Interview with Arnaud Aubert

Arnaud Aubert recently got 3rd at BoM Paris with D&T. He was one of the first to post successful results with D&T in the post-Conspiracy 2 world. He reached out to me to offer his advice and give a run down of how the event went. The following are his responses to my various questions. They appear with some minor editing for clarity and formatting, but without any of my thoughts interjected. For reference, here is his list:

BoM D&T, 3rd Place

Lands (23)
Cavern of Souls
Mishra’s Factory
Karakas
Rishadan Port
Wasteland
10 Plains

Creatures (26)
Banisher Priest
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Sanctum Prelate
Serra Avenger
Mother of Runes
Phyrexian Revoker
Recruiter of the Guard
Stoneforge Mystic
Flickerwisp
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Spells (11)
Batterskull
Sword of Fire and Ice
Umezawa’s Jitte
Æther Vial
Swords to Plowshares
Sideboard (15)
Council’s Judgment
Sword of War and Peace
Rest in Peace
Pithing Needle
Path to Exile
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Containment Priest
Ethersworn Canonist

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your Magic career. About how long have you been playing Magic competitively and how long have you been on D&T?

I’m 43 years old and I live in a small village about 45 miles from Paris. I’ve been playing Magic since 1994, with the exception of a six-year hiatus, and as long as I remember I’ve always enjoyed playing in tournaments. At first I attended large events, but as life went on (children, family life), I switched to smaller events like FNMs. From time to time, my friends and I still go to Legacy GPs or bigger tournaments. I won some small tournaments and I had a day 2 at GP Ghent (I was on Belcher) and GP Lille 2016 (I was on Infect). I have been on D&T for three and a half years, though I played Maverick before that as well. I also played Lands for a year and a half, but decided to switch back to D&T after a horrendous GP Prague.

What sort of preparation did you do for the BoM? Did you have a team that helped you test?

I didn’t have any preparation for the BOM except for a side-event at GP Lille with the usual D&T decklist. I have no team to playtest, however, I have a good friend of mine Franck Filatriau, who is also on D&T, and we do share our thoughts on the deck. He was also on D&T at BOM; after an impressive 4-0, he fell at 4-3 and dropped. His decklist included 2 Recruiter of the Guard in the main, 1 Sanctum Prelate in the sideboard, as well as 1 Mangara of Corondor. During the day before the BoM, I didn’t feel at ease with my deck. I did not playtest and thought that Recruiters and Prelates would be too slow, but I was still eager to play with it.

How did you come to your decisions about card choices and numbers? Many D&T players (myself included) have really been struggling with the number of Serra Avenger, Sanctum Prelate, Mirran Crusader and Thalia, Heretic Cathar.

I know you’re still struggling with Serra Avengers and Mirran Crusaders, but I would advocate for Serra Avengers most of the time; flying and vigilance do matter when you are facing a board with Tarmogoyfs and the like. As for me, 2 is the right number; you have so many great cards in this deck that you can win without any punchers. Serra Avengers are a necessary evil; they do survive Massacre, Dread of Night, Engineered Plague,and have some board presence when they hit the field.

Mirran Crusader is a great puncher for sure, but if you’re facing a board with some number of creatures, it won’t help you that much. At least, you can be pretty sure your opponent will not attack until he finds a way to circumvent your Crusader. I do think that Mirran is less useful than Avenger with the new decklist; most of the time, Recruiter will fetch cards to establish control (Banisher Priest, Prelate, Flickerwisp, Thalia 1&2). So Avenger’s flying & vigilance abilities seem to be better for dealing with the remaining threats.

I was on 2 Prelates. It’s a great card to shut off these pesky spells. One is definitely not enough and three or more can be counterproductive. Also, it’s not a great card when you face the mirror or Eldrazi. I won twice with 2 Prelates on the board and I don’t think I would have won with only one (Punishing Loam and Miracles).

THC was a beast every time she landed. She won me 3 matches. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to play more than one. I think that 2 may be the right number.

Last but not least: the Recruiters. I know that many people tend to think that Recruiter is a tad too slow. In my opinion, Recruiter is the card our deck has been waiting for. He allowed me to win through a chain of Flickerwisps, he fetched back my Terminus’d Prelate twice, and he allowed me to get the Banisher Priest to exile a dreaded Tombstalker when I was at 2 life. When I looked back at BOM Paris, I realized that the Recruiter has been more of a factor in winning games than the Prelate. He brings you card selection, fetching the needed card at the right moment. I went from one to three and never felt it was too much, though 4 would be too much (we need space for other cards ;). As for people saying he’s too slow, well for sure he’s too slow in some matchups (Burn, for example,) but no cards could save you from a turn one kill, a turn one Griselbrand drawing a bunch of cards, or a turn four kill full of burn spells.

What did you play against during the event? How did those matches go, and were there any particularly cool/difficult/noteworthy interactions or scenarios that came up?

In order, I played:
– Punishing Loam (2-0). Recruiter and Prelate for the win.
– Burn (0-2). Prelate was burnt to death.
– Painter (2-0). Recruiter and Prelate for the win.
– Team America (1-1). Recruiter and Prelate prevailed in game 1, but I drew poorly in game two and we drew.
– Junk (2-1). Recruiter prevailed in each game, summoning an army of Flickerwips,
– UB Reanimator (2-1). Containment Priest was a beast.
– Junk Red Splash (2-0) Recruiter, Prelate, and THC prevailing in G1. Recruiter fetched creatures who survived 2 Engineered Plague naming Human.
– Shardless BUG (2-0). Recruiter & THC prevailed in both games.
– Lands (2-0). There was no prevailing card, only pressure.
– Top 8: Miracles (2-1). Recruiter & Prelate prevailed in game one, I fell short of creatures in game two, and THC prevailed in game three.
-Top 4: B/R Reanimator (0-2). Game one, Turn one Griselbrand. Game two, I couldn’t exile the Tidespout Tyrant with Council’s Judgment, as I was missing one white mana (Damn Cavern of Souls!).

The deck was a blast to play, and it never felt it was too slow compared to previous decklists. Recruiter/Flickerwisp/Vial allowed me some tricks I would have never dreamed of with the old decklist. I met the Team America player at the end of the tournament, and he told me he crushed the 2 other D&T he faced. He said that the new version of D&T was far more resilient than he originally thought.

If you were to play in another large event sometime soon, would you change any of the cards in your 75? Why or why not?

As I said before (Editor’s note: in a previous email not included here), I will attend the European Eternal Weekend in Paris (22nd of October). I would change 2 cards in my 75. I’d bring another THC in place of a Flickerwisp in the main; 4 Flickerwisps are a bit too much as we have Recruiters. I’d also bring a Faerie Macabre or Relic of Progenitus instead of a Rest in Peace in the sideboard to fight more efficiently the Reanimator matchup. Moreover, Faerie Macabre can be fetched through Recruiter.

Do you have any other thoughts about the deck that you want to share or any advice for newer D&T players?

My first goal, when I did play at the BOM, was to prove that D&T was still a force to be reckoned with. D&T is one of the most rewarding decks, but also one of the most difficult to master (there was a lot of players on D&T at BOM Paris but there were only to 3 that reached top 32). Newer D&T players must be ready for not reaching top 8 during the first months or years. :) D&T doesn’t forgive the slightest mistake. Even if one attains true mastery with the deck, one must know by heart each deck he will face one day or another.

About the Author

Phil Gallagher

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