Grixis Delver Sideboard Guide

I get a lot of questions and comments pertaining to Grixis Delver, with a lot of the focus being on the sideboard. My sideboard notably doesn’t take advantage of the sorts of hammers that you see in many Modern decks. I’m not about “destroy all artifacts” or “exile all cards in graveyards” cards, and instead have crafted a sideboard that allows me to solidify consistent gameplans. Today I’ll go over the current sideboard that I would play, and my strategy for a variety of Modern matchups.

Snapcaster Mage-cropped

Let’s start by taking a look at an updated decklist. Albertus Law won GP Guangzhou with a list that looks significantly different from mine, though I don’t see it as a manner of metagame updates, rather as stylistic differences. Law’s list is more about stealing games with an aggressive tempo plan, whereas my build is more about being able to interact at every stage of the game. His build is certainly fine, though this is the list that I currently endorse:

Grixis Delver, by Ryan Overturf

Creatures (13)
Delver of Secrets
Snapcaster Mage
Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Gurmag Angler
Vendilion Clique

Instants (23)
Dismember
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Mana Leak
Remand
Spell Snare
Terminate
Thought Scour

Sorceries (4)
Serum Visions

Lands (20)
Island
Mountain
Swamp
Darkslick Shores
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Watery Grave
Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Countersquall
Dispel
Magma Spray
Spell Pierce
Go for the Throat
Cavern of Souls
Fulminator Mage
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The maindeck departures are minor, but worth discussing. I changed Pillar of Flame out for Dismember, which is worse against Burn and decks without creatures, but is a concession to Tarmogoyf and Bant Eldrazi. Both of these are larger portions of the current metagame, and Dismember also plays dramatically better against Infect. The other major change is subbing out the second Remand for Vendilion Clique. There aren’t too many combo decks right now, which means there are plenty of decks where Remand is extremely marginal. Kevin Jones said Clique was great, and it’s a nice tool to help you clock the Bant Eldrazi deck, which can be a tough matchup. The other change is adding a Darkslick Shores over a Bloodstained Mire. This is another Kevin Jones special, and what it primarily adds is just an extra mana-producing land. I don’t care about taking damage, but I do care about having a bunch of lands in play for Snapcaster Mage wars.

With regard to the sideboard, you’ll recall that I’m off Ancestral Vision, though the slots that it previously occupied have been in flux. There is a strong argument for using graveyard hate in that slot, which I’ll get to later. For now I’m content to let the field and public perception hate out Dredge. Dredge hate is as narrow as Dredge’s dwindling metagame share, and with so few pilots willing to pick the deck up now, I’m willing to throw that matchup. I would rather focus on matchups that are more popular, closer, and that allow me to use widely applicable sideboard slots. Fulminator Mage is my most recent experimental slot, as it helps both the Tron and Jeskai Control matchups, which are on the closer side. It has been successful in other decks, so it probably works here.

Now that you’ve got the updates, let’s talk shop. I’ll go through the major decks I expect to face in Modern and discuss how I see each matchup and what to do post-board. Editor’s note: The categories here are just for organization—they’re not meant to be a vigorous classification scheme.

Interactive Decks

Bant Eldrazi

There are a lot of swings in this matchup. Their hands either offer a completely broken strategy or a mish-mash of medium nonsense. Eldrazi Temple is great, and Cavern of Souls is a beating, but hands that only have one Temple and/or crutch on Noble Hierarch are super weak against us. Cavern of SoulsTheoretically if you wanted to hammer them they can’t cast their best spells (or Matter Reshaper) through a Blood Moon, though at that point you’re just adding more variance to your draws. I choose to accept that sometimes you get them and sometimes they get you.

Magma Spray is neat here because it’s another way to punish their Hierarch hands in addition to being great against Reshapers. Mana Leak is going to suck sometimes, but Spell Snare is very bad here despite the fact that they’re likely to have Spellskite. You just hope not to get Caverned, and fifty percent of the time, it works every time. I don’t know how good Fulminator Mage is here, but given that their only advantage comes from their lands it seems great.

Out:
-4 Spell Snare
-1 Remand
-1 Kolaghan’s Command

In:
+2 Magma Spray
+1 Go for the Throat
+3 Fulminator Mage

Jund

Liliana of the VeilThis is the matchup I’m asked about most commonly, and the impression of many seems to be that it’s a bad one. It’s not. In fact, I would argue that this is among the better matchups for my configuration. Patience is key, and as long as you play with Liliana of the Veil in mind you should be fine. It is their only card that has power level near that of Snapcaster Mage, and leveraging your Mages and counters against Liliana while Snaring and Terminating their threats will more often than not be a recipe for victory.

I haven’t played this matchup with the Fulminators yet, though there’s really nothing in the maindeck that is actively bad here. I sideboard very minimally, and post-board they generally don’t get to add much of significance. Sometimes they Thrun you, but your delve creatures are bigger and Delver flies over.

Out:
2 Thought Scour

In:
1 Countersquall
1 Go for the Throat

Abzan

This is arguably your worst matchup. The differences between this and Jund are that Path to Exile can’t be hit by Spell Snare like Terminate can, and that Lingering Souls is a beating. Lingering SoulsThere aren’t really maindeck cards that are especially bad in the matchup, it’s just that strategically they are significantly advantaged.

Spell Snare is going to have variable value here depending on how many twos your opponent is on, though it is considerably less good than against Jund. As of now, it’s the card that I’d recommend cutting to make sure that you have play against Lingering Souls. It’s possible that trying to cheese them with Fulminators is reasonable here, though I don’t have enough data on that plan to report. Given that Souls are backbreaking and only cost three, I believe that just bringing in Engineered Explosives and Countersqualls is correct. The nice thing about Explosives is that you can use it to kill a Gofy/Scavenging Ooze in a pinch, which helps offset the fact that you’re boarding Snares out.

Out:
4 Spell Snare

In:
2 Engineered Explosives
2 Countersquall

Jeskai Control

Patience is very important here, and making land drops is all that matters in the early game. In Game 1 you are an underdog, as Nahiri, the Harbinger doesn’t die to Lightning Bolt, while Delver of Secrets does. Lightning BoltIf they have Electroylze, forget about it. Post-sideboard it’s all about winning counter wars and making land drops. As such, Cavern of Souls is great here. Be patient, picks fights that matter and that you can win, and don’t tap out if your opponent is likely to punish you for it. I think you’re favored in a three-game set, but unless your opponent is less skilled in Modern blue mirrors it’s not by much.

My current configuration forces you to leave black removal spell in post-board, and Dismember and Terminate both have unique downsides. Dismember can’t get hit by Spell Snare, but the life loss and inefficiency can hurt. I could go either way on that one.

Out:
1 Dismember
3 Terminate
4 Delver of Secrets

In:
3 Fulminator Mage
3 Countersquall
1 Dispel
1 Cavern of Souls

Hatebears

Aether VialDeath and Taxes is really strong against Legacy Delver, but Modern Hatebears doesn’t execute at a disruptive level anywhere near that of Legacy D&T. The matchup in this format is solidly positive for Delver, and if they don’t have an Aether Vial it’s hard to imagine losing.

Out:
1 Remand
2 Mana Leak

In:
2 Magma Spray
1 Go for the Throat

Aggro

Burn

This matchup is super close, and if you play well you will put your Burn opponent’s skills to the test. Spell Snare covers a lot of their best spells, and the delve creatures are excellent here. Searing BlazePlay conservatively, but be mindful of what combinations of cards can kill you in 1-2 turns and how to best play around what they might have. Some players seem to think that an aggressive Delver plan is how you win, but Delver is actively terrible here, largely because in order to block a Goblin Guide you need to flip it first. Aggressively interacting is how you win this matchup, and getting Delver Searing Blazed or just having Delver versus a creature-heavy draw is how you lose.

Remember to fetch for lands that can actually cast your spells. Many players are afraid to find duals, but if you save two points now to not be able to cast relevant spells later you’ll take a lot more damage down the line. You’ll often need 2-3 blue mana up in later turns, and you’ll generally want 2 black and red mana as well to enable you to represent the most possible combinations of your interactive spells. This deck is color-mana-hungry, and shocking yourself is better than leaving yourself in one-spell territory in the mid to late game.

Out:
4 Delver of Secrets
1 Remand
1 Dismember
2 Thought Scour
1 Termiante

In:
2 Magma Spray
1 Dispel
3 Countersquall
2 Spell Pierce
1 Go for the Throat

The Termiante for Go for the Throat switch is very minor, but it can matter with regard to managing colored mana.

Death’s Shadow Zoo

Terminate is really good here, and having a fast clock against a deck that is trying to beat itself up is great. Mutagenic GrowthThey’ll often have Tarmogoyf post-board, though savvy players can actually leave themselves without any two-mana spells to catch with your Snares. Killing the creatures is the plan, and as such cutting Snares is generally fine considering that your strategy makes their Temur Battle Rages pretty bad. Watch out for Mutagenic Growth, and don’t be afraid to use red removal as sorcery speed to play around it. Aim to kill all of their stuff more so than to race, though either plan can get there in many of the games.

Out:
4 Spell Snare
1 Remand
1 Kolaghan’s Command

In:
2 Magma Spray
1 Go for the Throat
2 Engineered Explosives
1 Dispel

Affinity

Kolaghans CommandThis matchup is solidly positive, though Etched Champion can get you. Spell Snare counters almost all of the cards that make their deck playable, and Kolaghan’s Command is gas here. This is yet another matchup where you might consider Fulminating, though on the draw they are definitely slow, and you have a ton of game here anyway.

Out:
1 Remand
3 Mana Leak

In:
2 Magma Spray
2 Engineered Explosives

Infect

TerminateMuch like Burn, this matchup really puts the relative skills of both players to the test. Speed is good, but this matchup is all about attrition. Kill everything, and avoid casting removal spells in combat as much as possible. It doesn’t feel great to take any infect damage, but if you go for a Terminate in combat and they just Vines of Vastwood their creature it’s often game over. In most games you can fetch untapped duals indiscriminately, but be mindful of just dying to Noble Hierarch. Mana efficiency is all that maters. Your spells are better than theirs, but you have to survive long enough to turn the corner.

Out:
1 Remand
1 Kolaghan’s Command

In:
2 Magma Spray

Merfolk

Spell SnareKevin Jones thinks this is the deck’s worst matchup, though I think it’s fairly even, maybe slightly favorable. They punish hands that stumble, but their weakness is that the majority of their cards are terrible. You don’t have enough stuff to bring in to take out all of your counters, so I leave in Spell Snare. They’re always trying to Spreading Seas you, they don’t always have an Aether Vial/Cavern of Souls, and often they have to commit two creatures in a turn to be competitive, which causes them to play into it anyway.

Out:
1 Remand
4 Mana Leak

In:
2 Magma Spray
1 Go for the Throat
2 Engineered Explosives

Ramp

Breach Titan

This is the new hotness with regard to Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle decks, and it is a much better matchup than Scapeshift, as countering Scapeshift with one Mana Leak is almost never possible. Mana LeakAlways leave up Spell Snare for their two-mana spell if you have it, even at the expense of casting a Delver. Counter their stuff so they can’t get off the ground either to naturally Valakut you or play around Mana Leak[/card], and find a way to pressure them while doing so. Don’t play two Delvers into Anger of the Gods, and don’t counter an Anger that only kills one Delver. Save those counters for their business spells unless you’re very counter-heavy or have an avenue to kill them in short order with Countersqualls and Bolts.

I’ll state again that I haven’t played with the Fulminators yet, but it’s worth experimenting with them here. The swaps posted here are tried and true, but theoretically something like trimming Scours or Bolts for Fulminators could improve the matchup.

Out:
4 Terminate
1 Dismember
1 Kolaghan’s Command

In:
3 Countersquall
2 Spell Pierce
1 Dispel

Tron

Fulminator MageNow here’s a matchup where I know you want Fulminators. This deck is stupid and playing against it is the worst. A lot of wins come from the fact that you’re way better against their bad hands than other decks. You can also catch their Sylvan Scrying with a Spell Snare[/card] or their Expedition Map with a Spell Pierce post-board, which can conveniently also tag Karn Liberated or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon in a lot of spots.

World Breaker and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger have made this matchup a lot harder, and this is a big motivation for the Fulminators. Those cast triggers are obnoxious, and I can’t wait to Stone Rain some Tron players.

Out:
4 Terminate
1 Dismember
3 Lighting Bolt

In:
3 Countersquall
2 Spell Pierce
3 Fulminator Mage

Combo

Dredge

Leyline of the VoidYou probably can’t win without graveyard hate. As I said above, you just bank on the field both not to pick up Dredge and for those who do to get smashed by those packing hate. Locally, this deck barely exists, but if it did I would just pack four Leyline of the Void. Theoretically you can play Magic with two hate pieces, but your actual gameplan is so bad that I would just play the card that you know wins if you want to use any sideboard space at all. Just take the opportunity to go get lunch if you get this pairing.

Out:
4 Spell Snare

In:
2 Magma Spray
2… Engineered Explosives?

Living End

ricochet trapThis isn’t a very popular matchup, but I included it because more information can’t be bad, and also to illustrate that graveyard hate is unnecessary. Living End and every other non-Dredge graveyard deck relies on casting spells, which means that you have game against them. Sometimes you can actually just get them by hitting a couple creatures with Thought Scour, but most often you’re able to prevent Living End from ever resolving.

Spell Snare is useless here and Terminate is fighting the wrong battles, but things get way better post-board. The Dispel may look weird, but it lets you fight Ricochet Trap/mtg_card] efficiently and can also catch a Beast Within. Unfortunately, even after bringing in the Cavern of Souls you’re still stuck with two Terminates in the deck, but the matchup is still solidly positive.

Out:
4 Spell Snare
2 Terminate
1 Dismember

In:
3 Countersquall
1 Dispel
1 Cavern of Souls
2 Spell Pierce

Abzan Company & Kiki-Chord

Magma SprayYou don’t see a ton of this one anymore, though even if you did it’s another great matchup. Collected Company is a strong card, but this deck isn’t generally great against Mana Leak. So you just have to one-for-one their creatures and counter all their Companies. This is the matchup where Magma Spray is more than just another one-mana removal spell, as it wrecks Voice of Resurgence and Kitchen Finks. You’re great at disrupting their combo, and they’re great at getting punched in the face by Delver.

Out:
1 Remand
1 Kolaghan’s Command
1 Thought Scour

In:
2 Magma Spray
1 Go for the Throat

I haven’t played against Eldritch Evolution yet, and if you see it you should leave Remand in, probably over another Thought Scour.

Elves

Chord of CallingThis deck got a lot better with the addition of Dwynen’s Elite, but I still believe it is very winnable. You don’t have haymakers, and despite wanting Snares for the Elites you can’t afford having them because of Cavern of Souls. Luckily, they play Collected Company and Chord of Calling to make it so your Mana Leaks are always live. Use your removal spells wisely, and don’t bolt Llanowar Elves aggressively. They have lords and Nettle Sentinels that you want to kill. Be mindful of your life total and carefully calculate when you want to start attacking, and you should be fine.

Dispel may look out of place, but they’re basically never winning without resolving Collected Company, and the stuff you’re bringing out is just less effective.

Out:
1 Remand
1 Kolaghan’s Command
4 Spell Snare

In:
2 Magma Spray
2 Engineered Explosives
1 Go for the Throat
1 Dispel

Creatureless Combo

Ad NauseamThese matchups get less and less popular all the time, but you’re bound to run into Ad Nauseam or Pyromancer Ascension from time to time. Basically, all of these matchups are removal-out, counters-in matchups, and all of them are solidly positive. Easy!

Out:
1 Dismember
4 Terminate
1 Kolaghan’s Command

In:
3 Coutnersquall
1 Dispel
2 Spell Pierce

Maximizing Sideboard Space

Woof! That was a lot of information! You may have noticed that Dredge was the only matchup that was listed as convincingly problematic, while many matchups are considered favorable. I think that Grixis Delver is among the best decks in Modern, though it can be quite difficult to learn. It’s important to utilize sideboard options that apply broadly, and you’ll notice that I’m getting a ton of mileage out of almost all of my sideboard cards—a nice departure from lists that jam narrow cards for a small set of decks. There are a ton of decks in Modern, so I certainly didn’t cover everything. But this is a great starting point and should offer general insight with regard to theorizing how to modify for other matchups.

If you decide to pick the deck up, I wish you the best of luck. It’s a blast to play once you get the basics down. If you take issue with Modern having a lack of interactivity, then this deck should set you on the right course. I’ve been known to play these decks even when they’re bad, but Grixis Delver is actually very well positioned currently, which makes now a great time to get on the Delver train.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

30 thoughts on “Grixis Delver Sideboard Guide

  1. This is a very good, comprehensive article, and I appreciate your taking the time to write it up. I do have a few quibbles, though:

    1. Your sideboarding advice for the Merfolk matchup is sound, but the writeup is confusing to me. I’m with Kevin Jones in thinking that the matchup is very uphill for Delver (I’ve been on both sides of this, and the Merfolk player wins ~70% of the time), and I’ll also point out that Spreading Seas come out against Delver on Game 1. It’s usually replaced by counterspells or graveyard hate, so watch out for those.

    2. I’m surprised you consider Burn as optimistic as you do. I understand that the removal of Probes and some savvy fetching reduces the damage the mana base inflicts upon itself, but this matchup was preliminarily pegged as something like an 80-20 in Burn’s favor when Grixis Delver first popped up a year-plus ago right here on ModernNexus, and neither card pool has changed all that much. I’m surprised you keep all 4 Leaks in here, by the way – that’s a rather slow card to be packing in a matchup that can be very fast at times.

    3. I agree that some of these matchups practically demand land hate, but wouldn’t Molten Rain be a consideration in the Fulminator Mage spot? While pricey and not quite as easy to cast, it is Snap-friendly, and it doesn’t make you choose between the damage or the land pop.

    1. Thanks, to respond to your points:

      1. Many of your opponents leave Seas in, and honestly this deck is land light enough for it to be great sometimes, but it’s more the point about them needing to play into it with a creature with a lot of their hands. Graveyard hate is pretty easy to play around with this deck if you’re heads up about it, though I suppose I haven’t covered that here. Basically, Thought Scour is really good against Relic of Progenitus. At any rate, I think that 70% Merfolks favor is a dramatic exaggeration, and the deck is maybe favored at a rate of 55%. A lot of Delver players don’t have the sideboard Magma Sprays, and just having that amount of removal gives me better odds than many builds. Kira is a problem, though it’s slow, and given how huge the delve creatures are you will often be able to afford two for one-ing yourself. I understand that most players see this matchup the other way, and the games you lose often won’t feel close, though Merfolk is much easier to beat than any deck with Lingering Souls. Players on both sides likely dispute my findings on the matchup, though I’m here to report my experience and beliefs.

      2. This matchup is nowhere near as bad as 80-20. All of the games are close, which gives it the feel of 50/50, though one deck is likely slightly favored. Four Spell Snare is huge against them. Leak is slow, but your comment doesn’t mean a lot without suggesting an alternative. Your opener can’t just be all Leaks, though as long as you kill their first one or two creatures Leak will do a great job at preventing them from playing the game. In particular, a hand on the play with a Bolt and two Leaks will leave them in serious trouble.

      3. The reason that I would favor Fulminator Mage is largely with regard to the Jeskai Control matchup. You can randomly Cavern of Souls it, but more importantly you just play it as a threat. Molten Rain is good for two damage, but Fulminator gets in chip shots. It’s not about choking their mana most of the time, it’s about hitting Celestial Colonnade while maintaining the ability to choke them if they stumble. It’s also worth noting that black mana is at a premium in this matchup because of Countersquall, and as such finding a bunch of red mana in the early game is a real cost.

      1. Thanks for the quick response. Some responses of my own:

        1. I agree, 70% is probably high (and may have to do with the fact that I tend to have more experience piloting Grixis Delver than my opponents do with Merfolk, and thus I have a bit of informational advantage), but 55-60% is probably what we’re looking at, which is not what your write-up suggests. And I do think making a note about the graveyard hate is apropos, since an absence of the heads-up you describe will get you blown out, and virtually every Merfolk deck both has the hate and will bring it in.

        2. I think I was a bit unclear here – the old Probe + Pyromancer versions probably didn’t have much hope against Burn, and your build is much better suited to handle it (this is one of the reasons I like the innovations you made). That said, my experiences running your shell against Burn don’t quite jive with 50/50. I do think that Engineered Explosives has some game here against their “dude hand” that features Guides, Nacatls, and Swiftspears (which I have had some trouble against at times), so that can be a consideration when wondering what to trim Leaks for.

        3. Fair points on Fulminator. I just wanted to throw that out there because recursible land hate sounds backbreaking against the likes of Tron, but I guess that Kolaghan’s Command does a good job of fetching it back up if you need a re-use.

  2. Great article Ryan, as always I look to you and Kevin to school me in how to get better with Delver. You make a good point about remand – now that the meta is shifting away from combo (except for TitanBreach) I will probably end up cutting 1 of my remands for a spell snare or move my clique to the mainboard.

    I have a couple of questions for you:

    If you’re piloting Delver in an unknown meta, is it better to open aggressively (esp. on the play) or wait until you find out what deck you’re up against? (eg. Turn 1 delver vs serum visions)

    What are your thoughts of having a staticaster or an electrolyze in the SB? I’ve been running the former and found it really useful in a lot of matchups – junk, infect, affinity, elves, even soul sisters.

    1. If you’re on the play and have at least two lands in hand you should just open up on Delver. On the draw I always lean just leaving up Spell Snare. Jeskai Control is one of very few decks that doesn’t cast their twos on turn two, so unless their first land is Hallowed Fountain I like just leaning on the counter-magic, as Delver isn’t a hammer against anybody. It’s a fragile creature that lets you play a lean control deck.

      I’ve had Electrolyze from time to time, but as you can see I’m currently off it. It and Staticaster have uses, but the non-Abzan matchups you mention are already quite favorable, and I like Explosives for the ability to hit things like Tarmogoyf instead of just being good against Souls. Depending on local metas you can certainly justify them.

    1. It depends what level you put them on. Delver is terrible in these mirrors, but most of my opponents haven’t known this, so as such I usually bring in a Magma Spray to really punish them for leaving them in. If you know they’re sideboarding correctly, then it’s just Dispel and Contersqualls and the Cavern of Souls coming in. Remand and Mana Leak are kind of bad, but you have to leave in some.

    1. I think in the Grixis builds you’re able to efficiently deal with all potential problems, and Cryptic Command is too inefficient. For something like Temur it starts to make sense because four+ toughness creatures can be real problems, but this deck often sticks on two or three mana for a while, has multiple non-blue sources, and will often aim to cast two spells in a turn.

  3. 2 Questions:
    1) Why don’t you play a dreadbore over the 4th Terminate?
    2) If terminates are so underperforming against Living End, why not playing Fulminator mage post side. They can be reanimated should a living end slips under our counter. In any case they help leaks and pierces plans.

    Great article. Keep it up.

    1. 1) If I wanted to play something for that slot, it would be over the Dismember. There are several problems with Dreadbore. For starters, it costs a lot of mana for this deck, and at sorcery speed. This won’t hack it against decks like Infect or Affinity, where you need to leave up counters and removal spells through the whole turn cycle. The other major problem is that it’s only ever better against Jund and Jeskai (you’re kidding yourself if you think you can play from behind against Tron), and with those Jund is a good matchup and it’s just too narrow against even Jeskai. I would opt for Hero’s Downfall if I wanted that slot, because it can also tag Celestial Colonnade. Your plan is to Countersquall Nahiri, and if you succeed in that and just get beat up by a Colonnade you’ll really wish you had Downfall. Downfall also gets around Spell Snare. Either way, it’s too narrow and seems unnecessary to me.

      2) You can never, ever afford to tap out against Living End. Violent Outburst lets them Living End at instant speed.

  4. Hi Ryan,
    Interesting and informative read!
    It left me with one question, however.
    Why board out the k-command against elves?
    It seems like a solid 2 for one when picking shock+discard or shock+return a creature, as 2 damage is enough to kill their lords in most cases.

    1. The potential to trade off a Snapcaster and rebuy it is real, though I’m just trying to be as lean as possible in that matchup because I have the better long game as long as I trade efficiently. Card is totally passable in the matchup, and leaving it in is fine.

    1. It’s probably a straight upgrade to the Darkslick Shores. I don’t really want to go below fetchlands for both them being trilands and enabling Delve, though different builds of Delver of probably more excited about that update.

  5. hi Ryan, this article is awesome! really abarcative, i have some questions:

    1- Don’t you prefer taking out some threats (like delver or clique) against affinity instead of the leaks (the only response we have to etched champion)?

    2- I see that you have little hate against burn (nothing specific like vamp link), is this because you are ignoring this matchup a little or you Really think you are ok with that?

    3- Do you really think 3 fulminator mages are fine? i think they are bad against bant eldrazi, not enough against tron, and not fantastic against jund/junk. I know they are good against UWx control but in those matches i preffer the visions.

    4- Another thing i saw is that you dont have specific hate against affi and graveyards: did you considered playing Rakdos Charm? I’m playing for its versatility and I think is great.

    I know my english sucks, sorry about that haha,
    thanks a lot!

    1. 1) They’re deck is so fast that I really hate having Leak in. You’re not wrong that it’s how we beat Champion, but with Snares and K-Command we’re really good against Cranial Plating, and without Plating Champion is easy to race. I really like having Delver here, because a flipped Delver just eats a lot of their stuff, which is very significant. Also, the aforementioned ability to race Etched Champion is great. I think that this matchup is positive enough that you can play with your boarding though.

      2) I’m very much fine with my burn matchup. The cards that hammer them are too narrow for me to really want. Yeah, Vampiric Link is fine, but it’s just way too narrow for my sideboard slots.

      3) That’s the part of my sideboard that I’m still tinkering with. I prefer Mage to Vision because Vision doesn’t hack it as a topdeck, and having more stuff that deals with Colonnade matters. If it sucks against Tron then I’ll go a different route, but something for Jeskai (need to have enough cards to bring in) and something that is strong against Tron is what I’m specifically trying to use those slots for.

      4) Affinity is a great matchup- having more stuff for the sideboard there would be foolish. Rakdos Charm is far too slow against Dredge, and I stand by what I wrote about Dredge in the article. Commit hard to beating it, or don’t bother. I’m on 0 cards or 3-4 Leylines. They can dump 8+ power on the table on turn 1-2. A two mana spell won’t hack it.

      1. Okay I think you’r probably right, it’s just that sometimes affinity go nuts and you can do nothing about that haha.

        Reading again the article i found some new questions.

        1- I don’t understand how you decide in which matchups it’s ok to take out some thought scours. i guess i understand that cutting 1 or 2 against jund, abzan or Coco becouse those are grindy matches, but following this line of thought i think you should also cut some of them against URx or UW control decks and you don’t do it, so maybe i’m not understanding the reason that makes you doing this. You also cut 2 against Burn, why this? a turn 2 or 3 fatty is great against them in my opinion because it lets you aplying pressure and blocking well if you need it. Correct me if you think i’m wrong, maybe i need more test in that match.

        2- And against Bant Eldrazi, don’t you rather cut some mana leak instead of the remands since remand is better against cavern of souls?

        3- Why don’t you bring explosives against infect? why do you take out K comand? it can deal with nexus, spellskite and their dudes, I know it’s not fast, but i find it better than spell snare.

        Thanks for the help and sorry for so many questions haha

        1. 1) It’s partly about the matchup having early interaction, but more about having more cards coming in that cards that need to come out. Against Burn you most certainly don’t want to get caught on the draw with too many Thought Scours. Early Tasigur is great, but they will be forcing you to interact in the early game anyway and it won’t take long to Tasigur.

          2) They’re both basically dead against Cavern, the idea is that Leak actually permanently deals with a threat when they DON’T have Cavern. Way more significant than cycling when they do.

          3) Explosives is often too slow, and Snare for Blighted Agent is much preferred to fighting over it on the table, in particular because you can’t ever block that one. Agent resolving is really bad news. Also you mention Spellskite- helps there too. Command is very slow, and most stacks involve you needing to cast two spells in a turn. Command plays but against their best hands you just need to be lean.

          1. okay I get it 🙂
            Im finishing at tunning my sideboard plan and i don’t know what to take out against the U and UW Tron decks (I know, I know, they’r not the most played decks but I prefer be prepared haha)
            the terminates and some snares are clearly going out but I’m not sure about cutting the bolts, the mana leak or the remands.
            What i think is that the 2 mana counters are good on early when you have a threat, but using them reactively it’s not a good plan.
            The bolts are good at closing the games but are not good in early because they cant be used as removal. What do you think about this?

  6. Ryan I have a question for you. I have grixis control almost built but am currently in limbo because of the new Chandra that was spoiled. I want to take a Grixis deck to SCG Milwaukee here in a bit but I am afraid I will not have enough testing with the Chandra and Reveler list I am testing right now. So I was thinking about switching to Grixis delver and want your opinion on cards you wanted to try and test that you may have not talked about in the article and maybe on grixis control as a whole in the current meta and if you think the new Chandra may solve some of the issues.

    1. I don’t care for Grixis Control in Modern and the issue is that there is too much stuff you need to answer. I don’t see Chandra solving these issues in any way, and that’s why I play the more proactive Delver strategy. Any cards that I am playing or considering are discussed in my articles.

        1. Completely dependent on meta. The list I posted is my list, and you have access to where I’m bringing those cards in. Adjust based on what decks you expect to play against and which sideboard cards won’t matter.

          1. Also Kind of curious on the worth of Cavern in the side. Is it that helpful in the Jeskai or control decks? I dont have one and am just trying to figure out how worth the card is over all.

  7. Hello Ryan,
    Congrats on a well written deck guide.
    I’m a grixis control player and I think your list is well tuned and Im gonna test it, maybe even play it at my WMCQ. Having never played a delver-Aggro-Control deck, here are some questions:
    -Does delver flip constantly enough with “only” 27 Instants and sorceries? Could you see swapping the clique, which is horrible vs lingering souls, for an electrolyze?
    -How do you use ur fetchlands in conjuction with Delver especially in the early to midgame?I guess you never use it vs burn and affinity, but other than that?
    -You describe correctly that you should “never ever tap out” vs Living end and thats why you dont bring in Fulminator mage. However i think Fulminator mage has some merit. Its great on turn 3 when you’re on the play and definitely should be better than any terminates.
    -Why dont u bring in fulminator vs “cheaty combo” with boseiju? all the counters dont help if the spells are uncounterable.

    1. Delver flipping is considerably less of an issue than Delver surviving. I have never been unhappy with the rate at which Delver flips. You could play Electrolyze, but I’ve been happy with Clique, as again, it’s just about the threat surviving.
      I almost always crack a fetch on turn one for an untapped dual, as the more important card to sequence around is Serum Visions. You want to be able to leave cards on top of your deck if you scry into two good ones, or just leave bad ones on the bottom without having to shuffle them back into the mix. your third or fourth fetchland can be used to shuffle away bad topdecks with an unflipped Delver, but that’s far more contextual. (you’ll see that a lot, this deck is EXTREMELY contextual)
      Fulminator vs. Terminate against Living End is beyond minor. You’re winning or losing based on pressure and counters, and neither of these cards fights either of these fronts.
      I can count on one or zero hands the number of Boseijus I’ve played against in Modern, though yes, if I expect them then Fulminator is probably good to board in.

  8. Ryan,
    Thank you so much for the inspiring build. I have watched your match ups and followed the progress of this deck and love the current build. I’m not an aggro player and feel that the control build of this deck works well.

    I did however have a major question I’m tossing around and would love your thoughts on. I trust your piloting and expertise with the deck this far, why Fulminator Mage over Crumble to Dust which completely exiles the land and can be snapped back with Snapcaster? Is it the 3cmc vs 4cmc or having a body attached to Fulminator?

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