Bill Li won a 1K Event in Seattle with D&T and offered to write up his experience. The content that follows is his, though I’ve done a bit of editing here and there. -Phil
Cowards Can’t Block Warriors
Hello everyone! My name is Bill Li, and I am a dedicated Death and Taxes player from Seattle, Washington. I have only been playing Magic for 5 years, starting with Theros, and I have played Legacy for about 3 years (since GP Seattle in 2015). I have played Death and Taxes for the entirety of my Legacy career. I am very lucky to be living in Seattle, being surrounded by a great Legacy scene and some of the best Legacy players in the US. Over the weekend I won the monthly Legacy 1K, coming out on top against 68 of best players in the area. The list that I chose to play last weekend is a heavy reflection of our local meta game in Seattle. There is always a lot of Miracles and Grixis Control present in Seattle, so I wanted to adjust my flex slots to beat those decks.
Bill Li, Seattle 1K
Main Deck Choices
1x Brightling – With the large presence of Miracles, I felt that Brightling was the best card you can have in that match up, especially when paired with Vial.
3x Mirran Crusader – On the other hand, there are also a lot of Grixis decks running around, so Mirran Crusader is your best bet against them. It is also good versus Death’s Shadow, which has been picking up steam in our meta.
1x Sanctum Prelate – I wanted a bit more disruption and I found that Sanctum Prelate is randomly good in a lot of situations. It stops problematic sources of card advantage like Terminus, Life from the Loam, and Punishing Fire while also instantly winning the game against some decks like Storm.
23 lands – While some people have been testing 24 lands recently, I wanted fewer lands because of all the grindy match ups I expected. If I was running 24, I would board out a land in the grindy games anyway; this decision should help me a bit in those match ups in game 1.
2x Surgical Extraction – I wanted a tool that can help me combat both Lands and Aggro Loam. My friends talked to Bob Huang, and he said that Aggro Loam is the best chalice deck right now; accordingly, I wanted some graveyard hate that can deal with annoying cards permanently.
2x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar – I used to be a big Cataclysm fan, but the more matches I play and test with Gideon, the better I like it in grindy match ups. It is a proactive card that can press your advantage; Cataclysm is more reactive card that sometimes takes some setup or careful planning to be effective.
Matches and Sideboarding
Round 1 Vs Goblins (0-2)
Funny story, I played this match so badly that I almost left after the first round. In game 1, he played Mountain and passed for the first two turns, so I assumed he was playing Red Prison. Turn 3 he played a Goblin Matron and I knew I was in trouble. My Jitte was destroyed by Goblin Trashmaster, and it was all downhill from there. I chose not to Swords his Goblin Sharpshooter, opting to remove another creature to try and go for a quick kill. It did not work out.
Sideboard: +2 Paths, +1 Sword of War and Peace, +1 Recruiter of the Guard, -3 Thalia, -1 Prelate
I played game 2 better… because I didn’t play much at all. I mulliganed a mediocre 7, looking for a 1 mana removal spell, but kept a 6 without one. He had a double Goblin Lackey start and put in Goblin Ringleader. GG.
I was just making so many mistakes that I wanted to just take the day off and go home. I stepped outside to get some fresh air to “untilt” myself. My mentality about Magic is that “I just need to win the next one.” I think having a good mental state is crucial to playing Magic well, so after taking some deep breaths, I was ready for round 2.
Round 2 Vs. Grixis Control (2-1)
This was a friend of mine who was trying some sweet tech: a 1 of Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. Game 1 I had a pretty sick read on him where I had a Vial on 2 and he passed the turn with 3 mana open. I smelled a Kolaghan’s Command and expected that he was going to 2 for 1 me at the end of his turn. I did not put in a creature at the end of the turn and went to my turn. With the Vial trigger on the stack, he decided to pull the trigger because with a Vial on 3, I can Flickerwisp the vial to save it. I activated in response to put in a Revoker on Liliana, the Last Hope and discarded an otherwise dead Swords to Plowshares. My vial exploded, but the trade wasn’t a blowout for me. Unfortuantely, I did not see a Recruiter, and he out grinded me for a game 1 win.
Sideboard: +1 Recruiter, +2 Council’s Judgment, +2 Gideon, +2 Rest in Peace, -4 Swords, -2 Revoker, -1 Prelate
Games 2 and 3 played out the same way. I utilized Port to its maximum potential, choking his mana for a long time while I was deploying threats off a Vial.
Round 3 Vs. BUG Nic Fit (2-0)
Game 1 he played Tropical Island into a Mirri’s Guile. I wasn’t 100% sure what this meant, but I immediately thought he was on some deck that needed lands. He played a Underground Sea and Ponder. I untaped and slammed a Thalia. It resolved. He missed his next land drops, and then I Wastelanded him. He concedes.
Sideboard: +2 Rest in Peace, + 2 Council’s Judgment, -4 Swords
He started game 2 by casting a Cabal Therapy; that’s when I knew he was playing a Veteran Explorer deck. He names Thalia and gets 1 copy of it from my hand. I play my Vial and pass. He then made a play that seemed very strange to me. He fetches for a Dryad Arbor and sacrifices it to flashback Therapy, taking my Stoneforge. I top deck a Port and lock him out of the game.
Round 4 vs Maverick (2-0)
Playing against another friend of mine this round and I knew he was on Maverick. My knowledge of the match up has historically swung this match up in my favor, but his sideboard cards are very potent. Game 1 started off with a Mom war. I found a Flickerwisp to break the stalemate and equipped Jitte to it. When I attacked he flashed in Scryb Ranger. He goes to blocks and activates his Mom. In response I activate my Mom, but then he Swords my Mom. I had to recruit for a Revoker to shut off his Mom so I could finally connect with Jitte. The game was over after that.
Sideboard- +2 Paths +2 Council’s Judgment, +1 Relic Warder, -4 Thalia, -1 Prelate
Game 2 he plays out a Shali, Voice of Plenty. While this card can be really annoying, I flickered it out for a turn. This allowed me to connect with Jitte and shoot down his summoning sick Mom before the Shali and Mom combo kept me from ever interacting with his creatures again.
Round 5 Vs. Burn (2-0)
Game 1 was a nail biter. I dealt with his creatures early and he was stuck on 1 land for a couple turns. I started to Port him; for the first two turns he Bolted me in response, but after that he did not do much. I played out a Wasteland, intending to destroy my own Port at some point to play around Price of Progress. He played a Barbarian Ring as his second land. I decide to Waste it and kept Porting. I got a hit in with Batterskull and it was gg at that point.
Sideboard- +2 Canonist, +2 Council’s Judgment, +1 Sword of War and Peace, -3 Mirran crusader, -2 Revoker
Game 2 he got my Mom on turn 2 with Searing Blaze and I was in trouble. I exile two of his creatures and finally get a Stoneforge, which puts in a Batterskull. He makes the mistake of waiting to Smash to Smithereens my Batterskull until after I had untapped; I bounced my Batterskull in response. He then floods out and it was over.
Round 6 Vs. Miracles (2-0)
This was one of my camera matches and it was probably one of the best Miracles matches I’ve ever played. The game starts out with me playing a Stoneforge on turn 2 and getting Sword of Fire and Ice; he immediately removes my Stoneforge with a Swords, as expected. He then plays an Island and passes. I know that he is on the Accumulated Knowledge build, so I suspected that he’s going to cycle one at the end of my turn. I play a Mom and pass the turn. He indeed casts Accumulated Knowledge. On his upkeep, I chose to port his Island. If he has a Swords, I don’t want my Port activation to feel wasted. He Brainstorms in response, and then plays a Volcanic Island and Ponder.
At this point, I had another hard read on my opponent: he is looking for lands. Volcanic Island is not the land that Miracles wants to play out in the early game (or even at all!,) and he chose to shuffle with Ponder. This suggests to me that he is not in a great position. I untap and made the best attack of my life. I attack with Mother of Runes and then play out a Flickerwisp with the intention of flickering my Port to tax his mana. He Forces the Flickerwisp, which suggests to me that he does not have any removal what so ever. He untaps and plays Snapcaster Mage, targeting Ponder, looking for another land. He does find a Flooded Strand, but I still don’t believe that he has removal. I cast the Sword of Fire and Ice I got with the Stoneforge, suspecting that he doesn’t have another counterspell. I equip it to Mom and that took over the game. He played Jace next turn, and I just ignored it and kept pressuring my opponent’s life total. I then play a Revoker and he Forces again. Knowing that he has no removal, I commit my Thalia as well.
Playing against Miracles, Mom can be a huge trap. By leaving up Mom and feeling safe to commit more creatures, you are very soft to Terminus or Supreme Verdict. To make it worse, after they wrath you and your Mom is gone, their Swords are live again. Attacking with Mom could be the right play sometimes when you get a read on your opponent. Mom has 1 power for a reason!
Sideboard: +2 Canonist, +1 Recuiter, +2 COuncil’s Judgment, +1 Sword of War and Peace, + 2 Gideon, -3 Mirran Crusader -4 Swords, -1 Jitte
Game 2 was very anticlimactic after what happened in game 1. He mulled to 5, which was rough for him. He Ponders off an Island turn 1 and plays out a Volcanic Island turn 2. I sense that he is weak on lands again. I Port him and then follow up with Thalia and Karakas on the following turn. I then Wasted his Volcanic Island and it was over at that point.
5-1, I was locked for the top 8!
Round 7 (ID)
I drew with my Eldrazi opponent, who I would later face in the finals.
Top 8 match Vs Storm (2-0)
This match was against James Johnson or as he is known on MTGO “jjthegiantslayer.” Many consider him the best Storm player in the state and he is also a close friend of mine. I mulligan to 5 cards with 2 Vials, a Mom, and 2 lands. I kept and scryed a land to the bottom. He used a Duress to grab one of my Vials. I then play out Mom instead of the Vial. I committed to this line not because I want to protect my creatures, but because I wanted to get him dead. By attacking with Mom, he might draw fewer cards with Ad Nauseum. It so happened that decision was rewarded in the next few turns. On the next turn his Thoughtseize took my other Vial. I draw a Flickerwisp and hit him for 1 with Mom. He then goes for the main phase Ad Nauseum with 1 black floating (he also already made his land drop). He flips a Dark Petition that took him down to 3 life. If I did not attack with Mom, he would have been at 4 and potentially would have gambled on taking another card or two. He stopped here, and I top decked a Thalia. Check it out.
Sideboard- +2 Canonist, +2 Rest in Peace, +2 Surgical, -4 Swords, -1 Stoneforge, -1 Jitte
Game 2 was more about how I sequenced my hate pieces. I first played my Canonist since I want to play around Dread of Night. He answers my Canonist with Abrupt Decay. I play out my Thalia, leaving up Karakas. I had a Wasteland I could have played, but chose not to; if he kills my Thalia too, I would be in bad shape. He already played out 2 Lotus Petal, so my follow up Phyrexian Revoker feels great. I then had the choice to play Rest in Peace, Sanctum Prelate, or play Mom and Port my opponent. I chose to cast Mom and Port. Since he only had two lands, it would be very hard to go off even if he top decked a land; I wanted Mom to protect me against Chain of Vapor and Fatal Push. I then chose to play Prelate on two because of my previous knowledge that he has 2 Cabal Ritual in hand. I debated playing out the Rest in Peace instead, but it seemed like Prelate turned off more outs. I attack with Mom again, because even with 1 piece of removal, he cannot combo off and I wanted a two turn clock. I got very lucky game 2 and drew very well.
Top 4 Match Vs Miracles (2-1)
Game 1 was very straight forward. I was on the play and kept a Vial hand. He Forced the Vial and I was pretty sad… until I drew another Vial! This one landed and it quickly took over the game.
Sideboard: +2 Canonist, +1 Recuiter, +2 COuncil’s Judgment, +1 Sword of War and Peace, + 2 Gideon, -3 Mirran Crusader -4 Swords, -1 Jitte
Game 2 was very tough. I kept a double Vial hand this time, but he played a Pithing Needle to stop my Vials on turn 2. Trying to tax my opponent’s resources while also deploying enough threats on the draw is very difficult, and I quickly lost.
Game 3 was incredible. He has the Pithing Needle for my Vial again, but this time I have the Council’s Judgment to answer it. This was crucial because I ended up with three Vials in play over the course of this game. I draw a Mom and a Revoker in the coming turns and put them in with Vial. I named Jace with Revoker and he plays out a Jace next turn… something was not right. I draw a card and it was a Sanctum Prelate He had a Snapcaster Mage in play so I couldn’t attack and kill the Jace. He draws and announces theTerminus trigger. I stop him and activate Vial on 3 in response, putting in the Sanctum Prelate on 6. Everyone went crazy.
I then top deck a Recruiter, which gets me a Stoneforge Mystic and a Sword of Fire and Ice. The attack with Recruiter wielding the sword drops him down to 13. The card I drew off the sword was another Recruiter. He miracles an Entreat the Angels to make 4 angels. I vial in my second Recuiter to get another Stoneforge and Vialed that in to get Sword of War and Peace. After doing some quick math, I realize that I have lethal. I equip to the same Recruiter and give my Revoker pro white to attack for lethal. My opponent was tapped out, so I won the match and moved on to the finals. This is a pretty big moment for me, as I have never made it to the finals of a Legacy tournament and have never won a tournament in my 5 years of playing Magic.
Finals Vs Eldrazi (2-1)
Eldrazi Stompy I found historically to be a very coin flippy match up. The player that is on the play usually takes the game. The main way to combat this deck is with mana disruption and Stoneforge Mystic.
Game 1 I opened up with a Wasteland and 6 other playable cards, which I kept. He plays an Ancient Tomb and a Jitte on turn 1. On my turn, I chose to Wasteland him; if he can’t deploy his threats, the Jitte will be less relevant. I’m sort of hoping he has an awkward draw that I can take advantage of. He plays an Eldrazi Temple and passes. I top deck another Wasteland and I fire it off again for the same reason. We then both pass, making our land drops. He plays a City of Traitors into Thought-Knot Seer, which I remove in response to the trigger. He takes my Stoneforge, but I still have the tools I need to win.
At this point, I’m pretty close to stabilizing and taking over the game. Over the next few turns, I assemble Thalia, Vial on 2, and Karakas alongside Rishadan Port. I’m able to invalidate his creatures and Jitte while also forcing him to sacrifice his City of Traitors. I continue Port my opponent off of anything relevant and take over the game.
Sideboard- +2 Paths to Exile, +2 Council’s Judgment, +1 Leonin Relic Warder, -4 Thalia, -1 Mom
I board out Thalia against Eldrazi because this game is all about my non-creature spells. I don’t want to tax my strongest cards with Thalia and lose too much tempo.
Game 2 was a close one. He starts off with an Eldrazi Mimic into a Thought-Knot Seer, a very aggressive start. I started on an Aether Vial, but the Thought-Knot ate my only piece of removal. Luckily, I top deck a Path to Exile… but he slams an Endless One for 6. I Path the Thought-Knot because I have a Flickerwisp in hand to blink and kill the Endless One. Unfortunately, my opponent played a Walking Ballista for two, which heavily warps the game. I used a Recruiter to get a Leonin Relic-Warder to try and answer it. It’s possible that I should have gotten a Stoneforge instead to try to build up a board that could push me ahead, but my opponent’s follow up Thought-Knot ends the game.
Game 3 was very anticlimactic again, as my opponent mulled to four. My Council’s Judgment answered his Jitte, one of his few ways to come back from a mull to 4. My card advantage took over the game after that.
I won. I won a tournament for the first time in my 5 years of playing Magic. I played very tight this weekend and got a lot of good reads on my opponents, but you cannot win a tournament without some luck as well. My deck choice felt pretty solid for the Seattle meta. I have recently seen that Palace Jailer is picking up popularity, but I have never been a big fan of that card. It costs a lot and could be very clunky in a lot of match ups. All of my sideboard cards were relevant and I don’t regret any of my choices.
Going forward into the world with Assassin’s Trophy, I do anticipate the deck to stay relatively the same. Mirran Crusader looks great against any Assassin’s Trophy deck, and D&T has historically been good vs BUG and other BG decks.
I have one final piece of advice for all D&T players: mulligan aggressively. You do not normally win games with hands that just have random spells and some lands. If you know what your opponent is playing, you can mulligan aggressively for a hand that is good for the match up. Use your match up knowledge to help you win! Don’t just focus on the board, but anticipate what your opponent is going to do next and adjust your play to that.
Finally, I would like to thank Jordan Aisaka for being a great friend, a troll, and a mentor. We have a friend group called the “Boldwyr Intimidators,” and as they say, “Cowards can’t block warriors.” I have learned a lot about Legacy from all of my friends in Seattle and I would like to thank each and every one of them as well.
Thanks for reading my article and thank you Phil for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts with this wonderful community that you built up.
Thank you again,