Esper Delve by nabenabetk on MtGO

Creatures (14)
4 Geist of Saint Traft
2 Gurmag Angler
3 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
2 Snapcaster Mage
3 Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Non-Creature Spells (26)
4 Liliana of the Veil
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Lingering Souls
2 Thoughtseize
4 Fatal Push
4 Path to Exile
4 Thought Scour

Lands (20)
1 Creeping Tar Pit
4 Flooded Strand
1 Godless Shrine
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island
4 Marsh Flats
1 Plains
4 Polluted Delta
2 Swamp
1 Watery Grave

Sideboard (15)
1 Celestial Purge
1 Collective Brutality
2 Engineered Explosives
2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
4 Negate
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Surgical Extraction
3 Timely Reinforcements


Delve is certainly a very powerful mechanic, as proven by the bannings of Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time in Legacy and Modern. However, those bannings didn’t prevent Delve cards from being viable in those formats altogether. Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Gurmag Angler both have a consistent presence in Magic’s older formats. This specific deck aims to take advantage of the power of both of those cards, as well as other graveyard-focused cards, Snapcaster Mage and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, which were both defining cards from their sets that have both found their way into older formats.

10 of the 18 creatures in this deck (counting Lingering Souls) are graveyard-focused, and the other 8 are made up by 4 copies each of Geist of Saint Traft and Lingering Souls. These cards do very different things, however. Geist is one of the most powerful tempo cards that the Modern format has, while Lingering Souls is at its best when its grinding out board advantage through card-efficient attacks and blocks. Because of this, certain draws will want you to play aggressively and certain draws will want you to grind out your advantage. However, the flexibility of the cards in this deck allow you to play them in an aggressive, tempo-oriented manner, or in a midrange, grindy manner.

Outside of Lightning Bolt, this color combination gets to play the most efficient discard spells and kill spells in the format; Inquisition of Kozilek, Thoughtseize, Fatal Push, and Path to Exile, alongside the format’s best planeswalker, Liliana of the Veil. All of these cards compliment Geist of Saint Traft‘s game plan, as well as the grindy graveyard-focused one that the rest of the creatures want.


The lack of counter spells at all in this deck is notable, and the sideboard makes up for it with 4 copies of Negate, which I like a lot but will be replacing with Countersquall, which is a big upgrade when you are beating down with Geist of Saint Traft. Timely Reinforcements helps massively in the Burn matchup, which is not favorable in the slightest. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar allows the deck to grind even more, which can be very useful against control matchups or other midrange matchups.

Here are the changes I would make going forward:


-1 Fatal Push

+1 Thoughtseize


-1 Celestial Purge

-4 Negate

-1 Surgical Extraction

+4 Countersquall

+2 Nihil Spellbomb

This is day 92 of’s 2017 Deck of the Day column, where each day we’ll feature a different Standard, Modern, or Legacy deck that caught our eye. You can read day 91 here, where we featured a Modern aggressive deck that packs a punch through Young Pyromancer.

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