Rogue Trip: Innovation at SCG States

When I began paging through the results from StarCityGames’s State Championships, I didn’t expect much in the way of innovation. After all, Modern players are terrified of brewing, or at least of brewing diligently enough to perfect a recipe (Hoogland and Chapin are notable exceptions to this rule). So I was pleasantly surprised to find a host of novel decklists in the Top 8 database.

rogue trip art bright

I’ve divided the interesting decks into two categories: aggro and midrange. I’ve also split those categories into halves. Aggro encompasses spell-based aggro and creature-based aggro; midrange, attrition-based and permanent-based. Today, we’ll look at the rogue aggro decks from States.

SCG States: Spell-Based Aggro

Why save the best for last? You shouldn’t need to read more than a couple of my articles to pick up on my obsession with Delver of Secrets. Spell-based aggro does include most tempo strategies (and all grow strategies), but specifically refers to aggro decks that primarily win through attacks or reach, and that run less than 20 creatures. This definition excludes midrange decks like Jund and Abzan, which prioritize attrition over aggression. Midrange prefers to heavily disrupt opponents before committing its threats. Aggro, be it spell-based or creature-based, must apply pressure early to win. Some well-known spell-based aggro decks are RUG Delver, Bogles, and Burn.

Mono-Blue Delver

Here’s one we don’t see every day. Few Delver mages willingly give up the stupid power of Lightning Bolt, especially in a shell that benefits so obviously from the pervasive, red instant. It’s hard to know what convinced Seth Kerin not to splash. Perhaps he couldn’t afford Scalding Tarns. It’s possible he prefers the consistency of mono-Islands. Or maybe he just wanted to show Travis Woo that yes, Phantasmal Bear sucks.

Mono-Blue Delver, by Seth Kerin

Creatures (15)
Stratus Dancer
Delver of Secrets
Nivmagus Elemental
Snapcaster Mage
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
Vendilion Clique

Sorceries (8)
Gitaxian Probe
Serum Visions

Instants (18)
Cryptic Command
Cyclonic Rift
Disrupting Shoal
Hour of Need
Mana Leak
Remand
Vapor Snag

Lands (19)
19 Island
Sideboard (15)
Batterskull
Vedalken Shackles
Spellskite
Dispel
Disrupting Shoal
Echoing Truth
Hibernation
Hurkyl’s Recall
Mana Leak
Spell Snare
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
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Whatever Kerin’s motivations, he made it to 7th place with some spicy card choices. Hour of Need “saves” threats from removal by morphing them into 4/4 Sphinxes, and Nivmagus Elemental makes it tough for opponents to feel good about Dispelling things by threatening an offensive Tarmogoyf impersonation. I’m also sure Stratus Dancer inspired more than a few reach-and-reads. Personally, I can’t endorse anything with the word “Morph” on it in Modern, and I disagree with playing less than four Disrupting Shoal in any Delver strategy, let alone a mono-blue one. Kerin’s surely heard this advice a few times, but the deck probably improves with red. Splashing not only gives Delver his Lightning Bolt, but stronger friends in Young Pyromancer, Monastery Swiftspear, and Abbot of Keral Keep.

Jeskai Delver

Now this is more familiar. Jeskai Delver has fallen far since the glory days of BoREMANDos, and after enjoying a small resurgence during Treasure Cruise winter, the deck’s back in the shadows. It’s up to Colin Sillund and Thomas Willi to “make Jeskai Delver great again!” Willi’s build features a bizarre 3/3/3/3 split of Monastery Mentor, Snapcaster Mage, Young Pyromancer, and Geist of Saint Traft, led by four Delver of Secrets. I’m inclined to believe he couldn’t figure out which threat he disliked most. For his part, Sillund brings plenty of new tech to the Jeskai Delver arsenal.

Jeskai Delver, by Colin Sillund

Creatures (16)
Mantis Rider
Delver of Secrets
Snapcaster Mage
Young Pyromancer
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Vendilion Clique

Sorceries (4)
Serum Visions

Instants (20)
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix
Mana Leak
Ojutai’s Command
Path to Exile
Spell Pierce
Spell Snare
Thought Scour
Vapor Snag

Lands (20)
Island
Plains
Arid Mesa
Celestial Colonnade
Clifftop Retreat
Flooded Strand
Hallowed Fountain
Sacred Foundry
Seachrome Coast
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Sideboard (15)
Spellskite
Lone Missionary
Thundermaw Hellkite
Celestial Flare
Electrickery
Negate
Ojutai’s Command
Wear // Tear
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Crumble to Dust
Pyroclasm
Supreme Verdict
Tectonic Edge
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As a big Mantis Rider fan who went as deep as Favorable Winds to play the card in Modern, I’m thrilled to see it get to 7th place. Thought Scour and Ojutai’s Command synergize with Jace, Snapcaster, and Pyromancer, and a lone Vapor Snag rounds out the deck’s Path-dominated removal suite. There’s notably no Geist of Saint Traft here, a decision I can rally behind. Geist’s steep cost, inability to impact the game immediately after resolving, and weakness to anything that attacks (or blocks) make him a poor choice for Delver decks.

Jund Prowess

In spell-based aggro decks, Delver of Secrets is usually a flying, blue Wild Nacatl. These decks can still succeed without the transforming Wizard, but they need a good reason to exclude him. Patrick Chapin’s Temur and Grixis Prowess decks have recently made some waves in the Modern community. With Delver of Secrets absent from both, I can’t look at Chapin’s lists without wondering why he’s even in blue at all. Jim Davis must have thought the same thing, piloting Jund Prowess to 9th place at States. He may not have cracked the Top 8, but Davis still brewed a sweet deck.

Jund Prowess, by Jim Davis

Creatures (18)
Abbot of Keral Keep
Dark Confidant
Grim Lavamancer
Monastery Swiftspear
Tarmogoyf

Sorceries (4)
Inquisition of Kozilek

Instants (11)
Abrupt Decay
Dismember
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Terminate

Other (6)
Mishra’s Bauble
Rancor
Seal of Fire

Lands (21)
Forest
Mountain
Swamp
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Overgrown Tomb
Stomping Ground
Treetop Village
Verdant Catacombs
Wooded Foothills
Sideboard (15)
Grafdigger’s Cage
Ancient Grudge
Destructive Revelry
Duress
Molten Rain
Self-Inflicted Wound
Thoughtseize
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Now, that’s some Tarmogoyf! Davis grows the green monster to 6/7 in this deck, supplementing his attackers with Jund’s infamous disruption package of Inquisition of KozilekLightning Bolt, and Abrupt Decay. Kolaghan’s Command and Grim Lavamancer ensure Davis has no problem going into the late-game, where Tarmogoyf excels. Jund colors also afford Davis incredible sideboard cards, including Self-Inflicted Wound, Molten Rain, and Destructive Revelry. Compared with Chapin’s Temur Prowess, Jund has a better time against linear decks with its targeted discard. And compared with Grixis, well, Jund has Tarmogoyf… and Dark Confidant! Trust me when I say flipping Baubles with this guy is a blast.

SCG States: Creature-Based Aggro

Ah, the aggro deck’s aggro deck. Spell-based aggro hopes to protect its sparse, efficient beaters, but creature-based dares you to cast Lightning Bolt. How many could you possibly have? Its creatures are cheap, interchangeable, and constant. They either boast impressive power/toughness/mana cost ratios (Zoo), exponentially improve a pilot’s position (Merfolk), or stack up to progressively disrupt opponents (Hatebears). Creature-based aggro describes aggro decks that primarily win through attacks or reach, and that run 20 or more creatures. Just as Treasure Cruise naturally slots into most spell-based aggro decks, Collected Company has a home in many creature-based ones.

To keep sections spatially consistent, I won’t include more than three decks in each. The intriguing decks I’ve omitted from this this section are Bant Knightfall, W/R Death and Taxes, and Slivers.

Abzan Aristocrats

Aristocrats isn’t exactly a Modern newcomer. We’ve seen players slam-and-sac 2/2s for varying effects since Birthing Pod was banned (and without much success, since before even then). Jason Bouchard’s 2nd-place deck breathes new life into the archetype, including eight cards from the universally panned-for-Modern Battle for Zendikar.

Abzan Aristocrats, by Jason Bouchard

Creatures (29)
Zulaport Cutthroat
Blisterpod
Blood Artist
Cartel Aristocrat
Doomed Traveler
Tukatongue Thallid
Viscera Seer
Liliana, Heretical Healer
Dryad Arbor

Instants (10)
Chord of Calling
Collected Company
Rally the Ancestors

Lands (21)
Forest
Plains
Swamp
Godless Shrine
Isolated Chapel
Marsh Flats
Overgrown Tomb
Razorverge Thicket
Temple Garden
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Sideboard (15)
Spellskite
Burrenton Forge-Tender
Kitchen Finks
Qasali Pridemage
Voice of Resurgence
Abrupt Decay
Kataki, War’s Wage
Melira, Sylvok Outcast
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Bouchard’s deck revolves around a four-Company, four-Rally package. These eight cards invariably create robust board positions out of thin air, and frequently allow Bouchard to combo off with enough Blood Artist effects. Thanks to Zulaport Cutthroat, he’s got eight of those, too; with Blisterpod, he even runs eight Tukatongue Thallid (twelve counting Doomed Traveler)! Here’s what I had to say about the newly spoiled Cutthroat: “Blood Artists 5-8 for whatever tier 3 deck wants them.” Jason Bouchard’s deck wanted them, and I doubt his success is a flash-in-the-pan. For reasons beyond my comprehension, people really like Aristocrats.

Atarka Goblins

Goblin Rabblemaster astonished everyone when he burst onto the Standard scene, and many have since wondered if he could find a home in Modern. Lightning Bolt‘s ubiquity suggested “no,” but that didn’t keep others from trying (and sometimes, succeeding). When Goblin Piledriver was announced for Magic Origins, the gears started spinning again, hurling Rabblemaster back into the Modern conversation. In the wake of all this history, influenced by an unquenched desire among Modern players to play Goblins in this format, I take great sadistic pleasure in presenting the following decklist. Matt Young overlooks both Rabblemaster and Piledriver in favor of off-flavor powerhouses like Eidolon of the Great Revel, taking him to 8th place.

Atarka Goblins, by Matt Young

Creatures (29)
Foundry Street Denizen
Ghor-Clan Rampager
Goblin Bushwhacker
Goblin Guide
Grim Lavamancer
Kird Ape
Legion Loyalist
Mogg War Marshal
Eidolon of the Great Revel

Sorceries (2)
Goblin Grenade

Instants (10)
Atarka’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Stoke the Flames

Lands (19)
Mountain
Arid Mesa
Bloodstained Mire
Scalding Tarn
Stomping Ground
Wooded Foothills
Sideboard (15)
Pyrite Spellbomb
Relic of Progenitus
Grim Lavamancer
Tin Street Hooligan
Destructive Revelry
Electrickery
Rending Volley
Molten Rain
Roast
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“That’s not a Goblins deck!” Well, it’s more of a Goblins deck than Zoo. I suspect that until a dedicated team of Goblins experts unites to devise a winning list, Young’s Atarka Goblins is as close as Modern gets to a home for the ugly underdogs. Or maybe Young found that list already, but just wanted to show Travis Woo that yes, Warren Instigator sucks.

R/G Aggro

This time, I saved the best for last. Behold, my favorite deck to come out of Hell States:

R/G Aggro, by Rob Wrisley

Creatures (26)
Hellrider
Phyrexian Metamorph
Birds of Paradise
Burning-Tree Shaman
Noble Hierarch
Stormbreath Dragon
Eidolon of the Great Revel

Sorceries (3)
Bonfire of the Damned

Instants (4)
Lightning Bolt

Other (4)
Blood Moon

Lands (23)
Forest
Mountain
Copperline Gorge
Kessig Wolf Run
Rootbound Crag
Stomping Ground
Treetop Village
Wooded Foothills
Sideboard (15)
Dragon’s Claw
Engineered Explosives
Torpor Orb
Trinisphere
Spellskite
Ancient Grudge
Rending Volley
Banefire
Vandalblast
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What the Hell, in any case. Rob Wrisley’s 3rd-place abomination includes the full four Hellriders, a card you’ll have to read if you didn’t endure it in Standard, and one you’ll have to read twice if you’ve played even a weekend of Modern. Four mana? For an x/3? We could pay just one more for the flying, growing, Lightning Bolt– and Path to Exile-resistant Stormbreath Dragon. But Wrisley already runs it, if in smaller numbers than Hellrider. To its merit, the card isn’t as bad as it looks in creature-based aggro, since opponents have way too many targets for Lightning Bolt to begin with. It also punishes opponents for “Bolting the Bird” like the pros.

Burning Tree ShamanWrisley captures my heart not with Hellrider (which, if you can’t tell yet, I hate), but with Burning-Tree Shaman and Eidolon of the Great Revel, both pet cards of mine. Shaman resists Bolt, prevents Twin from going off, and does a number on activated ability decks like Affinity over the course of a game. It even punishes players for fetching. Eidolon is sorely unexplored in non-Burn aggro decks, best following an aggressive one-drop like Wild Nacatl. Granted, Wrisley doesn’t have any aggressive one-drops, so I’ll keep scratching my head at this beautiful mess. (What does Phyrexian Metamorph even copy? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!) For now, let’s be happy Wrisley drew his Bonfires when he did. Eccentric decks like Rob Wrisley’s R/G Aggro turn limiting conceptions about Modern on their heads, hopefully encouraging would-be brewers to try their hand at something unique.

Still Perfect

In The Perfect Format: Modern Sleepers (Part 1), I identified design space as tremendously important to me in choosing a format: “A ‘solved’ format offers few brewing opportunities. Big innovations take the form of small tweaks, whereas I like when entirely new decks explode onto the scene. Legacy and Vintage are examples of formats with little design space, while Standard has it in spades.” Most Modern players might not like to brew, but enough do to keep the format in continuous flux. Next week, we’ll look at the rogue midrange decks with Top 8 appearances at States.

Jordan is the copy editor at Modern Nexus. He has played Magic since 2003, and Modern since its inception. A devoted theorist, he always brings tuned brews to events. Jordan favors card efficiency over raw power and specializes in disruptive aggro strategies.

27 thoughts on “Rogue Trip: Innovation at SCG States

  1. Delver decks look very interesting for me as I myself brewing delver list right now trying to make it work without Snapcasters (since I don’t have any). These will give me some stuff to think about.

  2. Excellent article, Jordan. Despite my actual deck being Tier 1 (in my defense, I’ve been playing Merfolk for quite a while, though I greatly enjoy its rise to the top), brews are near and dear to my heart. Allow me to make some comments on the decks you have showcased:

    1.

    1. Well, that was odd. My comment got cut off. Anyway…

      1. I can see what the Mono-U Delver deck was going for with the addition of Kira, but I think it’s missing some of the bombs that would make me consider going mono-U. Where is Gigadrowse? Is Master of Waves worth a look as a way to go over the top of Jund and Burn? Why is Spell Pierce not considered? Odd deck.

      2. On the other hand, I love, love, love that Jeskai Delver deck. Mantis Rider’s susceptibility to Bolt matters a whole lot less when people have them earmarked for Delver and Young Pyro, and Lone Missionary is genius Burn sideboard tech. I’m not a fan of the random Jace/Ojutai’s Comnand package, and I’d like to see an attempt to use Disrupting Shoal (though I worry that it might not have enough cantrips), but that shell has a heap of potential.

      3. Interesting idea (because you’re right – why run blue tempo if you don’t want to play Delver?), but I think all those long game tricks and removal make it look too much like Jund. Maybe I’m being overly skeptical, but I looked at that deck and thought, “why not just play Jund?”

      4. That Abzan Aristocrats shell looks like a variant of the deck Steve Rubin piloted to the Top16 at GP OKC, just with Origins and BFZ cards. I think that I prefer Return to the Ranks’ convoke and the fact that you can revive the guys you bring back again over Rally the Ancestors’ instant speed, but that’s an open debate. I’m surprised he went with Tukatongue Thallid over Satyr Wayfinder, though, especially given he’s maxing out on Blisterpod and Doomed Traveler already. It probably should have sideboarded some Tidehollow Scullers, too: a Bloom or Grishoalbrand deck will eat that thing alive.

      5. That’s not a Goblins deck, lol. That’s a Gruul Zoo deck that wanted to run Goblin Grenade. It should have Lightning Bolts, but otherwise it looks perfectly reasonable.

      6. This deck confused the heck out of me. On the one hand, I love the front end of the curve – Burning-Tree Shaman should see more play, Burning-Tree Emissary is awesome, and Eidolon should be experimented with outside of Burn. I don’t like Hellrider, Metamorph, or Stormbreath here at all. I feel that he should just be running Ghor-Clan Rampager along with other efficient threats and try to beat face.

      And as a parting note, you’re right – Phantasmal Bear and Warren Instigator both suck.

      1. 1. Yeah, no red makes this deck pretty miserable. In case the article wasn’t clear, this isn’t some new Delver deck that’ll transform Modern. It’s a bad version of an existing UR Delver. I still like that Kiren made it so far in the tournament. His Mono-Blue build moves closer to midrange than its UR cousins, primarily benefitting on this front from four Cryptic Command. Naturally, there are some metas where we’d want to be more midrange than tempo, but Bolt is probably better against most of the decks in those metas than anything blue.

        2. I’m a fan, too. Also hate the Ojutai’s Command and wish there were Shoals (four). Good luck (and keep us posted) if you’re planning on shopping it!

        3. Not an unreasonable thought. The benefit of playing something like Jund Prowess, it seems to me, is moving closer to the red aggro dot. Against the decks you want to pressure first and disrupt later, like Burn, Tron, and various combo decks, Prowess should have a better time than midrange Jund. I’ll agree that Jund is better-rounded, but there’s definitely a metagame for Jund Prowess.

        4. Don’t know about the Rubin list, but I believe you. I really dislike Aristocrats because it’s a deck full of my least favorite kind of creatures: ones that do things. I prefer creatures that attack and block, exclusively. So yeah, I don’t have much to share on this deck.

        5. StarCity called it “Atarka Goblins;” no matter how boring (and sometimes, erroneous) their classifications may be, they do set the standard. I “forgot” this deck doesn’t run Lightning Bolt, but that’s pretty funny.

        6. Actually, this deck doesn’t run Burning-Tree Emissary. I like that it’s so confusing we can look at it and not even know which cards it plays. In any case, it did pretty well in the event at 3rd place. I hope someone with more gall than I picks up the deck and brings us a little insight into its inner workings, because like you, I’m pretty lost here.

        1. Only thing I want to comment on here is how SCG “set[s] the standard” of naming. They, or whoever does data-entry, misclassify a lot of decks and aren’t even always consistent between events. For instance, I’ve definitely seen Abzan Liege decks called Abzan, and that’s just incorrect. They might be in a position to set the standard given their influence, but it’s up to us to challenge that standard-setting when it’s off base.

          That said, I don’t think “Atarka Goblins” is that bad: the deck has a bunch of Goblins on top of Goblin Grenade.

        2. First of all, thanks for the mention! I love this deck and am glad to see it get more attention. I need to give credit to Carl Wilt, the deck’s original designer. He wrote a couple of detailed articles on the list over at the Meadery.

          Anyways, onto the cards in question. Hellrider is there as a hasty threat. Its true that he dies to bolt, but provided he doesn’t, he turns your mana dorks into damage, which can be relevant with the small bits of damage this deck does with things like Eidolon of the Great Revels and Burning-tree Shaman. Phyrexian Metamorph typically copies things like Burning-tree Shaman or Eidolon where they’re relevant, or Hellrider/Stormbreath when you need more pressure. I also copy my opponents creatures when necessary (at states I copied Tasigur, Siege Rhino, and Suture Priest, all to good effect). Stormbreath, as mentioned, survives Lightning Bolt and can’t be targeted by Path, and is a solid threat.

          Its worth noting that SCG called this deck “R/G Aggro” but the real name is “Green Moon” and is a lot more descriptive of the game plan, turn 2 Blood Moon. Its more about resolving Blood Moon as fast as possible and then deploying large threats to close out the game before the opponent can recover.

          1. Thanks for taking the time to response. A green Moon-based midrange deck makes a whole lot more sense than “RG Aggro”, for starters. But if that’s the case, I have a couple of questions:

            1. If there’s no fixed gameplan for Phyrexian Metamorph, it feels a tad inefficient to have it in the deck over something like Thunderbreak Regent. Why not board it? I find the likes of Banefire unconvincing, for example.

            2. What would you potentially replace Hellrider with if you decided it wasn’t cutting the mustard?

            3. What’s the “Moon doesn’t do much here” plan B? Trinisphere? Potent, but there’s a lot of potential friendly fire. Torpor Orb stuffs Twin and Titan Control but they have answers for it. EE helps against Merfolk and Tokens, but is a bit narrow otherwise. I’d appreciate any thoughts you have to share on this issue.

          2. 1. Metamorph feels like it doesn’t need a plan, it’s just a flexible card that helps protect hate (by copying it) or apply pressure by copying a threat. I haven’t tried Thunderbreak Regent, but I think its worth looking at. I don’t like Metamorph in the board though, since I don’t know when I’d ever want to bring it in (other than maybe against midrange). Banefire is from the original list, and I bring it in against control/scapeshift. It could probably be something else, but I have won games with it.

            2. Hellrider has been solid for me in almost every situation, except for when I’m behind. As I said above, Thunderbreak Regent is worth a look, and also possibly Tarmogoyf. But it isn’t something I’ve considered cutting really (might partially be because its a pet card).

            3. What’s the “Moon doesn’t do much here” plan B? Trinisphere? Potent, but there’s a lot of potential friendly fire. Torpor Orb stuffs Twin and Titan Control but they have answers for it. EE helps against Merfolk and Tokens, but is a bit narrow otherwise. I’d appreciate any thoughts you have to share on this issue.

            3. Merfolk is a tough matchup. Elves is a little bit better, and burn is okay postboard. Other than that, I can’t think of a deck that Blood Moon is terrible against. Plan B against the first 2 decks is to race them, leaning on Bonfire and bolt and plan B against burn is to hope to hit sideboard cards early (Dragon’s Claw, Trinisphere).
            Trinisphere doesn’t hurt the deck too much, especially with the mana dorks. I’ve only had one bad game with it where I kept a 2-lander with 2 dorks and a 3sphere, ran out the sphere turn 2, then drew running Hellriders and dragons.
            EE was a meta call, as one of the regulars at the store told me to expect multiple Soul Sisters decks (I think there ended up being 4 or 5). It is narrow, so it probably depends on the meta. The one thing I found the board was missing was enchantment removal against Ad Nauseum, but that’s probably too narrow to worry about, unless you want to swap out some of the artifact removal for Destructive Revelry.

      2. Hi,

        I created/played the Jeskai Delver deck. The deck at its core is a control deck that wins on diverse utility threats. It is not a tempo deck and certainly not an aggro deck.

        I’m just going to give my take on the criticism of the Ojutai’s Command and Jace. The thought behind both was that the deck has problems with the long game against control/other tempo decks like Abzan.

        First, Jace has been insane. When he comes down early he sticks or eats removal. If he sticks, he wins the game on value. If he comes in late usually all the opponent’s removal has been used on my faster threats and then he again generates a huge amount of value. I am seriously debating running a two/two split on Jace/Young P. He is one of the best cards in the deck. He also pairs great with Ojutai’s Command if he was killed earlier.

        Second, Ojutai’s Command can sit in the hand for a couple turns, but its value is real. Again, as the game goes long, you need cards that gain advantage because cards like Siege Rhino and Tasigur outclass any single late game draw. With the Command, I have often returned a Snap to replay another spell and draw a card. I have also Snapped the Command back to return another Snap and flash another spell while drawing/countering/gaining life. It has been a very important card for me.

        On the idea of the Shoals, I am skeptical of its actual value. Pitching a card is not where the deck wants to be. Then holding up 4+ mana to pay for the card is difficult as the deck wants to play up to 3 spells/turn.

        1. Thanks for the clarification, but if you’re aiming to play control, why even pack the Delvers in the first place? Or the Mantis Riders, who are the exact opposite of the safe threats that control thrives on using? I don’t doubt the potency of baby Jace (demonstrated in Legacy and Vintage) or Ojutai’s Command (shown in UW Titan Control), but it seems like part of the deck is pulling one way, and the other part is pulling another way.

          1. Perhaps straight control is not the exact description, but rather tempo control. The deck plays very much like Delver in Legacy. My goal is not to sit back and wait the opponent out. My goal is to drop very efficient threats while denying my opponent their own core strategy. Because the threats are so efficient, I control my opponent not just by permission, but also by significantly reducing the number of turns they have. I have found that my card choices synergize very well towards that aim.

            Maybe the deck doesn’t fit a traditional category, but I have found it to have a reasonable to good match-up against most of the expected field.

  3. Nice article, I really liked that last deck as well. Hellrider is a bit puzzling for sure, even thunderbreak regent seems more appropriate for this kind of deck. It also seems like goyf would fit better than both of those.

    The jeskai delver deck is similar to one I have been running, however I still run swiftspear instead of the mantis rider. I also included 2 more spell snare in place of ojutai’s command and thought scour. Mine has issues with all the fatties in modern so mantis rider seems like a great replacement.

    1. Have you considered Valorous Stance? I think that card is really sweet in Jeskai Delver, even Geist versions since it gives the 2/2 Indestructible after gross blocks.

      1. I actually have not given it a try along side path to exile. However more removal + protection is always a nice thing. The combination of the 2 would actually work out very well. That being said I really don’t love Geist (at least not in this current meta)….I tested him and mentor a TON! Sadly neither really worked out in a true tempo shell. I mean if I wanted to go a little more midrangey mentor can work, however I really wanted to play more towards the aggro point.

        1. I hate Geist, Mentor too. But you mentioned having trouble clearing the ground of fat blockers, so if that’s the issue you’re running into, give Stance a go.

  4. Jordan, I would like to say thank you for mentioning my beautiful baby goblins (clearly a proud father) in your article. I have to admit, I stumbled upon modernnexus for the first time yesterday (I was reading some of the “how to beat….” articles). Afterwards, to my surprise I saw my decklist in your article. I had half a mind to call the deck Goblin Zoo, but Atarka Goblins was a suitable name chosen by SCG. It should be noted that the deck does run 4 lightning bolts :), card is sweet.
    But anyway Jordan, great article. I always enjoy looking at rogue brews for some new ideas. I will say that Rob Wrisley’s deck looks like a sweet n spicy brew. I didn’t know about the existence of Burning-Tree Shaman until looking at this article. So Rob I hope you don’t mind if I jam a couple of that card in my sideboard. 🙂

    1. Glad so many featured deckbuilders found their way to this thread! Keep an eye out in the next month for a deeper look into the Hellrider deck. I’ve also been working on GR Blood Moon decks for an eternity (my articles the last couple weeks have been about my brewing history and tournament results with them), and I see a lot of things wrong with the Hellrider build. Like you, though, big fan of BTE!

  5. Hi Jordan (and anyone else who may be interested),

    I’ve come to give a bit of a quick follow-up report. I promised to sleeve up and test Jeskai Delver with Mantis Rider, and now I’ve come to report my results. I played 10 matches online with the following deck:

    Creatures (14)
    4 Delver of Secrets
    2 Mantis Rider
    4 Snapcaster Mage
    4 Young Pyromancer

    Instants (22)
    4 Disrupting Shoal
    2 Electrolyze
    4 Lightning Bolt
    4 Lightning Helix
    4 Path to Exile
    2 Spell Snare
    2 Vapor Snag

    Sorceries (4)
    4 Serum Visions

    Lands (20)
    4 Flooded Strand
    2 Hallowed Fountain
    2 Island
    1 Mountain
    1 Plains
    1 Sacred Foundry
    4 Scalding Tarn
    1 Seachrome Coast
    2 Steam Vents
    2 Sulfur Falls

    Sideboard (15)
    1 Dispel
    4 Lone Missionary
    2 Negate
    2 Remand
    2 Stony Silence
    4 Wear / Tear

    Here are some cliff notes of the decks I played against:

    Burn: 0-1
    Match 1: 0-2 (G1 mana flood, then G2 mana screw)

    Abzan: 1-0
    Match 1: 2-0 (G1 clutch Shoal to stop Path on Mantis Rider, G2 opponent mana screw)

    Temur Flash (Brew): 0-1
    Match 1: 1-2 (sided in Negate, which turned out to be a dead card)

    4C Defender Combo (Brew): 1-0
    Match 1: 2-0 (raced G1, mull 4 but strong draws G2)

    Jund: 1-0
    Match 1: 2-1 (G1 lost to triple Goyf + misplay on Bolt vs. Goyf, G2-3 Lightning Helix to the face came up huge in very grindy games)

    UR Twin: 0-1
    Match 1: 1-2 (G1 lost a grindfest after stopping the combo 3 times, G2 opponent missed a land drop and I flipped a Delver, G3 lost to Blood Moon)

    Jeskai Midrange: 0-0
    Match 1: 1-1 (G1 win with lots of Bolts, G2 lose to Geist, G3 opponent DC’d)

    Infect: 0-1
    Match 1: 1-2 (G1 get rushed, G2 tempo them out, G3 get rushed again)

    Smallpox 8-Rack: 0-1
    Match 1: 1-2 (G1 got Poxed, G2 rode the Mantis, G3 got Poxed again)

    Naya Zoo: 0-1
    Match 1: 0-1 (G1 mana screw, G2 won a grindy game, G3 lost a grindy game)

    Overall record: 3-6 (1 incomplete)
    Game Record: 12-14

    Key Takeaways:
    1. The deck overall was frustratingly inconsistent at times. Probably needs more cantrips to smoothen out draws. Gitaxian Probe probably needs to come back.

    2. Having Mantis Rider at 2 copies doesn’t seem to be enough, as I was not drawing them consistently. They did do well when I drew them, though. Probably upping the count on these.

    3. Lone Missionary lived up to its billing. I almost stole the match against Zoo thanks to it.

    4. Need to make room for Forked Bolt/Sweepers. Creature swarms were a problem.

    Kind of a rough first outing, but we’ll see if it gets any better.

    1. Hi Roland,

      I’m glad someone else has tried it now. Your experience was similar to mine when I started with the deck. I certainly found that three Mantis Riders was the minimum. If you can land two, you win the game, period. I also found that the one Clique was essential. I can’t say how many times I have used Clique to remove that one card that was about to come down and beat me that turn. It has great utility, even if it is easy to kill and is only a one-of. I also would ask you to try a Jace if you run it again. I have really found it to give the deck just a bit more consistency and reach. Since the tournament, I traded the thought scour for a Probe and it has fit the game plan of the deck much better (especially because it feels terrible to Scour a Mantis). The extra cantrip and extra information has been very useful.

      How did you feel about the Shoals? I had never thought of them and I have never played with them so I’m very curious about their performance. I was also wondering about the electrolyze as Lingering Souls has been about my least favorite card to play against.

      I recently played someone who used Familiar’s Ruse to great success in their W/U control deck. I think I’m going to add one this FNM for testing.

      -Colin

        1. Well, I’ve beaten both Abzan and Jund with the previous version, so I’m iffy on the Colonnades, and I can definitely think of situations where the land entering the battlefield tapped would have been a big, big problem. If you’re aggressive enough and get a couple of early flips, you can take them down quickly, and so far my sideboard has proven capable of going blow for blow with their removal and Liliana.

          I don’t see myself going the Jace route (though I don’t do diddly with my graveyard other than Snapcaster right now), because I feel the meta will reward me for playing a bit more aggressively. As such, I’ve actually moved to an 18-land, 4-Mantis, 4-Probe version, and it’s been working great so far (I’m undefeated in an admittedly small sample size, but the deck runs much more smoothly overall, and that has convinced me that this is the way to go).

          1. Thanks for the info. I’d be interested to hear how it’s doing after more testing. Also, did you keep the four shoals? Are they working out well?

          2. Yeah, the Shoals have come up huge on occasion. I usually board them out for Negate and Remand against the likes of Tron and other decks whose curve doesn’t like up with mine, but it’s been really good at winning interaction wars with control and giving you breathing room against aggro decks.

          3. Hey Roland. I was wondering if you had done much more testing with your version of the Jeskai deck, and what your impressions were.

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