We are at a point in the format where it is our goal as players to break cards in half and get them banned. Brewers have already been successful with Felidar Guardian, Oath of Nissa, and Leyline of Abundance so it’s time for us to turn to the other broken cards of the format. This takes me to the delve cards. These cards have been banned in almost every format they have been legal in and while we don’t have fetchlands to effortlessly power them out, there is still a lot of potential in pushing them to their limits in an attempt to break them.
Trying to build a deck around these delve cards has been a journey in and of itself, with many different iterations finally taking me to a deck that I am happy to show off today. I want to talk about the first deck I started with, the evolutions I made along the way, and how I finally ended up on a deck that can consistently and easily cast turn 2 Treasure Cruises. Let’s start with my first iteration of turbo delve featuring Once Upon a Time.
My initial idea for this deck centered on Once Upon a Time being a free spell that can find your delve threats and help cast them. This combined with cards like Fabled Passage meant we have a lot of ways to get cards in the yard for free in the early turns, which will help us get out an early Gurmag. Combine with cards like Stitcher’s Supplier and Satyr Wayfinder and you can efficiently fill up the graveyard for cheap. Round out the deck with Thoughtseizes, Fatal Pushes, and Abrupt Decays and you have an interactive gameplan backed up by a huge threat that dodges most of the removal of the format. Blue was just a splash at this point for cards like Treasure Cruise and Opt, and a few sideboard cards. Haunted Dead was thrown in as something that I can mill and still get value out of.
After playing with this list for a while, I was constantly losing every game. I wasn’t getting my delve threats out fast enough to matter, and I didn’t have enough interaction to effectively stop my opponent. I also was flooding on lands very frequently because of Treasure Cruise and Once Upon a Time It was at this point that I realized that all of my meaningful cards had 5 toughness, which led me to my next iteration of the deck and to play with Languish.
This version of the deck was a step in the right direction but was nowhere near complete yet. I went down to 21 lands which helped with flood but wasn’t quite there yet. Languish was a pretty awesome card when it worked, but missed out on hitting some cards like Siege Rhino and Polukranos. I replaced Satyr Wayfinder with Grisly Salvage as it filled the graveyard much more easily, and if I’m just delving it doesn’t matter whether it’s a creature or an instant. I edited my sideboard to include some Disdainful Strokes as well, as I was losing to decks that went over the top of my 5/5. Still, the deck was too slow and wasn’t turboing out my Gurmags as fast as I would hope, and if I didn’t draw any delve threat the deck got to attack with just 1/1’s which was extremely middling. I was looking at Dredgless Dredge decks for ideas on what to include in the deck when it finally struck me that I could include the threats in dredge as my own payoffs for milling my deck.
Now I was onto something. Milling cards became both a ramp spell and a way to put 9 power into play for free. If there were a bunch of useless lands or sorceries in my graveyard, I could use them for my Treasure Cruise and then I could use Haunted Dead to bring back 2 or more Prized Amalgams all in the same turn. (Discarding 2 Prized Amalgams just to bring them back feels so dirty). Tome Scour was one of the biggest upgrades I’ve made to this deck due to the sheer quantity of cards it puts in the yard. I like to think of it as a Dark Ritual that gets you 6 mana or can bring back of bunch of creatures from the graveyard. I also included Bone Dragon in this update as a powerful late-game card that I can cast whenever I hit 5 lands.
It was in this build that I finally cut Once Upon a Time. The card was still very powerful, but only putting one card in the graveyard just wasn’t enough for the strategy I was trying to employ. I was also able to trim down to 19 lands, which I’m very happy with now as I feel like flooding isn’t as much of an issue now. As I was thinking of how important Tome Scour was for the deck, I realized that green wasn’t even a necessary color anymore. This brings me to my current iteration which ditches green to go all-in.
With the inclusion of Merfolk Secretkeeper, we now have 3 different ways to mill multiple cards on turn 1. This makes casting turn 2 Treasure Cruises and Gurmag Anglers extremely easy and can get a ton of dredge threats on the battlefield in no time. This version of the deck drops a lot of the interaction we had in favor of going hard on the combo aspect of this deck, and I like it more than my previous versions. This deck is consistently doing very powerful things that demand answers from the opponent.
While this version feels the most powerful, this is also the version that loses hardest to cards like Rest in Peace. While the deck can play around cards like Grafdiggers Cage thanks to the delve cards, locking out the graveyard entirely hurts, and without green to deal with enchantments, it’s more of a challenge to play around it. Now that I’ve gone as far as I can in trying to push the graveyard elements, I think I’m going to pull back a little and start to include more interaction again. I might splash green again so that I can play Abrupt Decay, and I want to see if I can fit Stubborn Denial into the deck to protect a resolved Gurmag. So with that in mind, I present to you my next version of Sultai Turbo Delve.
Now that I’ve put this deck through the wringer, I am curious to see what other people can do with this deck. If you decide to take this deck for a spin and begin iterating on it, please tweet at me and let me know what changes you’ve made and what’s been successful. I’ll be streaming this deck after I submit this article, so feel free to join me and see the deck in action. I also need a better name for this deck than Sultai Turbo Dredge/Delve so if you have any ideas, feel free to share them in the comments below.