Power Nine Challenge (October report)



  • For those interested I wrote a report from the latest Power Nine Challenge. This time I played with URw Delver and for some reason managed to place 10th which was the same place I managed with the deck last time :-). This deck choice was obviously totally wrong but it worked out for me ok.

    Here's the link.
    http://puremtgo.com/articles/power-nine-challenge-getting-consistent-another-top10-urw-delver



  • Why do you say the deck choice was wrong? Delver is excellently positioned right now (and has been for six months). I'd love to convince you why many of your card choices are wrong, but your deck selection is right on target. Sent a pm. Congrats on the finish.



  • I'd say that Delver deck is well positioned, that is why I chose it. But the actual deck I played with during the tournament is bad. I just wanted to warn people not to copy my decklist even though it showed up on the mothership and elsewhere. But anyone with a little bit of critical thinking will see that (hopefully)

    I really missed Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Lightning Bolt was doing a better job than I would have thought.

    I'll try to catch up with you. I don't usually come here often.



  • I like everything going on in this thread. Too bad we're the only three on the site actually inclined to read it, lol.



  • Well done in the event and solid report.

    @wappla would you care to elaborate on the card choices?

    I personally never loved Jace TMS in Delver, it sits too over curve for me, was to big of a liability vs shops, where 4 Mana is even harder to come by. I would probably have Dack #2 in that slot.

    Path over swords is always an interesting choice...if the Meta is heavy on shops and oath it can be good, but if you expect alot of other gush decks, giving my opponent a free land can be more swingy than I often would like.



  • @p3temangus
    Thx p3temangus .

    What wappla suggests is that a Delver deck should be good at what it is actually good at and that is efficiency. This is the reason why a Delver deck should not play cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor nor even Dack Fayden because they do not help the deck being efficient, these cards slow the deck down and do not add to the 'aggressive' plan this deck can have. Since many people do not really value life that much Delver can punish them for it. 4 Lightning Bolts and the possibility to replay them is something that makes the deck deadly. It can race. It can race Car Shops or Eldrazi.

    The best card to gain tempo advantage is Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. It costs 2 mana which is fine for this deck and does exactly what the deck needs. It can either 'gain' life because of its plus ability, it can let us use the mana we have available with its second ability and it also wins the game on its own. (happens more often than some of you may think).

    Path to Exile is a card I started playing because of Marit Lage and Blightsteel Colossus. The field looked like 60 percent Shops, some Oath and Tezzerator decks. At that time Path was good. And that 1 land against other Gush decks wasn't ever an issue. I never died to that. I actually won more games by Pathing my own token and getting an Island so I could Gush or get a resource that cannot be hit by Wasteland.

    I used to play 2 Dack Faydens but that was also a metagame call and not one that is needed nowadays if we are just to face Shops mostly. I really love the card though so I will most probably just stick with it.

    Also there is a question about the efficiency of my mana base. From time to time I actually lose a game because of having 2 Islands in the deck and that is not a good thing. Mountain is even worse. I think that those who ever played this kind of deck know how it feels to have a off color mox in hand. Having a Basic Land that is off color is even WORSE. That's like suicide sometimes. But still it was worth it for me. But after playing with 3/3 dual lands and no basics for quite a while I also know that this works pretty well too and aggressive deck like this is actually that kind of a deck that should prefer that over the mana base I had with 2 Islands/1 Mountain in the SB.

    Against Shops JTMS is FoW fodder and it is a card you are not likely to play, but that is not the reason why I put the card in. I put this card in against Gush control decks or big blue decks where I needed a different win condition. Still that does not mean that the card has its slot in the deck. It doesn't.



  • @socialite said:

    I like everything going on in this thread. Too bad we're the only three on the site actually inclined to read it, lol.

    I read the article when it first came out on MTGOTraders like 2 weeks ago. It would be nice if you actually expanded on what you liked (you know, a positive contribution) rather than just putting the rest of TMD down.

    @stsung - Excellent write up. I appreciated the comments before and after the event on the changes you made, why you made them, and your final impressions of them.

    I agree with other posters in cutting the JTMS. I think the deck wants 2 or more JVPs and an additional Dack Fayden. JVPs, especially with Lightning Bolts, give the deck a tremendous amount of reach. I would also considered cutting the SB Pyroblasts for Flusterstorms (you mentioned that you missed them, but this is the specific change I would make). I view Pyroblasts as an anti-Planeswalker in Gush decks but you have that covered with Delvers, YPs, and Bolts. Flusterstorm is much better against Combo decks and I like it against PO decks as protection for your Stony Silences. It's one of the few ways to outplay opponents in the Gush mirror.

    Thank you for the content and keep up the good work!



  • @p3temangus Stsung said the big points. A) Delver is built to win along any resource axis: Life, Mana, Cards, even library size with JVP emblems. B) Delver is built to maximize the quality of the good cards in this format. The necessary conditions for this are the following:

    1. lowest reasonable mana curve
    2. most generic possible cards
    3. casting the good cards multiple times

    1. lowest reasonable mana curve
    When the average casting cost of your deck is low, you have granularity in spending mana, meaning you spend all of your mana every turn but also can cast most of your cards even with very little mana. Tapping out every turn means Misstep and Force of Will are better. Misstep only generates a mana advantage when you pay life instead of mana for it. Force of Will generates more mana if you are tapped out. Having a low curve means you can Preordain and loot away mana sources much more aggressively. Low mana curves also mean your draw spells are better since you can use the cards you are drawing with them sooner. My build of the deck has the lowest curve in the format outside of Dredge. More mana granularity means more decisions, which means more flexibility. JVP is the paragon of decisions, flexibility, and mana optimization.

    2. most generic possible cards
    You want all your cards to have as many functions as possible so that they are never dead. Lightning Bolt kills creatures and planeswalkers and opponents. Path to Exile only kills creatures. Lightning Bolt ends games. Sometimes it's Time Walk. That's generic. I don't like playing Dack Fayden or Wear/Tear because they are too expensive and too specific. Dack loots and steals artifacts and is a slow alternate win condition. Jace does much more than that. He loots, flashes things back, and gains life, and is a slow alternate win condition.

    3. casting the good cards multiple times
    JVP also casts the good cards multiple times. Time Walk and JVP is usually just as good as Voltaic Key and Time Vault. Taking three turns in a row in an aggro-control deck is usually exactly the same as taking all the turns, because the game ends on or immediately after the third turn. JVP turns the deck into a combo deck because any game you draw Ancestral or Time Walk early enough you have a decent chance of casting them twice.

    Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, is exceptional in this deck because our ability to race Thorn decks means we get a lot of value out of his +1 ability. I started playing 4 shortly after Dig was restricted, cut Dack, and haven't looked back. Jace has been better over the past year than Dig Through Time was when Dig was unrestricted. JVP can create advantages in every resource.



  • @wappla Great Post, thanks for elaborating.



  • Not to hijack the thread, but as a point of comparison to @stsung's list. credit also to @socialite

    4 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
    4 Delver of Secrets
    4 Young Pyromancer
    4 Lightning Bolt
    
    4 Force of Will
    4 Mental Misstep
    1 Pyroblast
    
    4 Preordain
    3 Gitaxian Probe
    3 Gush
    1 Ancestral Recall
    1 Brainstorm
    1 Ponder
    1 Time Walk
    1 Treasure Cruise
    1 Dig Through Time
    1 Mystical Tutor
    
    4 Misty Rainforest
    4 Polluted Delta
    1 Scalding Tarn
    4 Volcanic Island
    1 Tundra
    1 Strip Mine
    1 Mox Ruby
    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Mox Pearl
    
    sideboard mainstays
    4 Containment Priest
    3 Ingot Chewer
    2 Stony Silence
    1 Gut Shot
    
    the rest of the current sideboard 
    1 Ingot Chewer
    1 Fragmentize
    1 Karakas
    1 Dismember
    1 Pithing Needle


  • This weekend there was an SCG IQ in our city. I brought this deck. I'm fairly content with this unlike with the deck I played at the P9C. So if you'd like to compare Wappla's list and mine this is more of a deck I would actually play (and is almost the same as my original decklist from a year ago). I'll have to try Wappla's list, but so far this was performing pretty well.

    The text version of the decklist is a bit mess, so you can check the decklist I submitted at -> http://stsungalters.com/temp/urw_delver_SCG.pdf

    2 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
    4 Delver of Secrets
    4 Young Pyromancer
    1 Dack Fayden
    3 Gitaxian Probe
    1 Ponder
    4 Preordain
    1 Time Walk
    1 Treasure Cruise
    1 Ancestral Recall
    1 Brainstorm
    1 Dig Through Time
    4 Force of Will
    3 Gush
    4 Mental Misstep
    1 Stony Silence
    4 Lightning Bolt
    1 Pyroblast

    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Mox Ruby
    1 Mox Pearl

    2 Flooded Strand
    2 Polluted Delta
    4 Scalding Tarn
    1 Strip Mine
    3 Volcanic Island
    1 Island
    2 Tundra

    1 Fragmentize
    4 Ingot Chewer
    1 Echoing Truth
    1 Rest in Peace
    2 Grafdigger's Cage
    3 Containment Priest
    1 Stony Silence
    1 Mountain
    1 Flusterstorm

    @wappla: I know that I can try that myself but how good is Mystical Tutor in your deck. I was never a fan of this card in non-combo decks and even in those I usually run just black tutors. Is it a card that you use more defensively or do you use it more proactively to win a game?



  • @stsung I think Stony Silence is a completely justifiable maindeck inclusion over Mystical Tutor in the current format. Last Sunday in the Gatherling event, I ran Stony on a gut feeling about the format and was rewarded by facing two Paradoxical Outcome decks. @socialite has been a bigger proponent of Mystical, though. He and @Smmenen both have experience playing Delver before Cruise, and Mystical was good for them at the time. I'm running it on his suggestion. Tutors also play really well with JVP. Time Walk and Treasure Cruise are the best targets. It replaced Flusterstorm. Mystical is the only slot in the main I've haven't played enough to defend.

    A lot of evolution of this deck for us has been just cutting underperforming cards to instead reinforce the deck's strengths. Over the past 6 months, we've cut Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile, Wear/Tear, Dack Fayden, basic lands, even Black Lotus.

    This version looks much better to me, although I think very little of Grafdigger's Cage and Echoing Truth. Looks like you have a known meta in mind, though.



  • @wappla: I used to run Mystical Tutor in RUG (Delver) and UR Delver before the restriction of Cruise and Dig and the card was awesome. But afterwards I never actually thought of playing that card again. I also don't have enough experience with the card now though. I most probably play way less than you guys play.

    those SB cards are subpar compared to others but relevant for me against decks I needed to face. I'm not really a tight aggressive player so for me it is usually to play with a list that is more 'loose'. (not sure if you get what I mean? hopefully).

    Anyway I participated in two Vintage events this weekend going 3-1. Not ideal score but I can possibly write a report and a summary of my thoughts?? I'll post a link if I find my article to be worth reading....



  • @stsung said:

    @wappla: I know that I can try that myself but how good is Mystical Tutor in your deck. I was never a fan of this card in non-combo decks and even in those I usually run just black tutors. Is it a card that you use more defensively or do you use it more proactively to win a game?

    I rather like Mystical Tutor in Delver. It’s great in a diverse meta, a single slot could outweigh it if your meta is overly condensed - YMMV.

    Mystical does quite a few small things very well that when taken into consideration together I feel it makes the cut.

    • Additional one drop to setup Delver triggers.
    • Sets up Time Walk or Lightning Bolt, both of which should not be underestimated.
    • The addition of the Delve spells lends to dynamic draw which is vastly superior to the gold standard of Tutor - Recall when you start to consider information available via Gitaxian Probe, etc.
    • If you design accordingly it can provide additional post board space savings.
    • Layering Mystical/Gush/JVP allows for a lot of flexibility on the stack when the occasion calls for it.

  • TMD Supporter

    I really enjoyed playing Delver a year or more ago but recently I haven't had much luck with it. These lists suggest why that might be. I keep going back and forth vs Mentor and then eventually they land a Mentor and it takes over. I tend to play this deck as more of a control deck. Not as extremely as Menendian in early VSL seasons but that was still my inclination.

    But these lists with the four bolts and no STO/path look like they play faster and, against Mentor, look to race. I would try to do this but I think my lists were not designed for it and my play wasn't aggressive enough.

    So thanks for the report and lists. I'll try again. And I'm wondering what the plan is vs. Eldrazi. Clog the ground with tokens and fly over with Delver?



  • @DrStreetmention While the deck is aggressive it is a tempo deck that can even be played as a control. You need to be both proactive and reactive. You need to switch roles accordingly as you see fit. That is the key to the deck, or at least that was the way how I worked with the deck. I know that many players playing different formats have problems with this but in Vintage it is rather a common skill that we all need to embrace no matter what (blue) deck we play, so probably you are not new to this concept. For example Patrick Dickmann's Tarmotwin (Modern) was a deck that required this kind of thinking and that is why many players did not understand how to play it. The deck was very good though if you knew how to switch roles. One turn of not being able to decide can cost you a game. Since this deck is rather efficient you can't just throw away any mana. I don't know how well you play so I can't tell you where the problem lies but it is something I observed yesterday while playing against one local Mentor player (not Mentor player but he played Mentor that day). He struggled with figuring out what his role is and wasn't able to switch at the correct time and start to pressure me (as his opponent). This led to me winning 9-1 which shouldn't have happened...

    Against decks like Shops, Eldrazi and Dredge you want to simply be faster than them. That means t1 Delver or Young Pyromancer.
    Against Eldrazi you have more time usually and even against Shops you can just survive till the time they are in top deck mode and then you can play your creature and win later (same with Eldrazi). In that case just watch out for Skysovereign and Triskelion because these cards can wreck your plan. Always imagine the scenario which can happen and if you know how much damage your opponent can deal to you, you should know how to attack (and block). Neither of these decks really run removal except the cards I named and occasional Dismember.
    Shops can come through with Fleetwheel Cruiser and Eldrazi with Reality Smasher but I guess this is just repeating something you already know. Just keep that in mind and you should be fine. The matchups are not bad. Certainly not that bad as many people think so.
    I haven't seen your list but even my not so efficient list did not have problems against Shops/Eldrazi. It struggled with Mentor which wasn't the case lately but that can just be due to variance. (I played against different players whose skill is unknown to me)

    @socialite: thanks for the input. I was afraid you'd say this. This is a very proactive (and aggressive) approach and that is probably why I never liked the card in my deck. But I can imagine it working very well. After playing with Esper Mentor list where I was using the black tutors in a similar fashion I get the idea^_^.

    EDIT: Update on my article and report. It will have to be divided into three different articles which also means I have to rewrite every single of them. Everything will be eventually up on PureMTGO, it will take some time ...



  • JVP's +1, an ability continually overlooked is one way to pull ahead of decks like Eldrazi.

    I try to avoid the pit falls of absolute statements as they seem to be a cornerstone of what is wrong with dialog in this format but I strongly oppose playing less than four JVP.



  • @wappla Going back to your list, I think that 4 JVPs is the best approach for Delver right now. If you are going to run Mystical Tutor though, I would build the SB to take more advantage of it. You have enough red sources to run a singleton Shattering Spree in addition to the Ingot Chewers - the ability to search for it with Mystical Tutor and recast it with JVP is brutal for Shops. I would also include a Ravenous Trap as an anti-Dredge target for Mystical. Obviously, this depends on your metagame.



  • Shattering Spree has been in and out of the list for over a year. One of the great things about Spree is that it fills that early game gap as a low CC removal that can be later used with JVP to generate large amounts of card advantage without being as taxing as Pulverize (for example). My only problem with the card is that it has never actually played out that way in testing, I'd be willing to revisit it again and I know Wappla has mentioned as much recently.

    Trap was excluded on purpose, not to speak for @wappla but I believe we're both of the opinion that Dredge as a metagame presence is far too polarized to properly prepare for and thus the space is better utilized as something else. Trap does bring you to six cards post board but speaking from personal experience I've never felt comfortable under seven. I guess right now is a great time to be a Dredge player.



  • Also, if you're going to sideboard for against Dredge right now, I like a card (like Pithing Needle) that fights the transformational plan much better a card that fights than the anti-hate plan. Most people are more prepared for the anti-hate plan, and therefore it's reasonable to expect the anti-hate dredge decks to do worse than the pitch dredge decks. It stands to reason that if you face a dredge opponent at X-0 or in the top 8 of an event, it is more likely to be a pitch dredge player. Of course, like all sideboard strategies, this does not produce a sustainable environment.

    Regarding Spree, Foundry Inspector has changed the Workshops matchup, and we have to reevaluate our plan against them.



  • @wappla I was actually thinking about Pithing Needle. The idea came to my mind after about 20 games with Shops against mirror match and Mentor. Phyrexian Revoker was a nice card in a mirror match up and against Mentor it did well too (at first I thought it would be useless but proved to be the other way round). I was wondering what this effect could do against other decks or if it would be worth a slot in the sideboard. I was thinking about Dark Depths/Stage in Dredge wondering if by a chance the Needle wouldn't work better than my Echoing Truth plan. It shuts down walkers and EE which are problematic sometimes.

    @ChubbyRain @wappla I managed to cast Shattering Spree with a good effect one or twice from all the matches I played with the card (which was relatively a lot). The card wasn't performing well enough for me. It seems I will come back running singleton Wear/Tear actually because that card is an instant. I don't know how you guys feel about this ... (also instant way to deal with time vault/key)
    In most cases I play wear/tear at sorcery speed because I usually need to untap first and then destroy something while having the possibility to counter back. But even against shops sometimes being able to destroy something at the end of turn and have mana available next turn helps. Also against some decks fusing it so it does not get countered by misstep (against Oath usually) was something I liked.
    The card is not really efficient but I still like it more than Fragmentize that cannot hit cards like Skysovereign or Triskelion. (I know those are desperate measures but still would want a way out sometimes.)
    What do you guys think (from experience I was doing fine without wear/tear and spree)?


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