Vs Sneak and Show
(last updated 5/31/18)
Best cards (main): Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Phyrexian Revoker, Karakas, Sanctum Prelate
Worst cards (main): Swords to Plowshares
Best cards (side): Containment Priest, Pithing Needle
Revoker targets: Sneak Attack, Griselbrand, Lotus Petal
Best Generic Sanctum Prelate Numbers: 3, 1
Deck Strategy and Key Cards
Sneak and Show is perhaps the best “cheat a fatty into play” deck in Legacy. It’s not the fastest at doing it, but it is perhaps the most consistent and objectively powerful. The core of this UR deck is four cards: Snow and Tell, Sneak Attack, Griselbrand, and Emrakul,
the Aeons Torn. The rest of the deck is just cantrips (~12) and counterspells, though it sometimes plays Intuition or Cunning Wish for additional selection and consistency. It’s really a paragon of efficiency. Find one of the enablers and one of the creatures. Try to win. Repeat until the opponent is dead.
This primer will focus on regular Sneak and Show, but there’s an offshoot of this strategy: Omnitell. Omnitell goes much harder on the Show and Tell plan, hoping to dump in Omniscience and then do something silly like draw their library with Enter the Infinite. Once you’ve done that, winning should be pretty easy. A common path to victory involves a Cunning Wish package that ends with either Eldamari’s Call for Emrakul or Release the Ants with a fatty on top of the library. Firemind’s Foresight is often the first target of either of these chains, as a free triple tutor is too good to pass up. It’s also worth noting that Omnitell is almost a monoblue deck, usually only splashing for a few sideboard cards. Recent Sneak and Show decks also happens to have a couple of Omniscience for good measure. Omniscience is a card that allows you to “win now” instead of waiting for a turn, so it’s quite appealing for a number of matchups, especially the D&T and Eldrazi matchups.
The Matchup and Important Interactions
D&T has a ton of tools to fight against Sneak and Show. Revoker shuts off Sneak Attack. Karakas makes their legendary creatures seem pretty silly. Thalia limits their ability to dig. Sanctum Prelate is a relative nightmare as well. Some combination of these cards often proves insurmountable. A Revoker on Sneak Attack plus a Prelate on 3 is pretty much a hard lock for game one. Similarly, a Revoker on Sneak Attack plus a Karakas should make it very difficult for your opponent to do anything.
Casting Show and Tell can be a risky proposition for your opponent. If you put in a Revoker, you’ll invalidate their Sneak Attack and decrease the power of their Griselbrand. If you put in Karakas, you’ll largely invalidate either of their fatties. This general awkwardness is why many builds turned to Omnscience, which is much harder to beat. If your opponent is packing Omni, you can put in a Flickerwisp to blink it out for a turn or Thalia/Prelate to try to limit their ability to go off immediately. Yup, your opponent still does have to pay one for their noncreature spells because of Thalia! Omni only sets the base cost to zero, while Thalia’s tax is applied after that.
Sneak Attack interacts in interesting ways with Karakas. If your opponent has multiple red mana open, a Karakas actually doesn’t beat that. They sneak, you bounce, they sneak again. Rats! Sneak Attack also has some interesting wording. Your opponent sacrifices the creature at the *beginning* of the next end step. If your opponent activates a Sneak Attack during your end step, they’ll keep that creature for the following turn and sacrifice it at their own end step. Also, it’s usually not wise to Flickerwisp out a creature your opponent snuck in; they’ll get to keep it forever once it returns.
Containment Priest crushes this deck. It neuters Sneak Attack, Show and Tell, as well as some sideboard options like Through the Breach. Unless your opponent has Omniscience, they need to get this off the table or they can’t reasonably win. Ethersworn Canonist is great against the cantrip side of their deck, Pithing Needle is another Revoker, and Council’s Judgment is an okay catch-all to their threats. If you have Palace Jailer or Banisher Priest, they’ll be pretty useful here as well.
Swords to Plowshares is the first card you’ll want to cut. You aren’t going to really get anywhere throwing that at Griselbrand, let’s be real. After that, you can probably trim the Stoneforge package and cut back on some generic beaters. If you have Sword of Fire and Ice or Sword of War and Peace, those are great at clocking your opponent while getting your creatures out of the range of common red removal.
Your opponent will likely trim some counterspells and cantrips for ways to disrupt your gameplan. This often comes in the form of red sweepers, most commonly Pyroclasm and Kozilek’s Return. I cannot overstate how good Kozilek’s Return is against us. Mom cannot protect against it since it is Devoid, and it’s an instant to boot. I almost always set Sanctum Prelate on three in this matchup out of fear of this card. There are other removal options ranging from Grim Lavamancer to Sudden Shock. It’s also not uncommon for your opponent to bring in Blood Moon to deal with your nonbasics.
This used to be a very positive matchup for D&T; many people still promote that idea, but I don’t believe that is true now. This matchup gets noticeably worse for each copy of Omniscience in your opponent’s deck. Now that most Sneak and Show decks are running three Omniscience in the main, this match has shifted to being quite unfavorable. While the creature side of the deck is easy to beat with our tools, Omniscience invalidates most of them.
Data as of 5/31/18
Win rate with WW D&T: 4-9 (30.8%)
Win rate with RW D&T: 8-3 (72.7%)