RUG Reborn


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.

The List

RUG Delver by Robert Swiecki, 15.07.2019

Let's Talk about Wrenn and Six

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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

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 Spell Snare 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.

The Sideboard

Pyroblast Winter Orb Cindervines

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.


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Cossinelle(11.12.2019 22:12)

Hi, how do you feel about RUG Delver now that W&6 has been banned ?

CabalTherapy(12.12.2019 21:59)

I think that it's still a decent choice even though I'd personally play BUG Delver again. A skilled RUG player can beat anything but BUG has the more powerful cards; with Thoughtseize, Strix, Oko, Leovold, Bitterblossom, Decay, among others I see many arguments choosing BUG over other tempo decks.

Cossinelle(14.12.2019 00:28)

... And Plague Engineer...

Yes, there are a lot of good reasons to go BUG but I find this build less "aesthetic"... Let's wait a bit and see what happens...

Thank's for your answer and for your really cool articles about legacy ! :)

CabalTherapy(16.12.2019 02:26)

I kind of agree since RUG has always been the definition of tempo for me.

You're welcome.
I appreciate it.

CabalTherapy(17.07.2019 18:39)

@env03059: Thank you for clarifying.
Maybe, time will tell but it is a card that has already made 4c Delver playable. We will see.

env03059(17.07.2019 16:00)

Wrenn is the dryad. Six is the treefolk, her 6th host (thus, simply named "Six"). I'm afraid that W6 is a little too good for Legacy. Perhaps DRS level good, which is something to consider.......

Also, thank you for not naming it "temur" delver.......