Delver of Secrets – Innistrad
Date Reviewed: September 23, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 3.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
The original Innistrad printing of Delver of Secrets was just one part of a long story told entirely in cards, specifically Shadows Over Innistrad‘s Aberrant Researcher and Eldritch Moon‘s Docent of Perfection. That guy’s story is done, but someone is following in his footsteps in Midnight Hunt, and that makes this a good time to look back at what the card has achieved. And the answer to that is . . . quite a lot, actually. It turns out that it’s very useful to have a cheap creature that becomes significantly bigger without any additional mana investment. Blue decks in Legacy tend to have a lot of instants, as that’s the format where the most powerful instants are; even in smaller or less blatantly powerful settings, the Delver’s requirements set you up for a deck that can readily protect him and/or clear the way for him to attack. He may be better on the first one or two turns than later on, but so are a lot of all-time great creatures; and there are situations where an opponent will be on the back foot right away when you cast him.
Out of the original Innistrad, I reckon that Delver of Secrets is the flip card that has seen the most play over the years. Simple in execution, he readily flips into an evasive, powerful body that can swoop with impunity and gratuity, and a turn-2 flip on Delver of Secrets presents a very threatening clock. He’s been a potent side finisher for a lot of more spell-heavy decks for a decade now, offering a reasonable way for them to reliably close out the game besides just barraging them with spells. He’s not ideal in a late-game top deck, but there are worse cards for it, and Insectile Aberration has long been a reasonable way for a deck to try and push to the end.
Of course, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt brought back the iconic common, this time as an uncommon. And Standard might be a decently promising place for it, thanks to Strixhaven adding lots of spells and the departure of Throne of Eldraine opening up some deck-building space. Time will tell if it’ll do the same song and dance it did back in 2011, but never count out the little bug that could (and did).
Constructed: 4.5 (not readily splashable, but it’s been a staple of Modern and Legacy ever since it’s been released)
Limited: 3 (it’s not bad, but it’s a notorious “trap” card that is hard to flip in a Limited environment not necessarily suited to flipping it)
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