Tag: rug-delver

Daniel Clayton - July 25, 2014

The Pinnacle: Lightning Bolt MTG

Lightning Bolt MTG - full textless artwork

The Pinnacle: Lightning Bolt MTG

 By: Daniel Clayton – the Will of the Floral Spuzzem

I’ve decided to start up a new mini-article series in which I will examine some of the best Magic cards that have ever been made; now I realize that best is a very speculative word, but I will try to stick to cards that most people would agree are some of the best cards in the game of Magic. That doesn’t mean I’ll always stick to this idea, but I’ll try to stay close to the belt on most of them. I decided to write my first article about an idea that I wrote about in my last article, which is to say the idea of the power of the number three. This card has been reprinted more heavily than almost any other card in all of history and its origins date all the way back to the dawn of Magic. I am of course talking about arguably the best of the red damage spells in all of existence, the Lightning Bolt. Not that you couldn’t read the title, but I read somewhere you’re supposed to have an introduction that is mysterious so as to draw readers in.



Now, I think I should begin by telling the history of this card; this card was printed in one of the first “cycles” of Magic that has ever been printed. It was the first cycle of spells, and was printed alongside cards such as the Black Lotus and Time Walk, and cycles such as the Mox cycle of Alpha, Beta, and Unlimited, and the Dual Land cycle. I believe that Richard Garfield (The creator of the game if you don’t know who that is) also recognized the power of the number 3 in the game of Magic and so created the cycle of 3, which contained one extremely powerful spell, one very powerful spell, one balanced spell, one okay spell, and one very weak spell. All of the cards in this cycle cost one mana of a single color and added or did 3 of something; additionally, all of the spells were instants. The broken spell is Ancestral Recall, a card that cost 1 blue mana and allowed you to draw 3 cards or force someone else to draw 3 cards; some even consider this card’s strictly worse versions, Brainstorm, Ponder, and Ancestral Vision too broken for play in some formats and these cards have broken or helped to break several decks leading to their banning in Modern. The very powerful spell is Dark Ritual, a card that received several reprints up until the move to new card design and is still considered a staple in Black Legacy and Vintage decks for its amazing ability to accelerate mana. The balanced spell is Lightning Bolt itself and we’ll get to it in just a minute. The okay spell is Giant Growth, a spell which increases the power and toughness of a target creature by 3; this spell wasn’t terrible, but as it only lasted until end of turn it was almost never as powerful as players wanted and didn’t see too much play not too long after it was printed. The last spell in the cycle was Healing Salve, and just like players of the past, players today figure out not long after they start that spells that only heal are for the most part, just not worth it; as such this card was too weak to see any real play in constructed formats. Now, as for lightning bolt, this is a card that has been reprinted in Beta, Unlimited, 4th Edition, M10, M11, the Beatdown Box set, Masters Edition, and the Premium Deck Series: Fire and Lightning, as well as various promos of the card being printed as well; with an original printing in Alpha. I call this one of the most balanced cards in Magic, because 3 is the golden number for Magic, and cards that are only marginally worse are not considered playable in more constructed formats, and Magic hasn’t dared to go any more powerful than Lightning Bolt since its printing for fear of making a card that was too powerful. It sits in that perfect range of being perfectly playable without reaching out and warping the game too much.


Power Level

Since its creation this card has seen play in every format its legal in at least to some extent. Its 3 damage to a player sits at the perfect level to accelerate your game to a winning level, without being unbeatable and its 3 damage to a creature acts as a perfect level of removal for most of your early to mid-game creatures without being able to snipe the highest level of creature. Its level of power as well as versatility has earned it a place in famous decks throughout many formats including Splinter Twin, Tribal Goblins, Legacy Burn, Modern Burn, Delver decks in Modern, Legacy and Vintage, and Control in Vintage. Additionally, it earned itself a place in the 2009 World Championship deck. The evidence of this cards power is evidenced by how many strong decks it has been in and by the fact that it is still played to this day in decks in just about every format, but the question still remains, is it too strong? I believe the answer to this question is no; while a card any stronger than this would undoubtedly be far too powerful, the card sits at a power level that doesn’t make it quite as broken as the broken cards of the game.


The Rarity of a Common

There are many reasons that cards become banned or restricted in formats, the card is too expensive, it keeps the amount of variance in different decks that are played in a format from normal levels, or it’s too powerful or hard to get. The fact that this card has been reprinted so many times and it is a common in all of these printings is the major reason that the card has not been banned based on price or being hard to get; as this card is a common it shows that R&D and the creators of Magic agree with the notion that while this card is very powerful it is by no means broken. Additionally, it can retain its common status because it does neither of its effects better than all other cards in the game. In removing creature threats, it is easily outclassed by a wide variety of both white and black spells, such as Path to Exile or even Hand of death ; as far as damage spells are concerned, the card is outclassed by Lightning Axe, Lava Axe, Tyrant’s Choice and Goblin Grenade. None of these cards are considered broken or even run for the most part, because even though they are better cards, lightning bolt puts the cards together in a perfect combination for a powerful card. The question that follows makes perfect sense, if it’s the perfect combination why is it a common? The answer comes in this form, the card’s effects even though they are powerful and in the perfect combination are common effects; if they were any more powerful, they might be uncommon or rare effects, but they aren’t any more powerful meaning the cards common rating is well deserved for this powerful card.


The Future of Magic: The Gathering and Lightning Bolt

So what does the future of Magic hold for pinnacles of the game, such as Lightning Bolt? Well Magic’s R&D department has moved in 2 separate directions to try to answer this question it seems. They seem to continually toy with the idea of making a more powerful form of the card, you can see this through their creation of cards such as Searing Blood, Goblin Grenade, or Searing Blaze. These cards strive to push the boundaries of what has limited Lightning Bolt from being maybe too good all these years; that is to say that they push the boundaries of how much damage a spell should be able to deal, but as is also seen from these newer cards it also shows a reluctance on the part of Wizards to commit wholeheartedly to the idea of a strictly better lightning bolt. This idea of reluctance is reinforced by the other shift that Magic has been pushing towards lately which seems to be the idea of weakening the power of burn spells, or making them more situationally weak. It shows this trend through its printing and re-printing of cards like Lightning Strike; which is the same as Lightning Bolt, only it costs 1 more mana to cast. So where does this leave Lightning Bolt? Well it leaves it somewhere in the middle honestly, the card is not likely to get banned any time soon based on Magic’s printing of situationally more powerful cards, but it feels as though Magic’s also not going to be reprinting Lightning Bolt anytime soon based on its reliance on Lightning Strike as of recently.


By the Will of the Floral Spuzzem
Twitter @DC4VP
Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - April 24, 2014

Champion’s Deck – RUG Delver by Morgan McLaughlin (1st at ...

RUG Delver
Morgan McLaughlin
1st Place at StarCityGames Legacy Open on 4/20/2014

Brainstorm Duel Decks

Another old favorite once again proves it’s dominance by taking the top spot over the weekend. RUG Delver also known as Canadian Thresh is a Tempo-Control build that is packed with some of the most efficient spells from the history of Magic. Putting together a complete package of threats, disruption, draw and removal this deck can do it all. And the curve of the deck lies in a gentle slope between one and two mana, with only one at three and the five mana spell almost exclusively cast for free.

Starting with the threats the decks ideal first turn play is a Delver of Secrets with the hopes of a blind flip or an upkeep Brainstorm to start the 3 power beatdown. Alternately there is a second one drop from Nimble Mongoose which will also turn into a 3 power beater with just a few turns of casting spells or cracking fetches. What was once called the best Blue creature of all time is next with Tarmogoyf, so called because it is so efficient Blue decks would splash Green solely to cast this big bad green dude. We round out the package with a True-Name Nemesis which is a fantastic creature, but in my opinion is almost wasted outside of a Stoneforge Mystic deck. For our permission suite there is a well rounded bunch headed by Legacy staple Force of Will and Daze, both of which will often be cast free for their alternate costs, backed up by Spell Pierce and the situationaly good Spell Snare. The draw power starts with another format staple Brainstorm and Ponder with a pair of Gitaxian Probe which double to also reveal your opponents gameplan. Finally for removal there is Ponder and Chain Lightning to either remove pesky creatures or dome the opponent, and a set of Wasteland in the manabase to disrupt their mana in such a dual land dependent format.

I always loved the precision and efficiency of this deck and it’s great to see it continue to perform well. As always it’s hard for Legacy to get new cards printed able to compete with the best of all time so it will be nice to see some new players come possibly out of the upcoming Conspiracy set, but if not I’m still more then happy to have classic decks like RUG Delver keep raising the victory flag.
Eric J Seltzer
Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - February 14, 2014

Champion’s Deck – RUG Delver by Taylor Scott (1st at SCG N...


RUG Delver

Taylor Scott

1st Place at StarCityGames Legacy Open on 2/9/2014

This is a very classic Legacy build which has been around since Delver of Secrets appeared mutating Canadian Threshold into RUG Delver. It is a tempo deck based around resource denial and board control with cheap but high rate creatures to finish games quickly.

The beatdown is centered around a trio of very mana efficient creatures with Delver of Secrets, Nimble Mongoose and Tarmogoyf. All three grow much larger then they’re costed at and can quickly decimate your opponents life total. Then with a stacked control suite of Force of Will, Daze, Spell Pierce and Spell Snare almost any threat can be suppressed before it even starts threatening. You can’t have a blue deck in Legacy without the requisite draw package with Brainstorm and Ponder helping not only to dig through your deck but also to set up the top of your deck to flip Delver. The red slips into the deck with a modest amount of burn with Lightning Bolt and Forked Bolt both working to remove small pesky creatures or dome the skull to finish off the opponent. The final piece of the puzzle is the resource denial which comes primarily with Wasteland razing their mana but also the sneaky and handy Stifle which can prevent a fetch after they’ve paid a life and sacrificed it already. And it can also be used against an Emrakul or Storm trigger just to name a few.

This deck with its super low curve and streamlined build is going to be a mainstay in the Legacy scene for years to come. With such a complete package in that shell it’s no doubt Taylor was able to take down the room. I highly recommend this deck.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Gregoire Thibault - November 22, 2013

Deck of the Day: RUG Delver // Canadian Threshold ( Legacy GP Washingt...

Nimble Mongoose
RUG Delver // Canadian Threshold
Daryl Ayers
GP Washington D.C. Top 16
18 lands
12 creatures

30 other spells