Today we will be returning to the wonderful format of Pauper with a deck the has been a major contender for best deck in the format for years: Delver. If you play Pauper regularly, you will inevitably face some version of this deck, and you must be prepared. Due to Delvers presence, some decks even use the card Delver of Secrets as a baseline for tooling their decks to beat Delver strategies. In light of this, Delver still remains one of the most streamlined and powerful decks in the format. Although versions of Delver containing black and red have rose in popularity, I will be covering the mono blue version, as I feel it will give you a good idea of what to expect from Delver decks as a whole.
Now, let’s get into the decklist.
Pauper Mono U Delver
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Ninja of the Deep Hours
4 Faerie Miscreant
4 Spellstutter Sprite
4 Spire Golem
2 Stitched Drake
Noncreature Spells (21)
2 Logic Knot
Delver of Secrets: The namesake of this deck. Flipping him early and swinging constantly can sometimes lead to easy wins. But since his ability activates at the start of the turn, our opponent has a chance to react to him before he transforms, so we need to be able to protect him.
Faerie Miscreant: Nothing too exciting, but this cheap flier can provide us with card draw, and since it has flying it can be used to get in extra chip damage.
Spellstutter Sprite: A counterspell that also leaves behind a faerie! This is a great card that like Faerie Miscreant, gets better with duplicates. We could also flash it in to block an opposing threat, but only do so if absolutely necessary.
Stitched Drake: Nothing that exciting to see here. It has a nice body and flying, but it’s not too special.
Ninja of the Deep Hours: This card is just pretty great overall. If we cast it for it’s ninjutsu cost (and if we aren’t casting it that way something is seriously wrong) we get to draw a card and bounce one of our creatures. This works great for repeated use of Faerie Miscreant and Spellskuter Sprite’s enter the battlefield effects.
Spire Golem: Like Stiched Drake this is another good flier, but this time it’s a little more special, as the more islands we have, the cheaper this card gets. Making it a great way to come back late game, or close out the game.
Gush: Since this deck has a pretty low curve, we can usually cast this spell for free without suffering too heavily. Gush works great for refilling our hand in the late game after we’ve run out of gas.
Snap: A nice card both offensively and defensively. Bounce an opponent’s creature they put a lot of effort into, or bounce one of your own to save it for later.
As always, your sideboard should adapt to your current meta. But here is a nice starting point:
2 Coral Net
2 Curse of Chains
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Serrated Arrows
2 Steel Sabotage
2 Stormbound Geist
Coral Net: Very good at getting rid of permanents, which is something blue can’t normally do well. Not to mention if our opponent wants to try to keep the creature around it will hurt them long term.
Hydroblast: A great counterspell or targeted removal against other blue decks. Like Coral Net, this card is again one of the few ways blue can destroy permanents.
Relic of Progenitus: The best graveyard hate in the format, just make sure you use it after your opponent has a decent amount of stuff in their graveyard, but before they can abuse said stuff.
Steel Sabotage: A great way to deal with pesky artifacts. It may not be as good as what other colors have access to, but it’s the best we have.
Curse of Chains: Great for locking down decks that mainly rely on one large creature like Gurmag Angler or Atog. While being able to straight up remove the creature would be ideal, we are playing mono blue so this is the best we have.
Stormbound Geist: Great against fliped Delver of Secrets, as it can block it, kill it, and come back even stronger.
Serrated Arrows: It’s a bit pricey, but that’s what we have to deal with when we want removal while staying mono blue. It can also be used to weaken opposing creatures to make them no longer a threat to us.
Combo: We have a fairly good matchup against combo decks as long as we can get some counterspells in our hand early. The best course of action is to get rid of our opponent’s threats as quickly as possible, since most of the popular combo decks tend to win by quickly pumping up a single creature and making it unlockable. With the popular Izzet Blitz deck, cards you should watch out for are: Kiln Fiend, Nivix Cyclops, and sometimes Wee Dragonauts. Since all of Izzet Blitz’s threats are part red, we have the added benefit of being able to use Hydroblast to destroy them. Just keep in mind that most of these decks will play things like Apostle’s Blessing, so be careful when you try to use removal.
Aggro: This really depends in the specific matchup, as some aggro decks are quicker than others. But generally we want to out value and out speed our opponent as best as possible. Keep in mind that in many of these matchups countering and bouncing won’t be as effective because a single creature isn’t usually worth much to aggro strategies. If you are matched up against something that plays lords, or other particularly scary creatures, you may want to sideboard in ways to deal with them. But racing usually works better.
Control: This is not a good matchup at all, and we really need to push back hard if we want a chance at winning. Prepare to be aggressive with our counterspells in order to keep our threats alive. Time is of the essence against control, and the longer the game goes on, the slimmer our chance of winning will be. Remember that your Delver of Secrets is useless if you don’t have a way to protect him.
Tempo: This matchup will really come down to how well you can asses the situation. We want to inch out our opponent without missing an opportunity to use our mana to its fullest. And we want to be quicker than our opponent, but we don’t want to go full aggro and lose to opposing removal. We also don’t want to go too slow and allow them to out speed us. Keep in mind that once something hits the board it will be extremly tricky to deal with. We want to find a nice balance of pressure and protection in order to win this matchup.
I hope this article will help you in your journey through the Pauper format, because whether you intend to play Delver yourself or not, Delver is a deck you will have to play against. Hopefully after reading this you will be a bit more prepared for what Pauper brings to the table.
But what do you think? Are you interested in this deck? Do you enjoy the Pauper articles? Is Delver as menacing as people make it out to be, or is it just over hyped? As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to say something in the comments section below.