22 Mar 2013

Delve in to Duskmantle

"I feel no fear. This shall be a momentous night. The Dimir have offered me power at a price. But it is power none the less. 
"Now I shall glimpse unblinking into the void - and draw strength from the suffering of others."  Varzatha, Seer of Duskmantle

Having been out of the Magic scene for a while now I thought I'd spend a bit of time writing for the blog instead of the news. 

I'd wanted to build a Grixis control deck but found that it was too slow to deal with the aggressive decks that were dominating the format at the time.
Sticking with the U/B/R theme I wanted to try something different and looked at resurrecting an old enemy of mine, Delver of Secrets.
Although it runs the flipping human wizard I wouldn't call it a Delver deck as such as it's nowhere near as annoying as the white/blue decks that countered everything you did and was, quite frankly, boring to play with and against.

The new deck taps in to the power of cheap Grixis spells and the potential of a mythic vampire with the aim of disrupting and delaying an opponent while slowly building an advantage. It also has the potential to kill them with their own cards, which always makes things interesting.

Here is what I would be running at FNM:

Lands 22

Watery Grave x 4
Steam Vents x 4
Blood Crypt x 3
Drowned Catacomb x 3
Sulfur Falls x 3
Dragonskull Summit x 2
Nephalia Drownyard x 1
Island x 1
Mountain x 1

Creatures 15

Delver of Secrets x 4
Augur of Bolas x 4
Snapcaster Mage x 3
Duskmantle Seer x 4 

Spells 23

Counterflux x 1
Devour Flesh x 1
Dimir Charm x 4
Dreadbore x 1
Izzet Charm x 2
Mizzium Mortars x 1
Runechanter's Pike x 2
Searing Spear x 4
Syncopate x 3
Think Twice x 4

Normally, I wouldn't run a deck comprising 22 lands; but this deck is different in that it can function reasonably well due to the low mana costs of its spells. The highest costing spell is Duskmantle Seer, which I'll discuss later, then one Counterflux. The rest of the deck is made up of spells of two mana or less.

The deck plays few creatures but they are all quite effective and interact well with the spells that make up the majority of the deck.
Delver of Secrets has already proved to be one of the best one-drops in standard, attacking for three in the air on turn two in most instances, and with lots of instants and sorceries in the deck it's unlucky when a Delver doesn't flip in to an Aberration.
Augur of Bolas provides an early blocker while filtering three cards for a spell to stall and disrupt an opponent. The trick is knowing when to cast him as you may end up sending lands you need to the bottom of your deck.
Snapcaster Mage - enough said. Provides a surprise blocker, reuses spells etc etc etc.
Duskmantle Seer. The grim looking bloodsucking wizard has received mixed opinions since being spoiled and is a card that I think is slightly under-rated. In the current format the seer is hard to kill, avoiding Searing Spear, Ultimate Price and can block Restoration Angels all night long. It's also a 4/4 flyer for four mana and can drain your opponents life total in the upkeep.
Sure it gives them an extra card but with so many creatures at four mana or more seeing lots of play in standard, draining that amount of life is crucial. Even playing Thragtusk to gain back the five life they just lost having revealed it isn't so swagtusk. In addition, you know it's coming up and can react accordingly. 
I know it's an ideal example but let's say it's your upkeep. Both players reveal the top card. You flip a Searing Spear, two life lost, they flip Angel of Serenity, seven life; gone. You then swing for four with the seer and then cast Searing Spear; that's 14 life essentially all through Duskmantle Seer.

As for spells, most are pretty self-explanatory. Counterspells and burn spells disrupt an opponent's plans and work well with Delver, Augur and Snappy.
A card I'd like to highlight is Dimir Charm. In this deck the charm that is dangerous to recognise and deadly not to plays a key role in the machinations. It acts as a removal spell that can kill most creatures in the format, from the humble Avacyn's Pilgrim to the hasty Ash Zealot. While the second mode isn't that handy, as Supreme Verdict can't be countered, there are still viable options for disruption, Farseek, Dreadbore, Pillar of Flame, Unburial Rites and Bonfire of the Damned to name but a few.
But it's the third mode that is the charm which shines from the depths of the Dimir shadows.
Take a look at the top three cards of your deck to find the card you need, either to remove a creature from the board or to a flip a Delver. Remember you can cast it during your upkeep after the Delver trigger to put an instant or sorcery on top. You can also target your opponent's library with a Duskmantle Seer so they lose the maximum amount of life possible, again this can be done in your upkeep.

Without having a metagame to sample, the sideboard is a little under tested and thrown together like a Hungarian horse/beef burger.
Currently it's made up of:

Izzet Staticaster x 2
Appetite for Brains x 3
Devour Flesh x 1
Dreadbore x 1
Mizzium Mortars x 1
Rakdos's Return x 1
Negate x 2
Skullcrack x 2
Counterflux x 1
Slaughter Games x 1

I'd like to say the deck performs nicely but I'd be damn-right lying if I did, due to a lack of testing in my new surroundings. I miss being able to test decks at the Gambit FNMs but hopefully I'll able to keep playing at pre-releases and find somewhere to play casually. 

So concludes this Magic musing. Happy brewing and I'll Seer (See yer) at the Dragon's Maze pre-release.

John, Runechanter's Herring (Pikes are over-rated, sorry Mike)

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