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By: jay85, Jay Nelson
Jul 01 2015 11:00am
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 Legacy is tough. It's an unforgiving format where one tiny misplay will shatter your dreams of winning a match. I've made some pretty horrible misplays in Modern before and still managed to recover and pull out a win. This rarely, if at all, ever happens to me in Legacy, at least that's what it always feels like. I'll watch as my opponent starts pulling ahead and I'm sitting there thinking, Why did I pitch Brainstorm to FoW there? Or I'll be cursing myself, He's playing Delver and I didn't even try to play around DazeAnd that's how most matches go. You make a mistake and your clever opponent takes advantage of it. But I love Legacy because when you're victorious it feels like you got there through skill and smarts. Legacy is chess. You need to plan ahead, you need to be precise with everything you do, and it is oh, so gratifying when you win!


 The main goal with this kind of deck is like all other tempo oriented decks. Land a Delver of Secrets or Tarmogoyf early and then protect them with Daze and Force of Will, all the while disrupting your opponent with things like Wasteland and Hymn to Tourach.

 I find BUG Delver fairly easy to pilot and the most difficult thing I think is the manabase. Four of the cards require two black which means you'll want Underground Sea and Bayou, but the problem is there's only a single copy of Bayou in the deck. But I believe it is still correct to run Tropical Island as a two-of over the Swamp/Forest. I say this because being able to sculpt your hand beginning on turn one with Ponder or Brainstorm is so much more important than being able to cast Hymn to Tourach by turn two.

 Another problem with the mana is we don't have any basics. Other Wasteland decks can cripple us and we don't have a good way of playing around it, either. And then there's Burn decks with Price of Progress, though I've found it's a tad easier to play around that spell since we can always Wasteland our own lands and thus significantly reduce the damage we get dealt by the Price. I've actually won a match doing just that, using a couple Wastelands to destroy two of my own lands, thus preventing a whopping eight damage!

 But other than the sometimes awkward manabase, I think this deck is great. We're playing with the best creatures here. All are great at giving opponents a beatdown and two even draw us extra cards for those grindy Miracle and other control match ups. 


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 photo Delver of Secrets_zpsgarhbdxc.png Deathrite Shaman Tarmogoyf

 Delver of Secrets is usually my go-to creature when it comes to the eternal formats. I enjoy playing tempo decks, and when it comes to tempo, Delver is the cream of the crop. For one mana we get a 3/2 flyer on turn two. What other creature can you think of that reigns supreme in so many different formats? 

 I've heard many people call Deathrite Shaman a mini planeswalker, and when you get to play with him you'll learn soon enough why people call him that. Deathrite Shaman can ramp you into Liliana of the Veil on turn two (which, by the way, is one of the main reasons why he was banned in Modern in the first place), he can force opponents to lose two life if you're racing, and he can even gain you life against aggro archetypes like Grixis Delver and Burn.

 With Thoughtseize, Hymn to Tourach, and Liliana of the Veil, it's not very difficult to make Tarmogoyf at least a 6/7 in most games. Tasigur, the Golden Fang may be trying to dethrone the 'goyf, but in my opinion Tarmogoyf is still the King Kong of creatures.


Dark Confidant Brainstorm Ponder

 These are the cantrips and card draw for the deck. Dark Confidant works well with the cantrips since we can attempt to set up our next draws so we either take no damage or at least very little damage from the Confidant's ability. Using Dark Confidant does have its risk since you could potentially lose because of him, but the reward for including him far outweighs that risk. He is also the reason why we're using just three Force of Will main. Taking five damage off a revealed FoW is painful, but like I said, Dark Confidant will reward you more times than not, so just play smart with him and he'll treat you well.

 Brainstorm is...well, it's awesome. It may surprise some people when I say Brainstorm requires more skill than people sometimes give it credit for. I've lost track of how many times I've screwed up with this spell. Once you get the hang of it, though, it becomes one of the most powerful cards in your arsenal. Some tricks I've picked up along the way include:

  • Putting extra lands or dead cards on top of my library, then cracking a fetch to shuffle them away
  • Casting it in response to a Thoughtseize or Cabal Therapy in order to "hide" cards I don't want to discard
  • Casting it on my upkeep in order to flip Delver of Secrets
  • Setting up my draws so I don't take damage from Dark Confidant

 Brainstorm is really what makes Legacy the format that it is. I've read that some people want to see it banned and that's just absurd. It's a fun, skill intensive spell that's only as good as the player who's casting it. 

 The last cantrip is Ponder, which is basically a worse Brainstorm, but that doesn't mean it's a bad card. It's sorcery speed, so you won't be able to pull off some of the tricks I just listed with Brainstorm, but it does allow you to shuffle your library without the aid of a fetchland. If the top three cards are duds then Ponder allows you the chance to shuffle and draw into something good. I'm surprised how many times I've seen opponents not shuffle their library with it. I've won some games when they didn't shuffle earlier and I can't help but wonder what card was so important they had to keep it on top. It certainly wasn't a card that stopped me from winning.


Thoughtseize Hymn to Tourach Liliana of the Veil 

 These are why BUG Delver doesn't play nicely with others, and it's how we gain card advantage and fight against control and combo. We aren't overloaded with counter spells. No, this deck takes the more proactive route. Thoughtseize forces them to discard a combo piece or a removal spell so our Delver of Secrets or Tarmogoyf can cross home plate. Thoughtseize is another card that takes some skill in order to use effectively. Sometimes the choice is not clear and you'll have to rely on your knowledge of the opponent's deck to know what card is worth making them discard.

 Hymn to Tourach can be hit or miss, but in a format like this one, card advantage is very important. Just making your opponent discard two spells, no matter what they are, means they may not have a win-con anymore, or they may have lost something they were saving to pitch to Force of Will. When they discard a cantrip it becomes much more difficult for them to recover from the Hymn. I don't really care what two random cards are discarded, but probably my greatest achievement using Hymn to Tourach was when my opponent resolved Stoneforge Mystic and searched up Batterskull, then he had to discard it on my turn, all thanks to Hymn to Tourach.

 Liliana of the Veil can keep the pressure on control decks with her +1 ability, and she is our only out in removing True-Name Nemesis from the battlefield in game one. I've found that she gets sideboarded out in a lot of matches because of how prevalent Young Pyromancer is in Legacy, which is mainly why I've opted to only include one in the deck. Some of these BUG decks like having two Liliana's but I'm usually content with just the single copy.


Spell Pierce Daze Force of Will

 Spell Pierce and Daze are the perfect counter spells for a tempo deck. We're not looking to stop our opponents entirely, which is why we aren't using hard counters like (Counter Spell). The goal is to put him or her just far enough behind that they can't recover and stabilize before they die. Daze is excellent in doing this and when you're on the play with an opening hand of Delver of Secrets, Daze, and at least one fetch or an Island, your chances of winning the game is pretty high. A turn one Delver with Daze as backup is a safe place to be in. Team this up with a Wasteland and that Insectile Aberration could easily go all the way.

 I don't necessarily think adding the fourth Force of Will into the main would be wrong. In fact, I've seen a lot of BUG Delver lists do just that and they're still running two Dark Confidants; I don't, but that could change some time down the road. There is the fourth copy of Force of Will in the sideboard and I do bring it in quite a bit. Not in every match up, but a lot. Of course, there are times where I take the FoWs out and replace them with all my removal. The thing about Force is its straight card disadvantage, two-for-oneing yourself to counter just one spell. When I first starting playing Legacy I was Forcing just about everything my opponent cast. I've learned this was a terrible idea and I'm now resisting the urge and trying to save them for the truly problematic spells. Sensei's Divining Top on turn one deserves to be Forced and I can't ever see myself letting Show and Tell resolve if I can help it. But what about Stoneforge Mystic? Well, we have Disfigure, Abrupt Decay, and Liliana of the Veil, so it definitely isn't the end of the world if she resolves. You see, this is the hardest part about FoW, knowing exactly what needs countering and what you can let slip by. Sometimes it's a no-brainer, other times it all depends on the board state and the information you've been able to glean leading up to that point in the game.


Disfigure Abrupt Decay

 Disfigure is our Lightning Bolt. Yeah, it's strictly worse than Bolt but it still has just as many targets, minus our opponent's face. Some of the best, most widely used creatures in Legacy all die to Disfigure, which is why we have two more in the side to bring in.

 In a format where Blue is so dominant, having a removal spell that can't be countered is...well, it's good. Very good. We have the playset of Abrupt Decay in here and we depend on this spell so much it's not even funny. It cannot destroy everything you will face but if you get creative enough then a lot of times you can find a way to make it work. You may need to wait for her to crack a fetch before using Abrupt Decay on her Sensei's Divining Top, but this strategy will get rid of the Top nonetheless. Decay won't destroy Batterskull but it will destroy the Germ token, which thankfully can set your opponent far enough back that you can swing for lethal. Abrupt Decay is also your best answer to Chalice of the Void set on two since it can't be countered by the Chalice. As long as you can spot that certain angle where it will work, Abrupt Decay is a very versatile card. 


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Marsh Casualties Maelstrom Pulse Golgari Charm

 If you can't tell, I'm terrified of the Grixis Pyromancer deck. We have three spells here that ultimately do the same thing, which is wrath the board of 2/1s and 1/1s (and the occasional 3/1 True-Name Nemesis). The important part, and really the key here, is running cards that do the same thing but have different names. The reason for this is to give us some protection against Cabal Therapy. We don't want to run too many multiples of the same cards or else we just make Cabal Therapy better for our opponent.

 I've included Maelstrom Pulse to not only fight against an army of tokens but also because we don't have a way to deal with big creatures, especially Tasigur, the Golden Fang. I see some lists use Murderous Cut and I disagree with that only because I would hate to reveal it with Dark Confidant, so I went with Maelstrom Pulse as my hard removal spell of choice.


Flusterstorm Arcane Laboratory Vendilion Clique 

 BUG Delver loves to prey on combo decks. With main deck Thoughtseize, Hymn to Tourach, and Liliana of the Veil to keep their hands empty, we can outrace just about all the combos floating around in this format. But it gets even better post-sideboard. 

 Flusterstorm is the absolute hoser against Tendrils of Agony, being able to counter every single copy it makes. It's a nice feeling watching your opponent spend so much time ticking up there storm count just to have it all be for nothing.

 Arcane Laboratory will also shut down Storm decks. I've found myself bringing Arcane Laboratory in against Burn, as well, but I'm not sure if that is correct. My line of thinking there is trying to slow them down so they can't chain together a bunch of burn spells in one turn. It also makes Monastery Swiftspear worse. I want to say this is the correct thing to do, bringing in the Laboratory, but I just haven't done enough testing yet to say without a doubt you should always do this. Another thing worth pointing out is Arcane Laboratory will slow down Omni-Tell. It won't stop them, but it gives us a better chance of racing them before and after they assemble their Show and Tell + Omniscience combo. To watch this in action the Round 4 video below is against Omni-Tell. I won't spoil it by saying whether I won or lost that match, but either way, it is a cool match to watch, if I do say so myself.

 Vendilion Clique does two things against combo. First, the Faerie can get a combo piece out of their hand. Second, it applies some much needed pressure so you can effectively race them.


Grafdigger's Cage Pithing Needle Sylvan Library

 The sideboard is rounded out with Cage, Needle, and Library. Grafdigger's Cage is for the occasional Reanimator and Dredge. I don't bring it in against Snapcaster Mage. I don't think it's worth it. The other two cards are mainly for Miracles. Sylvan Library enables us to stay ahead through card advantage and manipulating our top two cards. It's perfect for grindy matches and is hard to destroy once it resolves. Why it's so good against Miracles is because Terminus can't get rid of it like it can Dark Confidant. The Library keeps the gas flowing.

 Pithing Needle is great against Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Sensei's Divining Top, but it can also be brought in against a Dack Fayden or Stoneforge Mystic, too. Some people opt for one Pithing Needle and one Null Rod, or one Krosan Grip to fight the Top, but I like having just two Needles instead.


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 photo Round One_zpski6fjm2n.png

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 I want to start off by saying that I don't record these replays right after the daily. After the event is over it's late at night and so I usually don't find the time to sit down and record the videos until later in the week. Sometimes it's two days later, other times it could be a week before I get the time. This is the problem with not recording live. I sometimes forget what I was doing in the middle of a game and so I sound like I don't know what the heck I'm doing, but that's just because I have simply forgot what I was thinking or what my plan was in the middle of the games. Not playing the Delver of Secrets may have been a misplay, or maybe I was worried I wasn't going to have a blue card to pitch to Force of Will so I kept it in hand in case I drew one. I can't remember, so from now on I'll try harder to record these sooner so all the matches stay fresh in my mind and I can be more informative on my plays and what my thought process was during the games.

 So yeah, this is BUG Delver in action. I just love that last round against Omni-Tell. I think it's a good showing on how the deck can beat combos, and that's one of the biggest draws for me to even want to play BUG Delver in the first place. I could not be happier if each match I play I go up against unfair decks. They're the kinds of matches this deck thrives on.

 I'm not too sure how many Legacy articles I'm going to write so if you enjoyed this break from the usual Modern please let me know. I have some article ideas and other decks I wouldn't mind trying out in this format.

 The biggest reason for me to write this article in the first place is because I've noticed there isn't a lot of Legacy content out there. The articles and videos I've found are all old so I thought maybe people would like something new to read and watch. Or not, I don't know. I enjoy the format and I hope some people will get a kick out of it and are hungry for more Legacy articles.

 Anyways, enough of me writing. I'm going to go play some Magic. Until next time, thanks for taking the time to read my article!



God I love that deck. I miss by Joe Fiorini at Wed, 07/01/2015 - 15:39
Joe Fiorini's picture

God I love that deck. I miss it a lot. Legacy is awesome, I should start playing it again like yesterday. :)

I never even played in a single Legacy Daily, although I think that now I could probably find time for one or two a week if I play the right time slot.

When I was playing Team America, I'd beat some decks like Sneak and Show, Reanimator, or ANT most of the time. So much so that I always thought that Reanimator wouldn't be any good. Once I actually played those decks for myself, I realized that they indeed are awesome and powerful.
I like your build. Stifle versions are good too, but they require a slightly different philosophy while piloting them. Team America is considered to be a tap-out tempo deck (although "tempo" is a somewhat elusive and hard-to-define term), and tapping out to play bombs is at odds with the fact that mana needs to be left up for Stifle or Spell Pierce.

The Hymn versions typically ran all or mostly mana-free counters like Daze and Force of Will so that they could maintain some control while tapping out for Liliana's, Hymns and the like.

Sweet deck, I always like your articles. EsPECIALLY the Legacy/Vintage stuff you talk about.

Thanks, Joe. I can't really by jay85 at Wed, 07/01/2015 - 20:13
jay85's picture

Thanks, Joe. I can't really take credit for this particular build, though. It's a pretty standard BUG Delver list. All I did was replace the second Liliana for a third Hymn (mostly because I only own one Liliana). The sideboard is a mixture of many sideboards, taking certain cards I liked from other decks until I got to 15. And yes, I agree, Legacy is awesome. I'll have more Legacy articles in the future, for sure!