Delve – MTG Keywords Explained

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Get ready to turn your trash into treasure with this powerful mechanic!

What is Delve?

Delve is technically a graveyard mechanic, though it functions differently than most. Rather than reuse or repurpose the cards in your graveyard, delve lets you exile cards from your graveyard to pay the costs of spells. Each card you exile pays for one generic mana of a delve spell’s mana cost. It doesn’t reduce the cost of that spell, or even count as an alternative cost — it’s just an alternative way to pay the normal mana cost.

A few additional rules notes:

  • Delve can never pay for colored mana symbols in a spell’s cost, only generic mana. So, you can pay the six generic mana in Dig Through Time‘s mana cost by delving, but you’ll still need to play the two blue mana the old-fashioned way.
  • Since delve isn’t an alternative cost itself, it can be used to help pay for alternative costs. Such cards don’t exist yet, but in theory, and you could use delve to help pay something like a flashback cost.
  • You can’t overpay for a spell using delve. You can only get rid of as many cards as there is generic mana in the delve spell’s cost, so if you want to get rid of cards in your graveyard for some reason, you’ll need to find another way.

Cards With Delve

Delve rewards you for getting cards into your graveyard, and allows you to use cards that would just be sitting in your graveyard otherwise. As such, it’s become a powerful mechanic in Magic, especially when combined with cheap cantrips or cards that fill up the graveyard.

Delve first appeared in Future Sight on three cards: Tombstalker, Logic Knot, and Death Rattle. While these cards have seen some play over the years, delve didn’t become as ubiquitous as it is today until it was reintroduced as the Sultai clan mechanic in Khans of Tarkir block.

Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time were two of the most powerful cards printed in Khans of Tarkir. Dig Through Time could provide unprecedented card selection for as little as two mana, and Treasure Cruise was an Ancestral Recall if you could exile seven cards from your graveyard. Both cards are banned in Modern and Legacy and restricted in Vintage; Treasure Cruise, a common, is also banned in Pauper.

Of course, these weren’t the only strong cards with delve printed in Khans of Tarkir block. You can come across Tasigur, the Golden Fang — a 4/5 creature who can keep your graveyard stocked for more delving. Gurmag Angler has seen play in Pauper and Modern alike, and Become Immense was a staple in Modern Infect decks. These cards have become so popular in Magic that they’ve been reprinted in several “greatest hits” sets over the years, including Masters sets and preconstructed Commander decks.

While Fate Reforged was the last set that delve headlined, Wizards has continued experimenting with the mechanic over the years, particularly in sets with higher power levels. The last two Modern Horizons sets have seen the printing of three new delve cards: Magmatic Sinkhole, Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis (currently banned in Modern), and Murktide Regent. Even Commander 2020 got in on the fun, introducing us to Ethereal Forager.

If you can fill up your graveyard with ease, we highly recommend adding some cards with delve to your decks. Check out the full selection at Card Kingdom!