Or as I like to call it, “The Even More Hipster Edition.”
I’ve gone pretty deep in my previous U/R Delver deck techs, and not a lot has changed within my main deck since the last time we talked about it. The biggest swap I’ve made is tossing my typical main deck Mana Leaks and replacing them with Censors.
Yes, you read that right: We’re playing Censor in Modern. There are a few reasons why:
- On the whole, counterspells are pretty terrible in Modern right now. Most aggro decks just want to get you dead, and you need answers to what they already have on the board, not what’s coming out of their hand. Additionally, Cavern of Souls continues to be the bane of Mana Leak’s existence. At least locally, I’m seeing plenty of Humans and Eldrazi Tron decks that are packing this miserable, miserable land.
- That said, there are combo and midrange decks against which counterspells, even mediocre counterspells like Censor, still shine. Particularly, Censor eats a lot of three, four, and five mana spells and can still “get” an opponent during a turn where they think it’s safe to double-spell (cast two spells in the same turn).
- Tying the points above together, Censor allows you to straddle the line between playing a main deck, universal counterspell, but ditching that counterspell to dig for more Lightning Bolts when necessary. Censor is not great at either of its jobs, but it does them both reliably. When you compare it to other options (most notably, Remand and Condescend), Censor performs both its functions most consistently.
- And finally, of course, the tilt value is unreal. When you get someone with a Censor and they disheartenedly play their land for the turn afterward, you will feel like a God-Pharaoh among Planeswalkers.
I’ve been playing Censor for a few months now, and while it’s hard to evaluate the card (because it’s never truly “dead,” even when it’s never going to counter anything), I’ve liked how it has performed. There are lots of match-ups where I side Censor out, especially after having shown them to an opponent in game one, but those are often match-ups where Mana Leak was coming out anyway.
While we’re on the topic of “cards no one else plays,” I’d like to take a second to sing the praises of Turn//Burn, a.k.a. the card all my opponents have to read.
For most of this deck’s existence, I’ve played at least six Lightning Bolt-esque effects. In the past, Lightning Bolt slots five and six have been occupied by a combination of Forked Bolt, Burst Lightning, and Pillar of Flame. When Traverse Shadow and Eldrazi Tron decks began to rise, I swapped those cards for Roast and then Turn//Burn. And I have fallen in love with Turn//Burn.
Like Censor, Turn//Burn performs a few different functions mediocrely yet reliably. The Burn mode is an inefficient Shock, but even an inefficient Shock will get there when you just want to kill a Noble Hierarch or deal the last two points of damage to an opponent.
The Turn half of Turn//Burn provides a lot more play, and gives you outs to a lot of big creatures and weird scenarios that your opponent can concoct. Notably, Turn allows you to:
- Trigger your Young Pyromancer, then eat the creature you Turn’d with the Elemental you just created.
- Blank a Goryo’s Vengeance‘d Griselbrand or Through the Breach‘d Primeval Titan.
- Stop Persist triggers.
- Kill a whole bunch of Horse-shaped Elementals.
- In very, very dire straits, and when you are incredibly lucky, “Fog” an opposing Death’s Shadow and allow you to swing back for lethal.
I’m sure there are more incredibly niche things you can do with Turn (and that I’ve done some of them and forgotten). I’d encourage you to give the card a try and see what kind of shenanigans you can pull off with it. At the very least, it will get your brain thinking about some of the weirder interactions that can come up in Modern.
And of course, when you have access to five mana, Turn//Burn can just insta-kill most any creature in Modern. I have Turned and Burned Gurmag Anglers, Tarmogoyfs, Death’s Shadows, you name it. Just watch out for when you have to Turn//Burn a Thought-Knot Seer. The interaction between the two cards will not work out well for you (i.e. You’re not gonna draw a card when the Seer dies.).
I do think Turn//Burn is more cute than good, but I’ve always gotten at least some mileage out of it each I’ve time I’ve hit up Tuesday Night Modern. The card’s likely better than you think it is, though it’s also likely worse than I think it is.
I’ve found running fifteen “threats” in the main deck to feel about right, and the one-of Vendilion Clique has surprise-killed unsuspecting opponents at least a couple of times. All other changes I’ve made have happened in the sideboard, which has evolved thanks to new cards and a new meta:
- Hazoret has taken Bedlam Reveler‘s spot as my midrange board-stall breaker of choice, since more opponents are now packing graveyard hate for Hollow One and other decks. Those opponents are already inclined to bring graveyard hate in against you, since Snapcaster Mage is one of your most powerful cards in midrange matchups. Adding Bedlam Reveler post-board just gives them another incentive for doing so. Hazoret isn’t quite as explosive as Reveler, but has gotten the job done so far.
- Abrade is an amazing card that I somehow had to be sold on including over Smash to Smithereens/Magma Spray. Another example of a card that performs both its functions inefficiently, but gets by by performing both functions. Note that Magma Spray has always mostly been a hedge against Kitchen Finks (while still performing admirably in aggro match-ups). Finks seems to be absent from my current local scene.
- And finally, I’ve been trying out a one-of Entrancing Melody, but don’t have enough of a feel for the card yet to make a solid recommendation. If you’ve been using it in any of your own decks, let me know how Melody’s been working for you.
This, then, is my current Modern U/R Delver decklist, as of this writing:
The deck’s likely not going to knock down a Grand Prix or big tournament any time soon, but I still have a ton of fun with it and usually end my Tuesday night events with more wins than losses.
I know there are other, more aggressive or just plain different builds of U/R Delver floating around out there, so let me know if you’re playing one of those, or if I happened to turn you on to either of my pet cards. As always, I’ll be back in a couple weeks. Until then, may your Delvers always blind-flip.