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Playing Pauper: UB Delve-r

Playing Pauper is back! One thing that is often said about Pauper is that it's sort of Legacy-lite, with the formats playing similarly thanks to Brainstorm, free counterspells, and cheap, efficient threats and removal. Well, today's deck—UB Delve-r—puts this theory to the test, basically being the Pauper version of a Legacy Death's Shadow or Delver list, looking to use cheap spells and cantrips to fill its graveyard at lightning speed, stick a big threat or two, and hopefully ride it to victory by backing it up with cheap (or even free) disruption like Daze and Spell Pierce. Is going all-in on filling the graveyard for huge delve threats like Gurmag Angler and Sultai Scavenger the right way to build around Delver of Secrets in Pauper? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Playing Pauper: UB Delve-r

  • First off, the record. In the video, you're actually seeing a combination of two leagues because of some weird matchup quirks. Across the two leagues, we managed to play against Bogles four times and managed to lose to the deck each and every time (apparently, the matchup is horrible). On the other hand, the deck performed well in other matchups, crushing other Delver decks and beating Mono-Red Stompy. If you take out the Bogles matches, the deck actually performed well, going 4-2, but when you throw in the four losses to Bogles, things look much worse at 4-6. 
  • The deck itself is certainly powerful, and it really does feel like playing a Legacy deck, perhaps more so than any other deck I've played in Pauper. The combination of cheap removal, threats, and protection can be extremely effective. The deck is very good at flipping Delver of Secrets early and even has Sultai Scavenger as a backup Delver of Secrets. Plus, we were able to play Gurmag Angler by Turn 3 with some consistency, and a Turn 3 Gurmag Angler is a pretty effective way to close out a game in Pauper, especially backed by cheap counterspells like Daze and Spell Pierce
  • On the other hand, our endless losses to Bogles does highlight one of the weaknesses in the deck: compared to other Delver of Secrets builds, we're much more all-in on cantrips and delve threats, leaving good blockers like Augur of Bolas and edicts that can stop hexproof creatures on the sidelines. While the trade-off seems to be that our deck is much better in Delver mirrors, which we won every time, this does create some bad matchups as well. 
  • There are also a couple of weird choices in the deck. Divest wasn't especially impressive, and it probably isn't worth a slot in the main deck. 
  • We also had some weirdness with our mana. While having lands that come into play untapped makes sense considering the aggressive curve of our deck, we occasionally had trouble finding our black mana, and Ash Barrens was pretty clunky. If I play the deck again, I'll likely drop Ash Barrens and cut a couple of basic lands for a full playset of Evolving Wilds to join Terramorphic Expanse, making sure we have plenty of ways to shuffle for Brainstorm but still hit our black mana on time most games. 
  • As far as fixing the Bogles matchup, the easiest solution might be to add Chainer's Edict or Diabolic Edict to the main deck to have some way of dealing with a hexproof creature. Another possibility is adding some hard counters. While Daze is great on the tempo plan, it is easy for opponents to play around and loses value pretty quickly in the mid-game. A copy of literal Counterspell would go a long way to shoring up this weakness. 
  • All in all, UB Delve-r was fun. It felt like playing a Legacy deck in Modern. It also felt competitive in a good number of popular matchups but has some really rough matchups as well. If the bad matchup can be fixed with some small changes, the deck could end up being very strong. If you are a fan of the play style of Legacy but want to spend $100 instead of $3,000, UB Delve-r might just be the best option in the Pauper format!


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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