“It’s just not fair. You just make your opponent not play Magic, then you somehow kill them. They just sit there and say, “Man, none of my cards did anything.” And you get to ask them why they didn’t build their decks better. I mean, I’m playing creatures with power and toughness. Your game plan is to get a Sphere of Resistance into play and then just destroy their lands with Wasteland and Mangara of Corondor. The difference is that your Sphere of Resistance gets to attack them. You want to negate your opponent’s strategy, but not like a control deck does, where you are looking to have all of the right answers. Here, you want to have all of the right threats to make their cards effectively do nothing. That’s why it’s not fair. They don’t get to play Magic.” -Ari Lax
In development since Time Spiral came out, Death and Taxes has become a peculiar kind of control deck. Since disruptive creatures are doing most of the controlling, D&T looks like little more than white weenie to the casual observer. In reality, D&T is a creature-based control deck that focuses on invalidating the opposing deck. The goal is to aggressively land creatures while creating a difficult environment for the opposing deck. D&T never establishes complete control over the game; the deck wins by delaying or negating elements of the opponent’s strategy while its creatures nip at their life total.
As a mono-colored deck, it lacks the raw power of some of the many-color decks that you will be facing. But Legacy is perennially overloaded with decks trying to eke out every drop from their lands. This results in unstable manabases that can be ransacked. D&T arguably has the strongest mana denial suite in the format in part because it gets to use more of its lands to deprive those same greedy decks of their mana. This element alone will win plenty of games.
D&T is not especially fast. The control is not particularly powerful. It does not have a killer combo finish. It does not even have any especially broken cards. What it does have is a strategy that dismantles the engines of other decks and the ability to coax them into playing its game instead of their own. To pilot the deck close to its potential, you must have detailed knowledge of both your deck and your opponent’s deck. Learning both your deck plus basically every deck you will face is a daunting task, especially in Legacy, but it is the nature of this deck. The upside of playing D&T for years is that the deck’s win percentage scales favorably with experience. The deck is great at putting itself into winning situations and creating opportunities to win despite seemingly impossible odds; however, knowing how to put yourself in those situations takes ages to perfect. Welcome to Thraben University, a site that aims to teach you how to put yourself in those winning situations.
“Death and Taxes is a set of lock picks and tumblers like a rogue or burglar might have. Magic decks all have weak spots, but their speed and agility effectively hide those weaknesses under lock and key. To exploit them you just have to get past their locks. If you happen upon one of the discussion threads for this deck, you are bound to read conversations about what the weaknesses are for every other deck and how to pick its lock. D&T’s cards are not specific answers to any particular opponent. Rather, they are hook picks and snake wrenches that can be used to dismantle any opponent.” -Daniel “Finn” Payne (father of D&T)