Death and Taxes for Eternal Weekend 2021
📅 November 04, 2021•
⏱️33 min read
Yorion D&T is the most powerful iteration of D&T we've ever seen in legacy, and is currently the most well positioned that the deck has ever been since I started playing it in 2013. Since MH2 dropped, Yorion DnT has won 3 challenges, an NRG 5k, the Bologna 4 Seasons event, and the Legacy Showcase Qualifier, amongst a multitude of other top finishes. Meanwhile 60 card DnT… I think I've seen it in the occasional challenge top 32? Point is, our sky noodle savior has been leaving 60 card D&T in the goddamn dust.
Now, I don't want to demean the D&T players out there that have stuck to 60 cards, whether out of budget, stubbornness, or lack of card access. 60 card D&T is still a playable deck, and you can certainly win matches with it. That being said, if you want to play the best D&T deck you can register, you should ABSOLUTELY be registering Yorion, Sky Nomad.
If you're looking for reasons why Yorion has taken over as the stock build, my old article: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Sky Noodle talks in depth about why it was rising to power as far back as 12 months ago (although I couldn't really get people onboard until the post MH2 iteration).
Almost all the previous statements still hold true, namely that cards like Prismatic Ending pressure your aether vials to the point where they are not as “must draw” as they used to be, and the current mass of DnT's creature options are stacked such that filling out the additional 20 cards doesn't cause a dramatic decrease in deck power level.
Access to Yorion, on the other hand, is a fairly substantial increase in power level across the board of fair matchups, even more so with new cards like Solitude and Kaldra Compleat in the mix. But enough about convincing people why Yorion is better. I think these past 4 months have been a testament to that. We're here to break down the deck and have you better equipped to register it in Eternal Weekend 2021.
This is what I've been playing for awhile for a solid base of a Yorion D&T decklist. If you take a 60 card DnT list and extend all the non-equipment to 4 of's (and add a proportional amount of lands), you'll likely end up with ~77-78 of what I would consider stock Yorion D&T. Most of the cards in the list are fairly self explanatory, but some of the new cards, namely Solitude and Kaldra Compleat, warrant a little bit of extra analysis outside of the thorough breakdown I gave them in a previous article: https://minmaxblog.com/post-mh2-legacy-death-and-taxes-new-card-evaluations/.
Kaldra doesn't gain too much from adding Yorion in the mix. The main benefit is having a giant Flickerwisp effect in every opening hand in the form of Yorion. In a lot of Swords to Plowshares/Prismatic Ending heavy matchups, your Kaldra token is likely to get exiled, and leave you with a very mopey equipment in play. Yorion is just an additional wisp style effect to get the Kaldra back online in those matchups, adding 9 total power to the board, assuming nothing else.
Solitude, on the other hand, gains a ton in Yorion lists compared to 60 cards. Solitude was a substantial upgrade for Yorion D&T, where previously the deck could sometimes feel lacking in access to early game removal, suffering from the problem of a smaller plow density. In addition, the slow, value oriented nature of Yorion D&T makes hardcasting solitudes a more likely gameplan, giving access to a very powerful ETB effect to get to flicker with Yorion. Solitude and Yorion both being 5 CMC also can lead to some very powerful usage of Aether Vial, which could previously get stranded with Yorion as your only 5.
In addition, Yorion can help mitigate the card disadvantage of Solitude's “Force of Plow” mode, by providing a free white card for 3 mana, to utilize in matchups where you may not need the late game noodle engine itself. Overall, I think Solitude was a huge reason Yorion D&T started taking over as the D&T list to beat.
Like with all decklists, you have a couple of flex slots to fill out. These have varied a bit over the past few months, but I've currently settled on Cathar Commando and 2x Timeless Dragon to round out my current list. Cathar Commando is a card that will likely become stock as time goes on, but is a recent enough print that it hasn't solidified its place yet. I'm not generally keen on some of the more niche recruiter bullets in DnT builds, but Commando has an effect the deck has wanted access to for quite awhile. While we would've enjoyed a true white Reclamation Sage, the sac effect allows it to shoot the new popular anti D&T sideboard tech Torpor Orb, and having a bullet in the deck to cover some of Skyclave Apparition's misses (Urza's Saga, Batterskull, Shark Typhoon, Omniscience, to name a few) has been a welcome inclusion.
Timeless Dragon is a card that looks weird to a lot of people. The number one lesson I've learned playing Yorion DnT is that you absolutely must respect your land drops. I strongly think the deck should play a minimum of 33 lands. It's wildly mana hungry, and the games where DnT gets to hit land drops and cast its spells are so wildly different from being stuck on 2-3 lands. In that respect, Timeless Dragon serves as a “land drop” that also has late game value, similar to a card like Horizon Canopy.
Given D&T's ability to use 5, 6, even 7 lands, however, I really dislike playing canopies in Yorion. So Timeless Dragon lets you hit land drops early and have an uncounterable 4/4 flyer late in fair matchups. Vs Delver it blocks cards like Dragon's Rage Channeler well and has an immunity vs Lightning Bolt, and vs slower decks it's just another way to drown them in unending card advantage.
While I wouldn't say it's a necessary inclusion, I've been liking access to the card in sagaless Yorion DnT builds, and would likely play 1 or 2 over the 33rd real land in most cases.
Lastly, Field of Ruin is a card I kind of consider a flex slot of the deck. My initial builds of the deck just played 32-33 lands and enjoyed the abundance of white sources with extra basic plains, but I quickly realized there was a downside to the Yorion lists: reduced access to Wasteland and Rishadan Port.
While this didn't concern me as much in previous metas, MH2 brought with it the powerful land Urza's Saga. Field of Ruin offers a decent way to have access to extra land hate effects to fight the various saga strategies in Legacy, and still being kind of a white source if you squint.
The reason I landed on Field over a card like Ghost Quarter is essentially what I discussed with Timeless Dragon: Yorion D&T loves its land drops. Field allows you to shoot a problem land and not have you go back on mana, which can be very relevant with how mana hungry the deck always is. There are also niche interactions you get from a forced shuffle effect, like shuffling away some kept Ponder cards, or a sniffed out Brainstorm setting up Terminus, or “countering” a Personal Tutor, but these are added bonuses and not really the reason for the card's inclusion.
Outside of the “stock” build I've presented, there are a handful of other cards people have used to round out the average maindeck. I'm not going to try to name them all, but a short list would probably include: Charming Prince, Giver of Runes, Walking Ballista, Path to Exile, Mangara of Corondor (don't play this one), and Palace Jailer (don't play this one even more).
Most of these cards have their own places and merit. Construct the deck at your leisure, magic is ultimately about having fun with the cards you like, and the last 2 slots of your deck likely won't make the biggest impact in the world. But if you're looking to optimize your deck for a large meta like Eternal Weekend 2021, I've been very happy with the list I presented.
Sideboard construction has never been easier than it has with Yorion DnT. You slot in the Yorion, then choose around 12-14 anti combo sideboard cards that you vibe with. Some of the strength of Yorion D&T is that the maindeck is so powerful across the board of fair matchups that you can just maximize your combo hate in the sb, circumventing the issue of “80 card decks find their hate cards less often.” The only cards that I consider locked in are Peacekeeper and Containment Priest, which are powerful enough effects that I enjoy having access to as Recruiter of the Guard bullets. The rest is just mixing and matching fast combo hate cards.
I prefer to lean on the 0-1 mana side for these, since cheap interaction is really what Yorion D&T needs to keep pace in its struggling matchups. While I've even gone to such lengths as playing Leyline of the Void in the past, the power of Rest in Peace vs Delver strategies, and the uptick in Lands players, makes me lean more on playing a combination of RIP and Surgical Extraction as my go-to graveyard hate.
I usually like to mix in a card like Grafdigger's Cage to pull some double duty vs Green Sun's Zenith decks as well. As for spell based combo, Deafening Silence and Mindbreak Trap are your best options by a long shot. Cards like Curse of Silence exist but have felt extremely lackluster outside of a very narrow range of matchups, leading me to mostly just want to play the former options. I tend to try to round out my sideboard with a few options to play vs various fair decks, typically in the card Council's Judgment.
It's versatile enough that it allows you to board it in vs a ton of different matchups, and lets you cut some of your bad cards against various fair decks in favor of smoothing out postboard lists with a useful catch-all removal spell. Sometimes you can also board extra targeted removal like Path to Exile as well, if you really want to gun for Delver instead.
Playing Urza's Saga in Yorion D&T is an idea I've alluded to a few times thus far, but wanted to give it its own section of the article, since it's been a hot button topic of D&T deckbuilding recently. Early on in the post MH2 meta, I and others tested Saga in Yorion D&T and came to the conclusion of “the card is powerful but it adds a mana hungry element to an already incredibly mana hungry deck, and didn't solve any of the decks weak points.”
In addition, at the time, the meta was very hostile towards Saga, with a large uptick in the amount of Force of Vigors, Meltdowns, Dress Downs, Serenitys, etc seeing play, as a backlash to the early weeks where Saga was showing up as a very powerful card in the new meta. These issues led me to believe sagaless was the way to go, with the caveat that Saga was a solid fallback option if the meta shifted towards D&T hate cards like Torpor Orb and away from the early backlash of saga hate. Some 4 months later, exactly that happened.
Yorion D&T lists with Urza's Saga started slowly popping up more and more, leading to a desire to reassess my position on the card. Testing more recently I've found the 2 builds of Yorion DnT have their own distinct strengths and weaknesses, rather than there being a true “best” list.
A point that I cannot hammer home enough is how important DnT's manabase is. The deck loves to hit land drops and go late, and between equipment, recruiter, Solitude, and Yorion, the deck has so many uses for mana. As such, having one of your lands blow up after 3 turns can be quite a disaster, especially in land light hands. Saga can make some of your lower range of keepable hands distinctly worse than usual, which can cause a host of problems.
Also worth mentioning (albeit fairly minor) is that the average saga list goes down on the number of white sources from the sagaless lists, meaning that casting your WW spells on time can be more challenging as well.
While Saga can be a good card to fight opposing Sagas, blowing them up is quite often a more preferable plan, whether because your opponent's constructs + tutor will wildly outclass yours (vs most artifact decks) or you'd rather just be the control deck and not let your opponent have access to those threats (vs most of the blue soup saga lists). When D&T isn't the aggressor in the matchup, your sagas can look worse than your opponents, and access to a card like Field of Ruin can be preferred.
DnT can often choose to not allow the opponent profitable use of their land hate (namely Wasteland, but also stuff like Blood Moon on occasion). Saga is an extremely juicy wasteland target, and trading your “spell” for an opposing wasteland is often a bad deal for the D&T side. In addition, Saga lists will go up on artifacts (obviously), making you weaker to cards like Force of Vigor, Null Rod, Meltdown, etc, when they show up. (Fun fact, sagaless D&T has ~6 or 7 cards that get hit by stuff like Force of Vigor or Null Rod, which can lead to some great exchanges when your opponent places value on the wrong card in a matchup.)
Saga being essentially a 3 drop means you really have to cut some of the 3s to make it happen. In my current list, that means going down to 3 Flickerwisp 3 Skyclave Apparition. People really love Flickerwisp though, so it's increasingly hard to pry that little guy out of D&T players' cold dead hands. Good for you, 4 wisp truthers.
Seriously. The card is just absurdly powerful. Sometimes it will genuinely just solo an opponent who can't answer it. The inverse of “it makes the lower end of keepable hands worse” it makes the upper end of keepable hands that much higher. When you cast a 2 drop off saga + Plains on turn 2 vs a slow blue deck you feel like the king of the world.
Saga will seriously beat people up. It also can more subtly improve some of D&Ts traditionally weaker non combo matchups. Vs decks like Nic Fit or Post, that generally just go much bigger than D&T and can hard punish the deck's lack of closing speed, some constructs off saga coupled with a touch of disruption can close out games you really couldn't before (very similar to Kaldra this way).
While much more soft spoken than gut punching people with giant constructs, the tutor ability is not to be overlooked. Vs combo decks, a turn 1 saga can provide a useful backup hate piece (presumably after using your first to not die long enough to tutor it).
In slower “unfair” matchups like GW depths or elves, a turn 3 Pithing Needle or Grafdigger's Cage can really break a game open in a way Sagaless D&T doesn't really have access to. On top of that, obviously, is the tutor ability vs fair decks, whether that's relic to answer Uro, Titan of Nature's Wraths or Dragon's Rage Channelers, Retrofitter Foundry for even more value generation, or even grabbing an Aether Vial in those really long games. Shadowspear is also an underrepresented bullet in legacy, but is maybe the strongest maindeck one for DnT.
Trample can let you push damage races hard in tandem with the constructs, and lifelink access can win some key damage races vs decks like Delver. Decreased vulnerability to other forms of DnT hate.
As previously mentioned, Torpor Orb is a big reason I think Saga Yorion DnT has stronger legs than before. Orb is really backbreaking, but increasing the number of cards that can beat your opponent up through an orb is a really good way around that. Beefy constructs are also a good way to fight some other DnT hate cards: smaller wraths like Pyroclasm or Plague Engineer, or the bane of every yorion: Containment Priest.
So, after all that talk about saga and sagaless lists, what's the verdict? I don't really think there is one. There's a trade off between consistency and power, and I think the nuances between the 2 decks are enough that you can play the one you prefer.
I will say I think Saga lists are in general harder to play. The mana sequencing can feel really awkward and you'll want to get more reps with the list to get a feel for it. If you want a comfier list I would recommend sagaless.
It's consistent, it's powerful, I would be happy to register it in an upcoming tournament. But after testing Saga lists for the past weeks, I would be lying if I didn't think the power and position in the meta is absolutely there right now. Torpor Orbs are showing up in a lot more blue decks than before, and the raw power of Urza's Saga is undeniable. Going into Eternal Weekend, I will be registering Yorion Saga D&T, and would recommend it to anyone willing to get comfortable with it.
Before we get to the matchup breakdown, I wanted to include a section to go over some new cards coming out in Innistrad: Crimson Vow, since it drops about a week before Eternal Weekend. Plus, I heard Thalia was going to show up in this set, so there's a chance we get a reasonably playable card to upgrade D&T.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Disclaimer: for these matchups, I will be assuming the list is the Yorion Saga D&T list I posted earlier, since that is what I am likely to play. Luckily, both the Saga and Sagaless D&T lists are extremely similar, so it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how to sideboard as one version or the other.
The king of the legacy castle is (surprise surprise) Delver! The plot twist here is that they don't actually play that many Delver of Secrets anymore. Most lists are on 0-2. But MH2 handed “Delver” a whole new aggressive threat suite in Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Dragon's Rage Channeler, and Murktide Regent, all stapled together with Expressive Iteration for card advantage. Like most points in DnT's legacy existence, this is a matchup you're happy to see. DnT's cards have always lined up well against Delver, and the current iteration is no exception.
Basically all of your maindeck cards play in this matchup. Ragavan is bricked by a lot of your deck (4x Karakas is a very nice counter, as are most creatures you can put in front of it), and most of the cards he can steal range from mediocre to actively bad for your opponent to put into play. And between Skyclave Apparition and Flickerwisp, you can punish a lot of stolen cards.
This means you generally don't have to spew value trying to get an early Ragavan off the table. The treasure token generation can certainly be a problem, as there were times in history where it was correct to attack Delver's manabase, but now is not one of those times.
Unless you pretty explicitly smell weakness, I tend to activate Wasteland very conservatively, valuing my own mana production above Delver's. You are fully in the control role in this matchup, with access to a large pile of removal and disruptive creatures to try to stabilize the board with throughout the first handful of turns, before trying to turn the corner. One play pattern I really try to take to heart is that if you can help it, always try to sit on an answer for Murktide Regent.
Whether it's plow, Solitude, recruiter (for Solitude) or even Flickerwisp (Flickering Murktide brings it down to trading with wisp stats), a sudden giant dragon while you have your pants down is an easy way to get rolled. Yorion's typical role in this matchup is mitigating the card disadvantage of Solitude, but sometimes the games can slow to a crawl and give you access to a chunky flier to try to close a game with instead.
-1 Cathar Commando, -1 Sanctum Prelate, -1 Spirit of the Labyrinth +1 Council's Judgment, +1 Rest in Peace, +1 Relic of Progenitus
Postboard is mostly the same. You don't gain a lot because you don't have to. Rest in Peace is a good hammer if you can get it down pre-Murktide (please for the love of Thalia do NOT play it with a Murktide in play), and Relic of Progenitus can help try to preemptively manage their GY for Murktide as well, or more likely, force a DRC to attack then drop it to a 1/1 ground piddler. The other side doesn't gain a ton either, usually a couple of shatters, sometimes a Torpor Orb. These cards typically won't change how you tackle the matchup, but keep in mind that if you sniff out a shatter for your equipment, lining up a timely Kaldra instead of Umezawa's Jitte or Batterskull can be effective counterplay.
URx Saga (aka URx Sagavan aka URx MH2 Tribal) is a slower take on the builds of Delver, foregoing some of the more aggressively slanted cards with a bit more value and staying power with Urza's Saga, but still playing the broken card suite of Ragavan + Murktide + Expressive Iteration (some of them even continue to play DRC).
These decks will vary a bit in deck composition, UWR is the most likely candidate, with access to cards like Plow and Prismatic Ending, but different colored versions also exist (RUG with Uro + Life from the Loam, straight UR with… mostly UR Delver cards but slower, Grixis with Baleful Strix, etc).
I find this matchup to be more favored than UR Delver, as the most aggressive tempo heavy Delver hands are usually what D&T folds to. Your mana denial plan from the Delver matchup also carries over here, as sitting on Wastelands forever is a better plan when you really want to hold them for opposing Sagas anyway.
DnT once again assumes the control role here, as this matchup plays very similarly to Delver, but places more of an emphasis on generating value and less on just staying alive in the early turns (keep in mind Murktide can still punk you though, if you aren't careful). Given that Yorion D&T is really good at generating value, it isn't the hardest to stay ahead in this matchup and just grind them into the dust.
Yorion gets to flex its muscles (wings? Idk I'm not a bird-serpent-ologist) here, as the 8th card in hand and ability to generate card advantage off of your board presence can really crush your opponent in slow games like these.
-1 Sanctum Prelate, -1 Thalia (-1 extra Thalia -1 Spirit) +1 Pithing Needle, +1 Council's Judgment (+1 RIP +1 Relic if they're on DRC or Uro or similar gy nonsense outside of exclusively Murktide)
The D&T mirror has evolved a lot in recent years. Long gone are the days of the dreaded Jitte subgame (whoever gets Jitte online first wins) or being massively behind if you don't lead turn 1 Vial. Skyclave Apparition has really upgraded the weaponry in the matchup, and it can cause games to slow to a crawl.
Solitude also adds an extra element of surprise, being a 0 mana removal spell can lead to some real blowouts when someone goes for a sneaky Jitte connection while they think shields are down. The new subgame is “the race to resolving Yorion on a board of 2+ creatures with ETBs.” If you land your Yorion first, you usually end up miles ahead of your opponent and can make their boardstate much weaker for their own Yorion. (If they aren't on Yorion, Thalia rest their soul.
You're a pretty heavy favorite by virtue of autowinning the Yorion subgame.) Other matchup intricacies revolve around Mother of Runes and Kaldra Compleat. With the departure of Phyrexian Revoker from most lists, Mother of Runes becomes much harder to cleanly deal with. This can make Mom into Stoneforge Mystic lines far more dangerous, because while Skyclave can cleanly answer a jitte, a Kaldra backed up with a Mom can beat you up very quickly before you have time to settle into the boardstall stage of the game.
-3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben +1 Pithing Needle, +1 Council's Judgment, +1 Containment Priest (only in the Yorion mirror)
Sideboarded games are more of the same, but both players have less terrible cards in their maindecks. I err on leaving in more Spirits over Thalias as a hedge to those degenerates still playing Palace Jailer. Containment Priest is a very real blowout card, given how powerful it is against opposing Yorion, and is a card to be very aware of in postboard games.
Of note, your own Priest does not turn off your Yorion, simply flicker the Priest along with the rest of the cards you choose and they will all come back at the same time. However this interaction is currently bugged on MTGO and the cards will come back in a random order and some will be exiled, so do this at your own risk.
Saga gains a lot in sideboard games, as beefy constructs can race through moms, a tutored pithing needle can answer moms or equipment or vials, and even, veeeeery rarely, you can Shadowspear + Cathar Commando down a Kaldra (I've done it once and it was nice).
The other blue “control” deck on the block besides URx Saga, the Bant Piles are more midrange than control lately. Nonetheless, this matchup is a slog of heavy hitters and card advantage generation. The matchup feels very skill dependent, if you don't know what you're doing it can be miserable, but in the right hands you can make the Bant player's life hell. D&T's role in the matchup will shift a lot depending on the context of both players' hands.
You have the tools to beat down with SFM + Kaldra or Urza's Saga, as well as a wide array of answers for their threatening permanents: Skyclave for Sylvan Library/Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Plow, Karakas, and Solitude for Uro. Be cognizant that if the match goes too long, most lists have 1x Shark Typhoon that they can hardcast to beat you up real quick (though now with Cathar Commando you aren't as cold to that plan anymore).
An important skill in the matchup is recognizing what cards your opponent could have to throw a wrench in your plan. Bant has a large array of tools at its disposal: Plow, Prismatic Ending, Dress Down, Ice-Fang Coatl, Endurance, Terminus, etc etc, and it's important to develop a sense of what they could have on a given turn. Attacking a Spirit of the Labyrinth into a flashed Endurance can be game losing. Sometimes it can be correct to hold back Urza's Saga and bait out Dress Down with an ETB creature instead.
Pro tip: if you have an ETB creature and a Vial, consider activating it in your opponent's 2nd main instead of their end step if you want to play around Dress Down better. If you attempt to Vial in a creature on their end step and they respond with Dress Down, it'll stick around for your entire turn cycle as well.) Lastly and perhaps most importantly is to be very aware of clock management.
Online, timing out Bant is a very legitimate wincon. The deck will take far more game actions than you, and both players have far more answers than ways to win the game themselves. It's not uncommon for game 1s to burn over half a player's clock. In paper this means that both players need to keep a reasonable pace of play to not draw, so try to be aware of that (although it's much harder to have control over that in paper.)
-1 Prelate, -1 Shadowspear (-1 Thalia) +1 Relic, +1 CJ, (+1 RIP if they're on Loam which I guess is more or less stock now?)
Postboard games are more or less the same. Sometimes they'll get access to Torpor Orb, but that is a card you basically never get to play around unless you're fairly far ahead and feel good about preemptively recruiting Commando.
Just keep an eye on the clock and know if it's time to shift gears into full timeout mode (I'm serious, this comes up way more often than some people expect).
So we covered a bunch of DnT's good matchups, so now is a good time to learn why you shouldn't play the deck. Doomsday is probably D&T's worst matchup out of all the most popular decks, and it's not close. Worse than Elves (Elves is actually much better than it used to be but we'll get there later).
If your opponent is playing Thassa's Oracle, be ready for pain and suffering. The big thing here is that Doomsday is a very fast and resource light combo that walks circles around most all of D&T's relevant disruption. The downside of Doomsday is losing half your life, which can usually be a big deal, if D&T had any sort of closing speed or ability to stop the opponent from popping off on turn 1-2. But you don't, so more often than not, you die horribly.
Once a Doomsday resolves, you're very likely dead unless you can cobble together lethal the following turn, or have a small subset of hatebears they have to jump through hoops to beat (namely Spirit of the Labyrinth). On top of all this, they're also a Daze + Force of Will deck, so if you manage to get to casting your relevant cards starting on turn 2, you're unlikely to resolve the first one anyway.
Everything is bad here and there's really nothing you can do about it. That's just the life we choose to live in legacy. My advice is typically to just try and get a relevant hatebear in play and then put as much pressure on them as possible, or sometimes get lucky with mana denial.
-1 retrofitter foundry, -1 Batterskull, -1 Jitte, -1 Cathar Commando, -2 Flickerwisp, -2 Skyclave Apparition +1 Pithing Needle, +3 Deafening Silence +2 Mindbreak Trap, +2 Surgical Extraction
Postboard… this matchup still fucking sucks. Your counterhate doesn't line up super well, they can usually play around MBT and DS mostly just turns off Dark Ritual. They often times get Massacre, which is just rude if you ask me. The matchup was already good, stop bullying us @Maxtortion. I tend to leave in Plows + Solitudes in this matchup because it's truly that bad, sometimes you have to hope that you having some creatures onboard can pressure them into a non zero library Thoracle kill, and Solitude/Plow can counter that.
Solitude can also help if they decide to board in the Emrakul, the Aeons Torn combo for whatever reason, or go on a weird creature beatdown plan (I don't know why some Dday players like to do this vs DnT, their plan A is already so unbeatable, but sometimes they want to play on hard mode I guess). Keep in mind that in addition to Surgical shuffling a Dday pile, it can also “counter” Personal Tutor.
Needle is a fairly lousy card to board in, but if you have a Saga getting to chapter 3 when they resolve dday you can usually piece together if they have Edge of Autumn/Street Wraiths in their pile and turn them off. If you're really bemoaning this matchup you can switch to weird narrow cards like Thran Foundry (for Saga players), Curse of Silence, or even some insane stuff like Angel's Grace or Archive Trap. But these cards are so much more narrow in usage I typically prefer to play the better cards and take my L's here.
The Lands vs D&T matchup has shifted so many times since I started playing that I'm starting to get whiplash. Now I feel the matchup is sitting in the “not great but not horrible” camp. The big new tool for them is Urza's Saga, which they are unsurprisingly way better at using than we are. This means that we not only have to contend with some big constructs on our way to winning, but also they get access to more cards to kill Prelate: Pyrite Spellbomb.
Long gone are the days of “Prelate on 2 GG.” While still a powerful tool in the matchup, you really need to focus on killing your Lands opponent quickly, usually with our newest tool: Kaldra Compleat.
You usually want to save your mana disruption (Port/Plow/Wisp + Vial) to punch through Maze of Ith with a resolved Kaldra. We often have the tools to fight some of their gameplans: Skyclave can get rid of Exploration or Valakut Exploration, we have an assortment of removal tools for both Saga and Constructs with Wasteland/Port and Wisp/Plow, but their inevitability will easily dwarf our own.
-4 Thalia, -2 Spirit +1 Needle, + 1 Relic, +1 RIP, +2 Surgical, +1 CJ
Postboard games are a little easier, you have access to GY hate to better fight Loams, and Force of Vigor on their side is much less of a backbreaker when our best artifact is Kaldra. Keep in mind that surgical isn't exclusively for Loam/Punishing Fire anymore, sometimes surgicalling sagas out of your opponent's deck can be correct in the moment, letting them pop off with constructs can be a slog to punch through.
Saga tutoring Needle or Relic can be nice, but getting your Sagas to chapter 3 vs the Wasteland + Crop Rotation + Loam + Force of Vigor deck can be a bit of a struggle. But when it happens, needling Maze of Ith to make your Kaldra unstoppable is big game.
Good ol' Elves, the bane of every DnT player's existence. The secret here is that I genuinely think the Elves matchup is far better than it used to be, and has progressively been getting better for at least the past 2 years. Doomsday is the new boogeyman, I'm not even that bummed to roll the elves pairing anymore.
Between the way the current Elves decks are constructed (Allosaurus Shepard is pretty medium, maindeck Reclamation Sage is far less common), and our access to cards like maindeck Spirit of the Labyrinth, Skyclave Apparition, Urza's Saga, and the biggest gain: Solitude, D&T has way more tools to fight against the green menace.
Your preboard role as the D&T player has not changed at all: get Jitte online -> hope to win the game. The issue was always that the Jitte plan was very mana intensive and didn't allow for very thorough disruption to the opponent, and you usually just died to a big Craterhoof Behemoth before your Jitte could do anything.
Now we have Spirit of the Labyrinth, a maindeck hatebear that shuts off Glimpse of Nature and Wirewood Symbiote + Elvish Visionary engines. Skyclave Apparition, an additional removal spell that can also weaponize your wisps to continue to clean up the board. Urza's Saga, which can find Shadowspear to help Jitte connect through Symbiote or Quirion Ranger (and find Needle/Cage postboard).
By far most importantly: Solitude. When you die against Elves, you very likely die with cards in hand. Access to Force of Plow lets you develop your gameplan and provide legitimate disruption for Elves's early turns of the game, to keep you afloat to the winning game state of jitte connecting.
-1 Retrofitter Foundry, -4 Thalia, -1 Batterskull, -1 Cathar Commando +1 Grafdigger's Cage, +1 Pithing Needle, +1 CJ, +1 Containment Priest, +1 Peacekeeper, +2 MBT
Postboard games can take a couple of different plans. We now have access to turn 1 Urza's Saga to grab Grafdigger's Cage, one of your better cards in the matchup. We have cards like Containment Priest to up our number of disruptive hatebears and enact the Jitte plan A. Most importantly, we have access to Peacekeeper.
The Elves matchup is the premiere Peacekeeper hardlock matchup. If you grind through some of their postboard removal with Cage/Priest/Spirit/Jitte, you can often set yourself up for a fairly safe Peacekeeper (typically off recruiter). This will (hopefully) buy you several turns, during which you want to find Mother of Runes and/or Sanctum Prelate. The easiest way to do this is to hit land drops and yorion your recruiter, grab Prelate, put it on 2 to stop Abrupt Decay.
Then get a Mom or a Needle to stop Grist, the Hunger Tide, and you're mostly home free. (Keep in mind that you can't usually hardlock the Elvish Reclaimer versions of Elves. They usually play Cabal Pit, which is near impossible to lock out short of a Giver of Runes, Pithing Needle, or equipment to get Peacekeeper to > 2 toughness.)
Amusingly you can't deck Elves, since they can repeatedly cast GSZ to shuffle them back in the deck, but with access to Yorion + Vial on 5 + Karakas you can just flicker your Peacekeeper every turn and attack with fliers until they die.
The new kid on the block, this deck is the latest evolution of various forms of Affinity that have been popping up since MH2 came out. A mixture of 0 mana artifacts, Emry, Lurker of the Loch/Sai, Master Thopterist, Urza's Saga, and a full 8 Thoughtcast/Thought Monitors, this deck has a lot of speed, something that D&T usually doesn't like to see from our stompy opponents.
I don't have a ton of experience in this matchup but I've found it to be quite hit or miss. Sometimes your cards can line up really well with your opponents: we have plenty of tools fight a lot of what this deck is trying to do: Karakas vs Emry, plenty of removal for Sai and constructs, Spirit vs Thoughtcasts, etc, but sometimes they have the nut draw hands that just outpace anything you can attempt to keep up with.
It often feels like a similar play experience to the older mono blue karn/urza/echo decks, but a better matchup for DnT, given that they are more focused on axes DnT can fight.
-4 Mother of Runes, -1 Batterskull, (-3 Flickerwisp OTP) +2 Mindbreak Trap, +1 Pithing Needle, +1 Grafdigger's Cage, +1 CJ, (+3 [Deafening Silence OTP)
Postboard games get a little better. A turn 1 DS can go a long way, but dramatically drops off in quality in the following turns (just pitch it to Solitude later, mostly). MBT is a bit of a weird one but you really just don't want to get shitcanned by their nuts turn 1 starts, so it will usually find a target in games you're losing. The only sb card from their side to really be conscious of is Dismember (as well as Torpor Orb, but again, most of the time your plan to play around orb is “don't).
This matchup can be a tough nut to crack for some players. I find it generally very favorable, but as with most Dark Depths matchups, it can feel like you're walking a tightrope and a small error can send you tumbling into a loss you could've easily prevented. The name of the game here is “kill everything with a textbox.” DnT has a pile of removal, Depths often doesn't have enough creatures to keep pace. You really want answers to turn 1 Elvish Reclaimer if you can help it, otherwise your removal starts to get a lot more awkward to fire off.
But basically you just never want them to untap with a Reclaimer or Knight of the Reliquary, and kill them from there. Cards to be scared of are Sylvan Library and Sylvan Safekeeper. Library requires a more specific answer (Skyclave) and hard punishes you for plowing giant KotRs if you can't keep it off the table. Safekeeper is another scary card when your gameplan is “kill a bunch of their shit.”
You have to jump through a fair amount of hoops to keep that card in check, or find a postboard Needle or CJ. If Safekeeper enters the equation and they have a sufficient amount of lands to keep it around, your survival role shifts to using wasteland to stop Lage, or setting up Mom + flier. This setup can block Lage indefinitely if you have some removal spells to throw at it, as if they go for Sejiri Steppe for lethal, you can just target it with a removal spell, force them to give it shroud with Safekeeper, which then counters the Steppe trigger as well. Then you block at your leisure. Retrofitter Foundry also pulls some weight here, as colorless blockers can also prevent the Lage + Steppe kill.
-4 Thalia, -1 Prelate +1 Pithing Needle, +1 Grafdigger's Cage, +1 CJ, +1 Containment Priest, +1 RIP
Your Sagas get much better postboard, gaining the ability to shut off GSZ or Needle one of their many targets. But outside of that, these games will play out largely the same.
The show & tell matchup largely hasn't changed in 100 years so I'm keeping this section brief. I mostly just wanted to note how Solitude affects play patterns. We're no longer cold to Omniscience -> Emrakul, since Solitude can exile it for free. In addition, Cathar Commando gives you a maindeck and recruitable way to remove an Omni from play, so we also have some gains there.
Outside of that, this matchup plays the same way it always has: play your hatebears to slow them down, beat them up (upgraded by constructs or Kaldra) and try to stop them from doing their thing. Prelate on 3 continues to ice them pretty badly if you can get to that stage of the game.
-4 Plow, -1 Retrofitter Foundry, -1 Shadowspear, -1 Jitte, -1 Batterskull (can board out some number of Skyclave instead if they more on full Omni with no Sneaks) +2 MBT, +3 Deafening Silence, +1 Peacekeeper, +1 Pithing Needle, +1 Priest (don't board priest if they're on full Omni) ((Also worth noting that if you see Intuition you may want to board in Surgical Extraction. Use your head. I'm not here to hold your hand.))
In postboard games you get access to some okay tools in DS and MBT, but these cards aren't really for this matchup. They do their job okay but your best cards are just your maindeck: Thalia, Spirit, Prelate, Solitude, etc. enact your preboard plan in most postboard games and you'll be fine. Peacekeeper can scrape together some hardlocks, but it can be hard to know exactly what types of removal they're on, so you usually want a pile of Moms over trying to shot in the dark with the correct Prelate name (usually 2 though unless they're on wishes).
Another brief matchup mention here, as the reanimator matchup never really changes. Solitude is a huge gain for your game one matchup, as it can ice their Exhumes really badly if they aren't expecting it. They have Archon of Cruelty and Serra's Emissary as new reanimation targets, but the card you'll generally lose to is still Griselbrand -> draw 14 cards -> murder you.
Emissary on creature can be scary, as it leaves you with only 4 plows in the deck to fight it. I've found Archon of Cruelty to somehow be a beneficial add for us, as all it usually does is trick them to not Griselbranding you into next week, and we have a lot of removal tools to fight it.
-14 cards at random (only kind of joking, usually you just want to shave chunky top end that doesn't do anything, gut the whole SFM package, etc) +14 cards (not joking, board in everything that isn't yorion)
Postboard you basically only want to keep hands that have relevant interaction on turn 1. Saga is a nice follow up to a hand with something like Surgical in it, as it can grab a turn 3 Cage or Relic to help out the game away if they slog through your first wave of disruption.
If you're really scared of this matchup, you can swap cards like Relic for Soul-Guide Lantern, which fairs much better than Relic vs turn 1 gy decks, sideboard a Faerie Macabre, which works well with Recruiter, or even play Leyline of the Void. Another Peackeeper note here, lists are very often cold to it, outside of Archon forcing you to sac it with the ETB, or reanimating your Solitudes/Skyclaves.
If you can cushion yourself with Peacekeeper + some other creatures (especially Moms) you're pretty safe. Similarly, their lack of creature removal makes Containment Priest a hardlock if you can get it down on a safe boardstate.
I was going to close with something more summarizing about the deck and how happy I've been with it, but I'm very tired of writing at this point, and hopefully you all have already gleaned what you wanted from this. And if you're looking for more insights on playing Yorion D&T, I went on The Dark Depths and The Canadian Threshold podcasts to talk all about it. Go check them both out!
And here's me winning an AnziD 1.2k with the deck a few months ago.
TL;DR: this deck is great. Seriously. So go forth and put some people in the dirt with our Sky Noodley Lord! I hope I helped.
Until next time,