The Fun Police

This week I’ve chosen to play a Legacy League with one of my favorite decks besides Storm which is Death and Taxes. This deck originated as mono-white creature deck that will often play the control role with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Rishadan Port and the likes but with the ability to switch on the beats too utilizing Stoneforge Mystic. Through the years several splashes have been attempted.


Black for Discard, Dark Confidant and Tidehollow Sculler; green for Gaddock Teeg, Qasali Pridemage and Scavenging Ooze; even blue for Meddling Mage, Vendilion Clique and the likes.

But the most persistent splash has been red with Magus of the Moon plus effective sideboard options which has proven to have legs to stand on. However, the mono-white version still seems like the most popular over all and it’s the one I have the most experience with so that is what I decided to play.

Death and Taxes by Martin Nielsen

Creatures (31)
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Serra Avenger
Recruiter of the Guard
Flickerwisp
Mirran Crusader
Sanctum Prelate
Mother of Runes
Ethersworn Canonist
Spirit of the Labyrinth
Stoneforge Mystic
Phyrexian Revoker
Swords to Plowshares

Spells (7)
Batterskull
Sword of Fire and Ice
Umezawa’s Jitte
Aether Vial
Lands (22)
Wasteland
Rishadan Port
Cavern of Souls
Horizon Canopy
Karakas
Plains

Sideboard (15)
Path to Exile
Sunlance
Containment Priest
Disenchant
Ethersworn Canonist
Holy Light
Council’s Judgment
Sanctum Prelate
Mindbreak Trap
Faerie Macabre
Grafdigger’s Cage
Rest in Peace

This deck relies upon Legacy being Legacy which is to say it relies on your opponent playing decks that try and maximize efficiency by playing a bunch of 1CMC spells and not very many lands. Thalia is a great foil to 1CMC spells effectively doubling their casting cost. Ponder is a lot less impressive at 1U. The deck also utilizes Aether Vial to tremendous effect.

An Aether Vial on 3 suddenly turns Flickerwisp from a rather arduous 3 mana 3/1 into an instant speed uncounterable Swiss army knife saving your permanents from removal, revoming lands from your opponent for their entire turn and resetting your own Batterskull but to name a few.

This deck wants to play against other “fair” decks with blue. It has ways to beat other decks too, but this is where it shines the most in my opinion. Where it can struggle is against the ultra fast combo decks of the format. The faster they are, the worse it normally is for D&T. Among the tier one decks Elves seems to be just about the worst matchup for D&T. This is not because Elves is super fast combo.

It is fast, for sure, but not compared to stuff like Goblin Charbelcher, Tin Fins or even Storm. The real problem lies in the fact that Thalia, Guardian of Thraben – normally your go-to creature against all combo – is practically useless here since the vast majority of their deck are creatures. Combine that with the fact that they can produce enormous amounts of mana through Gaea’s Cradle and Heritage Druid and you’ve got a recipe for a very difficult game 1.

How Hard? Pretty Hard!

This deck is NOT easy to play. I noticed, last year, when Recruiter of the Guard and Sanctum Prelate had just been printed that there was a lot of talk about how the deck had gotten a huge boost and how it was now well positioned in the format. A lot of people picked up the deck. Not that many did well with it. Eventually its popularity waned and after Miracles was banned out of the format a lot of people were saying that D&T was no longer that great a choice. Not long after it won GP Las Vegas.

Now all of this is somewhat anecdotal but I believe this deck rewards dedication more than the average Legacy deck. Bear with me:

When you pick up something like Storm – which a lot of people have a preconceived notion about as being “really hard to be good with” – then there is a learning curve. The first few months you will get egg on your face a few times.

Sit and count for a minute while looking at your hand, then your graveyard, then your hand. Then going for it only to realize, halfway through your Past in Flames, that you shouldn’t have flashbacked Gitaxian Probe before Infernal Tutor as it drew you a land that you can’t cast and now you’re no longer hellbent… Oops!

But after a few months those types of situations will mostly be a thing of the past and you will start to get a lot of stuff ingrained on your spine like muscle memory. You will start to have lines of play memorized so you don’t have to spend 1 minute to work out the deterministic kill in front of your eyes but rather just 5-10 seconds. Play the deck some more and you will become more and more comfortable playing around different types of hate. At this point in your career as a Storm pilot let’s say you have maximized the deck to around 80%.

From here, the last 20 % will come only with years of playing. But even if you don’t have that in your locker, you are now a firm pilot being able to perform well with the deck.

It is my contention that, if repeating the same effort with Death and Taxes, you will be more likely to hit around 50% maximization. I don’t personally feel like I’ve ever moved much beyond that. Because that would like take a few years of really dedicating myself to the deck to get near something like 70-80% let alone full potential.

Look, this isn’t rocket science. But when the same very few people continue to do well with the deck then I don’t think it’s to do with them being savants or members of Mensa. I mean they might well be, but I think the deck will reward most people if they only dedicate themselves as much as these archetype experts. The only problem is, it will take longer to reach the summit with this deck than with many other decks in Legacy.

That is my contention, like I said, but you don’t have to agree with it. If you do or if you don’t I would love to chat about it so feel free to leave a comment below.

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Reborn in Vegas!

I believe an introduction is in order first and foremost.

I’m Anders Thiesen, a Legacy enthusiast from Denmark. I’m 23 years old and I’ve top 8’d both European Legacy Championships, once to the quarters and this year all the way to the finals, where I lost to Thomas Mechin. I play almost exclusively legacy, and until some months ago exclusively Miracles. It was a busted deck, they banned the best card in the deck and it is still viable! I love legacy and I love competing …

So, as a complete fool I went to GP Vegas, just to play the Legacy GP!

After some stupidity, I arrive in fabulous hot Las Vegas meeting up with my roommates Daniel Larsen, Daniel Lind and Hans Jacob “HJ_Kaiser” Goddik. There’s a week until the GP starts so our hotel room is quickly transformed into a testing central, we have two laptops, good wi-fi, several paper decks as well as a 24/7 hotel restaurant and a gas station that sells beverages and snacks just across the road.

Testing went great and it felt like we had a good mix of drinks by the pool, sightseeing and actual testing. Hans Jacob and I play the mtgo legacy challenge on Sunday to satisfactory but not impressive results, after a few more days of testing I settle on a list:

Not Quite Miracles by Anders Thiesen

Lands (20)
Island
Flooded Strand
Scalding Tarn
Tundra
Arid Mesa
Karakas
Plains

Creatures (3)
Snapcaster Mage

Spells (37)
Swords to Plowshares
Unexpectedly Absent
Force of Will
Counterspell
Predict
Brainstorm
Flusterstorm
Ponder
Portent
Terminus
Entreat the Angels
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Sideboard (15)
Vendilion Clique
Surgical Extraction
Flusterstorm
Leyline of Sanctity
Monastary Mentor

The reasons I like this list are many: The mana is sturdy against Wasteland (we can even afford a Karakas!) Absent is a deceptively powerful card and Entreat is still busted along with Terminus and Predict.

The main deck Flusterstorm has been pulling a lot of weight and I basically find myself wanting for more all the time! The sideboard is very clean, Mentor is great against decks, when they have cut their removal or where you need more of a clock and can tap 3 mana on your own turn.

Leyline of Sanctity is great against discard, basically working as a fair Counterbalance. Catching an unprepared storm opponent is gravy and having it in your opener versus burn is dessert, the rest of the slots should be self-explanatory.

Terminus. Still busted.

The key to the deck is realising how busted Terminus and Predict are and building a shell to sustain them.

I bring the list to some single-elimination trials to the following results: 0-1, 1-1, 0-1 and I very nearly go home with zero confidence when another dane who is crashing in our hotel room, Kjartan Uldahl, persuade me to join one last trial, which I 5-0 to get my 2 byes. Knowing I can play my deck and sleep in tomorrow I go back to my hotel room.

I show up for Round 3 with a full tank of confidence only to get paired versus the shittiest, most boring deck known to Magic Eldrazi Post. The sideboard mentor steals one game, but I can’t beat cheaty lands like Cloudpost and Eye of Ugin and I succumb to some Eldrazi Titan. *Yawn*

Yeah… That wasn’t how I planned it out, but a few delver opponents later I find myself at 4-1 and paired against a fellow dane playing Elves. Terminus manage to beat my own misplays and I advance to 5-1, where another elves opponent wait for me, he admitted to not having tested the match-up and he also succumb to the power of Terminus.

This selfie was 18-2 after 5 Rounds of play! (From left Hans Jacob, myself, Daniel Larsen, Daniel Lind, with the 2 Daniels being 5-0, that was unfortunately all the wins they would get in the GP)

At 6-1 I get paired versus 4c Loam. The secret to this match-up is you have to know that your opponent’s deck doesn’t do anything against you, they play some haymakers but all your answers match-up very well against them. If they don’t lead on turn 1 Mox Diamond you are very favored. This was also true here and I just used Jace to draw most of my library before winning in both games.

At 7-1 I get paired versus UW Stoneblade, it was very grindy and I misassigned my role at some point in game 1 leading me to lose a 25 minute game, then winning a 20 minute game, this plus sideboarding meant we had 2 minutes to shuffle up and play game 3 and we decide to not even try and I end day 1 at 7-1-1.

I meet up with Lawrence Harmon and Ethan Gaieski for dinner. They introduce me to Kevin “Daddy” Jones who is one of the most crazy human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of having dinner with, and I mean this in the best way possible. It was a great night and at 1 AM I’m Uber’ed back to my hotel. Seriously when you go to GPs make some friends, bonding over magic is great!

Being the the draw bracket, my day 2 is mostly Stoneblade and Miracles (I actually played the mirror 3 times on day 2!) but I win my first 3 rounds to find myself at 10-1-1 paired vs Sam Roukas of Eternal Extravaganza fame. Sam is very skilled and he ended my top 8 dreams. Fun fact: we both needed a bathroom break and we were deck checked leading to a 15 min time extension and we finished with ~10 min on the round clock, before several of the tables near us. Much to the relief of the judges.

Alright. No top 8, but I can still cash. I recognise my round 14 opponents name on the pairing sheet. Scott Lipp. “Isn’t he some kind of pro?”

So… a pro with a draw at a legacy GP, I’m thinking delver as that is the legacy deck that plays the most like “normal” magic. Never has I been so wrong..

Wow. Scott Lipp had managed to get a draw with GB Turbo depths, my game 1 hand was quickly Duress’d and Thoughtseized to bits and I didn’t cast a meaningful spell that game. Game 2 I keep 3 Swords to Plowshares, he duresses one before surgicalling them, I blind Predict in response in the hope of hitting a Flusterstorm so I can counter the surgical, I mill absent and draw a land. He puts the combo on the board before surgicalling my absents, and we shake hands. That was all my white reactive cards surgicalled, oh well… gg Scott… gg…

In Round 15 I’m paired versus Todd Stevens who had picked up Miracles the night before and I win 2 quick games to finish, 4-2 on my first GP day 2 and 11-3-1 total, good for a 67th place offering a grand total of 0 cash and my first 2 pro points. At least this event lit my competitive flame and I look forward to playing more high level magic with MKM Prague and GP Birmingham (modern) coming up.

I was initially disappointed in my performance as I felt I could have had a better record/result with tighter play and a bit of luck, but here a month after I’ve come to terms with my record and feel satisfied, but hungry for more. I wouldn’t change anything given the things we knew before the GP, but with the downfall of slow combo decks the 3 cliques might serve better as something else.

Thanks for reading

<3 Thiesen

 

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