Peering Into Pauper: Dissecting Delver

My last article on the color fixing available Pauper was one of my most popular in a while, and it drew a fair amount of comments. One of the comments I got most often on both the site and on Twitter was that in the opening few paragraphs I mentioned Delver of Secrets and then completely neglected to mention the Mono Blue Tempo deck featuring the card that was rising in popularity at the time. At the time I didn’t think anything of leaving the deck out of the article since it was just another mono-colored aggressive tempo list that helped prove the point that most decks of that style are only one color in Pauper. The response about the deck though was great enough that I decided to share the Delver list @setzkin and I have been playing recently. Without further ado:

The maindeck we played isn’t too much different than the typical Delver deck with a few notable exceptions. Probably the biggest departure from the common builds of the deck is our inclusion of Accumulated Knowledge. Many lists are playing some number of Think Twices, so we decided to try AK instead. The reasoning there is that three mana to flashback can be a heavy burden at times for the deck and that Accumulated Knowledge gives the deck a better late game after a few have been cast.

One of the other odd inclusions in our list is the full set of Ninja of the Deep Hours. Some lists play a few Ninjas, other eschew them completely. In our list, we felt that the Snaps included in the maindeck, along with the bevy of draw spells, meant that Ninjas could get through pretty frequently. Additionally, re-buying Spellstutter Sprites with Ninjas or Snaps is very useful, and we felt that the interaction was strong enough to warrant the full set of Ninjas.

The sideboard was rather loose, but it included hate designed to be brought in against the Infect deck, as well as additional counters that can be used against controlling or combo decks, and finally, Hydroblast for the red decks like Goblins and Burn. We didn’t play any Affinity decks during our recorded testing session, but because of their presence in the metagame, the last card I would strongly recommend for the sideboard is Steel Sabotage.

Now we’ll get to a few recorded games, with apologies for the mediocre quality in a few of them due to technical difficulties.

Delver Exhibition Match 1

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Delver Exhibition Match 2

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Delver Exhibition Match 3

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Conclusion and Changes

In addition to the above videos, we also played several other games, including a pair of narrow losses against Infect and Goblins, and a win against MBC. We lost to a Turn 2 nut-draw kill from Infect against our mulligan, and a pretty terrible misplay/misclick against Goblins involving clicking OK one too many times and failing to Daze a crucial creature in Game 3.

Overall, I was fairly happy with the deck, though I’m not sure it’s really as incredible as the results dictate. I think deck is solid, in the same way that a deck like Landstill is decent in Vintage right now. The deck puts up results when people play it, but the deck isn’t doing anything inherently powerful and doesn’t have any incredibly good matchups. On the other hand though, the deck is very good at rewarding pilots who make good plays and has the tools available to win just about any match with tight play and decent draws.

As for our list, I think I’d probably cut a Ninja for a land, since we had to mulligan a little more than I’d like and there were very few times we wanted more than one in a game. The jury is still out for me on Accumulated Knowledge. In more than one game, it was basically a two mana cantrip, and would have been better as Think Twice. The games where it worked though, nothing else in the slot would have been nearly as effective, so more testing is probably needed to determine if it’s worth the risk of being worse than Think Twice. Right now I’m leaning towards thinking Think Twice will be better more often, but I’m not positive. The sideboard was surprisingly fine, and for now I’d be happy to run it again. If anyone has any suggestions for the list or sideboard, feel free to leave comments or hit us up on Twitter.

  • Grant Champion
  • Pitlord on MTGO
  • @Grant_champion on Twitter
  • With thanks to @setzkin on Twitter and thelastgnu on MTGO
  1. Hello,

    Glad to see you running this deck, this is what I have been running for a few months now. My thoughts:

    First off I run more land, but also think I run too much, but this includes 2 quicksand. I’m still in the air about quicksand. Good against affinity frogmites and kills almost all of MBC creatures. Between ninja and faeries the colorless doesn’t seem to hurt but the verdict is still out. Plus good vs ninja in mirror.

    I haven’t run accumulated knowledge, and also don’t run think twice. Card advantage is key so I have played around with a few cards.

    Exclude, a bit expensive, but yes running more land. Great against the few decks with ulamogs crusher and other big finishers. It’s a bit clunky but great when it hits.

    Mulldrifter. This is kinda of a stretch, again expensive but im running more land. Honestly overall it has probably been a hindrance but it has definitely won me some games that I didn’t deserve to win. Card advantage plus 2 power in the air, and in situations you can always divination it. I started with two cut to one and should probably remove it but its fun testing.

    On the sideboard notes I think there is a few must changes. Echoing truth has to be included imo. One in the main and 3 in the side Storm is very powerful and it gives you an out to empty the warrens. I know they are playing solitare but if they combo off for 24 goblins and you use that you win they have no cards in hand.

    Sea sprite or weatherseed faeries. Also a must imo get one down and it really slows down goblins well. They have no removal for it and you can block any creature plus kill some. It is also good against affinity and cloudpost because there only removal for creatures on board seems to be red from my experience. I’ve been using weatherseed for the 2 power. I think 2-3 is good to board in vs. these decks

    One card I have obviously seen is Spire golem, but I haven’t tried it. A nice big body but what do you take out for it?

    Love the deck and it can really reward good plays. There is a lot to think about. I often have to choose on turn 2 if I should upkeep brainstorm to flip delver or get faeries out and leave up counters etc.

  2. I quite like the deck, but I personally prefer Delver in more of a control shell and splashing black and/or red.

    A few comments:

    Don’t counter Firebolt. Just don’t.
    Why did he play Rolling Thunder for three into a revealed Daze?

    MB opponent keeping a one-lander after being mana screwed G1 is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. How bad are people in this format?

    Terrible play on the “forgotten” Daze, but you were well aware of this and everyone makes mistakes.

    Also, you really need to work on getting better sound.

  3. M2G2:

    2x Islands, Cloud and 2x Spellstutter in play. You attack and ninja with a land and intervene in hand. Simply playing the land first allows you to stop a Snuff Out on your ninja. He didn’t have one there but there’s 0 reason to wait on dropping the land when you’ve got 7 cards in hand.


    Letting Sparksmith resolve loses you the game. He may not deal 20 until later but there is no way to win with your list if he has a Sparksmith on the board. After sideboarding it’s different because you’ll have hydroblasts but in game 1 a resolved Sparksmith will completely stop you from winning the game (assuming he doesn’t attack into you flashing a Spellstutter into play).


    On the fist turn you keeping the ninja was right but you need to keep the island with it. That way you can get to 3 mana which is enough to ninja and have a counter up or to have 2 counters in one turn. Preserving a 2/2 until it can at least trade with one of his 2/2s is important. A ninja that gets through once and trades is great and can be even better if he doesn’t happen to play a 2/2. All game long you were in need of a 3rd land to be able to make active and reactive plays.


    You say the deck doesn’t have any incredibly good matchups but it actually does: MBC and UR post – both of which you destroyed even making a few minor misplays.

    Affinity is a bad matchup and goblins can be a bad matchup depending on the exact build of the delver deck.

    Curfew and curse of chains don’t belong in the same sideboard. When are you siding in curfew? Against removal heavy decks that have creatures that don’t have citp effects – that way you tempo him and blank removal (or tempo him and return a spellstutter or remove his blocker and return a ninja, etc.). When are you siding in chains? When you’re forced to be the control and you have to deal with their aggro creatures. If you ever side in both (and they are both good vs goblins) you’ve added a nombo to your deck – he can now return the creature you’ve “removed” with curse.

  4. how do you feel about intervene vs turn aside?
    good videos, bad quality, keep doing these.

  5. Video sounds like you’re living on a train station. It’s not that hard to make videos with good sound.

  6. Wow, thanks everyone for giving this much feedback already. I’ll hopefully be investing in a better mic soon if I keep doing videos, sorry for the quality of these.
    @Vanwilder – Some fo the changes you sugegst would be much to difficult to implement with so few lands, but if i ever added more lands I’d be sure to look into other options. The only card that I admitedly forgot was E. Truth, though I often prefer the method of countering their spells as they go off to attempting to remove the goblins after the fact, hence the Dispels and Hydroblasts.
    @Wyrath – Yeah, we had quite a few people misplay pretty badly against us, the Daze play in the first match being the most puzzling. Controlling Delver builds might be something to explore in a future article. :)
    @newplan – Thanks for pointing out some of the more subtle misplays. The Sparksmith debate was pretty heated between us and I still tend to agree that countering him is generally the best course of action in general and probably there. As for the sideboard choices it isn’t very often that I would want both Curfew and Curse. Curfew is generally best against Infect since it doesn’t target and can be used after they cast a few pump spells. Curse is generally against the other aggressive decks with larger creatures where Curfew wouldn’t be as good. Both being useful against Goblins though is a good point, and E. Truth might be getting the nod in some of those slots soon. As for not having bad/good match-ups, I simply meant that it doesn’t have any stupidly lopsided match-ups either way, not that there aren’t decks that have a slight edge either way. Our opponents misplayed pretty badly the first two matches, and the deck is excellent at taking advantage of the poor play of others.
    @Cock Horse – Sorry about the quality, hopefully getting a new mic soon. Intervene vs. Turn Aside is close, but I think it will be more common that you want to counter a pump spell from Infect than a spell targeting one of your lands.
    @apaulogy – I’m glad someone made that pun, even if it wasn’t me :)

  7. I´m amazed how people still write articles about this deck. or how they even take their time to think while playing this deck. I built it, won almost every single match and noticed how retarded it is and why everyone seems to run it. I keep finding articles about it and I think we´ve reached a point were the only one entitled to write something about it, is it´s creator. It will be fun to see the island-delver-concede sequence more often. This deck will die out of sheer boredom of the players who run it. And pauper will become what it used to be. A healthy varied format not ruled by 2 decks, where there was a space for creativity and an article was not written about 4 changes to a deck that´s been there for months, but about a new deck or a new idea to develop further. My english is bad, I know.