I play a lot of Lands online and offline in my local meta in Baden-Württemberg. With Alexander and Tobi I have some excellent Lands players here, who almost always enter tournaments with a different variant of Lands. We talk a lot about versions and new cards, and I would say that I am the classic enthusiast among us.
I have a preference for consistency and especially for the classic Punishing Fire in Lands. I believe that Punishing Fire is still very strong in the current meta and serves as an additional card advantage engine of RG Lands. While playing a lot on MTGO, I noticed that Lands often encounters a kind of “business problem.” You have an explosive start, both you and your opponent trade resources, and now you need business from the top to win the game. But what are our business spells? Life from the Loam, Crop Rotation, Urza’s Saga, and then there’s Punishing Fire. For me, Punishing Fire is not just a removal spell. It is an engine that almost every fair deck must respect and, if possible, prevent. If I give up Punishing Fire in my deck, it must be clear that I am giving up a winning engine and also my chance to draw “business” from the top.
Why then why double Bolt?
Where Punishing Fire fails, Bolt wins
I have come to the conclusion that I need 3-4 removal spells in the current meta. The increased use of Stoneforge Mystic in combination with the more aggressive play of UR Delver AND the increased occurrence of Minsc & Boo has led me to desire more removal. It provides early interaction with the opponent, and in my local meta, there is a relatively high amount of Opposition Agent and Dauthi being played. The additional removal spells also come in handy against the increased presence of Magus of the Moon. After testing with 3 Punishing Fire, I ultimately decided to include double Bolt in the main deck. The two removal spells complement each other very well. The disadvantage of Punishing Fire is higher mana cost and UR Delver’s Dragon Rage Channeler, but it is still the winning engine mentioned earlier that I definitely want to keep. Hence the split of 2/2. Depending on the meta, 1 Bolt and 2 Punishing Fire could also be a great option at any time.
Round 1: Free Win
My opponent did not enter the game after 15 minutes, and I automatically won.
Round 2: Mystic Forge
I had played against this opponent several times in leagues, and I was hoping that he would play UR Delver. Unfortunately, it turned out to be Mystic Forge, a terrible matchup for me.
Game 1 on the draw:
Great hand, fast token and reactive play possible. I decided to put my opponent in a Wasteland/Boseiju lock, and I succeeded.
Game 2 on the draw:
Normally, in this match, I would be looking for a Force of Vigor, but my hand seemed so strong that I kept it. Unfortunately, I was punished with a turn 3 win by my opponent, going through various Wastelands.
Game 3 on the play:
A super strong dream hand. However, it was a very dangerous game. I managed to take away my opponent’s Urza’s Saga and The Key on turn 2, but the opponent managed to cast Echo of Eons twice. Luckily for me, those were not particularly good for them, and with two big Constructs and an open Pyroblast, I won through the last Echo of eons.
Round 3 against RUG Delver (only Minsc Splash):
I didn’t know anything about this opponent, so I went into the game blind.
Game 1 on the play:
After two mulligans, I ended up with the following starting hand. Not a particularly strong hand, but sometimes you have to have it work. After my opponent flipped a Delver relatively quickly, I was out of the game after two blank draws and a Wasteland on Urza’s Saga.
Game 2 on the play:
This hand was great, and the game went perfectly. All my spells resolved, and after my opponent started with a basic Island, I decided to Ghost Quarter them and then play Loam. The Surgical Extraction played on my Loam afterwards turned this game into a grind. After I took out some of my opponent’s creatures with Blast Zone, Urza’s Saga from the top won the game with two big tokens plus Shadowspear. On to game 3 =)
Game 3 on the draw:
Again, in game 3, I kept a solid hand against Delver. I drew Loam directly from the top and after the first Wasteland + Ghost Quarter play, my opponent had 1 land and a Delver on the field. I drew a second Mox Diamond and played a Loam on Ghost Quarter, Wasteland, and Boseiju. It got dazed, and then I could play my Tabernacle, and the Delver was sacrificed. After that, my opponent couldn’t really get back into the game, and I won my Round 3.
Round 4 against Reanimator:
Another unknown opponent, as MTGGoldfish didn’t show any previous Legacy tournaments for them.
Game 1 on the draw:
I kept this hand, which is great against any fair deck but bad against unfair decks. Unfortunately, it was Reanimator this time. I won the game after my opponent couldn’t put any creatures into the graveyard with two Faithless Lootings. I simply played a Crop Rotation on Urza’s Saga (unfortunately, I had drawn Bojuka Bog naturally and had it in my hand) and followed it up with Soul-Guide Lantern. Winning game 1 against Reanimator is always nice =)
Game 2 on the draw:
Great hand against Reanimator, and the game played out accordingly. After a turn 1 discard on my Surgical Extraction, I was able to play Saga and Thran Foundry on my turn 1. I prayed that my opponent wouldn’t reanimate on turn 2. He didn’t and I won shortly after.
Round 5 Grixis Delver
Great opponent, their MTGGoldfish entries indicated a lot of Magic experience in general, and particularly with Delver in Legacy.
Game 1 on the play:
Great hand. Loam, Mox, Exploration, 3 lands. What more could you ask for? On my first turn, I played almost my entire hand and decided to put the Needle on Wasteland. On turn 2, instead of playing my Loam, I chose to make an Urza’s Saga token. Then, during my main phase with the second token and all the Urza’s Saga artifacts, it became a 6/6 and I easily won the game.
Game 2 on the draw:
With an unexciting hand, I decided to play it out. After an early Daze on my Punishing Fire and a turn 2 Meltdown on my Mox, the game was already on the edge. My drawn Loam got countered with a Force of Negation which put me in a tighter spot. My hand consisted of Crop Rotation and Bolt. I topdecked Depths and, with a Crop on Yavimaya, I created a 20/20 token. My opponent couldn’t deal with it, and I won. In hindsight, I should have searched for my Ancient Tomb instead, as it would have protected me from Submerge. You live and learn. On to round 6!
Round 6 against 8Cast
Arriving at round 6, my opponent’s MTGGoldfish entries already hinted at 8Cast. So I mentally prepared for it, and MTGGoldfish turned out to be right. It was going to be the best Bo3 of the evening.
Game 1 on the play:
Great hand against 8Cast. Karakas for Emry, Pithing Needle, and Pfire Engine. The only thing missing would be Mox or Exploration, but you can’t have everything. After handling my opponent’s Emry with Pithing Needle and ghost quartering their Urza’s Saga, unfortunately, the hand fell to a turn 2 Kappa. No problem, on to sideboarding.
Game 2 on the play:
Another solid hand without fast mana but strong nonetheless, especially with Karakas. After dealing with his turn 1 Emry using Karakas, I blasted his Thoughtcast, and the game was over thanks to my Wasteland lock and the Forge of Vigor from the top.
Game 3 on the draw:
Great hand, everything a heart desires. Especially the game-winning Tower, as we’ll see soon. After some back and forth and resource trading, I put myself in a position to create a token and swung for 20. However, I had to be cautious and play around Aether Spellbomb. In the first turn I could’ve created the token, he drew and played it immediately. But now, my MVP of the game, the Tower of the Magistrate, came into play. In my turn, I created the token , protected it with the Tower and just swung for lethal, simply wonderful.
Round 7 against Thalai on UWR Control
Thalai was an unknown name to me on Mtgo until this evening. Afterwards, I found out that it was Javier Domínguez, our 2018 World Champion. It was an honor to play against him, for sure.
Game 1 on the play:
I had no idea what I was playing against, so I kept the hand. It wasn’t particularly strong, but I didn’t want to mulligan it either. Thankfully, he forced my first Exploration, which instantly made my hand better. I won Game 1 by wastelanding all his white resources and then attacking with a 20/20 Marit Lage token.
Game 2 on the draw:
I kept a greedy hand that relied on early Urza’s Saga tokens, which surprisingly played out well. I brought in the Tower because I didn’t see much in Game 1 and thought he might be on Stoneblade.
I created the promised early tokens, which effectively controlled his planeswalkers. Towards the end, I cast Minsc and Boo, but unfortunately, they were all countered, and I lost the game to a late-game Ruination.
Game 3 on the play:
Here’s my hand for Game 3. I side out 2 Depths against Control, but somehow they always haunt me in this matchup. Even without an early token, the hand was rather average, and I had to rely on topdecking business. Luckily it came instantly in the form of Urza’s Saga, which would be the game-changer. I copied my Saga with Thespian’s Stage, which later became a token-producing Mountain. My game plan was to create a token every turn and always keep enough lands in hand to ensure that even a Ruination wouldn’t disrupt my token factory. The plan worked, and my Mountain won the game!
Round 8 against alli with Sphere Lands
I want to take this opportunity to thank alli and his content. My basic knowledge of Lands is based on a combination of alli’s content on YouTube and some other articles on the webpage. For starting with the deck and building knowledge around Lands, alli’s YouTube channel is definitely recommended, along with other content. Please check him out and support him, so we can force him to deliver more content soon!
As an old alli fanboy, I now had the opportunity to play against my “Jedi Master” AlliVanLindblomi. Let’s go into the match:
Game 1 on the draw:
Another great hand, Exploration, Wasteland, Saga, Mox, only missing Loam, right? I started with an early Wasteland on his Saga, in combination with Exploration and Wasteland. However, he still managed to make two tokens from his second Saga. But I could deal with one using Bolt. Alli played two Spheres, which are unfortunately not that great in this matchup. The game was decided when I took his Loam with my Crop Rotation and drew and played my own. I had Exploration, Loam, Wasteland, and Urza’s Saga, everything needed to win the matchup. Alli managed to take my Loam targets, but it was too late, the damage was done, and my Loam stayed in the graveyard. With an overwhelming number of Urza’s Saga tokens, I won game 1.
Game 2 on the draw:
I kept this hand for Game 2. It was somewhat vulnerable to Force of Vigor, but overall a strong keep. After some consideration, I decided not to play around Force of Vigor since I considered the upside, if he didn’t have it, to be too high. However, alli had it and took away my Mox and Saga right at the end of turn 1. I had previously played Loam on my Boseiju to ensure having a green source for turn 2. But it looked bad. Alli took my Loam with Surgical Extraction during my draw step, which put me in an even worse spot. My friend in Discord even suggested that I concede and go to Game 3 since I was already four minutes behind in terms of time. I decided against it and managed to take alli’s Urza’s Saga with a Crop Rotation, sacrificing my last green source to Wasteland. The good thing was, I had Exploration, Endurance, Crop Rotation, and Urza’s Saga in hand. All the right cards to win the game. I just needed to draw lands from the top. And that’s what I did, drawing a Forest, and since my Urza’s Saga ticked up one turn earlier than alli’s, I was able to fetch a Map for Wasteland earlier. Additionally, thanks to Crop Rotation, I rotated my Urza’s Saga with its trigger on the stack and fetched my next Urza’s Saga. I then topdecked a Force of Vigor, which removed a token and alli’s Urza’s Saga. After that, my token and Endurance sealed the game, and it was done. 8-0, securing a spot in the top 8, regardless of what happens in the last round. GGWP alli!
Round 9: Reanimator
What can I say, I was happy, full of endorphins, and not really willing to play and win the 9th round anymore. My opponent was playing Reanimator, which I knew. I mull to four and unfortunately didn’t have a good hand against the deck. Consequently I got brutally beaten. In Game 2, my opponent managed to take all my graveyard hate cards before killing me. GG WP, on to the top 8.
Top 8 Round 1: WR Initiative
This matchup is generally quite rough for me. I didn’t know what my opponent was playing, so I couldn’t properly adjust to their strategy.
Game 1 on the draw:
I held a relatively okay hand but unfortunately got wrecked by a turn 1 Seasoned Dungeoneer. This is Magic, sometimes^^.
Game 2 on the play:
After a mulligan to six, I kept a relatively solid hand with a good chance of an early token or early Minsc. However, I also got hit by my opponent on turn 1 with a Caves of Chaos Avenger, and I had to rely on Marit Lage to apply pressure. Marit Lage was dealt with Solitude, and I lost my quarterfinal.
It was a fantastic run, and I was extremely happy with my matchups in the nine rounds. The deck worked great, and I’m very satisfied with the current list. The only thing I wish for is a better matchup against Initiative, and that’s something I’ll work on in the future. I had the opportunity to play against incredibly strong opponents, had an incredible amount of fun, and learned a lot. I’m truly grateful for the experience and look forward to the Showcase Qualifier.
Once again, I would like to thank my two buddies motr3d and norinTW, who supported me during this run. Simply, thank you.
Thank you for reading and stay loamy, Max Eichler / theMutz
Since the dawn of organized time, humans beings have been reading reports about how other people did relatively well at Magic: the Gathering tournaments. And today we continue that grand tradition with another exciting tournament report – first place in the 5.27.23 MTGO Legacy Challenge with Old School RG Lands!
This is my first time winning a Challenge and I’m feeling pretty hyped and long-winded, so this report is gonna be a bit long. But don’t worry, I’ll break it into some sections for you so you can skip the rambling if you like:
Part of the reason I was even motivated to play in the challenge this week was that Jarvis Yu had recently written an excellent Lands guide. I particularly liked it because Jarvis was coming at the deck from a relatively different angle than others have before. His list is a lot closer to traditional Lands, leaning hard on Loam and the core land-based engines to carry you through fair matchups, with respect to graveyard combo and Painter in the board.
The list I chose to play was pretty close to his. In particular note the 4 copies of Dark Depths and 3 copies of Maze of Ith. Many lists in the past weeks have been playing 3 Depths and 2 Maze in favor of other tools like Ancient Tomb to power of Sphere of Resistance, but to my mind that dilutes the core combo/control gameplan. Note also the inclusion of Manabond and Gamble. This version of the deck is heavily focused on assembling Loam plus an accelerant, and eschews the midrange cards that many other recent lists are playing (more on that later). Last, there are relatively few Saga targets in the maindeck and only one (Needle) that isn’t typically a good topdeck. Again, we’re focused on doing Lands things, no time for messing around with Shadowspears or Soul-Guide Lanterns.
Still, I did presume to improve upon the master and made some minor tweaks to Jarvis’ list. I swapped a Grove for a Canopy land, reasoning that since we were so much more focused on the Loam plan, we should play a land that can protect us against Surgical and other graveyard hate. I also swapped one of his Gambles for a Sylvan Library. The two cards fill very similar roles and I just felt I wanted a split.
In the sideboard I made further changes, cutting stuff like Trinisphere and Emrakul to lean in on graveyard hate. I also played a 2/1 Force of Vigor/Collector Ouphe split instead of just the full 3 Force of Vigor, and I played a second Minsc over the fourth Pyroblast. But these are relatively small changes overall and in essence, the deck was unaltered – I was just hedging for certain matchups.
With all that said, Jarvis’ approach to Lands in his guide got me thinking, and I hope you’ll forgive me if I wax philosophical for a bit about Lands and how it can be built. As a philosophy doctorate and a Lands player who is committed enough to have a Lands tattoo, I assure you am qualified.
Part 2 – Musings about Lands
Let’s ask ourselves a question – why is Lands any good? How can this pile of lands with miscellaneous abilities actually win games? To this we could give any number of answers. Maybe its the fact that we can attack from multiple angles, maybe it’s how broken Tabernacle is in conjunction with Wasteland, or maybe it’s just that we’re very good at abusing Urza’s Saga. All of these are true, but when it comes down to it there is one card whose printing brought this deck into existence, and there is one card that the deck fundamentally revolves around: Life from the Loam.
Lands is the Life from the Loam deck. Every card in the deck revolves around maximizing Life from the Loam. In return, Life from the Loam lets us cast Ancestral Recall every turn for the rest of the game. This is obviously busted as hell, and even before stuff like Depths combo and Urza’s Saga, Loam decks were a thing in Legacy. Those other printings only made the deck stronger and allowed it to keep up with power creep.
Viewed through the Loam-focused lens, we can see how all the cards in Lands fit together. Exploration and Manabond let you undo the basic drawback of Life from the Loam, which is the fact that you can only play one of the cards it gets you every turn. It’s no good drawing three cards a turn if you can only play one at a time, so lets go ahead and fix that. The rest of the deck follows the same pattern. Crop Rotation not only helps you find the right land to start recurring, but it also can fill the graveyard. Mox Diamond is the best mox in the game when you can get the land right back. Punishing Fire means more hits for Loam’s dredge, Maze and Tabernacle mean more time to capitalize on the value you get from Loam, and the Depths combo lets you turn your lands into something genuinely lethal. And Gamble, of course, is essentially just additional copies of Loam itself. All these cards are in the deck because they let you realize the full potential of Life from the Loam.
Now of course, Magic is complex, and I’ll grant this is only one way of seeing the deck, but I think it’s an interesting approach. If we now build on this, we can start thinking about how Lands should be built in the current day. Broadly speaking, there are probably three primary approaches to Lands in today’s community. First let’s say there’s Old School RG Lands of the kind I chose to play in this challenge. Second, there’s Sphere Lands, which plays 4 maindeck Sphere of Resistance as part of its core gameplan. And last there’s what you could call ‘Midrange Lands’ which plays more removal, more Saga targets and maindeck creatures like Endurance. This list from the recent Showcase is an example.
All three of these approaches are reasonable options. Sphere Lands and Midrange Lands both made top 8 of the recent Showcase Challenge, which is arguably harder than winning a regular Challenge, so I won’t sit here and say those versions are wrong or bad. But if we think of Lands as a Life from the Loam deck, it’s clear that these two are deviating from that plan. Sphere of Resistance has great synergy with Mox Diamond and Wasteland, sure. But Sphere of Resistance makes your busted spell that you want to cast every turn cost more mana, and doesn’t really help Loam do anything in its own right. And in order to accelerate out Spheres you have to play cards like Ancient Tomb which do nothing for Loam except make you pay extra life to cast it. To my mind, Sphere Lands is more of an Urza’s Saga deck than it is a Life from the Loam deck. Which is fine, because Saga is a very powerful card, fully capable of carrying a whole deck on its shoulders. But it seems to me that that deck would probably be 8cast or something with deeper prison and artifact elements, not a Lands shell with four additional Sphere of Resistance added in.
Which brings us then to Midrange Lands, which to be honest was probably the default way to build Lands until Jarvis’ guide was made public (that’s part of why I found his work refreshing). For a long time we’ve toned back the Loam plan because, well, Loam has lost a bit of its luster. Force of Negation being a common maindeck answer to the card, and Prismatic Ending answering a lot of the pieces Loam needs to really flourish both put a damper on the Loam engine. This, together with the way Urza’s Saga provided a pretty solid creature-oriented gameplan, pushed Lands players to hedge a little into a plan B. We started playing maindeck Endurances and Lightning Bolts, neither of which have any synergy with Life from the Loam, but both of which are just solid good cards. Add in Minsc and Boo and utility Saga targets, maybe a splash of blue cards, and you got yourself a stew!
However, this kind of deck often would play only 3 Depths, and sometimes even only 3 Stage and 2 Dark Depths. This isn’t because Dark Depths is bad in the current meta (actually, I think Lage is pretty good right now), but because it doesn’t fit the primary gameplan of just “playing the good cards.” You certainly wouldn’t see Gamble or Manabond in this kind of list either. Instead, you have your Shadowspears and Endurances taking up those slots.
Comparing Midrange Lands to the Old School RG Lands build that I took into the Challenge, it’s clear that the latter is much more focused on optimizing Life from the Loam. We play all the land-based threats together with extra accelerants and ways to find Loam. While things could change, I think this approach is best suited to the current meta. The blue decks are all trying to out-fair each other, so Force of Negation is almost absent from lists since it’s a two-for-one. These fair decks can’t really keep up with Landcestral Recall every turn, so they are easy prey for your engines. Post-board, they may have a handful of Surgical Extractions but if you maneuver carefully and extract maximum value from your Loams you can play through those well enough. There isn’t as much reason to split the difference and play midrange, and the Loam-focused way of building Lands with 4 Depths and extra tutors/accelerants allows for a lot more free wins where they just don’t have the answer and you quickly steamroll the opposition.
Ok, I think I’ll wrap this too-long aside up here. Hopefully it’s been interesting. It could certainly just be that I personally prefer the classic version of Lands, but I wanted to spend a bit of time thinking it through. What’s more, I think what I’ve said above is supported by the way the games played out. So thanks for joining me, and let’s get on to the games themselves!
Part 3 – The Event Itself
I had to wake up around 4am to play this thing so it was cold and dark in the house and my silly hairless cat was upset at being woken up but we padded over to the office and fired up the ol’ MTGO. I had put together the list the night before so I made myself a cup of tea, pulled a blanket over my legs, and sat down to wait for round 1.
Round 1 – UR Delver
Game 1: My opening hand has Grove, Exploration, Saga, Loam, Loam, Karakas, and Bog. We keep those. My opponent opens on Land, Ponder, which is everyone’s favorite Delver start to sit across from. A few turns later, I’ve Punished a Dragon’s Rage Channeler with Fire, but my opponent has an Iconoclast and maybe 5 tokens, so things aren’t looking too good.
Luckily I have Loam, Wasteland, and Exploration, plus a Saga about to hit three counters. I get to three, float the mana and go for Map into Tabernacle. Then Loam digs up Wasteland and my opponent is down to one land. After they pay for their Iconoclast, I pick up Punishing Fire with Grove and kill their last creature. They scoop.
Game 2: I keep a decent seven with Loam, Pyroblast, Map, Saga, Crop Rotation, Bog, and Taiga. Interaction and selection aplenty, but no acceleration. They lead on DRC into Bauble, and another DRC joins the first soon after. It’s the end step of my second turn when they Bolt me, hit Delirium, then untap and swing in for 6. I Bog them to buy some time and then Map into Blast Zone to clear the board.
At this point I’m at 8 with a pretty lackluster set of mana sources in play. My opponent has mana and a Wasteland, but no threat as yet. They burn a Surgical on my Saga after Wasting it and then play a True-Name Nemesis. Been a while since I’d seen that card. Unfortunately I can’t really kill it very fast so it gets a few hits in as I Loam up Blast Zone, tick it up to three, and activate it. But I’m only at 2 life and their next threat, together with a Wasteland for my Maze, wins them the game.
Game 3: This was a bit of a silly game. My opener has Wasteland, Saga, Endurance, Diamond and the mana to do all those things. They burn an early Wasteland on my Saga and start developing a board of Iconoclast tokens and Dragon Rage Channelers. However, my side of the field has an Endurnance and I’m at too high a life total for them to just attack me willy-nilly.
When I drop a Taberancle, they quickly give up their Iconoclast. And then I draw a second Endurance and start taking the fight to them. They chump with all their creatures and the board is clear, but the very next turn they land True-Name again. This time, however, I have more life than them (19 to 11) and I have two attackers and a Maze. I start attacking in and Mazing the one they block so it can’t die to Bolt.
A few turns of this go by and they are getting dangerously low on life. They develop a Murktide, but in the meantime I’ve found a Saga and a Depths to go with my Stage. We get there.
Round 2 – RUG Delver
Game 1: I’m on the draw and my hand has Mox, Punishing Fire, and, you guessed it, a ton of lands (Wasteland and Tabernacle notable among them). They lead on Trop into Delver. I try to bait them into Dazing my Mox so I can Tabernacle their Delver, but they don’t go for it so I settle for just playing the Tabernacle.
I Waste their next land and am taking hits while I slowly develop my mana when they play an Urza’s Saga. Was not expecting that. Luckily Tabernacle makes it awkward for them to make constructs, so it’s still just Delver beats. Saga threatens to be threatening for a few turns but eventually I assemble the combo and kill them. Saga is cool tech for Delver and it did find a Soul-Guide Lantern that ate my Punishing Fire. Still, not sure it’s the move in general.
Game 2: My opening hand has Loam, Exploration, Map, and Wasteland. Easy keep. They Force my Exploration, which makes me sad, and they have a Delver starting to beat me down. Goyf then joins Delver and I’m just sitting here thinking about what have I missed, where have I been? Delver players are really digging deep these days with Goyfs and Sagas and Iconoclasts and True-Names.
All these old cards are starting to actually chunk me pretty hard and they have the Force of Negation for my Loam. However, with all this done they are pretty low on resources. I manage to land an Endurance, which shrinks their Goyf down to a 2/3 so that they can’t really attack at all. A few turns later I’ve assembled Stage+Depths (playing 4 Depths is gas) and the game is over.
Round 3 – Painter
Game 1: I’m on the play and my hand makes Lage on turn 2 if I can only draw a land. I draw a land.
Game 2: They play Magus of the Moon. I play Collector Ouphe. Their creatures are better at attacking and I don’t find Punishing Fire.
Actually to be fair it wasn’t that simple; they did some very cool stuff where they recurred Breya’s Apprentice with Welders since they couldn’t meaningfully attack with their ground creatures into my 2/2, so that was kinda cool.
Game 3: After seeing Magus (and I should have known this for game 2) I bring in Minsc and Boo since he’s an utter beating against fair decks, especially if my opponent keeps a hand that’s Magus plus not much else.
I am rewarded when my opening hand has two Diamonds, Saga, Stage, Minsc, and some other random lands. That’s a turn two Hamster, baby. I make a Hamster. They make a Bridge to Ensnare it. I fling my Hamster at their face to draw 4 cards. This finds me Depths so next turn I fling Marit Lage at their face to win the game.
Round 4 – Nic Fit
I like playing against Nic Fit because their deck is just cool and does nifty stuff. Also they have essentially no answers to Marit Lage so I can acknowledge the coolness of their deck while also not feeling threatened by it. 4 Depths gang rise up!
Game 1: I have to mull to 5 to find a reasonable hand. That hand has Diamond, Dark Depths, Wasteland, Waterlogged Grove, and Crop Rotation. It’s only 5 cards, but if I can just avoid having the Crop Rotation plucked from my hand, these 5 cards will make us a turn 3 20/20.
They get out two Veteran Explorers, and although they are able to sacrifice both of them and get a pile of lands, it’s ultimately not important. Marit Lage joins the fray and the witch sweeps all before her.
Game 2: My opponent correctly boards in Leyline of the Void, but my hand doesn’t have Loam. Instead, it has Diamond, Exploration, Stage, Stage, Saga, Maze, and Grove. Saga into Map means we have the combo already, and when I draw Crop Rotation that means we have it on turn two.
Their Collector Ouphe trips me up a bit but I draw a mana source off the top and make a turn 2 Lage. They cast Deed and pop it for zero in what I can only be the last gesture of the doomed, shaking their fist at the sky as Marit Lage devours the universe.
Round 5 – Reanimator
At this point I’m feeling pretty psyched. The next two rounds are both win and ins for me, since all the 5-1s will top 8. Just gotta pull out one more win!
Game 1: I look them up so I know they’re on Reanimator, but even on a mull to 5 the best I can do is find a hand that has natural Bojuka Bog. Hopefully that’s good enough?
Spoiler: it isn’t.
Game 2: Looking at their recent finishes, it seems like this player doesn’t play Show and Tell, which is nice because bringing in Pyroblast really screws up my board plan. In Game 2 I’m able to find a 6 that can Crop Rotate on turn 1, though it’s pretty bad aside from that.
Unfortunately, my opponent has a very good 5-card hand that allows them to end step Entomb turn 1 and then use Dark Ritual to set up Exhume into the follow-up Entomb when I go to Bog them. I do exile a creature, but there’s still a creature there when Exhume resolves, and my hand is pretty trash, so I’m dead.
First loss of the event, but that’s ok. My opponent had turn 1 with protection and then turn 2 through Bog on a mull to 5, not much we can do there.
Round 6 – Sneak & Show
When I saw that I was paired against JPA for this round I almost just gave up on the event. Two win-and-ins and they were both against combo. And the second was against the deck that is my nemesis, piloted by a master no less.
Still, I always say that even your bad matchups in Legacy are never quite that bad since every deck is doing powerful things. Maybe we can hit the right side of variance and pull through.
Game 1: My hand has Exploration and Saga plus Wasteland, so I keep figuring I can maybe pressure them a bit. I’d prefer a combo hand but this is probably as good as it gets without mulling to oblivion.
I play out the Exploration into the Saga and soon we’re making Constructs. When Saga pops off I grab Needle to block Griselbrand, though in retrospect this may have been wrong since my opponent was getting low on life already – Sneak Attack might have been better. In the meantime they’re cantripping around to find their combo.
They do manage to put in Sneak Attack, and I go into the tank. I have two 4/4 constructs and my opponent is at 7. I have a Maze in play, Needle on Griselbrand, plenty of mana, and Crop Rotation in my hand. They have 3 unknown cards and two Lotus Petals to activate Sneak Attack with.
I can’t beat two Sneak Attack activations with just my Crop Rotation into Karakas. But I can Maze my attacker to stop them from gaining life. So I just go in for the attack. Luckily they only have one giant lifelinker – Griselbrand. Atraxa would have been worse since that would refuel them. I Maze my blocked attacker and put them to three. Then I rotate for Karakas on my turn, just to play around a hardcast Force of Will.
Luckily they don’t have anything else to put in and they scoop after seeing their next card. Snuck by on that one!
Game 2: I mull to 6 to find a hand that has Loam, Dark Depths, and Exploration. No actual interaction for their combo, but we can make Lage fast with this hand if we only find the other piece. And I play 10 copies of the other piece so…
I draw Map, it resolves, and they scoop with the combo on board. We got there!
Quarterfinals – Reanimator
This was the same player as we met in Round 5, and I was eager for revenge. Reanimator is actually not a bad matchup for Lands since we have game one interaction with Crop Rotation and Karakas, and we can always just make a 20/20 and overpower whatever creature they’ve put in. Still, one never can tell since their deck can go very fast and play through interaction pretty well.
Game 1: My opener has Crop Rotation, Diamond, Depths, and two Loams. This means I can interact with their combo and threaten my own if they go slow.
They are on the play but on a mull to 5 and they play Swamp into Thoughtseize. I look at my hand and I realize I have no colored lands – Diamond is my only green source. The cute play here is to Seize the Diamond and strand my whole hand. However, I’m much more likely to draw another green source than I am to draw another Crop Rotation, and Crop Rotation is my primary avenue of interaction. So I think Seizing Diamond here is a trap.
Luckily, it’s one my opponent falls into. They take Diamond. I draw Stage: combo assembled. Then I draw a green source. Luckily their hand was slow so it’s not too late and I play the land to hold up Crop Rotation. This means that while they are able to go for it before my Lage comes together, I have Crop Rotation for Bog, and then I make Lage before they can try a second time.
Game 2: I mull to 5 on the draw but my hand is straight gas. My opponent also mulled to 5 so I’m pretty confident that they can’t beat my grip of Surgical, Endurance, Crop Rotation, Fetch, Grove.
Their hand is understandably slow so nothing happens for a bit. When I draw a Grafdigger’s Cage a couple turns later it feels like the last nail in the coffin. So with that in play, although they are able to Unmask my Endurance, their only action is hardcasting Grief, which they do with a Dark Ritual. In response to this, I rotate for Saga. Saga is a much faster clock than 3/2 menace, and it finds a Soul-Guide Lantern to join my Cage. We get there.
Semifinals – MonoBrown Aggro
I looked this player up and saw that they were on some deck with Karn, the Great Creator. I hate that card. I glanced at the rest of the list and assumed it was one of those insane Mystic Forge decks that just dump their entire hands and kill you in two turns.
Luckily it was not one of those decks. Instead, it was essentially a reworking of the old Eldrazi aggro decks, this time with artifacts instead of Eldrazi. Karn, Scion of Urza, Saga, and Nettlecyst means you have a ton of Construct-type things floating around, and they can hit very hard very fast. That said, Eldrazi has always been a good matchup for Lands, even if it’s very play/draw dependent thanks to Chalice.
Game 1: I’m on the play, which is good, but I have to mull 5, which is bad. I end up keeping a very sketchy hand of Loam, Map, Crop Rotation, Saga, Stage. I figure I can Map for a green source and hope for the best. At this point I’m still thinking they’re on Forge combo so my main plan is to play for Lage, which this hand also sorta does, albeit slowly.
I play Stage into Map, but they Waste my Stage right away. Still, I get a little lucky and draw a green source (16 green sources is great), so it’s not all bad. They drop a Chalice, which blanks my Crop Rotation, and then play Wasteland into Nettlecyst. In the meantime I’ve managed to Loam back the original Stage, so with Map I can assemble the combo pretty soon here.
Although my plan is pretty telegraphed (I have Stage and Map in play), my opponent does not keep up their Wasteland. Instead, they tap out for Karn, Scion of Urza. I’m guessing they wanted the pressure since Nettlecyst was just a 2/2 at the start of their turn.
But hey, when you get an opening, you exploit it. So I know I’m going for the combo, but I tank a bit on what to do with Saga when it hits the last chapter. My options are really just Needle or another Map, so it’s gotta be Needle, but what to name? I look at the list of theirs I saw online and think about what can beat Lage… it’s their 1-of Karakas. So I name Karakas and Lage takes us home.
Game 2: This time I’m on the draw, which means a turn one Chalice can snag my Explorations, turning a good hand into a pretty bad one. That’s pretty much what happens. I have to mull to 5 again, but Lands mulls pretty well and my 5 is pretty cracked. I have Loam, Diamond, Exploration, Stage, and Wasteland. If Exploration resolves and they don’t have Leyline, this hand should win pretty handily.
Unfortunately they have the turn 1 Chalice. So I have to be content with just playing Diamond into Loam and going slowly. My opponent, however, is not going slowly, and they have Rishadan Ports and Wastelands of their own to slow me down further. They play Karn, Scion and pump out a couple constructs. I can’t defend myself against this on top of Wastelands and their Sagas, so I go under pretty quick.
Game 3: In this game my opening 7 is Exploration, Diamond, Forest, Wasteland, Stage, Taiga, Maze. This kind of hand is the classic Lands trap hand where you have a ton of acceleration but no actual engine or action.
But I keep it anyway. Not because I’m a risk-taker, but because this hand has a lot of very live draws, together with the tools to stall for a bit. With Stage in hand, we have 10 cards that make a 20/20, six of which make it on turn 2. On top of that we can find Loam or Saga off the top as additional engines. Saga would even get us to the 20/20 if we want it to. So while it’s not all of anything, it’s half of every great pair in the deck, so any other half completes us nicely.
They mull to 6 and I lead on the dream Lands opener of Diamond into Exploration into two lands for 3 mana on turn 1. Their first turn is Tomb for Ratchet Bomb to destroy my Mox. That’s fine. I draw Force of Vigor and Waste their Tomb. I just need the game to go slow so I can assemble something here.
Next turn brings me a Map, so the combo isn’t too far off. Then I draw Loam and it’s off to the races. They do get some pressure on me with Karn, Scion again, and they have a Karakas for my first Lage. But Loam plus Exploration is pretty hard to beat and their deck can’t really disrupt it without Leyline. I Waste their Karakas and make Lage again, stopping to Force of Vigor their constructs on the way. We’re on to the finals.
Finals – UB Shadow
I looked this player up and saw they favored Doomsday, so I figured I was in for a struggle. After the first couple turns it became evident that they were playing Shadow and I relaxed a little. Shadow is a pretty good matchup for Lands.
Game 1: I go to 6 and keep Diamond, Loam, Gamble, Grove, Depths, Wasteland. They Force my Diamond though, which I thought was interesting. This was maybe a high-variance play where they could conceivably have tagged my only green source but if they guess wrong they basically just submitted to a zero mana Hymn. Though it does slow me down, of course.
So I just play out Grove. It’s been a while since I’ve played with Gamble and I thought about Gambling for Exploration here but I didn’t since I only have four cards in hand. They Thoughseize my Gamble on their turn, so it doesn’t really matter anyway I guess.
From here the game moves pretty slowly. I cast Loam, but they Daze it. I don’t mind too much since they haven’t developed any threat aside from a Strix in the meantime.
Eventually a Loam resolves and I put in Tabernacle. We begin a merry game of sacrificing Strix to Tabernacle only to cast Reanimate on it to draw a card again. Which again, is fine with me. My life total isn’t going down, so I’m happy. This goes on until they play out Death’s Shadow. At this point the field looks like this:
They sacrifice the Strix to Tabernacle. So now, what’s the play? I want to make Marit Lage here, but I’m torn on what land to sacrifice. I could sac the Tabernacle, but that land is doing good work for me. I could sac the Wasteland, but I want to Waste them. And if I sacrifice Yavimaya, make Lage, and Waste them, then I won’t have mana for Loam next turn.
So I opt to sacrifice Grove. This line is pretty bad if they have Wasteland plus an answer to Lage, but they pitched Petty Theft to Force of Will way back on turn one. Unfortunately, they do have exactly Petty Theft + Wasteland. When the dust settles I have just a Tabernacle in play, and they have a 3/3 Death’s Shadow. In retrospect I should have led with Wasteland and then moved to the draw step when they floated mana – this would have let my Yavimaya live to see another day, at the very least. But hindsight is 20/20, just like the Lage they stole from me.
The next turn their Shadow grows to an 8/8 and I know I will be dead soon. But luckily Lage smiles on those who summon her as often as I do: I draw Maze of Ith. Even the Shadow of Death itself cannot escape Ith’s confounding Maze, and I soon draw a green source to start Loaming. My opponent, however, has three Daze in row and a Force of Will on top of all that, so it’s a tense few turns of praying to dodge Wasteland. But finally a Loam resolves and that, together with an Exploration I had drawn earlier, puts the game quickly out of their reach.
Game 2: I keep a 7 with a Diamond, Saga, Pyroblast, Stage, Grove, Wasteland, and Fetch. Seems fine. I draw an Exploration and start going off to the races. When they Wasteland my Saga though I’m a bit worried since that’s basically all my gas.
So I play Stage, copy my Wasteland, and then Waste their Watery Grave. Apparently that was their only land, because they miss their land drop the next turn. So while they do have two Surgical Extractions and cast both of them to gut my deck of Loams and Sagas, they also don’t have any mana to do anything else. Eventually I draw the Depths to go with my Stage and activate it to make Marit Lage, a 20/20 black avatar creature token with Flying and Indestructible.
Part 4 – Final Thoughts
My final thought is this: Lands is awesome! Ok but seriously it is a very fun deck and I hope more people pick it up, even if that means that Delver will start playing Blood Moon to beat us. I actually think there is an interesting phenomenon in Legacy where there are many viable decks, but most decks are quite tricky, with lots of specialized lines and narrow windows for optimal play (you’ll notice I mentioned just a few of the times I misplayed in this event above). What that adds up to is that there are decks that are well-positioned, but which have a very small player pool and relatively few experienced players in any given event. The result is what actually happened with Lands – no finishes after the bannings, and then 3 in the top 16 of the Showcase and decent results in the last two weekends of Challenges.
Then, as more people pick up the deck, the win rate will fall because it’s tricky to play and easy to hate. And in the long run that leads to the nice cyclical metagame we all love. All this to say, don’t discount a deck just because it has no finishes for a while. Fair blue puts something in every top8 because 50% of the field is fair blue. If your pet deck isn’t rocking it out lately, chances are it also only has 0-1 players in any given event, so don’t let that stop you from playing it (though if you’re still playing Sylvan Plug in 2023 maybe you can give that one up).
As for the deck itself, I think probably one of the fetches should be the second Yavimaya, and the 3rd Punishing Fire is probably a flex slot. That said, play 4 Depths, play 3 Maze, play Lands, and have fun! And let’s all collectively pray that fair blue keeps cannibalizing itself, that Reanimator remains the only true combo deck with a meaningful meta share, and that Toxicrene never comes to MODO. Thanks for reading this way-to-long tournament report all the way to the end. Until next time, may your life be full of loam and your loam be full of life.
On April 2nd I played the Bazaar of Boxes tournament in the Netherlands and wrote a tournament report about it which can be found here.
Following that tournament, I played two more tournaments with RUG Lands: Bottrop, Germany on April 23rd and Dutch Open Series on April 30th.
Bottrop, Germany. 70+ players
My alarm went off at half past six to travel to Amsterdam and then drive two and a half hours to Bottrop with three friends. When I ordered a cocktail a couple of hours before, at around two o’clock, I knew I would regret it later.
Super tired and with a hangover, we were on our way to a tournament held every month. A great tournament in a good location, with fantastic catering and 70+ Legacy enthusiasts.
In the end there were more than ten Dutch players and we were determined to beat those Germans in their own house 😉
My list was the same as for the BoB series a short while before:
I played the exact same list for two reasons: it was well-constructed and I was too lazy to do anything about it to change it. Here’s a visual:
Disclaimer: I use better arts.
When it comes to Attractions, I already wrote my findings in my last report. But I noticed these two tournaments something else. Not only did it not throw my opponents off their game, many of them had never even heard of it! I had to explain to them what Attractions was, how it works, and they even wanted me to show them after the match. Mission failed successfully.
With 71 cards in the deck, the 61st card being Field of the Dead, I was ready to take on all challengers!
Round 1. Daniel on Omnishow – 2-0
In the first game, I was on the draw and had a fast Urza’s Saga hand, which allowed me to go for the beatdown plan. My opponent had a Brainstorm and a Ponder on their turn two, but failed to draw a land. On their third turn, they played a fetch but chose not to crack it. My Saga then went to three and I used a Pithing Needle on their Scalding Tarn, which resulted in me winning the game.
In the second game, my opponent had a turn two Show and Tell and put Omniscience into play with a Force of Will for my Force of Vigor. Afterwards, they bricked and it took me only a couple of turns to put Dark Depths and Thespian’s Stage into play on my side of the table. This allowed me to win the game.
Round 2. Bjorn on Mono R Stompy 2-0
Game 1 I’m on the play and mull to five. I have a Minsc & Boo and a Saga that doesn’t get Blood Mooned. The game is quickly over.
In game 2 my opponent has a Chalice on 1 and some Goblin guys. He has few cards left and wants to attack. I politely ask if I can cast Kozilek’s Return and it turns out he has no permission spells. From an empty board I take the game with a Minsc & Boo.
Round 3. Dirk on Bant Stoneforge 2-0
I’m on the draw for game 1 and my opponent gets a Kaldra into play and then also a Batterskull. I’m working towards a Field of the Dead boardstate on my side, but my life total is under pressure. I do have a Loam + Exploration loop though. My opponent has very few cards in hand. To get some more time, I call upon Marit Lage for assistance. She swoops in and gets immediately exiled. I’m back up to 24 and I can keep going. She’s a keeper.
Gradually my army of zombies grows and eventually his KaldraSkull gets overwhelmed. I win game 1.
In game 2 I have a classic hand with Mox, Grove of the Burnwillows, Punishing Fire, Loam and the combo. My opponent plays Stoneforge, I Punishing Fire it. He protects it with FOW. I take the turn and play Grove, get Punishing Fire back and kill Stoneforge. Then I play my combo, Loam again to get a Wasteland back and my opponent can’t do much about it.
Three times 2-0. Is this going to be one of those days again? No. Because in the next round I’m playing the mirror and I lose game 1.
Round 4. Tobiason Lands 1-1
I’m on the play and I mull to a mediocre six. My opponent plays a fast Library and I already know how this is going to go. He has all the answers, all the engines and I get overrun. He plays it well and I give up.
The next game is an interesting one. I mull to six and I’m on the play. I have all the green cards that I’d want to see and a black one: Surgical Extraction. However, I only have one land. A fetch land.
I play my land and say go. My opponent plays a land and passes the turn. Then I draw five turns without a land. On the other side of the table, the combo is put down and he goes for it. I fetch, crop for a Karakas and bounce. Then I draw two more turns without a land.
In the meantime, I have surgically removed something. I think it was his Stage, but I’m not sure.
Eventually, I find a Ghost Quarter and GQ my Karakas to finally have some green, so I can Loam too. My opponent has no answer to my Loam and my Exploration and I start playing lands. About ten turns later, I had everything: Field of the Dead was live, I had Minsc & Boo, Loam+Exploration+Wasteland+Ghostquarter. When my opponent conceded, we had seven minutes left and we decided not to play any further. Time for a breather.
Round 5. Markus on Mono Black Helm 2-0
These two games were pretty simple since my opponent apparently picked up the ‘wrong half’ of their deck. I didn’t see any combo pieces, except for Dauthi, which I killed with a Bolt. I won pretty easily. A good line was that I made sure to have a construct token before I summoned Marit Lage in order to play around removal. That new Edict.
Round 6. Michael on Sneak and Show 2-1
My opponent came over a bit grumpy after I presented my Attractions deck. He didn’t know what it was and everyone around us said he was behind on the developments. Attractions are, of course, the new craze in Legacy. He asked (rightfully) if this was Magic or Yu-Gi-Oh!
Game 1 I played a pre-emptive Pithing Needle on Sneak Attack. I think that was a good one and I got him down to zero with a Marit Lage.
Game 2 I didn’t really get a say with a Show and Tell into an Omniscience into Atraxa into Emrakul. I asked him if this was Magic or Solitaire. (I didn’t actually ask this.)
Game 3 was a fun pot. For me that is. Michael mulled to five and I kept seven. Not much happens in the first few turns since he has a quick Blood Moon and he is also a bit flatlined by it. It’s draw-go for a few turns but I pick up 2 Pyroblasts and Force of Vigor and a green card and wait for the right moment since my Dark Depths are already in the game with zero counters on the Mountain. He hardcasts a Brazen Borrower, wanting to put pressure on my life total. I Pyroblast that to buy some more time. He plays his second Blood Moon and I decide to Force of Vigor it end of his turn. He counters with FOW and I counter back with Blast. One of my Mountains turns into a Dark Depths with zero counters on it and the rest is history.
I went into the last round with a record of 5-0-1, and instead of having a top 8, we just played seven rounds and then dished out the prizes. If I won this round, I’d be crowned the champion of the tournament.
Round 7. Dennis on Naya Depths 0-2
Dennis is a great player and an excellent Naya Depths pilot. This is a tough matchup for me, especially when my opponent knew what he was doing.
Game 1 was a struggle because he had a Knight and an Elvish Reclaimer and when I took over the initiative, he went for a main phase Marit Lage without protection. I guess he was thinking, either you win on the spot or I do. I couldn’t find an answer and we went to game 2.
Game 2 was also super close with a lot of complex lines. Eventually he had a strong board state that I could have wiped out with Kozilek’s Return, but I was one mana short of activating my own Elvish Reclaimer to get Bojuka Bog and shrink his Knight and Reclaimer.
I could kill his Safekeeper and bounce his Marit Lage during my turn after untapping, but his Knight and Reclaimer stayed alive on an empty board. I had two more turns when his 8/8 knight started attacking, and on the last turn I had an answer in Crop Rotation for Field of the dead or Marit Lage, but his Reclaimer stayed behind and he got to fetch Steppe for lethal.
Good job to Dennis and he ended up first place.
I ended up fourth with a score of 5-1-1 and you can find the top 8 decklists here.
I got to choose between the prizes as fourth pick and won two beautiful Scalding Tarns and a deckbox.
It was a really fun tournament, well worth the trip but next time without a hangover. Met some great people and on the 25th of June there’s an ELM qualifier which I’m planning on attending. It was nice to be recognized for my deck by some people, but probably more for my Attractions.
The Dutch Open Series, Netherlands. 111 players
It was the grand opening of the biggest Magic: The Gathering tournament in the Netherlands, after a few years of having to close the doors due to COVID. This was the first event, but if they keep going at the same rate as before the pandemic, then this tournament will take place four times a year. In addition, there are qualifiers throughout the country and you can qualify for the Championship tournament at the end of the year. They used to also have the ‘Player of the Year’ award for the player who had earned the most points throughout the year, not only in the four tournaments but also in the smaller, affiliated tournaments from all over the Netherlands. I can’t remember who the last ‘Player of the Year’ was though.
They host Pioneer, Sealed, Modern and Legacy every time. I don’t know the player numbers for Pioneer and Sealed, but Modern had 125+ players this time, so it’s very popular.
It was great to meet people I also encountered in Bottrop (Germany) and also a Belgian crew. It was fantastic to see how Legacy is alive and people from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany visit each other’s tournaments!
This time I wasn’t too lazy to change my deck and I made a meta prediction. I came up with this, based on ~70 players:
I was debating whether to stick with blue in my list because I expected fewer Red decks (than in the last two tournaments) and Choke seemed strong. I also really wanted three Maze of Ith due to all the creatures.
So I just decided to do exactly that: I replaced Ipnu Rivulet with a third Maze and replaced an Endurance in the sideboard with a Choke. I was only playing one (Tropical) Island…
I had tested one league online with that list and went 5-0, so the science proved me right, though I was aware that the manabase was quite greedy. I replaced one Minsc with a Sylvan Library to have some extra filtering options.
I still decided to keep my 71 cards, including Attractions. This time for the meme.
Round uno. Tim on UB Ninjas 2-0
Despite a judge call for an important moment in Game 1, Tim and I had a good vibe and it was a relaxed experience as well as competitive Magic. The judge call was about this: Tim hacked a Ninja into the game and I wanted to cast Crop Rotation for a Karakas before damage. My opponent said okay and I picked up part of my deck. At that moment he said: “oh wait, I wanted to response.” I had already seen a card from my deck.
Should the Crop resolve – yes or no?
The judge decided no and the moment was rolled back. I was okay with the decision. Tim did say it pretty quickly after the “okay”. Game 1 of a big tournament, no need to waste too much energy on this.
I built up a board state that gave me a good lock and since I watched a lot of Ninja movies when I was a kid, I knew exactly what to do and he conceded to not waste too much time.
Game 2 was pretty much the same: I built a board that could answer anything. I got Choke and it resolved. I had previously used a Saga to grab a Needle and put it on his unused Prismatic Vista. He then got two more Vista’s. My Tabernacle did a lot of work for his two creatures, which I had Mazes for. Although he could tap his Vista’s for green through my Yavimaya which I still needed, as I had little colored sources and a Trop which stayed tapped…
In the end I locked the game and he eventually conceded when we were running out of time.
Conclusion Game 1: I was happy with my third Maze. I was glad with Choke. My Trop was painful. I got into trouble with my colored sources. Just as predicted!
Round 2. Peter on RB Reanimator 2-0
It is almost impossible for Lands to win against Reanimator game 1. I was also on the draw. My opponent, Peter, was playing it slow. Too slow. Maybe he had the wrong hand, I don’t know. But I played multiple Sagas on my side. Off of the first one I got Soul-Guide Lantern, and off of the second one a Map to get Bojuka Bog. So I answered his GY a couple of times and still had Soul-Guide up. My Constructs started swinging, and the bleeding didn’t stop.
Game 2 he mulled to five. So did I, but I had two answers: Endurance + pitch, and Surgical. I didn’t even look at the rest of my hand.
Peter went all-in with his five cards. Land, Unmask + pitch to target Griselbrand and playing Reanimate. I asked politely if I could answer with Surgical and he politely said he’d give up in response.
Score: 2-0. Twice 2-0. Is this going to be one of those days again?! Nope. Because Round 3 was against Enchantress.
Round 3. Robin on Enchantress 0-2.
Robin was a friendly chap and reminded me that we had played in Amsterdam years ago. I thought to myself: “I have no idea what you’re playing, Robin, but you seem to know what I’m playing. I hope I can catch you off guard with my Attractions.” He seemed to not know what Attractions were, so there went my plan.
Game 1 I was on the play, but I had little interaction with what he was doing. Just when I finally had my combo ready at the end of his turn, he casts Devoid Druid in his first main phase. A card I hadn’t seen too often, but it rang a bell, though I wasn’t sure why. Then he puts Swift Configuration on the stack and I can tell by looking at him that the question of whether that card resolved was a big one. It did and before I knew it, Emrakul was on the board. BAM!
Game 2 I had Exploration with Dark Depths, 2 other lands and a Crop Rotation. Just one more land and I would have Marit Lage. But I didn’t draw a land for three turns. I had some interaction with his engines, but he always drew at least one card of his engines and I was losing cards. I tried to hold on, but couldn’t. One for one removal just didn’t cut it.
When he had 10 cards in hand and I had two, I threw in the towel.
Score: 2-1. No big deal, right? RIGHT?
Round 4. Teun on Reanimator. 1-1-1
2-1. No biggie, until I saw the pairings and knew that my opponent was playing Reanimator.
I was on the play and mulled to five with no Crop Rotation. I didn’t want to go any lower and decided to keep the hand. What if he didn’t play Reanimator after all and I mulligan into oblivion. He kept six.
Eventually, he had a slow hand and was throwing creatures into his graveyard with Looting. I had Exploration and two lands in play and an Expedition Map in my hand, and my next draw would have to be a land to play the Map, crack it, and play Bojuka Bog to gain some time.
I drew… a Maze! Aagh!
My opponent takes the turn and hacks all kind of big creatures into play.
Game 2 I keep seven and he six. I’m keeping a hand with a green source and two Crop Rotations, plus a Soul-Guide. I play the Soul-Guide turn 1 to get it in play. He plays discard and picks one of the Crops. Ultimately, it’s a bit of a longer game because I have a few answers. I have a Saga with two counters, and he plays after some good sequencing a Magus of the Moon. He knew I had a Blue Blast and played a Looting first. I hesitated to counter it, because I wanted to save it for the Magus. I still decided to counter the Looting and he then played Petal and Magus. I gave him props, but with that props on the stack, I made a Construct token with the Saga.
I start swinging in for three slowly and at some point I Bolt his Magus. Then I draw an Endurance and when he wants to target a creature in his graveyard at the last moment, I play my Endurance and he conceded.
For game 3 we still have a few minutes. I don’t want to lose, because then I’m out of the tournament. I have no hate in my hand and mull. And mull. And mull… to three! Three cards without GY hate. I kept one land, Force of Vigor, and an Exploration. Hopefully he goes for the Animate Dead route.
He bricked on his first two Lootings and does not do much. Eventually we go into turns he finally gets a Griselbrand in play, but it’s turn 2 in turns and he only has one turn after this one. He draws cards and has three life. I take the turn and there are many people watching. I do play Bolt in my deck…
I tap my fist on my deck, everyone holds their breath, I draw a Bolt and win the Pro Tour finals!
No, I draw a random card and pass the turn. He attacks, goes to ten, draws cards and stands at three again. But then he plays an Archon and goes to six and passes the turn. I draw another random card in my last turn and it’s a draw and I get away with it.
Score: 2-1-1. Now just win everything…
Round 5: Alex on Bant NO Show 2-1
Yes!! Another tough matchup! I won game 1 on Construct beats. Game 2, he had a quick Natural Order into Progenitus. No interaction there. Game 3 was a long one. I ended up with 47 life and the match went into time again. I had a Choke doing some heavy lifting. He only had two lands, a green and a white. I had some lands and a Trop that stayed tapped. At one point, I had a Spell Pierce in hand and drew an Expedition Map. He had two lands, like I said. I played Map and got an Otawara which I also played. In the next turn, he played an important spell which I could Spell Pierce. He had to smile and cry a bit. Spell Pierce from lands with an Otawara, really?
Alex is a chill guy I play locally with, so everything’s cool. I even decided to give him some life with my Grove of the Burnwillows once in a while. Eventually, I resolved a Minsc & Boo and it was a race against the clock. A draw and I’m out of the tournament! He then finds a Swords and an Ending. So he answers my token two times and has an Ice-Fang.
Finally, I take turn five and he’s on three life, as he had to fetch in his last turn. He has an Ice-Fang in play, one card in hand and I get a token from Minsc, have a 3/4 Reclaimer in play and draw an Endurance. I activate -2 from Minsc and hold priority to then cast Endurance. He concedes and I’m proud of my sequencing, while everyone had gathered around at this point since Jordy went into time again.
Round 6. Robbert on Cephalid Breakfast 2-0
Robert got off to a rough start, mulling to five on game one, while I got to play an Elf on the play. He didn’t have any Swords for the first two turns, so I didn’t have to worry about that. I went for Marit Lage token and won.
I boarded wrong though, seeing two Tundras and an Island and put him on UWr control. He played Underground Sea, Aether Vial, Go. And I was like, okay, okay…
I had a Wasteland in hand, a green source, a Pithing Needle and Exploration, so I played the Needle on his Aether Vial. He then played a Tundra and started Brainstorming and Pondering. I then aggressively Crop Rotated for Wasteland, played my second Wasteland, and put him back to zero lands, fearing a quick combo from his side. He took his third turn, didn’t play a land and said go. I started Loaming and ran away with the game thanks to a Saga. He later played a Saga of his own, but I had Wasteland ready.
Non-game. He revealed his hand and had all the good cards. But my Needle and Wastelands exactly answered his weak spots.
Score: 4-1-1. If I win the last game, I might make top 8.
I decided to do a bit of scouting around the tables and got a good idea of the decks I could face. Nice variation of decks. Hoping for a Death’s Shadow deck with my three Mazes and Choke. I saw a friend playing Painter who made top 8 at the Bazaar of Boxes in Tilburg with Mississippi River, and I got paired against him. Too bad, because only one of us was playing for top 8.
Round 7. Mark on Painter 2-1
Painter is a good matchup for me. I know the matchup well and I’m playing blue in my sideboard. I win the die roll and start. I look at my seven and see some really good spells and Mox Diamond. However, I only see two lands. Two Maze’s of Ith. Damn. I mull.
I’m punished by beatdowns of his creatures due to a too slow six.
Games 2 and 3 are beautiful. In Game 2 I keep a hand with everything I need. But, the Expedition Map must stay alive until the next turn. I play Mox, land, Map.
He plays Saga, Needle. I think and decide to Pierce. I really need the Map to get going. The Pierce ended up being lethal since he was all in on the Saga plan and I can now Wasteland him out the game with Map for Wasteland and the full Loam + Exploration nuts. I have full control and he conceded to save time.
Game 3. I keep a hand with Fov, pitch card, Mox + pitch, land and Blue Blast and something else.
He goes turn 1 Tomb into Painter, names blue and plays Lotus Petal.
I put him on Red Blast. Definitely.
I draw a card, play Mox and a land, GO!
He played Saga and with the trigger on the stack I FoV’d both his Saga and Painter. He used Petal for Red Blast, and I counter his blast with Blue Blast. That resolved and he stayed with only a Tomb in play.
Mark was out of gas pretty much and I started developing my board with Loam and I believe Exploration.
By the time he used Surgical in his main phase as his last card, I showed him a winning Crop Rotation for the combo. He still went through my deck, but realized he couldn’t do anything.
Too bad we got paired!
Score update: I’m in 8th place with a 5-1-1 record on breakers! Now that’s what I call magic!
I faced off against Alex in the top 8 with Riddlesmith Combo. Alex is an amazing player and (spoiler alert!) would ultimately make it to the finals against Sneak and Show. In this version of RUG Lands I didn’t play Sphere of Resistance which is a bit of a shame against a deck like Riddlesmith. On the play Alex went off turn 2 and then turn 3 on the draw. Game 3 had a Flusterstorm for his Grapeshot on hand but I was tapped out, so there was no chance. I had a Surgical on his Urza’s Saga in game 2 hoping he was on that plan but he wasn’t. I feel like the deck has a weak spot for Surgical on LED and then its second plan is Constructs. I could’ve used some luck there but unfortunately, no such luck!
I ultimately won some sweet prizes, including a beautiful art piece of Unholy Heat and Eldritch Evolution, a deckbox, and a March of the Machine Set Booster Box.
Conclusion Dutch Open Series
I’m satisfied with making it to the top 8. Just barely making it in with one loss and one draw shows how quickly you can fall out.
I’m glad that the Dutch Open Series is back and hope it continues and grows into a grand tournament that happens throughout the year and connects to local tournaments. That’s good for the Dutch Magic scene and ultimately the Dutch Legacy scene.
It was really cool to see so many familiar faces and people from Belgium and Germany too.
The head judge even came up to me during the rounds to say he appreciates how I deal with the judges’ decisions, even if I don’t agree with the ruling or if it turns out badly for me. Awesome compliment! Respect is important and judges and tournament organizers also do it out of love for the game. And the foil judge promos of course.
Conclusion RUG Lands
After three top 8 finishes in a month, I can’t say RUG doesn’t work in Lands. I think Otawara is great and Ipnu is a good addition if Doomsday is being played a lot. Further, I think Blue Blast is really good and Flusterstorm/Spell Pierce are more than just ok. Maybe you could swap them for two Spheres instead. But I can also see why you don’t. It also depends on what you expect from the meta and a bit of luck which decks you’re going to face. But with so much Painter, Mono Red and RW or RG initiative I think blue is good.
Still, I remain a big fan of Choke and I don’t think Choke goes with blue, even if you only run one Trop.
Three Maze is a bit too much, but in RG it might be ok. It really depends on whether you play with Reclaimer or not. With a resolved Choke, I missed Port. You can wonder if Port isn’t too low power leveled nowadays.
Soul-Guide Lantern I think is a fantastic card and I didn’t miss Shadowspear, although it’s always nice to have access to that card.
Next Legacy tournament is May 7th in Turnhout, Belgium.
It’s time for the Bazaar of Boxes tournament in Tilburg, Netherlands! Held every three months, this tournament is getting bigger and better each time. The organizers of this tournament love Magic: The Gathering, and especially the Legacy format. They even stream twice a week on Twitch with English Legacy content. And of course, every three months there’s this tournament. The winner gets an invite to the European Legacy Masters in Bologna; an awesome tournament with a super strong field. My goal for this tournament was set: eyes on the prize!
Meta calling and deck choices
I had been playing the blue splash online for the past few weeks, mostly for Flusterstorm. That card far exceeded my expectations. I also tried Slogurk main, but I don’t like that card for competitive play. It has amazing synergies with the deck, but it’s too slow. (Although it can kill out of nowhere!)
I made a meta call that there would be a lot of red decks around, and relatively little combo. So I wanted blue cards like Blue Elemental Blast and Hydroblast, cards that nobody expects from Lands. I also included Flusterstorm to replace Spheres since there wasn’t much combo. I chose Minsc main to do well against the fair decks I expected. To keep my matchups against Delver and Magus of the Moon decks strong, I chose to put 2 Punishing Fire and 2 Lightning Bolt main. That meant moving my 3 Endurances to the sideboard.
Something that immediately stands out is that I played with 71 cards – 10 Attractions (without ‘enablers’) to throw my opponents off. Unfortunately, in the Netherlands, most players know I play Lands.
As a wise man once said in the Lands Discord: “You will waste more mental edge presenting and registering an attraction deck than you will gain from your opponent thinking you have an attraction deck.”
I had the 61st card in my main deck be Field of the Dead. With two Elvish Reclaimers, I didn’t think 61 cards would do too much damage to the deck but I had a silver bullet for grindy, slow games too. With my two Reclaimers I opted to play two Dark Depths. The Reclaimers make my Delver matchup better, they are good in fair matchups, and they are also really strong against certain combo decks like Reanimator and Doomsday due to Ipnu Rivulet. With the absence of Spheres, I chose to play Ipnu Rivulet for Doomsday and since I had Endurance in the sideboard, I chose to main Soul-Guide Lantern instead of Shadowspear.
Otawara was a card that disappointed in testing, but I did see the power of recurring Otawara with a lot of mana in play and a Loam engine this tournament.
It’s worth seriously considering not having Spheres in your 75 anymore, unless you’re playing Leagues on MTGO, and especially if you are playing Flusterstorm. RUG Lands is a good, balanced version of the deck with lots of sideboard slots. It has enough GY hate cards, it’s good against fair decks with Minsc and Field and Sagas, it’s good against Delver and against creature decks. It’s relatively weak against spell-based combo decks, but cards like Flusterstorm can be winning there as well.
Another whole different approach is to just play RG Lands and have higher Stages + Depths count and add in a Sejiri Steppe. Even then, I would play at least two Reclaimers, and Shadowspear instead of Soul-Guide.
Round 1 – (Atraxa) NO SHOW 2-0
Round one was a breeze and gave me the opportunity to take a stroll and check out what the competition was playing. Exactly what I suspected: a lot of Red, plenty of artifacts, and not many combo decks. I was happy with my Blue Blasts.
Round 2 – PVDH on Esper Control with Attractions 2-0
Round two was against one of the best Dutch Legacy/Magic players, Peter. He’s known as an innovator, and this ‘fun’ control deck with Attractions was something he brought to the table when he made the top 8 in the previous edition of this tournament. It had plenty of value and splashed Red for maindeck Comet Planeswalker and I guess Red Blast in the sideboard.
Game one I won after a mulligan to five with a mediocre hand. I knew I had to go all-in on my Marit Lage plan and he had no answer despite two Ponders and two Brainstorms. He tried to bluff by keeping White open, but I had no choice with zero cards in hand.
Game two was a long one. He had a few creatures on board, including two Deadbeat Attendent and thus two or three Attractions open. He also had Triumph Of Saint Katherine and was at about 35 life.
I bought enough time and eventually had a Thespian’s Stage-Saga-Field of the Dead. Pretty nice; every land drop gave me two zombies, plus a Construct every turn.
Time was running short and, since I was leading one-zero, I decided to play defensively. I made some sloppy plays near the end, but he couldn’t break through my wall of creatures and I won the match.
Despite my name and deck being wrong in the information bar, that was me.
In Game 1 I played Exploration into Daze, knowing I had another Exploration, Loam, Wasteland and Crop for Tabernacle. The game went exactly as I had hoped and my opponent eventually gave up. In Game 2 I went for the Marit Lage and my opponent seemed flooded. After a Force on my Soul-Guide Lantern, I expected a Murktide and it did indeed came down the following turn. I went all-in on my token and he had no answer.
Round 4 – Painter – 2-0
This match is also on stream and you can watch this match right after the other one. I was playing against Justen, someone I’ve known for a while and is a funny dude.
In Game 1 I had all the answers, like Pithing Needle for his Grind Stone and Soul-Guide after he put Painter in his graveyard. I also had Wasteland for his Saga and I was able to take the game with the help of my Loam + Exploration engine.
In Game 2 he had a Turn 1 Magus of the Moon. I anticipated this by having a hand with Mox Diamond and Blue Blast. I searched for Dark Depths with Crop and waited until he tapped out. He did and I destroyed his Magus of the Moon. I could have gone for the win earlier, since Painter practically has no answer to Marit Lage, but I took my time and played around Dead/Gone.
Round 5 – Painter 2-0
My opponent here is Maarten, a good Legacy player who ended up winning the tournament. I had advised him to play Painter beforehand since he’s a player who can see all the complex lines of Painter, while his opponents make mistakes. In Game 1 I won with an Otawara-lock. I had Loam + Exploration, enough mana and an Otawara. After a few turns he had seen enough.
In Game 2 Maarten mulled to four or five and again I had all the answers to whatever he did, like Soul-Guide after Painter was in the graveyard, Pithing Needle, Force of Vigor + a green card and a surprisingly fast Marit Lage.
Round 6 + 7: ID
Without losing any games in the Swiss, I could easily ID both rounds and had two spare hours to relax and grab some food and mentally prepare for the top 8.
The top 8 had these decks in it:
Infect Lands Mono-Blue Painter Five-Color Zenith Mono-Red Painter Doomsday Boros Initiative Mississippi River (a cool deck that you can watch on stream a couple of times, but was also weak to a wasteland lock)
I wanted to dodge one deck (Zenith) and especially wanted to avoid Boros Initiative. And that was exactly the deck I had to play against.
I lost both games without a chance, with an early initiative creature and many removal spells.
It was a shame, because I felt I had a good chance against the rest of the top 8 and would have liked to win the invite to Bologna.
I had a blast! (Nerd humor)
Great tournament, great Legacy scene in the Netherlands and great deck. Enjoyed the blue splash and would recommend.
Thanks to the organization, especially Rob as the commentator.
Five months ago (in September 2022) I had the Legacy format completely figured out. I knew the top decks in the online winner’s meta and I felt comfortable playing vs all of these decks with Lands. I got rewarded by a Top 8 in the online Super Qualifier on the 3rd of September and I followed this up with a Top 16 in the Showcase Challenge three weeks later. I was not the only one enjoying success with Lands at this time. In fact Lands was the most successful of the “big” decks in the Super Qualifier with a staggering non-mirror winrate of 75% in this event (compare this to UR Delver that had a non-mirror winrate of 47% in the same tournament). There was peace and harmony in the Lands discord but this was about to change.
It started with Minsc & Boo getting introduced to Magic Online. This gave control decks a real clock vs us and I was worried that this would stop my main plan vs control that is to prolong the game, with Urza’s Saga plus Thespian Stage, to the point where I would either win by damage or by simply stopping my opponent from killing me and then them eventually timing out. It turned out that the impact from Minsc in control did not change the MU dramatically and I still felt OK playing vs these decks. However, Minsc & Boo would have a huge impact on another deck (GW Depths) and this matchup went from bad to horrible. Minsc combined with Wasteland for Karakas was almost impossible to beat.
But things were about to get worse for us Lands players. Much worse in fact. In November the White Initiative cards were introduced to Magic Online and PVDH won the first challenge where they were legal. I ran into the deck in a few Leagues and it definitely felt like a bad matchup. My initial estimate was that it was something like a 40 / 60 matchup. I managed to win some games by recurring Marit Lage, and other games where they would get mana screwed, but what scared me was that their good hands were much faster than my Urza’s Saga hands. After a few weeks their lists got more tuned and my winrate vs the deck went down. I wish that I would have taken the time to do dedicated testing vs White Initiative at this time but I didn’t. It would have been great to really figure out how the games played out (both pre and post sideboard as well as play / draw). Instead of doing this my brain went into hyper-activity and I started brewing up ideas (most of them really bad) like:
Old school Lands with Valakut Exploration and Glacial Chasm.
I lost a lot during this time and I eventually just gave up. If you have read my article on how to compete with the best with Lands you might recall that I said that a version of the Prison-Combo-Control-Ramp Lands shell will always be competitive in Legacy, but in December 2022 I felt that this was no longer true. It was a huge issue for us to have a bad fair matchup. This is because when you play Lands you concede the combo archetype in G1 in order to be favored vs fair decks. No combo deck is usually above 5% of the field and you can build your sideboard to have a good post sideboard matchup vs two out or three combo decks and hope to dodge the rest. But now we had a fair matchup that occupied 20%-25% of the winner’s meta and that required us to dedicate 4-6 sideboard slots to Mesa Pegasus (Unchained Berserker) and narrow board wipes such as Virtue’s Ruin. I started losing more vs the non-Initiative decks and I still lost to the Initiative decks. Games vs Initiative would play out in such a way that we would trade the emblem back and forth and then they would reach the final chapter and have a board of multiple 5/5’s and 6/7’s whereas I would have a board of a single 1/1 with protection from white (often I would not even have this as they would find Walking Ballista and kill my Unchained Berserker). My board wipes wouldn’t really matter as the emblem was still there ticking down towards the ultimate.
In early December I did something that I have not done in over four years. I put my Lands cards on the shelf and decided to learn a new deck. I bought White-Plume Adventurer and Seasoned Dungeoneer, and I even contacted Philip Gallager to get coaching. Initially all went super easy. I won close to 80% of my matches in Leagues and I was really motivated. But I was about to get a reality check. December is the most busy month for a family man like myself as Christmas is around the corner. It’s also the most busy month for a Quant Developer as most software projects have milestones to be delivered before a new year. I did not have time to learn a new deck. I did cancel the coaching session as I felt that I did not have time to do it well. I should also have taken a break from magic but I did not. Instead I jammed Initiative Leagues most evenings / nights and spent my days being tired and irritated. After Christmas I was unhappy and finally decided to take a break from playing Leagues on magic online and told myself to only play Prelims and Showcases. I did horribly with Initiative in a few prelims (2-2, 1-3 and 0-4) and I gave up on the idea of learning the deck. The deck was broken but I would still lose the mirror a lot. I would also lose most non-mirror games where I did not run my opponent over. I felt uncomfortable with making decisions and often thought to myself: “If I had played Lands in this matchup I would know exactly what to do”.
I simply didn’t have enough time to really master a new deck so I sold my Initiative cards and was back on Lands. I looked at the online winner’s meta and it was interesting for Lands. As of the 31st of January 2023 the decks to beat (>5% of metashare) were UR Delver, White Initiative, Painter and Reanimator. Decks to look out for (>3% of the metashare) were 4C Control, Cephalid Breakfast, Elves and Death Shadow. Spell based combo was almost non-existent and I figured that if I cut all Sphere effects for more graveyard hate I would crush all non-Initiative decks. If I could just find a Lands build that was 50/50 vs White Initiative I would feel comfortable playing Lands.
Legacy winner’s meta from January 2023.
In the last week of January I started playing Leagues again to test some new ideas. My first idea was to main deck Leyline of the Void together with the Helm of Obedience combo. I had noticed (while playing White Initiative) that the deck doesn’t run many answers to enchantments and I hoped that the Helm + Leyline combo would be consistent enough to beat them. It wasn’t. My deck was bad and I would often have to mull very hard just to find a Leyline in the opener. After this I tested Scapeshift Lands again and it was too slow. I finally tested a few variants of Prison Painter / Lands and they felt worse then normal Painter. So came the eureka moment. I felt like Dark Depths was exceptionally well positioned vs the non-initiative decks. Delver in particular felt weak to Depths as they had cut Submerge from their sideboard and some Delver decks even shaved on Wastelands. I remembered that most of my game one wins vs White Initiative was with recurring Marit Lage so maybe I should just focus on this angle and not try to fight over the emblem at all. I added Steely Resolve to the sideboard. I figured that this would blank most of my Initiative opponent’s cards post sideboard and it’s an enchantment so they couldn’t easily remove it. Steely Resolve, Dark Depths and Thespian’s Stage is a three card combo and I did not know if it would be consistent enough. I added Commune with Spirits to increase the consistency. I went 3-1 in a Prelim and I also got a 5-0 in a League with this initial list. During these matches I had faced White Initiative several times and Steely Resolve was great.
My winrate was 50% vs White initiative while testing, and I had achieved my goal, but I wasn’t done yet. I had played two copies of Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth in these lists and I was impressed by it. It would speed up my Dark Depths lines by one turn and it would also make recurring Dark Depths much easier. I remember that the discord user Lavafrogg had been crushing their local meta, just when Urza’s Saga was printed, with a list that had three Yavimaya and three Expedition Maps. I searched in the Lands discord and found their old list for inspiration. I took their list and cut all three drops. Legacy is so fast right now that I did not want to play clunky cards. I also felt like sideboarding vs Delver was awkward as I had too many cards to side in and not that many to side out. I therefore swapped Endurance for Surgical Extraction. Surgical is better against Reanimator as it’s easier to mull for. I got a 5-0 on my first try, and the list felt great, so I registered it for the PTQ (that was the day after). If you want to see my sideboard notes you can go here and if you want to learn more about my general principles for building decks you can read this article or listen to me talk about it on this episode of the Dark Depths podcast.
Round 1 (2-0 vs DarthStone on Reanimator)
I lose the dieroll and keep a hand with two Explorations and five lands (see below). I figure that this hand can either go for a fast Marit Lage or play the long game thanks to Urza’s Saga into Expedition Map into another Saga. My opponent is on Reanimator and goes turn one Grief into Reanimate on Grief (takes both my Explorations). My hand is now pretty slow but my opponent does not have a follow up and Saga finds Soul-Guide Lantern and I also have Maze of Ith for my opponent’s Grief and the game is wrapped up.
I mull to six and keep a hand with two Life from the Loam, one Surgical and four lands including Bojuka Bog (see below).
I think for a while and decide to bottom Loam instead of Bojuka Bog. My hope is that my opponent will either have an unprotected turn one hand or a “pass the turn” hand. My opponent goes turn one Grief (takes Surgical). I top deck another Surgical and play out Bojuka Bog to exile the Grief in my opponent’s graveyard. My opponent casts Entomb, at the end of my first turn, just to get all their Griselbrand exiled by my top decked Surgical.
Round 2 (2-0 vs Runkor on Elves)
I win the dieroll and mull my first two hands that are slow and clunky. I finally keep a hand with Mox Diamond and six lands (see below).
I put Bojuka Bog and Blast Zone on the bottom, and I start with Urza’s Saga and pass. I want to get to three counters quickly to find an Expedition Map for Thespian’s Stage. My opponent goes Forest into Elvish Reclaimer. I draw Exploration and this allows me to play out Mox Diamond (pitching Wasteland), Yavimaya and Dark Depths. On the following turn I can search for an Expedition Map, activate it to find Stage and also activate Stage to summon Marit Lage. Runkor does not play main deck Karakas and they concede.
I mulligan to six and keep a hand that is very similar to the one in G1 (see below). It has Thespian’s Stage and Urza’s Saga to find Dark Depths.
I put Yavimaya on the bottom (in hindsight I should probably have put Mox Diamond on the bottom). My opponent goes fetchland pass and I smell Force of Vigor. I draw Forest and go Forest, Exploration, Taiga (not Saga to play around Force of Vigor). Runkor plays Collector’s Ouphe on their second turn and I bolt it. I draw Crop Rotation but since I have Urza’s Saga I don’t make Marit Lage instantly (playing around Karakas). The game goes on for a few turns but eventually my opponent taps out for Natural Order and I can make Marit Lage in response and win.
Round 3 (2-0 vs tarte on Death Shadow)
I win the dieroll and have a hand that is very strong vs Death Shadow / Delver (that I suspect my opponent is on). It has acceleration and Tabernacle and Maze and access to the Marit Lage combo (see below).
I start with Mox Diamond (pitch Tabernacle), Urza’s Saga and Expedition Map (gets countered by Force of Will). My opponent goes Watery Grave into Ponder. I draw Life from the Loam and cast it (this hits a Daze). Next turn I dredge Loam and find Mox Diamond with Saga’s third chapter and Loam back three lands. At this stage I am too far ahead onboard (two lands and two Moxes vs my opponent’s one land). The game drags on for a few turns but it’s effectively over.
I keep a hand with acceleration and access to Marit Lage if I can get a Crop Rotation to resolve (see below).
I choose to play it out so that I can make a Marit Lage on my opponent’s second upkeep (to play around Force of Negation on Crop Rotation). This resolves and my opponent then casts Baleful Strix. I now have two lands in play and Shadowspear in hand. If I can only top deck a land I will win on the following turn. I brick on that but instead draw Crop Rotation and win thanks to Sejiri Steppe.
Round 4 (2-1 vs sandydogmtg on White Initiative)
I reinstalled Magic Online on my computer and lost all replays so the notes from Round 4 onwards will be much more sparse and based on memory. I apologize for this.
My opponent has a turn one Elite Spellbinder with City of Traitors and Lotus Petal. They take my Exploration. I go Tabernacle pass and the game drags on for a few turns with my opponent tapping their City in upkeep and not playing more lands. I deploy Maze of Ith and other utility lands and I eventually find Yavimaya to cast Exploration from exile. This really unlocks my hand and I can start recurring Marit Lage every turn until I win.
My opponent has a fast hand with multiple initiative creatures and I die before I can assemble the three turn combo of Stage, Dark Depths and Steely Resolve.
I have the absolute nut hand of Mox Diamond, Yavimaya, Dark Depths, Steely Resolve and Crop Rotation (and another land to pitch to Mox). This is a turn two 20/20 with shroud and this is enough to win.
Round 5 (2-1 vs Martin_Dominguez on UR Delver)
It’s a normal Lands vs Delver game where I pretend to try and deny my opponent mana but in reality I just play for a turn three Marit Lage.
I believe I mull to five and keep a hand that can potentially make a semi-fast Marit Lage. I end up not getting there as I draw two Steely Resolves and three Mox Diamonds.
I win with a fast Marit Lage.
Round 6 (2-0 vs RogeDeckWins on White Initiative)
I don’t remember much of these games except my opponent kept slower hands with lots of removal. I won game one by recurring Marit Lage and in game two Steely Resolve blanked their entire hand. Look at the screenshot below. My opponent has Karakas in play and they have chosen to imprint both Solitude and Swords to Plowshares to Chrome Mox (as they were effectively dead cards).
Round 7 (1-2 vs HankTheObese on White Initiative)
They play a slightly different build than the stock version with Chancellor of the Annex and three copies of March of the Otherwordly Light. This version seems better vs my Steely Resolve tech.
I can’t manage to get Marit Lage going and lose to Initiative Creatures.
I have Exploration and Life from the Loam and the combo. I make Marit Lage at least seven or eight times before one of them finally sticks. I eventually win the game with 80 life or something similar. I guess it’s not the first Marit Lage that kills you. It’s the ninth…
This game is interesting. I mulligan and make a pretty big mistake (playing out Mox Diamond early even though I can’t use the mana). My opponent casts March on my Mox Diamond hoping to mana screw me. I instantly draw another Mox and cast Steely Resolve. My opponent gets going with Seasoned Dungeoneer and I end up losing a turn before I can kill them.
Round 8 (1-2 vs AlessioC on Cephalid Breakfast)
I have a slow hand that can’t manage to control their mana. They eventually combo kill me through my light disruption.
I have a good hand with Urza’s Saga and mana denial. I manage to attack with constructs while I build up layers of defense with Soul-Guide Lantern and removal etc.
I keep a hand with Life from the Loam and two Mox Diamonds but only one land (Urza’s Saga). I also have some disruption in Pyroblast and Surgical Extraction. I figure that if I draw a land on my first turn then my hand is absolute nuts, and if I draw a land in any of my first two turns then my hand is still good. I end up not drawing a land before turn six or seven and fall too far behind and lose.
Quarter Finals (0-2 vs AlessioC on Cephalid Breakfast)
I can’t remember but I believe I lost to a fast combo.
My head is completely wiped here after a long evening. It’s been awhile since I did well online and my head is not used to these long runs. At some point I even consider casting Crop Rotation for Dark Depths into open white mana just to get the game over (I end up not doing that and go for the long game). This game is a bit similar to our first game as I’m not able to control their mana again and they put pressure on my disruption with Stoneforge Mystic into Kaldra Compleat. I have to use Map for Maze in order to not die and I eventually lose to their combo when I am tapped out.
I was absolutely ecstatic after this Top 8 performance. So many people have told me that Lands is a dead deck and I had even given up myself for a short while. But we have shown once more that the Combo-Control-Prison-Ramp strategy can always be viable in Legacy. This time an Ancient Tomb deck is the best thing to be doing and it turns out that we should really push the Combo angle to attack it. I have tried to take this idea even further and I went 4-0 in a Prelim with my own take on RG Combo Lands. In this deck I have increased the speed even more by adding two Manabonds to the main. In order to maximize the explosiveness of Manabond I also swapped the Saga package (and Urza’s Saga) for Gamble to virtually increase my copies of Life from the Loam.
Still, it’s a fair question to ask if our good position in the meta is sustainable going forward. Steely Resolve is somewhat of a cheese strategy vs White Initiative and it can get worse if they start to play enchantment removal or if they adjust their play pattern and mulligan the slower hands with a ton of removal. But so far they have not done this and I am pretty happy playing against White Initiative. There is a Legacy Showcase Challenge at the end of this month and my plan is to get some reps in vs Cephalid Breakfast to give myself the best chances in this tournament. I really look forward to it!
Overall, I feel that my current build of Lands has no bad matchups among the top decks in Legacy. This is exactly where I want to be as I can utilize my experience and matchup training to get an edge over my opponents. I am not the only one doing well with Lands at the moment. Magic online user and streamer PunishingWaterfalls recently made Top 16 of a Challenge with my list from the PTQ and they have also done well with 8 Mulch. My latest iteration of Grandpa Lands has 2 Manabonds and I feel like it might be a good idea to merge the Lands and 8 Mulch shells into something of a middle ground.
The state of Arizona is blessed with a reasonably-functional Legacy tournament scene. A series of qualifiers feeds (both in money and participants) a 16-person end-of-the-year tournament. I had qualified in October by winning an event with RG Combo Lands (4 Depths / 1 Saga, report here). The next month I won a similar event playing RUG Saga lands (No formal report. Deck was a big mess of stuff I wanted to try – the 3-color manabase starts “working” [big quotes] if you cut Grove, and that Ghost Quarter really impressed). So I was going into the December masters event with two consecutive wins in my proverbial cap. The plan was to play a 4 Depths / 4 Endurance RUG list that used Flusterstorms to protect Marit Lage and resolve Minsc and Boo.
Then everything changed when White Plume Adventurer was added to Magic Online.
The Initiative matchup for traditional Lands builds turns out to be truly dreadful. Your removal is quickly outscaled, the deck plays 12ish natural answers to Marit Lage, flying blockers, and quickly bursts through +20 life. Insert the last report’s diatribe about Saga here. Add in a manabase with several basics and the life loss from Trap! going through Glacial Chasm, game 1 was feeling pretty much impossible against any player that knew how to mulligan aggressively enough. The sideboard didn’t offer a lot of help, since they were already adapting to pro-red creatures (trading the Initiative isn’t even good for Lands – we don’t apply enough pressure to stop them from crushing any reasonable race), and so-called hammers like Torpor Orb or Anarchy were too slow and unreliable (not to mention the bad position of giving up game 1 and trying to win a second sideboard game on the draw).
With a sub-30% matchup against the “best deck” and rumors that fast combo was the next level to beat it, I was ready to give up Exploration and got as far as checking if any local shops had Cephalid Illusionists in-stock when I saw an Eternal Weekend report from discord user amalek0. They played an exciting 8-Mulch variant that preached the power of Ghost Wuarter and streamlined deck construction. All credit for the list goes to them – read their report for more insight.
Amalek’s list gave the Mulch deck a dimension I think it had lacked previously – Ghost Quarter denying opponents the safety of basics and leaving them hopelessly exposed to the Tabernacle. Combined with the speed of Manabond, we can present our own subgame that invalidated the massive card advantage of the initiative mechanic. Instead of fighting them on their axis with creature combat, we brought them to our home turf – the battle for lands as a resource.
Cut your Mox Diamonds.
Put your lands into play instead of the graveyard.
Cut every maindeck card that doesn’t say “land” in its oracle text.
Cast your body into a woodchipper.
This is how I learned to stop worrying and love the Mulch.
Starting with Amalek’s list, I did what I do with almost any Lands list and added two untapped green sources. Probably still want ~1 more (cutting stage?). The deck already mulligans extremely hard, and I wanted to reduce unkeepable hands as much as possible. I considered cutting the 2nd Boseiju for a pathway but didn’t. Boseiju was really good so I’m glad I didn’t.
I wasn’t sure about the Hall package, and am really skeptical having time to cast Stoney Silence in any matchup where it matters, but decided to trust the person who actually tested and left it in. I used Hall once all day in a game I had already won, but can see the appeal.
The deck is clean dead to Storm or Omni, which I didn’t expect any of, and also Cephalids, which I was worried other people might pick up after some breakout performances. Sometimes you just have to read a metagame and commit.
I fired off one modo league, going 3-2 with both losses to initiative. But unlike previously, I felt like there was a plan.
Part 2: The Event
The day before the tournament was also my first day off work for the end of the year. I prepared by baking way too many cookies which I drove around delivering to people. Amalek has written a tournament report but it hadn’t been posted yet so I’m hoping to have the element of surprise. I try to get a bit of dex practice flipping cards for Mulch. Apparently not enough since I end up calling a judge on myself twice flipping additional cards.
The morning of the tournament I wake up tired, make some eggs, and pet the cat. I put a gallon of pastries from yesterday into the car and flip through the PUP discography on the drive up. I switch to Squid once I get to Phoenix and manage to not drive my car into a wall while drumming along to GSK.
The tournament format is roughly as follows – everyone is divided into two pods, first two rounds are against your pod, subsequent rounds against the other pod. Everyone plays until they are either 4-0 (immediately making top 8 and getting play/draw option) or takes 3 losses (eliminated). Other than 4-0 players, play/draw in top 8 is determined by die roll. I like this format because it eliminates the scourge of intentional draws and places everything in your luck at winning games of magic.
R1 v Food Chain Goblins (WLW)
Round 1 I sit down against one of two Goblins players at the event. This matchup is reasonably good but has gotten a lot harder with the innovation of the Food Chain combo making them faster and less dependent on the combat step. Also I’m playing zero removal spells.
Game 1: I have a fast Exploration hand with Loam, waste them a few times and Boseiju the Food Chain. My opponent has mountain forest in play when I draw Ghost Quarter and enter one of my favorite parts of paper magic by asking them how many basics Food Chain Goblins plays. It’s always nice to ask first, but they hedge around saying “oh a few.” I play my Ghost Quarter, hit their Mountain and ask them to show me. They would rather scoop.
Game 2: I have another solid hand but get greedy Mulching and don’t hold up Boseiju for a turn which allows them to combo kill me. They almost whiff with some exceptionally poor Muxus flips and reveal that they brought in both Leylines and Magus of the Moon (which I am 100% stone dead to), but eventually get enough nonsense in play with Conspicuous Snoop to one-shot me. In retrospect they had telegraphed the combo pretty hard by matroning for Matron the turn before so I should have known to play around it.
Game 3: I make 14 zombies on turn 2 and murder them.
Opponent Basic Count: 2
R2 v White Initiative (WLL)
Round 2 I play against the same opponent from round 2 of my last report, who I also played in round 3 of the last event. Both times they were on blue artifacts and I beat them cleanly. This time I saw in round 1 that they had switched to White Initiative. I lose the die roll which shaves probably 30% off my chances for the match.
Game 1: They don’t appear to have mulliganed enough so when I answer their “Cavern, pass” start with “Exploration, Waste” I establish “tempo” and they never recover, scooping to Ghost Quarter lock
Amalek takes in Stoney Silence but I think it’s too hard to cast for the impact level and Force is really important to answer Chalice on 1 and 2. Think it’s possible you want all 3 Forces on the draw since t1 Chalice usually ends the game. Eventually Boseiju or Force can answer Chrome Mox to complete the lock.
Game 2: They keep a better hand with turn 1 Archon which obliterates my development. A few turns later Anointed Peacekeeper on Maze of Ith shuts me down and I die without putting up any serious opposition
Game 3: I keep the nuts on 7 with t1 Manabond into double Mulch, but after resolving both Mulches I still can’t trigger my Field of the Dead with a 6-land hand of only Maze, Wastelands, Ghost quarter and Field of the Dead. I finally get the 7th name a few turns later and make 14 zombies but a timely Seasoned Dungeoneer ends the game.
Opponent Basic Count: 3
I’m a bit frustrated with the loss so I go to my car and get my giant tupperware of baklava et al and start trying to feed the poor souls in the standard RCQ that’s sharing the same store. They have less players than the 16-cap legacy event.
R3 v Jeskai Cards (LWL)
I sit down for round three against an opponent I haven’t met but saw winning round 1 against Doomsday with a hand of cards that looked like Iteration Jeskai.
Game 1: I keep a really speculative 6 with Field, 3 other colorless lands, and two Mulches. Really indefensible keep that I justify by thinking Jeskai takes years to kill and guaranteeing my Field is in play matters. The biggest thing to learn with this deck is that with so few green sources and so many draw-threes you really want to mull to hands that are guaranteed functional. My opponent reveals themselves to not be on the stock list by curving Fable into Mentor and I die when my first spell – a hail-mary Crop for Yavimaya on turn 6 – is Forced.
I think this is the wrong sideboard plan and I should have shaved at least one Crop and skipped the Forces.
Game 2: I make 12 zombies on turn 2, Quarter their plains and murder them.
Game 3: My hand is fine but they curve Ashiok into Ruinition and I am ruined.
Opponent Basic Count: Too Many
I see both Doomsday players leaving the building so I’m at least safe from that. The only players I don’t want to be matched with at this point are the one Balustrade Spy gamer and my Reanimator opponent from the semis of October’s report, who has switched to some sort of knight /green sun pile. I think the mulches really help that matchup but he’s played a lot of unique tech in the past and I don’t want to have to find out about it in medias res.
R4 Delver (WW)
Now facing elimination (reminder that the tournament format is play-to-3-losses), I’m paired against the Delver player from top 8 of the last report. I had also defeated them in the semis of last month’s event so we’d joked about meeting in finals this time. Neither of us are so lucky. The last two matches were very long three-game sets in which I played a very controlling blasts-and-endurance configuration postboard, so I’m hoping I can juke them with my new all-prison approach to the matchup.
Game 1: Manabond resolves and my Loam flips Ghost Quarter and they scoop rapidly to my new all-prison approach to the matchup.
Game 2: They reveal Price of Progress with Delver when I’m at 12 so I have to play very slow until I can find a window to wipe them off red. They have Hearse which slows me down for a bit while Maze holds off the Delver. Eventually I Boseiju the Hearse but lose my Loam to a Force of Negation which opens me up to resolve Choke. I have three Crop Rotations but not enough mana to feel confident rotating without risking losing the Maze that is keeping me out of Price range. Eventually I think they get antsy and tap out for a Borrower eot which allows me to Crop twice to get through their Force and get the Tabernacle on the field for a concession.
Opponent Basic Count: Just One
R5 4-Color Control (WW)
This round decides who makes top 8. The lone 4-0 is Goblins expert Dan Ford, also on Food Chain, who has beaten Initiative 3 times already today. I watched him trigger Forge targeting a Fury. Maybe people should check out this Goblins deck. My opponent is on 4-Color Control, a matchup I’m usually very worried about. I think their Loam is better and easier to protect than ours, Uro gives them an Exploration effect that is also a win condition, and they eventually Waste-lock us. Thankfully, this is another matchup where playing Mulches greatly improves things.
Game 1: I Manabond in 2 Wastes and a Ghost Quarter discarding Loam on the first turn and my opponent concedes. Easy.
Game 2: My Exploration gets Forced but my opponent naturally draws and plays their Island so we enter like 20 turns of the Ghost Quarter lock. I have Boseijus to break their Fetches and am keeping them off two lands. My Loam gets surgicalled so I have to rely on Stage copies of Ghost Quarter to keep it up. They’re missing land drops without the ability to cantrip as I slowly build up to trigger Field of the Dead without any enchantments. I draw my Surgical to take their Wastelands revealing a hand of Force/Iteration/Uro/Loam/Brainstorm and a huge amount of Saga hate in the deck – once again getting equity from surprise factor. When they scoop to my naturally-drawn Bog wiping half their deck, I have two Chokes in hand vs their zero lands.
We’re on to top8.
Opponent Basic Count: One
Quarters v Elves WLW
Top 8 is myself, Dan Ford on Goblins, my Jeskai opponent from round 3 (also playing White Plume Adventurer), four copies of mono-W Initiative, and my opponent, known Lands player Anthony Rivera, on combo Elves.
He won last year’s event on his clever saga Lands build with 3 Expedition Maps (report here ) but had been playing around with Elves lately. When we talked earlier in the event he said he’d thought about bringing his old Lands deck and decided against it because the Initiative matchup looked “tricky”. This was a good decision. I’m a little worried because I hadn’t really thought about my Elves plan – the Mulches make the deck worse compared to a Depths-heavy build with removal.
Game 1: I win the die roll and keep a skeptical 7 with Yavimaya/Tabernacle/Crop/Depths. The plan works and turn 2 Tab into turn 3 token is good enough.
Sideboard: – Karakas, Bog; + Chasm, Drop
Game 2: I keep a Manabond hand but their start is fast enough I have to Manabond before I can make zombies. I eventually get Field online and have forty-some power that holds the elves at bay for a few turns (I think me bluffing +3 zombies with an uncracked fetch that had zero remaining targets saves me here), we futz around a bit more, they say “like 5” when I ask how many basics they have (in retrospect I think the number is likely much lower), then I die to double Craterhoof.
Game 3: I foolishly keep the same hand as game 1 without the Tabernacle. On 7 this was a clear mull but I think I’m overcompensating for my worries about assembling a win with a 2/3 combo setup instead of my usual 4/4. I have two Crops so I rationalize by saying I can get the Tabernacle or Chasm if needed. On turn 2 I should have rotated for the Tabernacle then used the 2nd Crop to combo after they tapped out on turn 3, replicating game 1. Instead I just pass on turns 2 and 3 and let them get 5 or 6 creatures in play, with my combo face up on the field.
My opponent tells me he has Natural Order + Boseiju. They then enter the tank.
I don’t remember the exact configuration of the board but he’s convinced that he can’t keep enough attackers for hoof to be lethal WHILE holding up Boseiju due most of his mana being stuck in one phase with Gaea’s Cradle. It is to my obvious benefit for this to be the case, and I refuse to do math of any kind, but a watching player with elves experience insists afterward I was dead. My opponent tanks for around twenty minutes (which I do not recommend actually letting your opponent do) and decides to play around two Crop Rotations and Glacial Chasm (which I in fact have) by swinging with some dorks and passing. I untap, Ghost Quarter their Cradle, and do what I should have done two turns ago by rotating for Tabernacle. They Boseiju my Tabernacle, then flash in Endurance targeting me. I show them how skilled I am by using my second Crop Rotation to spin the Tabernacle back into play, and they scoop to the combo a few turns later.
We’re both convinced he didn’t have the mana to kill me that turn but I still think forcing me to enter the Chasm would have been better, since I would have had to sacrifice both combo pieces to do it. Magic is hard and I am lucky.
Opponent Basic Count: “Like Five”
Semis v Initiative (WW)
Top four is me, 2x Initiative and Goblins, who has just defeated his fourth consecutive Initiative player. As I sit down my Initiative opponent’s friend (who also made top 8 with the deck) begs me to finish him off so they can go home. I win the die roll and tell them I’ll try my best.
Game 1: I’m pretty sure the texture of this matchup is mostly decided by the die roll and how aggressively both players are willing to mulligan. I’m willing to put my tournament on the line for this by shipping any game 1 hand without green source + Manabond. This heuristic gets me to four cards, but they’re all I need – Forest, Manabond, Wasteland, Mulch. My first mulch is gas and I draw a second one on turn 3 that flips Loam and they concede as the zombies start rolling in. My opponent had turn 1 White Plume and it didn’t seem close.
Sideboard same as last
Game 2: We play a bit of back-and-forth with Maze and Tabernacle v their Peacekeepers and fliers when I draw a Ghost Quarter. They have two Plains in play and are about to get a third from re-entering the undercity so I decided to deny them card advantage by Ghost Quartering preemptively. My opponent puts their Plains into the graveyard and starts untapping their other lands. I quickly stop them and try to explain how Ghost Quarter works. They look at me and say “oh yeah I cut the third Plains for another Eiganjo, fail to find.” Next turn I Loam back the Ghost Quarter and they concede.
Opponent Basic Count: TWO????
We’re done pretty quick so I watch the end of the other semifinals – Goblins v the Initiative player I lost to in round 2. Goblins resolves Virtue’s Ruin but can’t secure five consecutive wins against initiative, so it’s a rematch in finals.
Finals v Initiative (WLW)
I lose the die roll which bodes poorly. Thankfully based on our last game I’m pretty sure my opponent has Swords over Chalice main, which really lessens the play/draw disparity. Dan comments on how after reading my rant about Saga v Depths against combo decks in the last report he was pretty sure I’d play Mulch at this event. Always nice to hear from a fan – and an impressive, if retroactively coherent, read.
Game 1: My opponent goes to 5, while I keep my first good 7 of the event – Fetch, Tabernacle, Waste, Stage, Manabond, Mulch, Loam.
They lead on Petal, Tomb, Spellbinder, and tank for a surprising amount of time before taking my Manabond. They question if Mulch was the right choice. I’m pretty tired so I just sort of wave them off but in retrospect that would have given me access to a special zone just to avoid discarding my Mulch to Manabond which would have been really good for me.
I go Tabernacle pass which locks them for a few turns until I find a Maze to stabilize and run them out of mana sources.
Sideboard same as previous
Game 2: I keep a fine Manabond hand but they have turn 1 Chalice on 1 and I’m locked out. White people beat me down until I find a Boseiju but I can’t figure out a line to survive even breaking the Chalice. If I had Chasm in the deck I could have deployed multiple enchantments then used Rotation to enter the Chasm which might have given me time to build to Field but I think that’s narrow to want over anything else in the deck on the play. It’s very possible Chasm ends up being worth it on the draw with more practice.
Game 3: On the play again – I keep a solid Manabond hand that gets answered by turn 1 Lorin. I play my second Manabond, pray they don’t have Karakas, untap, cast Mulch and they scoop a few turns later when I Loam back my Ghost Quarter. Exactly how we drew it up.
Opponent Basic Count: Overall Not Enough
Hat Trick: Secured.
Thanks for reading. Check out Porridge Radio. Register Ghost Quarter.
Greetings fellow Lands aficionados! My name is Michael Warme, and I’ve been slinging Lands since Life from the Loam was a standard-legal card. Many of you might recognize me by my tag for all things magic, amalek0, from either various discords, the MTG Salvation days, or The Source. I’m writing this because I made a meta call the day 2022 Eternal Weekend was announced to play a white-splash build of 8-mulch in the main event. Last weekend, I carried the Lands torch to 38th place at EW with what is, as far as I can find, a unique version of Lands and one which I feel is particularly suited to the current metagame. I suspect this will be the second most widely-read tournament report from my carpool up to EW, as my good friend and only passenger Jay decided to keep me trapped in Philly for as long as humanly possible by taking down the whole thing.
First off, the list:
There’s a couple of things that led me to start messing around with 8-Mulch back in August. For starters, manabases in Legacy have been getting incredibly greedy; Delver plays a singular basic, and many fair piles are also playing only one or two basics. While traditional Lands builds are generally well positioned to disrupt those manabases in a long game, Delver has pushed everything into building and mulliganing towards explosive plays early in the game (e.g. Minsc and Boo). The corresponding options for Lands are to reorient toward a combo build in the classic RG Gamble build sense, play more explosive early permanents ourselves (Minsc and Boo, Sylvan Library, or even some innovative builds with mainboard Spheres), or to play more Manabond copies to increase our turn one hands that really accelerate on-board advantage. Unfortunately, these options have some significant corresponding problems; the RG Gamble builds have been overcome by the long-term trends of the format (increased answers to an early Marit Lage). The builds with more explosive permanents are kind of the next obvious step, fighting fire with fire. I don’t think that’s always a bad thing, but in the current metagame that’s largely a concession to just be a worse version of the 4c control decks. More on this later. Finally, Lands just can’t max out on more manabonds. There’s a limit to how many accelerants you can play without compromising the core structure of the deck, and Exploration + Manabond + Mox Diamond is too many slots to maintain a cohesive deck resembling anything like current Lands gameplans (I’m not a Depths player, but I imagine a Manabond + Mox Diamond flavor of Turbo Depths might be similarly viable).
When I started looking for compromises to mitigate one of those problems, I basically found two options, like the rest of the community: play a multicolor Lands build to add necessary protection and interaction spells to go with the “big” spells/tools, or play the newfangled turbo Field of the Dead build with 8 copies of Mulch. Significantly, I don’t think anyone has cracked the code for a return to the Gamble builds of years past; that metagame space is probably the exclusive domain of Turbo Depths at this point. Unlike most of the community, I think that coming in from a couple years of life obligations crowding out my legacy-playing time helped me approach 8-Mulch with a little more of an open mind.
Returning to the multi-color Lands builds and their “big” permanents, I found they seemed to fall into two categories: those built around 3-4 copies of Urza’s Saga with multiple tutor targets, and those built around mainboarded Minsc and Boo, Endurance, and/or Sylvan Libraries. It didn’t take me very long to realize that the Saga-heavy builds are just a trap–the number of slots required just torpedos the core of the deck, and the repeated trading off of land drops for tutored artifacts works against all the fundamental strategic tools in the Lands arsenal; I think such builds are better off just trying to be a depths deck with Sagas. The more color intensive “big spells” variants of Lands, on the other hand, were a bit more intriguing. Ultimately though, they all seemed to suffer from the same problem as the Saga builds–instead of extra slots taken up by 0/1 mana artifacts, they were instead chock full of 3-4 dual lands, spells that didn’t interact with the graveyard or accelerate land drops, and a sideboard full of generic 1 for 1’s that didn’t exploit the asymmetric advantage of actually putting more lands into play than the opponent.
I was kind of at a loss and flirting with the Wafo-Tapa builds of Jeskai Control (which would have been disastrously bad with the rise of initiative) when I saw someone post a list with a league result of a mono-green 8-Mulch build. I unfortunately don’t have the exact list or remember who to credit, but whoever it was stripped out all the extra techy stuff in the existing 8-Mulch builds and tried a fairly honest all-in build on Mulch and Field. The deck and the league report hinted at the absolutely explosive turn twos available to the deck (turn one Manabond into turn two Mulch for four lands, trigger Manabond with a triple-Field seven card dump for 21 zombies on turn 2), but the brave soul who tried it struggled against some classic favorable matchups and the list I think went too far to maximizing Field and gave up too much of the disruption and leverage available to Lands. It was enough for me to start messing around with it and seeing what I could do to improve the shell.
It was around this time that I started jamming a lot of Lands games against Jay Wojciechowski’s Delver between rounds at weekend events at our LGS (Games and Comics Pair ‘o’ Dice in Fairfax, VA–some of you might have heard of our sponsored team crushing it at the Oko-Toberfest CEDH event a month or two ago, or from the buzz about our weekly old school gatherings every Sunday morning). Jay was talking to me about how tight the mana is in almost every matchup and how it contributed to how high he was on mainboard Brazen Borrowers, and it made me realize that most of the decks in the format really were tied tightly to their curves and were perhaps more susceptible to repeated Wasteland effects than was usual for the format. I immediately adjusted up to trim my Rishadan Ports for two more Ghost Quarters, to see how it felt. It took a week or two for me to realize that while the traditional Lands build was still rough against a lot of the meta, that 4 Wasteland + 3 Ghost Quarter package was a pretty incredible weapon against the format as a whole.
Armed with that knowledge, and having recently seen some of the 8-Mulch experiments, I set about acquiring the random old commons and getting a serious feel for the deck. I knew I wanted that 7 Strip Mine package, but I hadn’t played with more than a single Maze of Ith in years and I was completely unversed in all of the nuances of sideboarding in 8-Mulch. I started my testing (mostly against Jay on Delver, but with some marathon sessions against D&T and midrange Jeskai piles of various flavors) and started quickly iterating on the deck. Ultimately, I didn’t stray too far from established builds of Mulch in mainboard structure, but by streamlining down the colors I freed up more space for the utility and heavy mana disruption packages, which gave me the opportunity to give the deck an angle of attack that most published builds of 8-Mulch lack, or are significantly less likely to assemble.
Let’s talk about the mainboard:
4 Exploration 4 Manabond 4 Crop Rotation
These are sort of the core of the deck, and in my opinion define what is really different between Lands and 8-Mulch. Lands plays Mox Diamond and can do fancy two mana plays on turn one. 8 Mulch does not, and so is very much a Force-check/Daze-check deck in a way that probably feels anathema to most Lands players. Getting comfortable throwing my accelerant into a Daze on turn one took a while to get used to, but it really is absolutely correct. If a hand doesn’t have one of these accelerants or multiple Crop Rotations in game one, I’m very unlikely to keep it. I routinely go to five looking for something potentially explosive with these spells.
4 Mulch 4 Winding Way 4 Life from the Loam
If the enchantments and Crop Rotations are the gas, these spells are the engine. The core strength of 8-Mulch is twofold: it can generate significantly more lands in play than the opponent (often more lands in play than the opponent has total cards available), and it can power this engine without having to rely entirely on Life from the Loam/the graveyard. As we’ll see later, while I played three utility lands that protect Loam from surgical, I am largely willing to toss my Loam into an expected surgical as long as I’m going to get a solid 4 for 1 out of the deal.
4 Wasteland 3 Ghost Quarter
I’ve said a lot about this already, but I think that the mana disruption here is really key against most of the format at the moment, and it’s augmented by access to Boseiju for even more Ghost Quarter-esque effects.
3 Thespian’s Stage 3 Field of the Dead 2 Dark Depths
This is the package of ways available to kill the opponent, and I think three is the minimum for Stage and the absolute number for Field. I can absolutely see Depths and Stage going as high as 4 copies apiece; I think it all depends on what happens with initiative.
I consider this to be the package of green sources (11) and as you can see, there’s a lot of utility crammed in here. Part of the benefit for cutting all the splashes is that these utility effects can cover my color needs, without also requiring another fetch and 1-3 other dual lands.
3 Maze of Ith 1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale 1 Tranquil Thicket 1 Scattered Groves 1 Bojuka Bog 1 Tower of the Magistrate 1 Karakas 1 Hall of Heliod’s Generosity
Most of this is familiar utility to Lands players of all stripes; I think that we really only need to talk about three of them. Scattered Groves is really a fetchable cycler; my most common use case was fetching it, Ghost Wuartering it into a forest, and Loaming it back to set up a double Loam turn to just power the game completely out of reach. Tower of the Magistrate is a specific hedge against Kaldra Compleat. I intentionally chose to play it over the 4th Maze or Glacial Chasm because the decks with access to basics, Stoneforge for Kaldra, and Wasteland can basically just “get us” about 25% of the time by having the Stoneforge and drawing the Wasteland to open a hole in our Maze of Iths for a turn or two. Our spells usually resolve in such matchups so I’m unafraid to aggressively rotate into the Tower and then take some damage as I build up to cover the rest of their board. Finally, Hall of Heliod’s Generosity was really the final addition to bring the deck together. There are a lot of matchups where you can stay at parity for a really long time by loaming back and playing one land per turn to keep creatures covered and pressure on the mana, but it can often be nearly impossible to do that while also setting up to win the game. Hall solves that problem cleanly–at some point, your grind flips into the Hall, and you can pick it up and take exactly one turn off to set up the accelerant enchantment that locks the game away. This was often the flaw with my traditional Lands builds–I would have one Exploration or Manabond get answered, and I would have a game slip away while I treaded water desperately for a few turns trying to find another one. The other thing it does is enable aggressive Force-checking with your Manabonds and Explorations–you’re often able to aggressively draw out two Forces on turns one and two, and then the opponent is essentially out of gas and the Loams/Mulches resolve uncontested while you find the Hall to re-cast the third (or fourth or fifth) accelerant of the game. Finally, it really powers up sideboard games–Choke and Drop of Honey are far more powerful when you can loam into them, and then cast them every turn until they stick.
My sideboard, on the other hand, is a good bit different from the usual mix of Lands and 8-Mulch sideboards:
4 Force of Vigor 4 Endurance 2 Choke 2 Stony Silence 1 Drop of Honey 1 Glacial Chasm 1 Maze of Ith
Most of these cards are not unusual to see in a Lands or depths sideboard (except maybe Stony Silence), but I think the mix says a lot about where this deck sits in relation to other builds of Lands at the moment. The Chokes and Drop of Honey/Endurances speak to the more traditional Lands gameplan of running out the opponent’s mana base with Tabernacle and Wastelands, stressing their fundamental resources. On the other hand, the explosiveness of the deck demands the heavy suite of Forces and high impact utility lands that would just be mainboarded in traditional Lands or disregarded entirely. The only unique thing going on here is Stony Silence, and the choice to play them followed (and was contingent on) the decision to play Hall of Heliod’s generosity. These were specifically for Doomsday, Storm, 8-Cast, and the initiative matchup, and I was rewarded in the main event with a takedown of Doomsday that involved double game wins after my opponent resolved a discard spell to see my hand and then piled with Doomsday, one of which was directly attributable to having the Stony available to buy back with Hall.
Round 1: BR goblins 2-0. Opponent kept a one lander without vial and got Waste/Tabby’d, game 2 he mulled to 4 looking for more than one land.
Round 2: Cephalid Breakfast 0-2. This is the guy who went undefeated day 1; he just had the Nomads combo both games. This is a match where we only win with a fast combo, there is no reasonable line for mana disruption so we just min-max disruption and exolosiveness.
Round 3: 4-color Yorion Zenith 0-2. This guy dropped a couple rounds later, played super slow, and picked up at least two draws. I had 15 mins for a game 2 and 3 and sideboarded for the clock, not to win, so not much to say. Player was not great but infinite basics, mainboard land recursion, and Primeval Titan is unbeatable.
Round 4: Delver 2-1. I win game 1, make a speculative keep game 2 because I’m up and opponent draws well, but no way was Delver getting two games off this list in a single round.
In: Drop, Choke, Maze Out: Karakas, Tower, one Stage/one Depths
Round 5: Doomsday 2-1. I win game 1 and game 3, both after opponent has Duressed me and then Doomsday piled. Game 1 they didn’t pile mana sources correctly and triple Ghost Quarter over the following turn cycle broke their pile. In G3, they missed that my Ghost Quarter forcing a pass of the turn also let me recur the Ghost Quarter and Hall back Stony, so the double turn-pass turned into locking out the Petal they were going to use.
Round 6: Delver 2-1. Same sideboard as before, much the same story.
Round 7: Yorion Death & Taxes 2-0. I’m scared enough of Kaldra that I mainboard the Tower. Opponent kept a double nonbasic/Vial hand game 1 and didn’t draw a second land after my double Wasteland + Boseiju until I already had double active field. Game 2, I had turn 1 Manabond, turn 2 Mulch, make like 12 zombies.
Round 8: Boros Initiative 2-0. Opponent keeps on 4 or 5 both games with a turn 1 play, which gets summarily Mazed while I Wasteland them into oblivion.
In: Maze, Drop, 1 Stony. Out: Tower, Bog, Karakas
Round 9: White Initiative 1-2. All three games were nut draws by both of us; we agreed in discussion of hands afterwards that the player on the play was 100% to win each game–nothing on the draw for them beats good Manabond hands, nothing on the draw for us beats good Chalice into threat hands. Same sb as before, but I strongly considered Force of Vigor.
Round 10: Delver 2-0. Same sb as before. Opponent attempted to Price + Volt me out with good timing but I was playing around it and survived it at three, and they lost all five red sources as a result of trying to set it up, so they scooped.
Where does Lands go from here? Honestly, as long as Iteration and initiative are here, I think Mulch is the build, Urza’s Saga is bad, and splashes will get punished. My instinct is that initiative will probably diverge into two shells: a white-based prison shell with lock bears, and a Mox Diamond and Gemstone Caverns Boros pile with 12 initiative threats and Once Upon a Time. I think we have very different gameplans against those two decks, so really testing the matchup isn’t feasible until the target is better defined.
The format as a whole has gotten more coinflippy; I’m not sure it’s good gameplay overall, but from a competitive standpoint I think being the 80-20 favorite on a per-game basis against Delver and having a literal coinflip matchup with initiative is a fine place to be. I believe there is more that can be done to optimize the GW 8-Mulch shell that I played, and I think if I had a year of reps instead of 4 months of jamming once a week, I would have finished X-2 and been on the hunt for a top 16 on breakers instead of a top 32 (which I missed anyway, and the current standings show it being nowhere close thanks to my carmate winning it all and destroying my breakers in the top 8).
A big shoutout to my airbnb folks from Games and Comics Pair ‘o’ Dice in Fairfax VA, Carson, Nathan, and Jay. It was a big boost to be there with a team versus going the trip solo, and the family style dinners were great. For those that are watching, our shop is becoming a hub for eternal play–we put a sponsored finalist and a top 16 player up in CEDH at Oko-Tober this year, Jay took down EW and I made top 64 this weekend, and we’ve got a weekly Sunday morning old school for 15+ folks firing now. Cheers to all, and may your dredges always flip gas!
This channel was previously posting videos here; feel free to subscribe to this new source for newer videos.
A league with RG Lands! I tried Sejiri Steppe and it was very mediocre, but overall the deck felt pretty solid.
Matchups: Moon Stompy BRu Reanimator UR Delver Doomsday Moon Stompy
Decklist: 3 Urza’s Saga 1 Blast Zone 3 Dark Depths 4 Exploration 3 Grove of the Burnwillows 1 Karakas 4 Life from the Loam 2 Maze of Ith 4 Mox Diamond 1 Crucible of Worlds 1 Glacial Chasm 2 Taiga 1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale 4 Thespian’s Stage 1 Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth 1 Wooded Foothills 2 Punishing Fire 4 Wasteland 1 Bojuka Bog 4 Crop Rotation 1 Expedition Map 1 Pithing Needle 1 Forest 2 Endurance 1 Boseiju, Who Endures 2 Elvish Reclaimer 1 Shadowspear 1 Waterlogged Grove 1 Sheltered Thicket 1 Sejiri Steppe 1 Field of the Dead 1 Ancient Tomb
Sideboard 3 Force of Vigor 1 Collector Ouphe 3 Pyroblast 2 Endurance 1 Red Elemental Blast 1 Thran Foundry 2 Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes 2 Lightning Bolt