There’s a fine line between genius and madness, and today I’d like to straddle that line and walk down a dangerous road. Pardon my descent into madness, if you will, but I’ve been itching to write about this for a few days now. I considered just not posting about this until after my next event, but lately I’ve been erring on the side of sharing my work and getting feedback rather than hoarding interesting ideas. Recently I’ve been taking nothing as sacred and I’ve been questioning everything. Today’s article is really going to be a hodgepodge of questions that I’ve been asking myself. I’ve found answers to some of these questions, while I’m still searching for the answers to others. I’d love to hear feedback on this article, as I’m not sure if what I’m doing here is too cute or brilliant.
Are the cards from Conspiracy 2 the real deal?
Yes, most certainly. Sanctum Prelate and Recruiter of the Guard should be in your maindeck in some capacity. If you haven’t played with them, I encourage you to test them; it takes a few games to get used to how it impacts your aggression and decision trees, but the cards are innately very powerful. This list from The Bazaar of Moxen in Paris should give you a good feel for a solid, stock list from here on out. It’s very close to what I’ve been testing and what I posted in my previous article and/or what I’ve run in the past.
Aubert Arnaud, BoM Paris, 3rd place.
What do I cut/trim to make room for the new cards?
This is what keeps me up at night. I think the answer is Serra Avenger and Mirran Crusader, but the deck really does need some amount of evasion and ability to push through stalled boards. Cutting both of these cards would significantly decrease the evasive properties of the deck, so that’s a trade off that must be considered. Cutting Serra Avengers also pushes the curve to be a bit higher than it has been in the past, though that is not innately a bad thing. I would really like to see a two drop flier with more than one toughness with relevant abilities (e.g. lifelink) to help bridge the gap, but many of the options like Selfless Spirit or Kor Skyfisher haven’t quite been what I wanted.
How many tutorable bullets do I play? Which bullets are worth playing?
My initial lists started out with all sorts of cute, conditional cards. I keep cutting things like Adaptive Automaton for being too narrow and not having enough impact. I’m not even sure that we need Mangara of Corondor or Leonin Relic-Warder anymore. I’m finding that I can often get by with tutoring up a Flickerwisp or Revoker and have most of the same functionality. I really like Banisher Priest given the popularity of Delver and Eldrazi decks, and I think having at least one Thalia, Heretic Cathar in the main is a good idea. Other than that, I’d keep your bullets to cards that offer functionality that the deck otherwise would not have, extremely versatile cards, or cards that are hateful enough to win a match on their own. Somewhat hateful cards like Fiendslayer Paladin, Hokori, Dust Drinker, or Stonecloaker are fine, but given how difficult it is to find room in the 75, I can’t quite give those sorts of cards my seal of approval.
What other ideas did you have that didn’t pan out or are on your to-test list?
I wanted Selfless Spirit as a card to protect from sweepers, but too many cards like Terminus and Massacre got around it; it also had one toughness, as is the usual problem with everything I love and hold dear in life. Since I’m already trimming a Mom, this probably isn’t the direction I need to go anyway.
Celestial Crusader might be a viable Gideon, Ally of Zendikar replacement. I primarily want Gideon for Miracles and Shardless, and Celestial Crusader seems theoretically to fill the same sort of role while also being tutorable. Celestial Crusader would be good in the matchups in a very different sort of way, but it has a little more oomph than the Adaptive Automaton I had before. Again, this probably doesn’t make the cut, but I might try it when I have a chance. Since the card wasn’t seeing play previously, I’m skeptical that it would be acceptable now that we can just happen to draw it more frequently. Thalia’s Lieutenant was tossed around on the forums a bit, but I think that isn’t going to quite do enough most of the time, and is really awkward once a Dread of Night is already in play. I’d also consider trying a 1/1 split of Gideon and Elsepth, Knight Errant. If we play more bears without evasion, then being able to push damage in the skies with Elspeth becomes a bit more attractive than it has been in the past.
I considered cards like Hangarback Walker and Custodi Soulbinders, but they didn’t really do anything new. I was interested in the fact that I *could* tutor for them, but the deck doesn’t need big idiots, and you only get tokens from Hangerback if it actually dies, a dubious proposition at best. The cards weren’t efficient enough, though I did stumble onto some useful information by thinking about these. More on that in a minute…
Does adding in the new cards necessitate any other changes to the deck?
I suspect so, though I’m in the early stages of supporting my thoughts with data. I think D&T is going to have fewer cards to sideboard out in many matchups. In the past, it was common to just pull out a bunch of Avengers and Crusaders when they weren’t relevant. Now that Recruiters and Prelates have filled the slots, we may need to adjust some sideboard numbers so that there aren’t wasted slots. Again, I don’t have hard numbers here, it’s just a hunch that I’ll be following up on.
I like Cavern of Souls again given the increased density of humans in the deck. I like the idea of Seal of Cleansing as sideboard card over Council’s Judgment. Seal is a proactive, two-drop play that also only requires a single white. Given that we have more three drops and more to be doing with our mana, this might be a good way to shift our removal. I’m not sure if the Eldrazi and True-Name Nemesis matchups are fine without Council’s Judgment, but that’s what testing is for, after all. In the past I also advocated a pair of Pithing Needle, but if we are going to set Prelate to one all the time, that becomes a touch awkward.
This is the part of the article where we start to get weird. Here we go… I also wonder if the deck still needs 3 Karakas. *record scratch* Okay, let me explain, because I know that’s absolute blasphemy. The primary benefit of Karakas in the past has been to protect Thalia, Guardian of Thraben while also having ancillary benefits in various legendary creature-based matchups like Sneak and Show, Tin Fins, Lands, and Reanimator. The new builds of D&T I’ve been playing have been mana hungrier than most other builds I’ve played in the past. As a result, I’ve really dreaded drawing the second copy of Karakas. I also feel like the deck doesn’t care about it’s creatures as much as it used to. Given the presence of Recruiter, most creatures are much more replaceable than in the past. With the exception of your 1-of bullets, it often does not matter if your creature dies; you can Recruiter for a replacement and redeploy the following turn. If you have an active Vial, it can happen even sooner. Alternatively, your opponent can answer your first threat, paving the way for Prelate to stick around. If we are also frequently tapping out to play three drops or multiple spells, we also won’t be holding up Karakas as frequently. As such, it might just be better to play another land of some nature to decrease the chance of Legend-ruling your own land. Math nerds click here
Okay, if you’re with me so far, bear with me for one more crazy thought. When I started thinking about things that were tutorable, my mind eventually turned to cards with zero power that we could tutor up. While Hangarback Walker wasn’t quite right, as I discussed above, what if we throw a Phyrexian Metamorph in the deck? Metamorph serves as additional copies of our own cards while also having an unparalleled degree of flexability. This was something I started doing in Vintage, and if it works there, why not in Legacy?! You can copy an opposing Baleful Strix to build your own removal spell and draw a card. You can copy an opposing Tarmogoyf to invalidate your opponent’s attacks, buying the rest of your deck time to do its thing. Copying an opposing Reality Smasher or Thought-Knot Seer probably does gross things to your opponent. Heaven forbid if your opponent actually has something spicy in play like a Leovold, Emissary of Trest or a Griselbrand… If your opponent actually plays artifacts, you could wind up with your own Sensei’s Diving Top or piece of equipment as well. Also, Metamorph is very good friends with Flickerwisp. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. The value is real.
Decklist or GTFO!
That wasn’t actually a question, but point taken. Here’s what I’ll be messing around with this week:
This is probably a pretty reasonable list. I couldn’t fit the Crusader in the main while also giving the Metamorph a go, so I just shoved it in the sideboard. While I’ve traditionally been a “play it in the main or not at all” proponent of Crusader, I don’t just hate having a generically good creature in the sideboard to make slight adjustments when I otherwise don’t have strong cards.
Alrighty, that’s all I’ve got for now. Unrelated to the article itself, A couple people emailed me asking if they could donate for the good of the cause. Accordingly, I moved the “Support this Site” tab to top level of the main menu to make it more visible. One of my goals is to eventually start regular video content for D&T, but I’m still pretty far away from that goal on the financial side of things. Alternatively, if you have a digital copy of D&T that is acquiring metaphorical dust, let me know; I’d love to borrow it once Prelate and Recruiter make it to MTGO so I can start pumping out some videos.