There are a lot of good decks in Pioneer right now and, unfortunately, I don’t have the resources to cover all of them right when they pop up or come into popularity. This deck, Sultai Delirium, has been in my sights for awhile now and back when I started this Pioneer deck series it was one of the decks rising alongside Dimir Inverter as one of its best match ups, if I remember correctly. Sultai Delirium is a midrange deck, meaning that it always wants to be getting value and keeping a good amount of pressure on the opponent. You can look at Modern Jund for an example of how this is correctly done. This deck does it too but it’s not as efficient simply due to what the format has to work with at the moment, so if you are a Modern player, you can’t really come into this deck thinking Jund.
The first half of the name of this deck comes from the colors, obviously, and the other half I’m not sure since only a handful of cards have the delirium mechanic. It’s like the old Affinity deck in Modern not actually having any cards with Affinity. Sultai Midrange would be more appropriate. Now let’s start at the bottom and work up from there. For creatures, the deck runs Satyr Wayfinder, Tireless Tracker, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, and Scavenging Ooze. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is the newest card to see play in this deck and probably will for years to come. The satyr helps to get lands into your hand and cards into the graveyard. Uro is great at any point in the game. Weather you cast it for the normal 3 mana or the escape cost, being able to gain 3 life, draw a card, and put an extra land into play is great. Jace can tap to give you a loot effect and then transform into his planeswalker form if you have at least 5 cards in your graveyard. As far as creatures, these are the most effective ones that help get you more cards into your hand and lands on the battlefield. Scavenging Ooze and Tireless Tracker are cards that can grow into threats if you need them to. The ooze can also serve get things out of your opponent’s graveyard that they might want back while Tireless Tracker makes a clue token when you play a land which can then be sacrificed to draw a card and in turn pump the Tracker. It’s a very round about way to draw a card, but when you have a lot of mana and nothing to do with it, you might as well.
Moving on to the instant and sorcery portion, most of the cards here are removal spells and they are pretty flexible as to which ones you can run so you can tweak them to your preference/meta. Fatal Push, Assassin’s Trophy, Abrupt Decay, Cast Down, etc. I won’t list all of the possibilities, I just want to give you some ideas. Traverse the Ulvenwald is one of the few cards with delirium in this deck. Normally you can use it to fetch a land into your hand, but if you have delirium, you have the option to search for a creature instead and I’ll cover those in a moment. You could also run Grisly Salvage instead if you choose, or both. One of the must have cards for this deck is Thoughseize which is a staple of black midrange decks. It serves to get things out of your opponent’s hand that you don’t want them to have.
Now for the rest of the creatures. The most common are Ishkanah, Grafwidow and Emrakul, the Promised End as finishers. Ishkanah creates a bunch of 1/2 spider tokens if you have delirium. You can then activate her ability if you have enough mana to drain your opponent equal to the number of spiders you control. It’s not great value, but if you don’t have any plays you might as well put all that mana to use somehow. Emrakul normally costs 13 to cast but that can be decreased by having card types in the graveyard. This deck has creature, instants, sorceries, lands, and planeswalkers (which I will get to next), meaning she could potentially only cost only 8 to bring out. When you do bring her out, you gain control of your opponent on their next turn. This does not mean that you can make them surrender or anything like that. You can make them target their own stuff with removal spells, force them to attack awkwardly, assign combat damage awkwardly, and other such things. You get the idea. However, be aware that they do get an extra turn after you take control of them during their normal turn. Aside from all of the other crazy stuff on this card, she is just a 13/13 with flying, trample, and protection from instants.
For planeswalkers, I already mentioned Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy which transforms into Jace, Telepath Unbound. Most of the time you will be using his +1 to power down your opponent’s creatures and prolong the game. His -3 allows you to flashback an instant or sorcery card in your graveyard if you need to. Don’t worry about his -9. It’s not really worth it since mill is not the strategy here. You can also run Tamiyo, Collector of Tales. +1 allows you to name a nonland card and look at the top four cards for that card and put all copies of it into your hand and the rest into the graveyard. -3 and you can bring back any card in your graveyard to your hand. Although its not relevant in most match ups, her anthem ability prevents the opponent from causing you to discard cards and sacrifice permanents. Ashiok, Nightmare Muse and Nissa, Who Shakes the World can clog up the board with 2/3s and 3/3s with their +1 abilities. Nissa can then pull all of the forest cards out of your library and make them indestructible with her -8. Ashiok’s -3 can bounce any problematic nonland permanent. Or if you have been attacking and blocking with the 2/3 Nightmare tokens, you can -7 to cast up to three cards that have been exiled face up without paying their mana costs. There are also lots of other options for planeswalkers, but I think these are the best 3.
There are a lot of cards that can slide in and out of this deck as time goes on, but for now, the basic shell of Sultai Delirium should look something like the following:
Satyr Wayfinder x3-4
Scavenging Ooze x3-4
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy x2-3
Tireless Tracker x 2-3
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath x3-4
Ishkanah, Grafwidow x 1-3
Emrakul, the Promised End x1-2
Traverse the Ulvenwald x3-4
Removal Spells x6-10
The goal of Sultai Delirium is to slow the game down for the opponent long enough for you to get Emrakul or Ishkanah into play, but this is not the only win condition in the deck. An unanswered Scavenging Ooze or Tireless Tracker can get out of hand and wreak some havoc if you need it to. Don’t be afraid to attack with your smaller creatures when you have an opening. In an ideal game, your graveyard will also be full of fuel to pay Uro’s escape cost so you can keep gaining life and drawing cards off of his enter-the-battlefield and attack trigger. Gaining 3 life while attacking in for 6 is a great way to keep the opponent down. That’s all for Sultai Delirium. Let me know what decks you want to see next in the comments down below.