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With Delver Delverson in Malmö

July 4, 2012

This past weekend I was back in Malmö, this time for competing in a PTQ and a WMCQ, and what you are reading right now is my recap of it.

Leading up to the tournaments, it was a weekend I was quite pumped for as I regrettably had to pass up on the second WMCQ, which was the week after GP Malmö. It was in Gothenburg, which by these days standards for me isn’t a far trip for me to make to play Magic but I just had too much to finish up in my studies before the summer to justify it.

Nevertheless, it sucks to miss out on a tournament like that and I was even more sadden when I found out that the tournament only had mid-30s number of players in it, just making it 6 rounds of swiss. It felt like a golden opportunity to qualify had slipped past my fingers and that made me even more bummed about not being able to go.

But that did leave me psyched about going to Malmö for the last WMCQ. Even though it’s farther away than Gothenburg from where I live, going was still a snap decision as I had the time this time around and the fact that there was a PTQ in town the day before made it well worth it of going.

However, the weekend started off on a bad foot already in the planning stage. Due to vague and conflicting information by the organizer, the conditions for the weekend wasn’t set until just 2 weeks ago which off course sucked for a plethora of reason. The main one was off course the increasing prices of  transportation. I looked at prices on trains and flights about a month before the event and the prices at the time was very reasonable, but as event drew closer without a official announcement from the organizer, I was worried that I might not be able to go. I’m not exactly poor but there sure is a finite amount of money I can justify spending on going to events, and if the prices would be too high I rather save that money for a foreign GP later in the fall.

Thankfully though, the announcement came and the prices was still acceptable so I made it down to the southern parts of Sweden.

As for deck selection goes, after reading this I decided just to suck it up and play the “best” deck for the weekend. As I wrote in my most recent article for Blackborder, I wasn’t really feeling particularly for any deck in the format so I felt stupid not to play a deck that some people whose opinion you should take in serious consideration says things like this about it:

So, I fell back on overwhelming experience this time.

My starting point was the list LSV used to take down his WMCQ, partly because he is LSV but mostly because his list incorporated a lot of card choices and numbers I already had in my hypothetical list in my head, so his list felt like a natural starting point. I had about two weeks before the event and spent it mostly durdling online battling various decks just to get as good of a feel with it as possible.

I ended up doing very few changes to the maindeck and sideboard (great minds think alike, #humblebrags). This is what I finally settled on and played in both the PTQ and the WMCQ:

Delver Delverson

4 Seachrome Coast
4 Glacial Fortress
2 Moorland Haunt
2 Cavern of Souls
9 Island
1 Plains

4 Delver of Secrets
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Geist of Saint Thraft
4 Restoration Angel

4 Ponder
3 Gitaxian Probe
2 Thought Scour
4 Mana Leak
4 Vapor Snag
2 Gut Shot
1 Dismember
2 Sword of War and Peace


2 Phantasmal Image
2 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
2 Celestial Purge
3 Timely Reinforcements
1 Gut Shot
1 Dismember
1 Surgical Exctraction
1 Dissipate
1 Divine Offering
1 Sword of War and Peace

The only changes in the main is were just cutting a Cavern of Souls for another Island. Cavern didn’t during my durdle hours turn out to be incredible useful in almost any matchup and the fact that it only taps for color for a very selective number of spells was a serious issue. The sideboard contains most cards as LSV played but I changed around the numbers a bit after my own taste.

Although I wished I had at least another weeks to test with the deck beforehand (don’t we always wish that?), I felt fairly confident in my list and the experience I had with the deck overall. Overall, I felt fairly confident in my chances of returning home with either a PT invite or a spot on the Swedish WMC team in the trunk.

Now, the weekend didn’t exactly went as I had dared to hope.

I went 4-2 in the PTQ, not great obviously but not a end score to feel ashamed about.

I lost round 1 against a RG aggro deck with some quirky card choices, like having Ranger’s Guile in the maindeck. Game 1 I had some mana issues thanks to Cavern of Souls and then I walked my critical Vapor Snag into a Ranger’s Guile which I didn’t see coming at all. In game 2 I kept a sketchy keep (2 Seachrome Coast, Island, Cavern of Souls, Restoration Angel, Thought Scour, Vapor Snag) and was rightly punished for it.

After that I rattled off two fairly straightforward wins against Dungrove Green and RDW, I ran afoul of a Naya Humans deck, somewhat familiar with what Brian Kibler have been championing lately. The games was pretty close but in the end he just had a bit more gas in both games that got him there. In game 1 I don’t think there wasn’t anything I could have done to change the outcome but I think I could have won game 2 if I had left in my Sword of War and Peace and not boarded them out like I did. I’m not sure what the correct decision is in a vacuum but at least in that game I wished that the Timely Reinforcements I drew was a sword instead.

With that I was pretty much out but I decided to play it out since the extra experience with the deck in various matchups was something I wanted and the chance of some extra PWP was also nice.

I ended the day on a high note by defeating two players that played various Delver variants on the back of some slightly better draws and overall slightly tighter plays.

As I said, I ended the day on 4-2, which felt reasonable. Losing games that are beyond your control sucks but it is at least somewhat comforting when you lose games where you mess up and can pinpoint the loss to your own faulty play. Those kinds of losses at least feels fair…and you can learn something from them to take the experience with you to the next battle.

Anyhow, the following day it was time for the WMCQ…

…and I really don’t know what to say about it. It was one of those days were literally nothing worked. I myself played really badly overall;  I kept hands that I shouldn’t have kept, mulliganed hands that I should have kept, played games with a faulty gameplan… the list just goes on and on. In addition to all the problems caused by the sloppy guy behind the wheel (that would be me), the deck was just not willing to function that day. In several games I couldn’t get pass 2-3 lands and in at least as many games I flooded out horribly.

I ended up going 2-4 and I was genuinely surprised that I managed to actually win a couple of matches on the day. All in all, that wasn’t one of those days where you left the venue thinking “I wish I would have mulliganed that hand” but rather “I wish I had mulliganed the whole day”.


Alas, despite my shortcomings in these tournaments, Delver is still Delver and it’s still a hell of a deck to play. If I were to play with the deck tomorrow there are a couple of changes I would consider doing:

-2 Cavern of Souls
-1 Mana Leak
-1 Restoration Angel

+1 Moorland Haunt
+1 Gut Shot
+1 Thought Scour
+1 Phantasmal Image

In the end, I think Cavern of Souls do you more harm than good right now. There are very few decks in the field that plays countermagic these days so that part of the card is seldom relevant. Even in the mirror, which is the most frequent matchup you are going to face that regularly have countermagic, counterspells are already pretty poor. It’s hard to explain why but play the mirror a couple of times and you shall see that you often find yourself with a Mana Leak sitting useless in your hand.

That leads us to Mana Leak. That card just isn’t that good right now. A lot of decks have Cavern of Souls in them, which makes them very poor. That said, Mana Leak just is a card that fits the Delver gameplan very naturally and it’s still quite good as a “catch all” type of card. That’s why I still want to have some number of them in the deck, although 4 is probably at least one too many.

Restoration Angel isn’t bad, she is great in fact, but she does cost 4 mana which is an issue. Having starting hands with multiple angels in them are difficult to keep and they often feel very clunky to have in your hand. That’s why I’d like to cut one from the deck.

I’d like to try to go down 21 lands as I felt I was flooded a bit more than I found acceptable. To accommodate the reduced number lands I have added another cantrip in its place as well as cutting one of the 4 drops.

It might seem a bit hypocritical to complain on Cavern of Souls not tapping for the mana you want and then go on suggesting adding another colorless land to the deck, but hear me out. Maybe it’s just me, but when I look at a Cavern of Souls in my hand, I thinking this is going to make the mana I need to help me win the game. That is, however, a faulty proposition. What Cavern of Souls really is (at least in Delver) a utility land that tap for colorless. Occasionally it will help my mana out good enough to get me there but that seldom is the case.

If we accept that concept about Cavern of Souls, is the extra utility worth having a land in your deck that taps for colorless? In my experience, no.

Moorland Haunt on the other hand has a profound impact on games, in general much deeper than Cavern of Souls anyways. So, my reasoning is that while adding extra Moorland Haunt doesn’t exactly help my mana out (it’s more or less the same as Cavern of Souls it turns out) the land has a much higher EV when it does work. Therefore I think it’s an acceptable risk of getting screwed a couple of times now and then by having a Moorland Haunt instead of an Island or a Plains. And finally, when I look at a hand with Moorland Haunt instead of Cavern of Souls, it’s much easier to determine if I can keep the hand or not. There is no smoke and mirrors here!

Speaking of Moorland Haunt, that was a card that was highly debated while I did my final preparation with my hosts for the weekend. While most of them wanted to look for an excuse to cut copies of Moorland Haunt from the deck, claiming it rarely was relevant, I wanted to do the opposite. I just think Moorland Haunt is so important for all those games where things doesn’t go like dominos or when facing decks that are trying to take control over you. It also helps you from flooding out… or at least reducing the pain from it. Sure, it’s better in some matchup than others but just overall, speaking from my own personal experience, Moorland Haunt is one of the key cards in the deck that makes the deck so difficult to play against.

In the room left open from the reduced numbers of lands and slimming of the curve I would like to add another Gut Shot, which is amazing in several matchup in todays Standard environment, and a Phantasmal Image to act primarily as a Hero’s Demise with the bonus of not lowering the number of creatures in the deck for the sake of Moorland Haunt. I’m not a huge fan of clones overall, but not getting behind in the Geist of Saint Thraft battle in the mirror is really important, and drawing 1 against about any deck right now is at least not horrible.

Mind you that these changes aren’t exactly tested but are what I reckon I would start out with in future playing sessions. The biggest question regarding the maindeck changes that I have suggested at this point is; does 21 land suffice even with the extra cantrip added to the deck? That question can only really be answered by more durdling, sorry, playtesting with the list. The sideboard also needs some consideration. I liked the card I had in the board but the numbers probably needs some fiddling with if the maindeck gets updated.

If you want more thoughts about building and playing Delver right now, I’d highly recommend reading this by Simon Goertzen. Very insightful and I can’t but agree with pretty much everything he wrote about the deck in general.

The trip to Malmö wasn’t a particularly successful one on my part Magic wise, but as always as I makes these trips it’s hard to not have a good time regardless. I got to see a lot of cool people and hang out with them… all in all had a great time. It’s a shame that Skåne is so relatively far away from Stockholm, as I quite like the culture and the atmosphere of the county… and the people there are mostly awesome to boot.

Before signing off I want to give a big shoutout to my hosts for the weekend, Ludvig Londos and Per Nyström. You guys are gentlemen and scholars!

Until next time,


5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2012 11:58

    With cards like Disciple of Bolas, Sign in Blood, and Altar’s Reap, black finally has some awesome card drawing without the help of blue. Of course this card will be a staple of mono-black, but it will also find it’s way into other decks running black as well. W/B Tokens and BR Vampires would benefit from this card.

  2. August 1, 2012 15:51

    Hey there! I am about to start my own blog and was wondering if you know where the best place to buy a blog url is? I’m not even sure if that’s what its called? (I’m new to this) I’m referring to ““. How do I go about getting one of these for the website I’m making? Thanks!

  3. August 2, 2012 04:01

    What is the best deck in Modern? I have no Modern deck. Please give me a good Modern deck!


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