Deck Tech: Death and Taxes with Thomas Enevoldsen

Posted in GRAND PRIX PRAGUE 2016 on June 12, 2016

By Olle Rade

In a time when people usually pick their decks based on what they have seen someone else win with, or from the internet, it's refreshing to hear stories of a deck genesis with more depth to them. When I asked Thomas Enevoldsen how he started playing the mono-white deck going by the name of "Death and Taxes," the answer was more of a fairytale.

"In Denmark, back in 2012, a guy put up a Mox Pearl as prize for anyone who could build a deck with certain restrictions and still win a Legacy tournament. It had to be mono-colored, to have a certain curve, and there was a list of cards you couldn't use. My friend Andreas Petersen designed a white deck and ended up winning the Mox Pearl, and that shell evolved into the Death and Taxes deck that I have been playing ever since," he said.

Thomas Enevoldsen

Enevoldsen, not to be confused with the Danish football player of the same name, made a name for himself when he won the Legacy Grand Prix in Strasbourg in 2013. Which deck did he pilot? Essentially, the same Death and Taxes deck that he was also playing this weekend in Prague.

Thomas Enevoldsen's Death and Taxes – Winner of Grand Prix Strasbourg 2013

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Three years later, the deck has adapted both to the changing environment and to Enevoldsen's own preferences. His perfect 9-0 record after the first day was proof enough that the deck was still good, but Enevoldsen was happy to provide further explanation.

"It plays some really good cards that are among the fifteen best cards in Legacy, like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Stoneforge Mystic. The main strength is that it attacks the format in a unique way. No other deck has the same mana denial strategy and Æther Vial to fuel out your creatures. The deck is also hard to play against, because there are so many tricks to it. The mana denial hits the fair decks, and against the unfair decks there are so many hatebears you can have, and they often lose to a single one," he explained.

The core of the deck was still the same as back in 2013, a curve of white creatures, backed up with removal and powerful equipment to fetch with Stoneforge Mystic. But what has changed over the years was that Enevoldsen had had time to try new things, and dismiss what he didn't like.

"I've tried almost everything, but the more I try the more I think it's bettter to stay away from the cute stuff like Mangara of Corondor and to play creatures like Serra Avenger and Mirran Crusader that kill your opponent quickly. I also tried Eldrazi Displacer and Containment Priest, which was interesting, but slow to set up and just came up too unfrequently. Mirran Crusader is really good, since Tarmogoyf is a problem for the deck, and the Crusader is also strong against the Shardless Sultai deck," he said.

Another new addition was Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in the sideboard. Which Enevoldsen explained as both a good threat against Miracles or Shardless decks, and a hedge against cards like Dread of Night, Golgari Charm, or Night of Souls' Betrayal. He was quick to point out that the three or four times he had cast it, it had won every single game.

Death and Taxes might not look like the most complicated deck to play, but there's more to it than meets the eye. Enevoldsen went as far as saying that the deck doesn't have any really good or really bad matchups. In fact, the reason that he chose the deck was specifically because it had a lot of close ones where his own skill would decide the outcome.

"If I had to analyze good and bad matchups I would say that any matchup that takes a lot of time is good, because you have such a strong late game with equipment. Bad matchups would be the decks that don't let you play long enough. Goblin Charbelcher for example is almost unbeatable, and Show and Tell/Omniscience is a tough one as well."

When asked about the most popular deck in the room, the Eldrazi, Enevoldsen wasn't sure how good his strategy against it was.

"The plan against them is to kill all their creatures with removal and attack their mana with Wasteland. Other key cards are Flickerwisp, which handles Chalice of the Void and Endless One, and Banisher Priest which adds more removal. But they usually win when they get either a fast start or get Umezawa's Jitte going. I've played against it twice so far and won both times."

Enevoldsen was currently finishing the last few weeks of his internship to become a lawyer back home in Denmark. He admitted that he had not committed as much time to qualify for the Pro Tour recently, which he hadn't played since Pro Tour Fate Reforged in 2015. But he said that he still "really, really, really want[s] to qualify again."

He said, "I've lost five matches last year each one of which would have qualified me for the Pro Tour, so it's been close. One of them in the last round of the Pro Tour, one in a PTQ and three in the last rounds of a Grand Prix. I mean I know I could prepare more, but since I've had so many near misses it would feel great to qualify again here in Prague."

Thomas Enevoldsen's Death and Taxes - Grand Prix Prague 2016

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