Where is your sideboarding guide?

You won’t find a sideboarding guide on this site.  I’m a big believer that sideboarding guides are a crutch to your development as a player.  Sideboard guides also become obsolete quickly, as changing a single card often completely changes what you want to do in a given matchup.  You’ll find plenty of discussion about how to sideboard in the matchup section of the site, but even there, I don’t always provide exact numbers for you.  I hope to teach your what you should be doing, not exactly which cards and how many copies should come in and out. Understanding what you should be doing in a matchup is much better for you in the long run than a decontextualized sideboarding guide.  Truth be told, I often sideboard the same matchup drastically different depending on the playstyle of my opponent!

Should I play Surgical Extraction or Faerie Macabre?
Generally speaking, Surgical Extraction is the more powerful and versatile card. Being able to rip all of the copies of something like Life from the Loam, Punishing Fire, Bridge from Below, or Ichroid from your opponent’s deck is noticeably more powerful than stopping just a single copy as games go long. Surgical Extraction will come in for more matchups than Faerie Macabre, but Surgical does play poorly with Thalia (which is often good in the matchups where you bring in Surgical). Faerie is largely only superior in the BR Reanimator matchup, where it is tutorable with Recruiter of the Guard, avoids the Chancellor of the Annex trigger, and can hit multiple different creatures to blank an Exhume. There are other marginal differences as well, such as Duress being able to take a Surgical, or Vialing in a Faerie for a few points of late-game damage. If you are expecting a large amount of BR Reanimator, Faerie will likely perform better than Surgical. If you are expecting a more varied metagame, Surgical is likely to perform better.

Which is better in the sideboard: Cataclysm or Gideon?
Both cards are reasonable and have their own strengths. Cataclysm can sweep planeswalkers off the board, deal with specialized decks (e.g. Enchantress), and wreck decks that rely on having many lands (e.g. Miracles, Big Eldrazi). Cataclysm tends to be a bit better when you are behind, but there are some spots where you simply cannot cast it out of fear of losing the game or sacrificing too many permanents.

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is a more flexible card. It serves as counter hate to -1/-1 effects, produces bodies turn after turn against control decks, and presents an incredibly swift clock when left unchecked. Gideon is a bit worse when you are behind on board, as there is a fear of the token being removed and then it dying to your opponent’s creature. When you are ahead or at parity though, he will warp a game around him very quickly.

Is Dire Fleet Daredevil Worth playing?
The card allows us to do some unusual things. Getting to Brainstorm or Ponder in a deck that normally cannot is powerful. The card has a high ceiling for how good it can be, but you just have to accept that it has a floor of being a hard-to-cast 2/1 with first strike. I am not convinced that the card is of a consistent enough power level to be worth it, but I’m not to test it for a few more weeks. It does occasionally do something insane like Bolt your opponent for lethal or let you flash back critical cards. Be warned, it does play poorly with a few of our cards, especially Thalia and Rest in Peace.

Should I splash for X card?

Here is my description of the costs and benefits of splash builds. In short, you gain more powerful cards or silver bullets at the cost of a weaker manabase.

Is Chalice of the Void a viable sideboard card?

Chalice of the Void is a potential lock piece against much of the format. It is a card with a high power level and with high upside. We are not a great Chalice deck since we can’t power the card out on turn one, and the card does have some negative synergy with our own cards. That being said, it is still a viable sideboard option. It comes down faster than almost all of our other combo hate options and is also quite good against control decks. Putting Chalice in your sideboard does change how you are going to approach matchups, such as causing you to board out Mom or Swords to Plowshares when they otherwise would be fine cards.

How many copies of Recruiter of the Guard should I play?

Two is likely the correct answer. Recruiter of the Guard provides some much-needed card advantage and selection that the deck was really lacking. That being said, too many copies of the Recruiter will mean that your deck is a little slower at deploying threats. The more silver bullet cards you play (e.g. Palace Jailer, Magus of the Moon, Orzhov Pontiff), the better Recruiter will be. I often play a third Recruiter in the sideboard. I’ve found this give me more flexibility in sideboarding and gives my bullets more oomph.

How many copies of Sanctum Prelate should I play?

In the Miracles-era, I thought there should be one or two copies of Sanctum Prelate in the 75 since it was so good at fighting Miracles. Now, it is a little harder to evaluate the card. There are many matchups where two copies of Prelate will absolutely lock your opponent out of the game, whereas a single copy is a great hindrance. It is still very good, but it’s not as necessary as it was a few months ago. Prelate doesn’t shine in many matchups (e.g. Eldrazi), so you should never go overboard and run something like four in the maindeck.

Is Vryn Wingmare good?

Yes, Vryn Wingmare is an excellent card in this shell. The ability to stack with Thalia and other copies of itself is absurd, and that will close the door on your opponent’s ability to do anything very quickly. When you look at the Wingmare decks as a whole though, they have a huge percentage of one toughness creatures. This makes dedicated D&T hate like Sulfur Elemental or Dread of Night hate cripplingly good instead of just extremely powerful. The Wingmare decks try to compensate by playing cards like Veteran Armorer and Wilt-Leaf Liege, but those cards are a bit of an awkward solution to an inherent deck flaw. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is another way to get your one toughness creatures out of hate range, but becomes difficult to cast if you already have Thalia/Wingmare in play. Wingmare is a great card in game one, when dedicated hate does not exist, but looses some oomph in the post-sideboard games.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of Enlightened Tutor?

Enlightened Tutor provides virtual extra copies of your hate cards and turns your sideboard into a tool box. Especially at the local level where you have a small and predictable metagame, this can be extremely powerful. Enlightened Tutor lets you play silver bullets that can complete change your percentages on some matchups and offers a degree of selection that is rare for this deck. Cards like Serenity, Circle of Protection: Red, Warmth, Grafdigger’s Cage, Ensnaring Bridge, Worship, Spirit of the Labyrinth, Moat, and Meekstone become much more attractive as sideboard options when you can consistently find them.

Enlightened Tutor does have a cost though. You have fewer copies of each individual hate card, meaning that if it gets answered, you do not have the option to eventually draw or tutor for another. Enlightened Tutor is also not the best topdeck, as you will have to wait a turn to get your hate card unless you have something like a Horizon Canopy to immediately draw a card.

What are D&T’s best and worst matchups?

Simply put, D&T thrives against most blue decks. Delver decks and most other decks that rely on cantrips are going to be very positive matchups. Decks that are trying to win via permanents with activated abilities (e.g. Painter, Tezzerator, MUD) are also going to be quite favorable. Decks that are soft to mana denial (e.g. Red Prison, Big Eldrazi) often eat it to our mana disruption.

Elves is the most difficult common matchup; it is borderline unwinnable, and you should not warp your deckbuilding choices in an attempt to make it better. Similarly, other creature-based combo decks with a back up plan (e.g. Food Chain, Infect) can also be problematic. Punishing Jund is a difficult matchup, but it is relatively uncommon. Most of our hate comes down on turn 2, so any deck that consistently goes off on turn 1 (e.g. Belcher) is going to be unfavorable. Decks with multiple True-Name Nemesis can be tricky, and Sneak and Show has become less favorable in the last year.

Why doesn’t X card see play?

There are many cards that are good enough to fit in the D&T shell that simply don’t see play frequently. The reasons vary by card, but they tend to fit one of the following categories.

Synergy- The card does something useful, but doesn’t quite jive with the rest of the deck. Leonin Arbiter, for example, messes with opposing fetchlands and tutor effects quite well. It does, however, make our own Stoneforge Mystics quite sad.

Invalidation- The card is inferior to another card the deck already plays. Jotun Grunt was a fine card in the shell for years; however, once the vastly superior hate card Rest in Peace was printed, Jotun Grunt went the way of the dodo. Similarly, Glowrider is neat, but Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Vryn Wingmare are just better options.

Metagame- The card is slightly narrow in function and isn’t particularly useful at this time. When the metgame shifts, the viability of some of the currently fringe-playable cards shifts. The unhealtier and more inbred the metagame is, the greater chance that some of the fringe playable cards become all-stars. Spirit of the Labyrinth was amazing when everyone was playing Treasure Cruise; now it is rarely more than a 1-of. Kor Firewalker was nasty in formats when Lightning Bolt was one of the most-played cards, but now it is rarely seen outside of Magic Online.

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