Cheap as Chips, Ep. 9: Mono Black Delve

soulflayer banner

If dropping a 4/4 flyer with haste, lifelink, first strike and hexproof on turn 2 is of any interest to you, then a delve deck may be worth your consideration. The Tarkir block has reminded people that delve exists, and [c]Gurmag Angler[/c] has seen play in several decks already.

But for my (minimal) money, [c]Soulflayer[/c] is definitely the definitive demon for delicious deep-dish delving.

The goal of this deck (unsurprisingly) is to mill with [c]Shriekhorn[/c] or [c]Memory Sluice[/c] on the first turn, hoping to garbage-bin a [c]Vault Skirge[/c], [c]Gurmag Swiftwing[/c] and/or [c]Xathrid Slyblade[/c]. Then on turn 2 if you have four cards in the bin, launch a Soulflayer. A 4/4 hasty lifelink attack on turn 2 can, on occasion, end the game. With any luck on turn 3 you can attach a [c]Mask of Memory[/c] to the big, build-your-own flying demon. (Note: turn 3 is also when you’ll find out if your opponent is holding removal or counters, because no one with even cursory knowledge of the game will let you attach a Mask to a 4/4 flyer on turn 3 if they can stop it.)

If you don’t have Demons-R-Us in your opening hand, then attaching the Mask to one your small flyers will help dig it up. [c]Grave Strength[/c] supports delve and can also turn your small flyers into more respectable offensive forces. [c]Gurmag Angler[/c] is your nose tackle on offense and middle-linebacker on defense.

Card advantage is created by Mask, [c]Sign in Blood[/c] and a single [c]Bitter Revelation[/c]. The latter is perfect for this deck, fueling delve as well as card advantage, but at 4-cmc it is sadly one-too-many-mana to be playable. As a one-of it’s okay. But how awesome that card would have been at 3-cmc!

Here’s what we have:

[d title=”Mono Black Delve (Modern)”]


1 Bojuka Bog

2 Ghost Quarter

3 Evolving Wilds

16 Swamp


4 Vault Skirge

4 Gurmag Swiftwing

2 Xathrid Slyblade

4 Soulflayer

4 Gurmag Angler


1 Despise

1 Duress

2 Disfigure

2 Memory Sluice

3 Shriekhorn

1 Doom Blade

1 Smother

3 Grave Strength

2 Sign in Blood

3 Mask of Memory

1 Bitter Revelation


1 Despise

1 Duress

1 Doom Blade

2 Geth’s Verdict

2 Smallpox

2 Necromancer’s Assistant

2 Infest

2 Nihil Spellbomb

2 Desecration Demon [/d]

[c]Smallpox[/c] is in the sideboard because it’s an awesome card. But it’s not great for every match-up and I have to admit I’m not sure what decks to bring it in against. Infect, Auras, and Elves come to mind.

The sideboard has [c]Desecration Demon[/c] as a back-up for game 3 if your opponent has boarded in loads of graveyard hate. [c]Demigod of Revenge[/c] would be even better. Against any deck that doesn’t have direct removal, take out [c]Xathrid Slyblade[/c] for [c]Necromancer’s Assistant[/c], which better supports delve. Sprinkle in removal as needed.

Let’s take a look at some gameplay videos of this fun deck. Next week will be a round-up article, as episode 10 will bring Cheap as Chips to a close!

On The Bandwagon, Sort Of: Abzan Delve

Hi all,

Modern continues to exist well outside the eye of the tornado, and the recent Pro Tour tournament is proof. The big number from the weekend is 28. If you read any coverage of the event, then you saw that Abzan was at 28%. Of course, for many, this meant that the sky was falling, and that bans were, of course, necessary.

Fortunately, once the jar of dust is settled, we can see that within that big number of decks with Forests, Swamps, and Plains, we see quite a variety of decks. We expected the [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c] and [c]Tarmogoyf[/c] lists to be successful, but since then I’d have to say that Jacob Wilson’s Selesnya hate-bears deck with a splash of black for [c]Lingering Souls[/c], [c]Siege Rhino[/c], and [c]Thoughtseize[/c] has to be the deck with the largest groundswell.

Within the 28% we even saw the card [c]Abzan Ascendancy[/c] in a deck which really had me reading a lot of cards.

Today, I’d like to offer you an Abzan deck of a different sort.

Within these colors, we have some of the more exciting key words in recent times: Delve and Dredge. [c]Gurmag Angler[/c] was waiting for a home in Modern, and he certainly found it in Pat Chapin’s Esper build. Despite his crash and burn, we still see cards like [c]Mishra’s Bauble[/c] spiking in price because, hey, it’s a new brew by a pro. [c]Gurmag Angler[/c] has great synergy with a lot of other cards, including [c]Grisly Salvage[/c], and once we put those two together, it’s hard not to throw in some more Timmy, Power Gamer effects.

First, let’s get to the list.

[d title=”Abzan Delve (Modern)”]
1 Godless Shrine
2 Marsh Flats
4 Mosswort Bridge
1 Murmuring Bosk
2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Swamp
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Windbrisk Heights

4 Birds of Paradise
4 Bloodghast
1 Craterhoof Behemoth
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
3 Golgari Grave-Troll
4 Gravecrawler
4 Gurmag Angler
4 Lotleth Troll
2 Satyr Wayfinder
1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
4 Vengevine

Other Spells
4 Grisly Salvage
2 Lingering Souls
2 Unburial Rites

2 Abrupt Decay
1 Blood Crypt
3 Ancient Grudge
1 Darkblast
3 Gnaw to the Bone
3 Golgari Charm
2 Ray of Revelation[/d]

There are so many interactions here that I am scared to attempt to list them all. Let’s start with the lands.


[c]Murmuring Bosk[/c] – We operate on few lands for most of the game, and this helps smooth out the mana. We never want to see more than one in a game, though, and our [c]Verdant Catacombs[/c] can fetch them out.

[c]Windbrisk Heights[/c] – This deck is perhaps the most reliable at activating [c]Windbrisk Heights[/c] because of the combination of [c]Bloodghast[/c], [c]Gravecrawler[/c], and [c]Lingering Souls[/c]. It would be nice to have a bit more meat available to cast for free with the activation, but even a [c]Gurmag Angler[/c] or large [c]Golgari Grave-Troll[/c] is acceptable. My favorite is to have [c]Unburial Rites[/c] hidden away even if it is not relevant on turn one. Some good target will appear by the time you can activate it.

Many players often attack with [c]Windbrisk Heights[/c] for a cost:benefit ratio that is favorable. In this deck, there is very little cost because you are attacking with creatures that will come back after death.

[c]Mosswort Bridge[/c] – We play recurring 2/1 and 4/3 creatures and [c]Gurmag Angler[/c], so the 10 power is an easy obstacle to overcome.

Remember that [c]Windbrisk Heights[/c] and [c]Mosswort Bridge[/c] actually cast the creature spells if you’re playing paper and have [c]Vengevine[/c] in your graveyard.

Moving on, we have our …


4 [c]Birds of Paradise[/c] – These are surprisingly the glue that holds the deck together, and I don’t think they can be removed. I am even tempted to add [c]Noble Hierarch[/c] for extra copies. You will even be impressed with how often “flying” is relevant with [c]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/c] and [c]Craterhoof Behemoth[/c]. If nothing else, they help trigger [c]Vengevine[/c]. Remember to attack with [c]Birds of Paradise[/c] for zero if it means you can activate [c]Windbrisk Heights[/c].

4 [c]Bloodghast[/c] – These are the weakest and least reliable of the recurring creatures, but they help us to activate our hideaway lands and provide a reasonable clock at no expense.

4 [c]Gravecrawler[/c] – This guy was made a little better by [c]Gurmag Angler[/c], the Zombie Fish (who knew?), as long as you aren’t removing [c]Gravecrawler[/c] in the process. The benefit of the zombie over the vampire is that you are casting [c]Gravecrawler[/c] and therefore triggering [c]Vengevine[/c].

1 [c]Craterhoof Behemoth[/c], [c]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/c] – These two finish the game handily. They come out from [c]Unburial Rites[/c] or a hideaway activation and very rarely disappoint.

3 [c]Golgari Grave-Troll[/c] – In the early stages of the game, he fuels your yard with critical things like recurring creatures, [c]Lingering Souls[/c], and [c]Unburial Rites[/c] plus the fatties to reanimate. Beyond that, he is a sweet reanimation target himself or card to hide away because he will get large in the midgame.

4 [c]Gurmag Angler[/c] and 1 [c]Tasigur, the Golden Fang[/c] – These essentially are five of the same guy. There are plenty of pieces of chaff in your graveyard that while these seem in opposition to your reanimation and recur strategy, it rarely plays out that way. They’re cheap, they’re cast, and they have a lot of power for [c]Mosswort Bridge[/c]. It’s really nice to open with a bird and play [c]Grisly Salvage[/c], 5/5 on turn 2, also taking your choice of creature or land.

4 [c]Lotleth Troll[/c] and 2 [c]Satyr Wayfinder[/c] – These are engine pieces of the deck, placing critical cards in the graveyard and triggering all the things that need to be triggered.

4 [c]Vengevine[/c] – Dies to bolt. Kills opponent the next turn. Easily brought back onto the battlefield, the elemental wraps up games in short order and activates [c]Mosswort Bridge[/c].

Finally, let’s look at the spells.

4 [c]Grisly Salvage[/c] – Feed brains, get sweet cards.

2 [c]Lingering Souls[/c] – Here is the breakout card of the Pro Tour. It will help us block and buy time, it will give attackers for [c]Windbrisk Heights[/c], finishers for [c]Craterhoof Behemoth[/c] and [c]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/c], and extra value from cards like [c]Grisly Salvage[/c] and [c]Satyr Wayfinder[/c], netting us extra cards.

2 [c]Unburial Rites[/c] – Again we have a key card to the strategy that isn’t lost forever when we are dredging and playing [c]Satyr Wayfinder[/c] and [c]Grisly Salvage[/c]. Instead, the cogs work together to build quite the clock for your opponent.

After [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] was banned, Abzan became the real deal. [c]Golgari Grave-Troll[/c] hasn’t yet joined the party, but I think this archetype can bring the color combination and the keyword that never was to the top tables and cash events.


Faithless Looting #13: Cruising with Commons

Welcome back to Faithless Looting, my weekly look at budget lists and budget formats.

If there is one truly contentious card brought to us by Khans of Tarkir, that card is [c]Treasure Cruise[/c], and it is contentious because it just might be “too good.” Its effect, after all, is very similar to [c]Ancestral Recall[/c], and while you’ll never cast Cruise on turn 1, it is pretty easy to meet the conditions on t4-5 to cast it for 1-2 mana. In long, grindy games, it’s a powerhouse.

People think it should be banned in quite a few formats; other people act like you’re trying to steal their baby when you try and ban cards. It will be interesting to see what WotC decides to do, if anything. Today we’re going to look at Cruise in Pauper. After all, if a card is considered OP in formats like Modern and Legacy, it must REALLY be OP in our beloved all-commons format, right? It certainly makes Blue that much more powerful and consistent; things that Blue really didn’t need since it already dominates the meta. Let’s take a look at other places the card shines, starting with Daily lists from this past weekend.

ScionOfJustice, who usually wins with black cards, decided to splash blue to include 4x [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] in the main, and a singleton [c]Ghostly Flicker[/c] for good measure. Basically he is playing MBC with Cruise in it; I guess you really can play it in every deck. Here is the list.

[d title=”MBC Cruise by ScionOfJustice”]
1 Augur of Skulls
4 Chittering Rats
1 Crypt Rats
4 Cuombajj Witches
4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
2 Liliana’s Specter
1 Mulldrifter
1 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
3 Phyrexian Rager

4 Chainer’s Edict
1 Syphon Life
4 Treasure Cruise
1 Wrench Mind
1 Devour Flesh
1 Ghostly Flicker
1 Undying Evil
2 Oubliette
1 Pestilence

4 Dimir Guildgate
4 Dismal Backwater
15 Swamp

1 Crypt Rats
2 Child of Night
2 Choking Sands
1 Disfigure
2 Font of Return
2 Geth’s Verdict
1 Nausea
1 Pharika’s Cure
2 Relic of Progenitus
1 Stinkweed Imp [/d]

Surucucu added 2x Cruise in Delverfiend, which seems like a very natural inclusion.

Dirknight put the full set into UR Control, and I think this deck is one of the biggest Cruise winners. Enough to push it into consistent Tier 1 territory? I guess we’ll see, but the deck seems very strong. Here is his list:

[d title=”UR Control Cruise by Dirknight”]
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Mulldrifter
4 Sea Gate Oracle

4 Firebolt
4 Flame Slash
4 Preordain
4 Treasure Cruise
4 Counterspell
2 Electrostatic Bolt
4 Exclude

6 Island
3 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Izzet Guildgate
3 Mountain
1 Radiant Fountain
4 Swiftwater Cliffs
4 Terramorphic Expanse

2 Curfew
2 Curse of the Bloody Tome
1 Electrickery
4 Hydroblast
2 Negate
4 Pyroblast [/d]

RainbowSlushy played a faeries version of UR Control with a full set. Zakurero22 4-0ed with a list that is a cross between Delverfiend and UR Control and ran 3x Cruise.

Funny enough, the dominant blue deck in the format, Delver (or Mono Blue Faeries), is only checking in at 1x Cruise for the most part, with the greedier lists reaching for 2.

We’re not seeing [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] make its way into green decks like Stompy or White Weenie lists quite yet. Sensible choice, or simply lack of imagination? While we’re being hypothetical, does Cruise make [c]Thought Scour[/c] playable in blue decks? I was a little surprised to see zero Cruise in the various Affinity decks that placed; it seems like a fair 1x or 2x in a lot of those lists, especially the lists that are sacrificing all those 1-mana artifacts to draw cards anyway.

Outside of daily lists, there are other places where Cruise might fit. I personally tried Burn and, like most attempts at adding a color to Burn (or any similar “win fast” list), I felt like diluting the deck made it worse rather than better. Even so, two distinct threads popped up just for Cruise Burn on Reddit, so people are having similar thoughts.

Dredge & Delve

If there are two mechanics that work well together, these two seem like they’re it. The synergy is simple and natural: one adds cards to the GY, often for a beneficial effect, and the other takes cards away from the GY, also for a beneficial effect.

Aside from Cruise, Delve has a couple good cards we can experiment with, including [c]Death Rattle[/c], [c]Hooting Mandrills[/c], and [c]Sultai Scavenger[/c]. We only get 7 cards total at common level with the Delve mechanic, though we’ll likely see more in upcoming sets. That’s still more cards than we have with Dredge, though, which clocks in at only 5. Notable players include [c]Stinkweed Imp[/c], [c]Golgari Brownscale[/c], [c]Moldervine Cloak[/c], and [c]Shambling Shell[/c].

Based on the cards we have with each mechanic, we are looking at Black cards with both mechanic, Green cards with both mechanic, and Blue cards with … oh wait, it’s just [c]Treasure Cruise[/c]. We could consider [c]Logic Knot[/c] as well, but Cruise is strictly better, I think, and we need to be careful about how many Delve cards we include in a list.

So a D&D list would be UG, UB, or GB. Mono-colored lists could be possible, but I think two colors makes a lot more sense. We’re not playing a speedy aggro deck in any case, so the additional color should only help us. We could even go all three colors if we want to get greedy.

In UB, we definitely want Stinkweed Imp and Treasure Cruise, which automatically has us looking at a grindy control deck with card advantage. Cards like [c]Pilfered Plans[/c] let us draw cards AND fill our GY, which seems pretty good with Cruise. [c]Soul Manipulation[/c] is another fun include, while [c]Lurking Informant[/c] is FAR too fiddly, but scrying every turn and adding cards to the GY seems fun in a casual list. [c]Scarscale Ritual[/c] is another of my favorite UB cards and works particular well in lists with Undying, which UB also has, namely [c]Stormbound Geist[/c]. [c]Death Rattle[/c] and [c]Ghastly Demise[/c] are both good pieces of removal that care about how many cards we have in our GY; we don’t want too many, but a few fit in nicely.

GB has the other best synergies (UG seems unappealing, really). [c]Shambling Shell[/c] is the only self-sacrificing recursive creature in the game. He single-handedly sends himself to the graveyard AND brings himself back, filling our GY with more cards in the process. [c]Grisly Salvage[/c] helps us dig for creatures or land and fills the GY as well. [c]Drown in Filth[/c] is decent removal if our GY is full. Golgari also gifts us with Scavenge creatures like [c]Sluiceway Scorpion[/c] if we want another angle on GY shenanigans. Cards like [c]Desecrator Hag[/c] and [c]Pit Keeper[/c] let us gain card advantage from having creatures in the GY, and we could even go for an [c]Exhume[/c] angle (or at least back-up plan) using Dredge to throw an [c]Ulamog’s Crusher[/c] or another fatty in the GY and (if we want) a singleton [c]Dragon Breath[/c] just for kicks.

I don’t have any lists for you, but I think there are some there asking to be built. Even though there isn’t a contest this week, feel free to look at some of the cards above and submit lists in the comments if you think something’s there.

Until next time, keep the faith!


Standard Pauper Show, Issue 11

Section 1: This week in Standard Pauper

Sam and I discuss the Khans of Tarkir cards we found most intriguing. With a special appearance by Dan to discuss the Pauper Gauntlet.

That is a lot to take in! I have to say, I am a total fan of the Jeskai way. Just call me an initiate.

MPDC 26.05
15 September 2014
Standard · 17 Players
12 Decks · ~71% Reported
3 rounds Swiss
Top 8 playoff
Hosted by gwyned

Lets look at the results:

1st Stracciatella by GodZo
2nd WB Extort v. 2 by WujekMZK
T4 WB Aura by beatnik bobby
T4 ETB by MyGalaxy
T8 WB Pilgrim by DownByTheRiverside
T8 Esper by FlxEx
T8 WW Tokens by gwyned
T8 Mono Black with dispels by hero1141

GodZo! From his close second on Sunday, to a #1 spot on Monday. Way to go GodZo!

Very clever name Mr. GodZo. For those who haven’t had their wife take them to eat at a fancy Gelato place, STRACCIATELLA is like chocolate chip ice cream. Which is very important as a name sake for this deck.


Standard · Aggro
1st by GodZo in MPDC 26.05 (5-1)

3 Auramancer
3 Daring Skyjek
3 Heliod’s Pilgrim
3 Hopeful Eidolon
3 Keening Apparition
3 Sungrace Pegasus
2 Akroan Skyguard
2 Nyxborn Shieldmate
2 Ornithopter
4 Ethereal Armor
4 Pacifism
3 Gods Willing
2 Beckon Apparition
2 Celestial Flare
2 Font of Return
1 Battlewise Valor
14 Plains
3 Evolving Wilds
1 Swamp
3 Razortip Whip
2 Concordia Pegasus
2 Celestial Flare
2 Beckon Apparition
1 Smite
1 Pillar of Light
1 Gods Willing
1 Auramancer
1 Hopeful Eidolon
1 Keening Apparition

See? Just a little bit of chocolate to give this deck some flavor.
The older I get in Magic years, the more I like sideboards like this. There are a ton of answers peppered through out. With such a savory offering, you will feel confident going in to each match. Why do I feel hungry all of the sudden?

Section 2: History lessons

I know, normally I put the opening hand and discuss mulligans. This week I want to walk through a bit of a history lesson and discuss the new mechanics coming out in Khans.

Last year, I did an article on the evolution of mechanics. I tried to paint a picture of where things came from and how they have changed into today’s standard.


Outlast [X] ([X], T: Put a +1/+1 counter on this creature. Outlast only as a sorcery.)
This mechanic is pretty straight forward, you pay a cost and a counter. Some cards also give a benefit along side the counter.

Outlast gives a name to an ability we see very often on creatures. However, there are some restrictions which make it less abusable (if that is a real word). Being only at Sorcery speed is quite a draw back for constructed.

What sets Outlast apart is that it does not require the removal of a creature or another counter to make this creature grow. Similar to Reinforce and Amplify, these are uncounterable counters. That sentence barely makes sense. Another interesting point, Amplify was in Onslaught block. What else was in that block? Morph! You don’t suppose WotC looks to the past to enhance the future do you?


Ferocious – Whenever [This card] [Performs an action], if you control a creature with power 4 or greater, [This Card] [Gains some benefit]
I am not a big fan of mechanics that are templated this way. I know they must account for a large variance due to being used on creatures as well as non-creature spells, so this is how it must be.

Ferocious gives a name to the Alara mechanic we see above. The restriction is a little less but the effects are similar. Funny, the other three color set and we have a “returning” mechanic. I wonder if that is just a coincidence?


Prowess (Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, this creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.)
Now this is a mechanic I can fully support.

This mechanic is probably the easiest to identify. There is a significant defensive boost with Prowess. As my personal favorite of the new mechanics, I am sure there be at least one player jamming prowess into as many decks as possible. This is an other example of giving a name to an already known function. The fact that Jeskai have blue and red in their wedge makes having an Izzet mechanic a no brainer. Coupling this fact that white is also in there, adding the defensive bonus just makes sense.


Delve (Each card you exile from your graveyard while casting this spell pays for 1.)

And now a mechanic that isn’t new. Delve has been seen before in Time Spiral block.

Oh Wizards, you tried to tell us it was coming back but we didn’t listen. Delve is one more in a long line of Future Sight mechanics that are finally being implemented. This makes me wonder which of these will be next? Fateseal? Frenzy? Grandeur perhaps?


Raid – When [This card] enters the battlefield, if you attacked with a creature this turn, [This card] [Gains a benefit].
The most restrictive yet powerful mechanic introduced in this set.

These are all portal era cards all require attacking to be cast. I cannot think of any creature with a similar effect. The biggest downside to this effect is that without the Raid trigger, you are left with over costed cards. Again, this appears to be another “Time Spiraled” mechanic being brought into the present. This makes me think that when Mark Rosewater says there will be a time travel aspect to the next expansion, I feel we are already being shown what that means.

What do you all think?