Hi all, my name is Francesco Messina (also known as f_mexins on MTGO) and I am a Lands player. There is no other deck that I like, so I wouldn’t be playing MTG without it. I like to call it my “pet deck”, since it is a very niche and complex archetype. I love lands since it is the deck of nature (I love nature, even if it has a “dark side” – just like the deck, that despite its beautiful landscapes, wins by making zombies and witches). Since it does a lot of things, I never feel bored playing Lands. I started to play it seriously during a period of problems with my ex (i.e. depression), and it has provided me a lot of satisfactions (like my GP Bologna run), motivations and good friends. So I am grateful to it.
Before starting the report that lots of people asked me for, I will analyze why I chose to play the pure RG version of lands. After a lot of playtesting and local paper tournaments along with my lands mate and friend Giacomo (JackBattle on MTGO), I had come up with the list for this tournament, but with 2 Klothys as snow-hate. Then Giacomo had the idea to cut Klothys and to put Experimental Frenzy in since Klothys is not a real card advantage engine that is independent from the yard, as Tireless Tracker was in the past (Tracker can be decayed, stolen, or elked so now it is unplayable). In short, the main reasons for Frenzy are: 1) it cannot be Decayed; 2) it provides a strong card advantage that does not depend from the yard and that is synergistic with Exploration. With Klothys, if the opponent is ahead and I’m losing, I will lose anyway.
Thanks to Urawik3, who is one of the best lands players ever, I have started to use the Grasping Dunes tech to stop Dreadhorde Arcanist, a card that gives too much consistency to the Delver archetype. In my opinion, Abrupt Decay is not sufficient to fight the Arcanist since it is not recursive. Since the Delver deck has a cantrip engine and we don’t, if they find the second Arcanist after our Decay, we are in a bad spot. With Grasping Dunes, which can be loamed and/or copied with Stage, one can deal with it without the fear of the second or third Arcanist. I also want to remind the reader that an early Tabernacle with Wasteland or Choke can block
multiple Arcanists: our mana denial plan must be very consistent and aggressive and RG is the best shell to do it. Once we kill Arcanist, and once the manascrew plan is strong (i.e. they cannot cast Oko) the Delver deck is almost the same as the pre-WAR one, but with Force of Negation (that can be played around by playing Punishing Fire in the opponent’s upkeep).
Another answer to the Arcanist is obviously Elvish Reclaimer, which is also good vs the pure graveyard decks (lands is not a graveyard-based deck) that are strong vs Oko soups/fair blue stuff, i.e. Hoogak, Reanimator and Dredge. The metagame of this event, in short, was Oko in his xerox shell (Snow, Delver, pseudo-Miracles) vs brutal graveyard decks such as Hoogak, and some tribal decks (like Elves, turbo Goblins or Dredge/Hoogak grave stuff simply outclass the Elkfest that Oko forces in every game).
Let’s now talk about the various games.
First Round: Snowko (2-0)
There is nothing much to say about this game: g1 I opened an hand with 2 Ports and I drew the third one after some turns, so the opponent was not able to cast Oko before the fifth turn. At that point Field of the Dead was online, and Uro was almost a meme (it died one time to multiple punishing fires for example).
G2 the opponent countered a Library and other stuff, so Frenzy entered into play and finished the game along with 20 zombies.
Second Round: Hogaak (2-0)
G1 I had simply wastelanded the opponent one time and then made a fast 20/20 thanks to Exploration on the play. His hand was not that fast so he conceded.
G2 the game was tricky since his clock was faster and he trophied a depths when I went for the combo. But Elvish Reclaimer took a Tabernacle to slow him down, and then the pieces of another Witch.
Third Round: Young Frankestein (2-1)
This deck is a Delver deck that can reanimate Griselbrand. Since it is not a real Delver deck and not a real Reanimator deck, in my opinion both these plans are weaker than the originals. The deck counts a lot on the surprise factor, but I was prepared for it after sideboarding.
G1, Even if I had Karakas for Griselbrand and Punishing Fire to kill the opponent’s Delvers and Pyromancers, I died from my own Elves, which where reanimated after being killed.
G2 I had spheres on the play from the sideboard, so the manascrew plan (Spheres, Wasteland, Choke) locked the opponent out of the game even if he had double surgical. Then the opp drew only nonland cards (but I had multiple ports on the table), so they were not able to do anything effective.
G3 This game was very similar to G1, but without Elves, since I cut them from the maindeck after sideboarding. In short: Karakas on Griselbrand, Punishing Fire (in his upkeep)/Dunes on his creatures and some manascrew in the meantime.
Fourth Round: Lands (ID)
The opponent now was JackBattle, my friend, so we decided to do an intentional draw to not exclude a double top8. We where confidant about ourselves, since we had done a lot of training/study for this tournament.
Fifth Round: Grixis Delver (2-0)
There is not so much to say here other than that the opponent died from fast Marit Lages and Punishing Fires on his upkeep. G2 the witch was also covered by REB.
Sixth Round: Elves (2-1)
G1 I simply kept a Loam hand that was strong vs fair blue and not vs tribal, so I scooped from turn 4 Order.
G2 I had spheres, Punishing Fire and Gamble/Tabernacle.
G3 was similar to G2, but on the draw (so a bit slower, but I had the Mox Diamond).
Seventh Round: Hogaak (1-2)
This time the Hoogak player opened very strong hands, so the game was very problematic. I think that Hoogak is one of the best legacy decks at the moment, since it does not really suffer from gravehate and can close the game turn 2 without problems. And, fundamentally, it ignores Oko, Uro, Astrolabe and Arcanist.
G1: My hand was fine, but he closed the game anyway turn 2 or 3.
G2: With spheres on the play, Tabernacle and other stuff, after a long grind I got him.
G3: I kept a hand with Loam, the combo, Tabernacle and Wasteland, but no acceleration. I have done this choice because if he had a weaker hand than his usual ones, if I drew a gamble or an acceleration, I could have won. Obviously he had the turn 2 kill.
Eighth Round: D&T (2-1)
The first game I had Exploration and Library and the Sanctum Prelate (which is the only really problematic D&T card for us) arrived too late.
G2 he had turn 3 Prelate and RiP. His clock was fast, so even with Frenzy, which ignores both Prelate and RiP, I conceded.
G3: A turn 1 Exploration and a turn 2 Frenzy gave me too much advantage. His only possible play was Cataclysm, but before it I had gambled for Force of Vigor to cut off his vials and/or an eventual RiP. So the recovery process, after a Vigor on the vial, was very easy.
I finally arrived fourth, and my mate JackBattle first. We (i.e. all the top8 players) decided to split. In particular, since Milan is not that close to Bologna and we had to go to work early on Monday, me and Jack where very happy to not play anymore.
Besides the game, this day was also beautiful due to its human aspect (playing a paper tournament this big was a real relief after all the COVID paranoia of the last months). So I want to thank all my friends for their love and support. In particular Giacomo, who is really clever and rational in everything (I am more the intuitive/instinctive/aggressive player/guy here) and Lena, who traveled from a far-away city to deliver a custom ML Token (a real lucky charm I would say) that I had commissioned from her. In the company of a very good friend, or a very sweet girl, one must always do things very well to make a good impression.