Learning Legacy – A Beginners’ Guide to RUG Delver

Welcome back, brewers. Today we are going to talk about little-known format called Legacy. Legacy is a great format because you can basically play any deck you want. Every play style is represented; even the person who only wants to play lands can win. It Is also a format where every turn matters. Turn one can be riddled with options and you can make mistakes turn one that can lose you the game. What other format has pressure like that? Play skill rewards legacy players. Because the format is so diverse and every turn matters, it is very important to know your deck.

One of the reasons I did so well in standard was because I ran the same GW deck for over a year. Sure, there were tweaks to the deck; adding Ajani, playing around certain cards, coping with the rise and fall of Mono Blue, but the basic play of the deck remained the same. I have played the Mono Black match up so many times I can usually tell who will win by turn 4. If they play removal spell on two and removal spell on three, you’re probably dead.  I also know a lot of the tricks with the deck; all of the subtle nuisances for each deck do not come easily. You need to practice and playtest and the more you play with a certain deck the better you get with it. Duh.

Legacy does not rotate. Also, there have not really been a lot of banning announcements that have affected the legacy format. This means that your deck and the legacy environment will not change very much. You will play against a [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] deck. You will play against a combo deck. You will play against dredge players, as much as I hate playing against them. If you learn the matchup you will have this knowledge for a long time. What does this all mean? Well in my opinion, to get better at legacy you should pick one deck and stick to it.

I am new to legacy. I have made that clear in many articles, but I have decided to take my own advice. I have found a deck that I love to play and will continue to play it and hone my skills. This article series, Learning Legacy, will highlight how I grow as a Legacy player, my first reaction to cards and decks and how that changes with experience. Hopefully, many of the people reading this are in the same boat and can learn something from this approach. We will look at what works and what doesn’t and reactions to cards, strategies, combos, and decks. This is something that I think new players and experienced players can relate to and hopefully learn from . The deck I chose?

RUG Delver. (yes I have fun when my opponents can’t cast spells).


RUG Delver is a brutally-fast tempo deck. You want to start a fast clock (Delver) and stop them from doing anything. This can be achieved by denying them land with cards like [card]Stifle[/card] and [card]Wasteland[/card], countering their spells with your free counter magic with [card]Daze[/card] and [card]Force of Will[/card], or by burning their creatures with [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] or [card]Forked Bolt[/card]. If things go right, you will be done with your round in a matter of minutes. When things go wrong you have to fight for your win and it’s a lot more difficult.


To start, let’s go through RUG Delver very quickly so you understand what the deck is doing and why it plays certain cards. Here’s what I played at the invitational.


[deck title= Imperial Painter]



*4 Delver of Secrets

*4 Tarmogoy

*4 Nimble Mongoose



*4 Brainstorm

*4 Ponder

*4 Force of Will

*4 Daze

*2 Spell Pierce

*2 Spell Snare

*4 Lightning Bolt

*2 Forked Bolt

*4 Stifle



*4 Misty Rainforest

*4 Scalding Tarn

*4 Wasteland

*3 Tropical Island

*3 Volcanic Island



The Deck

[card]Delver of Secrets[/card]

The deck’s namesake. The deck is half instants and sorceries so it will flip a lot. Also, flying is extremely relevant to get over other creatures.


Another cheap threat. It is often huge very quickly with all the cantrips in the deck.

[card]Nimble Mongoose[/card]

Often underrated. It quickly becomes a 3/3 and not being able to target it often strands [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]s, [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]s, and [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] in your opponents hands.


The best card in legacy. Lets you find exactly what you need and shuffle away the chaff.


Again, RUG Delver is trying to find the exact card to disrupt what your opponent is doing. You can often ponder, find it, and shuffle away the rest.


Some decks don’t play this but I love it. Most often used to stone rain an opponent’s fetch land but has lots of other uses.

[card]Force of Will[/card]

To stop what ever your opponent is doing. The card disadvantage makes it not great against fair decks, but it’s essential against the combo decks.


Another free counter spell. RUG delver will deny your opponent mana which means that they usually don’t have time to play around Daze.

[card]Spell Pierce[/card]

Some of the best cards in legacy cost two. [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] comes to mind.

[card]Spell Pierce[/card]

Same as daze your opponent will not have enough mana to play around it if things are going well. A lot of the most powerful things to do in Legacy are not creatures

[card]Lightning Bolt[/card]

Kill their guys or make them take it to the face. A very quick way to close out a game

[card]Forked Bolt[/card]

Especially good against Maverick or Elves and two damages usually is enough to take out whatever creature you need to.


All your fetchlands find all your duals. Fetch lands help to shuffle away bad cards from Ponder or Brainstorm. They also help turn on [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card] and [card]Tarmogoyf[/card].


Especially important to take out your opponents land. Sometimes times they will get color screwed or they might not even have another land. It’s also important to note that wasteland isn’t able to cast a single card in your maindeck outside of Tarmogoyf. (You want to be using the free side of your counterspells.)


This was the first installment of “Learning Legacy” so I decided to keep it light. In the future, I would like to talk about RUG Delver’s Sideboard, The strategies against other decks, as well as how other decks operate. I want to look at legacy’s interactions and combos, along with strategies to get better at a format that doesn’t rotate. Like I said my goal is to get better at this format and I’d like to take you all along for the ride. I would also like to do a mini column within each Learning Legacy and that is to talk about one of the more complicated and less intuitive cards out there, [card]Stifle[/card]. For this we will look at relevant cards that you can stifle that may not seem so intuitive.  The name?

You can Stifle that?

Did you know that you can Stifle miracle cards? That’s right; when an opponent reveals a miracle card with its ability the miracle trigger goes on the stack. You can then stifle the trigger so that they do not get to cast the card with its miracle cost. They do get to draw the card as normal but they will have to pay full price if they want to cast it now. This is not a problem for RUG Delver as we can stop their mana growth and counter the overly costed spell with [card]Daze[/card] and [card]Spell Pierce[/card].

stifle terminus


Thanks for reading. If you have any specific requests for article topics feel free to leave them in the comments.

About the Author
@RyanArcherMTG     -     Email     -     Articles Ryan Archer is a PTQ grinder and a Magic financier. When he's not making top eight in a tournament or looking for the next card to spike, he's playtesting as a member of Team RIW or writing articles for BrainstormBrewery.com or MTGinfosource.com

One comment on “Learning Legacy – A Beginners’ Guide to RUG Delver

  1. Anonymous says:

    Spell pierce != Spell Snare

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