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After a year I've finally Platinumed Bloodborne and I wrote my thoughts on the game's bosses!
I'm really excited to say that this was my first Platinum, and I had one hell of a time playing this game. Here's the proof of my completion, and I'm currently awaiting the mods approval for my platinum flair!
Anyhow, when I first picked up this game, I just about gave up. I downloaded it when I got my first free month of ps+ after vaguely recalling seeing a video about the game online. I picked it up, created my character and off to Yharnam I went.
I never made it past the central bonfire. It was incredibly difficult and I got hit by absolutely everything. I had just come off playing God of War and I was looking for blocking, help from an outside party, or "cheats" such as the wolf summons or special attacks. Here, with just a saw cleaver and a gun that, in my earlier opinion, didn't even work, I just couldn't do it.
I quit the game for two months but told myself I would finally get back into it. I made a new character and told myself I wouldn't give up on this game until I learned the mechanics. It took me 15 DAYS to get through the bonfire, playing one hour a day. I told myself this wasn't the game for me, and quit, again.
Another month later, I came across an article that said if you can beat Father Gascoigne, you could beat the game. Not knowing who that was, I said fuck it, and back to Yharnam I went. This time something clicked on my newest character I made it past Central Yharnam.
After the bonfire, what awaited me was my first boss, the Cleric Beast.
- Cleric Beast: Honestly, when I began Bloodborne, I had never really played a game with a truly aggressive boss besides God of War. I had expected a choreographed gimmick, e.g. Zelda and this boss just absolutely destroyed me. There was nothing planned, no "weak parts" to aim for no one item that would instantly kill it. I'm not going to lie, I died. I died a lot. The only reason that I was able to get through this boss was because I used a lot of oil urns and molotov cocktails. On future playthroughs, this boss is a joke and quite easy, yet, when I finally beat it, I was really proud. I legitimately found this boss harder than the Valkyrie Queen on GMGOW because I just could not pick up on exactly what to do, but beating it put me in the ZONE.
- Father Gascoigne: I had finally reached Gascoigne, and after practicing my parrying on the werewolves on the Yharnam Bridge and the Executioner near the gate of Central Yharnam, I felt confident in my abilities. Gascoigne... well he shattered my confidence. Instead of having windows, he was extremely fast, hit like a damn truck and wrecked me. Practicing parrying on him, I immediately felt like I found a cheat as I was able to drastically bring down his health... until his beast phase, which when I was new to the game, I was only able to beat it through one method... dodging and molotovs. Now I enjoy fighting Gascoigne, and love the dance you need to do with him. I haven't died since.
- Blood Starved Beast: After Gascoigne, I remember the words of the article. If you can beat Gascoigne, you can beat the game. So, I told myself I was going to beat the game. And not just beat it, but Platinum it. I went immediately to explore everything and came across the BSB. Honestly, I didn't find this fight too challenging. Having random flame papers in my inventory, this fight only took me two tries. Even now, I don't find this fight particularly challenging. Dodge consistently to the left getting in slashes when you can. That seems to be about it. I've never bothered to parry it and never bothered since.
- The Witches of Hemwick: Honestly this boss was hard for me at first. The setting was really cool, and for the longest time, I couldn't figure out where the boss was. I just kept getting spammed by madmen and kept instantly dying. After I found the madmen lost their aggro fast and the witches barely attacked, this fight went down instantly and I haven't lost since.
- Vicar Amelia - Flame Paper saved me. Amelia was a really interesting boss because I consistently had an issue dodging her overhead slam and because he health pool was so large. This was the first real "get gud" fight for me. Using flame paper and realizing that the arm was easy to injure to visceral her face or do additional damage meant this fight went much faster. It was honestly more of a challenge for me to initially get to her, and at the end of the day, I still might die once when fighting her, even on NG +2 but I enjoy the fight.
- Shadows of Yharnam - Fuck. These. Ganks. This fight was extremely challenging for me. I found it really hard to manage so many powerful enemies at once that could one or two hit me. When I finally got confident enough at taking them on in their base form, they change and get even more aggressive and their reach becomes absolutely ridiculous. Once I finally thought I nailed that phase? I got killed by snakes. This fight for me came down to beast blood pellets and learning how to dodge. I used the big grave to my advantage and was ONLY able to win when I went for the ranged guy last.
- Rom - Rom sucked. My this was definitely the hardest fight for me up to this point in the game. A spider attack could take my entire health bar up, and each arcane attack would kill me as well. At this point I realized that strategy was the way to go. Serrated weapons, bolt paper, beast blood pellets all used AFTER I killed the first wave of spiders. Then I just danced around the rest and stayed in close to Rom to avoid the long distance attacks. Ever since, this fight has been fairly easy. Have never died again.
- Paarl - There are two kinds of people when they encounter Paarl. Those who find him hard, and those who don't. I never really found him a challenge. Smacked his back legs, avoided him when he was running around through dodging, that was about it. I think I've died to him once through 3 playthroughs?
- The One Reborn - Honestly? This fight was another cake walk and I had a much much much harder time getting to this area through the gank squad of 3 different hunters and all the one hit kills from the corpses in a chest.
- Martyr Logarius - Now we're getting into difficult territory. I immediately realized that this boss wasn't fucking around when he got up from his chair and slashed me to death in two hits. This boss was definitely my next wall. The Martyr's speed coupled with his extremely hard hitting attacks, crazy range, ability to gank, and his sword/aoe attacks really gave me a hard time. Phase two was somehow even more difficult until I was able to learn to backstab. That really changed this fight around for me for the better, but as of fighting him, he was by far the hardest boss for me, and I probably die 1-5 times each playthrough now when fighting him.
- Celestial Emmisary - Wow. What a joke. I added a bolt paper and a beast blood pellet. I finished this fight before he even became big, and this has been consistent each time. What a waste of a fight, I've never died.
- Ebrietas - Another massive wall boss for me. Her tentacle attacks with unpredictable range, extremely fast turning ratio, inability to target the butt well, shitty camera angles, charge, and a call from beyond just all killed me time after time again. Bolt papers dramatically helped me, but this was the first fight I had to legitimately grind for, from level 40 to level 60. By far the hardest fight in the game for me up to this point. I couldn't parry, backstab, and I was consistently one hit killed.
- Ludwig - Honestly, I bought into the hype. When I first came into this fight I was immediately one shotted by his charge. After that though? I really didn't have a problem. Dodging his flailing came naturally and just attacking his sides until his legs kicked in just worked. I didn't really do anything special. Phase two and the little clip was awesome to see, and I loved the change in pace. Being said, phase two, in my opinion, is extremely easy. Run in close, get behind him and smack, rotate with him. When he goes for the AOE, just run away, then rinse and repeat. I only died once to him in phase two throughout 3 full playthroughs, and that was the first time before I realized that he even had the AOE.
- Laurence - After defeating Ludwig so easily I had Laurence and I was pretty confident. I was stupid. This cleric beast clone was more aggressive, scaled to end game, had a whole body that was a hitbox, had ridiculous AOE and no matter what I did, I had a ton of trouble even getting through phase one. This fight may have taken 25 tries to beat because the first phase had so many ganky moves that could just one shot you or corner you and then capitalize a combo on you. At the end of the day, phase two again was much easier. Just walk to the left, smack, dodge back, rinse and repeat as available.
- Living Failures - Honestly kind of disappointing. I've died once through three playthroughs and have only died because I didn't know how much damage the meteors did. These guys are extremely slow, are extremely easy to parry or backstab, and when they meteor summon, just go behind the tree at the right angle which is the same every single time. You can usually kill one railure in the time it takes for the meteor shower to end, and it just doesn't present a challenge in my opinion.
- Maria - Here's where I'm conflicted. I've never died in this fight through 3 different playthroughs. I've come close, but parrying trivializes this fight to the point where I don't find it very hard. The first phase Maria is fast, but slow enough when attacking that it's hard to miss a parry. Phase two and three are harder only because her attacks have longer range or are faster than before/have fire/blood added. Again, I just dodge and parry. Never died, and while I enjoy the fight, I don't see the hype around her.
- Orphan - This is my favorite boss in the game. What a bitch though. The Orphan took me a long time to learn. Once you learn attack timing, phase one is trivialized and made easy, especially if you take advantage of the visceral HP restore rune giving you 50% health back every time. The challenging part for me has always been phase two. The RNG is consistently going, and unlike every other boss, the orphan will take advantage of what will kill you. He might do two combos in a row, or stop a combo and throw blood at you, and it's extremely hard to predict. The fight for me ended up being a lot of dodging and bolt papers. Trying to parry this phase always got me killed so this was truly a fight about trying to stay alive. I've probably died 60-75 times total to him through three playthroughs and he is, in my mind, the hardest boss that Bloodborne has to offer in the regular game/DLC but also the most fun.
- Amygdala - Once completing the DLC, coming back to the regular game was almost boringly easy. Amy wasn't very hard. Bait the head, smack until it gets knocked down, visceral it, then bam, tons of damage. Rinse and repeat simply dodging left for the swipes and lasers. Phase two, get in close and focus on the tail, the arms holding the ripped arms. I rarely die here anymore.
- Micolash - Worst fight in the game. He's not particularly hard, but chasing him is always a pain and his call from beyond is equally annoying. That's about it, I dislike this fight. I usually die 1 or 2 times a playthrough due to ACFB.
- Mergo's Wet Nurse - An interesting fight for sure, but not a particularly challenging one. Its attacks aren't powerful enough to really do too much damage to you, so just dodge to the side and behind and whack that booty. When all goes purple and a double pops out just run around until it ends. Through 3 playthroughs haven't died once.
- Gehrman - Honestly after fighting Maria, this fight wasn't too hard. He was much easier than Maria, less attack variety and like her was also trivialized by the use of bullets. He's actually killed me once or twice through my 2 playthroughs due to his AOE attack and when he visceraled me. Being said once I learned these attacks existed, I didn't find it to be too challenging. Stack up on bullets and just shoot. Fairly easy fight.
- Moon Presence - Kind of a let down. After Gehrman, I was expecting something amazing, but instead I got a beast boss who simply wasn't too hard to kill. His 1HP attack and no healing attack was a pain the first time it happened to me, but it wasn't all to challenging. Fought him once, never died, and didn't have too much fun. If you beat Gehrman, this is just pathetically easy in comparison.
NOTE I WILL NOT BE DOING REPEATS, ONLY THE HARDEST VERSION
- Beast Possessed Soul - An interesting boss, but not one that was all too challenging. Having fire paper and a serrated weapon (I used the saw cleaver for the entire game) made this fight relatively simple. The fire was a bit of a surprise and got me close to death but you can parry and stagger this enemy and the fight is none too bad.
- Undead Giant Ball and Chain - Oof. This fight took me a while to understand. When I first did this fight I immediately went to burst the sac on its leg. That was definitely a bad move. Learning to wait until the blood started helped to negate the amount of ball and chain attacks (the 360 degree move) that I always had trouble dodging. The weirdest part was not being able to parry or really stagger. Being said, once I learned to wait on the leg sac, it only took a few more tries.
- Chalice Rom - Meh. Pretty simple. Took one try. Used the same strategy as before and Rom has even less space to move. Not fun, not a challenge, just there.
- Bloodletting Beast - This was a really fun fight because of the BLB's range. I don't believe that I honestly could have beaten this fight without using flame paper and realizing I needed to hit the back legs once or twice then bail. When I was trying to stay on the back legs, I would get stomped on, grabbed, or simply swiped. This probably took me 10 tries, but I did enjoy it a lot.
- Keeper of the Old Lords - Not particularly a great fight. This was like a shitty Maria lite that I really didn't enjoy. Took me two tries as I didn't expect her second phase to change how she acted, but overall, not too challenging. Parry/backstab was the way to go, and down she went with ease.
- Watchdog of the Old Lords - Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity Fuck. This fight was the most rage inducing fight of the entire game. I think that having such a limited health pool while the dog had such a massive amount of hit range really screwed me over. I'm not ashamed to admit this fight took me probably about 100 tries. I tried dodging under the bites. That didn't work. Dodging the charge last second to guarantee hit the legs? Didn't work. Getting in close with the fire puke? Didn't work because the camera angle then you were locked in the puke trying not to take damage. This fight was only won after I took a break and calmly played it with 2 additional health runes, the bone ash set, bolt paper, and the fire resist rune. Generally speaking in hindsight, this wasn't the hardest fight in the game. The move set was fairly simple. What made the fight so difficult was the camera angles and the limited health given. This fight was more challenging to me than the Orphan because I got reckless and could consistently be one hit. If you go into this as a calm fighter and are willing to let this be a longer fight, then you shouldn't have as much trouble as I did.
- Defiled Amygdala - Meh. People said that this fight was harder than the Watchdog, but I simply didn't find it all too hard. Yeah the room was smaller than the OG Amygdala, and the attacks hit hardeI had less health, but all in all, same strategy. Bait the head, wait till it goes down, the visceral. The difference between the two was for the defiled version, I just targeted the tail in phase two. It took longer than the arms, but I didn't get hit once and slowly but steadily hit the tail and killed it. If Amy jumps, literally just don't move until she lands, then run past and smack the tail again. This fight only took me 3 attempts.
- Pthumerian Descendant - Fuck this spammy r1 bullshitter. Parry timing doesn't make sense to me, backstabs never seem to stagger him, and I just consistently got my ass kicked. Probably took me 20 tries and the only way I got through was just being patient. Using bolt papers, I would do 1 or 2 hits then get the fuck out, always going into the long hallway so I would have room to dodge back. This was infuriating because it didn't seem like a fair fight. Just a spamming broken asshole with way too much health.
- Blood Letting Beast Headless - This fight wasn't bad. Similar strategy to the headed form, smack the legs. Honestly, this fight was easier for me because the arena was bigger and the BLB couldn't grab me between its legs. All I did was stayed between the legs, avoided the stomp, healed when I needed, and kept smacking the legs. Only took one try.
- Yharnam Pthumerian Queen - This fight took me 6 tries. The hardest part was definitely realizing that the stun came on the third cry. The fight itself wasn't nearly as bad as any of the defiled dungeon creatures, and I found the Descendant much harder. Once I put on blood resist armor, this fight was just get in, get out until the first phase ended, then in the second phase, dodging around the Queen to find her fakes, the wailing on the Queen till she moved, then just rinse and repeat. The only reason I died in this fight was because of her lock attack when she had her blood sword and I just completely got screwed. All in all, a really cool and unique fight for the final chalice boss, but it for sure wasn't close to the hardest.
- Bloody Crow - This fight was hard until I realized the strategy. Simply wait him out while he used the transformed chickage in phase 1. Knock him back in phase two until he heals then rinse and repeat. During phase 2, use your bullets and visceral. Each bullet did about 1/3 of my health when I fought him but the key to this fight was honestly being patient. Going in and smacking him with r1 will do nothing but get you killed especially because he can visceral you. Get bolt paper, get a lot of blood vials and bullets for phase two and that's about it. Took me a while until I realized the strategy. Probably took me 15 tries.
- Abhorrent Beast - Definitely a challenging fight. Used fire paper on him to take him down, but his speed, overall attack power, hard to predict moveset made this one of the most challenging fights of the mid game for me. I think that the coolest part of the fight was that it was just random. The beggar changes and attacks you, and it made it a unique fight that a random NPC would trigger. I enjoyed it and probably took 3 tries to best him.
When I first started this game, I quit. It was extremely difficult and I had never played a game before that was so different and challenging. I died more in this game through my 3 playthroughs than I've probably died through every other game I've ever played, but post Gascoigne, I never gave up. To whoever said if you can defeat Gascoigne, you can beat the game, you were right. This is a game I think that people must platinum. It pushes you to get better and better, and in my opinion, no matter how you defeat the boss, you become a better gamer for it. Due to the amount of different builds, there's no one way to take down a boss. Bosses that are hard for some are easy for others, and I love the diversity of the game.
If anyone has any questions about the game, please feel free to ask. I'd love to share my love of the game. Thanks again to everyone, and I couldn't be more proud or happy.
[Historic] Death & Taxes Primer
I have loved the creature based control deck Death & Taxes since og Innistrad when Thalia was released and now she is here on arena, alongside some friends, and I jumped at the chance to make my favorite deck on Arena.
Here are my current decklists. They are the initial versions which I am playing in Bo1 until I feel more confident in what my SB needs to include.
Why play D&T?
- You like control, but dislike playing at instant speed.
- You enjoy forcing your opponents to play by your rules.
- You prefer making crucial decisions in both deckbuilding and gameplay
The CoreThese cards fit in each build of D&T regardless of color.
3-4 Alseid of Life's Bounty: Our Mother of Runes/Giver of Runes stand in. Although this card requires that you hold open mana, with our low curve, it is still a helpful tool to keep our other important taxers from being removed. The lifelink is a nice bonus, and since Als doesn't require getting tapped to activate, you can freely attack in with this card when the coast is clear for a little boost. Another boon which might prove useful later on is the fact that this can also protect your enchantments not just your creatures, although there aren't any too important atm.
3-4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben: The reason the play this deck. The first strike is great at annoying some low to the ground aggro decks, but we are really in this thanks to her noncreature spell tax. Although it may not seem like much, especially in a format with fewer super strong noncrearture spells overall, forcing T3feri, Reclamation, or Fires back a single turn could be enough to provide you the tempo to overpower your opponent. She also makes Kethis combo much harder to pull off since now they will need to actually pay one each time they would like to recast their mox.
3-4 Tithe Taker: This card I have found to just be generally helpful across all of my matches. It makes all of the flash/control decks annoyed thanks to them needed to spend more to cast their cards, even if they are creatures, and allows me to block twice against the more aggressive oriented decks. This is a bit of a nonbo with Hushbringer, which I will get to, but I don't think that it is too much of an issue since I don't consider the latter to be core.
3-4 Kinjalli's Sunwing: Our pseudo Serra Avenger. Sunwing allows us to stop haste creatures in their tracks and allows us to race some of the slightly slower decks by limiting their blocking opportunity and hitting them in the sky. It also helps quite nicely in control decks which use creature finishers since they will have a turn where that creature will be unable to block, possibly spelling a loss for them. Sunwing is strongest against the cavalcade haste decks but also puts in work against gruul for forcing the opponents hand with their riot creatures but also putting Questing Beast out for both an attack and block.
Rounding Out WhiteThese are some of the other key cards that I added to the mono-white list which seem like less likely cuts than the remainder of 'additional options' addressed later. Some of these are played in the other versions.
~2 Shadowspear: A very, very, very poor man's Jitte or Sword, this equipment helps make our creatures slightly more impressive while also boasting an okay ability.
~2 Tomik, Distinguished Advokist: This card, unfortunately, only feels like a decent early flier and not necessarily a strong taxing card. For some reason when first building this deck, I had assumed he worked more like Grafdiggers Cage. Since he, rightly, doesn't stop cards like Circuitous Route, he is not as strong as I'd like in a taxing two drop. That said, he still offers some protection of our lands against opposing Ghost Quarters and Ruins and annoys the Gitrog Crucible decks.
~2 Gideon Blackblade: A nonbo with Thalia, Gideon really helps the mono-white deck have some decent utility. Giving a creature indestructible is not often going to matter in game one since it wears off at the end of our turn, but giving something like a Sunwing vigilance so that it can attack in the air and still block is great, as is giving a creature lifelink to gain back some precious points against an aggressive red deck. Gideon also just hits the opponent with near impunity thanks to his built-in indestructibility during your turn. The fact that he can sometimes exile a problematic card from the opponent is gravy.
~2 Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants: Another planeswalker that isn't friends with our main card, Ajani just offers too much utility to be overlooked. Our creatures are pretty meek on their own but a single uptick from Ajani can really start to put the pressure on our slow opponents while allowing us to have better trade options against our more aggressive opponents. Since the deck is going to have at least 16 creatures that cost two or less, his downtick can allow us to buyback an important tax card for the matchup, or just get back something which will help us end the game.
~2 Leonin Warleader: Last but not least we have our army in a box. Warleader may not have the most impressive stats by itself, but mixed with the rest of the cards in the deck, he provides a simple way to start closing out the game. The lifelink adds are great help at stabilizing against faster decks and it is nice that warleader can trade favorably with Questing Beast.
Adding BlueBlue adds some of the best cards with ETB abilities, so I tried to capitalize on that.
2-3 Siren Stormtamer: This card is similar, yet different, to Als. We trade in the lifelink for some flying which means we are more likely to get damage in. We also get to protect ourselves with its ability, but we must use specifically a blue source to do so which means our mana base can have some blunders.
3-4 Meddling Mage: The main reason I think the Azorius version is the strongest of the five in a vacuum. This card just lets you say a preemptive no to any card that your opponent needs in their strategy. Obviously this is one of the more skill intensive cards in the deck, especially for game one, but with more time in the format you'll know what your deck needs to worry about and when you are likely against a deck that has one of those cards. What is great is that this happens as it enters play which means you can reset it by flickering it and your opponent can't cast the chosen spell if they let the mage resolve.
3-4 Charming Prince: Our more limited Flickerwisp but with other options. The flicker is slow like Wisp, but can only hit creatures that you own. That's bad in that you are limited with the number of tricks you can do, but you can target creatures you own that have been stolen to get them back so that is nice. The scry two can save you from death by getting you closer to a card you need or just help to set up your early plays. You can also gain three life. Good against aggro.
2 Lavinia, Azorius renegade: This first part of this card helps slow down a number of strong cards commonly played such as Embercleave and Nexus if they are casting it with help from Reclamation. It can also help against the red decks slowing them down on the spectacle cards. Her second ability says no to Fires, zero cost spells like Mox, and copies if they are specified to be cast.
2-3 Alirios, Enraptured: Look mom, it's Blade Splicer. Okay, it isn't, but since the reflections aren't legendary we can keep flickering Alirios to get plenty of 3/2s even if they don't have first strike.
3-4 Deputy of Detention: This card is removal that can be reset and can just get rid of all those annoying Field tokens.... if you're alive. 3 toughness is nice to have.
~2-4 Elite Guardmage: This card is a flier that gains life an draws a card. It feels like it should be super strong in the deck but I am not sure how many to run. That said, I think it should definitely have at least two slots since we can take advantage of its etb again and again.
2-3 Thassa, Deep-Dwelling: She offers a lot more than you might think. There is the obvious boon of being able to flicker the plethora of creatures with etb abilities, but her tap ability can give you reprieve from the strongest attacker or can help you push lethal. D&T decks typically have a lot of utility in their lands since they classically have access to cards like Aether Vial or otherwise just run out of cards to cast. Knowing this, Thassa feels like a nice way to include a card that helps further our plan, while also giving us a dump when we would otherwise be twiddling our thumbs. Oh, she can also become a creature on some rare occasions.
Adding BlackBlack adds a lot of cards with resiliency so I decided to go a little more aggressive with the deck. I think of all the splashes, black offers the most variety in build types, but I'll only discuss one here.
3-4 Knight of the Ebon Legion: This card brings the Death to Death & Taxes. An efficient body which grows over time, can kill above its cost, and acts as a mana sink for the deck over the game.
2-3 Kunoros, Hound of Athreos: A 3 mana body that can attack through light defenses, bolster our life, and can remain on block duty? Sign me up. Fido's abilities also help combat some powerful decks/spells. His first ability can stop corpses from reanimating in dedicated reanimator strategies or Kethis combo decks, but also incidentally in the GBx decks which use the explore package alongside Command the Dreadhorde. His second ability just generally hurts Kethis decks, but can have some extra impact against a few jumpstart cards being played.
3 Midnight Reaper: Not directly a tax card, but the Nazgul will make your opponent hesitate before killing any of your creatures. Reaper helps the resiliency of the deck by keeping our hand stocked up on creatures as we keep the pressure on our opponent. Be aware of the life loss against aggro though.
2-4 Murderous Rider: It's removal! Oh and it can be a creature that gains life. Choose which mode to use first against aggro.
2-3 Seraph of the Scales: A great flying beater that leaves behind some friends and can give herself vigilance to go attack and defend. The deathtouch isn't as important since her power is fine but if she came back as a 1/1, it would be pretty sweet.
2-3 Nightmare Shepherd: Speak of the devil.... demon. Shepherd lets us get extra value out of our cards if they die. What's great is that it isn't a replacement effect so we still get to benefit from death triggers. He's also just a decent four power flier.
Adding RedLike black, I decided to go on a more aggressive slant to red, not because it has the same resiliency, but because it has okay reach potential.
3-4 Robber of the Rich: Has reach which is odd but can at least block early life hawks. Haste means we can add a little burst damage to our board but the ability to steal cards from the opponent can be pretty reliable since we empty our hand fast. Whether or not this ends up giving us decent cards to cast or even hurt our opponents by taking something integral from them is entirely up to the matchup and rngeezus.
3-4 Bonecrusher Giant: Very similar to Murderous Rider, Giant lets us deal with small creatures, finish off larger ones or planeswalkers, or can just go dome for some nice reach. It also has a decent sized body for its cost which can block nicely or attack harshly thanks to the deterrent of its ability on the board.
~2-4 Legion Warboss: This is another one of those cards that I feel should be great in the deck on paper, but I hesitate committing to that. It is a one card army, but that army is small and new recruits must attack which can be more negative than neutral in a number of situations.
3-4 Rampaging Ferocidon: What a menace. Obviously this card can hurt us a bunch in the aggro matchup but the benefit it gives us again token spam decks like field is glorious. It also helps fight incidental lifegain from cards like Absorb, Wildgrowth, and Trawler making our margins against late game decks better than they otherwise would be.
2-3 Rekindling Phoenix: A resilient flier like Seraph. Unfortunately there is a decent amount of exile removal but the fact that Phoenix can come back again and again with haste makes it a very threatening top end.
2-3 Tectonic Giant: Tectonic has a similar deterrent to Bonecrusher except we can choose to dome our opponent or get rage draw. We also get to do this whenever the giant attacks which means we have okay access to reach directly or through advantage.
Adding GreenThe green version feels the most midrangey to me and is second behind black for number of potential inclusions. These inclusions though, feel a lot more meta dependent which is why you will so more 0-X inclusions in this section.
0-4 Bronzehide Lion: A Watchwolf than can become indestructible if you have the mana is nice. He is great for testing the waters of attacking over turns and can also just stonewall certain big threats like Pridemate. The fact that you can transfer him to another creature when he dies is nice but that depends on him being targeted for deletion before his peers or instead of them all getting yeeted to oblivion. I think their inclusion depends on the strength of 2 mana 3/3's for attacking and blocking as well as the amount of exile removal.
3-4 Destiny Spinner: It is an okay body against the non-counterspell decks but against those decks she just says nah and comes down early enough to actually matter. The last ability can be used if you have excess lands but is very dangerous since the deck doesn't have many enchantments to start with.
4 Knight of Autumn: Knight is versatility incarnate and running a full set lets you maximize the usefulness. They can be a strong attackeblocker; blow up Fires, Reclamation, or a pre-indestructible Platinum Angel; or just give you an extra cushion against aggro.
0-2 Ajani, the Greathearted: Giving all of your creatures vigilance can help in races and the 3 life is nothing to hate. This cards inclusion is dependent on how friendly the meta is to wide boards to get max benefit from his minus.
3 Shalai, Voice of Plenty: Shalai protects our face and our whole team from targetting which is great. She also has a nice toughness which dodges 3 damage spells like lightning strike. She is technically mono white so she could fit into any of the other versions, but I haven't figured out if she is good enough with just her static to out-compete the other potential 4 drops. Unlike Greenjani, Shalai's buff isn't her primary draw but it is a great tool to have later in drawn out games.
0-4 Questing Beast: This card is just damn strong. I am playing 2 right now, but can easily see playing four thanks to its power or 0 due to other 4s that fit the theme/synergy better.
0-2 Trostani Discordant: Almost the same pros and cons as Greenjani although she come with her own army. Getting your creatures back against a theft deck is cool but not going to happen often. The main draw here is the buff whose strength relies on the friendliness to wide boards.
Other OptionsHere I will go through some other options that I considered specifically for main deck inclusion. Many of these are being played in multiple versions but I do not find directly integral to the decks.
Giant Killer: One issue this deck has which I will expand on later is the lack of strong creature removal. Chop Down can help drop some of the larger cards in other decks like Questing, an attacking Spinx, or a pre-indestructible Platinum. The issue is that it is rather limited in scope, requires as decent mana investment for its scope, and can't deal with on of the most important targets: indestructible Platinum Angel. Oh and it can tap things sometimes.
Adanto Vanguard: It is a resilient attacker but the utility on defense is not great and the life adds up even against control.
Hushbringer: An incredibly strong card in many situations like denying life gain triggers from etbs or beneficial death triggers but can disrupt our own strategies. Best in version with minimal etbs like the mono white version or the red splash but a big no for the blue splash.
Militia Bugler: A direct enemy with the last card Bugler offers some nice card advantage attached to an okay body. Despite being a nonbo with Bringer, I still consider the effect strong enough to play in the mono version. Is potentially very strong in the green or blue splashes.
Banishing Light/Conclave Tribunal: Solid temporary removal which can hit a wide array of things but just really hates Thalia and has felt overly clunky so far.
Cloudkin Seer: It flies and draws cards in the splash that likes to flicker. Not bad.
Teferi, Time Raveler: Yeah, he clashes with Thalia but hates on instants hard and can bounce our own creatures so that we can get more value or reset something like Mage.
Burglar Rat/Brain Maggot/Yarok's Fenlurker: Small bodies but decent effect, especially if it can be repeated. They all have their pros and cons but didn't fit the more aggressive nature of this version.
Gutterbones: A resilient and aggressive body but I felt that Als was still just a better choice to keep.
Tajic, Legion's Edge: A surprisingly decent choice since it can stop cards like Storm's Wrath and Clarion and make our team bigger but space is limited and I felt the other 3s were better.
Growth-Chamber Guardian: It's a bear that can get bigger while giving you a replacement. One of the stronger considerations for sure, especially paired with Greenjani and Shalai.
ManabaseFor most of the builds I expect that 24 lands will be ideal but 23 or 25 can also be a strong number for slightly lower or higher averages.
Ghost Quarter vs. Field of Ruin: I am unsure what role nonbasics will have moving forward. Obviously since we are not playing modern or legacy there are fewer frightening targets as well as fewer decks that are running next to no basics. That said, Field of the Dead is a powerful card that we need to have an answer to. Running at least two of these cards feels like a must regardless of version. Unfortunately we don't have Cat Jesus, but we are unlikely to get it. I think Mindcensor is possible but that is for another time.
Shocks/Checks/Temples: I will admit I am a traysh builder when it comes to manabases but since all the splash versions don't have too many tight restrictions, I went with 4/4/X. Temples I essentially only added to the black deck because I thought that it may get more use out of them.
Castle Ardenvale: In the mono version it can alleviate some of the late game excess mana issues but it and its ilk didn't make it into the splash versions.
Secluded Steppe: Very similar to Castle this remedies floods for the mono version but are too disruptive for the other versions for me to feel comfortable with including them there.
Bojuka Bog: It is an almost free inclusion in the black splash and helps harm grave decks like Kethis even more.
Sideboard OptionsAs I said in the opening, I am unsure what the solidified meta will look like and D&T really is a meta reaction. These are the main options that I considered alongside what they are meant to address. There are other options which I didn't deem necessary to discuss but am willing to add them in.
Grafdigger's Cage: A colorless, though bodyless, version of Kunoros that also cares about libraries. It has some nice edge cases here and there against things like Green Finaleor Bolas's Citadel, but overall the library part of the card is less important. Stops Phoenix, Cat, jumpstart, & Kethis among other things. It fights with Remorseful cleric for the grave hate but I think a mixture of both is best to diversify your shallow bonds.
Amulet of Safekeeping: Two of these can stop you from dying to Field zombies, but small chance that you'll be able to have two out at the same time thanks to cards like T3feri. The black splash has a better option against those decks, but if you really need something to handle the horde this can help. Oh, it has some other text too.
Revoke Existence: Initially I went with the instant speed of disenchant, but the fact that the Platinum Glory deck exists means that having exile removal is crucial. A split is workable, but I expect there are few reasons to favor instants due to the overall sorcery speed nature of the decks.
Devout Decree: This is not Celestial Purge and the addition of Scry does not outweigh the reduction in targets or loss of speed. That said, this is what we have and it can help against cards like Anax or Kethis. Seems pretty weak in the meta right now.
Remorseful Cleric: It flies and can exile a graveyard at instant speed. As Said above, I think this should be a split spot with cage taking ~4-6 spots since there are plenty of decks and strategies which use the yard.
Daxos, Blessed by the Sun and Nyx-Fleece Ram: These two are some decent trickle life gain cards with Dax being better in the mono version and ram being slightly better in the splashes thanks to the easier color requirements and a toughness which isn't reliant on the rest of the deck. The blue splash has a better life gain choice thanks to its preference to flicker and that is Inspiring Cleric. Cleric comes down a turn later but has a much higher boost and can really take advantage of entering again and again. The body on Cleric is also generically better than the other two. All three are option to consider against fast aggro, just be wary of Dax's mana cost and Cleric's nonbo with Bringer.
Slaughter the Strong and Citywide Bust: Both of these cards can help fight off bigger or better creature decks and the choice of what to choose comes down to what version we are playing. For example, the green version aims to have a large amount of small creatures on board so it works better with Bust since only a few of the creatures which are all in the top end get arrested. On the other hand, the mono version will struggle the most against creature decks and would prefer to get rid of more and should have more success with Slaughter. Whether or not these are going to be chosen in the first place is obviously meta dependent.
Leyline of Sanctity:" Burn and discard getting you down? Throw a few of these in. The core of the deck makes me think this won't be necessary, but I figured I'd mention it.
Forbidding Spirit and Baird, Steward of Argive: If creature decks are pressing you and you prefer creature answer these are decent choices. I prefer the former, especially in the blue version, since it has a more reasonable body for its cost as well as a steeper tax.
Dream Trawler and Azor, the Lawbringer: Both are strong cards, and the latter even has a sweet tax effect, but they feel too slow for a deck that really only wants to run 24 or 25 lands. If you are dead set on playing one bring it in against control where you might get to cast it.
Virulent Plague: Say no to Field and other token heavy decks with the plague. Do note! plague is symmetrical and hurts the black splash most even though it is the one that gets to play it. Field is strong, I'd play at least 2.
Leyline of the Void: Black also gets the best proactive grave hate. I'd still run this in combination with one of the others just because this only denies cards not already there from entering so if they are already there, they can still be used.
Despark: An amazing piece of removal for the SB against midrange and control decks. It doesn't play nice with Thalia but paying 3 mana for this is not a bad rate at all considering the fact it can exile a ton of problematic permanents in the meta.
Fry: It is an uncounterable way to kill some annoying cards like Teferi, Kethis, Pridemate, or many lords like the ones for knights, vamps, or 'folk.
Blood Sun: Just say no to Field decks. In fact say no to all their extra abilities like the castles or their Quarters. Obviously best against Field decks but has decent splash damage against Gitrog since it turns their toolbox lands into rubber bullets. It also cantrips which helps the whole being an enchantment and costing 3.
Outlaws' Merriment: Merriment can give some nice recurring value against some of the midrange and control decks. While I am not confident that this is the best pick, I do believe each version should have at least one slot in the side dedicated to recurring value. Planeswalkers and God-Eternal Oketra are other examples of this.
Loaming Shaman and Deathgorge Scavenger: These are more options for green's grave hate. I prefer the shaman since it can remove many things at once, but since it shuffles back in and doesn't have the other benefits that Scavenger does, I can see an argument that the latter is better. The right choices and numbers will bear out once we have more data from the meta and our deck needs.
Shifting Ceratops: An annoying better against blue decks, although flash decks do have access to Ambusher, so it isn't super safe.
MatchupsIn general this deck (these decks) should perform better against decks which are looking to do degenerate things with a few key cards and do worse against big creature decks or control decks strong against creatures. I have an insufficient amount of data across the five versions so I will just address what I think matchups are generally for a few decks that seem well positioned in the meta right now.
Kethis Combo should be a piece of cake as long as we hit one of our many interactive pieces before they combo off. Sometimes they just have the nuts. Best versions: blue and black.
GBx Explore package is likely one of the worst matchups. The deck has a lot of great value and card selection but since it comes in the form of creatures, it is a little difficult to combat. Fliers and Bringer help a great deal. Best versions: mono white and maybe red.
UWx Control can be okay as long as we play carefully. Pushing them off their preferred tempo can really clog up their plans to the point that we just win 'clumsily'. Most important against them is not over committing into a wipe while still applying tax pressure. Best versions: black and green.
Field of the Dead seems bad game one and muuuch better after sb for many of the versions. That said, the more scapeshift oriented versions are easier for us to disrupt than the slower grindy control builds. Best versions: red easily, with the rest being pretty close to each other.
White Weenie tends not to have too much big evasiveness so as long as we get a few well-placed removal spells we should be about even, if not favored. Best versions: blue and red.
Mono Red has always felt fine to me but Embercleave can always ruin a day. Best versions: mono and green, though all are pretty strong here I think.
Gruul Aggro is surprisingly much more difficult for us since their creatures are so much bigger and come out faster thanks to Emissary. Best versions: blue and black.
Gitrog Lands has felt really easy to me even game one since it often takes a lot of setup to get going. They do pack a lot of removal so running out of gas is a potential issue. All versions feel equally strong, though mono has inherent protection against repeated Quarters.
UGx Nexus is a deck that should be a cakewalk although I haven't played against it yet. They have a very disruptable setup that should allow us to beat them down before they have the loop going. Best versions: blue and green.
Tribal is generally bad for us if they can get big like merfolk. Our best decks against these are black and green since they are able to keep pace with them easier.
Final ThoughtsI think D&T is well positioned to at least be a contender in some capacity and should get a little better as the meta settles as we can take a clearer advantage of the best decks. As I have said a few times, I haven't been able to put in a ton of time playing with these builds, but I have tried my best to construct them and write this up so that others can take advantage of the resource and make sure people on arena are paying the proper tithes. This is easily the longest write up I have done on a deck(s), but hopefully I haven't messed up too much. I would love to see some spike discussion of my favorite competitive strategy now that I can play it on Arena.
Hey spikes, my name is ThyrixSyx aka Justin. I create content for YouTube mostly, though do I stream on Saturdays, and I'd love it if you checked some of my stuff out. Since content creation really forces you into variety and not repetition, most of my content might not appeal to you. That said, I play Grixis Bolas every Wednesday and that series aims to be competitive where I go into much more detail on my plays and general decisions. I also plan on having weekly D&T videos, likely on Sunday, while the queues are up. I am a full time PhD student and my channels are meant for me to engage with the community and have fun so I don't edit videos. I welcome feedback for the channel, but please put it on the channel and let's keep this thread for only the certain things: Death & Taxes.
Edit: Ikoria cards! (stay tuned for my upgraded builds)
Cubwarden has decent stats for its cost and has nice abilities. Unfortunately I don't think decent is sufficient to see play in Historic, especially considering the rest of the power brought in by IKO. In addition to being unsure of the power in a vacuum, all five of the versions seem to have better 4drops. The only version I could see using this card is monowhite, but even there, I am not confident in the cub.
Drannith Magistrate is a really nice response to the newly revealed power of the companion cards. In addition, it hits some GY strategies like kethis. A definite option for the main or side in the right metagame. I will say that I would rather it's stats be switched so we can have some more death with our taxes.
Luminous Broodmoth is actually pretty great in my opinion. It allows our boards to be more resistant to board wipes, is a lightning rod for removal, and has a great body to boot. It is one more nonbo with hushbringer, but this might just push some of the versions towards Tocatli HG since that doesn't care about dies triggers.
Lavabrink Venturer is just a generally good beater. Since this is not a trigger, your opponent doesn't get a chance to respond to your choice. The worst part about this card is that it sits in the heavily competitive 3drop slot.
Sea-Dasher Octopus seems like a generally strong card, but I don't think that it fits in the current version of blue. It shores up the general weakness by giving us some card advantage but can it fit into the build?
Call of the Death-Dweller hits so many things in the black version that I can't help but to try it. Even just getting back an alseid and knight seems pretty good to me. My main concern is the fact that it fights against shepherd.
Heartless Act is a pretty efficient removal spell buuuut there is a better one I think. If you are worried about life loss or don't feel ya need exile removal, this is still a great option.
Dire Tactics is the removal for you in the black version. Sure we lose life if we don't have one of our humans, but that exile is really hard to pass up especially since there are no restrictions on the creature.
Gemrazer I really like, but knight of autumn meshes better with the rest of the deck. If you are looking to make the green deck beefier, this is a good choice.
General Kudro of Drannith. I don't think there are enough good humans that have good bodies and tax effects to make an orzhov humans variant, but I will try because this dudes abilities are great.
General's Enforcer is a definite step towards a humans build. Making our thalia and tomik indestructible is some nice gravy attached to an okay body and an okay ability.
Necropanther is awesome at reanimating our taxing dudes. Not sure if it can fit, but I don't plan on playing this and Call. I think it should be one or the other.
Yorion, Sky Nomad but not as a companion. All of a sudden our single target blink effects can now blink our whole board. If it is blinked by thassa or prince, the rest of our creatures are protected from sorcery speed removal. The main issue is the fact that it is five mana but I think it is totally reasonable as a powerful 1-of with a good body that can seal a game.
Lurrus of the Dream-Den. Last but absolutely not least is one of the strongest cards for the deck. This is not a companion for us but a 2-3-of in the main deck that can just give us value over and over. In order to get the most use of its ability might require some tweaking of the curve, but I expect this card to give us some much needed longevity in a game.