As promised in my previous post, I will share the test results with my Mardu Taxes deck that’s showing a lot of promise in Best-of-One Platinum Tier 3 where we see a lot of meta decks trying to get to Mythic in the last leg of the season.
The concept of the deck is quite simple and built around two principles.
- Prevent the opponent from assembling enough resources, or cut them out entirely.
- Tax them with the little that they have to stop their game plan from advancing.
I spoke about this concept in one of my entries in the past that in Magic, there are essentially 3 primary resources: Turns, Cards and Lands.
In the advent of Nexus of Fate from M19, then coupled with Haze of Pollen and Root Snare, it gave birth to the dreaded turbo fog deck that wins off of a Teferi ultimate and taking ridiculously large amount of extra turns thanks to Nexus of Fate, a bunch of draw effects from Teferi’s +1 ability and a flipped Search for Azcanta. This is the power of turns and card draw and now we’re seeing how these decks can dominate the meta if they can’t be stopped effectively.
Lands on the other hand is the most integral resource you in to play a decent game of Magic. Without the needed lands, you cannot play Teferi, Nexus of Fate or even a simple spell like Shock if you don’t draw the right colored lands or any land at all. Throughout Magic’s history, land destruction spells and effects have drastically weakened because it creates a frustrating gaming experience for the person who got his lands destroyed.
From a cost perspective, Magic has elevated the price you need to pay to blow up a land and this is meant to give the opponent a fighting chance to get a head start before he losses the will to fight. Fast forward into today’s standard format, land destruction strategies are very rare because it forces the deck builder to build around it, packing the deck with a lot of mana ramp to play over costed spells earlier to cut the opponent off of their mana source. Consequentially to this game plan, it exposes the deck builder to a lot of aggression early so they also need to pack creature removal which slows them down if they attempt to leave mana open early in the game.
Another problem with deploying a land destruction strategy in a competitive event is that if you don’t draw them early and only start blowing up lands by turn 4 or 5, the opponent will already have a decent board state whereby losing some lands will not change their plan and you would have spent several turns taking hits while you build your mana base to cast your spells. Case in point, a mono green player would have dealt 15 damage by the time you destroy your first Forest.
An infamous RW prison deck was posted online by one of my idols in deck building, Ali Altrazi. He made a deck that capitalized on Haphazard Bombardment mainly targeting the opponent’s land, then supplement the early turns with sweepers like Deafening Clarion and Cleansing Nova. With multiple Haphazard in play, it was just a matter of time until all the opponent’s permanents have land mines waiting to be popped, Russian roulette stye. His win condition was dumping all his lands into Dawn of Hope and swarm with a bunch of 1/1 lifelinkers or a huge Banefire late game.
When I saw this deck list, I immediately thought about Smothering Tithes’ ability of compelling the opponent to pay a fee. If they don’t have the lands to pay taxes, it means we get free treasures. Even if the opponent wants to prevent us from ramping, he would lose whatever remaining mana he had to cast anything else. But why would the opponent bother stopping us from creating a bunch of treasures, so I dug deep to find cards that synergizes with Treasures.
I almost forgot that Revel in Riches was a card and it was perfect for the strategy we’re trying to abuse. It was the card that made me splash Black into the RW shell Ali previously made. If the opponent refuses to pay on his turn, then a turn 4 Smothering Tithes can ramp us into a turn 5 Haphazard Bombardment which blows up 25% of their land, or 20% if they’re on the play.
Another card which runs well with a continuous stream of treasures is Treasure Map. Each card our opponents draw potentially translates to a free card on our side as well once we flip the Map. Drawing 2-3 extra cards a turn was a common occurrence when I played this deck so that’s pretty good too. Treasure Map can also ramp us to 10 treasures with Revel out, giving us a way to shortcut our way to victory.
Another possible win condition is through combat damage thanks to Karn’s -2 ability which makes a huge Construct token thanks to the bazillion treasures we’re making. Winning via combat is not the usual way we win the game but at least we have another win con squeezed in without taking additional space. The reason why we also play Karn is that we want more ways to draw cards and dig up the other win cons. A win con that can find other win con is so much win.
In Arena’s Bo1 format, you can find yourself playing against mono red, boros aggro, mono blue and white weenies quite often so I swapped out Thaumatic Compasses for Fountain of Renewal. And because we’re playing 3 colors instead of the usual 2, we’re running a lot less basics so Thaumatic won’t be fetching a lot of lands for you anyway. The beauty of Fountain of Renewal is that dropping it on turn 1 against Red makes you feel very safe and buys you a lot of turns to get to the mid game. Dropping 2 copies feels downright stupid.
We don’t want to die in a very aggressive meta now that a Jellyfish is swimming around in Sultai, Temur and Bant decks. This is why we’re playing a sweeper from curves 3 through 5. Kaya’s Wrath can be swapped for Settle the Wreckage if you’re not comfortable taking hits for playing a bunch of Shocklands to get WWBB on turn 4 consistently.
Here’s the decklist I’m running in Arena that’s been winning approximately 64% of the time in Platinum 2-3, going up and down.
I think the decklist is going to perform much better in Bo3 because the sideboards really help glue together and patch the holes against unfavorable match-ups.
I lose 80% of the time when I get paired against a counter-magic deck, whether it’s Grixis, Esper, Azorius or Dimir. The turn 2 Thought Erasure into turn 3 Disinformation Campaign feels disgusting.
Against control decks that run a bunch of removal, we can switch up the game plan and side in a Planeswalker suite to team up with Karn. Angrath and Huatli does a great job at pressuring the board and the opponent’s hand while The Eldest Reborn makes sure we get them back if the opponent decides to keep removal.
My favorite card in the sideboard is Ethereal Absolution. Even against fast decks, I would side this in to replace Star of Extinction because it kills a lot of things when you drop it as early as turn 5 (unpaid Tithe or Pirate’s Pillage on 4). It kills Firebrands, Viashino Pyromancers, Steam-Kins, Elves, Branchwalkers/Jadelights, and many more. It’s also a great mana sink, converting dead creatures into 2/2 flying blockers or attackers. It also goes well with Dawn of Hope, shortening the clock.
The deck is quite painful to build in Arena because you’ll need 45 rare cards and 10 mythics so be mindful when you start cashing in your wildcards. The deck is super fun to play so I hope you enjoyed today’s deck tech!
See you around and may you top deck lethal in your next win and in!