It's back! The Goose, Delver, and Goyf – the RUG gang – are all playing a significant role in Legacy again, thanks to one powerful card "printed for Modern." Join CabalTherapy as he explores the new RUG and the card tearing up the Legacy metagame.
RUG Delver by Robert Swiecki, 15.07.2019
|18Lands||14Other Permanents||28Instants and Sorceries|
|2Flooded Strand||4Delver of Secrets / Insectile Aberration||4Brainstorm|
|2Misty Rainforest||4Nimble Mongoose||4Daze|
|2Polluted Delta||2Tarmogoyf||4Force of Will|
|2Scalding Tarn||2True-Name Nemesis||4Lightning Bolt|
|3Tropical Island||2Wrenn and Six||2Spell Pierce|
|3Volcanic Island||2Spell Snare|
|2Flusterstorm||1Grafdigger's Cage||1Izzet Staticaster|
|2Pyroblast||1Red Elemental Blast||1Sulfur Elemental|
|2Surgical Extraction||1Winter Orb|
Let's Talk about Wrenn and Six
No need to beat about the bush! Wrenn and Six is the answer to so many questions in RUG Delver. One card to rule them all… Though maybe it's not as powerful as Sauron's One Ring. Wrenn and Six – by the way, which of them is Wrenn and which is Six – is the hottest thing in Legacy right now. Forget Narset, Parter of Veils and Teferi, Time Raveler – well, don't forget them as they are still absurdly good Magic cards – and sleeve up your Volcanic Island, Tropical Island, and, of course, Taiga.
But why is it so good? For merely two mana it solves two problems of RUG's main problems:
- Retrieving dual and fetch lands compensates for RUG's lack of basic lands. Traditionally, decks that want to get ahead of resources in the early turns of the game struggle with mana denial themselves. Wrenn and Six's ability to get back lands nullifies Wasteland while being able to attack opponents' mana bases with Wastelands itself.
- It shoots down Baleful Strix, a notoriously difficult card for delver decks to deal with, even if it is on the decline currently. The little owl is extremely annoying to deal with because it is a minus one to bolt it. Even Forked Bolt is usually a positive trade for the opponent. Hitting Young Pyromancer, Noble Hierarch, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and occasionally a Xantid Swarm are also potential game-changing applications for W&6.
Now, what to cut for it? Since RUG Delver does not want to play many two or three mana cards, it perfectly makes sense to take out two Tarmogoyf for the planeswalker. Even though it looks like True-Name Nemesis has taken up Goyf's slots, Nemesis appears to be a concession to the plethora of value-oriented creature-based decks. There have been already many approaches in the last few years to replace Goyf with either Hooting Mandrills or Nemesis in order to make the deck less vulnerable to Abrupt Decay and Fatal Push. So, Wrenn allows you to be less vulnerable to spot removal as, much like the owl mentioned above, it replaces itself.
Wrenn and Six is what really propels RUG tempo to a new level. The deck is playing a planeswalker for the first time as well, and it's definitely a strong contender.
Where is Dreadhorde Arcanist
No Dreadhorde Arcanist shouldn't be too surprising here. While it is certainly possible to play it in RUG and it does seem to be quite powerful in UR and Grixis shells, it simply does not make the cut here. Firstly, it competes with Tarmogoyf, Wrenn and Six, and True-Name Nemesis in terms of mana costs and secondly RUG does not run enough proactive spells to make the most of Arcanist's ability; four to five bolt spells and cantrips make up most of the spells he can flashback in game one. At heart, RUG is a reactive tempo deck, and in contrast to Grixis that plays Thoughtseize over Stifle, it wants to turn a big critter sideways, protect it with its counter spells, and deny its opponents mana. It doesn't have time for value creatures like Dreadhorde Arcanist.
Tarmogoyf is the better choice, therefore. Maybe there is an argument to go down to one Nemesis and play one Arcanist but it's probably not worthwhile though, as the merfolk always delivers and has a higher floor.
Three Stifle, Two Spell Snare, and a Chain Lightning
Stifle's application is manifold, but it can also be a terrible card that gets stranded in hand easily. Throwing it at some mediocre trigger can be the best thing during some games. Stifling a fetch land is still the main plan but in a format with more basics and decks that do not rely on a single land drop that much, Stifle has become less important. On the other hand, Spell Snare has always been a great addition to RUG; and for me the definition of a tempo card. For one mana it counters a spell that costs one mana more without any drawbacks; perfect in a format that is defined by two-mana haymakers like Exhume, Hymn to Tourach, Chalice of the Void, Counterbalance, any hate bear, and, of course, the recent powerhouse that is Wrenn and Six. I cannot imagine a meta where Spell Snare is not good enough and going down to only a singleton might be a mistake.
A single Chain Lightning, the fifth bolt, provides a bit more reach when creatures fall short. Forked Bolt, Tarfire or Seal of Fire – all cards that grow the Goyf, see play from time to time as well but the synergy is not worth it most of the time. Dealing three damage for one mana is still the superior play.
Three colors and luckily red is one of them; that is RUG's board. Pyroblast is the most important card. Classics like Ancient Grudge, Grafdigger's Cage, and Winter Orb are easy inclusions and the new card Cindervines could be an awesome addition to combat Miracles and Storm decks alike. It is not nearly as powerful as Eidolon of the Great Revel against Storm but attacking them down to ten life and playing Cindervines puts them in a soft lock. Traditionally, RUG's board can be extremely versatile and cards like Hydroblast are great answers to local meta's questions.
Surgical Extraction is a necessary evil in the sideboard because it is not that great without Snapcaster Mage and often needs to be played proactively instead of reactively; something that isn't done often enough. That about wraps up the deck. Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment on your thoughts on RUG, Delver, and of course Wrenn and Six and its impact on Legacy.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.