Leaving A Legacy: U/W/R Delver At #SCGATL *4th*

Logan Rodgers tells you about the U/W/R Delver deck that he played to the Top 4 of SCG Legacy Open: Atlanta a couple weeks ago in this Leaving A Legacy.

Hello! My name is Logan Rodgers. I’m from Pensacola, FL, and I’m very happy to have this opportunity to write for StarCityGames.com. I started playing Magic right before Mercadian Masques. I was a small child then and didn’t know any of the rules except how to jam my Verdant Force into the red zone. I played to reasonable finishes and success throughout high school but started shying away from the game shortly after starting college, which was right around when the original Ravnica block was fully released. I started drafting again when Innistrad came out because of how much praise it got from my friends who still played. Eventually, I came full circle and started traveling to events as often as possible and diving into every format that had a tournament to prepare for.

Last weekend, I finished in fourth place at the StarCityGames.com Legacy Open in Atlanta with U/W/R Delver, losing to my good friend Chi Hoi Yim playing Shardless BUG. Throughout the day, we played games between rounds and firmly decided he was heavily favored due to his cards outclassing mine once the early midgame started (Baleful Strix and Shardless Agent line up well versus a Geist of Saint Traft):

My tournament started off with a round 1 loss to the dreadful Merfolk horde. In game 1, I was quickly run over by a mass of lords attacking for twenty-plus damage (there are some board states that even trusty Batterskull cannot outrace it seems). There was a point where I could have targeted myself twice with Wasteland to be able to block, but I decided to wait a turn to make such an aggressive move. Unfortunately, I missed my window for that line to have any use and died immediately.

Game 2 started off with me countering three Aether Vials on turns 1, 2, and 3. At the time, I felt my play was correct, but after talking to some friends, I feel I should have let the third one resolve since he only had two cards in hand at this point due to him losing counter wars on the previous turns. After a few turns of draw-go, I was on air and being beaten down by Mutavaults and a single lord. I whiffed on a Brainstorm, continued to brick off after a shuffle, and died shortly after.

The next few rounds were fairly uneventful, and I quickly found myself 5-1. Then I sat down and was greeted by this guy:

I was able to control the board and put on a clock, but Wurmcoil Engine made short work of me and my Insectile Aberration. Game 2 was one of the more memorable of the weekend. I was on the play and led with a Delver of Secrets. His turn brought an Ancient Tomb, a Lotus Petal, and a Blood Moon. Even though I didn’t have access to any colored mana, I was still able to win rather easily. How, you ask?

Delver flipped the following turn, revealing Force of Will (I needed a second blue card for the Force of Will that was already in my hand). I kept making land drops, and on turn 4 Umezawa’s Jitte showed up to the party. But the Equipment didn’t stop there because the following turn, I found a fifth land for my Batterskull and closed things out by countering his only relevant spell with the aforementioned Force of Will.

I wandered over to find legendary Louisianan Tannon Grace birding a booster draft and regaled him with my tale of beating the turn 1 Blood Moon. After hearing about my win, he proclaimed, "You know you’re going to win this tournament. It’s gonna be so sick. My friends are just gonna win day 1 and 2." With a jolt of confidence only a Ragin’ Cajun could provide, I wandered off to find my seat. This round was extremely uneventful. My Sneak and Show opponent had to eventually go for the kill both games, and Force of Will took care of that problem each time.

That was the sixth combo deck I played on the weekend, and there weren’t many times where I felt in danger. I sensed that people were moving back towards combo for this tournament and built my deck with that in mind. Cutting some of the cards to handle creature decks and playing stuff like Gitaxian Probe really go a long way when you’re trying to plan several turns in advance against combo decks.

I then got a feature match against Andrew Schneider playing Grixis Delver. Andrew and I had talked earlier in the day about his sideboard, so I knew what to expect. He knew I was playing a Delver, but he didn’t know what my third color was. So, like the sly devil that I am, I only searched for Volcanic Island over the first several turns of the game until I had enough counter backup to get a Stoneforge Mystic in play. After I got Batterskull, I played a Brainstorm, put a land and Batterskull back on top of my deck, and passed the turn back. The next turn I got Gitaxian Probed and revealed a hand of double Ponder and a Daze. Andrew took a second to figure out what was happening here, which gave me a hint that he didn’t have Cabal Therapy maindeck. The rest of this game was over fairly quickly since Batterskull is a powerful Magic card.

Unfortunately for Andrew, game 2 was over fairly quickly, as he stumbled with a mulligan and I had a Stifle for his fetch land. After the match, we talked about the matchup and agreed that my deck was certainly the favorite. I was in a dominant position in both games and was able to close the game quickly with Batterskull. Andrew is a great player, and I felt fortunate to be able to escape with a quick 2-0. Unfortunately for me, after losing round 1, my tiebreakers were about as bad as they come, and I knew I’d have to play the last round.

As I waited for the final round to begin, I wandered around the room and was greeted with encouragement from my friends. Part of the reason that I love coming to Magic tournaments in Atlanta is the Magic community there. They are easily the friendliest group of people I’ve encountered anywhere in the country playing cards, and what’s so sick is they’re all favorites to win any tournament they enter. I’d name drop them all here, but it would take too many words since they’re all literally gas. Atlanta friends, you know who you are!

As far as round 9 is concerned, you can find it here at 2:38.

In game 1, after a fetch land and a Force of Will, my opponent was at eighteen life and facing down my Insectile Aberration. I found a Lightning Bolt off an early Brainstorm and knew that I could tempo the game out and win the turn following a Spell Pierce on his Ancestral Vision coming off suspend. Game 2 started off very interestingly, with me killing a Tarmogoyf with a Lightning Bolt and winning the counter war that ensued. Most of our resources were depleted, but I had Brainstorm and a fetch land in hand, so I was able to draw some real cards.

The turn after I Dazed his Liliana at 3:00 in, my Ponder was Swords to Plowshares, Lightning Bolt, and Brainstorm. I took the Lightning Bolt so I could try to Brainstorm into another Lightning Bolt the next turn and kill him on the spot. Looking back on it now, that play was pretty loose. If I exiled his Deathrite Shaman with Swords to Plowshares, I could have Lightning Bolted the Liliana of the Veil the following turn. I would then be able to follow that up with a Stoneforge Mystic and be in a commanding position without having to fight off the planeswalker.

Thankfully, I drew a Delver of Secrets, so I didn’t have to care about Liliana anymore, right? Wrong. This was another mistake. I leaned too heavily on Delver flipping into Insectile Aberration and killing Liliana in one shot. When it didn’t flip on the first turn, I was supposed to attack his Liliana with my Batterskull and put him in a position to choose between keeping his Deathrite Shaman and his Liliana. I chose to attack him, expecting my Delver of Secrets to flip and close the game out easily. AJ Sacher mentioned this during coverage, and after having the chance to watch the game, I 100% agree.

After a Golgari Charm, my Delver was dead, and I started to worry that the Liliana was going to take over the game. Fortunately for me, I drew the absolute best card I possibly could in Sword of Feast and Famine, which put him dead in one turn if I could fade a single draw step. He hit air and extended the hand in my next combat. On to the Top 8 we go!

The Top 8 was covered in text by Glenn Jones, so I won’t go into any more detail about it. You can read his excellent recap of the quarterfinals here and my loss to Chi Hoi here.

I typically choose to play Delver decks in Legacy and have found that the tempo strategy fits my play style well. I also love Geist of Saint Traft, so this deck is an awesome fit for me. I hadn’t been doing much with Legacy since the last SCG Invitational in Atlanta, so I was looking for something sweet for the weekend. Along with being the luckiest in games, I’m also the luckiest at knowing extremely smart people. When I asked Gerry Thompson what to play, he sent me the Pyro Loam deck that Korey McDuffie played in Atlanta. Korey did a deck tech with Glenn that you can check out here.

This deck was extremely sweet and did everything I ever really want to do in a game of Magic, but unfortunately it just seemed a little too spread out. The Jaces were really bad when I was testing; I wanted them to be something to get a presence on board faster. I thought about Tarmogoyf, Vendilion Clique, and other random two- and three-drops but all of those seemed to just make this deck a bad Shardless BUG or Jund deck. The only person who had all these cards available decided to play Grixis Delver anyway, so the door closed on me even having the deck available.

When I sat down Saturday night to start making the final decisions on the U/W/R Delver deck, I took a look at some of the other lists floating around the Internet and was shocked at the lack of Stifle. I know that this card has been criticized and championed by many in the past, but there are so many targets in Legacy right now that I can’t even imagine doing battle without them. I only played two Swords to Plowshares in the main and one more in the sideboard because of my expectation that combo would be the most prevalent archetype and my desire to be able to get a look at what was going on over there with Gitaxian Probe.

There are two different lists that I want to try out before the Invitational next month. They both feature Young Pyromancer. The first one splashes black for Cabal Therapy, Perish, and Dismember. This would serve to strengthen the matchup with Tarmogoyf decks, but it’s probably stretching it a little too far since you can only play so many lands and a single Wasteland can really mess up your sequencing. The second list is one that I’m excited about. Instead of playing cards like Grim Lavamancer that are often useless, I’m trying Young Pyromancer as a three-of. I’ve been extremely impressed with this card across many different types of strategies, and I expect it to do a lot of impactful things in Legacy.

Coming into the tournament, I wasn’t excited about my deck choice, but I was most definitely wrong. The cards in U/W/R Delver are extremely powerful, and I will certainly consider playing it again at the Invitational next month. I’m very happy to have been asked to write this article, and I hope Cedric will give me another chance to write something for you all again in the future. I really enjoy writing about Magic and helping others focus their ideas.

Before I go, I want to say thank you once again to everyone who supports me, whether it’s through social media, loaning me cards, or just yelling loudly. It all means a lot to me, and it’s what has kept the fire going. I hope you all enjoyed this, and make sure to say hello if you see me in the future!

Logan Rodgers

FSUisaLOCK on Magic Online

@Logan_Rodgers on Twitter