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Delver Beats Thragtusk! - Kendall Halman (10/28/2012)

So Standard rotated and, not surprisingly, we already had a new villain in the format. Everybody thought this October would be full of Zombies, and while I'm sure everybody has watched Night of the Living Dead a few times (like they should every October), Zombie decks are just not as good as we all thought. What card has saved us from a format as boring as last season's The Walking Dead
Walking Dead
Walking DeadSet: Legends
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Walking Dead
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
B: Regenerates
? (Editor's note: The Walking Dead
Walking Dead
Walking DeadSet: Legends
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Walking Dead
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
B: Regenerates
is awesome! Don't let anyone's poorly-worded metaphors tell you anything different) [ACTUAL Editor's note: I didn't say that, but I do agree]. Thragtusk
Thragtusk
ThragtuskSet: Magic 2013
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
R
Number:
193
Artist:
Nils Hamm
Power:
5
Toughness:
3
Text:
When Thragtusk enters the battlefield, you gain 5 life. When Thragtusk leaves the battlefield, put a 3/3 green Beast creature token onto the battlefield.
! A fast aggressive deck like Zombies just can't beat the combination of life gain and card advantage that comes on the back of this 5/3.

However, you either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain. There were 24 copies of this stupid card in a recent Star City Open (provided Chewie decides to post this article quicker before Standard rotates again.) [Editor's note: This alone delayed posting of this article by at least 3 days. HA!] Without question, Thragtusk
Thragtusk
ThragtuskSet: Magic 2013
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
R
Number:
193
Artist:
Nils Hamm
Power:
5
Toughness:
3
Text:
When Thragtusk enters the battlefield, you gain 5 life. When Thragtusk leaves the battlefield, put a 3/3 green Beast creature token onto the battlefield.
is warping Standard. My solution? Just like Rocky Balboa did in Rocky III, we turn to an old enemy for guidance!


Delver Beats Thragtusk
Thragtusk
ThragtuskSet: Magic 2013
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
R
Number:
193
Artist:
Nils Hamm
Power:
5
Toughness:
3
Text:
When Thragtusk enters the battlefield, you gain 5 life. When Thragtusk leaves the battlefield, put a 3/3 green Beast creature token onto the battlefield.
!


Creatures: 12
4 Ash Zealot
Ash Zealot
Ash ZealotSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Warrior
Rarity:
R
Number:
86
Artist:
Eric Deschamps
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
First strike, haste Whenever a player casts a spell from a graveyard, Ash Zealot deals 3 damage to that player.

4 Delver of Secrets
Delver of Secrets
Delver of SecretsSet: Innistrad
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Wizard
Rarity:
C
Number:
51
Artist:
Nils Hamm
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, look at the top card of your library. You may reveal that card. If an instant or sorcery card is revealed this way, transform Delver of Secrets.

4 Snapcaster Mage
Snapcaster Mage
Snapcaster MageSet: Innistrad
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
78
Artist:
Volkan Baga
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flash When Snapcaster Mage enters the battlefield, target instant or sorcery card in your graveyard gains flashback until end of turn. The flashback cost is equal to its mana cost. (You may cast that card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)


Spells: 28 (26 instants and sorceries)
3 Essence Scatter
Essence Scatter
Essence ScatterSet: Magic 2010
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
51
Artist:
Jon Foster
Text:
Counter target creature spell.

3 Inaction Injunction
Inaction Injunction
Inaction InjunctionSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
41
Artist:
Wayne Reynolds
Text:
Detain target creature an opponent controls. (Until your next turn, that creature can't attack or block and its activated abilities can't be activated.) Draw a card.

3 Mizzium Mortars
Mizzium Mortars
Mizzium MortarsSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
101
Artist:
Noah Bradley
Text:
Mizzium Mortars deals 4 damage to target creature you don't control. Overload {3}{R}{R}{R} (You may cast this spell for its overload cost. If you do, change its text by replacing all instances of "target" with "each.")

4 Pillar of Flame
Pillar of Flame
Pillar of FlameSet: Avacyn Restored
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
149
Artist:
Karl Kopinski
Text:
Pillar of Flame deals 2 damage to target creature or player. If a creature dealt damage this way would die this turn, exile it instead.

2 Runechanter's Pike
Runechanter's Pike
Runechanter's PikeSet: Innistrad
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Sub Type:
Equipment
Rarity:
R
Number:
231
Artist:
John Avon
Text:
Equipped creature has first strike and gets +X/+0, where X is the number of instant and sorcery cards in your graveyard. Equip {2}

3 Searing Spear
Searing Spear
Searing SpearSet: Magic 2013
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
147
Artist:
Chris Rahn
Text:
Searing Spear deals 3 damage to target creature or player.

3 Syncopate
Syncopate
SyncopateSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
103
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Counter target spell unless its controller pays X. If that spell is countered this way, remove it from the game instead of putting it into its owner's graveyard.

4 Thought Scour
Thought Scour
Thought ScourSet: Dark Ascension
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
52
Artist:
David Rapoza
Text:
Target player puts the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard. Draw a card.

3 Unsummon
Unsummon
UnsummonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Return target creature to owner's hand; enchantments on target creature are discarded.


Lands: 20
1 Desolate Lighthouse
Desolate Lighthouse
Desolate LighthouseSet: Avacyn Restored
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
227
Artist:
Scott Chou
Text:
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool. {1}{U}{R}, {T}: Draw a card, then discard a card.

4 Izzet Guildgate
Izzet Guildgate
Izzet GuildgateSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Land
Sub Type:
Gate
Rarity:
C
Number:
242
Artist:
Noah Bradley
Text:
Izzet Guildgate enters the battlefield tapped. {T}: Add {U} or {R} to your mana pool.

4 Sulfur Falls
Sulfur Falls
Sulfur FallsSet: Innistrad
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
248
Artist:
Cliff Childs
Text:
Sulfur Falls enters the battlefield tapped unless you control an Island or a Mountain. {T}: Add {U} or {R} to your mana pool.

4 Steam Vents
Steam Vents
Steam VentsSet: Guildpact
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Sub Type:
Island Mountain
Rarity:
R
Number:
164
Text:
(T: Add U or R to your mana pool.) As Steam Vents comes into play, you may pay 2 life. If you don’t, Steam Vents comes into play tapped instead.
(Okay, so I only have 2, but it should be 4)
3 Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.

4 Island
Island
IslandSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add U to your mana pool.
s

Sideboard: Changes based on my mood
2x Negate
Negate
NegateSet: Morningtide
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
43
Artist:
Jeremy Jarvis
Text:
Counter target noncreature spell.

2x Essence Backlash
Essence Backlash
Essence BacklashSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
4
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
160
Artist:
Jung Park
Text:
Counter target creature spell. Essence Backlash deals damage equal to that spell's power to its controller.

4x Stromkirk Noble
Stromkirk Noble
Stromkirk NobleSet: Innistrad
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Vampire
Rarity:
R
Number:
164
Artist:
James Ryman
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Stromkirk Noble can't be blocked by Humans. Whenever Stromkirk Noble deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it.

2x Tormod's Crypt
Tormod's Crypt
Tormod's CryptSet: Chronicles
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
T: Sacrifice Tormod's Crypt to remove all cards in target player's graveyard from the game.

1x Thundermaw Hellkite
Thundermaw Hellkite
Thundermaw HellkiteSet: Magic 2013
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon
Rarity:
M
Number:
150
Artist:
Svetlin Velinov
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Flying Haste (This creature can attack and {T} as soon as it comes under your control.) When Thundermaw Hellkite enters the battlefield, it deals 1 damage to each creature with flying your opponents control. Tap those creatures.

1x Hypersonic Dragon
Hypersonic Dragon
Hypersonic DragonSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon
Rarity:
R
Number:
170
Artist:
Dan Scott
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Flying, haste You may cast sorcery spells as though they had flash. (You may cast them any time you could cast an instant.)

2x Dissipate
Dissipate
DissipateSet: Mirage
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Richard Kane Ferguson
Text:
Counter target spell. Remove that spell card from the game.

1x Devil's Play
Devil's Play
Devil's PlaySet: Innistrad
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
140
Artist:
Austin Hsu
Text:
Devil's Play deals X damage to target creature or player. Flashback {X}{R}{R}{R} (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)


Why isn't Delver good anymore?

Not only did Delver decks lose Phyrexian spells, Mana Leak
Mana Leak
Mana LeakSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
36
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Counter target spell unless its caster pays an additional 3.
, and Ponder
Ponder
PonderSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
79
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Look at the top three cards of your library, then put them back in any order. You may shuffle your library. Draw a card.
, they also had a poor match up against Zombies and Cavern of Souls
Cavern of Souls
Cavern of SoulsSet: Avacyn Restored
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
226
Artist:
Cliff Childs
Text:
As Cavern of Souls enters the battlefield, choose a creature type. {T}: Add {1} to your mana pool. {T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast a creature spell of the chosen type, and that spell can't be countered.
. Delver was no longer the unfair deck that it once was. Now it was just a fair deck that lost to Zombies. Obviously, it has been a poor choice in that metagame. The problem is, if you look at major tournament results, as well as my personal experience from the Magic Online Tournament Practice Room, Zombies are no longer a major player. Everybody is running Pillar of Flame
Pillar of Flame
Pillar of FlameSet: Avacyn Restored
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
149
Artist:
Karl Kopinski
Text:
Pillar of Flame deals 2 damage to target creature or player. If a creature dealt damage this way would die this turn, exile it instead.
, Centaur Healer
Centaur Healer
Centaur HealerSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Centaur Cleric
Rarity:
C
Number:
148
Artist:
Mark Zug
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
When Centaur Healer enters the battlefield, you gain 3 life.
, and/or Thragtusk
Thragtusk
ThragtuskSet: Magic 2013
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
R
Number:
193
Artist:
Nils Hamm
Power:
5
Toughness:
3
Text:
When Thragtusk enters the battlefield, you gain 5 life. When Thragtusk leaves the battlefield, put a 3/3 green Beast creature token onto the battlefield.
for the win. Also, I have not seen a Cavern of Souls
Cavern of Souls
Cavern of SoulsSet: Avacyn Restored
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Land
Rarity:
R
Number:
226
Artist:
Cliff Childs
Text:
As Cavern of Souls enters the battlefield, choose a creature type. {T}: Add {1} to your mana pool. {T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast a creature spell of the chosen type, and that spell can't be countered.
for weeks.


New Tools

Delver lost Vapor Snag
Vapor Snag
Vapor SnagSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
48
Artist:
Raymond Swanland
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand. Its controller loses 1 life.
, but kept Unsummon
Unsummon
UnsummonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Return target creature to owner's hand; enchantments on target creature are discarded.
. Admittedly, the 3-4 points of damage accumulated over the game were relevant in that deck. However, it also lost the Phyrexian Mana spells that helped speed up the opponent's clock. This gives Delver an extra turn or two against other aggro or tempo decks. In addition, playing red gives Delver access to Pillar of Flame
Pillar of Flame
Pillar of FlameSet: Avacyn Restored
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
149
Artist:
Karl Kopinski
Text:
Pillar of Flame deals 2 damage to target creature or player. If a creature dealt damage this way would die this turn, exile it instead.
and Searing Spear
Searing Spear
Searing SpearSet: Magic 2013
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
147
Artist:
Chris Rahn
Text:
Searing Spear deals 3 damage to target creature or player.
, both of which can make up those last few points of damage.

Nothing can replace Ponder
Ponder
PonderSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
79
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Look at the top three cards of your library, then put them back in any order. You may shuffle your library. Draw a card.
and Gitaxian Probe
Gitaxian Probe
Gitaxian ProbeSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
35
Artist:
Chippy
Text:
({(u/p)} can be paid with either {U} or 2 life.) Look at target player's hand. Draw a card.
, but their rotation makes room for a full playset of Thought Scour
Thought Scour
Thought ScourSet: Dark Ascension
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
52
Artist:
David Rapoza
Text:
Target player puts the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard. Draw a card.
. This instant speed cantrip also helps fill the graveyard with instants and sorceries for Snapcaster Mage
Snapcaster Mage
Snapcaster MageSet: Innistrad
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
78
Artist:
Volkan Baga
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flash When Snapcaster Mage enters the battlefield, target instant or sorcery card in your graveyard gains flashback until end of turn. The flashback cost is equal to its mana cost. (You may cast that card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)
and Runechanter's Pike
Runechanter's Pike
Runechanter's PikeSet: Innistrad
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Sub Type:
Equipment
Rarity:
R
Number:
231
Artist:
John Avon
Text:
Equipped creature has first strike and gets +X/+0, where X is the number of instant and sorcery cards in your graveyard. Equip {2}
. I also really like Inaction Injunction
Inaction Injunction
Inaction InjunctionSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
41
Artist:
Wayne Reynolds
Text:
Detain target creature an opponent controls. (Until your next turn, that creature can't attack or block and its activated abilities can't be activated.) Draw a card.
. In many situations, it works as well as a kicked Into the Roil
Into the Roil
Into the RoilSet: Zendikar
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
48
Artist:
Kieran Yanner
Text:
Kicker {1}{U} (You may pay an additional {1}{U} as you cast this spell.) Return target nonland permanent to its owner's hand. If Into the Roil was kicked, draw a card.
at sorcery speed. It is unfortunate that you cannot detain or bounce your own creature if your opponent does not have a target, but most of the time that is not an issue.

Ash Zealot
Ash Zealot
Ash ZealotSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Warrior
Rarity:
R
Number:
86
Artist:
Eric Deschamps
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
First strike, haste Whenever a player casts a spell from a graveyard, Ash Zealot deals 3 damage to that player.
is also an interesting addition to the deck. When building the deck, I had to decide whether I wanted eight Delvers, eight Snapcaster Mage
Snapcaster Mage
Snapcaster MageSet: Innistrad
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
78
Artist:
Volkan Baga
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flash When Snapcaster Mage enters the battlefield, target instant or sorcery card in your graveyard gains flashback until end of turn. The flashback cost is equal to its mana cost. (You may cast that card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)
s, or some combination thereof. I tried Augurs of Bolas as additional Snapcaster Mage
Snapcaster Mage
Snapcaster MageSet: Innistrad
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
78
Artist:
Volkan Baga
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flash When Snapcaster Mage enters the battlefield, target instant or sorcery card in your graveyard gains flashback until end of turn. The flashback cost is equal to its mana cost. (You may cast that card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)
s, and thought they were fine. At this point, though, I like the Aggressive side of Ash Zealot
Ash Zealot
Ash ZealotSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Warrior
Rarity:
R
Number:
86
Artist:
Eric Deschamps
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
First strike, haste Whenever a player casts a spell from a graveyard, Ash Zealot deals 3 damage to that player.
. Assuming you avoid Zombies, it is fairly common that your opponent will not have a creature on turn two. This is where the Zealot can get in for some real damage. Yes, occasionally she makes you Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
Lightning BoltSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Lightning Bolt does 3 damage to one target.
yourself, but it happens to the opponent more often than you might think and every point of damage counts in a Tempo-focused deck like this. The primary aggressive deck I've seen uses mostly humans, so you can side the Zealot out for Stromkirk Noble
Stromkirk Noble
Stromkirk NobleSet: Innistrad
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Vampire
Rarity:
R
Number:
164
Artist:
James Ryman
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Stromkirk Noble can't be blocked by Humans. Whenever Stromkirk Noble deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it.
in those situations.

I don't own any Bonfire of the Damned
Bonfire of the Damned
Bonfire of the DamnedSet: Avacyn Restored
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
M
Number:
129
Artist:
James Paick
Text:
Bonfire of the Damned deals X damage to target player and each creature he or she controls. Miracle {X}{R} (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it's the first card you drew this turn.)
on Magic Online, but Mizzium Mortars
Mizzium Mortars
Mizzium MortarsSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
101
Artist:
Noah Bradley
Text:
Mizzium Mortars deals 4 damage to target creature you don't control. Overload {3}{R}{R}{R} (You may cast this spell for its overload cost. If you do, change its text by replacing all instances of "target" with "each.")
offers an answer to many of the same aggressive and mid-range decks. The deck has enough removal and cantrips to slow down the opponent long enough to get to Mizzium Mortars
Mizzium Mortars
Mizzium MortarsSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
101
Artist:
Noah Bradley
Text:
Mizzium Mortars deals 4 damage to target creature you don't control. Overload {3}{R}{R}{R} (You may cast this spell for its overload cost. If you do, change its text by replacing all instances of "target" with "each.")
's overload cost more often than not. If you have access to Bonfires, I would definitely play at least a few. In those cases, maybe run extra Bonfires or Mortars in your sideboard.

Delver would not be a deck without its counter spells. Unfortunately, we lost Mana Leak
Mana Leak
Mana LeakSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
36
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Counter target spell unless its caster pays an additional 3.
. We did, however gain Syncopate
Syncopate
SyncopateSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
103
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Counter target spell unless its controller pays X. If that spell is countered this way, remove it from the game instead of putting it into its owner's graveyard.
, which is usually a worse Mana Leak
Mana Leak
Mana LeakSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
36
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Counter target spell unless its caster pays an additional 3.
. Luckily, that does not matter. People just do not fear the turn one Delver, turn two flip revealing Syncopate
Syncopate
SyncopateSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
103
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Counter target spell unless its controller pays X. If that spell is countered this way, remove it from the game instead of putting it into its owner's graveyard.
the way they did with Mana Leak
Mana Leak
Mana LeakSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
36
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Counter target spell unless its caster pays an additional 3.
. Because of this, several opponents I've seen have simply not played around Syncopate
Syncopate
SyncopateSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
103
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Counter target spell unless its controller pays X. If that spell is countered this way, remove it from the game instead of putting it into its owner's graveyard.
and tapped out while I had two mana untapped. At least twice I've had opponents do this after I revealed the Syncopate
Syncopate
SyncopateSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
103
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Counter target spell unless its controller pays X. If that spell is countered this way, remove it from the game instead of putting it into its owner's graveyard.
. They may have been baiting me, but it was still a one for one.

Besides Syncopate
Syncopate
SyncopateSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
103
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Counter target spell unless its controller pays X. If that spell is countered this way, remove it from the game instead of putting it into its owner's graveyard.
, with so many of Delver's tools rotating, we have room for Essence Scatter
Essence Scatter
Essence ScatterSet: Magic 2010
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
51
Artist:
Jon Foster
Text:
Counter target creature spell.
in this build. At first I thought Essence Scatter
Essence Scatter
Essence ScatterSet: Magic 2010
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
51
Artist:
Jon Foster
Text:
Counter target creature spell.
was about as good as Negate
Negate
NegateSet: Morningtide
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
43
Artist:
Jeremy Jarvis
Text:
Counter target noncreature spell.
, a sideboard card and nothing more. Then I realized that nine out of ten times, Mana Leak
Mana Leak
Mana LeakSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
36
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Counter target spell unless its caster pays an additional 3.
was most brutal when cast to counter a creature. Now, instead of having four good Mana Leak
Mana Leak
Mana LeakSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
36
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Counter target spell unless its caster pays an additional 3.
s, we have six bad Mana Leak
Mana Leak
Mana LeakSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
36
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Counter target spell unless its caster pays an additional 3.
s. I'd still rather have the Mana Leak
Mana Leak
Mana LeakSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
36
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Counter target spell unless its caster pays an additional 3.
s, but it is not a bad substitution.


The Sideboard

The first thing you should notice in my sideboard is the four copies of Stromkirk Noble
Stromkirk Noble
Stromkirk NobleSet: Innistrad
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Vampire
Rarity:
R
Number:
164
Artist:
James Ryman
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Stromkirk Noble can't be blocked by Humans. Whenever Stromkirk Noble deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it.
. One of my favorite cards from Innistrad, Stromkirk Noble
Stromkirk Noble
Stromkirk NobleSet: Innistrad
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Vampire
Rarity:
R
Number:
164
Artist:
James Ryman
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Stromkirk Noble can't be blocked by Humans. Whenever Stromkirk Noble deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it.
can do a lot. He comes in against humans obviously, but since I don't have Ash Zealot
Ash Zealot
Ash ZealotSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Warrior
Rarity:
R
Number:
86
Artist:
Eric Deschamps
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
First strike, haste Whenever a player casts a spell from a graveyard, Ash Zealot deals 3 damage to that player.
s in paper, I'm going to try him out in the main deck this Friday at Friday Night Magic.

Thundermaw Hellkite
Thundermaw Hellkite
Thundermaw HellkiteSet: Magic 2013
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon
Rarity:
M
Number:
150
Artist:
Svetlin Velinov
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Flying Haste (This creature can attack and {T} as soon as it comes under your control.) When Thundermaw Hellkite enters the battlefield, it deals 1 damage to each creature with flying your opponents control. Tap those creatures.
and Hypersonic Dragon
Hypersonic Dragon
Hypersonic DragonSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon
Rarity:
R
Number:
170
Artist:
Dan Scott
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Flying, haste You may cast sorcery spells as though they had flash. (You may cast them any time you could cast an instant.)
are there for long matchups. I bring them in against control or any mirror matches I may find. The argument could certainly be made to just run 2 Hellkites, but again there is an issue of card availability and Hypersonic Dragon
Hypersonic Dragon
Hypersonic DragonSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon
Rarity:
R
Number:
170
Artist:
Dan Scott
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Flying, haste You may cast sorcery spells as though they had flash. (You may cast them any time you could cast an instant.)
is very affordable. Also, there is something to say about being able to cast the Dragon. Double Red is not hard to achieve, but one of each color is definitely easier. Giving sorceries flash is also something to think about. Mizzium Mortars
Mizzium Mortars
Mizzium MortarsSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
101
Artist:
Noah Bradley
Text:
Mizzium Mortars deals 4 damage to target creature you don't control. Overload {3}{R}{R}{R} (You may cast this spell for its overload cost. If you do, change its text by replacing all instances of "target" with "each.")
and Pillar of Flame
Pillar of Flame
Pillar of FlameSet: Avacyn Restored
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
149
Artist:
Karl Kopinski
Text:
Pillar of Flame deals 2 damage to target creature or player. If a creature dealt damage this way would die this turn, exile it instead.
would make great instants.

The additional counterspells are for siding into a control deck. Sometimes Unsummon
Unsummon
UnsummonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Return target creature to owner's hand; enchantments on target creature are discarded.
and Inaction Injunction
Inaction Injunction
Inaction InjunctionSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
41
Artist:
Wayne Reynolds
Text:
Detain target creature an opponent controls. (Until your next turn, that creature can't attack or block and its activated abilities can't be activated.) Draw a card.
do very little. These are the cards you side out. Devil's Play
Devil's Play
Devil's PlaySet: Innistrad
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
140
Artist:
Austin Hsu
Text:
Devil's Play deals X damage to target creature or player. Flashback {X}{R}{R}{R} (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)
can also fit in somewhere in these matchups. The other card I am thinking of adding is Izzet Charm
Izzet Charm
Izzet CharmSet: Duel Decks Izzet vs. Golgari
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
21
Artist:
Zoltan Boros
Text:
Choose one — Counter target noncreature spell unless its controller pays {2}; or Izzet Charm deals 2 damage to target creature; or draw two cards, then discard two cards.
. This helps get an extra mana source in a deck with 20 land and can also help once you start top-decking, chipping away at the opponent and filtering through your deck.

Finally, we have my Magical Christmas Land card, Essence Backlash
Essence Backlash
Essence BacklashSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
4
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
160
Artist:
Jung Park
Text:
Counter target creature spell. Essence Backlash deals damage equal to that spell's power to its controller.
. In the previous standard format, as Phyrexian Obliterator
Phyrexian Obliterator
Phyrexian ObliteratorSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Horror
Rarity:
M
Number:
68
Artist:
Todd Lockwood
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Trample Whenever a source deals damage to Phyrexian Obliterator, that source's controller sacrifices that many permanents.
became more popular, I started running Wrack With Madness in my sideboard. One day, my dream came true and I forced my opponent to sacrifice all of his permanents. One day, I will counter a Thragtusk
Thragtusk
ThragtuskSet: Magic 2013
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
R
Number:
193
Artist:
Nils Hamm
Power:
5
Toughness:
3
Text:
When Thragtusk enters the battlefield, you gain 5 life. When Thragtusk leaves the battlefield, put a 3/3 green Beast creature token onto the battlefield.
with Essence Backlash
Essence Backlash
Essence BacklashSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
4
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
160
Artist:
Jung Park
Text:
Counter target creature spell. Essence Backlash deals damage equal to that spell's power to its controller.
to kill my opponent. This card is great, since many decks rely on Thragtusk
Thragtusk
ThragtuskSet: Magic 2013
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
R
Number:
193
Artist:
Nils Hamm
Power:
5
Toughness:
3
Text:
When Thragtusk enters the battlefield, you gain 5 life. When Thragtusk leaves the battlefield, put a 3/3 green Beast creature token onto the battlefield.
to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Essence Backlash
Essence Backlash
Essence BacklashSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
4
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
160
Artist:
Jung Park
Text:
Counter target creature spell. Essence Backlash deals damage equal to that spell's power to its controller.
turns that five life gained into five life lost. This is huge in a tempo deck. If you cannot do that last little bit of damage after an Essence Backlash
Essence Backlash
Essence BacklashSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
4
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
160
Artist:
Jung Park
Text:
Counter target creature spell. Essence Backlash deals damage equal to that spell's power to its controller.
, there are very few cards that could have saved you.


Playing the Deck

When you look at your opening hand, it is important to have and be able to case either Delver or Ash Zealot
Ash Zealot
Ash ZealotSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Warrior
Rarity:
R
Number:
86
Artist:
Eric Deschamps
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
First strike, haste Whenever a player casts a spell from a graveyard, Ash Zealot deals 3 damage to that player.
. You need to be hitting your opponent on turn two. Multiple Thought Scour
Thought Scour
Thought ScourSet: Dark Ascension
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
52
Artist:
David Rapoza
Text:
Target player puts the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard. Draw a card.
s can make a creatureless hand playable, but Thought Scour
Thought Scour
Thought ScourSet: Dark Ascension
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
52
Artist:
David Rapoza
Text:
Target player puts the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard. Draw a card.
isn't Ponder
Ponder
PonderSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
79
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Look at the top three cards of your library, then put them back in any order. You may shuffle your library. Draw a card.
or Gitaxian Probe
Gitaxian Probe
Gitaxian ProbeSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
35
Artist:
Chippy
Text:
({(u/p)} can be paid with either {U} or 2 life.) Look at target player's hand. Draw a card.
. You still need something on turn one or two. The deck also has plenty of ways to spend its mana, so keeping a four-lander is not the worst thing in the world. Like many decks, it's always shaky to keep a one land hand, but if you have multiple Delvers or Thought Scour
Thought Scour
Thought ScourSet: Dark Ascension
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
52
Artist:
David Rapoza
Text:
Target player puts the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard. Draw a card.
s, this is doable as well. I really like playing 20 lands, because it is not as difficult to hit your first few land drops without relying on cantrips. That was always my biggest issue with the 19 land Delver decks: I always got mana screwed.

You don't have many creatures in the deck, so avoid unfavorable trades and don't be afraid to use an Unsummon
Unsummon
UnsummonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Return target creature to owner's hand; enchantments on target creature are discarded.
to dodge a removal spell (I guess sometimes Unsummon
Unsummon
UnsummonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Return target creature to owner's hand; enchantments on target creature are discarded.
is better than Vapor Snag
Vapor Snag
Vapor SnagSet: New Phyrexia
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
48
Artist:
Raymond Swanland
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand. Its controller loses 1 life.
.) Also, this deck can be very aggressive. Don't horde your counterspells and removal. You need to win before they play their big flashy six drop anyway. This deck is deceptively aggressive. It consistently kills by turn five or six if you can keep your opponent from amassing a huge board.

That's all I have for now. Please let me know what you think about the deck on the boards. You can also follow me @khalman on Twitter, email me at kitchenfinkspodcast@gmail.com, and hear me on the Kitchen Finks
Kitchen Finks
Kitchen FinksSet: Shadowmoor
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Ouphe
Rarity:
U
Number:
229
Artist:
Kev Walker
Power:
3
Toughness:
2
Text:
When Kitchen Finks comes into play, you gain 2 life. Persist (When this creature is put into a graveyard from play, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, return it to play under its owner's control with a -1/-1 counter on it.)
Podcast available at mtgcast.com. Thanks for reading!


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