Vs Tin Fins
(last updated 5/31/18)
Worst cards (main): generic beaters, Stoneforge package
Best Generic Sanctum Prelate Number: 2
Deck Strategy and Key Cards
This is one of my pet decks, I’ll admit that openly. I’ve been working on this deck for about the past year with one of my roommates, Shawn French. Most of the time when I’m not playing D&T, I default to Tin Fins. I can’t make you understand the name of this deck, that’s a journey you’ll have to undertake yourself. This video might help though…
Still confused? I bet you are. You can read more about the name here, if you are so inclined.
Tin Fins is a hybrid combo deck, falling somewhere between traditional Reanimator and a Storm deck in terms of functionality. Tin Fins is one of the fastest combo decks in Legacy, but it isn’t quite as much of a glass cannon as many people believe. Unlike, say, a Belcher or Spanish Inquisition deck, Tin Fins has the possibility to combo off again relatively easily if one of its key pieces is somehow disrupted. The goal is to put a Griselbrand in the graveyard and reanimate it at instant speed with either Goryo’s Vengeance or Shallow Grave on turn one or two.
Once you’ve got the big ol’ demon in play, you have a few options on how to go about winning the game, although most of those routes begin with drawing 14 cards. You can reanimate an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (with its shuffle trigger on the stack), you can hard cast an Emrakul, or you can simply Tendrils of Agony your opponent. Note that the storm kill is a little easier than in ANT, as Griselbrand will have haste and do seven of the damage for you. Producing an Emrakul after the initial Griselbrand is the most common and easiest of those options.
Excuse me, sir, what does the deck do if you can’t just win with those 14 cards? An excellent question! The answer is simple: draw more cards! Casting and/or reanimating a Children of Korlis allows the deck to gain back a rather preposterous amount of life, giving the ability to draw at least 14 more cards. If somehow the deck is unable to win after going off (this usually happens if you brick on an initial mana source), it will certainly be able to kill you the following turn. A Griselbrand hit plus an Emrakul hit is lethal, so when worse comes to worse, a kill over two turns is really not the end of the world.
Entomb is easily the best card in the deck. Entomb allows of the quickest combo kills without jumping through any hoops. You can get Griselbrand in the graveyard by discarding via hand size or using a discard spell on yourself, but just naturally having Entomb is much preferred. Entomb also lets you do things like end of your opponent’s turn fetch Griselbrand to reanimate it on your turn, giving your opponent little warning to sculpt their hand or respond.
The deck has the power level of any tier one Legacy deck, I promise you that. That being said, the deck just, well, poops itself sometimes. Sometimes you’ll draw a clunker of a hand or just won’t find your missing piece (spoiler, you usually are looking for Entomb). Even when the deck isn’t firing on all cylinders, it will usually just be a single card away from killing you.
The Matchup and Important Interactions
This deck has many more lines than those that are initially apparent, and small misplays against this deck will certainly cost you the game. In short, never tap out if you can avoid it. If you have relevant interaction, hold it up. You really don’t want to tap that Karakas on turn one for an Aether Vial; you might just die. Only tap out for cards that actually matter, and that list is actually pretty short. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben will buy you an absurd amount of time, as will Phrexian Revoker. Thalia, Heretic Cathar is pretty solid, though they can just reanimate a fatty on your end step to play around it. A Sanctum Prelate on two really makes it difficult for Tin Fins to cobble together a kill, but it’s not impossible to just hardcast Griselbrand, so keep that in mind.
Your beaters do not matter. This is not a matchup about trying to close the door and end your opponent; this is a matchup about not dying. It’s extremely rare that you’ll actually connect with a piece of equipment or a three drop before the game is (effectively) over. As such, holding up a piece of interaction like Swords to Plowshares is often better than committing another creature to the board. On that note, there are two proper times to use a Swords: in response to your opponent casting Children of Korlis or before your opponent deals combat damage with a Griselbrand. Using a Swords in response to an activation of Griselbrand’s ability probably doesn’t get you anywhere, and there is a chance that your opponent can just make another Griselbrand anyway. The same rule also applies to Karakas activations as well; you don’t want to bounce a Griselbrand too early, only to allow an Emrakul to hit you and annihilate six permanents in the process.
Your sideboard plan is easy: board out expensive cards and trim the Stoneforge package for combo hate. Ethersworn Canonist, Rest in Peace, Pithing Needle, and Containment Priest should give you a pretty varied defensive plan against Tin Fins, though there is still the possibility that you’ll just get combo’d out on turn one and most of it is irrelevant.
The Tin Fins sideboard plan is a little more convoluted. It can go in one of two directions. Plan A is that of counter-hate. Cards like Serenity, Chain of Vapor, Abrupt Decay, and Massacre come in to fight against the common hate cards. Serenity and Massacre threaten to 2-for-1 (or more) our deck, and one of those cards may put us from a commanding board position to dead in the course of a turn.
Plan B is what I call the “man plan.” By trimming the primary combo and cantrip package, the deck can afford to bring in a bunch of Monastery Mentor, Stoneforge Mystic, or Dark Confidant. A turn one Monastery Mentor with a couple of follow-up cantrips or discard spells can threaten to end the game almost as quickly as a Griselbrand. Similarly, an unchecked Stoneforge or Confidant will absolutely take over certain matchups.
An experienced Tin Fins player is going to shuffle their entire sideboard into their deck to keep you guessing. In all likelihood, your opponent is going to stay on plan A. If you don’t interact with them, they win immediately. If you only interact with them once, they’ll probably still win after another turn or two. While I won’t say that the man plan never comes in, the primary game plan is strong enough that it is not necessary.
If Tin Fins is popular in your local metagame, packing some number of Surgical Extraction or Faerie Macabre over slower hate like Containment Priest or Rest in Peace is probably your best bet. These cards won’t necessarily win you the game though, as a savvy Tin Fins player can just cast a second reanimation spell in response to the hate to play around it.
I, as an individual, have a very positive record against Tin Fins. That being said, I am a pilot of the deck, have repeatedly played both sides of the matchup, and have played the matchup literally hundreds of times. In many of these matchups, I also knew that my opponent would be on Tin Fins and mulliganed aggressively and appropriately. For the average D&T player encountering Tin Fins in a larger event (where you do not know your opponent is on the deck ahead of time), this is likely an even to slightly unfavorable matchup. You are going to lose many of the games where you opponent combos you out before your second turn, and there’s not too much you can do about that. You can’t ship back every hand because it doesn’t have Karakas. That being said, your opponent is not always just going to “have it” in their opener, and the games where you get a turn three are highly favorable.
Data as of 5/31/18
Win rate with WW D&T: n/a
Win rate with RW D&T: 1-0 (100%)