Death & Taxes: Paying the Dues. (Part 2) – By Gabe Dion


Legacy is such an interesting and complex format. I could spend days talking about it. In the second part of this primer, we will explore the land base of the deck, the cards includes in my sideboard as well as cards that have been played in other lists.


The Real Estate

Some of you might be home-owners. Taxes on land are horribly expensive. Vintage-level expensive, if you need an analogy. The land base in the deck is also designed to impede your opponent’s ability to play spells and punish greedy mana bases.

Wasteland: For some of us, this card is the barrier to enter Legacy as a format. It’s also the bane of players wishing to add some bling in their decks. Legacy is light in basic lands and heavy on fetchlands, non-basics including duals and utility lands. Wasteland is the weapon of choice to punish greedy decks that rely exclusively on these lands. Some less experienced players might be tempted to use them as soon as possible, but sometime, the threat of an untapped Wasteland can be enough to stop your opponent to fetch his only Tropical Island or Underground Sea. Against certain decks, “wasting” a specific color could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

WastelandRishadan Port

Rishadan Port: In my honest opinion, this specific card is what makes this deck less accessible. Sometime hard to find and always costly, Rishadan Ports are only played in a handful of decks (Goblin, Death & Taxes and some Lands lists). An integral part of the mana-denial plan, Rishadan Port allows us to negate our opponent the use of the lands we couldn’t destroy with Wasteland or slow down. Usually used on our opponent’s Upkeep step, negating a specific color is more than often the usual plan of a seasoned Death & Taxes player.

Karakas: Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is a great tool against a lot of deck. Unfortunately for us, she’s a creature. And creatures die fast and often in Legacy. We pack some protection with Mother of Runes but unfortunately, Mom is often not enough to keep Thalia alive.

Karakas can be used in multiple roles in the deck. First, it’s a white mana source. Its second ability allows us to protect Thalia and Brimaz from potential removal/sweepers and to bounce problematic legends our opponents might play. This card is actually invaluable in the Sneak & Show match up against Griselbrand.

If you happen to play Mangara of Corondor in your list, you can also return him to your hand in response to its ability (explained in details later).

KarakasCavern of Souls

Cavern of Souls: As I have mentioned before, this land will allow you to dodge counter magic. Depending on the composition of your hand, Human or Soldiers can be the creature types that can be named with Cavern of Souls.

Human allows us to cast Mother of Runes, Thalia and Mirran Crusader fearlessly. Soldier opens the route for Thalia and Brimaz, our main beaters.

Plains: Being a mono-colored deck allows us to run something rare in legacy: Basic lands. The deck prays on greedy land base, it would be unwise to be the prey and the hunter at the same time.

Most of our white producing lands are immune to the effects of Wasteland or other non-basic hate (Back to Basic, Blood Moon) or the standard land hate seen in Legacy (Choke/Boil effects). Staying away from Islands also helps us in the Merfolks match up, another deck that preys on blue-based decks. It also makes the mana base slightly more affordable than most legacy deck

Also, Beta plains are simply gorgeous. Don’t you agree?

Horizon Canopy: Sometime, we have to prepare for the worst and pack some nasty tricks in our sleeves. Legacy is not a fair format. We force our opponents to play a fair match, but when everything fails, I like to trap them with some surprises. Horizon Canopy is a white mana source fills in the role of a potential card draw and allows us to tutor answers against Show & Tell based decks. I will give more details about the trick in the sideboard portion of the guide.


If all those hate bears weren’t enough!

Now that we tackled every card composing the main deck, let’s take a look at the sideboard. I stated it before, every card slot in your 75 is important. But I tend to believe sideboard slots in Legacy are worth more than you could imagine. Some cards can shut down a deck entirely. Rest in Peace shuts down Dredge. A well timed Cataclysm will wreck Enchantress decks so hard they won’t be able to come back

Aegis of the Gods: Seen in certain list as a 4 of, this 2/1 Soldier (again the synergy I was talking about earlier!) also give you hexproof. Used in conjunction with Mother of Runes can radically enhance your matchup against Burn or targeted discard decks.

Enlightened Tutor: Mostly used in conjunction with other pieces of the sideboard, it can be additional Rest in Peace, Aegis of the Gods, Canonists, Spirits or even a nice try against show and tell with Oblivion Ring (explained later).

Enlightened Tutor

Rest in Peace: Probably the best piece of graveyard hate ever printed, on color and with the possibility of being tutored for with Enlightened Tutor. Rest in Peace make Reanimator-type decks life way harder than it should be and rips Dredge to pieces.

Cataclysm: This is another “catch-all” treasure hidden in the sideboard. Really powerful against Miracle, Enchantress or Lands-type decks, a well-timed cataclysm can reverse the tide of a match.

Manriki-Gusari: Nobody ever wants to be on the receiving end of a Batterskull or a Jitte. Manriki-Gusari is the answer to this problem. Searchable with Stoneforge Mystic or Enlightened Tutor, the Gusari will get rid of these problematic weapons.

Wilt-Leaf Liege: The Lieges are my flex slots at this point in my list. Great against discard decks, until a better card is found, the 4 drop lords will stay in. You think you have a better idea? I’d love to listen to it!

Ethersworn Canonist: Some decks are fast. Some decks are really fast. Our main battle plan is to force your opponent to play real Magic. No time for combo, draw 20, play 20 spells and use some broken shenanigans to ruin your day. Forcing your opponent to play 1 spell a turn can be so beneficial for you. Used in conjunction with Spirit of the Labyrinth, it’s pretty much a “soft-lock” situation against most storm decks.

Ethersworn Canonist

Spirit of the Labyrinth: Against those deck were 2 of this enchantment creature is not enough, I dedicated 1 more slot in the Sideboard to it. Good against decks that relies on drawing answers.

Sunlance: A white lightning bolt that only target creatures? At sorcery speed? It can’t be bad! Brought in against those creature heavy decks, Sunlance bring you that extra piece of removal you might need.

Meekstone: Another piece of hate against big creatures or True-Name Nemesis/Delver/Goyfs/Mongooses/Merfolks decks. Almost all our creatures only have 2 power or have vigilance. Can be searched using Enlightened Tutor.


Oblivion Ring: This is the tricky part in the SB. Show and Tell based decks are a constant threat to us. They aren’t our worst matchup, but there’s always a way to improve your win %. So, there’s a trick using a combination of cards against an opponent casting Show & Tell. It requires 3 Untapped lands (4 if Thalia is on the board), one of them being an Horizon Canopy.

Once your opponent cast Show & Tell, cast Enlightened Tutor in response, put Oblivion Ring on the top of your library, then crack Horizon Canopy to draw a card, drawing the Oblivion Ring. Let Show & Tell resolves. Get rid of whatever he put into play with the O-Ring. It’s hard to achieve, but it’s a trick I’m adamant all new Death & Taxes players should be able to pull off.


Other Cards:

No two lists are the same. It all about the player style and how YOU feel like your list should be customized to answer your metagame more adequately. My list might be totally wrong to your specific environment. So, there’s a list of cards that should not be disregarded.

Mangara of Corondor: Has been a staple in Death & Taxes list since the earliest incarnation of the deck, fills in the role of removal for any problematic permanent threatening you. Lately has been present in more “control” oriented list. With an untapped Karakas on the board, can become a Vindicate in a blink of an eye.

For players unaware of the interaction; when activating Mangara’s ability, you can hold priority. You then answer the ability by returning Mangara to your hand with Karakas’ ability (return target Legend to your hand). Replay Mangara with an Aether Vial then smile.

Serra Avenger

Serra Avenger: The 2 converted mana cost angel is being more and more present in recent list. The card says clearly that it can’t be casted early, but what about using our Aether Vial to be put into play? A 3/3 flyer with vigilance is pretty good, but once equipped? I’ll leave it to you to discover.

Circle of Protection: Red & Warmth: You expect to face burn quite frequently? One of these cards might be the answer to this problematic match up. Red decks have quite a hard time dealing with enchantments. Personally, I prefer Warmth to the Circle of Protection, but this is a personal choice based on my play style. While the CoP prevents all the damage, Warmth helps you raise your life total back to a healthy threshold.

Council’s Judgment: The OTHER answer to True-Name Nemesis. Again, I personally prefer Runed Halo, but some players will prefer using this Conspiracy card. Can be used against most troublesome permanents

Elspeth, Knight-Errant: This card was and is still a power-house. Unanswered, the good old planeswalker from Alara block can rapidly apply lots of pressure on an opponent. Personally, not a big fan of dedicating the SB slot to this card, but I’ve seen it in successful lists in Europe.

Path to Exile: Sometime ran instead of Sunlance, this is purely a preference choice in my opinion. I don’t like giving my opponent access to their one basic land.


Assembling Voltron:

So, what is a good and a crap hand? I, personally, love to apply pressure fast on my opponent. Enabling a “soft-lock” early in the game can be quite rewarding.

On the play:

  • 1 Plain,
  • 1 random land (Wasteland preferably),
  • Mother of Runes,
  • Aether Vial,
  • Thalia,
  • Swords to Plowshares; and
  • Aether Vial.

This is a good hand on the play, and is possibly a keep on the draw, depending on what deck you’re facing. I would probably lead with a T1 Plain, followed by the Aether vial. Allows me to cheat mom while keeping Swords to Plowshares up or even hard cast Thalia on T2. Again, this is all depends on what deck you’re facing. Thalia + Mom can protect you fairly well in the first turns of the match. If you can apply early pressure in the game should be a walk in the park. Stoneforge Mystic and your flyers should enable you to do so fast enough.

But what are bad hands? Multiple lands, no early pressure or lack the means to apply it. Even against an unknown deck, you should be able to evaluate the quality of your hand in a vacuum.

  • Can you disrupt his plans?
  • Can you impede his board development?
  • Are support cards and offensive cards present?
  • Can you force your opponent to play Magic a fair way (your way)?

If you cannot answer yes to at least two of those questions, I would send the cards back and hope for a better six. Legacy is about card quality. If your cards can’t impede or stop his you’re at a big disadvantage. My list packs a few little gems that can turn the tide of a match (read here: Runed Halo) and help you assemble a lock.

Some decks you will face will be bad match ups. You can’t avoid those. But what you can do is learn how to beat those match up (Elves is historically horrible for Death & Taxes). The list won’t allow your opponents to make mistakes and you should make a point to punish any misstep they do against you.

Also, remember that some of your pieces of hate game 2 and 3 like Rest in Peace, Meekstone or any important non-creature spell should be played before Thalia. You have to drain every little drop of usefulness out of your lands. Playing Elves! for years taught me how achieve mana-efficiency. It all comes with time and practice.

This concludes another exploration of a Tier-1 Legacy deck. My mastery of this deck isn’t as good as Elves, but I still feel confident enough to play it in an unknown metagame. Like in any other situation, practice is the key to mastery!

So, you think you’d enjoy playing my variant of Death & Taxes? The Maritimes have plentiful of Legacy event that allows proxies! Give it a try! It won’t be easy, but time will reward you!

Hope to hear from you playing with the deck and remember, you should visit one of the Comic Hunter locations! They will help you with all your card needs! Also, if you happen to notice a shiny Death & Taxes deck somewhere in the Maritimes, come say hi and give me feedback on my articles! I would love to hear from you!

Until next time!




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