Let's review our deck.
It is Patrick Chapin's deck from the 2014 World Championship.
Closely modeled from the breakout success of the Legacy version of UR Delver, the Modern UR Delver deck retains the creature base, overwhelming velocity via cheap effects and cantrips, and can draw three cards for only one mana via Treasure Cruise.
UR Delver has been called the "definitively best deck in Modern" and with good reason. The aforementioned Treasure Cruise might be the most powerful thing you can do in the current Modern format, and while multiple decks can play it, UR Delver might break Treasure Cruise best. At the very least, with a palette like Delver of Secrets, Lightning Bolt, and Young Pyromancer, the strategy is chock full of efficient, powerful, cards from top to bottom.
UR Delver isn't much of a secret. If it's the best...people know. It pays not just to try UR Delver yourself, but to be mindful of the mirror match.
...which brings us to this week's play:
It is a game two situation against another UR Delver deck. We won game one despite the opponent coming out fast and hitting the first Treasure Cruise. We stalled on lands...and that was actually kind of super gas; stalling on two simply meant we were flush with spells. Because those spells all cost one or two mana we had plenty of business to trade with, one-for-one.
Now the one-for-one trades have already begun.
The opponent opened.
We played Delver of Secrets; he used Electrickery to bin it.
Then he played Young Pyromancer. We played Lightning Bolt to get rid of this powerful threat then used our spare mana to cast Serum Visions.
With a hand of:
● Arid Mesa● Island● Thought Scour● Treasure Cruise● Young Pyromancer
...we flip up these two with Serum Visions:
1. Gitaxian Probe2. Threads of Disloyalty
How do we resolve this Serum Visions?
Celebrity Guest Tom Martell...what do you think?
"We are absolutely keeping this Gitaxian Probe on top, so the only question here is what to do with Threads.
"In the abstract, it is unclear how good Threads of Disloyalty is in the Delver mirror. A lot of the lists now play multiple copies of Vapor Snag, which lets them one-for-one with the Threads. They also have a lot of copies of Spell Pierce after SB, which makes it hard to resolve the card. When it does resolve, it is a pretty big beating.
"In this specific situation, we have no immediate answer if he runs out another Pyromancer. Our opponent just let us kill his first one for no gain. Why did he do that? There is a good chance he has another one in his hand. He could also be bottlenecked on mana and can't afford to sit back and wait, making it unlikely he can leave up countermagic and play a threat. A third possible explanation is he has a Treasure Cruise and is fine putting the card in his graveyard.
"Given these factors, I expect Threads to do some heavy lifting this game. We'll also get to play Probe to see what we are up against and know if it can resolve / when to play it. It is a very powerful card in the right situation and with Probe we can sculpt an ideal game state for it.
"I would definitely scry both cards to the top and draw Probe next turn."
Tom Martell's Play: Put Gitaxian Probe on top, followed by Threads of DisloyaltyTom said we are "absolutely" keeping the Gitaxian Probe on top, so I thought it might be worthwhile to think about why.
Gitaxian Probe occupies an interesting place in Delver of Secrets decks. It was not universally played as a four-of when the two blue cards were concurrently legal in Standard, as it sat behind Ponder (which is replaced by the Serum Visions we are resolving now in Modern) and sometimes Thought Scour, which could set up Snapcaster Mage or goof around with and against Miracles cards.
But as formats get bigger, with more options (and decks therefore become more dangerous) there is an incentive to play cheaper and cheaper cards. Gitaxian Probe is a cantrip that helps to support the thin 18 lands of Patrick's version of UR Delver, and increases the instants and sorceries density of the deck to help auto-flip Delver of Secrets on turn two.
Yes...but it isn't always what you want.
Gitaxian Probe can hit the cutting room floor in certain matchups, especially against pressure decks, where the two life investment isn't really free.
I'd actually characterize an opposing UR Delver deck as potentially a pressure opponent; not in this spot, exactly, but against the cards Monastery Swiftspear, Goblin Guide, and Lightning Bolt for sure; but the presence of Young Pyromancer in our hand (and the possibility of the opponent having yet another Young Pyromancer) gives us some greater incentive to keeping a cheap / free card drawing.
Now there is the question of Threads of Disloyalty.
This is the card I would not consider shipping. Despite the presence of Vapor Snag in UR Delver decks, I think Threads of Disloyalty is the single most powerful effect we have access to this game. And it should be...it costs three mana instead of only one or two.
But that's okay! We not only have two lands already on the battlefield, but there is more in hand for next turn.
Generally speaking I would tend to keep any two spells on top in this spot (i.e. a sideboarded game). Presumably every card in my deck is about where I want it to be in a post-sideboard, and I don't want to put myself into drawing more lands prematurely. After all, as we've already said there are two lands in grip already! Remember: I won the first game by being "stuck" on two lands.
So what's the order of cards?
We can move to draw Threads of Disloyalty next turn, or Gitaxian Probe next turn. We would put the Threads of Disloyalty on top if we believed the opponent was already gripping a second Young Pyromancer. This would allow us to steal it immediately, and then we would have the Gitaxian Probe (among other sweet cards or future sweet cards) to trigger the stolen Young Pyromancer the following turn. There is no way with our current setup to draw the Threads of Disloyalty and use the Gitaxian Probe to make a 1/1 token if we use the Threads to steal it.
There is a way to get the Threads of Disloyalty if we need it, as Gitaxian Probe is a zero mana cantrip.
Generally speaking, between two plays, the play with more options is the stronger one. Because of that, I think the best play is to put Threads of Disloyalty on top, with Gitaxian Probe on top of it.
This lets us plan and prepare for the two most important situations.
1. What if the opponent has a Young Pyromancer next turn? We can play our third land (probably the Island) and pay two life to draw the Threads of Disloyalty, via the Gitaxian Probe.
2. What if he doesn't have a Young Pyromancer? We don't actually have a solution to any kind of permanent source of damage, but luckily, Threads of Disloyalty can potentially sort out any of Monastery Swiftspear, Delver of Secrets, Insectile Aberration, whatever; though to be fair, I would be kind of miserable if I used a Threads of Disloyalty to handle a one mana 1/2. In any case, if the opponent didn't do anything, we could play our own Young Pyromancer and the Island, and cast Thought Scour for a 1/1 Elemental Token. Depending on what exactly the opponent does, I would be very inclined to pay Phyrexian Mana for the second 1/1 Elemental Token, too. 1/1s are surprisingly resilient in a mirror situation (because the opponent largely packs Lightning Bolts or, say, Threads of Disloyalty, which you don't want to use on a token creature). Ironically, even though the UR Delver deck isn't much interested in using a card to kill one 1/1, an actual Young Pyromancer has a short life span. Just a bad combination of tiny toughness but huge, impact if left alone.
Mike Flores's Play: Put Gitaxian Probe on top, followed by Threads of DisloyaltyAs Celebrity Guest Tom Martell and I had the same play, only one line from the TCGplayer community will be rewarded.
For agreeing with Celebrity Guest Tom Martell, Spenser Araujo earns a $25 TCGplayer.com Gift Certificate. Great job Spenser Araujo!
For agreeing with Yours Truly, Daniel Ginder does the same. Well played, Daniel Ginder! A $25 TCGplayer.com Gift Certificate is yours!
Make sure you send a message (not a wall post) to our Facebook page - MTGatTCGplayer - to claim your prize!
I'll actually be taking next week off; but enjoy the Fate Reforged review. I'll be back the next week.
A true master of resolving blue spells, Tom Martell put the StoneBlade archetype on the Legacy map with his win at Grand Prix Indianapolis 2012. He previously posted a UW Top 8 at Pro Tour Paris with the original Caw-Blade (losing only to fellow Caw-Blade mage and eventual winner Ben Stark), sadly running a fever rather than the preferable running hot. Tom currently commands one of the highest Constructed win percentages on the Pro Tour. He won Pro Tour Gatecrash last year and Grand Prix Sacramento less than a month ago. Both Tom and his mother are devoted fans of the Top 8 Magic podcast.
If you want to get better at Magic, Constructed Magic in particular, follow Tom on Twitter at @tommartell and check out his stream at http://www.twitch.tv/tommartell