The deck currently known as RUG Delver had its beginnings in the Canadian Threshold deck of days past. Around 2007, Canadian Threshold was pioneered by (and took its name from) Canadian David Caplan. That deck sought to use aggressive green creatures like Nimble Mongoose and Tarmogoyf to beat down opponents while disrupting with blue counterspells and some red burn for removal or to finish. This was a tempo strategy that still describes how the more recent RUG Delver operates.
RUG Delver wants to kill you with creatures. Key players here are Nimble Mongoose, the green shroud one drop that just won’t stop, and Tarmogoyf. The latter of these can get very, very large very, very quickly in a format full of fetch lands and counterspells. Goyf can easily become a perfect roadblock for other “fair” creature decks or an amazing clock when the ground is clear. Joining the dynamic green duo is Delver of Secrets, the most aggro one drop to be printed in recent years. (Printed in blue because they didn’t already have the best toys. They needed the best creatures, too…) These make for a potent combination of evasion, size, and resilience that can test even the most robust of removal packages.
With access to the accursed color, RUG Delver makes the most of it with disruption like Force of Will and Daze. To smooth out draws, and set up Delver transformations, full sets of both Brainstorm and Ponder are typically present as well. Some builds also run Stifle (an underrated card in my opinion), so be careful with the timing of your own fetch-lands.
Ah, glorious Mountains! Expect your early creatures against RUG Delver to eat a faceful of Lightning Bolt should they clear the counter-spell gauntlet. In fact, if a creature hits the table in the early turns, they may just be saving the counter-spells for something that won’t die to a well timed bolt. Should your life total drop under the critical three point threshold (ha!), you are likely done for as well. Other burn, such as Forked Bolt or Chain Lightning, may crop up as well.
While RUG has a fragile and greedy mana base with mostly fetches, Volcanic Island and Tropical Island, it also runs Wasteland to punish the other suckers doing the same thing. While you may be tempted to think your own Wastelands will be a great avenue to victory, don’t forget about Stifle…
The Game Plan
- Make threat
- Remove anything else
- Hit you
Repeat steps 2-4.
So, how do you survive? Make better threats? Have better counterspells? It is hard to say. RUG Delver is, sadly for the rest of us, a good balance of threats and answers.
This is part of an ongoing series of posts introducing you to different Legacy decks. It began as a semi-re-occurring series on Monday Night Magic. This deck was discussed on Episode (UPDATE_NUMBER_WHEN_I_FIND_IT).
You can find the introduction to this series here. You can find more articles in this series by looking for the Legacy Corner tag.