Conversion Rate 100% – splitting Finals of TCG Con 2k with RUG Lands by aslidsiksoraksi

Ever since money was invented, people have been finding tricky ways to steal it from each other. One of the most insidious of these is currency conversion, where you have to pay a fee just to switch what dead people are depicted on your bills or what squiggles go in front of the numbers. I wish I could say that us Lands players would never get involved in such an abhorrent practice but the truth is that greed makes fools of us all and as soon as Currency Converter was printed we were at work trying to figure out how to maximize our profits with it. Here’s the card in question:

The reason to try this card in Lands is that it functions as a 1cmc artifact value engine that you can pick up off Saga. It also has inherent synergy with the deck since we often have extra cards to discard, whether they’re lands of Life from the Loam, Punishing Fires we can get back with Grove, or irrelevant Mox Diamonds drawn late in the game. What Lands doesn’t have, however, is a way to discard consistently; if we just slot this card in, we have to rely on its own activation to generate value (aside from the occasional Mox Diamond).

Enter Dack Fayden, the greatest thief in the multiverse.

Dack was always a fun card people liked to mess with in Lands – we often have extra cards in our hand and can easily undo the discard with Life from the Loam. That said, he’s never really been good enough. But with Currency Converter promising to generate even more value off his +1, people started trying him again. After alli, tim, and others in the Lands discord posted several good results in Leagues, I was sold on it. I played a few matches and while I wasn’t blown away, the deck felt good enough to take to the TCG Con Legacy 2k that was happening in our area.

The Decklist

Since it’s a paper event, figured it was only appropriate to put in a paper deck pic.

I know deck pics can be hard to parse so here’s a link to a typed out decklist to go with it. The biggest change for this kind of deck compared to traditional RG Lands is the addition of blue. Blue gets you Dack in the maindeck, but it also gets you a suite of powerful sideboard cards. In my case I was playing 2 Flusterstorm, 1 Spell Pierce, and 1 Blue Elemental Blast. This setup allows you to play differently against combo. No longer do you need to set up 2cmc lock pieces – instead you can interact from turn 1 and do it at instant speed so that you don’t slow down your own development.

The rest of the deck was built with an eye to beating fair decks since I know my local meta has very little combo and a ton of Death & Taxes and blue control. That’s why you’ll see Field of the Dead in the maindeck and Drop of Honey in the board. 8Cast was also a consideration (hence the Chalice in the board), but I couldn’t think of cards that would be good against both it and the rest of the field so I just planned on dodging it or making the Witch as soon as possible if I did have to play against it.

The Event

I started the day by eating an overpriced egg and avocado sandwich just to confirm my status as a millennial with poor spending habits (as if buying tons of cardboard didn’t prove that already). But soon enough we were in the convention center and off to the races!

Round 1: Burn

I knew this person was on Burn because I had seen them filling out a deck list before the event. I’ve heard a few different people tell me that Burn is a bad matchup for Lands but in my experience it rarely plays out that way, even with Glacial Chasm mostly absent from the 75 for the last couple years. It’s just a race and while they can kill you fast if you do nothing, we have a ton of interaction for their stuff while they have basically none for us.

I’m on the play and I keep a 7 that makes Lage on turn 4, one land drop at a time. Not ideal but we have 9 cards in the deck that will speed us up by a turn so I keep it. They start getting in with Goblin Guides and giving me cards, but I’m able to pick them off with Punishing Fire so I don’t take too much damage. On the crucial turn before I can kill them, they have a suspended Rift Bolt and I’m at 10. I do the math and if they have really anything plus Fireblast I will die.

They go to their draw step without taking a time counter off their Rift Bolt, missing the trigger. The judge offers me the choice of whether to take it off suspend and, well, I don’t want to take 3 damage so I say no thank you. I end the turn at 7 life with Marit Lage ready to win me the game. They show me the Fireblast when I attack them.

In: Counterspells

Out: Dack, Currency Converter

I don’t remember exact sideboarding for each match but I’ll give the general idea as we go. Game 2 my hand is one card off a turn 2 kill. I draw the right card, make Marit Lage, and that’s it.

1-0

Round 2: Death & Taxes

My opponent this round is playing 60 card taxes with some atypical card choices like Esper Sentinel. But they’re a strong player and I’m sure they’ve thought through the decisions (Esper Sentinel did draw them 2-3 cards one of our games, seems interesting in the deck). In all, Death & Taxes is usually not too bad a matchup, but with the right pilot on the other side it can get tricky, and both my white weenie opponents on this day were pretty skilled.

In game 1 they curve Mother of Runes into Stoneforge Mystic. I have Punishing Fire but I’m on the draw without the proper acceleration to deploy it in time. So Kaldra soon hits the field and starts chunking me. I do lock them under Tabernacle a bit, and eventually set up a Maze to stem the bleeding. At this point with Punishing Fire and Maze up, I’m doing alright but my life total is low and I’m dead to Rishadan Port or Wasteland out of their deck. I pick off their creatures but they keep replacing them, and one of these is a Giver of Runes. So at this point their board is Kaldra, Giver, and Spirit of the Labyrinth, with me a 3 life. I have the mana to burn two creatures, but I pass to their turn so that they’ll have to pay the tithe. Unfortunately, I realize my mistake too late. Where before they were attacking with all their creatures, this time they just attack with Spirit & Kaldra, leaving Giver behind. I can’t burn Spirit without burning Giver, and if I burn Giver, they’ll protect Spirit before I can get back Punishing Fire. I lose.

In: 2 Force of Vigor, Drop of Honey, 1 Endurance

Out: Bojuka Bog, 1 Mox Diamond, 2 Dark Depths

In Game 2 they mull to 5 and my hand has Loam + Exploration. I get the engine going unimpeded and they scoop pretty quickly thereafter.

Game 3 sees me with a similarly powerful start and them on a mull to 6. My start does almost falter when they cast March of Otherworldly Light on my Mox Diamond, leaving me with just one mana. Luckily I draw another land and am able to start Loaming away. They don’t have the Stoneforge for early pressure, instead their mana is cramped and they’re playing a lot of 1 drops – 2 Moms and an Esper Sentinel. I have Needle for their Vial, and soon thereafter a Tabernacle drops and sweeps their board. Dack joins the party and starts burying them in cards. If they hit a Rest in Peace earlier there may have been some hope but at this point I’m starting to make zombies and they scoop.

2-0

Round 3: TES

Of course no Lands player prefers to play against Storm, and I’ve seen my opponent around enough to tell they know what they’re doing. Luckily I’m on the play game 1 and I get to open on Saga, Currency Converter, Mox, pitch a land, activate Converter for a treasure. Not exactly the world’s most broken start but at least we have some pressure and our mana is set up well.

They take their first turn to just cantrip a bit, and I just play more lands and start loaming looking for combo pieces. I pass with Saga and a treasure untapped.

On their turn, they play their land and dump their hand using Wishclaw to find Ad Nauseum and cast it with no mana floating. This is about as good as an Ad Naus can get for us since they’ll need zeros to get anywhere from there and we have a tutor lined up next turn. I’m also staring at a Punishing Fire in my hand praying that they’ll go to 2 life and I can steal this one.

They flip Echo of Eons and take 6 so it looks like we might get there, but they stop short at 3 life. Their pile of cards, however, can’t do anything other than LED into Echo. So I burn them to 1 with that on the stack, again praying to Lage that their 7 will be bad. Lage does reward her faithful – their 7 spins up some more mana but ends up just casting Galvanic Relay, setting them up to win next turn.

There won’t be a next turn though. I Wishclaw for a Punishing Fire and finish the job.

In: everything except Endurance & Drop of Honey

Out: a ton of creature killing stuff, Dack, Currency Converter, Karakas, that kind of thing. I left Tabernacle in case they’re the one TES player who is still trying to cast Empty the Warrens.

Game 2 I’m on the draw. My hand makes a turn 2 Marit Lage so I vacillate a bit but end up keeping it. Their hand makes a turn 1 Tendrils for 20 so all that agonizing over the keep/mull was really pointless since they had plenty of agony ready for me in their hand already.

In game 3 my hand has a lot more interaction, including a Spell Pierce and a Pyroblast. Aside from that we’re not doing a lot but their deck is pretty all-in and doesn’t play discard. So I figure if I can stop the first try I can get there. I lead on a fetch so that I can cast either Pierce or Pyroblast as needed. On their turn 1 they spew their hand into a Burning Wish with 4 mana floating. I have to Pierce this, and luckily that means they can’t get Relay or anything else that would set them up next turn. Instead they have to pick up Echo of Eons and hope to draw mana/LEDs to cast it.

The game inches on from there. After a few scary turns trying to dodge LED, I find a Chalice that I set to zero. Eventually I set up to kill them with Lage, at which point they ritual into their Echo. I have the Pyroblast though and that’s the match.

After the games they mentioned that they had boarded out a lot of their anti-counter stuff (Defense Grids and Veils) and brought in answers to permanents (Abrupt Decay). It looks like leaning on blue instead of Spheres paid off, especially as I didn’t show them blue cards in games 1 or 2.

3-0

Round 4: Death & Taxes

This time it’s a more typical Yorion Death & Taxes list, though again piloted by a veteran. Luckily in game 1 I’m on the play and I kind of run away with it, just doing Lands stuff, though they do get some hits in.

In: Drop of Honey, 2 Force of Vigor, 1 Endurance

Out: 1 Mox Diamond, 2 Dark Depths, 1 Bojuka Bog

Game 2 gets a bit more interesting. They lead on Vial, but I have Exploration and the natural Needle for their Vial. Then their turn 2 play is Port into Stoneforge Mystic for Kaldra. At this point I’m wondering if should have held Needle for this situation, since this setup is the main way I lose this matchup. But what’s done is done and I’m a little lucky since I have a Crop Rotation so I can find Maze. I also have Dack. So I drop Dack and hold up green mana so I can protect him with Maze. This won’t last forever, though, since they have Port and will be able to tap Maze as the turns go by.

The next turn plays out as planned – they put in Kaldra and I Maze it, saving Dack from Mirrodin’s voltron. They also missed their land drop, which bodes well and makes that Needle on Vial look pretty good after all. The next turn is still dicey, but Dack lets you see a lot of cards, and I have Exploration up already. I find Loam, and then I also find a second Crop Rotation. So when they tap my Maze, I rotate it for a second Maze and buy Dack another turn. Now the engines are revving up and I can loam back the first Maze and starting Wasting their lands. My Sagas are popping off too and finding Currency Converter which, with Dack, means I’m making a ton of treasure so I’m sitting on a pile of mana.

With two Mazes it’s quite hard for them to kill Dack and though they do eventually answer Loam with a Recruiter for Faerie Macabre, the game is a bit out of hand, especially as I find Tabernacle and Field of the Dead. They scoop when I find a Punishing Fire on top of it all. But while I did win, they stole from me the thrill of using Dack’s emblem to steal Kaldra with Punishing Fire. Perhaps it’s my opponent who is the greatest thief in the multiverse after all.

4-0

Quarterfinals: 8Cast

At this point I’m 4-0 and since everyone knows that the first 4 matches of a tournament demonstrate your skill far more than the last 2, this means that I’m gifted the honor of making it to the top8 via intentional draws. I know I’ll be paired against 8Cast and my list is not very well suited to the matchup (no Shadowspear, only 2 Force of Vigor). I’d be happy to split, but we end up playing it out.

8Cast isn’t a horrible matchup for Lands but it isn’t particularly good. And while it may seem like Dack would make the matchup great since he can steal artifacts, in practice that rarely works out too well. You can maybe steal a Seat of the Synod to deny mana, but the rest of their artifacts are mostly baubles and creatures that either turn tiny when you steal them (constructs) or have ward 4 (turtles). That said, I always keep a 20/20 in my back pocket, and sometimes that’s just the trump card you need.

My opponent is a very nice player who drove over 4 hours to be here. Always cool to see that dedication to the format. In game 1 they counter my Exploration and lead on turn 1 Chalice for 1. This slows me down a lot – I would have had an early Lage via Crop Rotation otherwise.

Following this they play an Emry. I struggle to constrain their mana through this but eventually they sacrifice it to Tabernacle after I Bojuka Bog their graveyard. My relief is short-lived, however, as they just play another one and get the engines going. They even fetch Aether Spellbomb with their Saga, making it that much harder to get Lage through.

I do manage to needle their Spellbomb (this would be a theme in these games). But Chalice prevents me from rotating for the second part of the combo. When they attack for lethal I do a quick check to see if maybe they forgot about their magic void cup but they counter my Crop Rotation through some kind of mystical mixology and I lose.

In: Blasts, Chalice, Force of Vigor, Drop

Out: Dack, Currency Converter, Field of the Dead, 1 Maze, Blast Zone

My primary plan in this matchup is to summon the Witch and attack for 20 damage. The secondary plan is to starve their mana. I cut a lot of the grindier cards because they don’t really fit with either plan. I wish I had the Shadowspear to punch through thopters, but I feel like I heard someone say that 8Cast boards out Sai against Lands. Which seems wrong to me but maybe my opponent heard that too and we get lucky.

In game 2 they don’t have the Chalice and their hand stalls out a bit as I waste them to relatively little mana. They get the Spellbomb from their Saga but I get the Needle off my Saga. After a while they start to pick up steam with an Emry but by this point I’m able to activate Thespian’s Stage targeting Dark Depths in order to create Marit Lage, a 20/20 black Avatar creature token with flying and indestructible.

Game 3 I’m on the draw. My opponent’s hand seems like it must have been somewhat speculative. He has the natural Spellbomb this time, but the rest of the hand seems like it’s just air. So while I waste an early Saga, there isn’t a lot else going on and I even have time to make some constructs off my own Saga. When Saga dies, my opponent has a decision point. He can cash in the Spellbomb for a card, or keep it and force me to Needle it.

Perhaps having seen Needle on Spellbomb for the last two games running, and wanting to find some action as he stares down my constructs, he decides to just cash it in now. As a result, I’m able to get a Mox Diamond instead of the Needle so that I can set up my mana. At this point I have 2 3/3 Constructs attacking in, as well as a Dark Depths in play. I keep drawing Pyroblasts and countering their Thought Monitors. One of these blasts gets Forced, but I’ll call it a win since they pitched Brazen Borrower and I’m eyeing the Crop Rotation in my hand. With them sitting on one card I decide I should press my advantage and finish this. I rotate for Lage and they scoop.

5-0

Semifinals: RG Lands

I felt a bit lucky to have pulled off that win against 8Cast, but now I’m out for blood and turn down the split in top 4. I know my opponent is on traditional RG Lands with Valakut Exploration. I also know that their deck is beautifully foiled out (indeed, this event had two people with foiled out Lands decks in it; apparently my region is a hotbed of Lands activity). But I also also know that they haven’t played the deck much and aren’t super familiar with Legacy since it can be hard to find games in paper. That bodes well for me since the mirror is very tricky and provides many opportunities to leverage experience.

In game 1 my opener is Loam, Currency Converter, and 5 mediocre lands. Too slow, I think, so I ship it. My 6 is essentially the same but without the Loam. So down to 5 we go. That 5 isn’t horrible and I’m able to lead on Mox Diamond into Loam, which is a decent setup in the mirror.

Their 7 has Exploration into Crop Rotation for Bog. Then they Waste my only mana producing land and follow it up with Valakut Exploration. I’m drawing Loam after Loam but no mana to cast them. Finally I do find a land and cast Loam on nothing to start getting things going, but they’re looking at 4 cards a turn so they find their Loam too and Waste me again. With them having every engine and me having none, I scoop.

In: 2 Force of Vigor, HydroBlast, Spell Pierce

Out: 1 Maze, 2 Dark Depths, Tabernacle

In game 2, we both mull to 6 but have decent starts, me with the Mox + Currency Converter opener and them with Exploration and a grip of lands. I have Stage and Wasteland in play, so I can do some tricksy stuff, and I make a rogue token to start pressuring them a bit.

At this point they play out Stage + Depths on their side of the field. They know, however, that Wasteland blows them out, so they don’t go for it. I’m not too worried, especially as I draw a Karakas. This actually puts me in an interesting position, since I can make Lage off their Depths and answer any Lage they make themselves. On their next turn, they play an Endurance, presumably to start blocking my rogue token. They end their turn with Forest, Stage, and Depths untapped, though Yavimaya is in play so they can make Lage if they want. I copy their Depths and they say OK. I pick up Drew Tucker’s wonderful rendition of an old lady being served tea by a fox on the back of a DanDan artist proof (that’s my 20/20) and put it into play. My opponent does a double take and tells me I that I don’t have a Dark Depths. I tell them I copied theirs. They scoop. This is the kind of thing I meant when I said the mirror is tricky. In retrospect though I should have started by wasting their Stage to force the action, so I can hardly claim to be a master either.

In game 2, I mull to 6 and they mull to 5. They lead on Diamond into Saga, leaving them with 2 cards. I waste the Saga and they concede.

At this point the bloodlust has left me (plus my finals opponent is 8Cast again, and quite good with the deck). We split the prizes and call it a day.

6-0

Final Thoughts

I’m not 100% sure that RUG is the definitive build of Lands for the current meta but I will say it’s a lot of fun. I do think that the blue counters are a lot better positioned than Spheres at the moment. Being able to interact turn 1 against combo without also slowing yourself down, as well as countering the key spells out of control decks (e.g. Ruination, Blood Moon, Price of Progress) means I’d much rather have those in the board than some 2cmc artifacts that can often hurt me as much as my opponent.

I have seen lists that splash blue just for those sideboard cards but don’t have the Currency Converter + Dack package. Personally, however, I found Dack to be pretty good overall (shoutout to tim for convincing me to play the planeswalker on the night before the event). The GOAT Thief is a good engine in our deck, especially as we can ramp into him and no one is bringing in Pyroblast against us. The lists without Dack tend to just run maindeck Endurances instead, but I feel that having the additional engines is more valuable than a random 3/4, albeit one with a powerful effect.

With regard to the list going forward, the maindeck felt very solid. I particularly liked having 13 untapped green lands (so 17 turn 1 green sources, compared to the usual 15-16). I don’t think I had to mull a green-free hand all day. That, combined with Currency Converter making treasure tokens, makes playing three colors a little more reasonable where before it’s been a bit hard to justify the damage it does to your manabase. I’d love to fit in a Ketria Triome but coming in tapped isn’t the best, and the slots are pretty tight. Field might be a flex slot depending on your meta, but mine is full of slow fair decks so it felt good to have.

For the sideboard, I probably would not play Drop online, and the 3 Endurance are mostly flex slots. I had them to beat Delver and provide splash damage against a lot of combo decks. I could see Surgical, Shadowspear, Grafdiggers Cage, or even Choke (we have only 1 Island) in those slots, depending what you want to target. I’m still on the hunt for something that can powerfully hose 8Cast while also being useful against other decks, and when I find it maybe that’s what I’ll slot in there (Meltdown or the 3rd Force of Vigor maybe?).

In all, it’s just great to see innovation in the Lands shell pay off. I want to say thanks to TCG Con and the TO for organizing what is probably the biggest Legacy event our area will see for a while, and a big thanks to our local legacy community for coming out. Some people drove from way up in the mountains and that’s wonderful to see.

Until next time, happy loaming!

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