The Land(s) Down Under by William aka Kixian

G’day Lands lovers and greetings from Down Under!

I’m a long-time enthusiast of the Legacy Lands deck and a big fan the work aslidsiksoraksi has done to create the Pendrell Vale website. After reading and listening to so much amazing content, I wanted to give something back. However, I’m far from a Legacy expert, so I decided the best thing I could do was to highlight how Lands is played in the coolest Magic format that you probably didn’t even know exists: 7 Point Highlander.

What is 7 Point Highlander?

7 Point Highlander (also known as Australian Highlander or 7PT) is a constructed singleton format popular with Magic aficionados in Australia since its creation in 1996. The format uses the Vintage card pool and ban list, balancing deck construction and gameplay through a points system whereby you can only run 7 points worth of powerful cards in your 60-card deck and 15-card sideboard. A common saying in the format is “you can play all the best cards, just not all at once”. You can sleeve up a Black Lotus, but it will cost you 4 points (and a small fortune). Everyone’s favourite shirtless friend Oko, Thief of Crowns got himself run out of Modern and Legacy, but he has a home here…for 2 points, of course. Efficient tutors are often pointed and WotC’s latest F.I.R.E. design mistakes will quickly find themselves added to the list. It keeps the format feeling fresh and relatively balanced (it’s an Eternal format, so, you know, blue) while adding an interesting layer to deck construction. On that note, here is the current points list as per the release of Streets of New Capenna:

5 points: Ancestral Recall; Time Walk.
4 points: Black Lotus; Thassa’s Oracle; Time Vault.
3 points: Demonic Tutor; Mana Crypt; Mox Emerald; Mox Jet; Mox Pearl; Mox Ruby; Mox Sapphire; Sol Ring; Underworld Breach; Vampiric Tutor.
2 points: Channel; Dig Through Time; Flash; Imperial Seal; Lurrus of the Dream-Den; Lutri, the Spellchaser; Mystical Tutor; Oko, Thief of Crowns; Protean Hulk; Strip Mine; Tinker; Treasure Cruise; True-Name Nemesis.
1 point: Balance; Crop Rotation; Deathrite Shaman; Dreadhorde Arcanist; Enlightened Tutor; Fastbond; Force of Will; Gifts Ungiven; Green Sun’s Zenith; Gush; Intuition; Karakas; Library of Alexandria; Lim-Dul’s Vault; Mana Drain; Mana Vault; Merchant Scroll; Mind Twist; Mishra’s Workshop; Mystic Sanctuary; Natural Order; Oath of Druids; Profane Tutor; Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer; Sensei’s Divining Top; Skullclamp; Snapcaster Mage; Survival of the Fittest; Tainted Pact; Time Spiral; Timetwister; Tolarian Academy; Umezawa’s Jitte; Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath; Urza’s Saga; Wasteland; Wishclaw Talisman; Wrenn and Six; Yawgmoth’s Will.

In addition, the following cards are banned in Legacy but are unpointed in 7PT: Arcum’s Astrolabe; Bazaar of Baghdad; Demonic Consultation; Earthcraft; Frantic Search; Gitaxian Probe; Goblin Recruiter; Hermit Druid; Memory Jar; Mental Misstep; Mind’s Desire; Necropotence; Wheel of Fortune; Windfall; Yawgmoth’s Bargain; Zirda, the Dawnwaker.

Chaos Orb, Falling Star, and Shahrazad are banned in both formats.

At the release of each new standard legal set the points list is reviewed by the Points Committee and cards can receive their first point, additional points, or have existing points removed. The most recent change saw Lurrus of the Dream-Den receive +1 point to move from 1 to 2 and Mind Twist receive -1 point to move from 2 to 1. Additionally, the committee will outline their current “watchlist” of points being considered, which currently consists of:

  • Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath under consideration for +1 point from 1 to 2
  • Flash and/or Protean Hulk. Both parts of the combo are currently 2 points, the consideration is for one of them, likely Protean Hulk, to receive -1 point to move from 2 to 1 and the other to remain unchanged
  • True-Name Nemesis under consideration for -1 point from 2 to 1

A card being on the watchlist does not indicate that a change is inevitable, merely that it is being discussed. Similarly, cards not on the watchlist can (and do) receive points without first needing to be watchlisted.

The points list allows the format to remain balanced while still allowing players to enjoy the entirety of their Magic collections. If you see an old favourite on the points list that you’d love to play once again – I know there’s a lot of older Legacy players out there still sad about the banning of Survival of the Fittest – then I’d highly recommend giving the format a go. It’s great fun and has recently expanded into MTGO with more regularity. The most recent MTGO event featured the largest ever contingent of international players who were all drawn in by the chance to enjoy a unique format…and maybe a tiny bit by the first-place prize, a (real life) Mox Emerald.

Do people play Lands in 7PT?

Of course! Lands is the best deck in Magic, so naturally people will play it in every format where the key cards are legal. One of the key selling points of 7PT is that every card is legal (well, every card that’s legal in Vintage. Sorry Shahrazad, we hardly knew ye). This means that not only do Lands players get access to all their favourite cards such as Life from the Loam, Exploration, Dark Depths, and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, but also to some mouth-watering additions in Fastbond and Strip Mine. There are many different builds of Lands in 7PT, however a quick glance at the points list reveals an abundance of pointed cards that feel at home in the archetype: Strip Mine (2), Crop Rotation (1), Fastbond (1), Green Sun’s Zenith (1), Karakas (1), Mystic Sanctuary (1), Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath (1), Urza’s Saga (1), Wasteland (1), and Wrenn and Six (1) to name a handful. That’s 11 points already…Judge!

The singleton nature of the format creates an incredible array of diversity even within specific decks, so it’s difficult to outline exactly what a Lands deck looks like. While there’s a clear and largely green core to the deck that probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone, players naturally take their builds in directions that suit their playstyle or local metagame. I’ve been playing the deck for a while now, but there’s always more to learn. Being curious to learn more about the archetype, I recently spoke to a few notable Lands players to find out more about their decklists and experiences.

Loke and the origins of “Gardening Australia”

Loke was one of the first players to play decks that resemble the modern Lands shell and in the video above he goes through one of his builds from the 2016-2017 period. When we discussed his early builds, he recalled a slightly different list that was inspired by the recent printing of The Gitrog Monster. It was 4 colours with a base of green and black, splashing white for Knight of the Reliquary and blue for Trade Routes. In a theme that ran through all his early iterations, it included a Living Wish package as Loke felt that the deck was first and foremost a combo deck that had a midrange back up plan. Loke recalls that one of his main points of inspiration for the deck was

Trying to make a ProsBloom deck (the Prosperity + Cadaverous Bloom + Squandered Resources combo) and when that failed, I looked at Lands as a way to use Squandered Resources”.

In recent years Loke has been rotating through decks rapidly but manages to sleeve up Lands builds on occasion and still incorporates a Living Wish package when he does. One of his most recent concoctions, pictured below, used the points spread of Strip Mine (2), Wasteland (1), Lurrus of the Dream-Den (1), Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer (1), Deathrite Shaman (1), and Wrenn and Six (1) – though note that Lurrus of the Dream-Den went to 2 points in the most recent points update (April 2022).

Aside from helping popularise the archetype in 7PT, Loke also coined the fitting name of Gardening Australia, although I’m not sure how well it translates internationally (Gardening Australia is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s premiere TV gardening program…my mum never misses an episode).

Alex Bader-McDowell and his Pink Lady Lands (Naya)

https://www.moxfield.com/decks/9LDcje4YH0CaRnlOa2v1mg

Alex has a long history with Lands and has managed to top 8 several large Highlander events using 4c Lands (sans blue) and Jund Midrange across both paper events and MTGO including Top 8 of the Bluebell Open, Top 8 of the 1st Highlander MTGO League (Win and Underground Sea), Top 8 of the Win a Scrubland Highlander Event, and Top 32 of the 2nd Highlander MTGO League (Win a Mox). His current build is a Naya configuration running the points of Strip Mine (2), Wasteland (1), Fastbond (1), Crop Rotation (1), Wrenn and Six (1), and Green Sun’s Zenith (1).

Alex describes this build as “a midrange deck that uses Loam and cards like Tireless Tracker, Knight of the Reliquary, and Elvish Reclaimer as an engine” and mainly focuses on establishing a decent amount of card advantage/board control before using the Depths combo as an “I win” button. However, he notes there are certain games/hands where you just go for the win as early as possible. He sees the main pull into white as being Knight of the Reliquary, noting its high power as a land tutor, while red adds Wrenn and Six which is “way too important to give up” compared to the Abzan builds he tried prior to its printing. Alex decided on Naya after deciding the manabase was too poor for 4c, though he notes that Jund builds are also well positioned due to discard spells such as Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Collective Brutality being effective against the prevalence of blue decks.

When I asked Alex whether he ran any cards that others tend to overlook, he highlighted Orcish Lumberjack.

It’s either very strong, providing a large amount of ramp (the possibility of a turn 2 Titania, Protector of Argoth or Primeval Titan) or occasionally does nothing. I like it for its ability to fuel some of your Life from the Loam + Tranquil Thicket turns where you end up dredging a large number of cards into your graveyard

Unlike a lot of Lands players in 7PT, Alex didn’t draw too much inspiration from Legacy builds when constructing his 7PT list and got into the archetype after an Abzan list caught his eye during his initial foray into the format. He then started researching Legacy decklists to refine his Highlander build. Despite having success with the archetype in the past, Alex doesn’t see it as being particularly well positioned in the current metagame and has been frequenting his “Boomer” Jund Midrange list at tournaments. However, he notes that the recent de-pointing of Life from the Loam (it went from 1 point to 0 in February 2022) has breathed new life into 7PT Lands.

Jake Sims and his many Lands builds

An older Jund list: https://www.moxfield.com/decks/kGHUDN3fXk-9uxs-PM6HxA

An older Junk list: https://www.moxfield.com/decks/7LFMnfYkd0yZMwqxbiWI3A

Jake has been jamming Lands builds in every format for a long time now, including 7PT Lands of all colours and builds, Legacy Lands, Modern Amulet Titan and BtL Scapeshift, and Mono Green Devotion in Pioneer. Jake has achieved success in 7PT with numerous top 8 finishes including at CanCon. His current build for 7PT Lands is a 4-colour list (pictured below, left) featuring the points spread of Strip Mine (2), Wasteland (1), Fastbond (1), Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath (1), Wrenn and Six (1), and Urza’s Saga (1). Notably, he has shifted away from the Dark Depths + Thespian’s Stage combo to the increased printing of answers to Marit Lage such as Brazen Borrower//Petty Theft, Prismatic Ending, Solitude, Otawara, Soaring City, and Boseiju, Who Endures.

He has been enjoying the addition of blue to the deck, which has provided:

The busted cantrips, some soft permission, Uro, and Tameshi, Reality Architect, who is quickly becoming a favourite. He can re-buy Saga and draw a card for only 1 mana, get back value pieces such as Courser of Kruphix, Expedition Map, and Soul-Guide Lantern, return all parts of the Zuran Orb + Fastbond + Crucible of the Worlds combo, or even just pick up a land for more Field of the Dead triggers”.

His current list has 61 cards as he tests out options for the upcoming Eternal Weekend, though at FnM he enjoys running the “61-card special” for now. His recent acquisition of a Bazaar of Baghdad has seen him devote some time to refining his “Bazaar aggro” list (pictured below, right) which, naturally, has a strong Lands subtheme and runs Crop Rotation, Elvish Reclaimer, Life from the Loam, Dark Depths, Thespian’s Stage, and Urza’s Saga.

I asked Jake about how he saw Lands moving forward, and his view was generally positive.

I feel that Lands will always be competitive. People in Canberra [his local meta] are having a lot of success with Rx to combat all the “Greed Piles”, which certainly hurts, but early Strip locks are lights out against most decks in the format and if they keep pumping out cards like Field of the Dead and Urza’s Saga, then Lands will always be powerful”

“Though if they print another Blood Moon or Back to Basics type effect, we could be in trouble”

Magus of the Basics. Ew!”

Justin and his Dirty Jundstapants Lands (Jund)

https://www.moxfield.com/decks/0mdkTrPxjkCmXap0FRMLZQ

Justin’s list is a classic Jund build running Strip Mine (2), Crop Rotation (1), Fastbond (1), Wrenn and Six (1), Deathrite Shaman (1), and Wasteland (1). These builds are popular for a reason as they offer fantastic answers and often incorporate a healthy discard package. Dark Confidant is a notable staple of the build given nearly half the deck costs 0 (i.e., are lands). Justin started running the deck as he felt the Jund colours were the strongest to oppose his local meta and enjoys Jund in general because it “always seems to be at least semi-relevant”. He describes the game plan as being to disrupt the opponent’s early game with hand attack and removal before getting Loam into the bin and begin digging for relevant combo pieces. In particular, he highlighted Field of the Dead, Zuran Orb, Deathrite Shaman, and Titania, Protector of Argoth as the MVPs of the list.

Justin describes himself as being fascinated with land cards ever since he began playing Magic back during Revised and says drew inspiration from a variety of different Legacy builds when constructing his 7PT list. He loves the 7PT format for being “a magical Christmas land for a brewer” and the Lands archetype for having a wide range of build options including midrange, combo, reanimator, and more. At the end of our discussion, I asked Justin for his “hot take” on the archetype.

I’m actually starting to suspect that Abzan might be a better colour combination than Jund

Having access to cards like Knight of the Reliquary is bonkers

@TangleTal (on Discord) and their Naya Lands brew

https://www.moxfield.com/decks/xl8LqXhwOES6XCMzv6J6eg

Tal plays a Naya midrange brew that they describe as “Maverick-esque Lands as opposed to dedicated Lands” and utilises the points selection of Strip Mine (2), Wasteland (1), Wrenn and Six (1), Karakas (1), Crop Rotation (1), and Green Sun’s Zenith (1), though occasionally substituting Fastbond for Karakas. While they most often play in local weekly games, Tal piloted an earlier version of their list to a top 4 finish in the Adelaide Eternal Highlander Challenge of October 2019.

Tal came to the format via Modern and from listening to LoadingReadyRun discussions of Canadian Highlander and the Lands builds present there. They developed their list by taking elements of CanLander builds and combining them with variants of Legacy “Punishing Maverick” lists. Their current build incorporates some “light stax” pieces such as Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Archon of Emeria which they describe as being “powerful on the play and operating in the same realm as Strip Mine and Wasteland to put on pressure while assembling your own gameplan” and noting that “forcing base blue decks to cantrip around them to find answers is very powerful”.

Tal describes their game plan as leveraging mana dorks to allow free use of their land drops for utility purposes including stifling mana while also presenting threats. Tutors are utilised to give redundancy while also allowing the transition into “unfair” plans such as the Depths combo or Strip locks. In more recent times they’ve shifted away from sold old favourites in Punishing Fire + Grove of the Burnwillows, which lose some power in a singleton format and can often feel mediocre without the other half. In general, Tal agrees with Alex about the currently unfavourable positioning of Lands in the format, citing a recent trend whereby “synergy midrange has been underperforming relative to raw individual card power”.

My “Piggy Lands” build (5c Rainbow)

https://www.moxfield.com/decks/UmbUckfToU6zPW_SDQjBCg

I’ve named my current build of Lands the “piggy” brew due to my decision to forego my old Jund build in favour of a “greedy piggy” 5 colour approach. My current points are Strip Mine (2), Fastbond (1), Wrenn and Six (1), Crop Rotation (1), Urza’s Saga (1), and Intuition (1).

In a similar vein to Loke’s initial build, my list has a stronger combo focus than most and settles into a midrange plan when key pieces are lacking. It leans more heavily on the power of Fastbond and uses Intuition as an “I win” card to assemble infinite landfall combos such as Fastbond + Oboro, Palace in the Clouds + Retreat to Hagra by fetching Sevinne’s Reclamation and the necessary pieces. Additional cards like Courser of Kruphix, Tireless Provisioner, and Glacial Chasm allow you to circumvent the life loss from Fastbond and generate infinite Landfall, which can be useful to:

  • Mill out your opponent with Altar of the Brood (which I run over Hedron Crab or Ruin Crab due to being colourless and fetchable via Urza’s Saga)
  • Stack cards with Valakut Exploration until you have lethal damage triggers
  • Combine with Crucible of the Worlds (or Ramunap Excavator) to Strip Mine all your opponent’s lands or target your own to generate infinite mana. Add in Horizon Canopy to draw your deck if required
  • Create your own Zombieland by repeatedly triggering Field of the Dead
  • Just play infinite land drops to flex on your opponent then pass the turn

The 7-point restriction means I’ve dropped an archetype staple in Wasteland due to it being less effective than Strip Mine when being consistently recurred (in fact, Ghost Quarter does a better job here too, given infinite landfall). The card I’m running that’s probably the most “flex” addition is Armageddon, which is unsurprisingly a great play if you’re able to play lands from your graveyard and your opponent can’t (particularly if you can follow it up with a Tabby, or better yet a Tabby + Strip Mine). Older Legacy players might enjoy the throwback to Sascha Thomsen’s 43 Lands deck from 2006 and its 3 sideboard copies of Armageddon.

Naturally, playing cards across all 5 colours while also maintaining a high density of utility lands has its downsides and this brew is one that’s geared slightly more towards fun than being consistently competitive. That’s fine, as 7PT has room for both. I run this list at weekly events at my LGS or in “kitchen table” games against friends.

Like a lot of Lands players in 7PT, I initially learned about the archetype from Legacy Lands and was hooked ever since watching Jarvis Yu take out a flawless victory in the Grand Prix Seattle-Tacoma 2015 Finals. While I don’t often play Legacy anymore, I try to keep an eye on how the list is developing via the discord and articles on Pendrell Vale. I think that a lot can be gained by examining similar archetypes from different formats and understanding the utility of specific card selections and how they might be applied in your format of choice (I’m currently keeping an eye on the testing of Currency Converter in Legacy builds). In a similar vein, I built my list to maximise the effectiveness of cards that have been deemed too powerful for Legacy in Fastbond and Strip Mine (and to a lesser extent Wrenn and Six) because, well, they must be good!   

Conclusions

In contrast to the more refined and focused builds present in Legacy, the singleton nature of the 7PT format naturally results in a more diverse array of builds and card selections. While the Legacy Lands deck can function more effectively in a “prison/control” role due to 4x Wasteland, 4x Rishadan Port (4x everything), players in 7PT have only a single copy of each key piece and must build accordingly. This Loam is your Loam, protect it well!

Whether you prefer a focused list with 4x staples or enjoy showing off a wider range of Lands synergies depends on your mindset, however in each format it’s possible to see the core principles of the archetype in both card choices and play patterns. In my opinion, the beauty of the Lands deck that is shared across both formats is the flexibility and “toolbox approach” which allows the pilot to adapt to a wide range of scenarios and still come out victorious. Well, that and the beauty of jamming down a Tabby and watching your opponent squirm.

I would encourage all 7PT Lands players to seek out the knowledge available on the Pendrell Vale website and in the broader Legacy Lands community, and on the other hand, I hope this article encourages even one dedicated Legacy Lands player to check out the 7PT format and join us in refining the Lands archetype under our ruleset. Whether you’re tempting by the chance to sleeve up the raw power of Fastbond and Strip Mine or just keen to jam a 5-drop in Titania, Protector of Argoth (or a 6-drop in Primeval Titan!), I would suggest checking out the 7PT website (https://7ph.com.au/), Discord (https://discord.gg/Xcq72wJPv5), or Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/266315333384411) as a starting point.

Happy Loaming!

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