee was a combo enabler, and that's what Goblin Electromancer is, too. What these cards do is enable an "engine". I've heard the term bandied about here and there, but here's how I define an engine: it's a set of cards with heavy synergy that enable some level of recursion. It's a "soft" combo. Runic Repetition and Mystic Retrieval under Arcane Melee. Rituals, Goblin Electromancer, and Past in Flames (more on that later!). Conflux, Dream Halls, and Progenitus.

Wording my point a little more simply and directly, there isn't much Value in casting a Syncopate for X+1.

Getting an extra spell off or countering something you couldn't have doesn't just require Goblin Electromancer. It requires luck. It just doesn't really come up often enough to justify:
  • Making sure you can have UR on turn 2 consistently
  • Wasting a slot in your deck
  • Specifically, wasting a non-spell slot in your deck
Goblin Electromancer is vulnerable, his body is (to be bold) usually irrelevant, and he doesn't flip Delver. And for what? Every once in a while, you get to cast a Searing Spear AND Essence Scatter. Cool. Maybe you draw a land next turn and can't even use the mana that you wouldn't have. I won't deny that it does some good things, but it's not worth a card. That's what's important. He pushes out other good cards and messes up your spell ratio. Hey, what a segue!

Number Three: If Augur of Bolas isn't blocking, he isn't worth casting.

He's a very beautiful card. When you look at Augur of Bolas, you see nothing but gravy. Gravy on top of gravy. I'm not even making the "would you like some turkey with your gravy!?" joke, there is no turkey. The turkey is not even involved. It doesn't exist. This is clearly the perfect card  if you have islands.

For two mana, you get two things. And it's important to verbalize that. When he lands, you get the choice between about 1.25 spells. So it's usually not a choice. You cast him and he replaces himself with a random Instant or Sorcery in your deck. Sometimes you can pick between two or even three. Pretty cool! But if we're evaluating the Mean Value of the card, he kinda just draws a card. If you ask me, his ETB effect is pretty low-impact.

You play him to block. And there isn't much to block right now.

So let's get crazy, eh? Don't hedge against aggro by wussing out and playing 2 copies in the main and two in the side. There isn't a tier-1 aggro deck that doesn't ramp into a bunch of stuff that Augur can't block safely. I say go all-in and kill them harder! I put all four in the side and never looked back. They come in (and actually replace Delver) against Zombies and Mono-Red. I'm pretty confident that that's where they belong.

Number Four: Guttersnipe + Unsummon

The deck lives and dies by this interaction. We play 4 in the main, and 3.5 of them hit our dudes.

You haven't lived until you've cast a turn-4 Guttersnipe with Unsummon mana open.

I learn more and more about Magic every day, and I love it. In fact, I learn so much, I'm very, very aware of how incredibly bad I am at Magic I am. But I know in my heart that this tech is like nothing else I've ever come up with. The first deck in a Top-8 that runs 4 Guttersnipes and 4 Unsummons will change people's minds about Guttersnipe.

Callin' it.

I guess this is the part where I'm supposed to post a decklist.

UR Guttersnipe Delver

Creatures (13):
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Guttersnipe
4 Snapcaster Mage
1 Talrand, Sky Summoner

Artifacts (2):
2 Runechanter's Pike

Instants (22):
4 Desperate Ravings
1 Essence Scatter
3 Searing Spear
4 Syncopate
3 Think Twice
3 Thought Scour
4 Unsummon

Sorceries (3):
3 Pillar of Flame

Lands (20):
8 Island
4 Mountain
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls

I'm never too sure about the sideboard, so I won't post it. The sure things are 4 Augur of Bolas, the fourth Pillar of Flame, and some number of Dissipates. Maybe some Grafdigger's Cage? Jace, perhaps? I don't know. I have a habit of throwing together sideboards at the last minute because I hate making them.

Anyways, I went 4-0-1 at FNM the first week I played this. So I took it apart and built Standard Electromancer Storm. Because, you know.

I hate success, or something.

1 comment:

  1. I really like the sound of this deck. I am about to try a deck much like this on this FNM but I am trying to make it a bit more burn (which not sure it is needed) and somehow incorporate Charmbreaker Devils and Epic Experiments.. currently struggling to get my deck reduced to 60 cards from 66.

    Good stuff though, really enjoy reading your posts.