Fighting Delver, are they doing it right?

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They've said it many times, and its obvious enough they didn't even have to, that R&D is trying to downplay the aggro/tempo deck called UW delver that is dominating this standard environment for some time.

Do you think they are doing it right? I think they're doing a poor job.

Allow me to elaborate.

These are the cards that they've printed trying to combat delver: Cavern of Souls, Wolfir Silverheart, Thragtusk, War Falcon and Ground Seal. (I might have missed some, I'll add once I remember them/someone points them out.)

I think neither of those cards have been very successful, and most of them have done more harm than good.

First, let's categorize them.

1) cheap cards that fight specific cards in the delver deck: War Falcon and Ground Seal (delver and snapcaster, respectively.)
2) cards that fight counterspells and the more controllish elements of delver, like Cavern
3) cards that are severely over the curve and undercosted and are difficult to beat, like silverheart and thragtusk.

As far as 1 goes, those are not maindeckable since they are quite useless against non delver decks and just not impactful enough to take up precious sideboard slots.

Cards like 2 completely miss the point, because as we've seen delver decks can and do function extremely well without a single counterspell in their lists.

As for the last category, they've failed because; Silverheart is 5 mana and weak to Vapor Snag, and Thragtusk is 5 mana and usually not enough to save you.

We see them keep printing delver hate cards, like the new Dryad Militant and a nauseating amount of uncounterable stuff, but to me it looks like as if they still don't know why Delver is so good. I got my hopes up when they didn't ban anything when the last banned list was announced, but their new designs contradicts that.

Delver is good because there are so many ways it gets ahead of the opponent. From a blind flipped delver, to Geist into an empty board, to flashing back vapor Snag with snapcaster, to Blinking Geist midcombat or Snapcaster with Restoration Angel, to Talrand, to Runechanter's Pike and a graveyard filled with cantrips, to mana leaking a titan, to the inevitability of Moorland Haunt... delver decks can attack and make comebacks from so many angles you can't contain it with a couple of hate card.

I think R&D is trying to just overpower delver, thinking that if enough tools that are good against its card are in the pool, eventually it will find too much hate in too many decks and fall from grace.

This attitude has several problems, which I think are:

1) It is not working: Delver has just adapted, and in some cases ignored (cavern) the hate that's been thrown at it.

2) It's targeting the wrong things: Mana Leak is a good card, and it can be devastating when flashbacked with snapcaster, but it's far from a vital point to the deck. Many delver decks dont run the full set, and almost all board them out for better cards for games 2 and 3. Yet so many cards and design are spent to combat counters.

3) It's ruining other things: Because of delver itself, control decks have been in a rough spot in this standard format. Now because of the tools that are created to fight delver, some of them are completely unplayable. Draw-go has no chance and even semi-control decks like tap-out solar flare are not well positioned. Creatures are just too resilient, too untargetable, too uncounterable and too fast these days. No longer you can clear the board with a Day of Judgment to stabilize, because that's only going to get you killed faster. No longer you can take a couple of hits from 2 or 3 drops before you have to deal with them, as they are stupidly strong now. With so many "dont answer this and you're dead next turn" cards like Wolfir, Hero of Bladehold and co. around just failing to answer one threat usually results in the loss for the control players.

Another thing that is more personal is the splash damage of some of this recent cards. Some of my more casual decks just autolose to these delver answers (which have failed to answer delver). How is my Burning Vengeance deck going to win against a Wolfir Silverheart? What chances does my counter-mill deck have against Cavern of Souls?

What worries me is not only the fact that they're not fighting delver the correct way and hurting many other things in doing so, but that they are even giving delver decks more tools. Like Azorius Charm.

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192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
I don't know a lot about actual Standard or Delver decks, but I can say that Wizards definitely tests their formats and ends up with different decks. Maybe the answers they printed were good in their format, and some cards that didn't go as well there started to dominate in the real world.

I don't think Cavern of Souls was a good idea at all. And I don't think Ground Seal, Thragtusk or War Falcon are making any difference. But that's easy to say because we've seen how it doesn't work, but predicting a format is a million times harder than just seeing it.

What I think they need to do is pay more attention to things that could slip through and become stronger than what they think. By that, I mean: "No matter how unreliable it seems at first glance, pay attention to a blue one-drop with high power (and flying!)", "Try to think the worst situation against a hexproof three-drop that attacks for three, and think how often that can happen", etc.

I can agree that Snapcaster Mage was a kinda mistake, but they wanted to push it, and they knew it was going to be strong, and that's okay. But if you are already doing that, and you already have Vapor Snag and Mana Leak, don't start pushing more random blue cards. Yes, Geist of Saint Traft is a cool card and it will be liked for a long time, but they could have played it cool here, for example.
I can agree that Snapcaster Mage was a kinda mistake, but they wanted to push it, and they knew it was going to be strong, and that's okay. But if you are already doing that, and you already have Vapor Snag and Mana Leak, don't start pushing more random blue cards. Yes, Geist of Saint Traft is a cool card and it will be liked for a long time, but they could have played it cool here, for example.



Snapcaster Mage is very powerful, because it's always useful. If you're playing Blue, there's little reason not to play it. But the card itself isn't the only problem. Hell, only Snapcaster might have been manageable. Mana Leak and Vapor Snag are gone in a month. But combine it with very efficient, cheap and powerful creatures in the same color, and you've got a problem. 


And it is becoming an influence on other things. Proper control isn't really playable because of it and the answers to Delver. 

After the official forums lost most of their functionality, a once vibrant community of Vorthos was wiped out.The survivors founded a new place to discuss all things concerning with the art, flavor and storylines of Magic: The Gathering. Come join us.

Okay, so I can see the reasoning for how Thragtusk and Ground Seal might have been printed as "answers to Delver", but why War Falcon and Wolfir Silverheart? Who says those two were printed with that in mind?

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Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

Okay, so I can see the reasoning for how Thragtusk and Ground Seal might have been printed as "answers to Delver", but why War Falcon and Wolfir Silverheart? Who says those two were printed with that in mind?


I'm not saying that those two were printed just because of delver, but they were printed with delver in mind.

War Falcon: www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.a...

As for Silverheart, a 5 mana 8/8 that gives +4/+4 at haste speed with the only catch being that you have to play creatures (and everyone and their mothers do now) is not something you'd usually see. I think they were pushing it very hard, seeing how far above the curve they could go, since delver being a deck and vapor snag and snapcaster existing let them be sure a 5 creature was not in a good shape.

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192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
I can agree that Snapcaster Mage was a kinda mistake, but they wanted to push it, and they knew it was going to be strong, and that's okay. But if you are already doing that, and you already have Vapor Snag and Mana Leak, don't start pushing more random blue cards. Yes, Geist of Saint Traft is a cool card and it will be liked for a long time, but they could have played it cool here, for example.



Snapcaster Mage is very powerful, because it's always useful. If you're playing Blue, there's little reason not to play it. But the card itself isn't the only problem. Hell, only Snapcaster might have been manageable. Mana Leak and Vapor Snag are gone in a month. But combine it with very efficient, cheap and powerful creatures in the same color, and you've got a problem.



Note that Snapcaster Mage came after both Vapor Snag and Mana Leak, so they probably couldn't do a lot about it. 
War Falcon: www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.a...

Jacob's not a member of R&D, he's just a columnist.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

The fact remains, that war falcon is a 2/1 with flying for 1 that kills a flipped and unflipped delver. I think that is kind of relevant, if not, we can remove war falcon from my list, no problem.

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192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
Note that Snapcaster Mage came after both Vapor Snag and Mana Leak, so they probably couldn't do a lot about it.



Doesn't the Future Future League tests the formats quite a bit in advance? But yeah, I don't really think Mana Leak+Snapcaster Mage is the major issue. It's probably annoying as hell, but not inherently too powerful. It's the combination of that and overly aggressive/efficient creatures in a color that shouldn't really have them.

After the official forums lost most of their functionality, a once vibrant community of Vorthos was wiped out.The survivors founded a new place to discuss all things concerning with the art, flavor and storylines of Magic: The Gathering. Come join us.

Doesn't the Future Future League tests the formats quite a bit in advance? But yeah, I don't really think Mana Leak+Snapcaster Mage is the major issue. It's probably annoying as hell, but not inherently too powerful. It's the combination of that and overly aggressive/efficient creatures in a color that shouldn't really have them.



This seems about right to me. Shouldn't a blue control deck essentially get card advantage and tempo against their opponent while nickel and diming the enemy's hit points with fairly weak but evasive creatures like Skywinder Drake or Invisible Stalker?

I'm terrified of playing standard right now because of the respond or die threats out there. It's not really fun to deal with these kind of threats, it makes many games seem one-sided, and I don't think it's a very welcoming environment for new players.

Hopefully RtR will shake up the pot enough to make standard less of Delver and also sometimes zombies.
They can print as much hate as they want. The problem still remains - creatures that efficient should not be printed in blue.

Delver, Snapcaster, Geist

All 3 have affected Magic all the way down to legacy.
Geist is multicolor, it's fine being efficient.
Geist is multicolor, it's fine being efficient.



This. White gets effecient creatures. It doesn't matter if blue does or not.
Efficient is something, but a 3 mana creature with hexproof that does 6 damage every turn and has the only drawback of being legendary is quite excessive, in my opinion. Especially since they keep printing things that help him go through and deal even more damage.

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192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
Efficient is something, but a 3 mana creature with hexproof that does 6 damage every turn and has the only drawback of being legendary is quite excessive, in my opinion. Especially since they keep printing things that help him go through and deal even more damage.



I thought the drawback was that he's a 2/2 for 3 that dies to almost any blocker. Besides, a little power creep should be expected on a multicolor mythic.
Yeah Geist is excuseable, but the other two aren't. What happened to the days when blue couldn't even get Grizzly Bears? That is some serious power creep.
Delver was a mistake, but an easy one. I wasn't impressed when it was first revealed due to how difficult it would be to make work. I'm sure Wizards felt the same way when it was printed.

Snapcaster is just ridiculous though. They should have gone with the original design and made it a land that could be discarded to counter a spell. I don't have a problem with blue getting some good creatures, it's pretty stupid for colors to not get good [permanent type]s. I would rather it if blue get "less" creatures, not "worse" creatures.
I would rather it if blue get "less" creatures, not "worse" creatures.

Those are the same things in Constructed, though. Delver and Snapcaster do, on the other hand, encourage you to play with less creatures in your deck, so if anyone meets the spirit of the criterion here it's them.
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