/ Legacy

The Eternalist - The Only Certain Thing in Life

Howdy folks! It's me, your Legacy specialist Joe, and we're here this month to continue our deep dive into the various decks that make up the Legacy format!

As some of you might have heard by now, a little celebration for myself, in that I am now also writing Vintage content for MTGGoldfish! This is an exciting thing for me, so keep an eye out for my stuff over there!

Our deck this month comes from a suggestion on Reddit, where it was called "the most fun deck in the entire format". I'm not sure that's accurate but this deck is a lot of fun to a great many players out there: Death and Taxes!

History of White Weenies

The name comes from the simple idiom "There's only three certainties in life: Death, Taxes, and someone bringing a White Weenie deck to a Magic tournament." A White Weenie deck has existed in many configurations throughout the years and as such DnT has evolved into a deck focused on taxing and controlling its opponent while laying down a beat on them.

The storied history of this deck is such that I can't track of all of the changes made to the deck over the years or even how it truly began, but thankfully I know someone who has. Phil Gallagher of Thraben University has a wonderful page on his website detailing the history of DnT, and it's well worth checking out.

The Current Face of DnT

DnT is very much a deck often built to handle a specific metagame, and as such very skill-testing for brewers. This means even showing a few lists isn't enough to truly get a feel for what this deck can accomplish, since many of its pilots are fervent in the development of the deck.

Let's take a look at some lists anyways, so that we can start to understand where this deck comes from. The first list we have to look at is from a friend of mine! From a 4th place finish at SCG Columbus Team Open, here's Josh Willey's list.

Death and Taxes - Josh Willey | 4th Place - SCG Columbus Team Constructed Open

4 Aether Vial
1 Batterskull
2 Cavern of Souls
4 Flickerwisp
1 Horizon Canopy
3 Karakas
3 Mirran Crusader
4 Mother of Runes
1 Palace Jailer
2 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Plains
2 Recruiter of the Guard
4 Rishadan Port
1 Sanctum Prelate
6 Snow-Covered Plains
4 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1 Umezawa's Jitte
4 Wasteland

1 Cataclysm
1 Containment Priest
2 Council's Judgment
1 Faerie Macabre
2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
2 Path to Exile
2 Rest in Peace
1 Sanctum Prelate
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Sword of War and Peace

Josh's list is fantastic versus the current metagame steeped in decks such as Death's Shadow, Grixis Control, and Miracles. Sideboard cards such as Gideon, Ally of Zendikar help shore up the control matchups where cards like Terminus are a consideration, while main deck Mirran Crusader does the same for matchups against Death's Shadow by being able to push through a Shadow player's removal.

DnT has always had a plethora of answers throughout the years, and new tools are printed every so often. Cards such as Palace Jailer and Recruiter of the Guard became near instant inclusions with the release of Conspiracy: Take the Crown because of their sheer power level.

Palace-Jailer

One of the most interesting things about DnT is that while the deck is predominantly mono-white in construction, it often sees various splash colors attempted. Whether these splashes are better than mono-white is debatable, but splashes absolutely do offer interesting functions to a deck that's mostly white weenie creatures.

R/W DnT - Lagerbon | 5-0 MTGO Legacy League

4 Aether Vial
3 Arid Mesa
1 Batterskull
3 Cavern of Souls
2 Dire Fleet Daredevil
3 Flickerwisp
2 Flooded Strand
3 Karakas
2 Magus of the Moon
1 Mirran Crusader
4 Mother of Runes
2 Phyrexian Revoker
1 Pia and Kiran Nalaar
3 Plains
2 Plateau
2 Recruiter of the Guard
4 Rishadan Port
4 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1 Umezawa's Jitte
4 Wasteland

1 Blessed Alliance
1 Containment Priest
2 Council's Judgment
1 Cunning Sparkmage
2 Ethersworn Canonist
2 Faerie Macabre
1 Leonin Relic-Warder
1 Path to Exile
1 Pia and Kiran Nalaar
2 Rest in Peace
1 Sword of War and Peace

Red adds a very interesting aspect to the deck, giving it not just a Blood Moon-like effect in Magus of the Moon, but also a card like Dire Fleet Daredevil which is an interesting combo with Aether Vial. R/W does have some downsides, but it can be powerful in the right metagame.

Other splashes include Black (for cards such as Zealous Persecution, Dark Confidant, or Orzhov Pontiff), Blue (for things like Meddling Mage and Geist of Saint Traft), and Green (for cards like Gaddock Teeg, Choke, and Qasali Pridemage). Another concept that has come up for this deck is the ability to splash Colorless mana cards such as Eldrazi Displacer into the deck as well, for another avenue of disruption.

The Core of the Deck

Regardless of where the deck falls, there are a few things about it that always ring true when it comes to its core development.

  1. Aether Vial - Aether Vial is always at the core of Death and Taxes, as it allows the most flexible of plays. This is what allows the deck to employ disruption like Rishadan Port and Wasteland while still being able to deploy creature threats.
  2. Mother of Runes - Mom is a veritable DnT staple since she is capable of stopping basically every amount of targeted removal in a color (so anything that isn't like... Spatial Contortion or Warping Wail, etc.) She is so effective and important to this deck that she is almost always a four-of.
  3. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben - One of the key taxing elements of this deck, OG Thalia is a keystone player. First strike plus her taxing effect makes her a powerful force to be reckoned with, especially when paired with Mother of Runes.
  4. Flickerwisp - Flickerwisp is a super powerful card, capable of tons of little tricks enabled by Aether Vial. Even without a Vial in play Flickerwisp provides some interesting functionality, and being a 3/1 flier is pretty handy as well.
  5. Stoneforge Mystic - Stoneforge is a key card in this deck, being able to fetch up relevant equipment such as Batterskull, Umezawa's Jitte, and Sword of Fire and Ice.
  6. Rishadan Port / Wasteland - The other half of this deck's disruption suite, Port and Wasteland are very important cards in that they allow DnT to stifle opponents' mana development while they deploy threats with Aether Vial.
  7. Swords to Plowshares - The most effective removal in the Legacy format, StP is most assuredly a four-of here.

Thalia--Guardian-of-Thraben

Other common threats this deck utilizes are:

  1. Sanctum Prelate - A powerful hatebear, Prelate cuts off many decks at the knees. What often gets people with this card is that it definitely states "noncreature" spells on it, meaning more often then not people won't realize they can still cast creatures.
  2. Mirran Crusader - The most effective beater that DnT has, and also one of the most efficient. Crusader holding a Jitte or a Sword of Fire and Ice is a very scary thing to be facing down.
  3. Palace Jailer - This card is fantastic at dealing with problematic creatures, while also giving the DnT player a bit of card draw as well. It's worth noting that Jailer doesn't care if it gets removed or not. The zone duration effect only cares about whether or not you're the Monarch still, and this deck is very good at keeping Monarch status.
  4. Phyrexian Revoker - A Pithing Needle for nonland cards that can be Vialed in, this card lets DnT shut down threats from activated abilities (such as cards like Pernicious Deed, Sneak Attack, etc).

Common Sideboard Cards

The best thing about DnT is that there are plenty of solid sideboard options for this deck. Some of the most common are:

  1. Surgical Extraction / Faerie Macabre - Dealing with primarily graveyard based decks as well as anything that relies on a single card to win the game (like Show and Tell, etc.)
  2. Council's Judgment - A strong catch-all answer that can also deal with cards like True-Name Nemesis.
  3. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar - A powerful planeswalker that continually produces threats. This card really shines versus decks like Miracles where even just creating a couple 2/2s is enough to forces opponents into an early Terminus to stay alive.
  4. Rest in Peace / Containment Priest - For when Surgical and Faerie just aren't enough to pump the hate brakes on that Reanimator train. Priest also has the sheer upside of dealing with Sneak/Show as well as Green Sun's Zenith decks like Maverick.
  5. Cataclysm - A powerful board wiping effect that can sweep aside opposing planeswalkers as well as devour decks that often over-extend on their manabase (such as Miracles and Grixis Control).
  6. Path to Exile - There are some matchups where Swords to Plowshares is actively bad on your clock, such as Lands (where gaining 20 life is a million and eternity on trying to kill them). Path provides a secondary removal option that doesn't allow your opponent to be out of reach of killing them.

Containment-Priest

Wrapping Up

That's it for a high level overview look at a little bit of the history and core construction of Death and Taxes. I'll remind you again to check out Phil Gallagher's website Thraben University because it is such an extensive resource on the subject of DnT that everyone should visit at least once before running out the deck. Phil himself is a fantastic guy and a very strong player, so he really knows his stuff. If you've got burning questions about how to build your deck best, it's probably accurate that Thraben University has answers for you.

That is all the time we have this month. Let me know what decks are you guys interested in seeing next month. I'm sort of enjoying this whole reader selection bit, so hit me up either on Discord, Twitter, or Reddit!

Until next time, may all your Magic be ETERNAL!

Joseph Dyer II

Joseph Dyer II

Joe is an avid fan of Legacy/Vintage, spending lots of time both analyzing and playing the formats Joe also admins the /r/NicFitMTG subreddit and spends time in the /r/MTGLegacy subreddit regularly.

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