Vintage Avant-Garde – Martello Shops vs. RUG Delver

Brian DeMars, who finished 9th at GP Columbus this past weekend, writes a matchup analysis and provides a play-by-play walkthrough of a match between two recently successful Vintage decks: Martello Shops and RUG Delver.

Welcome back to Vintage Avant-Garde. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been asked by readers to write a matchup analysis and to do a play-by-play walkthrough of an actual Vintage match. In today’s article, I’m going to tell you what happens when RUG Delver faces off against Martello Shops.

Both decks have been doing really well in Vintage lately, so it’s bound to be a matchup that comes up fairly often. I’m going to be playing from the RUG Delver side against a friend of mine who will be piloting the Martello Shops deck.

Here are the lists I’m using today:



I won the die roll and was on the play.

My first hand of seven was:

Force of Will Force of Will Lightning Bolt Brainstorm Vendilion Clique Misty Rainforest Scalding Tarn

Deciding to keep was a pretty easy decision considering this is a pretty fantastic hand to play against Mishra’s Workshop. Making things even better, my opponent mulliganed to six, which made my Force of Wills even better.


I played Misty Rainforest and passed the turn.

On my opponents turn, he played Mishra’s Workshop, Mox Ruby, and played Trinisphere.

A pretty reasonable start from the Workshop deck!

Usually, I like to hold back my counters against Workshops to try and stop threats, but as it stood in this game I almost assuredly would lose to the 3Ball. So I Force of Willed the Trinisphere, pitching the Vendilion Clique.

Me: 19

Him: 20


On my turn I drew a Scalding Tarn. I cracked my Misty Rainforest (18), fetched out basic Island, and cast Brainstorm.

The three cards that I saw were:

Trygon Predator Delver of Secrets Mox Emerald

I put back Lightning Bolt and Misty Rainforest and then played Mox Emerald.

So now I was holding three cards: Force of Will + Delver to pitch and a Trygon Predator that I would cast next turn and hopefully trump his deck with.

I left the land on top of my deck so that if he played a Strip Mine or Sphere I wouldn’t have to waste my FOW on it and would be able to cast Trygon. If he played a Thorns, I would still not fetch before I drew because then I’d be able to cast my Trygon and still have a land up to use my Force of Will.

I pass the turn.

On my opponent’s turn, he played Mishra’s Factory and attempted to cast Chalice of the Void for one.

The Chalice didn’t bother me in the slightest so I simply let it resolve, and he passed the turn.


Before I drew, I cracked my Tarn and got basic Mountain (17).

Perfect mana and Wasteland proof.

I drew a Lightning Bolt for the turn. I couldn’t cast it because of the Chalice, but I wouldn’t have wanted to anyways. I played my Trygon, which could eat the Chalice if necessary, and passed the turn.

My opponent played a second Mishra’s Workshop and cast a Steel Hellkite. Seems like a pretty good target for my Force of Will… I pitched Delver to Force (16) and since the Trygon was bigger than the Factory, he was forced to simply pass the turn.


I drew Tarmogoyf for the turn,

I attacked with my Trygon Predator, which dropped his life total to eighteen and destroyed his Chalice of the Void, and then play my Tarmogoyf, leaving up Mountain so I could cast my Lightning Bolt if necessary.

Me: 16

Him: 18

He drew and played a Wasteland (which had no targets), and once again I had a blocker that stunted any kind of offensive progress. He was forced to pass the turn. He was in pretty bad shape here and was basically drawing to another Steel Hellkite.


I drew a Vendilion Clique (that I couldn’t play because of my awesome mana!), bashed him for six, and destroyed his Mox Ruby.

Me: 16

Him: 12

He drew and played a Lodestone Golem, simply to buy a turn of not getting clocked by my Tarmogoyf, and passed the turn. I had the Bolt but didn’t want to waste it here— I could push through four damage, but I was more concerned about saving the Bolt for later.


I drew Ancient Grudge (best possible card), flashed it to my opponent, and he conceded.

He looked at the top few cards of his library and wasn’t going to hit a Steel Hellkite anyway.


Seems fairly obvious, but I brought in all of the cards that have the text “destroy target artifact.”

Ancient Grudge Nature's Claim Nature's Claim Nature's Claim Ingot Chewer Ingot Chewer Forest

And I took out all of the cards that suck in this matchup…

Flusterstorm Flusterstorm Flusterstorm Mental Misstep Mental Misstep Gush Gush


My opener was:

Volcanic Island Volcanic Island Tropical Island Island Delver of Secrets Ponder Steel Sabotage

I liked that the hand had a bunch of mana, but I felt as though I could do a lot better and sent it back. I would have kept this hand on the play.

My second hand was a little better, and I ended up keeping:

Brainstorm Tarmogoyf Misty Rainforest Tropical Island Misty Rainforest Vendilion Clique


He had a powerful start: Black Lotus, Strip Mine, and Lodestone Golem. Ouch.

I draw Ingot Chewer, played Misty Rainforest, and passed.


He attacked me for five (15), played Ancient Tomb, and cast Chalice of the Void set for one.

Me: 15

Him: 18

I drew Preordain.

I fetched up a Volcanic Island (14), played Tropical Island, and Ingot Chewered down his Lodestone Golem.


He played Mox Emerald, cast Chalice of the Void set for two, and passed the turn (taking another two from Ancient Tomb)

Me: 14

Him: 16

I drew a Lightning Bolt, played my Misty Rainforest, and passed the turn.


After he drew, I fetched (13) for a Volcanic Island and Vendilion Cliqued him.

He had Kuldotha Forge Master, Wurmcoil Engine, and Mishra’s Factory.

I took his Forgemaster.

He played his Mishra’s Factory and passed the turn.

I drew, played Island, attacked him for three with my Clique, and passed.

Me: 13

Him: 13


He drew and played a Lodestone Golem, dropping him down to eleven.

I drew and played Mox Sapphire. I didn’t attack with the Clique here because I wanted to leave it back to block the Golem.


He drew and played Mishra’s Workshop, then Duplicanted my Clique and attacked me with the Lodestone Golem and the Factory down to six.

I drew an uncastable Delver and conceded.


My opening hand for game 3 on the play was:

Tropical Island Misty Rainforest Mox Ruby Snapcaster Mage Tarmogoyf Time Walk Tropical Island

Seems pretty sweet to me.


I opened up with Tropical Island, Mox Ruby, and Time Walk.

TURN 1.5

I drew another Tarmogoyf.

I played Misty Rainforest, cast a Goyf, and passed the turn.

When my opponent finally got to play, he opened with Ancient Tomb, Black Lotus, Tangle Wire, and Chalice of the Void for one.


I had to tap all four of my permanents to the Tangle Wire.

I drew a Steel Sabotage and then play Tropical Island and was forced to pass. It was awkward that I drew the Sabotage that turn now that he had the Chalice of the Void down.

My opponent’s turn he had to tap all three of his permanents.

He then played a Mox Pearl and a Wasteland and cast Ratchet Bomb.


On my upkeep, I fetched out a Volcanic Island (19), tapped my Mox Ruby and two Tropical Islands (leaving Goyf and Volcanic untapped, and drew Ancient Grudge for the turn.

I attacked with my Goyf for three damage (15) and passed the turn. He clicked his Ratchet bomb up to one counter.

Me: 18

Him: 15

On his upkeep, he tapped Chalice of the Void and Tangle Wire for the Tangle Wire upkeep and then cast a Lodestone Golem for his turn (13).


I tapped Tarmogoyf and Ruby for Tangle Wire and drew and played an Island.

At this point, my hand was Steel Sabotage, Snapcaster Mage, Tarmogoyf, and Ancient Grudge.

My play here was to just do nothing. He clicked his Ratchet Bomb up to two.

On his turn, he tapped the Chalice and drew a card.

This turns out to be a really interesting turn. He started off by casting Mox Emerald and then Trinisphere. I responded by casting Ancient Grudge to kill his Lodestone Golem and then flashed it back to kill his Chalice of the Void for one.

Next, he played Phyrexian Metamorph and copied his Tangle Wire, costing him four life from the tomb and the Phyrexian mana. My opponent was empty handed.

Will I ever get to use my cards?  Read on to find out…

Not a bad turn…

Me: 18

Him: 11


On my turn, I tapped all five of my lands and he Ratchet Bombed away my Tarmogoyf.

I drew Preordain and passed the turn.

He played Mox Sapphire and Wastelanded my Tropical Island.


I tapped down three lands and drew Misty Rainforest, which I played and passed the turn.

My opponent lost a Tangle Wire and tapped down Chalice of the Void and Tangle Wire. He drew and played Sphere of Resistance and passed the turn.


I drew Volcanic Island, played it, and passed the turn.

He drew and played a Lodestone Golem (taking two from his Ancient Tomb to go to 9). I used Steel Sabotage to counter it, and he passed the turn.


I drew an Ancient Grudge for the turn and cast Tarmogoyf.

He drew and has to pass the turn without playing a spell. He could only produce five mana and had a Sphere of Resistance in play.


Tangle Wire was finally out of counters, so I could use all of my resources. I drew a Ponder.

I attacked him down to four with my Tarmogoyf and had exactly enough mana to second main phase Snapcaster Mage to buy back Time Walk. And that’s a wrap.

RUG: 2

MUD: 1


After it was all said and done, I played a few more matches, and here are my conclusions about this matchup.

First of all, as is always the case with Workshop decks, the most important aspect of this matchup is who wins the die roll. Whoever is on the play is probably favored to win by a pretty wide margin.

Overall, I feel like the matchup is a little bit in favor of the RUG Delver deck—especially after sideboard because RUG has a lot of good cards to bring in.

Chalice of the Void is a really important card in this matchup because RUG has so many cards that cost one mana. I would probably, if I were to play RUG Delver in a tournament, try to find room for one more Ancient Grudge, possibly over a Nature’s Claim.

Wurmcoil Engine was one of the better sideboard cards against RUG, and I would probably replace the Batterskull with a second copy of that card.

Hope you enjoyed the matchup!

Cheers and thanks for reading!

Brian DeMars