We've seen Death and Taxes in Modern in several forms. We've also seen Spirit tribal decks, predominantly Bant Spirits with Collected Company. In this space I've previously featured a hybrid of the two, but that deck was predominantly a Taxes deck that splashed blue for two cards that fit the shell which also happened to be Spirits -- Mausoleum Wanderer and Spell Queller.
Today's deck is much more of a true hybrid between the two archetypes, playing several more Spirits to create a complete air force to apply significant pressure. Unsurprisingly, those new cards are all great at protecting your creatures. Drogskol Captain and Phantasmal Image is a combo we've seen since its days in Standard and it works well in Modern in part due to its ability to supercharge Spell Queller. Rattlechains also turns Drogskol Captain into another counterspell by granting it flash, so timing your removal spells against this deck is incredibly difficult.
Because of that, this list can incorporate a techy new card from Rivals of Ixalan: Curious Obsession. Curiosity is not a Modern level card, but the +1/+1 here ratchets the card up a notch, and I don't think we've fully explored its potential in both Modern and Standard. With so many creatures that counter or tax removal spells you're very likely to connect multiple times, making the card quite powerful.
I like the Spirits here a lot because a deck that wants to rely on disruptive creatures is often going to struggle in combat against the premier creatures in the format. The Tarmogoyfs and Knight of the Reliquaries of the world are too big to consistently attack through, and these decks don't have access to enough removal to consistently remove them. The answer is going to the air, which most Taxes decks do via Flickerwisp and Restoration Angel, but the Spirits push this plan even further, letting you effectively race those other creatures, especially with a multiple lord draw.
The flash element of the deck also makes it a difficult deck to play against. Stopping aggressive fliers, ensuring your removal resolves, and working around Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Leonin Arbiter is a lot to worry about, and any mistakes are soundly punished.
Death and Taxes has always been an intriguing archetype to me because I like disruptive creatures and it's clear that the core of the deck is powerful. There are a lot of competing variants on how to best complement that core, and none of them have distinguished themselves from the others by much. This one is doing some different things that the others can't match, which is usually a good place to be.
- 4 Drogskol Captain
- 4 Leonin Arbiter
- 4 Mausoleum Wanderer
- 2 Phantasmal Image
- 4 Rattlechains
- 3 Selfless Spirit
- 4 Spell Queller
- 3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben