Legacy is Amazing! D&T…Not So Much!

I don’t consider myself an excellent deckbuilder. I am, however, an amazing tinkerer. Given a starting point, I can run with an idea, adapt it, and tune it well. That’s one of my biggest strengths as a player. That’s partially why D&T is appealing to me as a deck choice; I’m great at getting a read on the format and adjusting appropriately. Right now, the format is open, with tons of room for innovation and experimentation. I’ve probably had more fun playing Legacy in the past month than I have had in years. I’ve seen all sorts of crazy and interesting decks come out of the woodwork, and I’ve taken bits and pieces of what I’ve seen here and there to heart. As a player, the Top ban feels great to me, and I love what it has done to the format.

That being said, the Top ban really hurt D&T as an archetype. My initial advice after the ban was “Don’t play traditional D&T.” I stick by those words. Let me show you what I mean.

Phil Gallagher, 3-Color Taxes. 4th at a Team Constructed Event

Creatures (23)
Phyrexian Revoker
Flickerwisp
Magus of the Moon
Mother of Runes
Orzhov Pontiff
Palace Jailer
Recruiter of the Guard
Stoneforge Mystic
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Lands (24)
Plains
Arid Mesa
Cavern of Souls
Flooded Strand
Marsh Flats
Plateau
Rishadan Port
Scrubland
Wasteland
Windswept Heath
Karakas

Spells (13)
Aether Vial
Batterskull
Chalice of the Void
Sword of Fire and Ice
Blessed Alliance
Umezawa’s Jitte
Sideboard (15)
Sword of War and Peace
Ethersworn Canonist
Containment Priest
Cunning Sparkmage
Manic Vandal
Mirran Crusader
Orzhov Pontiff
Palace Jailer
Blessed Alliance
Surgical Extraction

Bahra, 3-Color Taxes. 5-0 on MTGO

Creature (23)
Flickerwisp
Magus of the Moon
Mirran Crusader
Mother of Runes
Palace Jailer
Phyrexian Revoker
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Recruiter of the Guard
Stoneforge Mystic
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Instant (2)
Dismember

Artifact (11)
Batterskull
Chalice of the Void
Sword of Fire and Ice
Umezawa’s Jitte
Aether Vial

Land (24)
Cavern of Souls
Flooded Strand
Karakas
Plains
Plateau
Rishadan Port
Wasteland
Windswept Heath
Sideboard (15)
Palace Jailer
Containment Priest
Cunning Sparkmage
Ethersworn Canonist
Faerie Macabre
Mindbreak Trap
Orzhov Pontiff
Surgical Extraction
Sword of War and Peace

Christian Reinhard, RW Taxes, 5th Place at Lucerne

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

Instants (4)
Swords to Plowshares

Artifacts (7)
Aether Vial
Sword of Fire and Ice
Umezawa's Jitte
Batterskull

Lands (23)
Plateau
Wasteland
Karakas
Rishadan Port
Cavern of Souls
Arid Mesa
Horizon Canopy
Plains
Sideboard (15)
Pithing Needle
Manriki-Gusari
Ethersworn Canonist
Containment Priest
Faerie Macabre
Rest in Peace
Crackdown
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Council's Judgment
Cataclysm

Do you notice the common thread here? It’s Moon Man. Magus of the Moon is the card that I attribute most of my wins to in the past few weeks. I was going to write a tournament report for the Team Constructed event I played; however, I realized that it just would have been a love letter to Magus, with a slight aside for an amusing anecdote about a Ruric Thar, the Unbowed being forced to attack into my Mother of Runes wielding Umezawa’s Jitte turn after turn. Magus has locked out so many of my opponents, and gotten me out of a few spots that I considered largely unwinnable. Combined with Chalice of the Void, the version of D&T that Bahra and I are both messing around with has a much greater ability to lock opposing decks out of the game than previous iterations of the deck. Both versions are heavily geared to beat Elves and Storm, while not giving up too many percentage points elsewhere. Losing Swords to Plowshares is a very real cost though, and various workarounds are all lackluster in some way.

I have played a ton of shameful, terrible cards in the past few weeks. I’ve registered lists with Basilisk Collar, Ajani Vengeant, Ancient Tomb, Dismember, and Thalia, Heretic Cathar, to name a few. Why am I trying all of these oddities? Because normal, monowhite D&T isn’t a clear Tier 1 deck anymore. It does not have good matchups against the field. While it probably isn’t a bad deck, I do not recommend taking it to a tournament at this time if you want to maximize your chance of winning (unless you are *extremely* experienced with the deck).

I had previously written a long explanation on why and how that was true, and that was the crux of this article. Then Julian Knab put out one of the most impressive, data-driven articles that I’ve ever read. I now had the data necessary to back up my intuition and claims. Here’s the link.. I suggest that you take the time to read this article if you are a serious Legacy player (and while you are there, the rest of his content is top-notch as well…). If nothing else, please take a moment and take a look at the D&T win percentage chart about halfway down the page. What immediately follows is an extension of the things Julian wrote and the data that his team collected.

D&T had an abysmal showing in Frankfort, with a 41% win rate across 28 players and 199 matches. That’s a large datapool, so the results aren’t to be dismissed as simply a bad day for one or two pilots. What’s further disconcerting is that many of the matchups that many pilots perceive as positive for D&T went terribly. D&T had a 25% win rate against Grixis Delver and 38% win rate against ANT. I’ve always regarded Grixis Delver as an even or slightly favorable matchup. ANT historically has been a pretty even matchup. Those numbers are lower than what I would have expected. Of the 11 most popular decks there, D&T only put up positive numbers against 3 of them. Of those, D&T had a 100% win rate against Infect, which I believe is a unfavorable matchup for D&T in most cases. Show and Tell is supposed to be a bye, or at least that’s the common thought since D&T has so many annoying tools against it; D&T scraped by with a 54% win rate. The rest of the chart spells similar doom for D&T, with it taking a real pounding against Elves and Bant Deathblade in particular.

Monowhite felt anemic to me. I didn’t feel like I could just show up to an event with traditional D&T and expect to slog through the sea of Elves and fast combo; the resurgence of True-Name Nemesis didn’t help either. I didn’t feel like I had all the tools I wanted, and I felt like things just kept narrowly slipping through my fingers. The data supports my gut feeling. The D&T lists played by these players were perhaps not optimal, holding on to too many cards from the Miracles-era. The opposing decks probably had a little more room for sideboard hate for creatures now that they didn’t have to try and beat Miracles. Elves running around certainly stomped on a few D&T players. Some players may have overestimated D&T’s viability in the new format, and boarded extra hate for it. Maybe many players have recently picked up the deck given the reprints that have made the deck relatively budget friendly. Some combination of these things left D&T in the dust in Frankfurt. Even the three RW Taxes decks there did not fare particularly well, only outperforming traditional D&T by 3%. That may be an indication that drastically changing the deck or going into the third color is necessary.

It was not just this event either. If we look at the data from SCG Louisville, D&T did not make day 2 of the event. Now, since that was a team event, we do need to take that data with a grain of salt. That does, however, mean that any D&T players at the event (who were committed to playing that weekend and didn’t have the option of switching decks) would have played in the Legacy Classic for another shot at prizes. D&T didn’t top 16 that event either… Looking at the top 16, I can’t say that I’m surprised. There are just a bunch of unfavorable matchups floating around ranging from Food Chain to Belcher to Elves.


If you still want to force D&T, I’d recommend trying one of the lists I posted above or this one if you think cutting Swords is blasphemy.

3-Color Taxes, No Chalice

Lands (24)
Wasteland
Rishadan Port
Scrubland
Arid Mesa
Cavern of Souls
Flooded Strand
Windswept Heath
Plains
Plateau
Karakas

Creatures (25)
Mother of Runes
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Stoneforge Mystic
Recruiter of the Guard
Magus of the Moon
Flickerwisp
Phyrexian Revoker
Orzhov Pontiff
Palace Jailer
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Mirran Crusader

Other Spells (11)
Aether Vial
Swords to Plowshares
Umezawa’s Jitte
Sword of Fire and Ice
Batterskull
Sideboard: (15)
Surgical Extraction
Containment Priest
Ethersworn Canonist
Cunning Sparkmage
Orzhov Pontiff
Manic Vandal
Manriki-Gusari
Palace Jailer
Council’s Judgment
Rest in Peace

My personal Legacy notepad file (because I’m cool like that) currently has over a dozen decklists that I want to try. Of those, only one is a D&T deck. I have attributed so many of my wins recently to Magus of the Moon and Chalice of the Void rather than the core of my D&T deck. Accordingly, I want to try messing around with other similar shells. Going back to the Frankfurt data for a moment, Dragon Stompy had the second highest win percentage of the event at 57%. Julian was kind enough to provide me with a nice graph of that data. Big Red had an solid 54% win rate, the same rate as Legacy favorite Sneak and Show. I’m particularly excited about trying this build:

Red Prison, multiple MTGO finishes by Reinardbr

Planeswalker (5)
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Koth of the Hammer

Creature (14)
Hazoret the Fervent
Magus of the Moon
Quicksmith Rebel
Simian Spirit Guide
Sin Prodder

Sorcery (4)
Fiery Confluence

Artifact (15)
Chalice of the Void
Chrome Mox
Ensnaring Bridge
Trinisphere

Enchantment (4)
Blood Moon

Land (18)
Ancient Tomb
City of Traitors
10 Mountain
Sideboard (15)
Trinisphere
Ashen Rider
Leyline of the Void
Sudden Shock
Sulfur Elemental
Volcanic Fallout

This deck just gets to throw haymaker after haymaker, and every piece of hate is devastating. This might be what I’m trying to do with D&T, but a bit more aggressive in terms of speed and degree of hate. I think I quite like it conceptually. I’m working on getting the pieces now, so I haven’t done any testing with this version. I have played other similar versions in the past, and based on my experience there, I believe this deck has the potential to be more than just a flash in the pan. I’m not sure that I’m sold on the sideboard as is, but I’m not going to critique it until I have games in under my belt with their 75.


For those of you who want to stick to a monowhite D&T build due to budgetary reasons or card availability issues, things are a little rough. Not unwinnable by any means, but you may notice a real downtick in your event performance relative to the Miracles era. I would recommend lowering your curve a little bit, and playing a few more cards that hate on the new popular decks. Ethersworn Canonist, for example, is a card that has strong overlap in the Elves and Storm matchups. Michael Bonde recently played 4 Ethersworn Canonist in the sideboard of his Legacy Primer League deck. Reddit user Douges has been messing around with Aven Mindcensor and Warping Wail as options in an Ancient Tomb-driven D&T build. A few people have also been trying Mindbreak Trap as an option over slower hate as a way to insure that Thalia and friends will have time to make it to the party against Storm.


I’d like to end today’s article with a handful of things to peruse at your leisure. There have been a ton of results in the past week or so, and the format is really starting to shake up. If you have an event coming up soon, like Vegas, you’ll want to have your finger to the pulse on the format. These things will likely help you do that. Or you can just wait a few more days for Sean Brown to break it down for you…you know, whatever works for you.

Legacy Challenge
Lucerne
SCG Legacy Classic
SCG Team Constructed
Brainstorm Show’s Podcast
Sean Brown’s Analysis of Japanese Events and the Legacy Challenge

About the Author

Phil Gallagher

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