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Much Abrew: Mox and Taxes (Modern)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. This week, we're heading to Modern for the first time in a while, but we're keeping the focus on Dominaria! One of the most controversial cards from the set has been Mox Amber. Some people think it's great, others that it's unplayable, but how does it actually play in practice? That's what we're going to find out today as we test out a new legendary-heavy take on Death and Taxes: Mox and Taxes! Generally speaking, the deck is a lot like the normal Death and Taxes deck for Modern, with a couple of big exceptions. First, we have Mox Amber in place of Aether Vial; second, we have some strange legends to support Mox Amber, like Kytheon, Hero of Akros, Isamaru, Hound of Konda, and Brimaz, King of Oreskos. Is it possible that warping Death and Taxes to take advantage of our newest Mox is a legitimate plan for Modern? How does Mox Amber compare to Aether Vial? How clunky will our legends be once we start playing games and drawing multiples? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Mox and Taxes (Modern)

Discussion

  • As far as our record, we ended up going 3-2, and looking back, that seemed like a pretty good representation of the deck. In some matches, it felt like the worst build of Death and Taxes imaginable, as we drew Mox Ambers with no legends and flooded out with legendary one-drops. In others, it felt like the most explosive and powerful version of Death and Taxes in the format. Basically, the good games were really good, but the bad games were really bad. 
  • The reason for this variance? Mox Amber, primarily. Heading into the matches, one of our biggest questions was whether Mox Amber is better than Aether Vial (much like Collected Company and Aether Vial, it seems difficult to play both together because they make each other worse) in Death and Taxes, and in the end, I'm still not exactly sure. Based on some of our extremely explosive draws (just dumping our hand Affinity-style on Turn 1), it seems that Mox and Taxes probably has more raw power than traditional Death and Taxes, although it comes with the drawback of less consistency. While the Aether Vial builds of Death and Taxes are never going to play Turn 1 Rest in Peace (along with a one-drop) to beat Hollow One, they are also never going to draw a third copy of Kytheon, Hero of Akros off the top of the deck when you really need a playable creature or removal spell. 
  • One of the challenges of playing Mox Amber is that there simply aren't enough one-mana legendary creatures in white, meaning that we need to play multiples of Kytheon and Isamaru, Hound of Konda, which leads to a lot of dead draws. One possibility is reaching into another color so we can keep the number of legendary one-drops the same but reduce the number of each individual legend in our deck. 
  • Back to Aether Vial for a minute. One thing that was apparent from our matches is that the Leonin Arbiter / Ghost Quarter plan works a lot better with Aether Vial than with Mox Amber. With Aether Vial, it's pretty safe to fire off Ghost Quarter at will, since we can always play our creatures with Aether Vial. With Mox Amber, there's some weird tension where we really want to use Ghost Quarter as a Strip Mine, but if we go down a land, we risk never being able to cast our three- and four-drops. It might just be that the Strip Mine plan isn't really worth it in Mox Amber builds. 
  • Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Mox Amber might look weird, but in practice, they typically aren't a problem. With a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben on the battlefield, Mox Amber is just free, rather than generating mana the turn it comes into play, which is fine in most cases. Plus, if we know we have Thalia, Guardian of Thraben on Turn 2, we can always just run our Mox Amber on Turn 1, even if we don't have a legend to turn it on.
  • While we didn't draw it too often, Hero of Bladehold was impressive pretty much every time we had it on the battlefield. When it comes down on Turn 2 or 3 thanks to Mox Amber, it's pretty good at stealing games out of nowhere.
  • So, where does all this leave us in terms of Mox Amber in Death and Taxes? While more testing is needed, I'm pretty sure that Mox and Taxes is more powerful but less consistent than traditional Death and Taxes. Mox Amber leads to some free wins that the slower Aether Vial simply can't provide. Even just having two one-drops on the battlefield on Turn 1 is a big game, and it's pretty hard to lose when we can follow this up with a three-drop like Brimaz, King of Oreskos or Blade Splicer on Turn 2. On the other hand, one of the upsides of traditional Death and Taxes is that, while it isn't very explosive, it's very consistent and annoying to play against. Do the free wins from Mox Amber outweigh the games where we simply lose to ourselves by drawing multiples of the same legend or Mox without any legends at all? At this point, I'm not sure.
  • So, should you play Mox and Taxes? I think the answer is yes, at least in a couple of specific situations. First, if you already have traditional Death and Taxes, I think it's certainly worth messing around with Mox Amber because if the deck can add consistency to its raw power, it could end up the best build of Death and Taxes in Modern. Second, the free win aspect of Mox and Taxes might make it better for new Death and Taxes players, since rather than grinding out every game on really tight margins, you'll sometimes just win because you play two creatures on Turn 1 and a powerful three-drop on Turn 2. On the other hand, if you're looking to win a Grand Prix or another big tournament, until Mox and Taxes figures out a way to be more consistent, you're probably better off sticking with Aether Vial. This being said, Mox Amber certainly showed enough power that it's worth brewing and building around because it could be very strong in Modern if we can find the right build!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck by liking, commenting on, and subscribing to Instant Deck Tech videos! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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