Of Delvers, Stags and Policemen – Spread the Sickness with Grant Hislop

UB Mystical Teachings – A Pauper Video Article by Grant Hislop


My best friend got married at the end of April. I was lucky enough to have been asked to be the best man. Basically, the best man has, in my opinion, 3 jobs. These jobs are as follows:-

1. Organise a banging Stag night.
2. Make sure the groom actually turns up.
3. Have ‘relations‘ with a Bridesmaid.

I managed to nail 2/3 of these things, in my opinion, and I’d like to tell you about the first of these things today.

A Stag night, or Bachelor Party, for my American readers (all 2 of you) is a rite of passage for the groom, symbolising his passage from singlehood to coupledom, and is celebrated usually by getting paralytically drunk, and handcuffing the groom naked to a lamppost. Certainly, it is in Scotland at least.

Our itinerary for the evening was going to consist of the Casino, for some light-to-moderate gambling, a Steakhouse for light refreshments (eating’s cheating), a strip club for some fancy dances, and then a local hostelry for darts, dominoes and real ale, and merry banter amongst the group of reprobates.

I’d managed to keep our plans secret from the groom-to-be, so he was going to be relatively surprised by what we were doing. To be honest, Stag parties have become pretty formulaic, for the most part, and I’m not exactly re-inventing the wheel with my choice of activities, but, if we’re being honest, these things are popular for a reason, so hey-ho.

I met him half an hour before we’d arranged to meet everyone else, and we went for a quick pint to get started in a pub en route to the casino, then wandered along to meet the other 6 people who were going to be out for the duration. As the evening progressed, the group grew larger and larger, like a woman in a long-term relationship, but 8 people was where we started.

After we’d met up with the others, we’d decided on a slight change of plans. The Grand National (again, for the benefit of those non-UK readers, a big horse race) was taking place at the time we’d assembled, a quick detour to the neigh–(see what I did there?)–bouring pub to watch the nags was in order. The groom was fortuitous enough to have backed the winner, and was going to be the recipient of somewhere circa £200 if we could locate a William Hill’s in prompt fashion. A quick scan around the area revealed no such luck, so we moved on to the casino with a spring in our steps, seeing as the groom had loudly announced ‘The lap dances are on me boys‘. Sharing the wealth guys, it’s how friends do it.

A casino at 3 in the afternoon, for those who’re not total degenerates, is an eye-opening sight. It seems as though each of them comes with a couple of old ladies as standard, playing the slot machines, a couple of ruffled suits (think Gill from the Simpsons) who’re inevitably gambling away their mortgage payments, and a few other normal looking people, taking advantage of the lovely, sunny Saturday to hide in a basement and play with cards. Just like most Magic players, but with less BO, on average.

Some of the Original 8 had never been to a casino before, so we spent 10-15 minutes explaining things, and walking around to see everything on offer. The groom and I quickly extricated ourselves from the group and headed over to the Blackjack tables. Half an hour later, he was up £15, and I’d made £35, which is not bad going. The rest of the group had been playing Roulette.

One of our party, being on his first visit to this particular den of iniquity, thought it prudent to bet on 0 in roulette, and was improbably lucky enough that it came up. This was his first and only bet of the night, and he walked away with £60 stuffed in his back pocket, and set up residence at the bar, waiting for the rest of us to finish.

After a few hours, having managed to bet myself down to only being about £10 ahead, we headed off to get food. Here, we were joined by some more of the grooms friends, and our ranks were bolstered to somewhere around the 15 mark. The food was unremarkable, so we quickly sojourned to the Fantasy Palace, for the third part of our adventure.

Obviously, as this is a family friendly website, I’m not able to go into much detail about what happened here, but rest assured, dear readers, that we, the 15, left with springs in our steps and smiles on our faces. Our wallets were, without exception, considerably less replete than before. £12 for 2 bottles of beer? You’re having a laugh!

From here, we made our way to Edinburgh’s ‘premier’ heavy metal nightclub, Studio 24, on Calton Road. I think I might be missing a venue, as that’s a pretty big trek from where we were, and I can’t imagine we’d have had much luck getting enough taxis for the 15 of us, but I can’t remember being anywhere else, so I’m just going to pretend that we went straight there. Studio 24 is a place that I’ve had a somewhat love/hate relationship with over the years. I started coming to the club aged around 15, both due to the fact that it played metal music and was the only place I could actually get served alcohol. The club’s obviously a toilet, but that’s what metal’s all about.

Over the years, they’ve reined in the under-age drinking thing quite a bit, but given that I’m pretty old now, whenever I go back, I end up feeling even older than I am, if you can believe that. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen so many floppy fringes in one place before. Plus, the music that the metal youth of today are listening to seems strange to me. I don’t really like the sound of some guy shredding his vocal chords to the point that I can’t actually make out a single word that he’s saying, only that whatever it is, he sounds pretty angry about it. For these reasons, I tend to avoid coming here anymore. The Studios, for me, is far better as a memory of my burgeoning sexual experiences than something that I’m constantly immersed in, but I appreciate that of my friends, I’m in the minority. Perhaps I’m just getting old? Answers on a postcard please: ‘Why does Grant hate fun?‘.

Anyway, on this occasion, there was what I’d consider music playing, so I was dancing away to myself, hammered beyond what is reasonable. Normally, I’m quite a good dancer. Obviously, I’m no John Travolta, but on a scale of Coldplay to Van Halen, I’m probably about Def Leppard. By this point in the evening, my ability to stand properly was questionable, and my dancing had devolved to its most base form. Basically, I was standing in the middle of the dance floor, thrusting my hips and alternately pointing at my crotch with my left hand, then my right, in a swinging series of motions somewhat akin to a helicopter’s propellors. Travolta would be proud… My friends quickly removed themselves from my company, but I didn’t care. I danced in this fashion for what seemed like half an hour, but was probably more like 5 minutes, then left to rejoin the group.

3am rolled around, and we were unceremoniously removed from the club. We stumbled up the road, in the direction of the taxi rank at the top of Leith Walk, and I broke off from the rest of the group, most of whom lived within walking distance of the club, and said my goodbyes. I’m told that, after I left, the Groom went into a phonebox for a wee, as seems on form for him, and then decided to have a nice little sit-down for a while, seemingly forgetting that he’d literally just urinated in the phonebox.

Say what you will about technology, the mobile phone will never replace the phone box for me. You can’t take a piss in your Nokia 3310, or whatever a modern analogue may be, and you’ll never be able to wipe the remnants of your kebab on your iPhone. These things are classics for a reason folks. Anyway, I digress, I made my way to the top of Leith, and the taxi rank, to get myself home to a nice, warm bed.

The Leith taxi rank can be found just alongside what can only be referred to as ‘The Gay Part‘ of Edinburgh. There’s a strip of like 4 gay bars situated in a small area, CC Bloom’s, Planet Out, Cafe Habana and GHQ. I took my place stoically in the taxi rank, and basked in the ambience of Edinburgh at 4 in the morning. I witnessed two screaming queens getting in a slap fight directly in front of me in the queue, and I kid you not, one had taken exception to the fact that the other was acting ‘Too gay‘.

I had no idea that there were degrees of gayness, nor that it was something that people could get upset about. Again, I’m possibly showing my age here. The allegedly gayer of the two called for help from, again, I kid you not, his Mum, who slapped the accuser with all her not inconsiderable weight and 3-4 Gold Sovereign rings behind the blow. This escalated, and the accuser’s boyfriend started slapping the gayer gentleman’s Mum…

Edinburgh has these things called transport marshalls, and I’m not sure if that’s just an Edinburgh thing, or if they’re widespread or not. If they are, pardon my ignorance. Basically, they’re the unluckiest people in the world. They’re tasked with making sure all these drunken idiots manage to find their way home safely, without killing anyone on the way. They separated the four of them, but a police meat wagon had already been summoned to the incident. ‘Excellent’, I thought, time for some street justice. My opinions were not influenced at all by the fact that if these two groups were arrested, I’d be 3 groups away from my taxi, instead of 5. Not at all.

Two policemen separated the boy, his mother and the opposing couple, and told them both to calm down, and put them back in the rank. The meat wagon stayed put, and the two officers walked up and down the queues, gauging the levels of dissent amongst the inebriated, while the Black Knights of Edinburgh whisked people off to Bedfordshire.

The boy and his mother eventually go in a taxi, and as a parting shot, he decided to wind down the window, and yell abuse at the couple and the policeman who’d initially told him to calm down. At this point the policeman is standing right beside me, and I see a pained expression on his face. He’s got no interest in this particular moron. He just wants a quiet night and a cup of tea, and will consider his shift a success if he doesn’t get punched.

I can see him consider giving chase to the boy and his mother, but then decide against it, no doubt realising that the paperwork isn’t going to make his night any better, and decide against it. I felt really sorry for the guy. He’s out there, putting his life on the line for us every day, and this is the thanks he gets. I tapped him on the shoulder, and said ‘Whatever that idiot said, ignore it. I appreciate the work that you’re doing for me tonight, and I’m sure the majority of people here agree‘. He looked taken aback, presumably because in my drunken state it came out as something like ‘oifhgoiwbautgdzs;hljsepgnibl’zxa;djhsaogoiagf‘, mumbled ‘Thanks mate’, and went back to the meat wagon, and drove off to his next set of unappreciative imbeciles.

I’d like to think that, in my own way, I provided a public service too that night. I’d honestly recommend it. Next time you see a Police Officer, assuming he’s not busy, let him know that you appreciate what he does.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Delver of Secrets is like that Police Officer.

In and of itself, Delver of Secrets isn’t a particularly tricksy creature. All he’ll do is attack and block. He requires you to build your deck around him if you want to maximise his efficiency. The last 6 months have shown us, with certainty that this is worthwhile doing so.

For some reason, people seem to hate playing against Delver of Secrets. I don’t. I appreciate what Delver has done to the format, and you should too. For one thing, the decks that he’s played in are, without question, the best decks in the format. What this means is that we know what to expect. More people will be playing Delver of Secrets than any other decks.

This means that our deck selection should be made with Delver of Secrets in mind. This isn’t a bad thing. As long as you’re clever enough to realise that you’ll never be able to win a tournament with a deck that can’t beat Delver of Secrets, you’ll be making a good choice. As long as you’re clever enough to realise that if you’re actually the one playing Delver of Secrets, you need to have a plan, and plenty of experience playing the mirror, you’ll be fine as well. The fact is, at this stage, the deck has such a huge bullseye on its chest, and the decks have become so inbred, geared towards the mirror, the other decks that I like playing against less than Delver are being pushed out of the format.

From a personal perspective, I hate losing to Primeval Titan far more than I hate losing to Delver of Secrets. Delver has all but pushed Primeval Titan decks out of the format, and I appreciate that. I understand that some people might want to cast Primeval Titans, but I’d rather win a match, and Primeval Titan isn’t winning too many matches right now. Thanks for that Delver of Secrets.

I’m writing this on the Monday before the Banned and Restricted announcement, but I’m not sure if it’ll be published before or after the announcement. I honestly hope that they don’t ban anything. I like the format as it is, and I’d hate to see it get radically changed. As I’ve said above, the Delver decks are really gunning for the mirror, and given that the majority of people are net-decking anyway, it frees up a lot of space for metagame specific brewing, which I’m a fan of. Look at Sam Black’s Delverless Delver deck from the WMCQ’s a few weeks ago. He built that deck, for essentially that one tournament, and came within a whisker of taking it down, awkwardly to Wolf Run Ramp. Oh well.

That is the thing though, we’re looking at a standard environment where there is a clearly defined ‘best deck’, which is coming close to being played by an appropriate percentage of players, so we know what to expect. How is that not a good thing? Please Wizards, don’t take away this format just because players are too lazy to spend the requisite amount of time actually trying to beat Delver rather than complaining about it.

As I see it, there are 4 options for what happens on Wednesday.

1. Ponder is banned
2. Ponder and Delver of Secrets are banned
3. Ponder, Delver, Vapor Snag and Snapcaster Mage are banned
4. Nothing is banned

Please let it be #4.

Delver of Secrets, I appreciate you.

Stay classy mtgUK,



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