I’ve been playing a lot of BUG lately. BUG Delver, BUG Midrange/Control, and hell, I’ll probably finally get to sleeving up one-time boogeyman-of-the format, Shardless BUG, in the near future. In briefly sampling Reanimator, I had a BUG sideboard plan. I’ve been playing BUG on MODO, BUG in paper, BUG in a box and with a fox, BUG against Sam-I-Am eating green eggs and ham. (I’ve also touched on RUG and it’s hella fun, but I’ve only played it in two Dailies, so far.) And it seems that I’m not alone in catching BUG fever, as I only need to point at the results of the most recent SCG Open to show you that BUG is the truth.

I’ve talked about this before, but when Return to Ravnica came out, the Golgari guild was disgustingly pushed, between Abrupt Decay and Deathrite Shaman. Liliana was already around, but Deathrite gave her a serious push, as well; the ability to deploy her as early as turn two is insane, and the fact that your mana dork gets to do a Grim Lavamancer impersonation, later, means you don’t have to play cards that become awful top decks (looking at you, Birds!) beyond stage two of the game. Most mana dorks are amazing stage one plays, but it’s usually miserable to draw one, beyond that. The fact that Deathrite is both an accelerant AND a threat makes it one of the best one-mana plays in the game.

As a Miracles player, it was frustrating to watch the rise of the Golgari. Here, I’ve been mastering this sweet deck with the capability of locking my opponent out of the game, and having a plethora of good answers to any gameplan. It completely flew in the face of everything WotC sought to encourage in modern-era Magic. It was great! Sure, maybe they have quasi-uncounterable Krosan Grip to deal with my combo, after board, but as long as I’m cognizant of it, and always leave a three on top, I’m in the clear. Now I’m suddenly faced with a spell that’s a whole mana cheaper, completely uncounterable, and is flexible enough to maindeck… flexible enough to maindeck a goddamn playset!

So far, this sounds like a bunch of complaining, but even stubborn old me eventually figured out that complaining about change is going to do less to fill the “wins” side of my ledger than finding the best way to take advantage of these changes. For many of you, this is old hat, and you’ve been on the BUG train for some time, now, but it took me awhile to realize that the combination of these filthy Golgari cards with my beloved Brainstorms is a pretty good way to win. It wasn’t long before my favorite opening sequence became turn one Deathrite into turn two Hymn AND Wasteland. Jund can do that, too, but BUG has upwards of eight cantrips to ensure a steady stream of all the right cards flows into your hand. Jund gets to just pray for Bloodbraid, while letting out a heavy sigh at the sight of another topdecked discard spell against their hellbent opponent.

And what types of BUG decks have I been playing? Did you read the opening paragraph, dammit? I’ve been playing ALL the BUG decks! Delver has proven to be my favorite, though I have also enjoyed the controlling builds that run around three each of Jace and Lily. There are also some newer builds I’ve seen that straddle the line between Delver-based tempo and Planeswalker control. From the most recent Invitational, Richard Shay was the lone pilot to finish the Legacy portion with a perfect record, playing two copies of Jace in his seventy five. Meanwhile, a friend of mine shared his BUG control list that he has been using to run roughshod over our local store on a weekly basis, where he goes a little but lower on the curve by adding ‘goyfs and some Dazes; it’s almost like that phenomenon that we had during Delver Standard, where some “Delver” decks sought to go slightly over the top of the actual Delver decks by cutting the namesake card. I’m sure I’ll give it a go in a Daily, soon (and stream it, of course, at twitch.tv/efil4zaknupome; end shameless plug). I’ve tried Shay’s version in a recent Daily to a 3-1 finish, though I’m going to have to give it another go, soon; you see, I never got to live the dream of having Jace and Delver, working together in beautiful harmony. Last, but not least, I have a little bit of a pet project that I’ve adopted (after being soundly thrashed by it in an Open), where I want to make BUG Deedstill work; it’s at the far grindy end of the spectrum, eschewing Deathrite (and, well, all creatures), so that it can max out on cards like Innocent Blood and Pernicious Deed.

One last thought before we go: I used to think that BUG Delver had two flex-creature slots, but the truth is that it’s a Tombstalker slot. Bob, TNN, and Clique are all nice, but few things have the closing speed of a 5/5 flyer for two or three mana. Anyways, I’ll be in Florida for the next few days (I’m actually writing this on the plane), so I won’t be doing any streaming this weekend, but we’ll be back at it on Monday night, to battle with one of the BUGgers I wrote about in this post! (you know, as long as the return flight is cooperative.)

Evil Tim is likely sitting on the beach while you read this.. sitting on the beach, writing out decklists.

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