Ancient Tomb Death and Taxes Deck Guide

Michael Bonde

Michael Bonde

Hello y’all.

Today the topic is "Death and Taxes" in Legacy!

As we all know (or should at least) Death’n’Taxes also known as "DnT" is one of the most deadly weapons in Legacy if used and wielded correctly. Having a massive Legacy tournament happening in Las Vegas, why not talk about it!

If you are looking for Modern advice for Vegas, my friend Jeremy Dezani wrote a guide to the deck which I finished 41st place at GP Copenhagen 2017 and will be playing in Vegas as well is here:

First of all, let’s take a look at my list, going into Legacy Premier League a couple of weeks ago, just after the banning of 《Sensei’s Divining Top》.


Michael Bonde – Death and Taxes
Test Deck

10 《Plains》
3 《Karakas》
1 《Flagstones of Trokair》
1 《Horizon Canopy》
1 《Cavern of Souls》
4 《Wasteland》
4 《Rishadan Port》

-Land (24)-

4 《Mother of Runes》
4 《Stoneforge Mystic》
4 《Thalia, Guardian of Thraben》
4 《Phyrexian Revoker》
4 《Flickerwisp》
2 《Sanctum Prelate》
1 《Mirran Crusader》
1 《Brimaz, King of Oreskos》
1 《Palace Jailer》

-Creature (25)-
4 《Swords to Plowshares》
4 《AEther Vial》
1 《Umezawa’s Jitte》
1 《Sword of Fire and Ice》
1 《Batterskull》

-Spell (11)-
hareruya

This is a very generic list and I want to take you through the "stable" and the "flex" slots.

The current meta, as I see it right now, is a lot of 《Delver》 strategies, with slight favor towards Grixis, Sneak and Show, Elves, Reanimator (Black Red) and Storm. These are all different decks, with various ways of winning and playing a game of magic. This information is important, when wanting to build the correct DnT list for the expected metagame.

Having a deck that only consists of white cards, lands and artifacts, have both its merit, but also issues. Luckily the majority of these issues are being "solved" by what I call the "stables" in the deck.

Creatures:

Mother of RunesStoneforge MysticThalia, Guardian of Thraben
Phyrexian RevokerFlickerwisp

For us to have a good foundation, these cards are essential for all of the other cards we might fit in later.

A lot of people shave one or two 《Phyrexian Revokers》 – the reason for this, is that some cards do the same, so against Storm a 《Revoker》 will do something, but often it is not crucial to win the game, more than just a bump on the road. Against Elves and Sneak and Show on the other hand, it can be the matter of life and death, negating an early 《Wirewood Symbiote》 or a 《Show and Tell》‘ed 《Griselbrand》. So my recommendation is; not to leave this little bugger out.

《Flickerwisp》 might seem a bit strange, since it doesn’t do anything to negate any gameplans – but it is in the deck, to be a "catch all" against the variety of different cards, which the Legacy format sometimes throw against us. It is uniqueness lies in its ability to work in the spectrum of tempo, disruption, removal protection, 《Vial》 resetting etc. The card is a powerhouse in most of the games.

Artifacts/spells:

Swords to PlowsharesAEther Vial
Umezawa's JitteSword of Fire and IceBatterskull

The Equipment package can vary a bit, but overall you have 《Batterskull》 as a "catch all" card as well, it is a generic power answer to a lot of rogue strategies and tier 1’s as well.

《Umezawa’s Jitte》, can in the right set up, be a card that wins almost unwinnable games – it is also one of the strongest cards in the deck against Delver, Elves and the mirror.

And then we have 《Sword of Fire and Ice》, which is the card that varies. The protection part, is one of the key components on this slot, against a UW Miracles heavy field (if it starts dominating with 《Portent》) I can see this card exchanged for 《Sword of War and Peace》.

Sword of War and Peace

The reason behind this possibility to swap around the different Swords, is the importance of not having to commit too much to the battlefield. 《Sword of Fire and Ice》 was originally put in to combat a resolved 《True-Name Nemesis》 and 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》 (in two different decks) and being a generic draw engine, which the deck lacks, against the field. If the meta shifts to a more BUG/Combo heavy meta, other Swords become viable/better.

Lands:

PlainsKarakasCavern of Souls
WastelandRishadan Port

The mana is pretty straightforward, I usually play 24 lands having these as my core, and then when playing against the slow control decks, I board out the 24th land. I tend to find a lot of the games against the tempo decks very focused on having 《Plains》 mana and not being too soft to 《Wasteland》. This can be a dilemma when playing the utility lands which is why I play the minimum of 8 《Plains》 and not the full playset of 《Karakas》.

This gives us the following list:


Michael Bonde – Death and Taxes
Core Cards

8 《Plains》
3 《Karakas》
1 《Cavern of Souls》
4 《Wasteland》
4 《Rishadan Port》

-Land (20)-

4 《Mother of Runes》
4 《Stoneforge Mystic》
4 《Thalia, Guardian of Thraben》
2 《Phyrexian Revoker》
4 《Flickerwisp》

-Creature (18)-
4 《Swords to Plowshares》
4 《AEther Vial》
1 《Umezawa’s Jitte》
1 《Sword of Fire and Ice》
1 《Batterskull》

-Spell (11)-
hareruya

49 cards – where, if we want to play 24 lands, we need 4 of them to be lands, and the rest a cards, that helps us deal with our expected metagame, preferably creatures, to make 《AEther Vial》 even stronger.

These are the cards, that I would have in mind, when thinking of the current metagame. We fall back to the "issues" part here, because most of the cards are so specific in their "hate" that they either don’t overlap, or they have to enter the battlefield fast enough, for them to make any impact. In my initial constellation I went with:

1 《Brimaz, King of Oreskos》

Brimaz, King of Oreskos

《Brimaz, King of Oreskos》 is strong against 《Lightning Bolts》 and cards like 《Punishing Fire》. It puts massive pressure on the opponent on its own while being removal proof with a 《Karakas》 on the board.

2 《Phyrexian Revoker》

Phyrexian Revoker

As I wrote earlier, I see the meta revolving around a few decks, whereas most of them are strategies that rely on activating abilities, so even though it only having one target against Delver, I think it is worth it.

2 《Sanctum Prelate》

Sanctum Prelate

Same as for 《Phyrexian Revoker》 except its game against Delver strategies. Resolving it for "1" takes away their ability to play any of their removals and cantrips, only having creatures and counters left, which most often is a deal breaker for them.

1 《Mirran Crusader》

Mirran Crusader

A good card against most 《Leovold》 decks and a solid creature with an equipment on.

1 《Palace Jailer》

Palace Jailer

Rarely do we get a draw engine in DnT, but this card, played in the right spot, gives both a card draw, and a removal proof catch all (except for 《True-Name Nemesis》) removal card.

Having these cards as my flex spot cards in an undetermined meta seems about right – but as the format has been changing post-ban it actually seems like warping even more towards fast Combo decks and Delver – making some of the generic cards bad, and the CMC3 cards even worse.

This might not seem like the biggest issue, but Elves is one the hardest matchup to win and Storm can be really difficult if they win the die roll with the ability to kill on turn 1 and 2, before we can interact.

This leads us to the flex spot of the land package. Usually there are few lands that are interchangeable which gives minor edges against different decks. Putting in fewer 《Plains》, plays around 《Massacre》, but fails against 《Wasteland》 and so on.

MassacreWasteland

So having a partner in crime, in Thomas Enevoldsen, we came to the conclusion that we had to try something new and see if we could gain some of the lost tempo back in the matches, where the first couple of turns are crucial. After a couple of weeks of testing on Magic Online while skyping – it finally came down to a list that will be very close to the list that we will be playing in Vegas.


Michael Bonde – Death and Taxes
Legacy League(5-0)

9 《Plains》
3 《Karakas》
1 《Eiganjo Castle》
4 《Wasteland》
3 《Rishadan Port》
3 《Ancient Tomb》

-Land (23)-

4 《Mother of Runes》
4 《Stoneforge Mystic》
4 《Thalia, Guardian of Thraben》
2 《Containment Priest》
2 《Phyrexian Revoker》
4 《Flickerwisp》
2 《Thalia, Heretic Cathar》
2 《Eldrazi Displacer》
1 《Vryn Wingmare》
1 《Palace Jailer》

-Creature (26)-
4 《Swords to Plowshares》
4 《AEther Vial》
1 《Umezawa’s Jitte》
1 《Sword of Fire and Ice》
1 《Batterskull》

-Spell (11)-
4 《Chalice of the Void》
2 《Ethersworn Canonist》
2 《Rest in Peace》
2 《Council’s Judgment》
1 《Palace Jailer》
1 《Pithing Needle》
1 《Relic of Progenitus》
1 《Dismember》
1 《Gideon, Ally of Zendikar》

-Sideboard (15)-
hareruya

Even though it doesn’t look different at first glance – there is a major player in this decklist is 《Ancient Tomb》. This is not what I would consider a "stable", but making the deck revolve more around the 《Chalice of the Void》 in the sideboard makes us strong against the bad matchups.

Ancient TombChalice of the Void

This makes it possible to utilize strong cards with CMC 2W cards like 《Vryn Wingmare》 and 《Thalia, Heretic Cathar》 in the main deck because we don’t sacrifice much in the life loss, but gain an incredible advantage against these decks with additional hatebear effects on turn 2.

Vryn WingmareThalia, Heretic Cathar

So this build is good; if the metagame is expected to be a lot of Combo decks – while still being able to fight the different Delver strategies.

Sideboard Guide

Grixis Delver

vs Grixis Delver

Out

Phyrexian Revoker Phyrexian Revoker
Containment Priest Containment Priest

In

Chalice of the Void Chalice of the Void
Dismember Relic of Progenitus

Sultai Delver

vs Sultai Delver

Out

Containment Priest Containment Priest Phyrexian Revoker Phyrexian Revoker
Thalia, Heretic Cathar Vryn Wingmare Eldrazi Displacer Eldrazi Displacer

In

Council's Judgment Council's Judgment Rest in Peace Rest in Peace
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar Dismember Relic of Progenitus Palace Jailer

Ad Nauseum Storm

vs Ad Nauseum Storm

Out

Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares
Containment Priest Containment Priest Stoneforge Mystic Stoneforge Mystic
Umezawa's Jitte Palace Jailer

In

Chalice of the Void Chalice of the Void Chalice of the Void Chalice of the Void
Rest in Peace Rest in Peace Ethersworn Canonist Ethersworn Canonist
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar Relic of Progenitus

Black Red Reanimator

vs BR Reanimator

Out

Stoneforge Mystic Stoneforge Mystic Mother of Runes Mother of Runes
Thalia, Heretic Cathar Thalia, Heretic Cathar Phyrexian Revoker Phyrexian Revoker
Umezawa's Jitte Eldrazi Displacer Eldrazi Displacer

In

Chalice of the Void Chalice of the Void Chalice of the Void Chalice of the Void
Council's Judgment Council's Judgment Rest in Peace Rest in Peace
Relic of Progenitus Pithing Needle Palace Jailer

Sneak and Show

vs Sneak and Show

Out

Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares
Umezawa's Jitte Stoneforge Mystic

In

Council's Judgment Council's Judgment Ethersworn Canonist Ethersworn Canonist
Pithing Needle Palace Jailer

Elves

vs Elves

Out

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben Thalia, Guardian of Thraben Thalia, Guardian of Thraben Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Sword of Fire and Ice AEther Vial Eldrazi Displacer Eldrazi Displacer

In

Chalice of the Void Chalice of the Void Chalice of the Void Chalice of the Void
Dismember Council's Judgment Ethersworn Canonist Ethersworn Canonist

UW Miracles

vs UW Miracles

Out

Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares
Containment Priest Containment Priest

In

Relic of Progenitus Pithing Needle Chalice of the Void Chalice of the Void
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar Palace Jailer

Mirror

vs Mirror

Out

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben Thalia, Guardian of Thraben Thalia, Guardian of Thraben Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Heretic Cathar Thalia, Heretic Cathar

In

Pithing Needle Palace Jailer Council's Judgment Council's Judgment
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar Dismember

This is my sideboard guide for the current list – depending cards seen in the specific matchups, there can some minor changes and/or a change when being on the play or draw.

I hope that this gave an insight in some of the cards and thoughts about the current state of DnT in Legacy, and how to attack a specific metagame.

This leaves me to just wishing you all luck in your upcoming tournaments, whether you play DnT or another sweet deck.

Until next time,

Michael Bonde

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