olaw's picture
By: olaw, Oliver Law
Oct 29 2012 8:14am
Login to post comments


Welcome to another edition of Becoming A Modern Man!  This week I will be looking at a UR Delver deck.  This was inspired by 3-1 performance in a Modern Daily by Narling.  Here's the list that was played:

My list is essentially the same as the one above, except some tweaks to the sideboard and I only ran 1 Steam Vents when I built it originally as they were expensive.  Now they are much more reasonably priced and I highly suggested running 3 or 4.



Delver of Secrets
Delver of Secrets
It's funny to think that this little guy initially didn't get a lot of attention.  Nowadays he's a prominent figure in pretty much every major format.  Delver is a beating and combines well with the high number of sorceries and instants in the deck.

Goblin Guide
Goblin Guide
Goblin Guide is another extremely powerful 1-drop.  Unanswered he will deal some serious damage to your opponent seriously quickly.

Grim Lavamancer
Grim Lavamancer
A card that shows up a lot in these articles.  Grim Lavamancer is a creature that is useful in many red decks.  Although it doesn't exactly have great synergy with Snapcaster Mage it's effect is very powerful and probably worth it.

Snapcaster Mage
Snapcaster Mage
Before playing this deck I hadn't actually had a chance to play with Snapcaster Mage.  Playing against Snapcaster Mage is often pretty miserable but I finally got to be on the other side of it.  I have to say it's a whole lot of fun as the card just opens up so many more options for you.  Tiago Chan's Invitational Card is insanely useful and it can impact the game in so many different ways.

Blue Spells

Mana Leak
Mana Leak
One of the best counterspells in the format.  Although that may make certain blue mages weep, Mana Leak is still no joke and is a very powerful spell.

Spell Snare
Spell Snare
Spell Snare is a powerful one-mana counterspell that deals with a large variety of threats within the format.  From Tarmogoyf to Pyromancer Ascension it covers a lot of bases and deals with some serious threats.  I'm not entirely convinced that Spell Snare is entirely necessary in this slot but it's an interesting inclusion and what that has its role to play.

Vapor Snag
Vapor Snag
Who knew that unsummon with a minor bonus of 1 life loss would be such a good card. I don't think Snag is quite as good as it was in the Delver decks in Standard but it's still very useful and a good tempo card. Vapor Snag can set your opponent's back whole turns, which allows you to draw more cards and play more burn spells to finish them off.

Serum Visions
Serum Visions
Serum Visions is one of the premier draw spells in the format.  It's no Ponder or Preordain but it's the best we've got thanks to those cards being banned.  Visions allows you to set up Delver flips as well as draw a card and manipulate your library.  Powerful effects and ones that can ultimately be game winning.

Burn Spells

Burst Lightning
Burst Lightning
The option of doing 4 damage rather than 2 is pretty nice, even if a Shock isn't all that exciting.  It's even better later in the game when you can Snapcaster Mage your Burst Lightning for another 4 damage.

Flame Javelin
Flame Javelin
Flame Javelin is a little difficult to fit into the mana base but pretty nice.  4 damage is a lot, particularly to the face but it can also deal with the larger creatures in the format such as Restoration Angel.

Searing Blaze
Searing Blaze
Searing Blaze is probably my least favourite burn spell in the deck.  Although it is powerful it has the restriction of requiring a creature to be in play on the opponent's side of the field.  Although this always a problem it can be one against certain decks, such as Tron and Valakut, and there is also the possibility that the Searing Blaze is countered by them sacrificing or removing their creature in some way.  When Searing Blaze is good it's very good but it can be dead against some decks.

Magma Jet
Magma Jet
A burn spell that can also set up your Delver of Secrets flip, a solid combination for this deck.  Deck manipulation is always useful and being able to repeat the effect with a Snapcaster makes it that much sweeter.

Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
The classic burn spell and still the best.  1 mana = 3 damage.  Simple!


Arid MesaMisty RainforestScalding Tarn
Arid Mesa/Misty Rainforest/Scalding Tarn
The fetchlands help to search up the right lands at the right time.  More often than not you'll be looking for Steam Vents to help with the high red mana requirements, whilst also giving yourself access to blue mana.

Steam Vents
Steam Vents
Steam Vents is the key land in the deck.  Although it is possible to substitute it with other UR duals being able to search up Steam Vents with your fetchlands is the deal breaker.

Sulfur Falls
Sulfur Falls
Another UR dual to help the slightly awkward mana in the deck.

As usual in Modern, sideboard choices are plentiful and what you'll want to play will depend on what you are expecting to face.  I built a fairly cheap sideboard out of cards that were available to me.

Relic of ProgenitusCombustShattering SpreeSmash to SmithereensVolcanic FalloutDispel
We have some additional countermagic in the form of Dispel and Spell Pierce, which is useful against combo decks and any other deck that isn't particularly creature-based.  Combust is a nice answer to Restoration Angel and even a handy uncounterable way of dealing with opposing Delver of SecretsShattering Spree and Smash to Smithereens give you some nice answers to artifacts, which is particularly useful against Affinity but also Birthing Pod-based decks.  Relic of Progenitus is standard graveyard-hate for anyone trying to do crazy stuff with their graveyard.  Finally, a lone Volcanic Fallout is a useful card if you are being overwhelmed by Tokens or small creatures.

In my build, I skimped on Steam Vents due to their high pricetag.  However, thanks to the reprinting of the Ravnica duals in Return to Ravnica the price of Steam Vents and the other duals reprinted in the set is dropping and can only realistically continue to drop as the set is drafted more and more.  I'm not entirely sure when the best time will be to buy but I'm still holding off a little longer myself, but probably not a lot longer. For that reason I'll give the cost of the manabase as listed by in Narling's list.  The major expense in this deck is the fetchlands, which I managed to pick up along my way on this road to Becoming A Modern Man.  Snapcaster Mage is the other major expense for the deck, although he's seen a bit of a drop in price recently and is closer to the 5 tix a piece mark now (which is cheaper than he was when I picked up a playset).

Main Deck
4 x Scalding Tarn= 32.38
4 x Snapcaster Mage= 23.36
4 x Arid Mesa= 16.44
2 x Misty Rainforest= 12.80
3 x Steam Vents= 10.38
2 x Sulfur Falls= 5.80
4 x Goblin Guide= 5.40
4 x Serum Visions= 3.64
2 x Spell Snare= 1.68
2 x Magma Jet= 0.98
2 x Grim Lavamancer= 0.54
4 x Delver of Secrets= 0.36
4 x Lightning Bolt= 0.32
2 x Mana Leak= 0.08
2 x Burst Lightning= 0.04
Total: 114.20 tix

2 x Shattering Spree= 0.50
4 x Spell Pierce= 0.32
2 x Smash to Smithereens= 0.30
1 x Volcanic Fallout= 0.25
2 x Relic of Progenitus= 0.16
2 x Dispel= 0.12
2 x Combust= 0.10
Total: 1.75 tix

Grand total: 115.95 tix


The first matchup I have for you is against a rather interesting URB Delver deck.  In Game 1, my opponent keeps a risky one-land hand and ends up paying the price leading to a concession on Turn 4.  In Game 2, I keep a risky one-land hand of my own but fortunately it pays off a lot better for me.  My opponent has two Delvers but I remove one and the other refused to flip.  Meanwhile, I flipped my Delver and started bringing the pain.  Ultimately I won with just two lands in play which is pretty impressive.  This goes to show that the deck can run on very tight mana.

The second matchup is against a Soul Sisters list.  Needless to say this wasn't a great matchup for me.  Although we do have creatures this deck is essentially a burn deck and so life gain is a big problem.  In Game 1, my opponent seems to be struggling on lands, leading to him using Path to Exile on his own creature to find a second land.  We then kill his other one drops with burn and my opponent concedes.  *I noticed in Game 1, I cracked my fetch after leaving a card on top of my library with Serum Visions which was not clever*

The third and final matchup I have for you is against a UW Restoration Angel deck.  I really apologise for the audio on this, as I mentioned last week I haven't currently got a separate microphone so all my new recordings are being made with the laptop's internal microphone which isn't ideal.

Game 1 is a tough one.  Although I looked at points to have a good grip on the match, mistakes on my part led to my downfall and a sword-wielding Restoration Angel ended up finishing me off.  In Game 2, I drew a lot of burn but sadly didn't figure out the best strategy until it was too late.  I think if I had targeted my burn at his face rather than worrying about my opponent's creatures I might have come out on top.  This is why it's important to think about your strategy during games and figure out your best plan of attack.  I didn't here and paid the price.


UR Delver isn't a deck that you'll see in many major tournaments, instead you'll probably see RUG Delver or URW/American Delver.  The reason these decks splash a third colour is primarily for access to a big finisher threat.  Green gives access to Tarmogoyf and adding White gives access to Geist of Saint Traft.  This big finisher card is really what seems to be lacking in this deck.  There are some potential options, like the Figure of Destiny that Narling was running but I don't think any available options are quite as good as the ones previously mentioned.

UR Delver is an interesting deck but it lacks the long game potential of the RUG and URW variants and I'm not sure its short-term game is realistically better than Red Deck Wins (though counterspells do given you added protection).  Overall, I'm not thoroughly convinced by the deck and would prefer to run one of the more standard variants of the Delver deck, if I can ever afford a playset of Tarmogoyf or Geist of Saint Traft.

Finally, I wanted to show another list for UR Delver which someone posted to me after watching my videos on Youtube.  I haven't had a chance to try it out but it seems pretty solid:

If anyone else has a fun affordable Modern decklist, or something they want to see me give a try, then please leave a comment.

So that's it for this article.  Next time, I intend to take a look at a Mono-White Emeria Control deck!  Until then please go back and check out the previous articles in this series and support the other articles on PureMTGO.com.

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)


Good read! by BlippyTheSlug at Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:33
BlippyTheSlug's picture

Nice! Tarmogoyf (plus Breeding Pool to support it) makes an excellent addition. RUG delver has handed it to me on a platter several times. URW Delver (plain) has been doing rather meh!, but URW(b) w/Gifts-Reanimator sideboard has been tearing up the Delver archetype. (As far as I can tell with the new WotC results posting policy)

Thanks for the info Blippy. by olaw at Mon, 10/29/2012 - 14:44
olaw's picture

Thanks for the info Blippy. I surprised that URW Delver isn't doing as well as RUG Delver as adding White does also give you access to some powerful spells like Path to Exile etc.

The URW(b) Delver sounds interesting. I haven't come across too many of those lists but I'll keep an eye out. Sounds pretty cool.

There's a 3-1 list in this by BlippyTheSlug at Mon, 10/29/2012 - 15:34
BlippyTheSlug's picture

There's a 3-1 list in this event
from Chagsal0t

Thanks for searching that up by olaw at Mon, 10/29/2012 - 16:46
olaw's picture

Thanks for searching that up for me.

Looks like a pretty sweet list. Would love to try it out some time though it looks a little out of my price range at the moment.

I don't think Searing Blaze by Isotope at Mon, 10/29/2012 - 13:25
Isotope's picture

I don't think Searing Blaze is actually countered if the target creature is removed in response. A spell will only be countered if ALL its targets become illegal.

Sorry! I just checked and by olaw at Mon, 10/29/2012 - 14:47
olaw's picture

Sorry! I just checked and you are correct. I wasn't a hundred percent sure on that when I wrote it. I just figured that if you can't play Searing Blaze without a valid creature target then it would be countered without a valid creature target.

Thanks for pointing out this error and thanks for reading!