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By: Arctic_Ghost, Arctic_Ghost
Mar 13 2018 1:00pm
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I am very sure by now we all are familiar with Delver archetypes. Love them or hate them, Delver based archetypes are some of, if not, the best archetypes in Pauper. But which one is right for you? There are many types of Delver decks out there, but today I will talk about the main ones. They are Mono Blue Delver, which has a very consistent mana base and can be very fast. There is Snow Delver, which is a little slower, but you get the added additions of red cards such as Skred and then there is UB Delver which gives you the power of cards such as Gurmag Angler and removal such as Doom Blade just to name a few.


Today I want to take a look at all 3 archetypes and discuss which one I think is the best and why. I have some sample deck lists to look at, so let's start off with the basic Mono Blue Delver.



Since Mono Blue Delver is only using only Islands, it makes this archetype the most consistent out of the 3 as far as mana base goes. It plays the usual creature which consists of Faerie Macabre as your 1 drop Faerie creature, then you have Spellstutter Sprite as your 2 drop creature, but it also does more than that. Spellstutter Sprite counters a spell so long as you have enough Faeries in play to match the mana cost of said spell, while also being a good 1 power flier to swing sideways. When you go turn 1 Faerie Miscreant and on turn 2 have a Spellstutter at the ready, you basically have access to 4 more Counterspells in your deck, which can be back breaking against any archetype. Your big creature is Spire Golem and it is a great one. It has a lot of toughness so it blocks well, it as Affinity for Islands and can be cast for as little as no mana and it attacks for a decent amount as well. Last but not least, you have Delver of Secrets and I am sure you know why it is in here. A 3 power flier for only 1 mana, backed up by a bunch of counter magic, can and will end the game very quickly.


Your creatures that gain card advantage are Ninja of the Deep Hours, which over time has become one of the scariest creatures to run into because not only does it clock in for a good 2 damage, it also draws a card and because of Ninjustu, you can return a Spellstutter Sprite to your hand so you can counter another spell, you can return a Faerie Miscreant to possibly draw another card if you have more than 1 copy in play, or you can return an Augur of Bolas. Augur of Bolas can either make you unhappy if you don't hit an instant or sorcery spell off of it, or it can put you extremely far ahead. Since it is a 3 toughness creature, it blocks extremely well against most of the aggro decks in the format and it has the potential to get you cards such as Counterspell or Ponder as well thanks to his come into play trigger. A good trick with Ninja is if you are attacking and your opponent doesn't block it, but tries to kill it after blockers are declared, you can use another Ninja in your hand to return your attacking Ninja since it is unblocked.


In this list your counter spells consist of Counterspell, Daze and Logic Knot. I am sure you all know why Counterspell is in this archetype, so I will move on from that one. Daze in the early game is extremely backbreaking because you can cast it for just returning an Island back to your hand and all of your spells are so cheap that you only need 2-3 lands out at a time to play the game. Logic Knot can act as a 5th copy of Counterspell since you should fill up the graveyard quickly thanks to all of your cantrips.


Your ways of drawing cards are Gush, which is great because as I said, you don't need a lot of mana in play to function and being able to draw 2 cards for no use of mana is a great way to find what you need. Ponder of course makes it into the list, as well as it's best friend Preordain and to round it all out, a couple copies of Brainstorm to help flip Delver easier and to hopefully draw you some counter magic when you need it. Personally I do not like Brainstorm in a deck with no fetches, but that is just my outlook. Finally you have Snap to get a creature off the board, untap 2 lands and use a Counterspell on it, or you can bounce back one of your creatures to use their abilities again or save them from a removal spell and you have a Bonesplitter to help pump your guys to either block in combat better or to win the game quicker.


The Sideboard is very straightforward for this archetype. You have Relic of Progenitus against graveyard strategies. Dispel is here to help fight counter wars and you have a copy of Curse of Chains to help slow down an aggro deck.


Steel Sabotage helps fight Affinity and can be decent against tron to try and counter their Prophetic Prisms or their Chromatic Stars and keep them off color mana. Gut Shot is amazing against the mirror, Elves, Goblins and other archetypes with a ton of 1 toughness creatures. Then finally the great Stormbound Geist, which is amazing against the mirror or any removal heavy archetype such as Teachings, MBC or Kuldotha Boros. It takes 2 removal spells to deal with this creature and it only gets better after it dies once, it is one of the best creatures in Pauper today in my opinion. I would also like to mention this archetype does not have them, but Hydroblast is also a good card to fight red removal or just the color red in general.


This archetype really shines in the fact that it is fast, consistent and does the same thing every game. However it does lack real removal and can easily fall short to aggro decks such as Elves, White Weenie and Mono Green Stompy. You can beat those matchups, but they are very close and very hard to navigate. In the end, I think this archetype is great and results will definitely show for that.


The next 2 versions of Delver I am going to talk about, do splash another color for access to removal, let's go ahead and see what they are working with.

In this archetype, the creature base is much of the same, except you play more copies of Augur of Bolas because now you have access to Lightning Bolt and Skred, thanks to the red splash and you don't miss as often either.


You will notice the absence of Spire Golem and I wish I could argue against it, but sometimes it is very hard to cast the creature in this version quickly or reliably because of the red mana you play. It is also difficult to cast it for a low amount and keep up counter magic to protect it. You make up for that by having the extra removal spells, which is why I really love the red splash. A resolved Gurmag Angler or any aggro deck with a big enough board is hard for any Delver deck to beat, but with Lightning Bolt and Skred, you can now let creatures resolve and deal with them anyway.


I am unsure about the 1 of Vapor Snag over the 4th Lightning Bolt, but it can still give you the option to bounce one of your own creatures or if you bounce one of your opponents you also make them lose 1 life and that can make a huge difference. This version of Delver can be play the control role while also being extremely aggro. Lightning Bolt can either clear the way for your Ninja of the Deep Hours or it can go to your opponents face for the final few points. This is the version I personally like to play.


The manabase includes Snow Covered lands this time around to help cast Skred. You also play Evolving Wilds and Ash Barrens to help your mana and they are also shuffle effects, making Brainstorm much better in this archetype. Despite the fact that you run both of your fetchlands, it is actually quite easy to curve out well in this deck. Lightning Bolt and Skred only cost 1 mana to do, so you can easily just tap a Mountain, use removal and continue casting a bunch of blue spells to your hearts content.


The sideboard is where this deck really shines because of the options you get by splashing red. Pyroblast is amazing in any blue matchup to help you fight through counter wars or to counter things such as opposing Delver of Secrets, Spellstutter Sprite and Mulldrifter just to name a few. Electrickery gives you a 1 sided Wrath of God against certain matchups including Mono Blue and Skred Delver, as well as Elves and other aggro matchups.


Swirling Sandstorm is my favorite card in the sideboard because you now have an actual Wrath of God effect to play and it doesn't hit fliers so most of your creatures will survive. There are an extremely small number of things that live through this card and I can't tell you how many games I have won based on this card alone.


This version has Hydroblast which I do like. You have Curfew for the Bogles matchup, Stormbound Giest makes an appearance again because the card is just that powerful, it could even make the main deck if you wanted to, and finally a quick Relic of Progentius for any graveyard strategies you may come across, such as Teachings decks, Tron or Tortured Existence, among many others.


I would just like to say that I personally like Annul better than Curfew as a sideboard card because if the Bogles player has another creature, Curfew doesn't do much, but that is just my opinion.


Last but not least, let's check out UB Angler Delver.


This archetype is more of a, “Protect the King” sort of deck. You resolve a Gurmag Angler or Delver of Secrets, then you clear the way with removal such as Doom Blade or Ghastly Demise so you can clock in and you protect your creatures from dying with CounterSpells.


To be able to get Gurmag Angler out quickly, you play Mental Note and Thought Scour to fill your graveyard quickly for Delve. They also have good synergy with Brainstorm so you can put 2 bad cards back on top of your deck and mill them away. You don't have many way spells to get back from the graveyard, as you can see in this list there is just a lone copy of Think Twice and nothing else.


Augur of Bolas does still shine in this deck with all the removal spells you have at your disposal, and since you only need 3 or 4 lands to function you get to have access to Daze as well as Deprive to help with extra counter magic. You also still get access to Gush and all the other great cantrips the other 2 Delver decks use.


The sideboard plays 4 copies of Stormbound Giest because it is a great creature to use after sideboard against almost any archetype. You get access to Shrivel to clear the way of aggro decks such as Elves or Tokens. Rancid Earth is a great answer to disrupting Tron archetypes, but can also be played against decks, but also it's Threshold ability makes it decent against aggro matchups with lots of 1 toughness creatures as well. The other sideboard cards are just more removal, Relic of Progenitus and a couple copies of Hydroblast, but one big card you get is Crypt Incursion for heavy aggro matchups where a lot of creatures will enter your opponents graveyard. This card can take you from near death all the way back up to well over 20 life, which will buy you a ton of time to take control of the game.


Verdict and Conclusion

Out of all 3 decks, personally Snow Delver is my favorite. I have won many games because I had access to Swirling Sandstorm out of the sideboard against matchups such as Affinity, Elves and Mono Green Stompy, where I should have had no chance. Being able to kill resolved Gurmag Anglers with Skred is also a huge play against any deck running them and Lightning Bolt is always great when you finish the game with it. Pyroblast has also be a monster in any blue matchup and is a large reason I win against the mirror.


Mono Blue Delver is also great and a fine deck choice as well. It's fast, very consistent and always puts up a good fight. It doesn't have to be a turn or 2 slow to set up your mana base like the other 2 versions of Delver and it can also use Daze and Gush a lot easier to win counter wars. But it does lack options when fighting other archetypes, but again, you make up for that with speed.


I am not a big fan of UB delver. It isn't a bad deck, I just hate playing the lottery with cards like Mental Note. The removal you get by playing black also isn't as powerful as the options you get with red as well in my opinion. You can add cards like Duress, but it will never replace Pyroblast. Gurmag Angler is an awesome and powerful creature, but people are ready for it these days and is easily played around. Your manabase can also just lose you the game if it doesn't sequence itself correctly and you can end up hindering yourself from playing multiple spells in a turn.


I think any of these 3 archetypes is a fine choice. Delver will always be a great archetype and that comes from not having to play a ton of lands and getting to play so many good cheap fliers and cantrips. You will rarely get flooded because you run such little land and filter through your deck so much, you should always out draw your opponent in terms of drawing spells.


I personally would go with Snow Delver because of the great red cards you get to play, but as of this article, Mono Blue Delver has also been putting up a ton of good results, so it is hard to choose which one is best. Let me know which one you like the most and why!


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Thank you all so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed it as well! See you guys next time!