Saturday, October 25, 2014

To Delve or Not To Delve

Of all the mechanics in Khans of Tarkir, it appears that Delve is making the biggest splash in just about every format. While Treasure Cruise is taking up most of the headlines, all of the Delve cards at Common are playable in Standard Pauper, and thus it's important to think about how best to utilize them.

Early on, I saw several decklists that were running cards like Necromancer's Assistant or Satyr Wayfinder to quickly dump a bunch of cards into the Graveyard to enable casting these Delve spells as quickly as possible. The problem with this strategy is that these cards tend to not be very good, and thus are generally only good for filling the Graveyard quickly. And if your opponent responds by countering or removing that early Delve creature, you've invested a lot of time and resources into something that your opponent was able to answer with only a single card.  Even a simple bounce spell is good enough in these scenarios, since you will rarely be able to recast the creature until several rounds later.

(BTW - this is why Treasure Cruise is easily the best of the Delve cards. Assuming your opponent doesn't counter it, you get an immediate payout for your investment).

A far better way to get maximum value out of Delve is to instead play a bunch of cheap but effective spells that quickly fill up your Graveyard while still having a solid impact on the virtual battlefield. Removal and combat tricks obviously shine in this role, but card draw also works well in this role.

Additionally, all other things being equal, don't just burn through all the cards in your Graveyard at the first opportunity. Wait until you can pay for most of the cost using mana, and utilize Delve only to shave off a few colorless from the cost. Not only does this help mitigate against the effects of having the creature immediately removed; it also saves resources for the next Delve spell as well.

Most of the time, it probably pays to be patient. Sure, you'll win some memorable games where you drop a Turn 4 Hooting Mandrills and your opponent never draws an answer. But more often than not, a good opponent will be able to punish you for such recklessness.

If you've had some experience with Delve in Standard Pauper, let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. I'm in love with Treasure Cruise being a common. Already building a UR Tempo scratch to use it like in modern/legacy.

    10 island
    6 mountain
    4 swiftwater cliffs

    4 vaporkin
    4 jeskai windscout
    4 welkin tarn

    4 lightning bolt
    4 magma spray
    4 nullify
    4 negate
    4 singing bell strike
    4 voyage's end
    4 treasure cruise