Plainswalker83's picture
By: Plainswalker83, Marcus Brunstetter
Oct 29 2014 12:00pm
Login or register to post comments

Ever since I saw Death & Taxes win GP Strasburg in the hands of Thomas Enevoldson. I knew that I wanted to play it. I have been playing white based decks in pretty much every format since I started playing magic back in 2000. Though they were not always tier 1 decks, this deck seemed to be the real deal and I knew I wanted to build it and play it. I traded/sold my old Enchantress deck and got to work buying the staples I needed for this deck. Thankfully I got my Wastelands when they were only 40$ and the only other expensive card to get was the Rishadan Port. My friend/playtest partner/sponsor picked them up for me and my deck was complete. 

The next step was building the deck. Legacy is different than most formats as there really isn't a “Best Deck”. You can be rewarded for knowing your deck very well and because of that as long as you aren't piloting a pile of junk any legacy deck can be a winner. For instance just this past open Slivers made the top 8. Because of the diversity of the format you need to make sure your 75 is well equipped to deal with almost anything. How that is done depends on what you are playing. If you have blue you can just be prepared to counter random problematic cards. You can play some sort of Combo like Storm or Ad Nauseam/Tendrils of Agony and ignore your opponent, or you can burn and just try to kill your opponent no matter what they are playing.

Death & Taxes does something very different. White was never known for its countering ability, (Sorry Mana Tithe) it also doesn't do well with ignoring your opponent. White is an interactive color and because of that it can be both proactive and reactive. So after a ton of testing and pouring over results from various tournaments. I came up with this list.

This list took a ton of testing and still might have a change or two before I take it to the GP.  I got help from both a fellow D&T player at my LGS and also Thomas Enevoldson. (Sorry let me pick up that name I dropped) Both gave great insight and I will now explain the card choices and what else might fit depending on what meta you expect.

                                 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben Wasteland Rishadan Port

These 3 cards help you carry out the mana denial strategy.
There are often times you can just win when you have Thalia into Port or Waste. You set them back on their mana and prevent them from catching up. It can be insane how many decks that Thalia messes with. If you are using your mana to tie down your opponents or destroy their duals you will need a way to cast your spells.

                                                                                      Aether Vial

Enter the Vial. I know both Merfolk and Goblins use this card as well but I am going to go out on a limb and say it really shines in this deck. While you are using your mana to lock down theirs, destroy theirs, or even draw you a card. You can use Vial to flash in your threats and hate bears. There is so much to be done with Vial but I only cover some of it here. So let's look at some of the tricks.

Flickerwisp Aven Mindcensor Spirit of the Labyrinth Serra Avenger


Each of these creatures are ok on their own but when they are teamed up with Vial they really shine. Flickerwisp has a ton of uses but let me highlight some of most common and best ways to use the creepy looking elemental. He can be flashed in to protect one of your creatures in response to a removal spell, he can take out an opponent’s blocker or attacker, and he can phase out a Batterskull token. There are many other interactions but if you really want to play D&T then experience is the best way to learn how useful Flickerwisp can be. Aven Mindcensor doesn't need the vial to be effective but it can be rare to have 3 mana up when you are busy doing other things with it. So vialing him onto the battlefield in response to their fetch land or any other search they may be planning is very rough on your opponent. I will never forget the tournament where I was playing against reanimator and he double cracked his fetches and I flashed in the bird wizard to crush his hopes and dreams. I wish that it was on camera but alas it was not. The Spirit is a new addition and is there to prevent your opponents from getting too much card advantage on you. Of course the ultimate play in magical Christmas land is to vial it in in response to their Brainstorm. Lastly Serra Avenger is a very effective beater that has regained popularity due to the surge of True-Name Nemesis. The downside of the flier pretty much is irrelevant in this deck and the flier can be a very fast clock when teamed up with a piece of equipment.

               Stoneforge Mystic Batterskull Umezawa's Jitte Sword of Fire and Ice

I may be biased but I think this deck is the best Stoneforge deck. (Ok I am biased and it is probably Jeskai Delver with the merfolk rogue) Each piece of equipment is in the deck to give you some sort of advantage. The living weapon is not only an efficient beater but it is also a source of lifegain and an amazing blocker. There have even been times when I hard casted it against burn and still was able to pull out the win. Jitte is removal, life gain, and creature pump built into one amazing card. When put on Thalia, the Avenger, or Mirran Crusader it is always getting counters and gaining you a ton of advantage. The sword not only give your guys pro red so they don't die to Lightning Bolt but also give your card draw and extra damage.

                                 Phyrexian Revoker Mother of Runes Mirran Crusader     

Each of these creatures serve different purposes that are also all essential to the deck. The revoker turns off planeswalkers and one of this decks biggest nightmares Grim Lavamancer. It also shuts down Deathrite Shaman and (Sensei’s Divining Top). He is a ton of fun to vial in in response to their threats and also can beat down if necessary. Mother of Runes is a card I have been playing with for 14 years. This deck she serves as the matriarch keeping her family together and alive through various disruption. Most times she sits on table untapped because just her presence is enough to thwart opponents. She can also be an amazing blocker, blocking things like Tarmogoyf, Nimble Mongoose, and even the germ token from Batterskull effectively preventing the lifegain. Another creature that blocks all of them is Mirran Crusader.  This guy is becoming another favorite of mine. Yes he can be bolted and if you expect a lot of burn I would cut 1 and put in a Brimaz, King of Oreskos. Otherwise Crusader can sometimes shut down Sultai Delver all on his own. They just cannot answer him without a Liliana of the Veil and with or without equipment he can quickly close out a game.


The only other spell in the deck is what I think I have listed as my favorite card of all time...

                                                                            Swords to Plowshares

The life gain is not really a setback because this deck can win eventually as long as there is enough time to do so. I have even cast swords on a token created by Dark Depths and still was able to beat my opponent. There are a ton of problematic creatures in legacy and you sometimes you just need to clear the way or stop their win con. There are also the occasions when you can swords your own creature to gain a few life and stay alive. Next we have the lands.

                                       Horizon Canopy Cavern of Souls Karakas    

I already covered the use of Wasteland and Rishadan Port. These lands serve different purposes. Canopy is just a source of card draw and there are many times this deck could just use a fresh card. Cavern is way for you to force through what you need to win. Most times I name Kor so that I can land a Stoneforge but you can also name Humans to play Thalia, Mother, or Crusader. Karakas used to be a 4 of when Mangara of Corondor was in the maindeck and Sneak and Show was more popular. I am happy using three since they aren't really cheap and I have 3 Italian ones and my friend has an English one, they just don’t match so 3 it is :) It can still be used to save your Thalia and if your Brimaz him as well. It is also great against Reanimator and Sneak and Show and having maindeck answers to those decks is very important.

    The sideboard can change depending on what you are expecting to play against but I will go over what I think the essentials are.

                                          Wilt-Leaf Liege Rest in Peace Grafdigger's Cage

These cards are almost always in the sideboard in some number. Liege punishes the Sultai Delver strategy for making you discard cards and also anthems your squad making them even more effective. RIP and Cage are great against Reanimator and RIP has other uses as well. It stops Goyf, Goose, and now the new delve cards Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise. If you need more help against combo or burn Leyline of Sanctity is another good choice to keep your from being targeted and keep you alive longer. 

Council's Judgment is also a great choice to eliminate cards like True-Name Nemesis and Nimble Mongoose along with other troublesome permanents like Planeswalkers and even Emrakul, The Aeons Torn. I also throw in Mangara of Corondor, Pithing Needle, Manriki-Gusari, Ethersworn Canonist, and Enlightened Tutor to search for them all. There is some contention over the Tutor package in the board but I have been happy with it. Though I may remove it for the GP to make room for other cards. For example now that the delve cards are so popular now UR Delver has really picked up in popularity and so has UG Infect due to Tom Ross winning back to back Invitational I may want a copy of Path to Exile. I think I will be including Brimaz in the main and even throwing Kor Firewalker into the sideboard. It is a GP on the east coast and I expect some really good players but also a bunch of players that will be playing legacy for the first time and the cheapest deck for them to build would be Burn. I do not want to shift my sideboard too heavily to protect against it but I also do not want to be unprepared for the fireslingers that will be there. It is still 3 weeks away so I will continue to test and find out what 75 I want to sleeve up. If anyone is interested in more details or an exact sideboarding plan etc.. I will be more than happy to do so. I will also provide a report from the GP when I return. Thank you all for your time and see ya next time.



Hey man - good write up. by country hillbilly at Wed, 10/29/2014 - 21:56
country hillbilly's picture

Hey man - good write up.

Would love to see some games or a tourney report with it. The only card I really need to be sold on is Mirran Crusader - he looks super mediocre!


Selling points? by Elbinac at Wed, 10/29/2014 - 23:09
Elbinac's picture

Double Strike a Jitte and/or Sword of Fire and Ice?
Innate protection from two colors SoFaI doesn't cover?
Chumps Tarmo forever?

The only thing that really "sells" it, in my opinion, is the Double Strike with equipment.

Thanks for the input guys. by Plainswalker83 at Wed, 10/29/2014 - 23:27
Plainswalker83's picture

Thanks for the input guys. Joe- I do play a lot of modern on MTGO though mostly Black White. Feel free to say hi anytime you see me online. Zach- Elbinac stated why the Crusader is good, though I will definitely do a tourney report after the GP. If you want to see the deck in action go to youtube and check out some D&T videos.

Most Notably GP Strasburg by Plainswalker83 at Wed, 10/29/2014 - 23:28
Plainswalker83's picture

Most Notably GP Strasburg which Thomas won and GP DC where Wescoe got a top 8 with it.

I suggest 1 or 2 cataclysm in by seydaneen at Thu, 10/30/2014 - 17:55
seydaneen's picture

I suggest 1 or 2 cataclysm in the sideboard. It is good against both control deks as well as pesky elves

and crusader is your only by seydaneen at Thu, 10/30/2014 - 17:56
seydaneen's picture

and crusader is your only hope against elves. don't take it out

As of now I do not have by Plainswalker83 at Thu, 10/30/2014 - 21:50
Plainswalker83's picture

As of now I do not have access to cataclysm but I would like to try and get 1 in the board before the GP. Also I have no plans to take out Mirran Crusader, I am sold on his power. :) Looks like I will try to do an article on the sideboard alone with options for various decks in the meta. Would love your input when I finish it.

Thanks Alex and Xavier, I did by Plainswalker83 at Fri, 10/31/2014 - 13:23
Plainswalker83's picture

Thanks Alex and Xavier, I did mention Brimaz I used to him have main but he may be making his way back in due the amount of burn and UR delver I am expecting. Council's Judgement is more so a concession to True-name but he may be losing popularity. Also Kor Firewalker maybe me getting a spot in my board. Once again thank you both for your input. I only wish I could test the deck out on MTGO but alas I only have it built in paper :)