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Foiling Opponents with Angler Delver


One of the best aspects of the Pauper format is the fact that just about anything is viable. Most decks leave the meta for varying periods as other decks overtake them. For some this change simply lasts for a few weeks. For others it can be months before the deck will re-enter the meta. This is especially true for the Angler Delver archetype.

This Dimir Delver tempo deck is meant to handle your opponent's board while filling your graveyard. When your graveyard is full enough you can delve down to your Gurmag Angler and kill your opponents fast.

Older versions of the deck focused more on the Angler aspect, going more all-in with cards like Mental Note and Thought Scour (which does still appear here in somewhat smaller numbers). These new ones are instead more focused on controlling the board to get you to the endgame. As a result, these versions have somewhat different feels to them which may explain the recent resurgence in the archetype.

Earning the recent nickname of "Blue-Black 1-Drops," the deck focuses its arsenal with a suite of low-mana cantrips and kill spells to help get through your deck and fill the yard. Cards such as Ghastly Demise capitalize on this, allowing you to kill just about anything for one lone Black mana. In this Delver variant, it's often comparable to Skred, albeit with some tighter restrictions. Disfigure also effectively gets the job done, handling all but the format's biggest creatures. If your opponent goes wide, especially with tokens, Echoing Decay is always going to be a strong option at your disposal.

The real draw to the archetype is the plethora of "free" spells the deck plays.

Snuff Out

Gush is a mainstay in most Blue decks, to the point that many have called for its banning. Filling your hand with fresh gas is no joke, and what's more you can even discard cards to fill your graveyard even further. It's best, as ever, when on your turn you float two mana, play Gush, and then re-play one of the lands you picked up for maximum value. The possibilities really are nearly endless with this card banned in just about every other format.

Unlike Gush, Daze has been showing up less and less as of late, but here it's a full 4-of. Getting your opponent is the name of the game and Daze allows you to do so in spectacular fashion. Counterspell, which also makes a showing in this list, is great, but it doesn't have anywhere near the surprise factor that Daze allows you.

Lastly one that has been making a rare appearance in the meta is Snuff Out. The classic Mercadian Masques spells hasn't been showing up quite as much in the last few years, but when it does, it creates a massive bang. In this meta where until now Black creatures haven't been showing up nearly as much, Snuff Out can put in tremendous work. The cost is high at four life, but it's better to pay that then to let yourself die to a Kiln Fiend or an Atog.

Rounding out our spell suite is a couple cantrips in the form of Brainstorm and Preordain. These cards are as multi-purpose as ever. They fill your yard, fill your hand with cards you need, and set up Delver flips. Interestingly, this is one of the few decks in the format that probably wants Brainstorm over Ponder. Most decks don't really have a way to shuffle the deck after Brainstorming to really break it the way formats like Legacy do. Angler Delver isn't like most decks, however. It runs some combination of six total Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse as well as an Ash Barrens to help get the unneeded cards shuffled squarely away.

Lastly the deck utilizes Gitaxian Probe as a way to effectively fill your yard, cantrip smoothly, and most importantly see what your opponent is up to. Gaining this extra information helps tremendously when you're controlling the board. It allows you to know both what to kill and to counter.

With Ultimate Masters landing, we also got a sweet new card for this deck filled to the brim with cheap, if not free spells. That's right, I'm talking about Foil.


A lot of people have expressed concerns that Foil really isn't all that spectacular. After all, you're three-for-one'ing yourself to counter a spell. Seems like bad value doesn't it? There's parallels to Force of Will but the situations that require that card to be used are quite different. In formats like Legacy and sometimes Vintage, Force of Will stops your opponent from doing all out stupid things, like casting Show and Tell or comboing off into a Goblin Charbelcher activation.

The question most people have is "what are you trying to stop in Pauper?" After all, if you think about it, the format is often driven by small one-drop creatures or removal spells. You can sometimes get something like a Distant Melody from Elves, but you should already be slowing down their board or else be at a point in the game where you can just cast regular old Counterspell.

There's things to look at here that make it better than it looks. For one, it's not hard to go Gush into Foil for high value. You can also Daze something to pick up a land, even if they have the mana, to counter in extraneous circumstances. Ultimately it gives you the ability to counter a spell when your opponent least expects it, and it even fills your yard to fuel Gurmag Angler.

No matter how you slice it, Foil is a force to be reckoned with. Just ask MTGO grinder and streamer Nasty who has been jamming the card since its release online. In the first week alone, he's not only gotten a cool 5-0 but even won this week's Pauper Challenge!

This is just the first draft of the deck too with this sweet new tech and is likely going to continue evolving from here. Nasty has expressed interest in going up in the Foil and/or Gush counts because of how well they've been performing for him. Others have been doing the same as well. The archetype has plenty of room for growth from here and it's rapidly asserting its dominance over the format once more.

Most notably Foil, one of the breakout new cards of Ultimate Masters, is certainly living up to the hype. People are still brewing around cards like Fire // Ice, Tethmos High Priest, and Resurrection to mixed results, but as I mentioned before, many of the new cards feel like they'll need some time to find a proper home. Hopefully that time will be sooner rather than later. Until then, I for one welcome our zombie fish overlords. I hope you do as well.

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