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Leading the Pack at the ‘Rat

High stakes Legacy events don’t come up that often, so when GUF Ballarat announced their Top 4 prizes for their ladder finals event, I was in.

Prizes up for grabs were;

A lot of Melbourne players made the trip to what ended up being one of the best MTG events I’ve been to.
Great location, staff, player base and organization lead to a truly enjoyable day. The fact that I ended up top of the swiss and took home a Sea and a Bayou for my efforts didn’t hurt either.

I went with my standby, my always faithful Death and Taxes.
I have played this deck a lot in Legacy (it was the first deck I bought into because I though it looked easy to play… oops!) and while I have done stints with Miracles and a variety of Delver decks, it’s the deck I always come back to when I want to take the format seriously.
There are many great decks in Legacy but this one is mine. See the primer on how to play D&T here.

The list I run is fairly stock, perhaps a little heavier on the Recruiter package than some:

Tom's Death & Taxes

Creatures(26): (26)
Mother of Runes
Stoneforge Mystic
Phyrexian Revoker
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Spirit of the Labyrinth
Serra Avenger
Flickerwisp
Recruiter of the Guard
Sanctum Prelate
Mirran Crusader

Spells(4): (4)
Swords to Plowshares

Artifacts(7): (7)
Æther Vial
Sword of Fire and Ice
Batterskull
Umezawa’s Jitte

Land(23): (23)
Plains
Rishadan Port
Wasteland
Karakas
Cavern of Souls
Horizon Canopy
Sideboard(15): (15)
Council’s Judgment
Rest in Peace
Faerie Macabre
Grafdigger’s Cage
Pithing Needle
Sword of Light and Shadow
Containment Priest
Ethersworn Canonist
Leonin Relic-Warder
Palace Jailer
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

The only recent changes to the deck are a second Containment Priest and a Faerie Macabre in the SB as a nod to the popularity of graveyard decks in our meta and the rise of BR Reanimator.

A few mulligans aside, the deck performed extremely well and I ended up taking it to a 5-0-1 finish in the swiss (and no, I didn’t ID any rounds…).

Here’s a breakdown of my day.

Round 1 – Goblins: Win 2-0

This was a fairly textbook showcase of the Vial deck with equipment beating up the Vial deck without equipment.
Game 1 I had active SoFI and Jitte by turn 5 or so and assembled the same in game 2 after choking my opponent’s mana for a few turns with active Mom holding off his ground game and attacking with a Serra Avenger.

Boarding:

+2 Containment Priest
+1 Council’s Judgment

-2 Sanctum Prelate
-1 Spirit of the Labyrinth

Round 2 – Death and Taxes: Draw 1-1-1

This was one of the dumber mirror matches I’ve played with DnT.
I won game 1 after a mulligan to 5 off equipment superiority, game 2 started out very well with me drawing 3 Wisps against my opponent’s Containment Priest but he eventually got a Jitte with 4 counters on it, GG.
Game 3 was where it got real dumb though.

I keep a decent 7, though it lacked a vial, it had mana, Mom, SFM (Stoneforge Mystic) and Recruiter.
I lead on Mom, opponent has a Plow. Turn 2 I SFM getting Jitte but my opponent responds with double Mom on his turn 2, not good for me since it locks out Jitte unless I can find a flier before he does.
Turn 3 my opponent plays Karakas and casts Mangara of Corondor… VERY not good for me…
Mangara has fallen out of favour lately, mostly because it’s very slow, and personally I’ve never been a fan but on this board is was going to crush me. The problem with playing against it is that you have to keep feeding it permanents so that it can’t go after your lands before you find an answer.

In the end it ate my Jitte, SoFI, a Mom and a Pithing needle (in hind sight putting the second equipment in play was a mistake). I desperately needed a Wasteland for the Karakas but I never saw one.
The needle here was an interesting decision point which in hind sight I’m not sure I did correctly. It’s obviously an answer to Mangara but I also had a Plow in had (which is not due to double Mom). I decided to Needle his Moms which I was in no position to beat with a Plow in any case, aiming to Plow the Mangara when he next activated it (who knows, I guess there’s an off chance he doesn’t target the Needle?), which he did, exiling the Needle and losing the Mangara in the process as planned.
After this I immediately began losing badly to a Jitte but I managed to navigate the board to a point where my opponent used all his counters to kill various things and I managed to get my sideboarded Sword of Light and Shadow and the Batterskull onto a Containment Priest.

Around here we went into turns and I was still losing badly to Jitte and now a SoFI which was able to get through due to Mom. On turn 3 of turns, my opponent made the critical mistake of missing a Jitte trigger and I was able to get enough blockers onto the now beyond silly board to not die on turn 5; hello draw bracket!

Boarding:

+1 Pithing Needle
+1 Sword of Light and Shadow
+2 Council’s Judgment
+1 Leonin Relic-Warder
+1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
+2 Containment Priest

-4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
-1 Spirit of the Labyrinth
-2 Sanctum Prelate
-1 Aether Vial

PS: I’m really uncertain about my board plan here. I don’t think I like Containment Priest here at all and frankly, I don’t like Gideon in any matchup. I plan on working on the mirror board plan a bit in the future.

Round 3 – 4c Loam: Win 2-0

I don’t find this matchup particularly interesting to be honest. Usually they can only win by getting early value withPunishing Fire and I was able to win game 1 with a Mom, Mirran Crusader and some random other creatures in the face of 2 12/12 Knights fairly easily.
Game 2 I played a Sanctum Prelate naming 2 after he Maelstrom Pulsed my RIP, he could not answer it and a timely Plow on his Knight sealed the deal.

Boarding:

+2 Rest in Peace
+1 Leonin Relic-Warder
+1 Palace Jailer
+1 Pithing Needle

-1 Spirit of the Labyrinth
-4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Round 4 – Storm: Win 2-0

This was a pretty savage beating. Both games I had Plains, Waste, Port, Vial, Thalia in my opening hand.
Game 1 I went vial into Thalia and my opponent Burning Wished for Massacre on his turn 3 which he couldn’t cast that turn due to Thalia. I wasted his Sea to get him off swamps and he never drew another one.
In game 2 my opponent mulliganed to 5 and the Turn 2 Thalia into Sanctum Prelat naming 4 was good enough for the scoop since he could no longer win, nor cast Massacre so needed to draw multiple spot removal spells.

Boarding:

+2 Rest in Peace
+1 Faerie Macabre
+1 Grafdigger’s Cage
+2 Ethersworn Canonist
+1 Leonin Relic-Warder

-2 Mother of Runes
-4 Swords to Plowshares
-1 Umezawa’s Jitte

Round 5 – RUG Delver: Win 2-0

Game 1 was fairly close but I correctly played around Daze by jamming a useless Revoker on turn 2 after my opponent played Trop into Goose on his turn 1 after probing me, seeing Thalia and SFM as clearly better 2 drops.
He took the bait and Dazed the Revoker, a mistake that cost him game 1 as I was able to play Karakas into Thalia on turn 3, following up with SFM for SoFI on the next turn. He almost raced with double Goyf but it was not enough.
Game 2 I wasted his only land after he shuffled a Ponder on turn 1 and he missed his next 2-3 land drops which was more than enough to seal the deal.

Boarding:

+1 Council’s Judgment
+2 Rest in Peace

-2 Phyrexian Revoker
-1 Recruiter of the Guard

Round 6 – BR Reanimator: Win 2-0

This was an interesting game 1 followed up by a modern-esque ‘look at all these sideboard cards!’ game 2.
Game 1 I keep a medium hand with Vial, Mom, 2x Wisp and some lands, including a Wasteland.
My opponent leads off with basic swamp, go. This is never a good sign and sure enough, end of turn Entomb makes me slump in my chair since I almost certainly can’t beat a Griselbrand, Grave Titan or Elesh Norn. However, my opponent chooses an Iona! This may sound like a reasonable plan against a mono white deck but I already have a Vial in play so the question becomes can I beat a 7/7 flier? Well, that’s not an easy task either since I can’t remove it and certainly can’t beat it in combat but it is doable with an active Mom and a flier.
On his turn 2 my opponent Thoughtseizes me and takes a Wisp, then reanimates the Iona naming white (colour selection on point). I end up drawing an Avenger on turn 3 and stabilize with Avenger + Mom after taking 2 hits from Iona. The follow up Wisp seals the deal and I win without casting another spell.
Game 2 I mulligan an uninteractive 7 and keep a 6 that has Grafdigger’s Cage and Containment Priest but no white mana, just Waste + Port, scrying a Vial to the top after thinking about it for a while. It’s a little slow but will probably do given I have the Cage.
I rattle off turn 1 Cage into turn 3 Canonist and my opponent concedes as he did not bring in his Abrupt Decays, preferring to stay as fast as possible but getting punished by the turn 1 hate card.

Boarding:

+2 Council’s Judgment
+2 Rest in Peace
+1 Faerie Macabre
+1 Grafdigger’s Cage
+2 Containment Priest
+1 Palace Jailer

-4 Swords to Plowshares
-1 Phyrexian Revoker
-1 Umezawa’s Jitte
-1 Recruiter of the Guard
-2 Mother of Runes

I move on to 5-0-1 and enter the top 8 at the top of the swiss.

Top 8 – Quarters – Colourless Eldrazi: Win 2-1

I was a little nervous going into this matchup. I knew what my opponent was on and while the matchup is actively good for DnT, I have a really bad track record playing against it. They always seem to double Reality Smasher me by turn 4 or draw their 1 of Jitte that I can’t ever beat. Anyway, turned out ok.
Game 1 I had a more or less perfect hand for the matchup. Vial into wasteland into SFM for Jitte into Port you into Wasteland.
On around turn 5 I started connecting with the Jitte and my opponent had only managed to get 2 Mimics into play so the turn after that he had no lands and no creatures in play after double Waste, a City trigger and 2 Jitte counters, works for me.
Game 2 I think I made the mistake of playing a 2 drop rather than Wasting my opponent and got punished by Smasher into Endbringer into Smasher. I got close with some Palace Jailer/Flickerwisp/Vial shenanigans keeping the Endbringer at bay but I died to the trample damage from the second Smasher.
Game 3 was another Vial + mana disruption hand and I got there fairly easily with early disruption into Recruiter + Flickerwisp chaining.

Boarding:

+2 Council’s Judgment
+1 Pithing Needle
+1 Palace Jailer
+1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar (Urg, get out of my deck!)
+1 Sword of Light and Shadow

-3 Mother of Runes
-1 Spirit of the Labyrinth
-2 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Top 8 – Semis – Death and Taxes: Win 2-0

Ah here we are, can’t get through a Legacy top 8 without running into Sean Brown!
Sean was also on his DnT list which he knows as well as anyone; there would be no getting him with fancy tricks here. Still, I enjoy playing the mirror and at this point I was going home with at least an Underground Sea so pressure was off and I was ready to jam and have some fun.
The games ended up being pretty classic n+1 fliers on one side of the mirror games while the ground was clogged up and equipment was Revokered.
Game 1 he drew a Revoker for my Jitte but I had air superiority so I won after 7 Flickerwisp attacks and in game 2 I drew a Revoker for his Jitte and again had 2 fliers to his 1.
Perhaps not the most thrilling games of Legacy ever but I’ll take it.

Boarding:

+1 Pithing Needle
+1 Sword of Light and Shadow
+2 Council’s Judgment
+1 Leonin Relic-Warder
+1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar (Last chance buddy…)
+1 Containment Priest

-4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
-1 Spirit of the Labyrinth
-2 Sanctum Prelate

Top 8 – Final – Omnitell: Concede

This is not a particularly scary matchup but I did not need the 2 Volcanic Islands that were the 1st place price but very much did need the Underground Sea + Bayou that were the second place prize.
The monetary value here is in favour of the Volcs of course but not by all that much and certainly not worth the hassle of selling them and buying the duals I need while maybe ending up 50$ so I just conceded.
In hind sight, I could have offered to swap the prizes for 1st and 2nd and have my opponent concede to me to get the official 1st place but it had been a long day and we all know Death and Taxes in the best deck in our hearts anyway so no big deal.
All in all a truly enjoyable day and a great way to finish off my holiday break before heading back to work on Monday.
Deck wise, there’s not much I’d change other than removing the Gideon from the side board. I know people like this card but the best thing it’s ever done for me is be a 4 mana 2/2 so, see ya.

Next time at Cancon!

Till then, don’t worry about the Vial on 3, it’s probably fine 😉

Tom

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