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Sultai Delirium Is The Best Uro Deck In Pioneer

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Blooming Marsh, illustrated by Adam Paquette

If you want to beat up on aggro decks while smashing combo decks in the sideboard games, Sultai Delirium is what you’re looking for. It even won one of the first Players Tours events and there’s plenty of room to improve. 


I played an older version of Sultai Midrange last year, and even though it had Oko, Thief of Crowns, this version is much better. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath fits seamlessly into the deck. Not only do Satyr Wayfinder and Grisly Salvage fuel Uro, but they also find it! Being able to find your card advantage engine and win condition just by doing your normal thing is incredible.


This is a velocity-based midrange deck, which means you want to spend your mana each turn, continue developing your mana, and deal with threats as necessary. Cards like Satyr Wayfinder, Grisly Salvage, and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath give you the ability to tear through your deck, find what you need, and eventually enable Traverse the Ulvenwald

Emrakul, the Promised End is, in fact, your end-game but it’s surprisingly disappointing in Pioneer. Due to the faster nature of the format, you don’t have a ton of time to set up Emrakul. Plus, there’s too much linearity in Pioneer, which means your opponents don’t have to play much interaction. Your Emrakul will frequently be a three-for-one but it might not be enough to win the game if their battlefield is wide enough. 

Regardless, it’s the best end game you have access to unless you also want to play the Inverter of Truth / Thassa’s Oracle combo. That’s a reasonable direction to go but it’s an entirely different deck and one that’s out of the scope of this article. Thankfully, Sam Black has you covered.

Having additional card types is beneficial for Emrakul, so cards like Walking Ballista; Courser of Kruphix; Nissa, Who Shakes the World; Liliana, the Last Hope; and Brain Maggot have additional utility. We don’t get to play all of them and we shouldn’t squeeze in as many as possible, but any copy you can justify playing with make enabling delirium that much easier. 

In a field full of Inverter of Truths, Abrupt Decay doesn’t cut it. You’d also prefer to have more removal for planeswalkers if you can afford it. Hero’s Downfall and Murderous Rider aren’t optimal because of the mana cost, plus To the Slaughter might be superior regardless. 

Getting the mana right is difficult. Basic Island isn’t ideal in a deck full of Grisly Salvages but it’s necessary to return Uro with any regularity. There are the occasional Turn 4s where you don’t have GGBB but it’s rarely game-altering.

Right now, we have eighteen green sources, fifteen black sources, and twelve blue sources. That’s exactly fine, even with Traverse the Ulvenwald to help in a pinch. One of the problems is that we have a lot of colored mana symbols in our cards and Fabled Passage and Traverse the Ulvenwald aren’t two-color lands. They might count as tri-colored sources but a hand with three of them won’t necessarily leave you with perfect mana. Expect to lean on Satyr Wayfinder and Grisly Salvage to fix your mana. 

In any creature matchup, Ishkanah, Grafwidow is usually better than any sweeper you could have. That won’t be the case in the face of graveyard hate but you mostly want your opponents to bring in graveyard hate against you. 

Some of your opponents will bring in graveyard hate against you. Overall, it’s not a big deal. Most of the time, you’re focused on containing what they’re doing and assembling your engine last. You have plenty of time to draw into an answer and can even win the game without your graveyard. 

For something like the mirror match, where not having access to your graveyard will put you at a severe disadvantage, it’s important to have ways to remove their graveyard hate that aren’t as narrow as Reclamation Sage. Assassin’s Trophy and Sultai Charm are fine cards on their own that can also pick off graveyard hate as necessary, which means you don’t have to load up on narrow cards.

In case you’re on the fence, here are the things that make my version better than everyone else’s:

  1. Better mana and a third Grisly Salvage for consistency
  2. To the Slaughter and Assassin’s Trophy for planeswalkers
  3. A “go big” package in the sideboard with Dragonlord Silumgar and Nissa, Vastwood Seer, which allows you to grind out most opponents

Oddly, the next thing I’m going to experiment with is cutting the Traverse the Ulvenwald package entirely. There’s some tension between Uro and delirium and it’s mostly mitigated by casting Traverse before returning Uro or not returning Uro multiple times until later. That’s not enough of a reason to remove Traverse but it could be the best way to build the archetype in the future.

Sideboarding Guide

VS Sultai Delirium

Out:

In:

The small changes should give you an edge here. Dragonlord Silumgar and Nissa, Vastwood Seer can be absolutely backbreaking in any mirror match. You don’t have access to Leyline of the Void and they probably do, so that’s where they might get their edge.

This matchup is about gaining value, trying to stick a threat, and eventually winning with Emrakul, the Promised End. If you can stop them from getting to Emrakul, you should probably do it. That said, in the meantime, you need to contend with Jace, Tireless Tracker, and Uro and attempt to keep those contained. 

VS Dimir Inverter

Out:

In:

Playing against Dimir Inverter is similar to playing a mirror matchup, except they have a direct combo instead of Emrakul. Again, accumulate value in order to fight the war of attrition, don’t let them stick an engine, and certainly don’t let them kill you with the combo if you can help it. 

Most of the time, they will sideboard out various combo pieces and attempt to win with Pack Rat, Thief of Sanity, The Scarab God, or Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. Respect their potential to switch up their gameplan and you should be fine. 

VS Mono-Red Aggro

Out:

In:

Despite the lifegain, this matchup can be difficult and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mono-Red Aggro picks up more traction in the near future. 

The enchantment removal comes in because of Eidolon of the Great Revel and possibly Experimental Frenzy. It’s difficult to know exactly what their configuration is because there isn’t a consensus best list. Since they are almost always creature-heavy and not burn-heavy, a couple of copies of Thoughtseize are fine.

VS Heliod Company

Out:

In:

I’m not sure when Pioneer became this weird dance of trying to play actual Magic while not getting comboed out but that applies here too. Their threats are resilient, they have Collected Company, and they have a combo kill. Overall, it’s a difficult matchup but you have the tools to win as long as you’re careful. 

Thoughtseize is your only way to interact with Collected Company but the matchup will often come down to a topdecking war regardless. 

VS Izzet Ensoul

Out:

In:

Although they have some Shrapnel Blasts, Thoughtseize is important for picking apart their strongest starts. You don’t want to draw multiples, so I’m fine shaving a copy or two. Kill their stuff and keep your life total high, which should be easy thanks to Uro.

VS Mono-Black Aggro

Out:

In:

This is another matchup that will come down to attrition, especially in the sideboard games. Both players will have ample ways to disrupt the other person, which means the games will go long and you don’t want to draw Thoughtseize at that point. Thankfully, Sultai has all the card advantage and should win in most of those situations. 

VS Five-Color Niv-Mizzet

Out:

In:

Here we have another matchup of attrition, except you want Thoughtseize as additional answers for Niv-Mizzet Reborn and Bring to Light. It’s not ideal but it’s what you have to do. This deck has mostly been doing poorly as of late, so I’d expect its metagame share to trend down.

VS Bant Spirits

Out:

In:

Bant Spirits is a difficult matchup and one that I expect to become more popular. Thoughtseize and Mystical Dispute can fight their disruption while your removal slows down their clock. They don’t have many ways to stop Ishkanah from stopping their entire air force, as even the 3/5 body matters if they have Rest in Peace

VS Azorius Control

Out:

In:

Azorius Control wasn’t a very difficult matchup to begin with and the sideboard games become trivial. The only concerns are drawing mostly graveyard-related cards when they have a Rest in Peace or running out of time. Play quickly and be willing to concede a game that looks like it’s going south in the interest of actually finishing the match. 

VS Lotus Field

Out:

In:

This is probably the worst matchup of the bunch because very few of your cards interact with what they’re trying to do. Your clock is also slightly too slow to take advantage of what minuscule disruption you do have. Leyline of the Void would be helpful here but it’s one of the very few matchups that actually warrants it. 

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