This weekend I played Death and Taxes in the Legacy Grand Prix in Tacoma, Washington. I finished in the Top 64 with an 11-4 record. It's my favorite Legacy deck and the metagame has shifted such that it is good again. Today I'm going to talk about the list I played, how to sideboard in several of the most common matchups, how my tournament went, and what changes I would recommend.
For reference, these are my last two articles on Legacy Death and Taxes:
This was the list I played in the Grand Prix:
Our best cards are Phyrexian Revoker (Sneak Attack) and Karakas (Show and Tell). Protect Revoker with Mother of Runes while keeping them off mana with Wasteland and Rishadan Port. Post-board we get even more tools (Needle and Priest) to shut them down. It's a good matchup, especially if you run a second Pithing Needle.
People say this is a bad matchup but I think it's 50/50 at worst. Needle and Revoker keep their Top in check while our Ports, Wastelands, and Thalias keep them low on mana. Cataclysm is a reset button that can kill a Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
The mirror is often about using Phyrexian Revoker to stop whatever half of the deck the opponent drew that you did not (Vial, Stoneforge, Mother, etc.). Relic-Warder can be clutch.
Close match and depends on who has Vial, much like with Merfolk.
The main goal is to stop their Grindstone with Revoker and Needle.
I would cut both copies of Spirit of the Labyrinth except they have Sylvan Library. Thalia and Karakas are both pretty bad and nothing else in our current board is better than the second Spirit. That would change if we add Wilt-Leaf Liege.
This matchup feels real tough but somehow I beat it. Flickerwisp off Show and Tell can buy you a turn (Flickering out their Omniscience for a turn). Karakas doesn't quite work because they cast Emrakul and thus get an extra turn where if you bounce Emrakul they just recast it and take another turn, at which point your Karakas is tapped.
Thalia will usually keep them from casting more than one spell a turn. The key is to pressure them enough to where they have to start burning our creatures instead of our face. Batterskull is also our plan A, so setting up Mother of Runes into Stoneforge Mystic is our main objective.
Canonist is our best weapon against them, though Thalia is also very good. We pretty much have to get one of those two creatures onto the battlefield on the second turn to have a chance. Cavern of Souls is thus one of our best cards against them (to resolve our hate bear through Force of Will).
We have the tools to beat Elves, but we have to draw them and get them active quickly. Elves can still act like a normal creature deck even if we keep them from combo'ing us and it's hard to connect with Jitte since they have Wirewood Symbiote to bounce the blocker before combat damage is dealt. Mirran Crusader helps in this regard since it not only cannot be blocked by green creatures but also gets twice the Jitte counters since it has double strike.
The game plan is to not die. Trade blockers for their pump spells. Try to gain two-for-one value out of Swords to Plowshares. Disrupt their Brainstorms with Spirit of the Labyrinth. Keep them in check with Thalia. Wasteland and Port their Inkmoth Nexus.
Now let's talk about what changes I would make to the deck.
Changes Going Forward
While my list was good enough to pick up a couple pro points and a respectable record, I wish I had made a handful of changes prior to the event that might have made the difference between a Top 64 finish and a Top 8 finish. I lost to Wizards Miracles, one of my three Sneak and Show opponents, and two of my three Shardless Sultai opponents. I would have been better served by the following list:
Spirit of the Labyrinth was solid in a handful of matchups (anything running Brainstorm) but was pretty bad everywhere else. It was also a lot worse post-board against Shardless Sultai when they bring in Golgari Charm and Night of Souls' Betrayal. I underestimated how good Wilt-Leaf Liege is in that matchup. It protects us from Hymn to Tourach and Liliana of the Veil while also blanking Golgari Charm and neutralizing the effect of Night of Souls' Betrayal. It's also difficult for them to deal with since it can't be hit by Abrupt Decay. It's really only good in that one matchup, but that matchup is popular and difficult enough to merit the sideboard space and Liege is the best card to fill that space.
To make room for the two Wilt-Leaf Lieges, I would cut a Ratchet Bomb and the Leonin Relic-Warder. Ratchet Bomb was good for me, but space needs to be made somewhere. Leonin Relic-Warder was also pretty good against AEther Vial (merfolk, mirror), Omniscience, and against Sneak and Show when they play around Thalia by running out their Lotus Petals only to have one eaten by the Relic-Warder. Overall though, it wasn't a high enough impact card to necessitate a spot in the sideboard. It was just pretty good in a lot of places. The Liege is more important against Shardless Sultai, which is one of the most popular decks in Legacy right now. It's essentially the best Jund deck in Legacy.
Maindeck the best card against Shardless Sultai is Mirran Crusader. I had been leaning toward Vryn Wingmare in the days leading up to the Grand Prix but Tom Martell convinced me to go with Mirran Crusader instead, a card I kept saying was well-positioned. I think that was a good choice and I wish I had run more than just two copies. Having more threats with 2+ toughness helps against Zealous Persecution, Golgari Charm, and Night of Souls' Betrayal. Mirran Crusader also dodges all the black removal and can't be blocked by Tarmogoyf, Deathrite Shaman, or any of the other green creatures in Legacy. Because we're adding two more three-drops, I also would cut a Flickerwisp for another Serra Avenger. This keeps our flier count up without hurting our curve. More Mirran Crusaders also makes Cavern of Souls better since you almost always want to name Human with it.
Also in the sideboard, I would replace the second Cataclysm with a second Pithing Needle. Needle is approximately as good as Cataclysm against Miracles (naming Sensei's Divining Top) but also has a lot of utility against Sneak and Show (usually naming Sneak Attack, but sometimes naming Griselbrand if you put it into play simultaneously off their Show and Tell). It's essentially another copy of Phyrexian Revoker against them, though one that doesn't die to Pyroclasm. You can also randomly needle a fetch land against some decks when you have cards you want to bring out and not enough cards to bring in.
It's fun to play Legacy once or twice a year. I get to play with some of my favorite cards of all time (Mother of Runes, Stoneforge Mystic, Swords to Plowshares, Wasteland, Rishadan Port). The next Legacy tournament I plan to compete in is Grand Prix Columbus in June. Let's hope little white creatures are still as good at that time as they are now!
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