GerryT’s Ten Things: Death And Taxes And Black…And Blue?!

GerryT’s unearthed some oddball goodies this week! And when we say “Unearth,” that’s one of the cards in one of the decks. Also, what happens when you start with Legacy Death and Taxes and add black…and then blue?

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With Dominaria on the horizon, I’m mostly looking at older formats this week. I looked for some Pauper technology, but the vast majority of the decks in that format are like Modern at its worst: you and your opponents are just two ships passing in the night. Unfortunately, I won’t be focusing on Pauper, but that’s all right, though. We still have Modern, Legacy, and Vintage.

Vintage?! Yes, Vintage.

10: Oath of Griselparawish

Oath of Druids up Griselbrand? Paradoxical Outcome into Tendrils of Agony? Burning Wish for Yawgmoth’s Will and sacrifice Lion’s Eye Diamond in response? This deck is doing it all.

With very few ways to interact with the opponent, you’ve got to go fast. Either you storm them out with Paradoxical Outcome into Tendrils of Agony, or if your opponent is slowing you down with Sphere of Resistance effects, you can simply play an Oath of Druids, find Griselbrand, and win that way. It’s way more complicated than it sounds, though.

There’s also basically nothing I love more than sideboarding an Ancient Tomb to help beat Sphere of Resistance effects. Having a Show and Tell to Burning Wish for is also rad. I’m definitely too stupid to play this deck well, but its existence makes me happy.

9: Ah, Yes, a Classic Mill Tempo Strategy

Our lone Pauper entry takes the blue tempo Delver shell and adds a combo-ish kill of Jace’s Erasure and Whirlpool Rider, presumably to be better suited to fighting decks full of removal. It will probably take a couple of turns before the milling death is complete, but cards like Gush and Snap help speed things up. If you find multiple Jace’s Erasures, it’s probably lights out.

The Delvers are, what, a distraction? I suppose they save you sideboard slots for your transformational plan (and are the least egregious card to main deck)? I assume it’s much better to sideboard the mill plan than the other way around, but what the hell do I know? Milling people is sweet and so is Snapping your Whirlpool Rider for another go. As far as I’m concerned, this deck is perfect.

8: Keep It Simple

Smaland builds some sweet decks, basically all on the premise of keeping it simple. You won’t see a lot of fancy one-of Torrential Gearhulks or weird removal splits; they pick what the best cards are and play with those. Smaland also happens to typically lean aggressively with their Jeskai decks, which is another approach I can appreciate. Geist of Saint Traft is incredible right now, assuming it can dodge Liliana of the Veil. Given Jund’s decline, Geist looks like it’s in a great spot. I’m not sold on Remand’s place in Modern at the moment, but not everything can be perfect.

There are two things I really enjoy about this decklist. Secure the Wastes as a win condition (and specifically its synergy with Cryptic Command) is the first. The second is the sideboard consisting of Silence and Thing in the Ice. Silence is particularly interesting. How many Snapcaster Mage decks have you sideboarded Dispel or something similar which is only good against certain decks? Silence can stop Krark-Clan Ironworks, Amulet Titan, Living End, and all sorts of other combo decks from going off.

Thing in the Ice is far less exciting, but it’s a good answer to Humans. They aren’t going to want to keep in Reflector Mage against you, so Thing in the Ice could potentially steal a game. It’s also just a good card against any sort of creature matchup, whether it’s Jund, Eldrazi, or Elves. The Thing cares not.

7: Why I’m Disappointed in Dominaria

History of Benalia, a Knight subtheme, and no love for the Haakon, Stromgald Scourge fans out there? For shame, Dominaria. I’m sure this B/G pile of cards is a fine deck, really. But it’s about time we got something else. Haakon is cool as hell!

Only a singleton Traverse the Ulvenwald strikes me as strange (especially given the various bullets in the deck), but it’s not a sacred cow. This deck could also benefit from Faithless Looting, but that might not be worth the splash. Liliana of the Veil mostly has you covered in that regard anyway.

6: A Certain Scientific Eldrazi Decklist

I’m torn.

Cards I like in Modern right now:

Cards I strongly dislike in Modern right now:

If the tiebreaker is the player’s screen name, I guess we’ll count this as a like.

5: Unearth Is the Best Card in Legacy

If you want to beat blue mirrors in Legacy, protecting your Leovold, Emissary of Trest with Unearth is a good way to do it. If that somehow fails you (or you just want more help), Tireless Tracker is the only card you should turn to.

In order to beat the Four-Color “Czech Pile” decks, you need to beat Deathrite Shaman in the early game and the Hymn to Tourach / Kolaghan’s Command grindfest in the mid-game. After sideboard, they also have access to Pyroblast, which conveniently handles any Leovolds that happen to be on the stack. Given that, the best way to fight them is with green or black cards.

It’s a weird set of circumstances, but Tireless Tracker and Unearth are the best cards for the job. Green Sun’s Zenith pushes everything even further, although that’s a package I’m not convinced is necessary. You could argue that Unearth is weak to Deathrite Shaman, but let’s be real, if they have a Deathrite Shaman, you’re probably losing.

4: Death and Taxes Gets Weird

Adding Dark Confidant to Death and Taxes isn’t entirely strange by itself, but that mini Disciple of Bolas / Hallowed Spiritkeeper package sure is. Recruiter of the Guard sets it all up, but is it really necessary? If you want a relatively compact package to fight Czech Pile, I guess this could do it, but I’m skeptical.


3: Death and Taxes Gets Weirder

What happens when you see an idea and take it way too far? The clear answer is that you end up with a bunch of Fleshbag Marauders and Disciple of Bolases in your Legacy deck. Sure, maybe Kolaghan’s Command and True-Name Nemesis are tough to beat for Death and Taxes, but when you’re going to these sorts of crazy lengths, maybe it’s not worth it?

At this point, the deck barely resembles Death and Taxes anyway, so I guess it’s a new beast entirely? Given how prevalent Czech Pile is, I suppose I could see playing what effectively amounts to a hate deck, but I’m skeptical of how well this pile of cards will match up against other decks in the format.

2: Amu-Lit

Modern continues to reward those who pick a deck, learn it, and tune it perfectly for the week. This maindeck is pristine. With Tolaria West, Summoner’s Pact, and Primeval Titan, there’s no shortage of opportunities to make mistakes. Hell, even each land drop can be a potentially game-losing error. The bright side is that, despite appearing like a one-dimensional combo deck, Amulet Titan has a lot of play to it. It’s even capable of finding answers to most things your opponents can do to you.

I would expect this deck to be weak to Humans but good against Hollow One and G/W Hexproof, so I guess that was where you wanted to be last weekend. Some have been saying this deck has very few, if any, truly bad matchups.

Similarly to decks like Dredge and Hollow One, Amulet Titan will likely never attract as much attention as something like Jund or Humans because it doesn’t function like a typical Magic deck. Some players are into that, but most aren’t. Just the sheer act of having to learn an entirely new deck typically keeps me away from putting in the effort. That’s probably a mistake.

1: Energy Wins Another Grand Prix

You know Matt’s deck is busted because he plays Aether Hub. Really, though, it’s just Matt Nass doing Matt Nass things.

One of the keys to winning a tournament is having a good sideboard with excellent plans, and Matt had just that. His maindeck and sideboard were better configured to fight Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Matt basically identified what cards were beating him and included the best answers for strictly those cards.

Just like Amulet Titan, Ironworks Combo isn’t easy to play, so maybe the whole “good sideboard leads to victory” thing only matters if you’re Matt Nass. Yes, Krark-Clan Ironworks is yet another good deck in Modern, not unlike how Humans rose to prominence immediately following Ixalan’s release. However, the necessary skill required to play it to a Grand Prix victory is not small.

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