Paupers and Kings, Ep. 7: Izzet Blitz!

nivmagus elemental

You can’t blitz someone without using an exclamation mark. It simply cannot be done. I’ve tried.

Hi everyone, and welcome to the seventh episode of Paupers & Kings, my series on porting Pauper decks into the Modern format while staying on a budget. Today’s article will be a bit short, but that’s okay, because we’re all about blitzing this week and, if you know anything about blitzing you know this: it’s over fast!

Blitz in Pauper

Known by various names but probably most commonly as “Delverfiend,” the blitz list in Pauper is all about guys that get bigger when you cast spells. These days that means [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] and [c]Nivix Cyclops[/c]. There used to be some flying gnomes in the list, but they got replaced by the strictly better ‘clops.

Get big and get sneaky. After your creatures have grown enough, your options are to get through with an unblockable ability, [c]Apostle’s Blessing[/c], or, thanks to the new [c]Temur Battle Rage[/c], trample and doublestrike. Surucucu has been playing Delverfiend pretty much nonstop since it has been a list, and he wins with it ALL THE TIME. So if you’re looking for a starting point, use his list. Deluxeicoff has brewed around fiend quite a bit too; he was one of the first people I saw running [c]Gush[/c] in the list, and these days it appears to be more of a staple.

Here is a list from a recent Surucucu daily run.

[d title=”Delverfiend by Surucucu (Pauper)”]
9 Island
5 Mountain
3 Terramorphic Expanse

4 Delver of Secrets
4 Kiln Fiend
4 Nivix Cyclops

4 Preordain
2 Treasure Cruise
4 Apostle’s Blessing
1 Dispel
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Mutagenic Growth
1 Piracy Charm
3 Temur Battle Rage
4 Ponder
2 Gush
4 Gitaxian Probe

1 Treasure Cruise
2 Electrickery
1 Faithless Looting
2 Flame Slash
1 Flaring Pain
2 Hydroblast
2 Stormbound Geist
4 Pyroblast [/d]

Against lists with no answers, Delver of Secrets himself can often close out the game, and is even a fine Battle Rage target. Flipped, he can hit for 10 with a battle rage and piracy charm. The charm itself is another unblockable effect, more often than not, or can be used to strip your opponent of his draw if necessary, kill an x/1 creature, or change combat math. It works in every mode.

Older versions of the list used more unblockable effects. Current variants use fewer, mainly just Blessing, and are happy to run over the opponent with trample damage, if necessary. With MBC on the outs, currently, Delverfiend is well-positioned. It is very strong against Delver lists and does fine against the UR variants as well. Any “fair” creature lists will have a hard time racing (it is a “blitz” deck after all), while there is plenty there to work around removal, too. Gush and Treasure Cruise help keep the deck from running out of steam.

Blitz in Modern

One of my very favorite cards in Modern is [c]Nivmagus Elemental[/c]. His ability is unique in that he can eat spells on the stack and get bigger, permanently. With the new “Prowess” ability, I figured there were some other creatures that wouldn’t mind spells getting eaten, so long as they were cast in the first place, and so I developed this new, ultra budget UR Blitz list for Modern.

[d title=”Nivmagus Blitz by Bava (Modern)”]
4 Sulfur Falls
8 Mountain
4 Island

4 Kiln Fiend
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Nivmagus Elemental

2 Ground Rift
4 Apostle’s Blessing
3 Gut Shot
3 Lightning Bolt
4 Mutagenic Growth
4 Gitaxian Probe
3 Artful Dodge
3 Hidden Strings
4 Manamorphose
2 Temur Battle Rage

4 Dismember
2 Shattering Spree
3 Young Pyromancer
2 Pyroclasm
4 Dispel [/d]

Very similar to Delverfiend, we grow creatures and either run over or sneak through our opponents’ defenses. With a focus more on Nivmagus we tend more towards free spells that he can eat, hence the full set of Gitaxian Probe and Mutagenic Growth, along with the Gut Shots. [c]Ground Rift[/c] can null a blocker but really shines when played as the 3rd, 4th, or 5th spell in the turn, giving your Elemental as much as +10/+10 to swing in for the win.

Looking the list over now, I could see taking out Gut Shot and adding another Lightning Bolt and Battle Rage, but it does play pretty well as it sits. Gut Shot is good tech against [c]Inkmoth Nexus[/c], which is still flying around all over the place in Modern.

Dismember is the only non-budget card in the list (though Gitaxian Probe was spiking recently); I like having the very difficult to deal with removal for lists that are faster or more explosive than us (Infect, Affinity, Twin), but you could cut it for cheaper red removal if it is too costly.

On the Play with Izzet Blitz

We ran into a sick amount of U Delver in Pauper. It’s a strong match-up for us, but not necessarily “fun” to run up against three times in a row. Still, if you play Pauper right now, you’re probably used to it. The format is sick with islands. Our Modern match-ups were more varied, and we had some good blow-outs and were, in turn, blown out. All in all, both lists feel competitive though the words “glass cannon” do come to mind every so often.


I love the smell of Nivmagus Elemental in the morning. It smells like victory.

Next Week on Paupers & Kings

We’re getting tribal again next week, with the most synergiest tribe of all time, Slivers! As always, if you have recommendations for Modern / Pauper lists that cross formats, let me know in the comments.

Until next time, may your elementals always have double-strike.


DelverFiend just became a lot better

I have been wondering why DelverFiend is not played more. It has an excellent Stormpost matchup. Maybe it has problems with Delver? Maybe it has problems with control? Maybe 8 creatures + 4 Delver of Secret is just not enough.

I think one of the fundamental problems of Delver Fiend is the low creature count. There are just no other good creatures.

You just have a hard time winning with DelverFiend as the opposing deck has more removal than you have creatures.


I predict that if Temporal Fissure and Cloudpost is not banned DelverFiend will be a major contender. With 4 Lightning Bolts, DelverFiend even has the reach to finish the game (they also have Dispel) when Simic Stormpost sets up the Moment’s Peace wall.

Fun, fast games of Pauper ahead of us! And good times for Trinket, I hope.

Consider this deck:

[d title=”DelverFiend (Pauper)”]
8 Island
6 Mountain
2 Evolving Wilds

4 Nivix Cyclops
4 Kiln Fiend
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Wee Dragonauts

3 Assault Strobe
1 Brainstorm
1 Dispel
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Piracy Charm
3 Ponder
4 Preordain
3 Shadow Rift
3 Apostle’s Blessing

1 Electrostatic Bolt
3 Pyroblast
2 Hydroblast
2 Flame Slash
3 Dispel
2 Flaring Pain
2 Electrickery [/d]

This would not be one of mine articles if I did not have a video or two at the bottom, would it?

Here is me playing DelverFiend vs Dimir Post:

And here is DelverFiend vs Stompy

I think DelverFiend has a golden future ahead of it. And I guess Surucucu is the happiest player in Pauper now. He has been putting in so much time with the deck.

By the way, people were abandoning Delver for this deck when Izzet Post ruled the meta right after the bannings. So this deck has game is currently underplayed. As I said, I am not really sure why.

Go DelverFiend!