Jon Finkel’s 3rd Place Spirits Deck With Delver

February 16, 2012 | Posted by Dee

Team Channel Fireball’s Huntmaster Wolf Run Ramp deck was the deck of Pro Tour Dark Ascension since it took the top two spots. Close behind is definitely Jon Finkel’s 3rd place Esper Spirit Delver deck.

Not only did the deck get a top four finish, it put another Hall of Famer, Jelger Wiegersma, in the top eight. Also, it earned at least 18 points (60% win rate) for five other people in the Swiss rounds.

I like the deck because you get the speed of a Delver deck while having staying power to win the mid game against other creature decks because of the Spirit midrange cards (Lingering Souls, Drogskol Captain, and Dungeon Geist).

Check out Jon’s deck tech video and decklist below.

Esper Spirit Delver
Creatures (17)
Spells (21)
Lands (22)
Sideboard (15)

From the video, Jon said his deck has a good matchup against Humans and stock Delver decks (the ones without black and Lingering Souls). He said the positive matchup versus stock Delver is mostly due to three Dark Ascension cards: Lingering Souls, Drogskol Captain, and Dungeon Geists.

Lingering Souls is better than Midnight Haunting in stock Delver lists because you get card advantage from the flashback ability. Also, the creatures in most Delver decks are small so Lingering Souls is a great card against them.

Drogskol Captain makes your Spirit tokens bigger than their tokens. With the lord on the battlefield, one Spirit token can trade with a flipped Delver.

Dungeon Geists is basically a removal spell on a 3/3 flying body for only four mana. Yes, they can untap their creature by killing Dungeon Geists but Delver decks typically have little removal outside of Vapor Snag and it passes the Vapor Snag test pretty well.

Drogskol Captain + Dungeon Geists is one of the key interactions in the deck. With these two cards on the battlefield, your opponent will need two pinpoint removal spells to untap his creature because Dungeon Geists gains hexproof. All the while, you can attack for four damage in the air.

Jon said he sideboarded in 1-2 Dungeon Geists in all his matchups (versus both creature decks and control decks) so it is definitely a great card.


Jon elected not to play Geist of Saint Traft and Sword of War and Peace, two key cards in stock Delver lists. Geist of Saint Traft is a powerful card but with 4 Drogskol Captain, 4 Lingering Souls, and 2 Dungeon Geists, you don’t want the mana curve to be too high especially with only 22 lands.

Without Geist of Saint Traft, you might think that Jon is at a disadvantage versus stock Delver decks. However, he has 3 Phantasmal Image to destroy the blue/white hexproof mythic rare.

Phantasmal Image can also take out Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Thrun, the Last Troll. Thalia is pretty good against this deck because it has a good number of non-creature spells and 4 Snapcaster Mage.

Phantasmal Image fits the deck better than Geist of Saint Traft. It’s cheaper to lower the mana curve and it gives you a powerful combo with Drogskol Captain. Copying Drogskol Captain is really good because then your lords get hexproof.

With two or more Drogskol Captains on the battlefield, you turn off your opponent’s pinpoint removal for all your Spirit creatures and they get bigger. Dungeon Geists, Lingering Souls, and Moorland Haunt all become insane cards.


Jon didn’t play Sword of War and Peace to make his opponents have dead cards. He thought many players would be gunning for that card. I bet players sideboarded in artifact removal against Jon because they expected him to have it. Those cards would be dead since the deck has zero artifacts in the main deck or sideboard. Also, Sword of War and Peace is another three-drop that makes your mana curve higher.

To deal with Sword of War and Peace in other decks, Jon has 1 Divine Offering and 1 Revoke Existence in the main deck. Jon played these cards as one-ofs instead of committing to either spell because he wanted to have a flexible toolbox in the graveyard for Snapcaster Mage.

The deck sees a lot of cards with card draw and card manipulation spells and Snapcaster Mage to recast them. So, there’s a good chance you can find the card you need even if it is a one-of.

The main deck artifact removal spells are important in this deck because Sword of War and Peace can be a huge beating. Normally, you can chump block effectively with Spirit tokens but it gets a lot tougher if they have that equipment card.

There are other artifacts seeing play so Divine Offering and Revoke Existence will have other targets. Shrine of Burning Rage, Birthing Pod, Inkmoth Nexus, Sphere of the Suns, and Solemn Simulacrum are definitely cards you could be seeing in game one. Revoke Existence can hit enchantments too and there are definitely good targets like Oblivion Ring and Curse of Death’s Hold.

If you don’t need to destroy an artifact or enchantment, you have Ponder to shuffle Divine Offering or Revoke Existence away. The 2 Evolving Wilds helps a lot if you want to draw one of the top three cards from Ponder but shuffle the other two cards.

Jon played only two Mana Leaks. His playtest group came to an understanding that Mana Leak was not that good versus stock Delver decks. Plus, this deck taps out more than the typical Delver deck because it only has eight instants.

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