Delver of Secrets in Legacy Part 2: BURG & BUG

Yesterday, I left you with an impression of the Legacy metagame at the time of GP Strasbourg in April. With the flood of Deathrite Shaman / Abrupt Decay decks, we had two choices how to react. We could either figure out how to beat them with RUG or abandon ship and play these cards ourselves, like Daniel Signorini at GP Denver a few months earlier. Even with the very effective (but somewhat clunky)Troll Ascetic in our sideboard, I still didn’t feel very good about our BG/x matchups.

Carsten Linden, with whom I’d been working on RUG for almost a year at that point, thought it was a good idea to just add both Decay and Shaman to our own deck. That is, without cutting any of the other colours. Obviously, everybody he showed the list to just laughed it off as way too greedy. The list we first threw together was very similar to our latest incarnation of RUG:

3 Deathrite Shaman
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Nimble Mongoose
2 Abrupt Decay
4 Brainstorm
1 Counterspell
4 Daze
4 Force of Wil
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Spell Pierce
3 Spell Snare
4 Stifle
3 Misty Rainforest
4 Polluted Delta
3 Tropical Island
2 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island
4 Wasteland
4 Ponder

We started by testing the deck against UW Miracles, RUG, BUG and Storm. It crushed all of these decks. Between the four of us – Carsten Linden, Timo Schünemann, Pascal Wagner and myself – we all decided to bring the deck to a local tournament the next day. Because our testing time was limited, we did not get to come up with a reasonable sideboard. Instead, we brought what looked like an excerpt from a goodstuff highlander decklist  plus Submerge and Flusterstorms:

1 Grim Lavamancer
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Vendilion Clique
2 Flusterstorm
1 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Spell Pierce
3 Submerge
1 Garruk Relentless
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Life from the Loam
1 Reanimate

Magic is about fun, right?

Because we now had Deathrite Shaman, we could no longer run Rough // Tumble to deal with multiple small creatures. Carsten already wanted to play Fire Covenant at that point, a card he came across in a cube draft, but we didn’t have any. Thus, we leaned on Grim Lavamancer, the planeswalkers and Life from the Loam to have better game going long against creatures. Reanimate without discard spells or anything to support it? Yeah, right. I’m not lying here. We just thought it would be cool. Kitchen Finks was one of the more sane suggestions to combat Jund, although we also considered running Natural Order (for Sigarda, Host of Herons – obviously). Rakdos’s Return was also suggested, as were several other completely ridiculous cards.

As for the tournament, about fifty players showed up. We lost a total of one non-mirror match in the swiss, putting all of us into the top eight. Despite putting three of us into the top four, we did not manage to take down the tournament, with Jund taking out the two of us that did not lose their mirror matches in the playoffs.

While I did not get to play any more Magic between that weekend and the GP, Carsten shipped the list to Florian Koch; the two of them were responsible for all the changes made to the deck until Strasbourg.

BURG by Florian Koch & Carsten Linden
GP Strasbourg 2013

3 Deathrite Shaman
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Nimble Mongoose
2 Abrupt Decay
4 Brainstorm
1 Counterspell
4 Daze
4 Force of Will
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Spell Pierce
3 Spell Snare
4 Stifle
4 Misty Rainforest
3 Scalding Tarn
1 Taiga
2 Tropical Island
2 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island
4 Wasteland
4 Ponder

Sideboard:
1 Grim Lavamancer
1 Fire Covenant
2 Flusterstorm
1 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Spell Pierce
4 Submerge
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Koth of the Hammer
1 Life from the Loam
1 Reanimate

The only change they made to the maindeck was cutting one Tropical Island for a Taiga and adjusting the fetchlands to be able to get all lands again. The reasoning behind the Taiga was that we now were able to cast all of our spells just off two lands. Because of Abrupt Decay, Bayou does not enable this and Badlands not tapping for green is a real downside. Also, in postboard games, you can cast both Delver and Deathrite Shaman off Underground Sea without being susceptible to Submerge.

The sideboard also started looking like a real sideboard (kind of). Not only did it become more streamlined, we also had access to all the cards we wanted to play, so this is really what it was supposed to look like at that time.

The GP did not go that well for me (and for the deck in general), but most of us continued playing the deck regardless. Florian, Carsten and I made the trip to the Bazaar of Moxen in Annecy together, where we all played BURG again in the Legacy main event. While neither of us managed to make it to the second day of competition, I’m convinced that the list we played was the best we had so far:

3 Deathrite Shaman
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Nimble Mongoose
1 Tarmogoyf
2 Abrupt Decay
4 Brainstorm
1 Counterspell
4 Daze
4 Force of Will
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Spell Snare
4 Stifle
4 Misty Rainforest
3 Scalding Tarn
1 Taiga
2 Tropical Island
2 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island
4 Wasteland
4 Ponder

Sideboard:
1 Dread of Night
1 Sylvan Library
2 Fire Covenant
2 Flusterstorm
2 Pyroblast
2 Spell Pierce
3 Submerge
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Life from the Loam

Again, the maindeck remained nearly untouched, with only the Spell Pierce moving to the sideboard and a single Tarmogoyf replacing it. The actual changes took place in the sideboard. All of the cute tricks were cut. All of them. This was good. It made the deck more predictable (or less unpredictable?) for our opponents but also more reliable for us.

Grim Lavamancer and Fire Covenant were there for the same job, only one of them was mediocre and the other one was insane. In the wake of GP Strasbourg, which was won by Thomas Enevoldsen’s Death and Taxes, we put a Dread of Night into the sideboard to supplement these.

Sylvan Library and Life from the Loam also kind of group together – they’re both there to close out games. Or rather, make it impossible for our opponents to even get into games. In hindsight, Sylvan Library was the worst card in the board and just should have been Jace again. Their roles and effects are similar, only Jace is much more brutal while also playing better with Fire Covenant.

Why we were running six counters and some Submerges should be clear by now – these prevent you from dying to whatever it is your opponent does. The Surgical Extraction could be considered a filler card, and in a sense it is, but often it is just the card you want – after all, having four pieces of graveyard is better than having only three. Florian and Carsten had Nihil Spellbomb instead, which is fine as well, only it doesn’t interact with Tin Fins on turn one, which I was more concerned about.

So, with all this praise, why did I stop playing the deck? Mainly, I was still used to how insanely good RUG was in its heyday. Not only was RUG much better positioned in the metagame before Return to Ravnica, but it was also very well-rounded, whereas with BURG most matchups are very lopsided. You always completely crush them or get crushed yourself.

For example, the deck is insane against any form of combo deck. You just have everything – the most effecient interaction in Grixis and the most efficient beaters in BUG. It was also insane against Miracles. In a control mirror the winner is most often the one that makes best use of their mana. With all your spells costing one mana, what are they going to do?

On the other hand, how bad is a resolved Liliana of the Veil? The answer is very bad. It’s almost impossible to win against Punishing Fire when your Nimble Mongooses just get outclassed by their creatures. Sure, once in a blue moon the stars line up for you and you triple Submerge them, then  Fire Covenant  their board while beating down with Mongoose or ‘Goyf.

RUG was good against all of the top decks when I played it, whereas BURG is only good against about half of them. Then, there’s also the fact that despite Deathrite Shaman, your mana doesn’t always work out. It rarely happens, but you do have issues from time to time. This is very much a 55/45 deck, giving you almost no control about what is going to happen. Further, the deck is not that great in tempo mirrors. If people suddenly stop playing UWR Delver over RUG, you might have a chance, but you don’t want to have a bad matchup against the most popular deck.

If you think your metagame is perfect for BURG, I suggest the above maindeck with this sideboard:

1 Dread of Night
2 Fire Covenant
2 Flusterstorm
1 Golgari Charm
2 Pyroblast
1 Spell Pierce
2 Submerge
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Thoughtseize

I’m convinced there’s only a limited number of matchups you can expect to win, so in my eyes the best move is to focus on a few select ones. This sideboard is tailored to completely crush combo decks. Because of Fire Covenant, you can also improve some of the creature matchups like Elves and Death and Taxes with minimal extra investment.

In exchange, I give up on the grindy matchups. I don’t think this deck has any business winning tempo mirrors anymore. I don’t think you can reasonably expect to beat Jund. Maybe, just maybe, you can solve this by adding more four drops, namely Thrun, the Last Troll. I think that one of those, or maybe even two, can do wonders if you need to grind (by ignoring the actual grind), although that still doesn’t solve Liliana of the Veil. I’m dead sure that having Submerge and Life from the Loam is not going to cut it in these matchups though.

Now, if the metagame is not entirely combo decks, what are you supposed to do?

Also in preparation for GP Strasbourg, in early March, I started working on the BUG Delver list first played by Daniel Signorini and the Hatfield brothers at the SCG Open in Baltimore in December 2012 and later piloted to a Top 8 finish at GP Denver by Signorini. As a reminder:

BUG Delver by Daniel Signorini
6th Place, GP Denver 2013

4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Tarmogoyf
2 Tombstalker
1 Sylvan Library
4 Abrupt Decay
4 Brainstorm
4 Daze
1 Dismember
4 Force of Will
2 Bayou
2 Misty Rainforest
3 Polluted Delta
1 Tropical Island
4 Underground Sea
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Wasteland
4 Hymn to Tourach
4 Ponder

Sideboard:
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
2 Blue Elemental Blast
1 Darkblast
2 Disfigure
2 Krosan Grip
1 Creeping Tar Pit
1 Life from the Loam
4 Sinkhole

I started out by testing the deck against Sneak and Show, RUG Delver, UW Miracles and Esper Stoneblade and immediately made some observations:

1. 25 Instants and sorceries is not enough for Delver of Secrets.
2. Fourteen creatures is a little too much for my taste, although additional creatures might be wanted against decks that are actually going to kill them as going all the way with a lone Deathrite Shaman can be hard.
3. You don’t actually want to have Bayou unless you have Deathrite Shaman on board, but it’s mandatory you have two because of Tombstalker.
4. Diversifying removal is a good thing; also an additional piece of removal might be wanted.
5. Hymn to Tourach not only makes the mana worse, but is also overall worse than one-mana discard spells. Being able to take a specific card is almost always more important than card advantage; further, Hymn to Tourach is easier to counter and you almost directly lose if it gets Misdirected.
6. Twenty lands is one too many, except against decks with heavy manadenial.
7. The deck was very brutal in the early stages of the game, but would quickly fall behind later on. Sylvan Library did help there.
8. I did not like the sideboard at all.

With this in mind, I started throwing around cards here and there. The first thing I did was to cut Hymn to Tourach. Instead I tried out setups of Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize. I came to the conclusion that I only wanted to have three of those total, so I had also found room for a sixth removal spell. This would either be Disfigure or Dismember.

Still, I found the deck lacking in the combo matchups, so I replaced two of the creatures with two copies of Spell Pierce. The only creature I did not try running less of was Delver of Secrets; that was just too important in the combo matchups to not have. I soon replaced one of the fetchlands with the third Spell Pierce, leading to this maindeck:

3 Deathrite Shaman
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Tarmogoyf
1 Tombstalker
1 Sylvan Library
4 Abrupt Decay
4 Brainstorm
4 Daze
2 Disfigure
4 Force of Will
3 Spell Pierce
2 Bayou
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Polluted Delta
1 Tropical Island
4 Underground Sea
4 Wasteland
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Ponder
1 Thoughtseize

I really liked where this was going. The deck was very good against all sorts of combo, decent against Miracles and RUG, okay against creatures and only really bad against Esper Stoneblade. By the time I started testing this, Shardless BUG was not yet widely played in Europe.

The reasoning behind running Disfigure was that you wanted additional removal for opposing Deathrite Shamans, especially on turns one and two. Disfigure got the nod over the more versatile Dismember because of RUG. You don’t want their Spell Pierce to come with two free Shocks when trying to kill a Delver of Secrets. The split on the discard spells was, to be honest, not good. Not being able to take an Emrakul, Force of Will or Sneak Attack against Sneak and Show can easily cost you the game, whereas the lifeloss from Thoughtseize really only matters against Lightning Bolts; so only against RUG and Jund would you prefer to have Inquisition. And even there, sometimes you want to be able to take Bloodbraid Elf, Force of Will or Submerge.

Sometimes, I wished I had another counter in the deck, but there weren’t any good ones left. Running the full four Spell Pierces would be okay, but I wasn’t going to cut Sylvan Library or one of the removal spells for that. Counterspell also came to mind, but that doesn’t seem good in a deck that has to fetch for Underground Sea and Bayou. Ideally, I wanted something like the Izzet Charm we had been playing in RUG. Good thing Gatecrash had recently been released and there was Dimir Charm. While it’s a little worse at killing stuff and a more situational counterspell than Izzet Charm, having a hardcounter for miracle spells and Show and Tell ultimately convinced me, so one of the Abrupt Decays had to move to the board.

Now, when it comes to sideboards, I like to try out lots of cards during principal testing and see which cards are needed and which can be used for multiple matchups. Obviously you need to cut down to fifteen at some point, but starting with three to six cards per matchup lets you see your deck’s range more easily. If a matchup demands more than three or four cards you’re not planning on playing anyway, then it’s likely best to just abandon the matchup. The good thing about Delver decks is that you’re mostly moving around countermagic and removal depending on what you’re playing against so you have a lot of overlap. This becomes even more apparent when you get to run cards Abrupt Decay, which can not only kill a Stoneforge Mystic but also the Umezawa’s Jitte it got, i.e. cards that fulfil multiple roles. You’re usually just cutting general answers for slightly more specific ones.

In preparation for the Grand Prix, I spent quite a bit of time discussing the deck with Davide Marcotti, a good friend from Italy. Davide had been doing pretty well with BUG and was also considering it for Strasbourg. While we ended up on significantly different lists, his input was invaluable. One card he had really been pushing was Jace, the Mind Sculptor. He was convinced it was correct to have it in the maindeck when I thought it belonged in the sideboard to help as an additional threat and source of cardadvantage against the UW/x decks.

2 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Vendilion Clique
1 Abrupt Decay
2 Flusterstorm
1 Krosan Grip
3 Submerge
1 Surgical Extraction
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Duress

This sideboard worked pretty well in local events and in testing, although it is completely outdated by now. Playing graveyard hate was a function of Tin Fins emerging around that time and Reanimator seeing a reasonable amount of play. Clique was there more to help you not having to tap out against combo than as an additional threat against control decks; I preferred to bring in Jace for those. Speaking of Jace, he was mostly in my sideboard to help against Miracles and Stoneblade, but he also helped a lot against random decks like MUD you’ll run into every now and then.

Due to maindeck Spell Pierces and one-mana discard, the board was very light on real combo hate, and rightfully so. If you want to crush combo decks, this is a very good choice.

Submerge was mostly for BG/x mirrors, but also against RUG. Note that there are better things to do against Jund than to Submerge them. They even have Deathrite Shaman to play around them. The fourth Abrupt Decay was in the board because it wasn’t in the maindeck. I don’t think I need to elaborate on that. Krosan Grip was in the board to have an additional out to Counterbalance, but also to be able to destroy a Batterskull. This was probably overzealous, but the deck didn’t really ask for many sideboard cards. Usually you would only need to board one or two cards per matchup, but why limit yourself to a five-card sideboard?

Despite bringing the BURG to Strasbourg, I continued playing BUG on and off for a while and I was always very happy with it. It was very well positioned and I still think it is. This is what I would play in DC:

BUG Delver by Jonathan Alexander Kurz
November 2013

3 Deathrite Shaman
4 Delver of Secrets
3 Tarmogoyf
1 Tombstalker
1 True-Name Nemesis
4 Abrupt Decay
4 Brainstorm
1 Counterspell
4 Daze
2 Disfigure
4 Force of Will
3 Spell Pierce
1 Bayou
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Polluted Delta
2 Tropical Island
4 Underground Sea
4 Wasteland
4 Ponder
3 Thoughtseize

Sideboard:
1 Dread of Night
1 Engineered Plague
1 Sylvan Library
1 Deathrite Shaman
1 Vendilion Clique
2 Envelop
2 Flusterstorm
2 Golgari Charm
2 Submerge
1 Duress
1 Reanimate

A few words on the changes since the last one.

1. True-Name Nemesis. This is a big one. I’m honestly not sure if you don’t want more of these, but right now, I’m still trusting my gut feeling about wanting at least one Tombstalker. I think you want two copies of these cards combined and, right now, I like the split. I could easily see it going both ways, although the second Nemesis seems better than the second Tombstalker. If it wasn’t for Red Elemental Blast and Daze, I would err towards another Nemesis, but I really think you want to beat both RUG and UWR Delver. Another point against Nemesis is that it has a very big target on its head for this weekend. At least it should have.

2. Only three Tarmogoyf. The fourth Tarmogoyf was cut earlier to make room for the second Tombstalker, and now the competition for the slot is even stronger. Rarely do you really go into the aggro mode where you cast three creatures and then bash, except in the combo matchups, Tarmogoyf often functions as a wall, holding back their creatures while you can race in the air or slowly take away their life points with Deathrite activations. Also, you almost never want to see more than two, and even drawing the second is clunky.

3.1 No maindeck Sylvan Library. This is due to Delver / Lightning Bolt decks. You almost never want to have Library against them, as sad as it is. You’re still going to have it against almost everything else.

3.2 Because of this, Dimir Charm could be cut without decreasing the number of countermagic and removal spells total. There are essentially no creatues you need to kill that Decay doesn’t hit, so it’s an easy four-off right now. Disfigure kills basically everything except for Tarmogoyf and shroud/hexproof/protection creatures. Counterspell is just criminally underplayed in these decks. Have you ever read the card? It counters any one spell, and that’s more important than ever – Liliana of the Veil, Geist of Saint Traft and True-Name Nemesis topdecks are very hard to deal with favourably outside of the stack, so deal with them on the stack.

4. The second Tropical Island finally has a place in the deck. Between Nemesis, Counterspell and Vendilion Clique, you now want to lead on Underground Sea and Tropical most of the time.

5. Mono Thoughtseize. For reasons stated above, this is the best discard spell for this deck. To recap: It hits everything.

Sideboard choices should be self-explanatory when you read about the specific matchups, but a short note on the sideboarded Deathrite Shaman. You want to have the fourth in almost every single matchup, but really only after sideboarding. You don’t want to have it in the maindeck because other cards are more important and this way it’s more well-rounded. Additional Shamans are also less bad when they already got to bring in extra removal to kill them.

RUG Delver

In the past, your main goal here was to resolve a Tombstalker and then ride it to victory. This was easy because you usually automatically won after resolving Tombstalker unless you were very far behind on board, considering it tends to end things in three hits. Now, there’s also True-Name Nemesis, which is a little harder to resolve but more or less of the same nature.

-1 True-Name Nemesis
-1 Counterspell
-2 Disfigure

+1 Deathrite Shaman
+2 Submerge
+1 Reanimate

Counterspell is hard to resolve and even harder to use to force through Tombstalker – I suggest you try using Force for that. Disfigure only hits Delver of Secrets and ends Goyfstalls, but who cares about Tarmogoyf? Their best way to win is to stick a Nimble Mongoose, so you should try to prevent that from happening. Shaman comes in against exactly that, but also as an additional mana source / ramp, while Submerge helps you surviving long enough to stick a relevant creature. Reanimate on Nimble Mongoose is just insane. It’s also an additional threat that happens to work well with Delver of Secrets. If both of you have a Tarmogoyf in your graveyards, cast Reanimate on yours – you don’t want them to draw Tarmogoyf (Submerge).
Also, please don’t lose to Rough // Tumble. I don’t think they should bring it in against you, but they might.

UWR Delver

This is almost the same as RUG, only their creatures are worse and your Disfigures are better. Also, have fun swinging with their Geist and the occasional Nemesis. Progenitus for one mana is a steal I hear. If they have more than two Nemeses, you might want to cut some Disfigures or Spell Pierces, depending on how many targets they have left for those, to bring in Golgari Charms. I think cutting one Pierce for one Charm is a safe bet.

-1 True-Name Nemesis
-1 Counterspell

+1 Deathrite Shaman
+1 Reanimate

Esper Stoneblade

Actual Stoneblade is this deck’s worst matchup in my experience. They’re just very good at dealing with everything you do, although True-Name Nemesis helps. That is, until they have a discard spell, counter or Supreme Verdict for it.

-4 Daze

+1 Sylvan Library
+1 Deathrite Shaman
+2 Golgari Charm

I would really like to have Jace to pull ahead here, but Stoneblade is not big enough to warrant that anymore. They’re almost never going to be able to stick a Mystic , but the games you lose will still be against Lingering Souls and Jace. Between Deathrite Shaman and Golgari Charm, you should be able to deal with their Souls reasonably well, but Jace is still a problem. You’re definitely the aggressor here, so use Sylvan Library accordingly.

Esper Deathblade

Compared to Stoneblade, Deathblade players skimp on good spells to include more fragile creatures. Specifically, they don’t have Lingering Souls which is one of the best cards against you.

-4 Force of Will

+1 Sylvan Library
+1 Deathrite Shaman
+1 Golgari Charm
+1 Reanimate

Again, beating them with their own creatures is pretty sweet. Depending on the amount of Nemeses they have, board the second Charm as well – Spell Pierce is a fine cut, but you still want at least two to counter Jaces. If they have additional planeswalkers, board out a Daze instead.

Death and Taxes

Try to not let them have Mirran Crusader. You have exactly one out to it in your maindeck, plus some combinations of sideboard cards. This matchup is mostly about identifying which of their cards are relevant. Æther Vial almost always is. Mother or Runes is very strong as well, although you’re well set up to race. Letting them untap with Stoneforge Mystic is usually a bad idea, unless you snagged their equipment with a Thoughtseize.

-4 Daze (on the draw)
-4 Force of Will (on the play)

+1 Dread of Night
+1 Sylvan Library
+2 Golgari Charm

I don’t like that you have to keep in so much countermagic, but it’s still correct. Judging from preboard games only, you’d rather board out Spell Pierces than free counters, but their sideboard is full of noncreature spells that can be bothering. Apart from that, I really like this boarding. You get to blow up multiple things at once and draw extra cards; what’s not to like?

UW/x Miracles

This seems to have become rather unpopular over in the U.S. but I still face it often enough that I wanted to include it. This is very much about not letting them get ahead on cards. Because you have the land-advantage, you’re a slight favourite in game one as long as you manage to not overextend into Terminus (sometimes you don’t have a choice) and can prevent Jace from happening.

-4 Daze
-2 Disfigure

+1 Sylvan Library
+1 Deathrite Shaman
+1 Vendilion Clique
+2 Envelop
+1 Duress

You get to board out all of your bad cards and bring in stuff that’s very good. You can very much act as a real aggro-control deck here, deploying a threat and then burying them in cardadvantage. If they somehow manage to kill your creature, cast a new one. The only relevant cards they have are Rest in Peace, Counterbalance, Entreat the Angels and Jace. Abrupt Decay deals with the first two (and Blood Moon if they have red), while Envelop is a hardcounter for Entreat; discard spells and flashed in Cliques get rid of Jaces. Also, you still have Force, Pierce and Counterspell for all of these cards. If you can Pierce an early Top it’s usually the correct to do so.

Sneak and Show

I like combo matchups with this deck. They’re very simple: Don’t tap out, have a clock going, and have countermagic and discard for their combo pieces.

-2 Tarmogoyf
-1 Tombstalker
-1 True-Name Nemesis
-4 Abrupt Decay
-2 Disfigure

+1 Deathrite Shaman
+1 Vendilion Clique
+1 Sylvan Library
+2 Envelop
+2 Flusterstorm
+2 Golgari Charm
+1 Duress

It might be wrong to board out all of your Decays, and it also might be wrong to board in additional discard, as they have Leyline of Sanctity. And while you bring in Charm to deal with Leylines, it’s a little worse at handling Blood Moon than Decay is. Having to play under Blood Moon can be a real pain. The good thing about Blood Moon is that you can counter it, unlike Leyline. This makes me value Charm more highly than Decay. If you’re still worried about Blood Moon and want to make their Leylines worse, keeping in one Decay rather than boarding in the Duress is the way to go.

Other than that, the additional Shaman and Vendilion Clique make it easier to pursue your plan of not tapping out. This is further supported by boarding out clunky creatures.

Storm

This is almost the same as Sneak and Show, except the matchup is a little more swingy. Sometimes they get to randomly kill you, but most of your cards are very high impact. This is a matchup where Thoughtseize’s lifeloss actually hurts, so be careful about casting too many of them, they might take advantage of that with a short, yet lethal storm chain.

-1 Tarmogoyf
-1 Tombstalker
-1 True-Name Nemesis
-4 Abrupt Decay
-2 Disfigure

+1 Deathrite Shaman
+1 Vendilion Clique
+2 Envelop
+2 Flusterstorm
+2 Golgari Charm
+1 Duress

Again, you board out clunky creatures and removal for better creatures and more disruption. I would prefer to board down to only one Tarmogoyf, but alas, there is no way to make room for more disruption in the sideboard, plus there’s not much else you could actually run. If they heavily focus on creatures (Insects, Wizards or Goblins), you might want to bring in Engineered Plague, but in my eyes, it’s too clunky.

Golgari Charm is your best friend here – it kills all the creatures storm decks ever had and Carpet of Flowers. This is probably your overall best sideboard card.

Reanimator / Tin Fins

If I’m honest, I’m getting a little tired of writing about combo matchups by now. Your plan is the same as always: crush them. Again, after boarding you get to swap bad cards for good ones. Reanimate is especially saucy. Again, I would like to have another card to bring in for the second ‘Goyf, but hey, it’s not like these matchups are even remotely close.

-1 Tarmogoyf
-1 Tombstalker
-1 True-Name Nemesis
-4 Abrupt Decay
-2 Disfigure

+1 Sylvan Library
+1 Deathrite Shaman
+1 Vendilion Clique
+2 Envelop
+2 Flusterstorm
+1 Duress
+1 Reanimate

The only card I didn’t explain so far was Engineered Plague. This one is against Elves, which is the second best combo deck in the format after Storm in my eyes. Plus, it just won the Bazaar, so someone is going to play it for sure.

So there you have it – if you don’t want to play Storm, this is what I think is best to play in DC. And even between those two decks, I think it’s very close. I don’t even know what I would play myself!

I hope you enjoyed these articles and I didn’t bore you too much with my history lessons. I always find these very interesting and think they help a lot in understanding decks. Getting a good grasp on how and why decklists change can be crucial in actual deck selection. Again, share your thoughts with me in the forums, comments, or e-mail:

jonathanalexander at gmx dot de

Take care!

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