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Playing Pauper: Mono Blue Delver

Hello and welcome to the tenth week of Playing Pauper! Yes, you read that right — we're renaming the series to Playing Pauper to more accurately describe the content. We'll be expanding the series to include more strategies, more rogue brews, and of course in-meta decks. I might as well take this opportunity to introduce the new mascot for the series:


Playing Pauper


Now back to this week's topic! The time has flown by, and we're finally battling with one of the most popular decks in the format: Mono Blue Delver. It's a deck full of evasive threats, and it uses countermagic to maintain board advantage once flyers have started attacking in the air. Despite losing to the Cloud of Faeries ban, it's still a top contender in the Pauper format.

Check out the matches, then read the discussion below. If you enjoy Playing Pauper, subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube channel! It helps us draw more people to the channel, and it helps you to never miss any of our great video content.

Mono Blue Delver Intro

Mono Blue Delver vs Mono Blue Delver

Mono Blue Delver vs Morbid Sultai

Mono Blue Delver vs Mono Green Tron

Mono Blue Delver vs Dimir Teachings

Mono Blue Delver vs Goblins

The Deck


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These cheap flying threats make the backbone of the deck. While Spire Golem is a nice late game play, it's important to cast cheap creatures early to put pressure on your opponent. In Mono Blue Delver, having to use up Counterspells is pretty bad unless you're also attacking each turn.

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Whether setting up a Delver of Secrets to flip or digging for a Vapor Snag, these card selection spells are a necessary part of making Mono Blue Delver function. Ponder and Preordain are so powerful that they're banned in Modern, so it's no surprise that they're strong here.

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In the first few turns of the game, Force Spike is often a one mana Counterspell which really helps Mono Blue Delver have cheap interaction with the opponent. Some other lists play Deprive instead, but I think Force Spike is better due to it being cheaper and letting you deploy threats faster. Vapor Snag is the only spell in the deck that can remove a creature from the battlefield, so save Vapor Snag until you really need it.

The Sideboard

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This build of Delver packs a sideboard without many options, but the options it has are powerful.

Annul is good against Affinity and Tron variants. Hydroblast is great against Red decks such as Goblins and Burn. Curse of Chains is for creatures you need to get by, whether it's an Ulamog's Crusher or Gurmag Angler. Lastly, Stormbound Geist is a great option against other decks with many flyers or control decks with non-exile removal spells.

The Matchups

In aggro mirrors, being on the play helps quite a lot. Because Mono Blue Delver has no life gain and has only four Vapor Snag as removal, it's hard to come back from being behind. If we get the better start, Force Spike and Spellstutter Sprite do a great job of helping us race opposing aggressive decks which play few lands and cheap spells.

Against control decks, the plan is usually to resolve two or three creatures then save your countermagic for opposing removal spells. If your opponent leaves up mana for Counterspell but no Red or Black mana for a kill spell, use that opportunity to Ninjitsu in a Ninja of the Deep Hours.

No matter what deck you're competing against, it's important to know the types of spells your opponent could cast. If you waste your countermagic on unimportant spells, you may run out of power to punch through your opponent's defenses. Mono Blue Delver is a deck that rewards knowledge of the metagame.

Beating Mono Blue Delver

To defeat the mono Blue menace, follow these suggestions:

  • You can kill Faeries in response to Spellstutter Sprite's ability to make a spell resolve.
  • Knowing that your opponent could have Force Spike isn't enough. You also need to identify when it's correct to cast a spell anyways and make the opponent use it.
  • Kill attackers in the Declare Attackers step. If you do it during Declare Blockers, Ninja of the Deep Hours can swap places with the targeted creature and save it, thus leaving your removal spell with no target.
  • Make sure your flying blockers resolve. The only main deck answer to a Kor Skyfisher or Spire Golem is Vapor Snag (or arguably Bonesplitter), and these creatures are phenomenal blockers against Mono Blue Delver.
  • If you're playing Red don't cut Pyroblast from your sideboard. Since Mono Blue Delver gets Hydroblast, you need strong spells to fight back.


Mono Blue Delver is a great choice for anyone who wants an aggressive deck that interacts with the opponent. The power of Counterspell is in its versatility and usefulness against basically every deck in Pauper. Mono Blue Delver is focused, consistent, and streamlined in the execution of its game plan. It's also great at making opponents cry when you pick up Spellstutter Sprite with Ninja of the Deep Hours, so it has "Inducing Rage" as an added bonus.


As I mention in this week's intro video, viewer submissions are now open! I'll still be playing known decks occasionally, but after next week I'll mostly be playing:

  • Decks submitted by viewers
  • Decks created from viewer challenges (e.g. build a deck around Horned Kavu)
  • Decks created by Jake (especially ones comprised of cards from new sets such as Shadows over Innistrad)

Email me at or Tweet to me @JakeStilesMTG with your decklist or challenge, and I'll give you a shout-out if I use your submission!

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