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Everything you never wanted to know about Legucci: Why you should be playing Imperial Taxes

Molly’s been on my case to write another Legacy article, specifically to write a primer on the wonderful Team Australia Delver deck I have “pioneered.”

The problem is that I no longer believe that TAUS is the deck you should be playing.

The metagame at the moment is not punishing mana-bases. Accordingly, a heap of greedy 3 and 4 colour decks have popped up. Death and Taxes does a decent attempt at it, but let’s go further. Imperial Taxes is just Death and Taxes with Magus of the Moon, and Death and Taxes is already insanely good right now: the finals of the Duels to Protect the Jewels event with 66 players ended with the DnT mirror.

Imperial Taxes was pioneered by mtgthesource user/twitch streamer Bahra_, aka Marc König a little over 2 years ago. His original lists were only splashing red for Magus of the Moon and Sudden Demise in the board, but a crew of dedicated brewers on the source such as Iatee, Barook and myself got to work on it and added to it cards such as Imperial Recruiter (thus the name Imperial Taxes), Goblin Sharpshooter/Cunning Sparkmage/Fireslinger (which I will take credit for) and Pia and Kiran Nalaar (which I will also take credit for).

The decklist was incredibly powerful and caught a lot of people of guard. Splashes in DnT have been seen before, particularly with deck’s splashing Green for cards like Sylvan Library and Qasali Pridemage, and Black for Dark Confidant, Bitterblossom and Thoughtseize. The Red splash however had not really been tested before.

The Red splash ended up being tremendously powerful, helping the deck against a lot of previously horrible matchups such as Elves, Lands, Jund and Infect, and it improved a lot of even matchups such as Shardless BUG, Miracles and BUG Delver.  This was also during the Dig Through Time era, when blue decks had a lot more staying power against Death and Taxes.

When Recruiter of the Guard and Sanctum Prelate were printed and a lot of DnT players jumped off it -myself included- as it felt like the splash and the resulting manabase wasn’t worth it. It was around this time that I stopped playing Death and Taxes and moved to Delver.

Last weekend, I was bitten by the nolstagia bug thinking about the deck in the shower and decided to rebuild it. That night Eetai Ben-Sasson (Iatee) took his R/W list to the SCG Worcester event and had a dominating run, winning his first on-camera match against Miracles in dominating form. He unfortunately ended up losing his on-camera win and in to some unfortunate mana-screw. When the stars align like this, you have no choice but to run with them.

For some time now I have said that these greedy-manabases of the BUG/x shells just weren’t being punished enough, and that was a big reason for the construction of Team Australia, with it’s Stifles, 6 removal spells to take care of opposing Deathrite Shamans and Wastelands, which of course plays fantastically with haymakers like Tombstalker and True-Name Nemesis.

Imperial Taxes does all that and more. Thalia, Wasteland and Port hamper the early game, and buy you enough time to get to Magus which is the total lock-out against these greedy decks, while ALSO playing Death and Taxes against them.

Against the decks which aren’t so weak to Blood Moon, you’re still playing Death and Taxes, which I verily believe to be one of the best decks in the field, but with some extra “oomph.”

Magus of the Moon isn’t great against Miracles (although it did do a heap of work in Game 1 of the above linked match), but the red splash offers Pia and Kiran Nalaar, which create an insane amount of value against the Miracles deck, thanks to it’s Legendary status and ETB effect, which synergises very well with Karakas and an Aether Vial on four, or a Flickerwisp. It also lets you kill creatures or go to the dome at the cost of an artifact and 2R mana, something which comes up a surprising amount.

Should you ever get this “engine” going in the Death and Taxes mirror, I think it will be unlikely that you lose, thanks to the colour-less flying tokens which can block anything, and then be flung at your opponent’s head/creatures before damage, thus nullifying Jitte which is basically all the mirror boils down, with the secondary test being who gets more flying creatures going.

Your manabase also helps out, with the 3 Cavern of Souls casting almost every creature in the deck uncounterably. Uncounterable mana-fixing! What a ridiculous concept. Against Miracles however, this becomes massive with normal DnT lists already playing 2 Caverns. Uncounterable card-advantage is the reason why Goblins has such a positive Miracles matchup and now DnT can have it too, albeit on a virtual basis.

I played the deck for the first time since Recruiter of the Guard/Sanctum Prelate were released last week and I went 3-1, with my loss being to Food Chain which is not a great matchup but it was my fault not the decks; I had onboard lethal and decided not to take it. I never said I was a good player…

Historically, the deck has treated me very well, giving me a lot of top 8s over the year or so that I played it. And this was before Sanctum Prelate… let that sink in.

Anyway, so let’s get to the decklist.

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

Creature: (26)
Flickerwisp
Magus of the Moon
Mirran Crusader
Mother of Runes
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Phyrexian Revoker
Recruiter of the Guard
Sanctum Prelate
Stoneforge Mystic
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Instant: (4)
Swords to Plowshares

Land: (23)
Cavern of Souls
Flooded Strand
Karakas
Plains
Plateau
Rishadan Port
Wasteland
Windswept Heath
Sideboard: (15)
Containment Priest
Council’s Judgment
Ethersworn Canonist
Faerie Macabre
Fireslinger
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Manic Vandal
Mirran Crusader
Rest in Peace
Sanctum Prelate
Sword of Light and Shadow

Some choices are up to you (Fireslinger could be Cunning Sparkmage but I prefer the cheaper and more flexible option plus you can get Fireslinger in old-bordered foil). A heap of people don’t like Sword of Light and Shadow, preferring the more aggressive Sword of War and Peace. For what it’s worth, I think the color protections of SoLaS are far more relevant and the value it provides is awesome against a lot of meh matchups like Nic Fit. Buying back creatures with SoLaS like Recruiter of the Guard is pretty sick, while doing 1-2 points more damage with SoWaP is pretty meh in my opinion, especially in a control deck. Just my 2 cents on that issue.

The manabase does look clunky and it makes casting non-creature spells like Sudden Demise essentially impossible but I promise you that the mana does work very well in it’s context and it gives you a lot of flexibility – you can comfortably set a cavern to Elemental or Horror for Flickerwisp and Revoker without feeling like you’re “wasting” the Cavern, as you would in mono-white Death and Taxes.

If you’re not completely sold, dig this: Imperial Taxes is super cheap now. When Imperial Recruiters were in the deck, card-availability issues kept people away from the deck but now there’s no excuse. If you’re looking to play a bit of a spicy and interesting deck for Masters, which is our premier Eternal event, then this deck is for you.

I haven’t completely decided what I will be playing at Eternal Masters, but unless I can work TAUS into having a positive Death and Taxes and Miracles matchup, I think I will just join the budget beaters and play Imperial Taxes. The deck is just insane. Also it beats up on Show and Tell, and I hate that deck.

Love

Steven.

Bonus Round: VINTAGE R/W TAXES

On November 12 2016, NLG Ringwood ran a Team Eternal Event with Vintage, Legacy and Aus Highlander being the formats. Sean Brown, Stephen Tang and myself quickly formed Team Salt Mine for it. We knew Sean would have to play Legacy, which left us with 2 formats to decide on. Tang had played approximately 2 matches of Highlander in the past, and I’d jammed some Legacy decks + Misstep on Modo in Vintage, so we decided with that wealth of experience between us, I would play Vintage and Tang would play Highlander.

At 2am on the day of the event, while doing commentary with Rob Gascard, I started brewing my deck. I had originally intended to play Goblins (cos Goblin Recruiter!) but figured that it wouldn’t have a great matchup against the Jacodrazi and Shops decklists, which Melbourne for whatever reason has a huge hard-on for.

So we came to this:

Artifacts: (4)
Black Lotus
Chalice of the Void
Mox Pearl
Mox Ruby

Creatures: (29)
Containment Priest
Magus of the Moon
Phyrexian Revoker
Sanctum Prelate
Scab-Clan Berserker
Simian Spirit Guide
Spirit of the Labyrinth
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Vryn Wingmare

Enchantment: (3)
Stony Silence

Instant: (4)
Swords to Plowshares

Land: (20)
Cavern of Souls
Flooded Strand
Karakas
Plains
Plateau
Strip Mine
Wasteland
Windswept Heath
Sideboard: (15)
Aegis of the Gods
Batterskull
Goblin Sharpshooter
Grafdigger’s Cage
Kataki, War’s Wage
Leonin Relic-Warder
Rest in Peace
Stoneforge Mystic
Umezawa’s Jitte

I didn’t lose a match until the finals, beating Shops, JacoDrazi, Dredge and Oath of Druids before finally losing 1-2 to Gush Mentor.

The deck isn’t exactly “budget,” (shout outs to Jacob Phillips for providing me with the power!) but if you can source the Moxen and Lotus, then the rest of the deck is super cheap.

Vintage is a pretty sweet format, so if you’re looking to play Eternal Masters, then I would also recommend this deck, again because Melbourne players have the biggest hard on for Workshops and their deck doesn’t do a great deal when their lands tap for R not 3. I mean I get it, 3 mana on turn 1 but like…  it’s Vintage! You get to play Ancestral Recall and Time Walk and Demonic Tutor and Demonic Consultation and Survival of the Fittest and Goblin Recruiter and you instead choose to cast Trinisphere. I don’t get it. Anyway! Look forward to Melbourne’s own Graham King for his introductory article on Vintage coming soon!

Until next time, may your Goblin Ringleaders always draw you 4 Goblins.

Left to right: My chest hair, Stephen Tang and Sean Brown, winners of Team Eternal 2016.

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