Splitting the Finals of the Showcase with 8 Mulch Lands by Kellen Pastore

This past weekend I split the Finals of the Legacy Showcase Qualifier with 8 Mulch. I have played Legacy often in the past, almost exclusively on non blue decks. These include Lands, Death & Taxes, and Humans. Recently a deck that caught my eye by defeating me at FNM was 8 Mulch Lands. I have long personally felt that Mox Diamond was not a good card, since it is inherently card disadvantage. Seeing a Lands list that stayed away from Diamonds interested me, and I decided to explore it in preparation for both the Super Qualifier, and the Showcase Qualifier.

Preparing for the Tournament

I started with a list I found in the Lands discord. I liked the Gr list, since I knew with the popularity of Delver that the Red Blast effects would be strong. These initial lists looked similar to this:

Things I did notice through initial testing included that the Delver matchup felt very good, Collector Ouphe was strong in several matchups, notably 8 Cast, and that the deck was a little shaky at turning on Field as well as having enough Green and Red sources. Also, even though it is awkward, you wanted 2 Yavimaya since it makes the deck function so much more smoothly if you have it.

The above list is what I registered in the Super Qualifier, where I ran into 2 Storm decks and Reanimator. I ended up going 3-3, but still felt confident about the deck overall. If you aren’t playing Delver you can’t beat everything, and I liked the game plans the deck had against the most popular decks.

After talking about the deck some on the Lands discord I was convinced that trying to beat Storm was a fool’s errand, and that a second Tabernacle was good against Delver. 

MTGGoldfish Link

That led me to this list. You can see I shaved on Stage and Depths for a Tower of the Magistrate and a Fetch. The Tower is purely a meta call against 8 Cast and D+T, but it makes 8 Cast much easier to beat. The fetch is just for improved consistency, as well as making the Loams stronger. Without Mox Diamonds they are actually harder to turn on than you would think. Finally, I also like 1 Ghost Quarter as a flex slot in the main. It plays well against Needle and Surgical on Wasteland, lets you kill the island out of Delver, and is just a fifth waste effect in Depths mirrors.

The sideboard changes were simple. I cut the three Mindbreak Traps for an Ouphe, a Pyroblast, and a Tabernacle. These changes improved my plans against both 8 Cast and Delver, while still giving me a protect-the-Ouphe plan against Storm.

Legacy Showcase Qualifier

I wasn’t super hopeful coming into the tournament. It was a 9 rounder and I knew I needed to hit the right matchups. The main thing going for me was I was hoping to hit Delver, so just needed a little luck for that to happen.

Round 1 – UR Delver

I get my desired matchup, and keep a strong opener game 1, with Exploration into possible turn two Marit Lage. My opponent Forces the Exploration, but I get Manabond down turn 2, and still get the 20/20 down early. This wins the game.

Sideboard: +1 Tabernacle, +4 Blasts, +2 Flame Jab, -2 Manabond, -2 Crop Rotation, -1 Life from the Loam, -1 Tower of the Magistrate, -1 Karakas

This is my SB plan against Delver. Essentially I think natural Tabernacle is strong since it ties up their mana, making the the cantrip engine substantially less impactful. Perhaps most importantly it means that Expressive Iteration comes online much later, or at one less card. Apart from that Jab can kill both one drops, and the Blasts can fight over Murktide or Iteration. Don’t be afraid to counter Iteration, you don’t want them digging towards more Wastelands.

Game 2 I have 2 Explorations and a Tabernacle. Opponent leads on Delver, and since I have 2 Exploration I decide getting Exploration dazed doesn’t matter. My opponent does Daze the Exploration. They then flip a Daze to the Delver. I decide to play into the Daze with my second Exploration, and my opponent decides to Daze it as well. This leaves them with no lands in play thus allowing for my Tabernacle to kill the Delver and buying me significant time. My opponent is a bit threat light, and I am able to 1 land drop at a time build up a board presence. I eventually draw Field, but the opponent has a Wasteland. I proceed to punt as I play my Field as my 7th different Land. This lets the waste deny me a zombie. You should play it as your 8th, so you get the zombie through Field being wasted. My opponent doesn’t have Price in their deck though, so I am not punished and win with loam eventually.

1-0

Round 2 – GWr Depths

This is a difficult matchup. I can’t really kill their guys, Flame Jab doesn’t kill big dudes, and they have more land tutoring than I do by a large margin. Also with Safekeeper Depths is a win con for them in a way it is not for me in the matchup. Game 1 they mull to 5, I lead on Exploration in a strong hand, and they ending it on their turn 1. I end up not being able to turn on field before I lose to Reclaimer and Knight of the Reliquary. 

Sideboard: +1 Force of Vigor, -1 Tower of the Magistrate

My Sideboard does not have any strong options for the depths matchup, just cards that are situational. Fortunately the main deck has few cards that are truly dead in the matchup. Game 2 I have a slow start. I think I have lost when my opponent untaps with a Knight of the Reliquary. I am fortunate when they play a Ramunap Excavator, and then activate the Knight in their mainphase to get a Wasteland to recur with the Excavator. I have 2 Crops to make a 20/20 in response to the proactive Wasteland activation and that is enough to win the game.

Sideboard: +1 Force of Vigor, +2 Surgical Extraction, -1 Tower of the Magistrate, -1 Tabernacle, -1 Dark Depths

I decided in game 3 that Tabernacle was bad, and Depths was a liability. Game 3 the only pressure they draw is Endurance, and I am able to Loam Lock them out eventually. I am pretty sure I played this poorly, since at one point I was dead to Sejiri Steppe, but it worked out anyways.

2-0

Round 3 – UR Delver

In game 1 I mull to 6, and see this as my Hand. I choose to keep.

Now this isn’t a good hand against most decks. But I feel strongly that Tabernacle into Maze is a strong opener against creature based Delver draws. So I keep because of the overwhelming presence of Delver in the meta. I luck out and opponent leads on Delver. I don’t draw much, so I lose but the game goes to turn 8 with the time this hand bought on the draw. This will also not be the last time I keep such an opener in this tournament.

Sideboard: +1 Tabernacle, +4 Blasts, +2 Flame Jab, -2 Manabond, -2 Crop Rotation, -1 Life from the Loam, -1 Tower of the Magistrate, -1 Karakas

Game 2 I Flame Jab an early Delver to buy time. I follow this up by using Mulches to fill my hand. Over the course of the game they counter 2 Crops cast in response to Wasteland activations, which gives me the opening to get down a Manabond that makes a lethal board presence with Field of the Dead.

Game 3 I keep a Red Blast and Maze heavy hand with a Jab. They lead on Delver, which I Jab. The protect the Delver with a Daze, but Mazes answer the early threats. The Blasts counter Iterations, and eventually I wasteland them out 1 land drop at a time. The early interaction also kept my life total high enough where I never was dead to a Price of Progress. If you are playing from behind Price of Progress becomes a card you can no longer afford to play around.

3-0

Round 4 – Reanimator

This is not a good matchup. I have 4 Crops and 2 Surgicals, but they have enough discard to win through it. Game 1 I lead on Manabond and pass on the play. They turn 1 Archon me and we are on to game 2.

Sideboard: -1 Maze, -1 Tower, +2 Surgical

Game 2 they have a slow hand, but Show and Tell gets in Archon through my GY hate. They attack into a Depths and Stage, and so I eat it in combat. I untap, attack them to 5, and then Wasteland them. They can’t reanimate the Archon again and I win.

Sideboard: -1 Maze, -1 Tower, -2 Manabond, +2 Surgical +2 Pyroblast

Game 3 I board in 2 Blasts for 2 Bonds, but just get turn 1’d after setting to mulling to Crop.

3-1

Round 5 – Death & Taxes

This is the deck I played at the FNM where I lost to 8 Mulch. The matchup is complicated, with lots of interaction on both sides. I believe 8 Mulch and Lands decks are advantaged overall. Even without Punishing Fire the ability to gain resources without using the graveyard with the Mulch effects gives 8 Mulch a resilient game plan. Game 1 I mull to 5, but Mulch and Loam draw me plenty of lands. I use Tower of the Magistrate to answer a Kaldra Compleat, and follow it with a sandbagged Manabond to flood the board with the undead to win the game. It is important to sandbag Bond in matchups where opponents have sorcery speed answers to the enchantment, like Skyclave Apparition. This is the opposite of Delver where you want to get it down before they can draw counterspells.

Sideboard: -1 Ghost Quarter, -1 Bojuka Bog, -1 Loam, -1 Crop Rotation, +2 Force of Vigor, +2 Flame Jab

So, boarding out Crop Rotation might be a mistake, but I liked my other cards and it is technically card disadvantage so I did it anyways. Game 2 I mull to Bond, Jab, Winding Way and lands. Opponent has Leyline of the Void, and leads on Mother of Runes. I jab it off of a fetched Stomping Ground. This list has 2 Taigas, and I knew with the Way and the Manabond I would be trying to win with Field of the Dead. I felt the risk that I draw both Taigas and turn on Field too late was more likely than the chance I lose to the 2 life lost. Opponent just has Thalia and some beaters, and I end up getting there with Bond and Field making me a horde of zombies.

4-1

Round 6 – Day’s Undoing

Game 1 I lead on Manabond since I believe that to be right against Delver, and in the blind I sequence as if the opponent is on Delver. Opponent Prismatic Endings it on their turn 1. I proceed to do nothing but play lands that provide no pressure until I get locked out with Narset and Day’s Undoing.

Sideboard: -1 Maze of Ith, -1 Tabernacle, -4 Crop Rotation, +4 Blasts, +1 Force of Vigor, +1 Surgical

So, I boarded in Force of Vigor in case of Moon or Back to Basics, and they had Ruination. So it was bad. Surgical is also meh, but I thought it might hit Narset and make the game easier. Either way I mulligan to a slow hand, they ruination me into Narset Day’s Undoing with a Force for my Blast. I lose shortly after.

4-2

Round 7 – UR Delver

Game 1 I keep a hand with Mulch and Exploration. They lead Delver, I play Wasteland and pass. I only had non-basic Green sources, and I knew I wanted to respect Daze on my spells. Wasteland was the best way to get to 2 mana. They miss 1 turn on Delver, and I am able resolve my spells. I go down to 4 before Making Marit Lage which protects me from a lethal attack from Delver and Murktide. I am then able to Blast Zone the one drops which forces Murktide to chump and wins me the game.

Sideboard: +1 Tabernacle, +4 Blasts, +2 Flame Jab, -2 Manabond, -2 Crop Rotation, -1 Life from the Loam, -1 Tower of the Magistrate, -1 Karakas

Game 2 I have Flame Jab to kill an opening Delver. This Flame Jab also slows down the Delver player from committing to the board at all, buying me much more time than a normal spot removal spell. This time is used to get a Marit Lage which wins the game.

5-2

Round 8 – UR Delver

Game 1 I play Exploration into Daze on the draw. They didn’t lead on threat, so the upside of slowing down their cantrips seemed like an okay tradeoff. It gets dazed, but they are slow, and I make a 20/20 as the first threat and win the game.

Sideboard: +1 Tabernacle, +4 Blasts, +2 Flame Jab, -2 Manabond, -2 Crop Rotation, -1 Life from the Loam, -1 Tower of the Magistrate, -1 Karakas

Game 2 I have a decent hand that can stabilize, but doesn’t have a win condition. I take some hits down to 12, before stabilizing 3 Mazes for their three threats. I then get priced to 2 and lose to a Wasteland killing my 3rd Maze of Ith. Can’t always beat Price.

Game 3 I keep Manabond and 2 Mulches. All of them resolve, so I make a Horde of Zombies and also wasteland my opponent out of the game.

6-2

Round 9 – Lands

At this point I am 13th in the standings, and figure I just need to win to make Top 16. I don’t think I have a chance at Top 8. Game 1 they have Loam, I have Mulches and Exploration. I think I make many mistakes, but eventually the horde of Zombies pull through. This is helped by the opponent dredging over their Pithing Needle so my Maze of Ith can blank their Shadow Spear.

Sideboard: -1 Tabernacle, -1 Maze of Ith, -1 Manabond, -1 Dark Depths, +2 Surgical, +2 Force of Vigor

I left in a Depths so I couldn’t get all my Fields Surgicaled and lose because I can’t win. 

As can be seen in the screenshot the game goes well for me. 24 Power on turn 3 is tough to beat.

After the game is over I wait on the off chance I breaker in. As I wait I see all the x-2s ahead of me have Lost, and I start to gain hope. And luckily enough, the large number of match results I needed to get 8th has happened, and I qualify for the Legacy Showcase by playing some sweet Rebecca Guay Mulches.

7-2

Top 8

Quarterfinals – UR Delver

Game 1 I keep Loam and Exploration. I also have a Stage and a Field. Everything resolves, but I have no way to slow down the opponent, and Bolts, DRC, and Murktide finish me off before I get a turn 4.

Sideboard: +1 Tabernacle, +4 Blasts, +2 Flame Jab, -2 Manabond, -2 Crop Rotation, -1 Life from the Loam, -1 Tower of the Magistrate, -1 Karakas

Game 2 I keep a hand full of Mulches with a Blast on the Draw. I blast a Delver on turn 1, and then get my Mulches forced. My opponent plays no threats, and I end up locking them out with Loam and Wasteland.

Game 3 Tabernacle and Maze help to slow down the game, and then I am able to assemble Loam plus Wasteland in part due to my opponent having to use a Surgical in order to get down a Murktide.

8-2

Semifinals – UR Delver

Game 1 I have early Tabernacle to slow things down, and get a Bond into Depths Combo to seal the game up.

Sideboard: +1 Tabernacle, +4 Blasts, +2 Flame Jab, -2 Manabond, -2 Crop Rotation, -1 Life from the Loam, -1 Tower of the Magistrate, -1 Karakas

Game 2 I keep a hand with Maze, Blasts, and Mulches, but no Red. Double DRC applies a lot of pressure, my Mulch hits all spells, and I get Wastelanded off of Green. Then my opponent also has Price.

Game 3 I keep a hand that can’t cast any spells.

But yet again I so believe in the power of Tabernace and Maze against Delver I quickly determine this to be a keep. The combo is enough to prevent all pressure from the opponent, as their only wasteland has to be held up for Depths as the game continues. I eventually draw a green, get depths online, and only take 14 from Price to seal up the game.

9-2

Finals – Split

Me and my opponent agreed to split the finals, with him taking the win since he cared about MOCS points and I did not. 

Conclusions

Overall I got fortunate in how many of my games played out, and fortunate that I got Delver so many times. Overall I think it is clear that slowing down Delver’s mana is important, and without the ability to cast early cantrips Murktide, DRC, and Iteration all get noticeably weaker. They also start to miss land drops furthering the impact of other mana denial. I truly believe Tabernacle is very effective against the current Builds of Delver. 

Online it is easy to play even four copies of Tabernacle, but in real life the price of the card leaves this strategy out of the reach of almost all Legacy players. I also believe when Lurrus was legal two Tabernacle was a strong option. Legacy is fun, Lands is fun, and trying out all sorts of cards is fun as well. I wish it was more accessible to more people.

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