A weekend of Standard tournaments has passed. Through GP Madrid, GP Denver, and the SCG Invitational in Atlanta, a winner has emerged: R/G/x Marvel, paired with blue, white, or just plain R/G.
My deck choice for GP Madrid was B/G Delirium, a choice that I called suboptimal just weeks prior. I was testing with Ondrej Strasky and a couple of local friends, and I was content with my choice from my online testing.
At the GP, I played against way more Marvel than I did online, and it turned out that our matchup versus U/W was worse than what I thought it was. I was undefeated against U/W online, whereas I went 4-3 against it in Madrid. Playing 7 times against the same archetype is a huge deal, and the fact that two of my Italian friends ended up Top 4’ing with R/G Marvel means that the matchup between U/W and Marvel is not as favorable for U/W as we thought.
Carmine D’Aniello ended up winning the whole thing with a stock R/G Marvel list that is designed to beat up on B/G Delirium. In fact, his 2 win-and-ins were against Strasky and Pierre Dagen, both playing B/G. On top of that, I played against it 3 times and managed to win just one game.
I’m not sure where the metagame will go after this weekend or if it will change before Aether Revolt and PT Dublin. Until then, I discourage you from playing B/G Delirium, but if things change, like a resurgence of aggressive strategies and decks full of countermagic, then B/G Delirium will be a great choice.
This was the deck that Ondrej Strasky and I played at the GP. Ondrej managed to Top 16, whereas I was overwhelmed by Gideons and Marvels.
The deck list is very stock—this archetype is well known at this point in Standard, but there were a couple of decisions that Ondrej and I debated:
I really wanted to play 24 lands. This deck has so many mana sinks that you never really flood, and I’d rather hit my land drop than play Pilgrim’s Eye to search for it. So we cut the Thopter for a land.
Vessel of Nascency vs. Grapple from the Past
For a long time we played 3 and 3, but began to notice that Grapple was much worse and tended to be sided out, whereas Vessel is nearly uncuttable. Vessel guarantees that you hit delirium, which is important for Ishkanah and Mindwrack Demon.
2 Transgress the Mind
Transgress the Mind is a card that you want for U/W and Marvel, and you don’t mind drawing it against B/G Delirium. Those are the top 3 decks in the format, so you definitely want these in the main deck.
Even if Marvel was the scariest deck to play against, we didn’t like Lost Legacy. It was situational and didn’t solve the Ulamog problem. Sometimes you just lose to Marvel hitting multiple threats, making it impossible to answer them all.
Pick the Brain, on the other hand, was at least a 1-for-1 that could also let you win the game on the spot.
Ob Nixilis has been an insane card against Marvel and Delirium. At some point we were playing 3 copies, but then settled on 2.
Even if you board in 10 cards the matchup is heavily unfavorable, and there’s not much you can do. A quick Grim Flayer/Tireless Tracker followed by some discard spells is the way to beat them, though they are equipped to beat this plan with removal. It’s wrong for them to board out Harnessed Lightning, as some writers advise, since it’s the only way they can lose.
I’m not a fan of the second Emrakul, though some games go long, and having access to the second one might be a winning line.
I’m also not a fan of Liliana, the Last Hope, she doesn’t do much, and you might never find a good turn to play her since you have to respect the opponent and play a discard spell instead. Strasky was very high on Liliana and didn’t want to cut any—he wanted to cut Grasp of Darkness instead, which is important to deal with Tireless Tracker out of the board.
This matchup is all about Gideon. If they don’t resolve one, it’s very hard for them to win. If they do and you don’t have a clean answer, it’s game over 90% of the time. Unfortunately, sometimes To the Slaughter isn’t a clean answer, which came up a number of times.
Be careful of Revolutionary Rebuff and try to play around it as much as possible.
On the Play
On the Draw
Paulo Vitor already wrote an extensive article about the mirror match, and it really says everything you need to know.
The difference between being on the play and on the draw is due to the fact that, on the draw, you have to react to their Grim Flayer with a removal spell right away, and that mostly everyone boards out all of their copies of Grim Flayer on the draw, so you won’t need your Grasp of Darkness on the play.
Discard spells aren’t as good as you might think, since the matchup is often very tempo-oriented post-sideboard, and those tempo losses can be lethal.
R/W, Mardu, R/B Aggro
In this matchup I board differently from Ondrej, who likes to board out all Vessels and keep the Grapples. I think hitting delirium is crucial since you rely so much on Ishkanah, Grafwidow to stabilize. Hitting delirium normally by casting removal and trading creatures and planeswalkers is also a possibility, but it’s less likely.
I also like to keep 1 Tireless Tracker and 1 Emrakul, the Promised End because once you’ve stalled the board, you need a way to win the game, or they will slowly overwhelm you with card advantage and you can’t keep up.
B/G Delirium is not the deck to play at this moment and was definitely not the deck to play last weekend. I learned that lesson the hard way, and I’ll be waiting for some new cards or some metagame shifts to bring Grim Flayer back!