It took a while when I first came across today’s list before I recognized
it as a variant on Death and Taxes. The core cards of the archetype are
obscured by the sheer volume of singletons, many of which you rarely find
in a deck like this, but I think provide the archetype with some important
Death and Taxes is fundamentally a mana denial deck that seeks to stop its
opponents from executing their gameplan or, at best, stop them from playing
any sort of Magic at all. The fundamental issue with strategies like this
is that you need to end the game quickly, because eventually all players
will draw out of an early mana screw. Applying pressure while disrupting
the opponent’s mana is rather difficult, but Leonin Arbiter and Thalia,
Guardian of Thraben are perfect here as they provide disruption on
This list goes even further toward that aggressive slant with plenty of one
drops to get the clock started early. Dryad Militant has applications
against Snapcaster Mage, Lingering Souls, and Past in Flames, making it a
suitable card for the deck anyway, while Kytheon, Hero of Akros has the
highest potential upside if you can transform it.
There’s also Epochrasite, which functions similarly to Serra Avenger in
that putting it onto the battlefield with Aether Vial is preferable to
casting it. While not the most aggressive creature, I like mixing in some
threats that are resilient to removal, since spot removal is going to be a
common way for the opponent to protect their life total and buy time to
draw more lands.
But the star of the show is clearly Mana Tithe. Getting any important spell
with a Force Spike is always backbreaking since it’s such an efficient
answer when it works as intended.
And the mana denial plan helps ensure
that it will work well into the mid-game, making it perfect for this deck.
Countering a key Wrath of God or large creature will often end the game on
the spot, right as the opponent believes they’re stabilizing.
There’s certainly some turning work to be done here with all the singletons
and an egregious 61 total cards, but it’s clear that there’s a method to
some of the madness here, and that method is sound. Death and Taxes is an
archetype I’ve been thinking about a lot recently as one that is getting
closer to breaking through once again in Modern, and one or two more
positive innovations could be enough to get it there.
- 1 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
- 4 Serra Avenger
- 3 Epochrasite
- 1 Kor Skyfisher
- 4 Leonin Arbiter
- 1 Hero of Bladehold
- 3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- 3 Dryad Militant
- 1 Banisher Priest
- 1 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
- 1 Kytheon, Hero of Akros
- 3 Thraben Inspector
- 1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar