Matchup Mulligan: RUG Delver II

Final Hogaak Hand Answer

Hand No. 10: (on the draw — Mulliganed once)

Burning Wish Tormod's Crypt Thoughtseize Polluted Delta Polluted Delta Chrome Mox Volcanic Island


This is a hand that requires some… vision. I see Tormod’s Crypt as a way of buying time and Burning Wish into Echo of Eons as how we win this game. This means that Thoughtseize needs to be saved to target ourselves to discard Echo of Eons rather than to disrupt our opponent. The real question with these seven cards in my opinion is, “what to put on the bottom?” To me, it comes down to Polluted Delta versus Chrome Mox. Keeping Polluted Delta provides the guaranteed third mana source to flashback Echo of Eons even if it is a bit slow. Meanwhile, since we are on the draw, if our draw-step is a spell we can imprint onto the Chrome Mox, we’re able to retrieve the Echo of Eons on the first turn protecting us from a slew of possible copies of Cabal Therapy on the second turn from our opponent. This is a lot more desirable to me. Personally, I’d bottom Polluted Delta (might as well save a life compared to Volcanic Island) and go with the game-plan described above.

RUG Delver II


Hand No. 1: (on the draw)

Bloodstained Mire Rite of Flame Rite of Flame Dark Ritual Dark Ritual Burning Wish Infernal Tutor


This hand is a bit of a trap — while it looks good, it’s incredibly fragile. Our only land is a Bloodstained Mire, which can be countered by Stifle and we’re most likely pigeon-holed into searching up Badlands (barring an insanely fortunate draw-step of Chrome Mox or Lotus Petal). Not to mention, this hand is very weak to Daze, Spell Pierce, Spell Snare, and Force of Will to stop us on the first turn even if we do draw one of the free artifacts. If we’re forced to pass the turn, we’re most likely going to get blown-out by a Wasteland.

Hand No. 2: (on the play)

Polluted Delta Bloodstained Mire Mox Opal Defense Grid Chrome Mox Infernal Tutor Rite of Flame


Like our hand No. 10 from last week, this hand is incredibly good if you think long-term. The plan is to get naturally hellbent and then search up Ad Nauseam. I’d start off by using Bloodstained Mire to search up the basic Swamp, then cast Chrome Mox (Imprint: Rite of Flame), and finally cast Defense Grid. Now you have a number of very reasonable draws on the next turn or two to get hellbent and cast an Ad Nauseam before your opponent has three lands.

Hand No. 3: (on the draw)

Swamp Dark Ritual Duress Thoughtseize Empty the Warrens Mox Opal Chrome Mox


A friendly reminder that you do not need to win or “combo-off” every game on the first turn. With having the basic Swamp and a number of protection spells, you have a few draw-steps to hit the red source, artifact, or red card to imprint onto Chrome Mox to enable casting Empty the Warrens. It’s also worth mentioning that Empty the Warrens is likely our best card against these Delver of Secrets decks as they don’t play any sweeper effects in their main deck for a horde of Goblin Tokens. Realistically, they can only race you with Delver of Secrets and burn spells.

Hand No. 4: (on the play)

Empty the Warrens Burning Wish Infernal Tutor Bloodstained Mire Polluted Delta Underground Sea Scalding Tarn


This hand is clunky. I don’t care if it has the best card in the matchup in it, you can’t keep this. Even if you’re able to cast it on turn three, it’s going to be for roughly six Goblin Tokens, maybe eight if you’re lucky.

Hand No. 5: (on the draw)

Ponder Brainstorm Dark Ritual Lion's Eye Diamond Scalding Tarn Bloodstained Mire Bloodstained Mire


This is a great hand. While it may look like a very slow hand like the previous hand, the Ponder and Brainstorm represent potential. When I see this hand, it’s likely a turn three hand with the slim chance of turn two kill while being able to ignore Wasteland by searching up basic lands. I would likely spend my first turn casting Ponder to look for either a discard spell or a “Tutor-effect” and then Brainstorm paired with a Bloodstained Mire on the second turn. This hand is very stable which is what you’d like against a deck with as much disruption as RUG Delver contains.


Recommended sideboarding:


Defense Grid Empty the Warrens


Rite of Flame Burning Wish

Hand No. 6: (on the play)

Rite of Flame Dark Ritual Mox Opal Chrome Mox Lotus Petal Polluted Delta Empty the Warrens


I keep this all day. Our opponent would need two free “counterspells” (Force of Will and/or Force of Negation) to stop this hand. I would lead off on Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox (Imprint: Rite of Flame), and then cast Mox Opal. If you order your artifacts this way, you’re less likely to be punished by someone deciding to counterspell a random Chrome Mox for example. From here, you have a decision to make, do I cast the Dark Ritual and risk it being countered or do I safely generate eight Goblin Tokens? I would probably take the safe route personally and save the Dark Ritual for a potential rebuild. I would then play my Polluted Delta, search up the basic Swamp (which can cast that Dark Ritual later), and then Empty the Warrens.

Hand No. 7: (on the draw — mulliganed twice)

Dark Ritual Lotus Petal Chrome Mox Lion's Eye Diamond Rite of Flame Polluted Delta Bloodstained Mire


This is a tough spot to be in, but at some point you need to keep a hand that is capable of winning the game. This hand really just needs a “Tutor-effect” or an Empty the Warrens off the top and then maybe some sort of protection spell.

Hand No. 8: (on the play)

Burning Wish Infernal Tutor Ponder Ponder Brainstorm Duress Chrome Mox


While Chrome Mox can cast as a basic Island, this hand just doesn’t have enough going on. While it does have a discard spell and actual business spells, it needs to be more balanced. You can’t rely on Brainstorm on the second turn hitting a Lion’s Eye Diamond and a land in order for you to keep this hand. I would be much more comfortable with a six-card hand that isn’t weak to my opponent’s soft counter magic.

Hand No. 9: (on the draw)

Duress Defense Grid Empty the Warrens Rite of Flame Rite of Flame Dark Ritual Chrome Mox


I’m not sure if it’s the best idea, but I would probably keep this and hope to peel a mana source off the top. The potential to combo off turn one while protected is too high in my eyes to turn this way. Even if it’s not a red source, you can still Dark Ritual into Duress, cast Chrome Mox (Imprint: Rite of Flame), cast Rite of Flame, and then Empty the Warrens.

Hand No. 10: (on the play)

Chrome Mox Ponder Brainstorm Dark Ritual Lion's Eye Diamond Lion's Eye Diamond Lion's Eye Diamond

Stay tuned for the next article!

I’ll provide my answer in the next article, but for now, make sure to post your thoughts!