Welcome back to part 3 of My Death & Taxes. If you didn’t read part 1 or part 2 yet, I encourage you to do so. In this final instalment, I will go over the different matchups you can expect to face, what to look out for in the games against each of them and where your focus should normally be as well as what role to play. The sideboarding numbers obviously change based on your own sideboard configuration, and it can also change dramatically based on what the opponent has. I will include a stock list from each matchup for ease of reference. If you are able to, it is quite helpful to bring a list to your tournament with the most played decks in the metagame and include your own sideboarding notes, which is perfectly legal. That way you can check the stock list after game 1 and see what a standard board looks like from their side. This way you get a feel for what you can expect out of game 2 and remember what your plan should be against them.

I have found that there is something especially interesting about sideboarding with a midrange deck like D&T. After board is where you really get to solidify and complement your role(s) in the matchup. This is different from other strategies like combo decks, where your goal usually is to deal with your opponent’s hate cards while maintaining the same basic combo strategy. For control decks, your role usually doesn’t change, so the sideboard strategy is typically to adjust your answers to the relevant threats.

Changing the Game

Death and Taxes can transform significantly postboard

Sideboard Cataclysm by Jim Nelson

Cataclysm by Jim Nelson

With D&T, you can make big overhauls to the deck’s core strategy with just a few card changes. The first basic question is: “Is this a spell matchup or a creature matchup”. One of your pivotal cards, Thalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of Thraben usually excels against the spells (it even rhymes for ease of memory), whereas she is weaker against the creature(s). At the same time, something like Stoneforge MysticStoneforge Mystic does not carry as much weight in the combo matchups, where the equipment route is typically too slow. Obviously Swords to PlowsharesSwords to Plowshares can be irrelevant (or at least very bad) in some matchups as well. However there are more subtle interactions. For example if you rip up your curve in sideboarded games, perhaps Aether VialAether Vial is not as strong. If you expect sweepers, perhaps FlickerwispFlickerwisp loses some of its potency. In matchups that you expect to go longer, I like to shave a land (at least on the draw) to increase the threat density. You can do that against most non-combo matchups, and/or when your mana is not “under attack” from opposing WastelandWasteland and DazeDaze. Applying these general principles gives you a good starting point for sideboarding, so keep them in mind, even if you intend to follow my sideboard configurations to a tee.

How They Will Fight You

The sideboard strategies you must prepare for

Sideboard Marsh Casualties by Scott Chou

Marsh Casualties by Scott Chou

A common sideboard strategy against D&T is -1/-1 effects of some sort. Examples are Dread of NightDread of Night, Marsh CasualtiesMarsh Casualties, DarkblastDarkblast or Sulfur ElementalSulfur Elemental. Thanks to the wide open Legacy format, decks can usually not afford to play, for example 4 Dread of Night, because there are too many other strategies out there and it is too narrow. But you should always keep in mind and play around these kinds of effects until you know what your opponent does in sideboarded games. This can mean hedging against the effects by boarding out your x/1’s (Mother of RunesMother of Runes and Flickerwisp, I’m looking at you). You should always be open to modify your role and sideboarding based on what you see in the actual games, what your opponent seems to emphasize and what they board out. Avoid being too susceptible to the -1/-1 hate by making sure you have back-up plans if they are pack it and make sure you don’t overextend if you can afford that.

As with any format, sideboarding can change based on whether you are on the play (“OTP” below) or on the draw (“OTD” below). Cards like DazeDaze and Spell PierceSpell Pierce can be really effective on the play and much less so on the draw. Planeswalkers care a lot about this too, and whether you can land a Thalia on your turn 2 (their turn 1) or not can be hugely impactful in certain matchups. Same with Sanctum PrelateSanctum Prelate, which also benefits greatly from being on the play. In many ways Palace JailerPalace Jailer acts like a planeswalker in that you would prefer to play it onto an empty board or a board of one creature to ensure that you keep the monarchy around for as long as possible. Being on the play obviously helps to make Jailer much better and the same is true for Karn, Scion of UrzaKarn, Scion of Urza or whichever other 4-drop planeswalker you have in your board. Gideon, Ally of ZendikarGideon, Ally of Zendikar or Elspeth, Knight-ErrantElspeth, Knight-Errant come to mind.

The Sideboard Guide

Some general notes before the matchups

For the purpose of this sideboard guide, I’ll use a very stock list that I also employed for examples in the two previous articles. This also makes it easier for you to change out cards that may have a similar effect or play a similar role in your particular configuration. For example you can have an additional Ethersworn CanonistEthersworn Canonist instead of a Sanctum Prelate in the board, so just switch those around for the appropriate matchup. The list, for reference, is this:

Death and Taxes by Thomas Enevoldsen

Lands (24)
Ancient Tomb
Karakas
Mishra’s Factory
10 Plains
Rishadan Port
Wasteland
Flagstones of Trokair

Creatures (25)
Flickerwisp
Mother of Runes
Palace Jailer
Phyrexian Revoker
Recruiter of the Guard
Sanctum Prelate
Brightling
Stoneforge Mystic
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Spells (11)
Swords to Plowshares
Aether Vial
Batterskull
Sword of Fire and Ice
Umezawa’s Jitte
Sideboard (15)
Cataclysm
Containment Priest
Council’s Judgment
Dismember
Ethersworn Canonist
Leonin Relic-Warder
Path to Exile
Pithing Needle
Rest in Peace
Surgical Extraction
Walking Ballista
Sanctum Prelate
Karn, Scion of Urza

The matchup guide will cover the following fifteen matchups:

  • Grixis Delver
  • UR Delver
  • UB Death’s Shadow
  • Eldrazi Aggro
  • Death & Taxes
  • Storm (ANT/TES)
  • BG Depth
  • BR Reanimator
  • Sneak & Show
  • Elves
  • UW Miracles
  • Grixis Control
  • Esper Stoneblade
  • Lands
  • Monored Stompy/Blood Moon

I have also included my recommendations for cards to name with Phyrexian RevokerPhyrexian Revoker and Pithing NeedlePithing Needle as well as numbers for Sanctum PrelateSanctum Prelate in all matchups. Please keep in mind that with D&T everything is wonderfully contextual, so you should always use your better own judgment in the current game situation and ask yourself the evergreen question: “How do I lose?” before you proceed with your name-calling.

I will add one final note; Even though Legacy is a relatively stable format without too many new cards each set, I find that it is still somewhat in flux all the time. So I constantly develop and refine my sideboard plans, and you should too! This guide reflects my current approach to some of the most popular decks in Legacy. But I always look for ways to improve or adapt based on what I see out of the opponent’s board as well as what experience through repetition teaches me about roles in certain matchups and key cards. Examples for this are my current dabble with maindeck Restoration AngelRestoration Angel or my interest in sideboard experiments with Chalice of the VoidChalice of the Void. So like the saying of the Caribbean pirates in their namesake movie, “the Code is more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules”. Act accordingly and welcome aboard the Black White Pearl!

Sideboard Against Grixis Delver

Sideboard Delver of Secrets by Nils Hamm

Delver of Secrets by Nils Hamm

The numbers

Stock Grixis Delver

Lands (18)
Flooded Strand
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Underground Sea
Volcanic Island
Wasteland

Creatures (12)
Delver of Secrets
Gurmag Angler
True-Name Nemesis
Young Pyromancer

Spells (30)
Abrade
Brainstorm
Daze
Force of Will
Lightning Bolt
Ponder
Spell Pierce
Spell Snare
Thought Scour
Thoughtseize
Sideboard (15)
Abrade
Bitterblossom
Diabolic Edict
Engineered Explosives
Flusterstorm
Island
Izzet Staticaster
Liliana, the Last Hope
Pithing Needle
Pyroblast
Surgical Extraction

Sideboarding OTP

Sideboard Out (5)
Phyrexian Revoker
Recruiter of the Guard
Palace Jailer
Sideboard In (5)
Council's Judgment
Dismember
Path to Exile
Walking Ballista

It’s really about tempo

While I consider the original RUG Delver matchup as a good matchup, the addition of True-Name NemesisTrue-Name Nemesis and Gurmag AnglerGurmag Angler makes this a bit harder. I still think you are favored, but you have to play tight!

This match is mostly about tempo. If you can survive the early game without being on a clock, you usually win due to your more powerful late game. Their back-up plans of tokens from Young PyromancerYoung Pyromancer or True-Name Nemesis can be a pain, but can be ignored via equipment and/or FlickerwispFlickerwisp. As they are not that threat-dense, removal is extremely important here. It is usually tough to try and race them, so your role is generally to be as defensive as possible. You still have to make calculated risks and attack, because a True-Name alone can turn the game around if you have not found a Council’s JudgmentCouncil’s Judgment. I try to play around DazeDaze – at least with my removal spells – as much as possible. But otherwise your mana is usually under attack as well from Wasteland, so I am okay with trading most of my creatures for their Daze in the early game. However, I will usually save Stoneforge MysticStoneforge Mystic if possible. But if, for instance, I am holding a Council’s JudgmentCouncil’s Judgment as well, I would rather run into the Daze with the Stoneforge so I can (hopefully) resolve the removal spell next turn.

Don’t invest too much here

I wouldn’t gear my sideboard too heavily for this matchup, as you are generally in a fine spot here. They usually have stuff like Liliana, the Last HopeLiliana, the Last Hope, Grim LavamancerGrim Lavamancer or Engineered ExplosivesEngineered Explosives coming out of the board, so you can keep one Revoker and it won’t be completely dead. If you see different sideboard cards and the Revoker is just a 2/1 body, I would stick to the “OTP” plan regardless. Sanctum Prelate can be a tough card to play, because setting it to “1” means that your best removal can no longer be cast, so keep this in mind when playing.

Revoker: Liliana, the Last HopeLiliana, the Last Hope, Grim LavamancerGrim Lavamancer, Engineered ExplosivesEngineered Explosives, Izzet StaticasterIzzet Staticaster

Sanctum Prelate: 1 or 2 (but very dependent on the game state)

Sideboard Against UR Delver

Matchup Monastery Swiftspear by Steve Argyle

Monastery Swiftspear by Steve Argyle

The numbers

UR Delver

Lands (16)
Flooded Strand
Island
Misty Rainforest
Mountain
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Volcanic Island

Creatures (12)
Delver of Secrets
Monastery Swiftspear
Stormchaser Mage

Spells (32)
Brainstorm
Chain Lightning
Daze
Force of Will
Lightning Bolt
Ponder
Preordain
Risk Factor
Vapor Snag
Sideboard (15)
Flusterstorm
Price of Progress
Rough // Tumble
Smash to Smithereens
Sulfuric Vortex
Surgical Extraction

Sideboarding OTP

Sideboard Out (5)
Phyrexian Revoker
Palace Jailer
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sideboard In (5)
Council's Judgment
Path to Exile
Ethersworn Canonist
Sanctum Prelate

You have to kill everything

I think this matchup is better than the matchup against Grixis Delver, as their gameplan is in some way narrower. UR Delver is a more burn-focused version than Grixis Delver with a weaker lategame. That is why tempo is even more important in this matchup.

Your goal is to kill all their creatures and gain life off of equipment or shut down a portion of their deck with Sanctum Prelate. They usually have sweepers and artifact destruction after board, so sometimes it can be correct to not play out an equipment until they are tapped out or after you put down a Sanctum Prelate. Prelate usually goes on 1, but it can be necessary to set it on 2 to play around Rough // TumbleRough // Tumble, AbradeAbrade or Smash to SmithereensSmash to Smithereens. Some versions also play True-Name Nemesis, so plan your removal accordingly. I don’t board in the DismemberDismember here, as the life loss is a bigger disadvantage. If I knew I only played against Delver decks, I would just play 2 Path to Exile, but Path is worse against the mirror, Maverick, Aggro Loam and Elves so I don’t feel I have that luxury.

Play around their outs

The Canonist is a way to slow down the game somewhat, as they cannot cantrip and play a threat or sorcery on their own turn. It’s another target for Smash to Smithereens, however, so I am still not sure about this strategy, it could also be the Leonin Relic-WarderLeonin Relic-Warder if you see Sulfuric VortexSulfuric Vortex (they usually play one or two). Also, while I don’t think it is correct for them to start Price of ProgressPrice of Progress after board, remember to keep it in mind if possible and leave open Wasteland to potentially target your own lands (even itself!) if necessary.

Revoker: Grim LavamancerGrim Lavamancer

Sanctum Prelate: 1 or 2 (usually not worth it to name 3 against Risk FactorRisk Factor, just let them draw the cards that are hopefully blanks).

Sideboard Against UB Death’s Shadow

Death's Shadow by Howard Lyon

Death’s Shadow by Howard Lyon

Stock Death's Shadow

Lands (18)
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Underground Sea
Verdant Catacombs
Wasteland
Watery Grave

Creatures (14)
Death’s Shadow
Delver of Secrets
Gurmag Angler
Street Wraith

Spells (28)
Brainstorm
Daze
Dismember
Fatal Push
Force of Will
Ponder
Preordain
Reanimate
Stubborn Denial
Thoughtseize
Sideboard (15)
Diabolic Edict
Dread of Night
Engineered Explosives
Hymn to Tourach
Liliana, the Last Hope
Nihil Spellbomb
Ratchet Bomb
Surgical Extraction

Sideboarding OTP

Sideboard Out (7)
Flickerwisp
Umezawa's Jitte
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Mother of Runes
Aether Vial
Sideboard In (7)
Path to Exile
Council's Judgment
Dismember
Karn, Scion of Urza
Walking Ballista
Pithing Needle

Sideboarding OTD

Sideboard Out (7)
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Umezawa's Jitte
Mother of Runes
Aether Vial
Sideboard In (7)
Path to Exile
Council's Judgment
Dismember
Walking Ballista
Pithing Needle
Karn, Scion of Urza

Hedge against Dread of Night

This matchup is pretty good in game 1, but can be vastly different after board based on what their sideboard looks like. In this stock list, they have Liliana, the Last HopeLiliana, the Last Hope, Dread of NightDread of Night, Ratchet BombRatchet Bomb and Engineered ExplosivesEngineered Explosives, so nothing is safe.

I try to hedge against Dread of Night and Liliana, which are very common nowadays by taking out some number of X/1’s, and you can go even harder down this route in game 3 based on what you see game 2. The sideboard can change quite drastically based on this. Hymn to TourachHymn to Tourach and ThoughtseizeThoughtseize make it so you are quickly living off the top of your deck after sideboard, which means you have to make your topdecks as impactful as possible. This is why I keep a lot of expensive cards in the deck, even if it could look like a tempo matchup on the surface, like the other Delver decks. But since they have no reach, you are not in as much of a hurry to kill their creatures, and you can safely spend turns building up by trading your life total here. They will usually have to go to a low life total for their namesake card, so look out for racing opportunities with Mother of RunesMother of Runes and/or FlickerwispFlickerwisp to remove blockers for a surprise kill. One of the ways for them to trade more than 1-for-1 is Liliana, which is why Pithing NeedlePithing Needle comes in. It can name Street WraithStreet Wraith in a pinch too, or even Polluted DeltaPolluted Delta.

Get your high impact cards on the board

Overall the goal is to get a Palace JailerPalace Jailer, planeswalker or creature with equipment into play, so you can take over the game. Their mana base is quite weak, so it can usually make sense to Wasteland them early to try and screw them or slow them down. Prelate is a tough card in this matchup, as both 1 and 3 (Liliana, Dismember) hits your own premium removal as well. You may need that in the later stages of the game too, as your creatures are usually too small to profitably block. I still like it on the play, as you can follow up a Thalia with this on 1 to try and run away with the game.

Revoker/Needle: Liliana, the Last HopeLiliana, the Last Hope, Ratchet BombRatchet Bomb, Engineered ExplosivesEngineered Explosives, Street WraithStreet Wraith

Sanctum Prelate: 1 or 3 (takes care of Dismember too!)

Sideboard Against Eldrazi Aggro

Sideboard Thought-Knot Seer by Svetlin Velinov

Thought-Knot Seer by Svetlin Velinov

The numbers

Eldrazi Aggro

Lands (26)
Ancient Tomb
Cavern of Souls
City of Traitors
Eldrazi Temple
Eye of Ugin
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Wasteland
Wastes

Creatures (26)
Eldrazi Mimic
Endbringer
Endless One
Matter Reshaper
Oblivion Sower
Reality Smasher
Simian Spirit Guide
Thought-Knot Seer
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Spells (8)
Chalice of the Void
Grim Monolith
Thorn of Amethyst
Sideboard (15)
Ensnaring Bridge
Leyline of the Void
Ratchet Bomb
Sorcerous Spyglass
Thorn of Amethyst
Umezawa’s Jitte

Sideboarding OTP and OTD

Sideboard Out (7)
Sanctum Prelate
Mother of Runes
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Sideboard In (7)
Path to Exile
Council's Judgment
Dismember
Containment Priest
Leonin Relic-Warder
Karn, Scion of Urza

This matchup is really swingy

This is a compelling matchup due to its very swingy nature. Some of their draws can completely overrun you and make it look like you are playing different formats. I use 3 lands for a 1/1 creature tutor, you use 3 lands for a 5/8 land stealer. And other times, you lock down their fragile mana or use a Flickerwisp on their Endless OneEndless One and life is simple. Overall I would say this is one of D&T’s better matchups.

The game plan is of course to survive their early onslaught of fatties, which is why we once again board in all the removal. They have a powerful lategame with Oblivion SowerOblivion Sower, Eye of UginEye of Ugin and of course Ulamog, the Ceaseless HungerUlamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, so it is important to either attack their mana base before they get there or shut the door on their life total beforehand. Your removal lines up pretty well against their threats, and don’t be afraid to double block in a trade. They have very little instant speed interaction, so it should be quite safe to do.

Maximize your combat tricks

Containment PriestContainment Priest is just a replacement for Thalia that has a favorable interaction with Flickerwisp, and Relic-Warder is a good answer to Chalice of the Void, which can be annoying. Thalia can brick-wall multiple Matter ReshaperMatter Reshapers and you have the potential for a double-block using KarakasKarakas to save the Thalia after first strike, so I still keep in a few.

Revoker: EndbringerEndbringer, Umezawa’s JitteUmezawa’s Jitte (you usually get BatterskullBatterskull anyway), Grim MonolithGrim Monolith, Ratchet BombRatchet Bomb

Sanctum Prelate: 2 (unless you need to hardcast Jitte).

Sideboard Against Death & Taxes (The Mirror)

Death and Taxes Mother of Runes by Terese Nielsen

Mother of Runes by Terese Nielsen

The numbers

Stock Death and Taxes

Lands (24)
Karakas
Plains
Rishadan Port
Snow-Covered Plains
Wasteland

Creatures (25)
Flickerwisp
Mirran Crusader
Mother of Runes
Palace Jailer
Phyrexian Revoker
Recruiter of the Guard
Sanctum Prelate
Stoneforge Mystic
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Walking Ballista

Spells (11)
Swords to Plowshares
Aether Vial
Batterskull
Sword of Fire and Ice
Umezawa’s Jitte
Sideboard (15)
Cataclysm
Containment Priest
Council’s Judgment
Disenchant
Ethersworn Canonist
Faerie Macabre
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Leonin Relic-Warder
Nahiri, the Lithomancer
Path to Exile
Recruiter of the Guard
Rest in Peace
Surgical Extraction

Sideboarding OTP

Sideboard Out (7)
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Sanctum Prelate
Sword of Fire and Ice
Aether Vial
Sideboard In (7)
Path to Exile
Dismember
Council's Judgment
Leonin Relic-Warder
Walking Ballista
Karn, Scion of Urza

Sideboarding OTD

Sideboard Out (7)
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Sanctum Prelate
Sword of Fire and Ice
Karakas
Sideboard In (7)
Path to Exile
Dismember
Council's Judgment
Leonin Relic-Warder
Walking Ballista
Pithing Needle

Win the subgames in the match

The D&T mirror has always been a fun and skill-intensive match. There are a lot of different scenarios and subgames that require careful thought and your role and game plan can change basically every turn (especially since the introduction of Palace JailerPalace Jailer and the Monarch subgame). Because D&T operates on such a wide range of resources, knowing which to attack and defend at what point is crucial. As with everything, experience is your best friend, but I will try to give some general pointers.

The first and most important subgame revolves around Umezawa’s JitteUmezawa’s Jitte. An active Jitte can end the game on the spot, but there are many ways to fight it, most importantly Mother of RunesMother of Runes. Barring that, playing and equipping Jitte is usually quite a tempo loss, so this can be taken advantage of by a timely removal spell or Aether VialAether Vial activation. If the other side has a Mother of Runes, suddenly it becomes important to have fliers to ensure that you get counters.

Aether Vial and Mother of Runes advantage can also tip the scales heavily in your favor, but it can all be broken up by a Phyrexian RevokerPhyrexian Revoker, so the games can be very back and forth.

Monarchy is the route to victory

Finally, the subgame involving the Monarch will usually decide the game once the Jitte subgame has been handled (either by a board stall with no way to push damage through or a “revoked” Jitte). Card advantage then becomes the last avenue to victory, which again can be broken up by an all-out attack to steal the Monarch and maybe even get a creature back.

It is very rare that a game is won via the damage rae in the mirror, so mulligan accordingly. Don’t be afraid to fall behind on life total if it means you set up a better defensive later on. D&T is very capable of completely locking the opponent out once certain metrics are in place, so plan for the long game!

Some key interactions to look out for in the mirror especially: FlickerwispFlickerwisp is worth a study in and of itself due to its interactions with any permanent on the battlefield. Using it to reset a Stoneforge, Recruiter or Palace Jailer is very potent, since the removal is so taxed in the mirror that even getting your opponent to “waste” a Swords on one of these threats in response is good value. Also remember that you can buy a turn (and sometimes that is all you need!) with a Vial on 3 and Flickerwisp in hand to remove their equipment for a turn. This even plays around a Mother of Runes from their side and can be a huge tempo play. Another thing to keep in mind is that Phyrexian Revoker is colorless, so you are usually guaranteed to get Jitte counters even if they have Mother out, since she cannot give protection from artifacts or colorless.

Be aware of mana denial

Mana denial is another subgame to be aware of. Since you both obviously have access to the same lands, it is very contextual whether you or your opponent needs the mana the most and whether you should use WastelandWasteland or Rishadan PortRishadan Port instead of advancing your own board. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t need the mana, it is likely correct to deny them the mana as well. But keep in mind spots where you can topdeck something like an equipment or even Stoneforge into equipment, where you want to be able to deploy everything in the same turn. Think about what your best draws are before you throw away your Wastelands. Also, as the games tend to go long, I would be hesitant to waste a KarakasKarakas, as it is likely they will draw 2 across a game.

Revoker/Needle: Aether VialAether Vial, Mother of RunesMother of Runes, Umezawa’s JitteUmezawa’s Jitte are main threats, but even Walking BallistaWalking Ballista or a planeswalker can be necessary.

Sanctum Prelate: 1 or 4 (depending on your hand)

Sideboard Against Storm (ANT/TES)

Paradoxical Tendrils of Agony by Volkan Baga

Tendrils of Agony by Volkan Baga

The numbers

Stock Storm

Lands (15)
Badlands
Bayou
Bloodstained Mire
Island
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Swamp
Underground Sea
Volcanic Island

Spells (45)
Brainstorm
Cabal Ritual
Cabal Therapy
Dark Ritual
Empty the Warrens
Grim Tutor
Infernal Tutor
Past in Flames
Ponder
Preordain
Tendrils of Agony
Thoughtseize
Lion’s Eye Diamond
Lotus Petal
Sideboard (15)
Abrupt Decay
Ad Nauseam
Chain of Vapor
Echoing Truth
Extirpate
Flusterstorm
Massacre
Xantid Swarm

Sideboarding OTP and OTD

Sideboard Out (8)
Swords to Plowshares
Sword of Fire and Ice
Palace Jailer
Flickerwisp
Sideboard In (8)
Sanctum Prelate
Council's Judgment
Ethersworn Canonist
Rest in Peace
Surgical Extraction
Leonin Relic-Warder
Pithing Needle

This one is a die roll

Rather than a sideboard, I would prefer to bring a loaded die to this particular matchup, as going first is the most important route to victory against Storm combo. On average they combo off turn 2 undisrupted, with some turn 3 kills adjusted by some (fewer) turn 1 kills. However, if you manage to land a disruption piece before they can go off, you have a great shot at winning, which is why going first in 2 out of 3 games is so important. It somehow almost always goes to 3 games. I consider this matchup basically 50/50, and there is not much play to it after the dieroll. You have to mulligan any hand that doesn’t have a turn 2 disruption piece, clean and simple. This matchup is not about card advantage, just stopping them long enough for you to kill them.

Thalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of Thraben is obviously your number 1 threat, and a clear way to victory is a KarakasKarakas, an Aether VialAether Vial on 2 and Thalia, so you are protected from removal. Phyrexian RevokerPhyrexian Revoker on Lion’s Eye DiamondLion’s Eye Diamond is very effective as well, as they need it both for mana and to discard their hand to turn on Infernal TutorInfernal Tutor. Finally, Rest in PeaceRest in Peace takes care of any Past in FlamesPast in Flames shenanigans, which is their safest route to comboing off. And I guess I don’t have to explain why Ethersworn CanonistEthersworn Canonist is good.

Don’t get massacred

Their usual answer to hatebears involves MassacreMassacre and/or Chain of VaporChain of Vapor. Massacre in particular can be annoying for an otherwise safe board setup of Mother of Runes + disruption creature, so if your hand allows it, sometimes not playing out your Plains can be a winning strategy to ensure they can’t cast their mass removal for free. On the other hand, if their only out is Massacre then Sanctum Prelate on 4 should be good enough to take the game, as they are then drawing to perhaps a couple of bounce spells, and that is asking a lot.

From my point of view, the main relevant difference between ANT and TES is that TES plays Rite of FlameRite of Flame and Chrome MoxChrome Mox and is more prone to going off with Empty the WarrensEmpty the Warrens. If you have managed to stall them a bit, a Stoneforge Mystic + Batterskull is a very effective answer to this, so that is why I don’t board them out in this matchup. ANT also has Empty the Warrens and they can sometimes be forced to go off without Tendrils of AgonyTendrils of Agony. For that reason, I always want to maximize my chances of defending against this kill by having the full 4 Stoneforge available, but if you have a sideboard with more cards against storm, at least for ANT variations Stoneforge would probably be my next card to cut.

Revoker/Needle: Lion’s Eye DiamondLion’s Eye Diamond (Revoker only), Lotus PetalLotus Petal (Revoker only), Polluted DeltaPolluted Delta (Needle only)

Sanctum Prelate: 4 (game 1 they usually don’t have outs), 0 or 1

Sideboard Against BG Depths

Sideboard Dark Depths by Stephan Martiniere

Dark Depths by Stephan Martiniere

The numbers

Stock BG Depths

Lands (27)
Bayou
Bojuka Bog
Dark Depths
Forest
Misty Rainforest
Sejiri Steppe
Swamp
Thespian’s Stage
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Verdant Catacombs
Wasteland

Creatures (10)
Dark Confidant
Sylvan Safekeeper
Vampire Hexmage

Spells (23)
Abrupt Decay
Crop Rotation
Duress
Inquisition of Kozilek
Life from the Loam
Sylvan Scrying
Thoughtseize
Mox Diamond
Sylvan Library
Sideboard (13)
Assassin’s Trophy
Choke
Dryad Arbor
Hymn to Tourach
Karakas
Liliana, the Last Hope
Lost Legacy
Pithing Needle

Sideboarding OTP and OTD

Sideboard Out (7)
Stoneforge Mystic
Palace Jailer
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sanctum Prelate
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Sideboard In (7)
Council's Judgment
Path to Exile
Pithing Needle
Dismember
Walking Ballista
Surgical Extraction

Marit Lage is not a big threat

You are pretty well set up to beat this matchup. The number of ways to answer their combo in your maindeck alone is 16 cards: 3 KarakasKarakas, 4 Swords to PlowsharesSwords to Plowshares, 4 WastelandWasteland, 4 FlickerwispFlickerwisp and 1 Palace JailerPalace Jailer. That list doesn’t even include Phyrexian RevokerPhyrexian Revoker, which stops Vampire HexmageVampire Hexmage, and 2 Recruiter of the GuardRecruiter of the Guard to get the answers. Even a Rishadan PortRishadan Port on their Thespian’s StageThespian’s Stage can make sure they can only go off on their own turn.

Since D&T has so many answers to their combo, you will eventually overpower them if you can just keep things under control and make the game go long, so the goal is to do just that. This means you have to always consider how they can make an instant speed 20/20 and kill you in one swing, for example through the use of a removal on your blocker or Sejiri SteppeSejiri Steppe for protection. Since your clock is not very fast, they will usually have time to set up pretty well and keep a Sylvan SafekeeperSylvan Safekeeper around to protect the token from removal and bounce. That is why it can be a good idea to think about playing out your FlickerwispFlickerwisp as a potential blocker, because it will usually be enough if you get a full turn cycle to answer the 20/20 token. It is for the same reason that I don’t cut BatterskullBatterskull and BrightlingBrightling, as just a couple of life points above 20 can be enough to buy you the time needed to answer their combo. Keep in mind that this could also mean using Swords to PlowsharesSwords to Plowshares on your own creature (if they have Safekeeper out) to make sure you survive to untap and hopefully deal with the Marit Lage. Since their combo does not require spells to be played, per se, I tend to refrain from using Rishadan PortRishadan Port in lieu of casting creatures that pressure their life total.

You can afford some card disadvantage

After board, they will usually go a bit into control mode, which means they will have enough resources to try to combo off twice. A timely Surgical ExtractionSurgical Extraction can take out the Dark DepthsDark Depths to stop it altogether, but even just getting intel on their hand can be valuable, as you should be very far ahead in the matchup in general, so you can afford the card disadvantage. Pithing NeedlePithing Needle’s main targets are Thespian’s StageThespian’s Stage, Vampire HexmageVampire Hexmage and Liliana, the Last HopeLiliana, the Last Hope. As Phyrexian Revoker is also an answer for the latter two, don’t be afraid to play out an early Needle on Thespian’s Stage. Keep in mind that if they get to activate the Stage once to copy a different land, the Needle will no longer stop the combo, as the Stage now has a different name (but keeps the copying ability).

If your general approach is to take each turn cycle and go through the ways you can lose to an instant speed 20/20 and play to avoid that, the deck should have enough tools to make sure you almost never lose this matchup in a best of 3 series.

Revoker/Needle: Sylvan SafekeeperSylvan Safekeeper, Vampire HexmageVampire Hexmage, Mox DiamondMox Diamond (only Revoker), Thespian’s StageThespian’s Stage (only Needle, pre-copy)

Sanctum Prelate: 2 or 1 (shuts off their Crop RotationCrop Rotation but also your Swords, so be careful!)

Sideboard Against BR Reanimator

Electrodominance Griselbrand by Igor Kieryluk

Griselbrand by Igor Kieryluk

The numbers

Stock BR Reanimator

Lands (12)
Badlands
Bayou
Bloodstained Mire
Polluted Delta
Swamp

Creatures (10)
Ashen Rider
Chancellor of the Annex
Griselbrand
Sire of Insanity
Tidespout Tyrant

Spells (38)
Cabal Therapy
Dark Ritual
Entomb
Exhume
Faithless Looting
Reanimate
Thoughtseize
Unmask
Animate Dead
Chrome Mox
Lotus Petal
Sideboard (15)
Abrupt Decay
Assassin’s Trophy
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Faerie Macabre
Iona, Shield of Emeria
Magus of the Moon
Reverent Silence

Sideboarding OTP and OTD

Sideboard Out (11)
Stoneforge Mystic
Umezawa's Jitte
Sword of Fire and Ice
Mother of Runes
Aether Vial
Flickerwisp
Brightling
Recruiter of the Guard
Sideboard In (11)
Ethersworn Canonist
Containment Priest
Surgical Extraction
Rest in Peace
Pithing Needle
Council's Judgment
Leonin Relic-Warder
Sanctum Prelate
Path to Exile

It’s the fast Griselbrand that gets you

Despite its combo nature, the matchup against BR Reanimator actually has a lot of play to it, as long as you avoid the fast GriselbrandGriselbrand draw-14-cards-opening. Besides the obvious reanimation hate which they have a hard time dealing with, your goal is to just answer all their threats. Getting a Revoker or Needle on Griselbrand is huge, as you are then able to trade evenly with the rest of their creatures. It is also not uncommon to have a standoff involving Mother against them. You have so much removal after board that you are pretty likely to “out-threat” them, so the goal is to survive the initial onslaught and avoid Griselbrand activations and you should be fine. KarakasKarakas is also great here, so your first priority is looking for a hand that has it or one of your many removals. At least on the draw, this is more important than finding graveyard hate, as they will typically be able to reanimate a fatty at least by turn 2.

I keep 1 Stoneforge and the BatterskullBatterskull as tutor targets, since the game can go long and you need a way to close it out. Relic-Warder is specifically for Animate DeadAnimate Dead, and a clean answer to an Animated Elesh Norn, Grand CenobiteElesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, as the state-based effects of the -2/-2 ability means that both triggers of the Relic-Warder goes on the stack at the same time, so you can choose to exile the Animate Dead forever. Also remember that FlickerwispFlickerwisp works with Animate Dead if you have managed to resolve a Rest in PeaceRest in Peace in the meantime.

Revoker/Needle: GriselbrandGriselbrand, Lotus PetalLotus Petal (only Revoker), Bloodstained MireBloodstained Mire/Delta (only Needle)

Sanctum Prelate: 0 or 1

Sideboard Against Sneak & Show

Sideboard Show and Tell by Zack Stella

Show and Tell by Zack Stella

The numbers

Stock Sneak and Show

Lands (19)
Ancient Tomb
City of Traitors
Flooded Strand
Island
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Volcanic Island

Creatures (6)
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Griselbrand

Spells (35)
Brainstorm
Cunning Wish
Flusterstorm
Force of Will
Impulse
Intuition
Ponder
Preordain
Show and Tell
Spell Pierce
Lotus Petal
Omniscience
Sneak Attack
Sideboard (15)
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Firemind’s Foresight
Flusterstorm
Intuition
Kozilek’s Return
Pyroblast
Pyroclasm
Release the Ants
Rushing River
Sudden Shock
Surgical Extraction
Through the Breach
Trickbind

Sideboarding OTP and OTD

Sideboard Out (9)
Swords to Plowshares
Stoneforge Mystic
Umezawa's Jitte
Brightling
Mother of Runes
Sideboard In (9)
Council's Judgment
Pithing Needle
Containment Priest
Ethersworn Canonist
Leonin Relic-Warder
Cataclysm
Sanctum Prelate
Path to Exile

No Omniscience, no cry

Before OmniscienceOmniscience was added to the deck, this used to be a dream pairing for D&T. Revoker + KarakasKarakas was usually game over, and you didn’t even necessarily care about GriselbrandGriselbrand activations, since the extra cards just made more of Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeons TornEmrakul, the Aeons Torn, so there was not that much to worry about as long as you could keep Sneak AttackSneak Attack off the table (or off activation). Revoker, Thalia, Ports and WastelandWasteland did the trick for this, which is still a Viable route to victory (get it?).

The issue now is that because of your rather slow clock, your opponent can usually set up for a Show and TellShow and Tell into Omniscience into Emrakul or Cunning WishCunning Wish, which is game over. So now you have to be more considerate of trying to race while still disrupting your opponent and especially their mana. The new lock is Sanctum PrelateSanctum Prelate on 3 and Revoker on Sneak Attack, which should be enough game 1, but is of course vulnerable to their sideboarded PyroclasmPyroclasm and other removal. Adding Mother of RunesMother of Runes to the mix can obviously help, but always be aware that without Prelate, they can Cunning Wish for Kozilek’s ReturnKozilek’s Return, and since the damage source is colorless you can’t protect any of your hatebears.

You must be able to answer their first threat

When you decide on opening hands against this deck, the most important thing is to have a way to deal with a Show and TellShow and Tell into a GriselbrandGriselbrand or Emrakul. KarakasKarakas and Palace JailerPalace Jailer are your best bets here, but even something like Mother of RunesMother of Runes plus a flier can do the trick, or Phyrexian RevokerPhyrexian Revoker to buy turns against GriselbrandGriselbrand. It is rare that they Show an Emrakul into play, since they are usually better off if they wait for OmniscienceOmniscience. This gives you time to set up, and after dealing with an initial fatty, your next concern is Prelate on 3 followed by Revoker or Needle on Sneak AttackSneak Attack. Your mana disruption can also help stall against Sneak Attack, and sometimes it can even be correct to name Lotus PetalLotus Petal with Revoker to try and bottleneck them on mana. Even keeping them to a single red mana can be crucial if you have Karakas out as well. Sometimes their hand lines up in a way where they just have to go for it with a fatty off Show and Tell and cross their fingers, don’t be caught in these spots without an answer!

If you have more options when they play Show and TellShow and Tell, it is crucial what you choose to put into play. I would say that their threats off Show in descending order of scariness are: OmniscienceOmniscience, GriselbrandGriselbrand, Sneak AttackSneak Attack, Emrakul, the Aeons TornEmrakul, the Aeons Torn. So think about your path to victory against each of these spells and plan accordingly. Sometimes you need to put in FlickerwispFlickerwisp or Ethersworn CanonistEthersworn Canonist to buy a turn against Omniscience, sometimes it is Revoker to stop Griselbrand before activation and sometimes it is even a Recruiter of the GuardRecruiter of the Guard. Depending on the development of the game prior to Show and Tell and how many resources they have spent, sometimes it is correct to assume they don’t have a “kill” yet but are simply preparing for when they draw it by putting in Omniscience or Sneak Attack.

Surgical Experiments?

I recently toyed with the idea of bringing in Surgical ExtractionSurgical Extraction both as a way to “counter” an IntuitionIntuition (though the Sneak & Show versions usually only play 1-2 copies whereas Monoblue usually plays 3-4) but also to see their hand prior to choosing a card when they play their namesake spell.

Beware of Sudden ShockSudden Shock after board (or off Cunning WishCunning Wish) and remember that some lists run Arcane ArtisanArcane Artisan, at which point you can probably board back in a couple of Swords to PlowsharesSwords to Plowshares.

Revoker/Needle: Sneak AttackSneak Attack, GriselbrandGriselbrand, Lotus PetalLotus Petal – the good lists usually play 2 of each fetchland so it is harder to get lucky with Needle here!

Sanctum Prelate: 3

Sideboard Against Elves

Sideboard Natural Order by Terese Nielsen

Natural Order by Terese Nielsen

The numbers

Stock Elves

Lands (20)
Bayou
Dryad Arbor
Forest
Gaea’s Cradle
Misty Rainforest
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath

Creatures (29)
Birchlore Rangers
Craterhoof Behemoth
Elvish Mystic
Elvish Visionary
Fyndhorn Elves
Heritage Druid
Llanowar Elves
Multani’s Acolyte
Nettle Sentinel
Quirion Ranger
Reclamation Sage
Wirewood Symbiote

Spells (11)
Glimpse of Nature
Green Sun’s Zenith
Natural Order
Sideboard (15)
Abrupt Decay
Assassin’s Trophy
Cabal Therapy
Leyline of the Void
Progenitus
Surgical Extraction
Thoughtseize

Sideboarding OTP

Sideboard Out (9)
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Recruiter of the Guard
Sword of Fire and Ice
Palace Jailer
Brightling
Karakas
Aether Vial
Sideboard In (9)
Dismember
Path to Exile
Containment Priest
Ethersworn Canonist
Council's Judgment
Pithing Needle
Cataclysm
Walking Ballista

Sideboarding OTD

Sideboard Out (9)
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Sword of Fire and Ice
Palace Jailer
Brightling
Karakas
Aether Vial
Sideboard In (9)
Dismember
Path to Exile
Containment Priest
Ethersworn Canonist
Council's Judgment
Pithing Needle
Cataclysm
Walking Ballista

The bane of our existence

Aaaaand we come to Elves. The bane of D&T’s existence since, well, forever. Outside of something like Goblin CharbelcherGoblin Charbelcher combo, this is probably your worst matchup. All game plans of Elves just line up incredibly well against D&T. Their combo kill with Glimpse of NatureGlimpse of Nature isn’t taxed by Thalia, we have no discard or countermagic for Natural OrderNatural Order and the rest of our mana denial plan is largely irrelevant because everything in their deck produces mana. And finally, even when they don’t find their Glimpse or Natural Order, they can play a grind game just fine with Wirewood SymbioteWirewood Symbiote, which, incidentally, also prevents our main route to victory, Umezawa’s JitteUmezawa’s Jitte, from getting counters. And they do all of this consistently through Green Sun’s ZenithGreen Sun’s Zenith, the glue that holds the deck together.

So instead of focusing on all the way too powerful things they can do, let’s focus on what D&T can do! Your goal is to get counters on Umezawa’s Jitte to handle the first onslaught of elves from the opposing side and then try to slow them down with land disruption. Without their creatures (mana dorks or otherwise), they have a very fragile mana base of 20 lands including 2 Dryad ArborDryad Arbor and 4 Gaea’s CradleGaea’s Cradle. Adding a card like Damping SphereDamping Sphere to the board would also be a great help against Elves, as it shuts down both the big Glimpse turns and the explosiveness of Cradle. Even if they deal with your Jitte, you will usually have bought enough time that your more expensive creatures and spells can take over the game.The issue is getting the counters on the Jitte, both from a timing perspective – the earliest you can do it is turn 3 and requires a Mother of Runes and a naturally drawn Jitte unless you got the Ancient TombAncient Tomb – and avoiding having your attack negated by a Wirewood SymbioteWirewood Symbiote. A potentially winning curve (on the play) could be turn 1 removal spell, turn 2 Stoneforge for Jitte, turn 3 Flickerwisp, turn 4 equip. On the draw this is likely too slow, and if they have an explosive Cradle draw it is even too slow on the play. So there is a lot of finger crossing in this matchup and – at least from a philosophical standpoint – that is just something you have to accept as a D&T pilot.

Get that Jitte going!

Other than getting counters on Jitte, the other way to win is to limit their explosiveness by killing everything in sight. Removal spells through turn 1-3 (Revoker and even WastelandWasteland counts here) may also be enough for you to land something like a Jailer or a CataclysmCataclysm to reset the game. One of the great things about cards like Swords to Plowshares and Path/Dismember is that you usually trade “up” in mana against the threats you kill, but that is not the case with Elves, which is why D&T is prone to fall behind in this matchup.

Craterhoof BehemothCraterhoof Behemoth usually requires a few creatures to be a worthy tutor target, so watch out for sideboard ProgenitusProgenitus, which is the main reason the pair of Council’s Judgment comes in. Don’t be afraid to use them immediately on a puny little elf however, as keeping them off creatures in general is necessary to keep their explosive potential in check.

Finally, I will say that even though this matchup is quite abysmal and there are some potent albeit narrow sideboard cards you can add like Holy LightHoly Light or PeacekeeperPeacekeeper, you just have to realize that playing D&T means that sometimes things are just outside your control. A linear creature-combo deck like Elves suffers from its own weaknesses (including its inherent deck difficulty), so I would never be too concerned with this deck taking over the metagame and making D&T obsolete. Sometimes the correct play is to simply cross your fingers and hope to dodge!

Revoker/Needle: Heritage DruidHeritage Druid (Revoker only), Wirewood SymbioteWirewood Symbiote, Quirion RangerQuirion Ranger, Birchlore RangersBirchlore Rangers (Revoker only)

Sanctum Prelate: 4 or 1 (be aware that 4 doesn’t stop Zenith for Reclamation SageReclamation Sage, as they can just pay 5 or more).

Sideboard Against UW Miracles

Sideboard Terminus by James Paick

Terminus by James Paick

The numbers

Stock Miracles

Lands (19)
Arid Mesa
Flooded Strand
Island
Plains
Scalding Tarn
Tundra
Volcanic Island

Creatures (5)
Monastery Mentor
Snapcaster Mage

Spells (36)
Accumulated Knowledge
Brainstorm
Council’s Judgment
Counterspell
Force of Will
Ponder
Preordain
Spell Pierce
Swords to Plowshares
Terminus
Back to Basics
Counterbalance
Engineered Explosives
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Sideboard (15)
Back to Basics
Containment Priest
Council’s Judgment
Counterbalance
Disenchant
Flusterstorm
Pyroblast
Red Elemental Blast
Supreme Verdict
Surgical Extraction
Vendilion Clique

Sideboarding OTP and OTD

Sideboard Out (8)
Swords to Plowshares
Umezawa's Jitte
Phyrexian Revoker
Mother of Runes
Karakas
Sideboard In (8)
Pithing Needle
Karn, Scion of Urza
Council's Judgment
Cataclysm
Walking Ballista
Sanctum Prelate
Surgical Extraction

Card advantage is how they win

A wonderfully interesting matchup that is guaranteed to go long and therefore have plenty of room for your far superior play skills to determine the outcome of the match!

UW Miracles is your classic control deck, and it wins because it has answers for everything important you do and then gets ahead with card advantage through Jace, the Mind SculptorJace, the Mind Sculptor and (recently) Accumulated KnowledgeAccumulated Knowledge. There are many different configurations of this deck, and your sideboard changes based on what you see, so pay attention. For instance, if they play Accumulated Knowledge, which most lists do these days, I think it is fine to board in 1 Rest in PeaceRest in Peace as a sort of counter to the card advantage in addition to its main purpose. That would be stopping them from replaying Swords to PlowsharesSwords to Plowshares throughout the matchup via Snapcaster MageSnapcaster Mage. It also cuts[/mtg_link]Mission Briefing[/mtg_link] in half, as they cannot flashback anything, so if you see all of the above, I would err towards siding in a Rest in Peace, since the graveyard then becomes enough of a resource that I want to attack it.

On top of Jace, their threats can vary from Monastery MentorMonastery Mentor to Entreat the AngelsEntreat the Angels or BrightlingBrightling, so sometimes it can be correct to leave 1 or 2 Swords to Plowshares in the deck to combat the Mentor, as it can quickly get out of hand. The Pithing NeedlePithing Needle comes in to stop Jace, which is their usual way to win the game against D&T. It can seem strange since we cut a Phyrexian RevokerPhyrexian Revoker, but in this matchup the 2/1 body is quite a liability due to the prevalence of removal in their deck.

Who is the beatdown? You are!

The way to approach the matchup is that you are typically the beatdown from the start, but as you can easily generate massive card advantage of your own through Palace JailerPalace Jailer (which they have a hard time stopping) and a reset button in CataclysmCataclysm, usually you are not in too much of a hurry to kill them, so it is important not to overextend. Think about giving them as little value as possible out of their card advantage, removal and mana. This can mean you have to pass the turn when they have mana up for Snapcaster + Swords or you wait until Aether VialAether Vial is on 3 before you deploy a threat, so FlickerwispFlickerwisp can save it. Thalia is very important here, as it is a fine clock on its own and lets you stall them out with land disruption while you generate a mana advantage for yourself, so you can land Palace Jailer or Karn in a reasonably safe spot. Sanctum PrelateSanctum Prelate plus Mother of RunesMother of Runes is another way to slow the game (remember not to attack into potential Snapcasters!). Even a single Stoneforge MysticStoneforge Mystic can be enough to force their hand and always make sure they get as little advantage out of their spells as possible. As long as you can keep them from setting up a Jace and get multiple activations, you should generally be fine. I usually get a Sword of Fire and IceSword of Fire and Ice first with Stoneforge, as it is a way to make every threat something they can’t ignore for long.

Revoker/Needle: Jace, the Mind SculptorJace, the Mind Sculptor, Engineered ExplosivesEngineered Explosives

Sanctum Prelate: 1 or 6 (if you have Mother of Runes, usually 6 will be correct but keep in mind that they play Council’s JudgmentCouncil’s Judgment too, so it is not a “hard” lock. Also they can always just double Swords your Mother of Runes.)

Sideboard Against Grixis Control

Sideboard Kolaghan's Command by Daarken

Kolaghan’s Command by Daarken

The numbers

Stock Grixis Control

Lands (21)
Badlands
Bloodstained Mire
Island
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Swamp
Underground Sea
Volcanic Island

Creatures (9)
Baleful Strix
Gurmag Angler
Snapcaster Mage

Spells (30)
Brainstorm
Diabolic Edict
Fatal Push
Force of Will
Hymn to Tourach
Inquisition of Kozilek
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Ponder
Thoughtseize
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Liliana, the Last Hope
Sideboard (15)
Bitterblossom
Blood Moon
Flusterstorm
Hydroblast
Liliana, the Last Hope
Pyroblast
Red Elemental Blast
Spell Pierce
Surgical Extraction
Toxic Deluge

Sideboarding OTP and OTD

Sideboard Out (6)
Swords to Plowshares
Aether Vial
Karakas
Flickerwisp
Sideboard In (6)
Karn, Scion of Urza
Council's Judgment
Rest in Peace
Walking Ballista
Cataclysm

Get on the board!

This matchup is similar to UW Miracles, yet different because they don’t have the same (amount of) mass removal. Instead they have powerful hand disruption, which means that your cards are safer on the battlefield than in your hand. This makes it hard to sandbag threats and come up with a more well thought out game plan based on the context in your hand. Additionally, your equipment and Vials are under more pressure due to Kolaghan’s CommandKolaghan’s Command, which is a very powerful card against you. On the plus side, their fewer mass removals means that it is easier to establish soft locks with Mother and Thalia and to just generally play out whatever you draw, if for no other than reason than to blank any additional discard they might topdeck. They usually only play 1 or 2 Toxic DelugeToxic Deluges or Marsh CasualtiesMarsh Casualties, so sometimes it is correct to just play it all out and hope they don’t have it.

The easiest avenue to victory is to try and manascrew them with WastelandWasteland and Rishadan PortRishadan Port while your creatures beat down. They have a quite fragile manabase with a lot of duals, so a timely Wasteland or Port activation can really mess with their plans. Once they get up to 4 or 5 mana, it can be very hard to deal with their more powerful spells, even through a Thalia, so keeping them on fewer lands is usually A Good ThingTM.

Deny their card advantage

If the mana denial plan doesn’t work out, then the goal is to again try to give them as little (card) advantage as possible from their spells. This can be harder due to the prevalence of removal combined with the Snapcasters as well as Baleful StrixBaleful Strix providing it up front. Your biggest trump is Palace JailerPalace Jailer, and if you can get it into play without immediately losing the Monarch to a surprise Snapcaster or a Strix flying over, you are in a good spot. That is also why I keep 1 Swords to PlowsharesSwords to Plowshares in the deck after board, which generally makes for unfavorable trades against their creatures if not for protecting the precious Monarch. You win this matchup by getting one of your powerful 4-drops to stick without letting any of their planeswalkers (Liliana or Jace) run away with the game.

A part of this strategy is to get to 4 mana in the first place, and due to their discard-heavy approach, I am more keen to keep hands with a lot of mana in them than against UW Miracles, if there is also some utility to them like Port or Karakas. The threats will have to come off the top anyhow, so I just want to be able to cast them when I draw them. Kolaghan’s CommandKolaghan’s Command is a huge beating and there is not much to do to mitigate its effect, especially once they replay it off Snapcaster. As a general rule, I try not to expose equipment until they are either tapped low (so I at least get one hit in) or when I have FlickerwispFlickerwisp ready under Aether VialAether Vial. This is a tough proposition when you are already trying to play around discard, but I still keep in all the equipment so Stoneforge gives back some of the lost card advantage, even if landing a Jitte isn’t the most powerful play in the machup. I tend to keep cards in hand just to protect a Jailer or Karn against Hymn to TourachHymn to Tourach, as Inquisition of KozilekInquisition of Kozilek can’t take it.

You can improve this matchup if you want

Generally a difficult matchup, but as the games typically go long here as well, there are plenty of opportunities to leverage play skill. The decklist can also be geared more heavily towards beating Grixis Control, such as playing more resilient threats like Hallowed SpiritkeeperHallowed Spiritkeeper, Mirran CrusaderMirran Crusader or even more creative (read: narrow) options like Paladin En-VecPaladin En-Vec or Devout LightcasterDevout Lightcaster. I think the issue with a lot of these cards is that they are not necessarily very potent against the rest of the field, which is an issue when playing a deck like D&T without the access to the kind of card selection one might wish for.

Revoker: Jace, the Mind SculptorJace, the Mind Sculptor, Liliana, the Last HopeLiliana, the Last Hope

Sanctum Prelate: 3 or 1 (Toxic DelugeToxic Deluge and Kolaghan’s CommandKolaghan’s Command are their best cards, but Prelate dies to all the one mana removal too)

Sideboard Against Esper Stoneblade

Sideboard True-Name Nemesis by Howard Lyon

True-Name Nemesis by Howard Lyon

The numbers

Stock Stoneblade

Lands (20)
Flooded Strand
Island
Marsh Flats
Plains
Polluted Delta
Scrubland
Swamp
Tundra
Underground Sea

Creatures (12)
Baleful Strix
Snapcaster Mage
Stoneforge Mystic
True-Name Nemesis
Vendilion Clique

Spells (28)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Council’s Judgment
Inquisition of Kozilek
Ponder
Thoughtseize
Brainstorm
Counterspell
Force of Will
Spell Pierce
Swords to Plowshares
Batterskull
Umezawa’s Jitte
Search for Azcanta
Sideboard (15)
Celestial Purge
Containment Priest
Disenchant
Flusterstorm
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Grafdigger’s Cage
Surgical Extraction
Sword of Feast and Famine
Zealous Persecution

Sideboarding OTP and OTD

Sideboard Out (6)
Swords to Plowshares
Palace Jailer
Karakas
Sideboard In (6)
Pithing Needle
Council's Judgment
Karn, Scion of Urza
Leonin Relic-Warder
Sanctum Prelate

Nemesis and Jitte are tough to beat!

This is a tough matchup because their plan is so well set up against you. Umezawa’s JitteUmezawa’s Jitte, True-Name NemesisTrue-Name Nemesis and Jace, the Mind SculptorJace, the Mind Sculptor in combination all make your life very difficult, and it is hard to find a good angle of attack when they also have card selection, card advantage and removal to back it up. Racing them is usually not an option either, so I have found that the best thing to do is attack their mana, as they quite susceptible to being screwed out of executing their game plan if they don’t have ample mana (and of the right colors) available. An opening of WastelandWasteland and Thalia, Guardian of ThrabenThalia, Guardian of Thraben can halt them for quite a while, but an issue with this is, that they can defend themselves quite fine on 3 or even 2 mana (for example with Stoneforge MysticStoneforge Mystic and BatterskullBatterskull), so inevitably they will find more lands and take over the game if you don’t press your advantage. This is also why I add the Sanctum PrelateSanctum Prelate to simply get more starts where you can shut them out of playing their BrainstormBrainstorm and PonderPonder to aid in the mana denial plan by keeping them off their cantrips.

Council’s JudgmentCouncil’s Judgment should be saved for their True-Name NemesisTrue-Name Nemesis if at all possible, whereas Phyrexian RevokerPhyrexian Revoker and Pithing NeedlePithing Needle should mitigate Jace and Jitte. Removal is not terribly potent against them, but due to their equipments, a timely Swords to PlowsharesSwords to Plowshares can buy you a lot of tempo. I bring in Karn, Scion of UrzaKarn, Scion of Urza here, as often you will find yourself in a staring contest with them where the extra card advantage obviously shines. It can also survive 2 hits from True-Name, so it gives you more ways to find a Judgment. This is also the reason I take out 1 Palace JailerPalace Jailer, as its double-edged nature becomes more apparent in this matchup because of True-Name (and even Vendilion CliqueVendilion Clique or Baleful StrixBaleful Strix, if they play it).

Beware the sweepers

Be aware of Zealous PersecutionZealous Persecution and Supreme VerdictSupreme Verdict out of their sideboard, but at the same time put on enough pressure so they cannot resolve and defend a Jace early on. Setting up a strong board and then putting a Prelate on 4 can be a winning play as well (also stops Jace very nicely). I considered boarding in CataclysmCataclysm, but a lot of the time they will just be left with a True-Name and you won’t have gotten much advantage out of it, even if it does take care of Jace.

Overall a very tough matchup, where D&T is the aggressor, and unlike most other matchups, sometimes it is correct against Stoneblade to just close your eyes and pray they don’t have [instert any number of their backbreaking spells against you].

Revoker/Needle: Umezawa’s JitteUmezawa’s Jitte, Jace, the Mind SculptorJace, the Mind Sculptor, Stoneforge MysticStoneforge Mystic, BatterskullBatterskull

Sanctum Prelate: 1 or 4 (for Supreme VerdictSupreme Verdict after board)

Sideboard Against Lands

Sideboard Life from the Loam by Sung Choi

Life from the Loam by Sung Choi

The numbers

Stock Lands

Lands (33)
Barbarian Ring
Bojuka Bog
Dark Depths
Forest
Ghost Quarter
Grove of the Burnwillows
Karakas
Maze of Ith
Misty Rainforest
Rishadan Port
Taiga
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
Thespian’s Stage
Verdant Catacombs
Wasteland
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills

Spells (27)
Crop Rotation
Gamble
Life from the Loam
Punishing Fire
Pyroblast
Exploration
Molten Vortex
Mox Diamond
Sylvan Library
Sideboard (15)
Ancient Grudge
Bayou
Choke
Krosan Grip
Red Elemental Blast
Sphere of Resistance
Thoughtseize
Tireless Tracker

Sideboarding OTP

Sideboard Out (9)
Swords to Plowshares
Phyrexian Revoker
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Umezawa's Jitte
Stoneforge Mystic
Sideboard In (9)
Rest in Peace
Surgical Extraction
Council's Judgment
Pithing Needle
Karn, Scion of Urza
Cataclysm
Sanctum Prelate

Sideboarding OTD

Sideboard Out (9)
Swords to Plowshares
Phyrexian Revoker
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Umezawa's Jitte
Stoneforge Mystic
Sideboard In (9)
Rest in Peace
Surgical Extraction
Council's Judgment
Pithing Needle
Karn, Scion of Urza
Cataclysm
Sanctum Prelate

Sanctum Prelate is essential

Notwithstanding the deck’s many avenues of attack, Lands is in essence a very linear strategy. Get lands in the graveyard, get them back, use Punishing FirePunishing Fire to survive, prosper. This puts a lot of emphasis on the graveyard, which is why Rest in PeaceRest in Peace and Surgical ExtractionSurgical Extraction are your best cards along with Sanctum PrelateSanctum Prelate. That part is easy enough, but then they add the Marit Lage combo as well as card advantage engines like Sylvan LibrarySylvan Library and Tireless TrackerTireless Tracker, and the matchup becomes very complex because Lands can do so many different things. Your first order of business is taking care of Punishing Fire, as it is almost impossible to win if they have it alongside Grove of the BurnwillowsGrove of the Burnwillows. This can be achieved either by graveyard removal or Prelate, which is your no. 1 way to win the game. A Prelate on 2 generally means they have to find Barbarian RingBarbarian Ring or Molten VortexMolten Vortex, both 1-ofs in their deck. Mind you, they can dig for them with GambleGamble and Crop RotationCrop Rotation. Therefore it is only a soft-lock, but add something like Sword of Fire and IceSword of Fire and Ice, or take away their threshold and include a Mother, and it should be elementary from there (oh, as long as you also dodge the Marit Lage kill).

Pithing NeedlePithing Needle names anything from Thespian’s StageThespian’s Stage and Molten VortexMolten Vortex to Rishadan PortRishadan Port, Maze of IthMaze of Ith and even WastelandWasteland to avoid being locked out of mana. Plains are some of your best cards in this matchup, as D&T is quite well set up to beat Lands, but requires the mana to cast your spells. This is also why Thalia comes out, as the spell tax can be more devastating to you than your opponent. CataclysmCataclysm is actually not that great against Lands alone, because they can quickly rebuild with the Life from the LoamLife from the Loam engine, but it is your only reset button if they have had it going for a while already. Always be aware of what they can find with Crop RotationCrop Rotation, as they will usually sandbag it until the most opportune moment, so stay alert! FlickerwispFlickerwisp is a very important card in the matchup too, as taking out a Glacial ChasmGlacial Chasm, The Tabernacle at Pendrell ValeThe Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale or even just resetting a Mox DiamondMox Diamond can be very powerful, so try to save them for the most opportune moments.

Revoker/Needle: Mox DiamondMox Diamond (Revoker only), Molten VortexMolten Vortex, Thespian’s StageThespian’s Stage (Needle only), Rishadan PortRishadan Port (Needle only), WastelandWasteland (Needle only)

Sanctum Prelate: 2, two, too, deux, dos, zwei and tú. Yes it definitely should be 2.

Sideboard Against Mono Red Stompy

Sideboard Blood Moon by Franz Vohwinkel

Blood Moon by Franz Vohwinkel

The numbers

Stock Red Stompy

Lands (19)
Ancient Tomb
City of Traitors
Mountain
Snow-Covered Mountain

Creatures (17)
Goblin Rabblemaster
Hazoret the Fervent
Legion Warboss
Magus of the Moon
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Simian Spirit Guide

Spells (24)
Fiery Confluence
Blood Moon
Chalice of the Void
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Chrome Mox
Ensnaring Bridge
Trinisphere
Sideboard (15)
Abrade
Faerie Macabre
Kozilek’s Return
Scab-Clan Berserker
Sorcerous Spyglass
Sulfur Elemental

Sideboarding OTP and OTD

Sideboard Out (9)
Palace Jailer
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Mother of Runes
Sword of Fire and Ice
Brightling
Sideboard In (9)
Cataclysm
Council's Judgment
Dismember
Path to Exile
Leonin Relic-Warder
Pithing Needle
Sanctum Prelate
Walking Ballista

Basic Plains, the people’s champ!

Welcome to your best matchup! 10 basic Plains + Vial, plenty of removal and reasonably costed threats means that nothing the Monored Blood Moon deck does against you is particularly strong. You are well set up to beat Blood MoonBlood Moon, Ensnaring BridgeEnsnaring Bridge, TrinisphereTrinisphere, Chalice of the VoidChalice of the Void and even Goblin tokens! The ways to lose this game is typically mana screw because of Blood MoonBlood Moon, Magus of the MoonMagus of the Moon or a timely Fiery ConfluenceFiery Confluence, which alongside Chandra, Torch of DefianceChandra, Torch of Defiance are their two biggest threats. Thankfully, a Sanctum PrelateSanctum Prelate on 4 takes care of both of these.

Beware of Sulfur ElementalSulfur Elemental and Kozilek’s ReturnKozilek’s Returnor PyroclasmPyroclasm after sideboard (the reason we board out a lot of the smaller critters), and generally keep hands with enough mana to cast your spells (even through TrinisphereTrinisphere). You are usually not well off using WastelandWasteland on them, as you need the mana more, but Rishadan PortRishadan Port can still be disruptive (and essentially a 2-for-1) by targeting an Ancient TombAncient Tomb or (better yet) a City of TraitorsCity of Traitors.

Fiery Confluence might get you

As long as you can avoid dying to Goblin beats and don’t run into Fiery ConfluenceFiery Confluence, you should be fine. CataclysmCataclysm comes in because they are prone to playing out all cards they draw (because of Ensnaring BridgeEnsnaring Bridge), so you can plan around a reset button, usually involving multiple artifacts on their side, and it also takes care of a Chandra threatening to ultimate (or mitigate the damage post-emblem). Revoker can go on anything from Chrome MoxChrome Mox, Simian Spirit GuideSimian Spirit Guide (doesn’t care about mana abilities) but more commonly Chandra or even Hazoret the FerventHazoret the Fervent. Ensnaring Bridge is no problem for this deck, as you can just wait for your big turn and then play FlickerwispFlickerwisp. Remember that if you have Jitte-counters, you can shrink a Stoneforge MysticStoneforge Mystic once and then pump after declare attackers to net 2 Jitte counters and to do the same thing all over again next turn.

Revoker/Needle: Chandra, Torch of DefianceChandra, Torch of Defiance, Hazoret the FerventHazoret the Fervent

Sanctum Prelate: 4

 

 

This article was written by Thomas Enevoldsen in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com