November is a month synonymous with gratitude and giving thanks. A time of the year stuffed with soft autumn colors and feelings of bountifulness. To celebrate the 1st of November (and because I am a big sweetie) I’ve decided to be particularly generous and offer you a free 2 for 1. Two complete articles for the price of one. I am a living breathing Divination, the purest form of card advantage.
Article 1: HOW TO BEAT U/W FLASH
Play B/G Delirium.
Next up, Article 2……
What do you mean that doesn’t count? Three words won’t suffice? You think it’s a gross oversimplification and is possibly even misrepresentative of the fact that U/W won both Grand Prix this weekend despite two top 8s flushed with B/G Delirium? Explain myself? You ingrates.
Despite U/W Flash hoisting two trophies come Sunday evening, it’s hard for anything but B/G Delirium to be the talk of the town. After its sudden dominant emergence at Grand Prix Providence last week, it has become clear that B/G Delirium is a solid and consistent choice. And although it didn’t take down either tournament, it put an incredible 8 copies into the 16 elimination round slots over the weekend, showing it’s an excellent deck choice in the weeks to come. You can’t occupy that many slots in two major tournaments without having a good U/W Flash matchup.
The ability to play a consistently delirious Ishkanah, Grafwidow on turn 5 is the best route to victory B/G has against U/W. I’ve harped on about the subtle strength of Momma Spider and her brood before when I wrote about the card in Temurge (article here), and for all those same reasons she remains incredibly relevant. 6 power and 11 toughness spread across 4 bodies is an incredible rate for 5 mana, and simply offers a greater speed bump than anything else in Standard.
Ishkanah, in many ways, is the “board wipe” of this format. It’s the best card for catching you up against a huge opposing board position while buying you enough time to get your stronger (slower) game plan into action.
All of that, plus the fact that B/G Delirium can take advantage of a solid 2-mana instant speed removal spell (Grasp of Darkness), and its ability to play a huge end game trump with Emrakul, the Promised End, makes for a winning recipe against Smuggler’s Copter, Spell Queller, and Archangel Avacyn.
But, you knew that most likely. If you’ve been reading my weekly articles, you’re obviously an incredibly beautiful and intelligent individual who is undoubtedly ‘hip to the groove’ (that’s a phrase the youths use right?). B/G Delirium was hyped all last week as the U/W killer, and despite U/W winning both major events, I stand by B/G Delirium as being the best answer to the Flash deck. I think the majority of results from both events back this up regardless of what it was exactly that won the events.
In summation: how do you beat U/W Flash?
Play B/G Delirium.
*Ahem* Where was I? Oh yeah,
Article 2: HOW TO BEAT B/G DELIRIUM
B/G Delirium is a prime example of a midrange deck that skews towards the control end of the spectrum. It is slower, it is interested in playing a 1-for-1 removal plan, and it is interested in grinding you out and finally beating you with its powerful endgame. And, while it can have aggressive draws with Grim Flayer and Mindwrack Demon, a majority of its cards work and play towards a slower, reactive game plan. Kill threats, turn on delirium, turtle up and protect Liliana, the Last Hope and then recur threats and generate card advantage with Grapple with the Past and Liliana’s -2.
So how do we beat them? Well, if we can’t go through them, we better go under them, or way over the top of them.
Grapple with the Past, Traverse the Ulvenwald, Vessel of Nascency and Liliana, the Last Hope may offer card selection and a great capacity to grind your opponent down, but they can be slow and durdly. Vessel and Traverse do not get in the red zone. Any decks that can finish B/G off before the first Ishkanah, Grafwidow comes down are worth exploring. Mardu Vehicles is sticking around as a player in this format for that very reason. Aggressive decks should be wary of creatures susceptible to Liliana’s +1 and should keep the following tip in mind as well.
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is still good. The best tool U/W has is also available to the more aggressive decks as well. The 4 mana ‘walker really does it all; adds to the board the turn he comes down, later attacks for big chunks indiscriminately of any potential demon or spider blockers present, and represents haste damage in the form of an emblem plus any creatures you currently have on the battlefield. The 4 mana Glorious Anthem mode of Gideon should never be overlooked, and might be the difference between baby spiders having to chump block and getting to stack block and trade. Keep it in mind! Nissa, Vital Force is a similarly sticky threat that can come down and start getting aggressive. Keep both of these walkers in mind if you’re playing green or white.
Thalia, Heretic Cathar is picking up steam in the format and is another option to consider when trying to combat B/G Delirium. She showed up as a 2-of in the mainboard of one of the winning U/W Flash lists this weekend, as well as showing up in the sideboard of the Mardu Vehicles list that top 8’d GP Santiago. Her “creatures enter tapped” clause can delay Ishkanah and her kids from blocking duty and the extra attack step might be the difference between victory or defeat. Her 2 toughness is relevant against Liliana’s +1 and her 3 power plus first strike lines up well against Smuggler’s Copter. Also noteworthy is how her “creatures entering the battlefield tapped” clause can disrupt a creature’s ability to crew. A curve of turn 2 Smuggler’s Copter into turn 3 creature and crew can be stymied with an opposing Thalia and might push her relevance in the format even further.
Early aggression backed up with the reach of burn spells is another possible route worth considering. While B/G might be great at stabilizing the board with repeated Ishkanahs, it doesn’t do a great job of insulating its life total. If you can answer Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet before he ever gets into combat, it is entirely possible to keep B/G from gaining a single life point. Pedro Carvalho finished 10th at GP Santiago with a new take of R/B Aggro, featuring a much larger suite of burn spells. I’ve yet to play any games with it so far, but from my experience with Mardu Vehicles, I can somewhat attest to the reach Unlicensed Disintegration offers against B/G Delirium. Carvalho’s list can be found on this page.
If going under isn’t your speed, you do have the option of trying to go over. Aetherworks Marvel is admittedly a poor match up for B/G Delirium and generally considered the main reason why B/G failed to do well at Pro Tour Kaladesh. Marvel has a poor matchup against U/W Flash however, and I’m not sure if I could ever recommend the deck while U/W continues to be a sizable portion of the metagame. It’s definitely an option if you’re just interested in the business of crushing Delirium however.
Hopefully any insights I offered will be of greater help to you than me, as I’ll be putting Standard on the backburner this week as I get ready for an upcoming sealed PPTQ this weekend. This limited format has been difficult for me to get a solid grasp on, but luckily MTGO leagues are conveniently located in my living room for testing.