Bad Deck Workshop: Janky Decks for Janky People: Delversnipe

Welcome to the first installment of Bad Deck Workshop: Janky Decks for Janky People. Do you love jank? Are you pretty much a horrible person, especially when you’re getting your Magic on? Then this is the place for you.

In all seriousness, or as much as I care to muster for a blog intended to be lighter-hearted, and with tongue planted firmly in cheek, this particular column is devoted to decks thatif you play, most opponents would look at your battlefield, then look at you, likely with a concerned expression, and finally, look around for whatever adult is responsible for you, because they’re worried that you aren’t wearing your helmet and might hurt yourself.

Each week, I’ll showcase a new Bad Deck, talk about the mechanics/theme it’s supposed to revolve around, and strong/weak points. I’ll then proceed to edit the everloving crap out of it, and yammer your ear off regarding the edits. Once it’s done…it’ll go into the Bad Deck Garage, to be trotted out as a supplementary entry to a day’s normal entry (since I only do this particular column once a week…I don’t want to spend all day everyday doing these) whenever I make noteworthy changes.

Bottom line is, these decks are meant to be FUN. They will contain interactions and combos and cards that you just plain can’t play in competitive Magic because you’ll get roflstomped. This is Kitchen Table Magic. Cards like Azor’s Elocutors and Desecration Demon are fair game.

Finally, please note that just because a deck is here doesn’t mean that I’m saying anyone playing a deck with the same core concept (as you’ll see today) is bad. It just means that the deck isn’t designed to go straight for the throat…it’s designed around a concept, and it’ll probably be pretty inefficient, but through tuning, maybe it’ll become worthy of a FNM someday.

Knowing me, probably not.

Anyway, without further ado, the first victim of DBW:JDfJP is a cute little blue/red monstrosity I’m calling (oh, so INCREDIBLY creatively)…”Delversnipe.”

Anyone want to guess what’s in it? Here’s a hint…there aren’t any Angels or Thragtusks. (I fucking hate Thragtusk.)

Give up? Fine. Here’s the list I’ve started with. (I know…my bad for no providing linky cards. I’m still looking into what hosts it wouldn’t be considered incredibly rude to link to.)



4 Delver of Secrets
1 Snapcaster Mage
2 Guttersnipe
1 Hypersonic Dragon
2 Charmbreaker Devils
1 Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius


2 Pillar of Flame
2 Street Spasm
3 Syncopate
2 Cyclonic Rift
4 Izzet Charm
1 Mizzium Mortars
2 Thunderbolt
4 Cancel
1 Counterflux
3 Essence Backlash
1 Thunderous Wrath


10 Island
4 Izzet Guildgate
9 Mountain
1 Steam Vents
24 lands

I know it’s got funny numbers (a lot of 1 offs and 2 offs, etc) but that’s because this started out life as my contribution to a thread in the MTG Salvation Standard Budget Deck forums. The original thread was intended as a no-rare deck, but my personal spin on it was to feel free to chuck in rares, but only ones I actually owned. I wasn’t buying ANYTHING for round 1 of this deck…which resulted in some odd card counts, but the first iteration of this deck ended up working out decently enough, even if it was far from being Tier 1.

The key to this deck is, obviously, the revolution around instants and sorceries. Nothing ground-breaking…it’s just that there’s some fun cards that can take advantage of these card types. Let’s take a look at the breakdowns.


Delver of Secrets – Fairly obvious. They’re cheap, evasive, and a strong early threat. With the number of instants and sorceries in this deck, the ratio of being able to drop a Delver turn 1, and flip him for a 3 point attack turn 2 is fairly high. With the loss of Ponder from standard , Delver isn’t QUITE as powerful as he was prior to rotation, but it’s still a fairly potent card.

Snapcaster Mage – Flashback in this deck is just plain gravy. There’s really no shortage of targets for Snappy to hit. There’s a reason this is looking to be one of the cards to make the shift to the formats with larger card pools. Now if I’d only pulled more than one. I HATE buying singles. Time to order some more boxes, I guess. (Yes, I know how horribly inefficient that is. I like cracking boosters, and the wife and I like practice drafting/sealed decking.)

Guttersnipe – One of the absolute keys to this deck. These guys give all of your counters some bite. Instead of playing purely defensively and turtling up…you’re kicking your opponent in the crotch at the same time.

Hypersonic Dragon – Haste, evasion, a decent amount of power and toughness, but it just wouldn’t fit in this deck if it didn’t have the flash effect for sorceries.

Charmbreaker Devils – More expensive than is really suited for this kind of deck, you’ll rarely be able to drop them…but if you ever do, it means the game is going long, and you’ll be glad they’re there, since you’re probably running low on your counters and direct damage by this point. 5/5 ain’t shabby either.

Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius – Some direct damage coupled with drawing power. High casting cost, and just plain screams to get removal tossed his was.



I’m not going to go through these one by one…most of them should be fairly self-evident. I know I’m using some that aren’t quite top tier, but again, this is a janky deck. I’m really pretty fond of Essence Scatter, as expensive as it may be…as is the case in the current Standard environment, if your opponent is playing green…save these for Thragtusks. If you’ve got at least one ‘snipe out, that’s a minimum of 7 damage right there. Zounds! Similar reasoning backs up Cancel…it’s expensive at 1UU, but when you’re playing a form of draw-go, like this deck ends up playing after you’ve gotten a couple of creatures out…it’s not actually too bad.

This Deck SUCKS

So, how can we make it better?

First of all…let’s look at the strong points. It’s VERY synergistic. If you manage to land and stick a delver or two and a snipe or two on the board, odds are, you’re going to be able to knock your opponent out pretty quick. Even if you aren’t tossing out counters and red damage spells to power the Guttersnipe’s ability, you’re still able to attack for five damage every turn. That’s assuming they don’t have any blockers out, or anything else to blunt your attacks. If they do…then you’re going to be kicking out counters and red direct damage…and blasting damage out at your opponent through GuttersnipeIfeellikeabrokenrecordhere.

So yeah, synergy. So what are the weak points?

Well, other than using a bunch of sub-standard cards, because they’re kinda fun (I want Essence Scatter in a very carnal way after some matches…it’s just SO sexy when it works.) The big problem is the creatures. This deck is pretty much the definition of a tempo deck. A tempo deck works by getting a threat to the table, and then protecting it/keeping the way clear for it. Well…part of that is GETTING a threat to the table. In order to do that, you need to DRAW one.

This deck has SIX creatures.

Yep. Six. No, I didn’t miscount.

I only included the Delvers and the Snipes. Snappy? He’s really more of an instant. You aren’t going to drop him until you need him for his flashback ability…and even then, 2/1 dies pretty easily. Niv-Mizzet? Pretty much a dead card. If you ever land him, you aren’t untapping with him. *IF* you do…you’re in a situation where you really didn’t need him in the first place. Charmbreakers? Nice, but expensive. Hypersonic Dragon? Expensive…with them, maybe seven creatures.

Since most of your other cards are counters, or creature removal, only some of which doubles as damage that can be done to your opponent…you may find yourself left with very little left to do to finish your opponent off…and eventually, you’re going to run out of counterspells, or removal effective enough to deal with what they’re tossing out. We need to give this deck more teeth.

To start, we need to transform this into less of a budget-based “Ok, here’s what I had around” type deck. No more two or three-offs because that’s what was available. We need to crank the necessities up to four each, and then have a good gameplay reason for why we wouldn’t include four of anything that we decide to reduce numbers on.

So…add two Guttersnipe, three Snapcasters, and three Hypersonic Dragons. Looking MUCH sturdier now…but we’ve got to remove a few things.

Sorry Niv-Mizzet. You’re out. Same with the Charmbreakers. They also don’t play nice with Snappy, since he exiles the spells he interacts with, reducing what they have to send back to your hand. Counterflux is also gone, because it just isn’t as useful as it could be. A non-counterable counter is nice, but having to make sure you’ve got the right colors untapped is a pain, and the secondary ability of countering all spells is just not that useful, due to its situational nature.

That means we still need to clear out three spells, prior to even homogenizing the numbers of the non-creature spells. Let’s try clearing out two overcosted Cancels, and an Izzet Charm, since it’s a nice utility, but will typically be used as a (potentially) weakened Syncopate.

At this stage…there’s a lot more we can do with this deck, but let’s take it out of the shop at this point and do some playtesting, and revisit it in a few weeks. As of right now, I’ll make supplemental entries when I make changes, and bring it all back together when we re-spotlight this deck.

That’s really it…tomorrow we talk about one of my favorite new mechanics.



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