Death and Taxes Has a Bright(ling) Future in New Legacy

Still reeling from the tidal wave that rushed through Legacy last week? Yeah, me too. It isn’t often that an entire tier 1 pillar of an Eternal format is eroded away overnight. Whether your reaction was happy or sad, or anything in between, the only thing to do now is to move forward and play Legacy!

It’s important to remember that the format wasn’t zapped out of existence by the DCI’s Death Star Ban Cannon. There is more than just one pillar and the majority of the viable decks were left completely intact in a metagame ecosystem where there is new space to be occupied in DRS’s absence.

Death & Taxes is always a deck I’m excited to work on and play in tournaments. It’s a white-based aggro/denial deck that is built around efficient creatures with abilities that make life a nightmare for the opponent. I love prison decks, and while this isn’t close to pure prison like the STAX or Counterbalance/Sensei’s Divining Top decks of yore, D&T does live up to its title by taxing the opponent’s resources in significant ways!

Tax Me Up, Tax Me Down, Tax Me All Around

Let’s take a look at a couple of lists that have been successful in the post Deathrite Shaman metagame:

Death and Taxes

Mink Veltman, 1st place at Apeldoorn Legacy

First of all, just because DRS is gone doesn’t mean that we need to go about trying to build completely new and buckwild decks. The decks that already exist will do just fine for the time being, and best-case scenario, we’ll be able to find some spicy new tech.

I’m not surprised to see a list like this punch its way to a tournament victory. The shell is solidly constructed. It’s maxed out on all of the critical pieces I’d expect to see in a D&T deck.

We’ve got the mana base that also does a lot of work and still won’t get locked down by nonbasic hate:

We’ve got a bunch of straight-up A+ quality stars that are well utilized through inherent synergies:

These make up the core shell of the deck and are where the power and consistency comes from.

New Tech: Brightling

Any relative of the mighty, mighty Morphling has a shot at being an impact card. For those of you who haven’t been playing Magic for a million years, the Morphling was one of the most dynamic and oppressive creatures ever printed in its day:

The idea behind a Morphling, or Morphling relative, is a creature with a whole range of useful activated abilities that make it both effective and resilient on the battlefield. The original Morphling also benefited from existing in a time when combat damage used the stack, which means you could pump its power, put damage onto the stack, and then pump its toughness, essentially allowing it to deal maximum damage and then have maximum toughness!

Aetherling was not too shabby either…

Let’s take a look at Brightling’s abilities:

W: Brightling gains vigilance until end of turn.

Not the most exciting ability. But this is pretty nice when carrying Equipment such as Umezawa’s Jitte. The ability to play offense and defense, with Equipment, is useful.

W: Brightling gains lifelink until end of turn.

Obviously, in racing situations, it is grand to have life gain as an option. An unanswered Brightling quickly takes away an opponent’s ability to chain a couple of burn spells together to steal a game when you are trying to turn the corner.

W: Return Brightling to its owner’s hand.

Wow, this is a great ability for a card in D&T! First of all, it’s difficult to actually kill since you can simply return it if it gets targeted by a Swords to Plowshares or whatever. Secondly, Death and Taxes is already maxed out on Aether Vial, which you want to set to CMC 3 in this deck. You can flash this puppy down, uncounterable, without spending mana whenever we choose.

The deck also has Cavern of Souls to make the Brightling uncounterable, even if an Aether Vial hasn’t shown up to the party yet. The fact that D&T has so many ways to remove Brightling’s biggest weakness (being countered before it ever hits play) makes the card a very nice fit.

1: Brightling gets +1/-1 or -1/+1 until end of turn.

While you may not get the milage out of this nostalgic ability that you got out of Morphling back in the day with damage on the stack, it is still quite useful.

First of all, pumping power is great when you are trying to close quickly. Even better is when Brighting is able to power boost and gain lifelink while racing! The toughness boost is quite useful at shrugging off Lightning Bolts or blocking larger creatures. As long as you have the mana available, Brightling can block Gurmag Angler or Tarmogoyf.

The fact that it can become such an effective blocker is accentuated by its first ability, vigilance, which allows it to attack and block, if necessary.

Brightling is an amazing fit in a deck that was already a very strong force in Legacy before the July 2nd banning. The changing context and metagame has shifted in such a way that the deck likely becomes a stronger choice than before and has a great new card to help grind through opposing Miracles and control decks.

The Fastest Sideboard in the West

The final reason I’d suggest D&T moving forward is that it has a fantastic sideboard, composed of the most hateful and effective cards you’d ever hope to cast.

One of the defining characteristics of white is its defensive capabilities. White has a flavor of being able to protect and defend. When translated to tournament play, this sort of plays out in the color having super effective sideboard cards and abilities that protect and defend against powerful, linear decks.

I’m not going to go through card by card and explain why every silver bullet cripples whatever strategy it comes in against… why is Rest in Peace good against graveyard decks? Hmm…

The deck has all of these cards and angles to exploit inherent weaknesses in other powerful decks. If an opponent is pushing an angle hard, Death and Taxes has a handful of cards that shut it down.

As good as the main deck for Death and Taxes is, it is actually possible that the sideboard is even better. A sound reason to consider gravitating toward this archetype.

Death and Taxes should at least be on your radar as a potential player in the Legacy metagame moving forward.

  • It was already quite good. It is unlikely to have gotten worse by the banning of DRS.
  • It just got an awesome new tool, Brightling.
  • And that sideboard, wowie! No matter what crazy, busted deck people are playing as the meta solidifies, the sideboard is going to provide strong and effective answers.
  • As an afterthought, but not relevant: There are no cheap decks in Legacy, but D&T is one of the more affordable options since it doesn’t require a bunch of Reserve List duals.

Personally, I really enjoy playing decks like Death and Taxes, which makes this a very enticing choice for me. I love the fact that my cards all have a bunch of sweet abilities I can threaten to use at any time. The deck even has the ability to tutor and mess with an opponent’s mana.

It’s not the kind of deck that ends it all with one flashy spell. To play a game with D&T is like building a house, brick by brick, one piece at a time. Each spell played builds on the last to generate advantage and gradually grind an opponent’s resources off the table or remove possible routes of victory. It’s a challenging deck, but also a fun and rewarding deck. If that is something that appeals to you, I strongly urge you to give the deck a test run.


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