Today, we're taking a look at a U/R Delver list that went 4-0 in a Modern daily on MTGO. Best of all, this is a fairly budget deck (around $250 in early 2015, but about $350 in mid 2019) and contains zero fetch-lands.
Here’s the list that MTGO user Darkrouge piloted to a perfect record and some M15 packs:
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Young Pyromancer
3 Snapcaster Mage
2 Grim Lavamancer
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Serum Visions
4 Mana Leak
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Vapor Snag
3 Spell Snare
2 Spell Pierce
2 Izzet Charm
4 Steam Vents
3 Sulfur Falls
1 Temple of Epiphany
(NOTE: Because Gitaxian Probe was banned after this list was played, we will replace the 4 copies of Probe for four copies of Opt.)
But, since Gitaxian Probe was banned in the Modern format, we will substitute those four copies for Opt, a card that was introduced to Modern in the Ixalan set. While it doesn't provide the Peek that Probe gives you, it does allow you to Scry 1 before you draw your card. It's a solid draw spell, although you can't play it for 2 life.
Then we have 4 copies of Mana Leak, the classic permission spell that costs 1U and counters a target spell unless its controller pays 2 colorless mana. Plus, we have 4 copies of Lightning Bolt, the classic hit a creature or player for 3 damage.
After that we get into the meat of this deck, which is the tempo package. There are three copies of Vapor Snag, which is basically Unsummon except that the creature’s controller also loses 1 life. Forcing a player to tap out to play a creature then force it back to the hand can ruin many a player’s turn, so the loss of life on top of that is fairly relevant.
For problematic non-creature spells, you have 2 copies of Spell Pierce. It’s basically Mana Leak in that it’s a permission spell that counters a spell unless its controller pays 2 extra colorless mana, but it doesn’t work against creature spells. It’s great for stopping removal and opposing counter-spells, as well as planeswalkers.
Izzet Charm is a versatile little card with three “Modes:” Counter target noncreature spell unless its controller pays 2 colorless mana; deal 2 damage to target creature; or draw two cards, then discard two cards. It’s basically a Spell Pierce, a Shock, and a Faithless Looting all on one card, except you get to choose which one it is. There are two of these in the deck.
Electrolyze is a fun little burn card. It deals 2 damage divided between one or two target creatures or players of your choice. That seems pricey for 3 mana (1RU) but you also draw a card off of it. It’s a can-trip Shock with some options.
Lastly, there’s a single Dispel in the main-board, which costs a single Blue mana to play and counters a target Instant spell. Typically you’ll use it to stop a Lightning Bolt, other removal, or a counter-spell.
For the mana base, you have 10 basic lands, 5 Islands and 5 Mountains. You then have 4 Steam Vents and 3 Sulfur Falls, plus 1 Temple of Epiphany. Honestly, this doesn’t seem to be the best choice for a mana base, as there are no copies of Shivan Reef, a very common land to play in U/R decks. It may be better to remove the one scry land and the 3 Sulfur Falls with the Reefs, which do ping you for 1 when you tap them for colored mana, but makes your mana-fixing a bit more consistent. However, the pilot of this deck seemed to have no problem with consistency, so it would take some actual play-testing with the deck myself to see how well the mana-base functions as it is.
Onto the sideboard:
2 Anger of the Gods
1 Spell Snare
1 Spell Pierce
1 Magma Spray
The three copies of Combust exist purely to destroy white or blue creatures. For only 1R, it deals 5 damage to a target white or blue creature and can’t be countered. It’s the perfect answer to cards such as Restoration Angel,Archangel of Thune, or Loxodon Smiter. Basically, anything that can’t be answered with a Lightning Bolt that’s white or blue can be taken out with this card.
Smash to Smithereens might be better than Smelt overall, as Smash deals 3 damage to an artifact’s controller upon destroying it, but Smelt gets the job done for only a single Red mana. Like Smash, Smelt is also at instant speed, but doesn’t add the Lava Spike effect on top of that. Being only one mana is relevant, too, as it’s easier to Flashback and simply easier to cast.
Anger of the Gods helps deal with aggressive decks, and while you may exile your own creatures in the process (including even a transformed Delver), most of the creatures you would have on board are probably 1/1 elemental tokens anyway. It’s sort of a card that you sit on until your opponent extends too far with their board-state and you hope they don’t see it coming..
Two copies of Dispel exist in the sideboard to deal with control match-ups. The extra Spell Snare can come in handy against certain decks, and the extra Spell Pierce exists for the same reason as Dispel. The Counterflux is in the board for Storm match-ups, as countering all spells on the stack when your opponent is trying to reach a certain Storm count is devastating. The lone Magma Spray is an interesting choice against aggro decks, as well. Plus you have another copy of Electrolyze to add to your creature removal package.
This list looks pretty solid. While there are some changes I may make to it, it’s mostly in the mana base, which could potentially work just as it is. It’s a fairly simple deck to play as long as you know what to counter and what not to. The deck won’t burn people to death but as your opponent will likely never have enough creatures to block your Elemental tokens from Pyromancer, you should have a good time getting through for a bit of damage every turn. If you like tempo decks, like myself, this is definitely a list worth taking a spin. It does require a bit of an upfront investment, but Snapcasters, Steam Vents, and Serum Visions, the most expensive cards in the deck, aren’t going anywhere, so they’re all solid cards to have. Also, if you want to play blue/red but don’t want to play Storm, this is a pretty good alternative.