Hexdrinker RUG Delver

I love it when I’m wrong. More accurately, I appreciate the growth that occurs when new evidence causes me to realize a conclusion I had previously drawn is not actually what I thought.

Hexdrinker may be such a case. The card looked like garbage, especially in a metagame warped around Wrenn and Six. I’m not playing it to put Savannah Lions in my deck. Instead of paying 4 mana for a 4/4 Shroud, I could play pretty much anything else. You’d have to catch me dead to invest 9 mana into a 6/6 that can get hit by a Diabolic Edict effect. Why not just play the 2 mana Jace, Dreadhorde Arcanist? That card exists, and I’ve been loving it as part of my card advantage-generating threat base in No Bad Cards RUG Delver.

I’ve talked to several smart RUG Delver players, and they agreed with my theory...in theory. They’ve been telling me that NBC RUG Delver is great, but the Hexdrinker builds are really good, too! These players had the same theoretical hang-ups as I expressed in the paragraph above, yet Hexdrinker overperformed for them. Hexdrinker RUG Delver lists have been littering the Top 8s of tournaments. I was clearly missing something.

I decided to throw my take on Hexdrinker RUG Delver into a league, and see if the snake could overperform for me, too! Here’s my decklist and the league, with a post-league analysis below the video.

Lands

4Wasteland
3Volcanic Island
3Tropical Island
2Scalding Tarn
2Flooded Strand
2Misty Rainforest
2Polluted Delta
1Lonely Sandbar

Creatures

4Delver of Secrets
3Tarmogoyf
3Hexdrinker
2True-Name Nemesis

Planeswalkers

3Wrenn and Six

Instants/Sorceries

4Lightning Bolt
4Brainstorm
4Ponder
4Daze
4Force of Will
1Force of Negation
2Spell Snare
2Spell Pierce

Sideboard

3Surgical Extraction
1Force of Negation
1Vapor Snag
1Submerge
2Pyroblast
1Null Rod
1Flusterstorm
1Hydroblast
2Destructive Revelry
1Karakas
1Scavenging Ooze

Download Decklist

That went pretty well! Hexdrinker itself was definitely better than I thought it would be. Actually playing with Hexdrinker revealed some advantages of the card that I didn’t initially see. Firstly, you only have to invest the mana when you want to. If your opponent is holding up removal, or you have better things to do, you don’t have to level it up. Another advantage is that it is graveyard-independent. A weak point of NBC RUG Delver is that a lot of its threats are graveyard-based. Under a resolved Rest in Peace, Tarmogoyf is a 0/1, Dreadhorde Arcanist is a 1/3, and Wrenn and Six does a poor impression of Arc Lightning. Playing Hexdrinker alongside Delver of Secrets and True-Name Nemesis allows the RUG Delver deck to mitigate at least some of the graveyard reliance. As far as Chalice of the Void vulnerability goes, both Hexdrinker and Dreadhorde Arcanist are shut down pretty hard. Since Dreadhorde Arcanist is recasting 1-cost spells, an active Chalice makes this 2-drop into an honorary 1-drop.

It’s also worth noting that neither Dreadhorde Arcanist nor Hexdrinker love being on the battlefield in multiples. Hexdrinker is usually too mana intensive to support leveling multiples simultaneously, and multiple Dreadhorde Arcanists can cause your graveyard to run dry faster than you can fill it. While both these cases are worth mentioning, I actually don’t think either is particularly relevant. In both of the above situations, you’re most likely winning those games. The situations that lead to those board states mean that things have been going right. Too right. This is you:

limesguy.jpg

So, which is better? I’m not sure! Magic is a complicated game, and both cards shine in different ways. Maybe it’s correct to split them. At least that solves the “issue” with multiple copies!