#116 — …and the Lhurgoyf has to stay out.
If you follow me on twitter, read the Canadian Threshold thread over at mtgthesource.com or randomly happen to check my deckstats.net archive, you will know that I’ve been trying out Dark Thresh recently.
I think Fatal Push is an amazing addition to the format that finally fixes Black’s problem of lacking good one-mana removal. This is very exciting if you’re like me and enjoy brewing with Delver decks.
What does this have to do with Tarmogoyf?
In most Delver decks, Tarmogoyf is a card you really only want against other Delver decks — and Eldrazi, but that deck has dropped so hard in popularity, it’s barely worth mentioning anymore. Tarmogoyf is a liability against Miracles with its Snapcaster + Plowshares engine, combo decks that will thank you for investing two mana in your main phase without doing anything and midrange decks which are happy to just Decay your Goyf and move on with their lives.
With the addition of Fatal Push, both Grixis and Team America suddenly have one mana removal for Tarmogoyfs. Trading a Goyf for a Decay is already an unfavourable trade (because you have to play around Daze while they don’t), but trading Goyf for a one-mana instant is even worse. Delver mirrors are all about casting more spells than the opponent and if your spells are cheaper, it’s very easy to pull ahead — Delver mirrors are quite often decided by who manages to use more copies of Daze in the early game.
For this reason, I have been working on a few Goyf-less Delver decks. Here’s the first one:
#117 — This list is really good at killing creatures.
I don’t think 2 Decay / 1 Dismember / 3 Push is an improvement over 4 Bolt / 2 Dismember. However, where Canadian Threshold has to decide between running additional removal for big creatures out of green decks (Submerge for Tombstalker, Tarmogoyf & Knight of the Reliquary) and additional Burn spells vs. Grixis and decks like Death & Taxes, Dark Thresh gets to cover both with the same cards — all the while bringing extra removal for Vial, Chalice and equipment.
So the first six removal spells (i.e. the maindeck ones) are better in Canadian, but Dark Thresh has better removal beyond that, even partly covering the slots Canadian has to devote to Ancient Grudge.
#118 — Painful Truths is great, but turn two Painful Truths is even greater.
I got to cast Painful Truths turn two on the play with Daze and Force backup already. Needless to say, winning such a game isn’t very hard. Painful Truths is a very strong proactive card that I greatly enjoy playing. But:
#119 — Where there’s Truths, there could be Jace.
This is very annoying. One of the strengths of Delver decks with Deathrite Shaman — and weak points also, I guess? — is that they get to run a slightly higher curve than those without the extra mana sources. One of the better uses for these slots is some kind of draw spell. The premier choices are Painful Truths and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. There is some overlap between the two, but they also each have individual issues.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor is a tremendously powerful card, period. Even a single Brainstorm is often worth as much as Painful Truths for three, getting to do it every turn quickly gets out of control — for the opponent.
By far the biggest problem with Jace is that he’s blue and thus dies to Pyroblast. Of course, this only matters if Pyroblast is a good card against you. Against Team America, for example, Pyroblast is not great. It only interacts with Delver, Force of Will, cantrips and the odd True-Name Nemesis.
The other Delver decks, Grixis and (Dark) Threshold are much heavier on countermagic plus potentially Stifle, so Pyroblast becomes a lot better against them. They are also playing blue creatures like True-Name Nemesis and Snapcaster Mage more often.
Jace is a great card in the against Team America, Shardless, Death & Taxes, Elves and to some extent Aggro Loam — Punishing Fire can rain on your parade, but if you manage to keep that in check with Deathrite or by simply having too much pressure on the board, that’s not a big problem.
The one “issue” that Painful Truths has is that only draws cards. Jace can keep the board in check (Unsummon can be extremely good), but Truths is limited by the cards you have in your deck. Obviously you’re looking to play only quality cards anyway and drawing too much air barely happens (plus drawing three will be something your opponents are going to respect regardless of what you draw; they won’t know nor expect you drew three blanks).
The first upside of Painful Truths is its mana cost — see the point above. The second is that it’s not countered by Pyroblast. This might not seem like much, but I value that quality very highly. In fact, on multiple occasions, I have played Garruk Relentless over Jace for exactly that reason.
This means I prefer Painful Truths against Grixis, burg and Miracles. I also think Truths is less impactful in these matchups than Jace is in the ones he’s really good in. Further, I’m inclined to think Truths is a slightly better card to maindeck, but that might be wrong. Another thing that Truths has going for it is that’s not bad in any matchups, whereas Jace is indeed bad vs. Pyroblast decks. Maybe you don’t want to clog up your curve too much in Delver mirrors though, so that might be a non-issue.
I’m not sure which one is better, but I’m looking to find that out. If you want to experiment with the deck’s business slots, this is where I’d start.
Speaking of Painful Truths, let’s dial back a little:
#68 — It is possible to splash a colour in Canadian Threshold.
Combine this with what I’ve said about Tarmogoyf being bad earlier, you get this:
#120 — 4C Canadian might be an option again.
This list, especially the sideboard, is still rough, but I think it’s worth exploring. The bit about Jace vs. Truths still applies here, 2 Orb might not be enough and I’m not sure where I stand on Submerge right now. I have not played this list, but it’s quite similar to the Dark Thresh list. Playing Red mainly for Pyroblast might not be reasonable, but here’s another idea I’ve had:
#121 — Why not splash in Dark Thresh?
Almost the same list as the one above. Having an extra land to bring against Miracles and combo decks is something I’ve thought about anyway; if it allows us to run Pyroblast, I won’t say no. Again, this might want to run another Orb (maybe over True-Name?), but I’m really happy about where this is at vs. Miracles and combo. Just like the other lists, this might want Jace over Truths (more reasonable with the third Orb in the deck, I think).
Out of the three lists we’ve covered today, this is what I’m most excited about exploring further and definitely my favourite sideboard by far. But maybe I’m just needlessly paranoid about completely destroying Miracles… I just don’t want to lose the matchup ever, okay?
#122 — On sweepers in Delver decks.
I have notably eschewed running Rough // Tumble in Canadian for the last six months, something that was often questioned.
It seems I find the card a lot more narrow than most other players — while many like it against Death & Taxes and Grixis, I think it’s mainly good against Elves, which was neither common nor well positioned during the second half of 2016. This meant you were very unlikely to face the deck deep into a swiss tournament (in fact, I don’t think I have faced it at all in any larger swiss tournaments during that time). Thus, I figured devoting slots to the matchup was a waste of space.
I have briefly talked about this in my sideboarding guide, which first mentioned the removal of Rough // Tumble, but let me come back to Grixis. Other players like Rough to clear the board when Grixis commits too heavily, but there are very few situations where this is actually necessary. If they have a Delver and a Deathrite, Rough only kills Deathrite. It can kill multiple Deathrites, but you should kill those on sight anyway (this is understated in general, by the way; creatures have gotten so powerful that you always want to kill everything immediately, especially in matchups where you race).
The number one scenario Rough is good in is when a Pyromancer gets out of hand, but how often does that happen? Well, not often. Not only is Pyromancer easy to counter, but it’s hard to generate more than one token the turn it comes down. In fact, I went through all my Magic Online matches of Canadian vs. Grixis and noticed that it was never better to have Rough // Tumble than just a simple one mana burn spell.
Against Death & Taxes, the bit about killing creatures on sight applies even more. You can’t allow them to untap with Mother of Runes, Thalia is something you can’t afford to have sticking around… you get the idea. The last time I’ve cast Rough vs. Death & Taxes, my opponent had three creatures before Rough and between Mother of Runes, Karakas and a Flickerwisp off Vial I did not manage to kill any of them.
However, Elves seem to be making a comeback, which is annoying for Canadian — not that the non-Red decks have access to any great sweepers. Maybe my lists need to somehow adjust to that. I don’t like Golgari Charm because of my reliance on True-Name, Marsh Casualties has an awkward mana cost and nothing allows me to kill opposing Deathrites and Nettle Sentinels.
Coming back to not running Rough // Tumble in the past, here’s another reason:
#123 — My decks tend to be a lot more focused than most.
This is not to mean my decks are better. In fact, I might easily go too far with this at times. What I mean with this point is that I tend to focus a much smaller portion of the metagame than most do. Where others want to be prepared for as many decks as possible, I just try to have good matchups against the top ten or so performing decks.
This can mean that I will ignore fringe players like BR Reanimator, but it also means that most of my decks have a lot of cards for Miracles. My plan for the less common decks is generally to play something powerful that will give you a shot in most matchups — this is how I originally ended up on Storm.
Canadian had some issues with this in the past, much more so than the Deathrite Delver decks, but Winter Orb really helps against many of those matchups. Jace, the Mind Sculptor is also reportedly better than all, so he’s a good friend to bring to fights as well.