Grotesque Hybrid: The Sky Summoner Trials

Hello ARG community! In hopes to help expand Magic content I thought I'd drop my cards and add my two cents. Figured I'd call the column Gortesque Hybrid, as homage to my favorite card and also because it describes me very well. Throughout the 15 years I've played magic, I've been the bottom of the totem pole, casual enthusiast, competitive brewer and currently consider myself more inclined to follow the meta-game and add my own spin on the decks.

Today we're going to focus on some playtesting and a little theory regarding my personal take on Delver in preparation for a Star City Games Invitational Qualifier comes up at the end of the month. Now since Delver is presumed to be only the third or fourth best deck in the meta-game, I figured it's time for me to give it a shot. Regardless of how competitive centric my mindset is, I never like playing the 'best deck in the format', just not my style.

Here's the list I'm toying with at the moment:

4 Delver of Secrets
4 Snapcaster Mage
1 Augur of Bolas
3 Restoration Angel
3 Blade Splicer
2 Talrand, the Sky Summoner
-- 17 Creatures

2 Runechanter's Pike
-- 2 Artifacts

4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Ponder
4 Vapor Snag
3 Mana Leak
2 Gut Shot
1 Mental Misstep
1 Midnight Haunting
2 Thought Scour
---21 Spells

4 Seachrome Coast
4 Glacial Fortress
6 Island
2 Plans
2 Moorland Haunt
2 Cavern of Souls
---20 Lands

2 Celestial Purge
1 Mutagenic Growth
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
2 Timely Reinforcements
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Phantasmal Image
1 Dismember
2 Oblivion Ring
1 Mental Misstep
1 Terminus

So it's not an Earth shattering brew or anything, but it is something that I've wanted to try since Talrand was spoiled. Also after one week of availability, it's nice to see Talrands in the top 4 at the last SCG event and there were two or three more decks using him in the top 32.

After looking over how the SCG players utilized Talrand the only deck that truly displayed him was Adam Prosak's 4th place "Mono" Blue Wizards deck. Interesting aspect is that this deck resembles Prosak's list after sideboard since that's when he brings in the white. Granted I don't believe the Wizards deck has enough reach in the long run, it's definitely a fun deck and managed to help throw Talrand into the spotlight of being one of the more breakout M13 cards.

Well the best way to gauge a deck is the good old trial by fire idea, so I got a hold of my friend Devin Jones and we decided to throw a few decks at this and see how it handled. After playing about 20 games between Boros Humans, "Mono" Blue Delver and Mono Black Zombies, the deck proves to be very resilient. The matchup against boros is easily in the favor of Delver and the other two decks are very tempo driven, if you can't set the pace you will probably get out raced by either one.

Another fun fact would be that when you're stuck with 2 Restoration Angels and a Blade Splicer in hand and 4 Islands on board...the deck can still pull out very clutch wins. Now I say this as an amazing epiphany mainly because this year I've been playing G/R variations (yes I was THAT guy) so I never had the luxury of watching a game swing when my opponent was deprived a color. So Delver showed me more or less why it's been the boogeyman for the better portion of this year, and I kinda liked it.

Talrand held his own and performed strongly when needed, completely swinging games in my favor. Not to mention there were at least 3 occasions were drawing into Midnight Haunting won me the game, and any other card wouldn't have had the same effect. With the exception of being able to argue that Midnight Haunting is just too cute and a pure value card, in this build I really think it's better than a fourth Blade Splicer or a second Mental Misstep. Not to mention it does give a little evasion against Bonfire and Thundermaw Hellkite thanks to it being Instant speed.

Conceptually my tweaks should be applicable if not strong in a projected meta of Naya Pod, Delver, Boros, RG Aggro and small smatterings of Zombies and Reanimator strategies. Nothing sticks out glaringly as being bad, but after a little more testing we'll see what turns out to be suboptimal. The first somewhat real test before the SCG IQ will be a local Grand Prix Trial for the Grand Prix up in Boston.

Now I've been looking forward to this event for a little bit of time cause it's only the second GPT my local shop has run (I was on vacation in California for the first one). Comic Lair, in Hamilton, New Jersey has been a good place for me when I first started getting into Magic years ago and also my return. Decent number of good players and an awesome vibe has had me coming back for the 12 years I've lived around the corner from it. So let's see if the good memories can continue, because currently I'm not heading to Boston...but 3 byes and some prize could sway the decision a little.

Here's to hoping things go decently at the GPT so I have more then a scrub story to report for the next article. But until then...I'll end with this little question:

If you were to construct a budget Kamigawa block deck, what is the one card you would try to base the deck around?