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How I put Lands back on the Map by alli


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:

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.

Tournament Report

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. 

What’s next?

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.

Thanks for reading. 

AZ Legacy Masters Win by tim

Part 1: The List

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.

Sideboard: – Karakas, Bog, 2 Winding Way; + Drop, 3 Force

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

Record: 1-0

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

Sideboard:  – Karakas, Bog, Depths, Stage; + Drop, Maze, 2 Force

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

Record: 1-1

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.

Sideboard: – Karakas, Bog, Depths, Tabernacle, Maze; + Surgical, 2 Choke, 2 Force 

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

Record: 1-2

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. 

Sideboard: – Karakas, Depths, Stage, Brushland; + Drop, Maze, 2 Choke

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

Record: 2-2

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.

Sideboard: – Depths, Tabernacle, Maze; +2 Choke, 1 Surgical

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

Record: 3-2

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”

Record: 4-2

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????

Record: 5-2

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

Record: Champion

Hat Trick: Secured.  

Thanks for reading.  Check out Porridge Radio.  Register Ghost Quarter.

38th at Eternal Weekend by amalek0


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:

Goldfish Link Here

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.

1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Forest
1 Snow-Covered Forest
1 Savannah
1 Horizon Canopy
2 Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth
2 Boseiju, Who Endures

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.

In: Maze, Drop, Chasm
Out: karakas, Bojuka Bog, Tower

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.

In: Choke, Drop, Stony, Force, Endurance
Out: Karakas, Mazes, Tabby, Wasteland, Ghost Quarter

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.

In: Endurance, Stony Silence
Out: Bog, Tower, Karakas, 2 Maze of Ith, Scattered Groves

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.

In: Drop, Maze, 1 Stony Silence (very speculative)
Out: Bog, 1 Boseiju, Scattered Groves

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!

AZ Legacy City Champs Win by tim

Part 1: The List

View the deck on MTG Goldfish here

I haven’t really played any serious legacy since July.  So when it was time for a paper 1k, I had to do some catching up.  The currently-popular build for RG lands is the 4-saga, endurance-main build.  Popularized largely by the wild success and fantastic content put out by alli, Saga Lands has an aggressive constructs gameplan backed up by the chapter 3 toolbox and Endurances main to fight the format’s top combo decks.  

For this event I played the non-saga version of the RG lands. Obviously, it paid off, due to a combination of a dead-on metagame read and massive quantities of luck. Of course, nobody wins a magic tournament on skill alone, so let’s see how I got there. 

My expected metagame for this event was Delver, Elves, Moon Stompy, Goblins, and Reanimator in roughly that order, followed by a smattering of control and Knight decks.  

Based on that, I was pretty dedicated to registering 4 Dark Depths.  Once I had four Dark Depths in my deck, it became difficult to fit 4 Urza’s Saga and two or more tutor targets into the list. I was also wedded to the idea of registering at least one Minsc and Boo since the card was new and I thought it seemed fun. It’s also probably one of the best things to be doing against Taxes and GW depths, two matchups where cutting Sagas in favor of Depths is hurting you the most. 

I based my list on Japanese player dull04.  You can see their version and read how they approach the UR delver matchup here. The page also links their older article discussing why they prefer just one Urza’s Saga for late game stage tricks to the more aggressive 4 Saga + Bullets strategy.  They explain themselves better than I ever will on the subject, but I want to add one additional point.

The best way to beat combo decks as lands is to play 4 Dark Depths, load up on 0-mana interaction, and pray. 

The absolute best case scenario for saga v combo is

T1: Mox, saga, sphere of resistance
T2: make a construct
T3: make a construct, resolve ch3, attack for 5
T4: attack for 10
T5: attack for 10 (Opponent loses)

Now obviously, the artifact you search off chapter three could be impactful (Cage, Needle, Thran Foundry).  But the important thing is that this is never faster than a zero-acceleration Depths/Stage combo, but has two notable downsides.

First, all of your mana is spoken for on turns 2 and 3, if they force you to interact on those turns, you can’t make constructs which slows your clock.

Second, your interaction (Sphere, Saga targets) is answered by the same sideboard hammers that clear your threats (constructs).  Your opponent can safely tap out for Recall, Meltdown, or Serenity knowing that you are a few turns away from deploying another threat. 

Compare this to Dark Depths, which has a lot of potential lines for a turn 3 kill (Exploration + 4 lands, double Mox + combo, Mox + double Crop) and significantly more ways that Crop Rotation facilitates those fast lines.  This is especially important in matchups where Crop Rotation IS interaction like Reanimator, since holding up Crop can then convert immediately into killing your opponent if they take the turn off.  And since our threat is creating Marit Lage (a 20/20 black avatar creature token with flying and indestructible) at instant speed, the avenues for the combo player to fight back are a lot narrower. 

So, the plan against combo decks:

a. Create Marit Lage as fast as possible and kill our opponent 

b. Present enough 0-mana interaction to get to turn 3, execute (a).

In my opinion, Spheres are too slow and often ineffective against the best combo decks of the format (Reanimator, Oops, Doomsday’s Fastest Draws).  They also slow our ability to assemble a win via Crop Rotation or hold up Blasts and Endurance.  Sphere’s best matchups, slow combo like ANT and Sneak/Show have been mostly replaced by TES and MonoR storm, both of which can overpower or go under a Sphere easily.  I don’t want my combo answers to be reliant on drawing a second card (Mox) and also being on the play.  In the meantime, I’ve put one Mindbreak Trap in the deck and will just hope, if i’m playing against Storm, that they wheel me into it.  If you’re worried about the matchup for some reason, add more Mindbreaks. The Torpor Orb is a Sphere-like card against Doomsday and Oops that doubles as hate for Death and Taxes, where I think Saga is actually missed.    

Also I just hate topdecking Shadowspear, and Saga COMES OUT against UR Delver.

Four Depths, One Urza’s Saga, No Sphere of Resistance.  The remaining points of interest are 16 colored sources including snow-covered forest (I wanted to maximize my consistency, especially with casting Endurance under Blood Moon; you can probably cut Forest or a fetch and be fine), and Valakut Exploration.  

Valakut Exploration is a powerful card that has probably seen its best days already.  I think if you’re playing a more Field of the Dead-focused game against slower decks you need more ways to generate card advantage, which Valakut is decent at.  In retrospect I think just playing at least one more copy of Minsc would have been better, since the card has the same potential effect of getting ahead of cards while also killing your opponent a lot faster, and providing crucial board impact that Valakut lacks. Both can be Hydroblasted but Minsc is harder to Prismatic and is immune to enchantment removal.

The Bolts are alli’s tech from the recent showcase list and performed great all day. 

The rough sideboard mapping I threw together for this list is below.  Note that I didn’t bring this with me to the event and just used it as a deckbuilding exercise, so while you’re busy not taking everything as gospel, especially don’t take this as a sideboard guide.

What this reveals is that I probably have one too many cards against Delver and a really messy mapping against GW Depths.

Part of the solution I worked on was cutting Reclaimer and working some number of Endurances into the main but I was worried about finding my Field of the Dead against control and couldn’t figure out what the next sideboard slots would be (I wanted something for control but not Delver or GW depths).

As usual for the last few events I’ve played, Field was completely useless, but the matchup lottery paid off extremely well for Dark Depths.

Either way I didn’t want to agonize over it because I knew I was going to be winning with raw skill. 

Part 2: The Event

As usual we’re driving two hours to get to the event in the morning.  It’s actually the same store as my win from last year (report here, unfortunately the writing was better last year but hopefully ya’ll still enjoy this one).  

I’m getting over a pretty serious concussion so the drive up is not the most pleasant experience but I’m really wanting to get out of the house.  On the drive up I listen to Black Country New Road’s stellar Ant’s From Up Here.  Everyone needs to hear it.  This report is secretly a BCNR shill piece, and with the release of 40k commander decks, it’s officially a Magic the Gathering album.

“Show me the land you acquired”  asks Isaac.  Hopefully my opponents feel the same way. 

Around 32 players came to game today, good for 5 rounds.   Around half as many as last year’s event.  Presumably the RCQ season gives people an alternate thing to do with their wizard time.  I’ve also learned and manage to my online decklist submission the night before, which unfortunately stops me from making the last-minute swap to 2 Minsc, 2 Valakut. 

Round 1: Elves LWW (1-0)

Game 1: I roll up to round one against an opponent I think I recognize but can’t name.  They are wearing a sports jersey so I assume I’m getting comboed (cannot elaborate further on the read). Based on this I win the die roll and keep a middling 7 with exploration, two green sources, field, Crop and two more lands that aren’t combo pieces.  I deploy my spells and hold up crop for whatever spooky shit is going on, which turns out to be Forest, Nettle Sentinel from the opponent. I take my draw step, rotate for Tabernacle, and deploy one of many disappointing Field of the Deads. Two turns of drawing Mox Diamond later, my Tabernacle is Boseiju’d and I die to Shepherd activations. 

I sideboard as planned but add Mindbreak Trap since I saw Nettle and Birchlore, which indicates the combo-heavy variant instead of the new Fiend Artisan hotness.  This is potentially bad for me because people who netdeck Newton aren’t going to have run afoul based on the last list I saw, but my opponent could easily be playing cards that are good against me. 

My opponent comments that this round’s going to be over a lot quicker than our last, revealing them to be the GW depths player I went to time against last year.  Thank you for switching decks.

Game 2: They T1 Green Sun’s for Dryad which I Lightning Bolt end of turn. Being used to paying two for removal spells, this is very exciting for me.  I experience what people call “Tempo” (which as far as can tell is when you are winning). I have the natural Tabernacle which they sac a Birchlore to in order to Boseiju it, then drop a bunch of dorks onto the table. I rotate for blast zone killing four creatures, trigger Field of the Dead and my opponent concedes.  Field of the dead will not be mentioned again in this document.

Game 3: We play the same Tabernacle-into-Boseiju game which slows them down while I Waste their mana.  Eventually I drop Minsc and Boo onto a board against three dorks, throw the 4/4 hamster into their Symbiote which draws me into the combo and I create the first of many Marits Lages for the day. My opponent tries to combo off with two Glimpse into the Run Afouls they now feel comfortable telling me they’re playing but miscounts their mana and fizzles.  I fly to victory.

Round 2: 8-Cast WW (2-0) 

My opponent was sitting next to me so I know him to be on 8-cast, which I think is a really volatile matchup that I don’t super want to be seeing.  There’s a lot of ways they can get out of control with a fast start but knowing what I’m up against gives me a huge edge in mulligans.  Basically if they activate Urza’s saga and I don’t immediately Force of Vigor or show them the witch the game is over. 

Game 1:  I have Exploration into a Wasteland for their first Saga but they have an unanswered Emry.  They take a bunch of damage off Ancient Tomb getting a Cannoneer out and I untap and resolve Minsc and Boo. They can’t swing into Minsc without dying on the crack back so Kappa Cannoneer has to chump the 8/8 hamster and they die a turn later.  

Hamster 1: Turtle 0

Board according to plan. 

Game 2: They have a turn 1 Chalice for 1 which turns off the two blasts in my hand, and they Force my turn 1 library, but don’t have a backup threat so I make two more land drops then show my opponent the Witch.  They’d played their Otawara turn one and can’t get Spellbomb through their own Chalice so I fade Borrower and win.

After the game I have time to sit down and finish Don DeLillio’s White Noise.  The most I’ve laughed at a book this year.  A bit antiseptic but truly thrilling.  Adam Driver / Greta Gerwing adaptation later this year is, um, surely something that you could choose to watch on your television. 

Round 3: UR Delver WW (3-0)

Game 1: My opponent wins the die roll then leads on a naked Volcanic and Baubles me.  I draw the Port they saw and play it out before passing.  This apparently signals extreme weakness as they waste my Port and Ponder.  I know that that play just lost them the game.  I resolve Exploration through Daze, double Maze forces them to overextend into a Blast Zone for three creatures and they scoop to a Loam lock a few turns later. 

I can’t decide which two of Exploration, Loam, and 4th Depths should come out in this matchup.  All future delver games should be assumed to have been chosen at random between those.  Sound off in the chat about how I should have better constructed my deck to not have to deal with this. 

Game 2:  My favorite Lands games are the ones where you just play out your lands and don’t cast any spells.  My opponent leads on turn 1 Delver, so I answer it by putting a Maze into play.  Then a Wasteland.  On turn three I play Boseiju into my only spell of the game, an Exploration which gets Forced.   Once again my opponent smells blood and wastes my “exposed” green source.  Three turns later I have zero forests in play and create Marit Lage, a 20/20 avatar creature token with flying and indestructible that also can’t be submerged.

Round 4: Intentional Draw (3-0-1)

Draws should be worth zero points. I will die on this hill.  Anything else incentivizes slower play which is chronically difficult to enforce and allows situations like this where I get lucky my first three matches and handshake into top 8.  Zero point draws incentivizes players to take risks to finish the match or they both lose. 

Anyway I went and got a falafel sandwich during my first off round.  It was decent.  The other three undefeated players in my draw bracket are 2x Moon Stompy 1x UR Delver. 

Round 5: Intentional Draw (3-0-2)

I’m supposed to be spending a lot of time resting in dark, quite places for the concussion so I take a nap in my car for the first half of this round. The car turns out to be neither quite nor dark but where else would I go?

When I get back to the event space I find out that seeds 5 and 6 also drew in (Reanimator Mirror), leaving only two matches in play to decide Top 8.   UR Delver v Taxes and UR Delver v Goblins.

I watch enough of the Goblins match to figure out what’s going on.  Really exciting new build with the Seething Song stickers goblin, Chrome Mox, and Skirk Prospector + the new lord that lets you play cards off impulse when goblins die.  Dan is storming off a bunch but gets a few crucial spells Forced and dies to Staticaster because his Delver opponent decided to change two sideboard cards and flip the matchup today. 

On the other table, Death and Taxes loses to Murktide Regent, bringing the top 8 to:

3x UR Delver

2x Moon Stompy

2x BR Reanimator

1x GR Lands

I’m very clearly fighting for the side of good in this one, but I take the prize split so nobody gets mad at me.  We’re still competing for the invitational qualification anyway so it’s ok. 

I end up dropping to 5th seed but I’m ahead of both reanimator players which is really what matters. 

Quarterfinals: UR Delver WLW (4-0-1)

I sit down against my opponent who I know to be a Delver player with a truly glacial pace of play.   Time for some untimed magic in the truest sense of the word. 

Game 1:  My opponent is higher seed so they play first, opening on Island, Ponder.  This is a scary start for me since they know the matchup and kept a seven without a turn 1 threat.   I have Mox+Reclaimer and try to bait my opponent into Bolting it with a Crop into Waste as protection.  They pick up and read Elvish reclaimer a few times then decide not to.  Reclaimer Bogs them to slow down the game but I’m low on resources while they keep chaining Iterations so I’m forced into the combo which they have Borrower for.  I greedily play into Daze which tags my Loam and stops me from repeating the combo. 

One of the Reanimator players stops by to let us know that they’re waiting for us in top4.

Their Delver flips off Ponder, which they cast surveilling the instant/creature they need to activate two Channelers.  The sudden burst of damage takes me to 6 through my Maze.

My opponent has two Volcanics in play and two cards in hand.  2x Delirious Channelers, Insectile Aberration, and a Murktide.  

I have Maze, Forest, Mox, Port and a Reclaimer in play.  

My hand is Loam, Crop, Exploration.

Graveyard contains the combo, Yavimaya, Bog, and some fetches. 

What’s the play? 

I cast loam targeting Yavimaya, Stage, Depths.  My opponent asks how much mana I have in play.  I tell them the Port is my only available mana source.  They tank for a while, then read elvish reclaimer.  They Daze Loam returning volc to their hand. I pay, then put Depths and Yavimaya into play.  Yavimaya leaves me with three mana so I rotate for a Wasteland, Waste their Volc, and Reclaimer for Tabernacle. 

I silently pause to reflect on the words of Exodus 25:9, which all skilled Lands players have tattooed on some hidden part of their body.

My opponent says that they’d forgotten about the Tabernacle, puts all their creatures into the graveyard and concedes. 

The reanimator player drops by again to let us know that the Moon Stompy mirror is starting in the other semifinal. 

Game 2:  For the sake of brevity, I play around one Daze but not two, lose my Library to double Daze, and my opponent finds two Borrowers in two turns for my Marit Lages and I’m too far behind on resources to rebuild before dying to chip damage.

One of the Moon Stompy players drops by to let us know they lost the mirror.  Apparently their opponent drew more Furies and it sounded miserable.  Moon stompy in the Finals.

Game 3:  I’m a bit spooked by two Borrowers so I keep a slow midrange 7 with Reclaimer, Endurance, Bolt, Blast, Fetch, Grove, Port.  I play out my Reclaimer turn 1 into a Bolt which is probably loose and Blast their turn 3 Iteration for a land.  I’m stuck on three mana sources myself for a few turns before finally drawing a Stage and resolving my Endurance through Daze.  They untap and Maddening Hex me.  This is not good.  

I have the combo in play but they have a Wasteland and I don’t have a 6th land to activate Port. I chat with my opponent about what happens if Stage copies a basic.  I finally draw a mana source for Port and make a serious mistake by not immediately comboing them in their upkeep, punished horribly when they put a second Wasteland into play.  In retrospect they could have easily Wasted my depths to force the issue if they had Borrower since I was unlikely to be able to rebuild through the Hex when I’ve clearly missed the last 5 or 6 land drops. 

I’m drawing Moxes and Libraries instead of mana sources I need to orce the combo through while they Iterate through their deck and refill the grave for a Murktide. I Blast, they tank, then remember their Hex trigger, and I roll a 5, going from 18 to 13.   They force my Blast and Murktide resolves.  Murktide enters the red zone and I Punishing Fire before blocks, rolling a 4, down to 9.  Endurance trades with the punished Murktide, leaving my opponent with a non-delirious Channeler, Hex and a pile of lands.  They read punishing fire.  They say “so you can get it back with red mana.”  I tell them yes, but I need them to gain life in order to trigger it, pointing at my tapped Grove and sole red source.  They waste the Grove in main phase two. Suddenly I have outs.  I untap, topdeck a mana source, and create Marit Lage, a 20/20 black avatar creature token with indestructible and flying.  They show me force + land in hand and scoop it up.  In fairness to my opponent, they were out of Iterations and I was going to draw Boseiju next, potentially unlocking my hand of card advantage spells and bolts.  Out of the marathon and on to the semifinals. 

Semifinals: BR Reanimator LWW (5-0-1)

My semis opponent is someone I know as a really skilled player of Maverick-style brews (Knight of the Reliquary is a big problem for lands.  Terravore is worse).  Thankfully they’ve instead decided to play a deck I have a chance of beating with my seeding-determined play option and 13-card sideboard strategy. 

Game 1: I mull a 7 that casts turn 3 Minsc and Boo, then groan as I see Minsc in my next hand, but it has Crop + green source so we’re keeping.  Minsc goes to the bottom, I hold up Crop and my opponent shows why they kept 7 by Griefing my Crop and reanimating Archon. I don’t need them to go through the motions at that point so I pack it up and go to sideboard. 

Game 2:  I keep another 6 with Exploration, double green source, Crop and the combo. They mull to 6, loot Emissary to the grave and try to go off without protection. Crop into Bog wipes the grave and they can’t rebuild before I apply the Witch to their face two turns later.  

Between games two and three I ask my opponent how low they’ve mulliganed today.   They laugh and say that was the first mulligan they’d taken.  This is clearly how you get to the semifinals.  

Game 3: I keep a very mid 6 with Endurance, Loam, and a Stage but no acceleration or second piece of interaction.  They mull to 5 and go Fetch pass. They’re digging for an Entomb effect while I draw a Library and take 8 immediately, giving me Mox + Depths. Play four copies of your best cards. I put the combo onto the field and they try to go off with Unmask on themselves into Animate Dead on Grislebrand but I pitch cast Endurance and they scoop before I can get my token out. 

After the game I learn that the 7 my opponent kept was a no-land turn 1 hardcast Magus, which I was probably cold to.  They were worried about getting raced by Endurance but I don’t think I can reliably cast it in time under a moon.  Into the finals. 

Finals: Moon Stompy WLW (6-0-1)

Finals is against local twitch celebrity Tony Murata (into_play on twitch), a long-time Cloudpost player who’s recently decided to pick up Moon Prison.  I’m pretty confident about my plan for the matchup but definitely don’t feel favored.

Game 1: I keep a turn 2 combo off a basic against their mull to 5.  Unfortunately they have a turn 1 Blood Moon off two Chrome Mox, leaving them with no cards in hand. We play draw-go for a minute with Tony playing out low-value lock pieces like Trinisphere before drawing a threat, which thankfully is a hardcast Simian.  I take two for a bit before drawing a Valakut Exploration for the first time this tournament. Valakut goes off, flipping into multiple Explorations and my opponent concedes when I have three Valakut, three Exploration in play and find Boseiju.  Feeling really good about beating g1 t1 Blood Moon, we go to sideboard.

Game 2:  I keep 6 with Reclaimer off a basic, natural Depths and a Punishing Fire for Magus.   Tony has Moon instead of Magus which is how we lose this matchup.  I’m activating Reclaimer to thin the deck while Hearse prevents my Reclaimer from being an effective blocker and I die 10 turns later to Fable beats without finding a disenchant effect. 

Game 3: On the play I keep Depths, Stage, Yavimaya, Exploration, Punishing fire, which is extremely good as long as my opponent doesn’t have turn 1 Magus or Dead//Gone.  Their 7 produces a turn 1 Rabblemaster, I mainphase my combo for no apparent reason other than being sleepy, and they flip the top card of their deck to reveal it’s not Dead//Gone.  That’s game. 

The big plus of the smaller event is we’re done in time to get a Dosa, which is what we drove up for in the first place.  They completely mess up my order but it’s still good.  Can’t complain at all. 

Don’t Try to Beat Their Nut-Draws by alli

a guide on deckbuilding by alli


I got the idea for this article when discussing if Endurance is a sideboard or a maindeck card. At the spoiler of MH2 my first reaction was that Endurance could be a turn 0 answer to combo decks such as Reanimator and Doomsday. I figured that it could also come in vs Delver and it replaced 2 of the 3 Shifting Ceratops that I had in the sideboard specifically for this matchup. 

My first level-up came a few months later when I read a tweet from the Japanese Lands master Hori Masataka saying that Endurance is the best answer to Knight of the Reliquary. I had primarily played Endurance as a stonewall effect vs Delver but as I fully realized that it has flash (also if you pay 3 mana for it) then I started to use it more like a removal spell. It’s a bit situational, and it doesn’t always answer creatures with static abilities such as Goblin Welder, Elvish Reclaimer or Dark Confidant, but it’s no more situational than other red-green removal such as Punishing Fire or Drop of Honey. Endurance can even be flashed in on our opponent’s end-step and kill an opposing Narset or Karn (similar to how Vendilion Clique used to be one of the best answers to Jace). As I started viewing Endurance as a removal spell it made more sense to put it into the maindeck instead of the sideboard. 

My last level-up came a few months later when I played with my friend and coach Andreas Petersen (ecobaronen). We were playing vs Painter and the boardstate was empty as we had spent the first turns trading resources with our opponent. We had Endurance in our hand and I kept thinking of it as a removal spell for a potential Magus of the Moon that our opponent could draw. Andreas asked me, “why don’t we cast Endurance and smash our opponent 4 times and then they’re dead?” After this game I started to mentally realize that Endurance can also smash my opponent’s face, and this is very good in an aggro deck like Lands. My opponents will often take a few hits by my Constructs and then be forced to use their removal on them. This opens up for Endurance to come down and finish the job. After I have started to play Endurance more proactively my win-rate vs Uro decks such as Blue-Zenith has increased significantly. I now make Constructs in the early turns and wait for them to cast their first Uro before I snap in Endurance and kill them before they can find another Uro to stabilize.

Figure above shows my mental level-up of playing Endurance in Lands.

How does this tie back to deckbuilding and sideboarding? Well, we moved Endurance from our sideboard to the maindeck and we now had 3 new sideboard slots to discuss in the Lands discord. Some people told me that they still lost to Reanimator and they wanted to fill those 3 extra slots with Surgical Extractions. I even played 2 Surgical Extractions in a Showcase Challenge earlier this year. Guess what, one of my losses in that tournament was against Reanimator. In G3 my opponent had an explosive turn 1 of Swamp, Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, Show and Tell into Archon. My hand had both Endurance and Surgical Extraction in it. My conclusion after the tournament was that we can’t really beat the nut draws from Reanimator and we shouldn’t even try to do this. Our goal is not to get a 100% winrate vs Reanimator. In fact we couldn’t even get a 100% winrate if we tried because Reanimator is a proactive and powerful strategy. They can always have draws that beat ours. If we plot our expected winrate vs Reanimator as a function of the number of graveyard hate pieces that we play then we would see that at some point there is diminishing returns (meaning that each additional slot of graveyard hate increases our winrate less than the previous did).

Figure above shows Winrate vs Reanimator as a function of Number of Graveyard Hate played in a non-blue deck (this is not based on actual data but it is only my estimates).

We have convinced ourselves that we shouldn’t try to get a 100% winrate vs Reanimator. What should we do then? We want to maximize our expected winrate in the tournament which is the sum of all our winrates in the various matchups times the metashare of those matchups. It’s an empirical law that all decks are at least 2 sideboard slots short of covering all matchups in Legacy. This means that we have to make some sacrifices and every slot that we dedicate towards Combo is a slot that we cannot use to improve our Tempo, Control or Midrange matchups. In some metagames it can be correct to completely ignore some matchups if their metashare is low. 

Table above shows winrates for Deck A and Deck B vs the various Legacy archetypes. In this example Deck A is a better choice with an expected winrate of 57% vs the field.

Who is favored in a matchup?

Another thing that I see many inexperienced players do is to waste sideboard slots vs their already good matchups. This might be because they don’t really know if they are favored or not in the matchup. Maybe they’ve only played it a few times and lost. 

I like to use the following diagram to visualize who is favored in a given matchup. On one axis I have my draw (bad, average, good) on the other axis I have their draw (bad, average, good). In this context “draw” means your starting hand plus all cards that you draw in the game. My rule of thumb is that if I win the games where we both have an average draw then I will have a positive winrate (+60%) in the matchup. After all, most games will play out in such a way that both players have an average draw. If I also win the games where both players are having a good draw then my winrate will be even higher in the matchup.

Figure above shows an example of a matchup diagram where Deck A wins vs Deck B every time that their draw is of equal quality. This makes Deck A +70% favored in the matchup.

Let’s look at a concrete example to illustrate this method: Lands vs Elves. I would argue that a good Lands hand will beat a good Elves hand. Let’s look at some good Lands hands for inspiration:

  • Turn two Marit Lage on the play.
  • Turn three Marit Lage plus early removal.
  • Exploration, Life from the Loam, Grove of the Burnwillows, Punishing Fire.
  • Mox Diamond, Sphere of Resistance, Tabernacle.

I would also argue that an average Lands hand will win over an average Elves hand. In fact any Lands hand that has access to Tabernacle will likely beat an average Elves hand. 

This does not mean that we have a 100% winrate vs Elves. A good Elves draw will definitely win over a bad Lands draw and possibly also over an average Lands draw. Here are some examples of good Elves draws:

  • Explosive Glimpse hands.
  • Multiple Cradles and Natural Order.

Drawing up your matchup like this can help you understand where to focus your sideboard slots. If you already have a very good matchup then I wouldn’t waste sideboard slots to improve this specific matchup.

Efficient Deckbuilding

As I said in the introduction there is an empirical law that we are always (at least) 2 sideboard slots short of covering all matchups in Legacy. In order to optimize our overall winrate we should therefore look for cards that are efficient i.e. they improve a matchup without requiring many slots (typically bombs that can be tutored or cantripped into). We can also look for cards that overlap vs many matchups (such as counterspells or discard spells). In this section I go over the major archetypes in Legacy and how I think you can attack them in an efficient manner.


In my opinion the most efficient way to combat a combo deck is to attack them from multiple angles:

  • Stack based interaction. 
  • Discard spells.
  • Permanent based hate.
  • Fast clock.

This is good because combo decks cannot afford to spend many slots on interaction. Take Storm for example, they play 6-8 discard spells (ANT) or 4 Veil of Summer (TES). If they expect all your interaction to be permanent based then they can swap Veil of Summer for Chain of Vapor. But it gets a lot harder for them to sideboard if they have to respect both stack based and permanent based interaction. If they are forced to bring in Chain of Vapor but also keep in Veil of Summer then they will have to side out some combo pieces or cantrips (and this makes their deck slower and less consistent). These games will typically go longer and this will favor you because you will draw more of your interaction.

Figure above shows Winrate vs Reanimator as a function of Number of Graveyard Hate played in a blue vs non-blue deck (this is not based on actual data but it is only my estimates). 

I usually feel favored if I can attack a combo deck from 3 different angles. For example, in current iterations of Legacy Lands it’s possible to attack Doomsday from 3 different angles. If you look at my decklist from the last Showcase Challenge you can see that I only have one slot that is dedicated towards Doomsday (Thran Foundry) but since it’s a 1 mana artifact I can tutor for it with Urza’s Saga. I feel very comfortable playing vs Doomsday post sideboard as I have: 

  • Stack based interaction in Endurance and Pyroblast.
  • Permanent based hate in Thran Foundry and Sphere of Resistance (combined with mana denial).
  • A fast clock thanks to my Constructs or Marit Lage.

This video demonstrates pretty well how games of Lands vs Doomsday play out in my experience. 

My final advice for combating Combo decks is that there is a form of “cheese” or “brewers advantage” to be found when building your sideboard vs these decks. If you play a deck like Death & Taxes or Lands that typically attack Storm with taxing effects then you can improve your winrate more by adding a card like Mindbreak Trap instead of another Sphere effect. This is partly because of diversification (as discussed above) but it’s also because you catch them by surprise. It’s very possible that a Storm deck has 0 actual outs to a Mindbreak Trap post sideboard vs Lands. 


There are two ways to beat control decks. You can either try to overload them with card advantage or find a threat that they can’t answer. In my opinion the first way is suboptimal, if you try to maximize your expected winrate vs the entire field, because it will require many slots. You are trying to beat them at their own game. They dedicate a lot of slots to card advantage such as Narset, Expressive Iteration, Sylvan Library, Uro, Predict, Standstill, Jace. You will have to dedicate more slots if you want to reliably beat them on this axis. This can definitely be done by the Lands archetype. If you look at a deck like 8-Mulch they in fact try to overload the Control deck by playing eight Mulch effects on top of four Life from the Loam. This comes with a cost though and it makes 8-Mulch worse vs other parts of the Legacy field. 

Figure above tries to demonstrate why it’s not an efficient strategy to build your Lands deck to beat control by drawing more cards than them. 

My other issue with going the 8-Mulch route is that if the control players feel like they’re losing the card advantage race then they can go the opposite route and just jam red sideboard cards like From the Ashes and Blood Moon. What does it matter if you draw 4 lands with Mulch if they are all Basic Mountains? In fact this is exactly what happened when 8-Mulch broke out earlier this year, the meta started to get very hostile towards Lands. 

Figure above tries to demonstrate the issues that you will face if you manage to beat control decks at their own game.

This is why I prefer the other way to attack control decks i.e. to try and find a threat that they cannot answer. By doing this we turn the game into something else than “who can draw the most cards”. Delver decks have historically been really good at doing this by playing cards such as True-Name Nemesis, Klothys, God of Destiny, or Court of Cunning. If we manage to stick such a threat against a Control deck then we exploit their biggest weakness which is that they can’t close the game quickly. I learned to appreciate this strategy in the Snowko era. If I managed to resolve a Klothys vs Snowko then I had effectively nullified all their Uro’s, and Klothys gave them 6-7 turns to kill me before they would be dead. They simply couldn’t race Klothys unless they already had an active Oko. Today’s Control decks are better at answering threats thanks to Prismatic Ending and they also have a faster clock in Minsc & Boo so this strategy is harder to execute but it can still be done. Here are some examples on threats that a Lands deck can play that is very hard for a Control deck to combat:

  • Thespian’s Stage copying Urza’s Saga and then a basic land.
  • Choke.
  • Cavern of Souls and Primeval Titan into Field of the Dead.

If you play online then another resource to be mindful about is the clock. This is often the most important resource when playing against Control. I try to ensure that I have more time than my opponent already from the very first turns of the game. I will restart my computer in between each round (and sometimes before going to sideboarding) to avoid having lag. This strategy is also exploiting the fact that Control decks can have a hard time closing the game, and the Lands deck can play defense rather well with Marit Lage (+20 life), Karakas, Maze of Ith, Constructs and Punishing Fire. This strategy is so effective that it has made me reevaluate cards. Take Sylvan Library for example. I used to think of it as they’re trading 12-16 life for 3-4 cards, but now I think about it as they’re trading 5-10 minutes of their clock for 3-4 cards. The latter is typically not a profitable trade and, although they might win G1, they have set themselves up to lose the entire match. 

If you want to learn more about Lands vs Control then you can read this deep dive that I wrote last year.

Non-Blue Midrange

This category contains all non-blue midrange decks such as Death & Taxes, Elves, Goblins, Maverick, GW Depths, Lands. There are two ways to beat these decks. You can either hate them out or you can try to go bigger than them. Midrange decks revolve around creatures and / or lands, and there are plenty of excellent hate cards for these. Here are some examples: 

  • Death & Taxes: Dread of Night, Massacre.
  • Elves: Plague Engineer, Perish, Opposition Agent.
  • Goblins: Plague Engineer, Pyroclasm.
  • Maverick: Perish, Terminus.
  • GW Depths: Perish, Terminus, Blood Moon, Price of Progress.
  • Lands: Blood Moon, Price of Progress, Ruination, Force of Vigor.

The stronger a hate card is vs a certain matchup the more narrow it typically is. Massacre, for example, is extremely good vs Death & Taxes but pretty bad vs Elves or Goblins. In some metas it can still be a good idea to add a few narrow hate cards but in other metas it’s better to look for hate that have a broader application. This all depends on the distribution of the non-blue Midrange decks. 

None of the non-blue Midrange decks can play Force of Will and this is their biggest weakness in my opinion. If you go bigger than these decks then you exploit this weakness. They won’t be able to stop you from casting your spells, and if you have a strategy that simply wins when both players are casting their spells then you will have a good time vs non-blue Midrange decks. This is easiest achieved by playing a Combo deck, but it can also be accomplished by non-combo decks that play cards like Shark Typhoon or Primeval Titan. 

Figure above tries to demonstrate how you can attack non-blue Midrange decks’ lack of Force of Will by playing a Combo deck.

Lands as a deck is very good against the other non-blue Midrange decks (except those that play Knight of the Reliquary) because we can both go over them (via ramp into Field of the Dead or by creating large Constructs) and we also have Tabernacle as a maindeck tutor-able hate card. Tabernacle is strong because it stops our opponent from swarming the board. They have to use their mana to keep their first 2-3 creatures alive and then they can’t deploy more creatures to the board. This allows the Lands deck to reach the endgame where we are favored thanks to Urza’s Saga and Field of the Dead. If you want to learn more about Lands vs non-blue Midrange you can study these resources:


I saved the big bad tempo archetype for last. It should be obvious by now that combining cheap undercosted creatures with free interaction is the best macro strategy in Legacy. As I have explained in the previous sections the Combo, Control and Midrange archetypes all have strategic weaknesses that can be exploited but this isn’t really true for the Tempo archetype. 

  • Tempo decks have, unlike Combo and Midrange decks, plenty of slots for generic interaction and most of it is free so they can progress their proactive gameplan while holding up counterspells. 
  • Tempo decks can, unlike Control decks, finish a game quickly and they can often race any “hard to answer” threat that you might present to them. 

There is another fundamental strength to the Tempo archetype that shouldn’t be forgotten. It’s the implicit card advantage that they gain by playing fewer lands than their opponent. They get away with this because their threats are undercosted. Norwegian Legacy Grandmaster MatsOle once said something along the lines of “it’s hard to combat Delver when their 2’s (2 drops) are stronger than our 3’s (3 drops)”. Midrange decks have to play acceleration such as Mox Diamond, Aether Vial or Ancient Tomb just to keep up with the raw efficiency of the Tempo threats. In a long and grindy game the Tempo deck will often be up 2-3 cards by simply drawing less lands / acceleration than their opponent. Historically, every time that the Tempo archetype has access to actual card advantage spells like Treasure Cruise, Dreadhorde Arcanist, or Expressive Iteration it gets broken and forces a ban onto the format. These cards were all really powerful but they were also just the straw that broke the camel’s back in my opinion.

I’m not saying that it’s impossible to get a favorable matchup vs UR Delver but you need to respect this deck. It’s not enough to put 1 basic mountain in your sideboard and hope for the best. You need to build your maindeck as a well oiled machine, without any clunky / cute cards, and you also need to dedicate 6-8 of your sideboard slots for Tempo. This is what I mean when I say that Wasteland and Daze dictate what cards that are playable in your Legacy maindeck. 

Figure above tries to show how the tempo archetype dictates what cards that are playable in Legacy maindecks. This example covers the card Minsc & Boo in Lands.

So what can we do to combat the Tempo archetype? You can attack them in a few different ways and none of them works every time:

  • Attack their mana. They play few lands and very few basics so you can sometimes mana screw them out of playing the game. This strategy was always risky, as they don’t need a lot of lands to operate, but it has gotten even worse vs the current iterations of UR Delver. Most of their threats cost 1 mana now instead of 2 and Dragon’s Rage Channeler in particular is excellent at helping them find more lands. I used to win somewhere between 20%-30% of my games by wasteland locking my opponent out but now it’s more like 10%-20%.
  • Big dumb creature. Their removal is damage based so they can have a hard time answering a big dumb creature like Marit Lage, Hogaak, Uro, or Batterskull. They do play Brazen Borrower, Submerge and Unholy Heat so this does not work every time. I still try to win with Marit Lage in most of my Delver games but timing is key.
  • Cheese a win. There are some cards like Choke or Chalice of the Void that attack their entire Tempo core. These cards can win you the game if you manage to land them on an empty board. Current iterations of UR Delver are extra weak to graveyard hate so something like Rest in Peace or Unlicensed Hearse can also cheese out a win. This strategy only works if you get it online early as once they get onto the board your cheese card will be mostly useless. It’s still a good strategy though, and I would say that Choke wins me 30%-40% of the post sideboard games vs UR Delver. 
  • Answer all their creatures and draw more cards than them. This is the classic Control vs Tempo plan. In my experience this is much better in game 1. I remember playing Snowko and crushing Delver in game 1 just to lose to their “hard to answer” threats like Klothys in game 2 and game 3. Don’t get tricked into thinking that your Delver matchup is good just because you win a long and grindy game 1. 

The final thing that I want to say about the Tempo archetype is that as a non-blue Midrange player you want Delver to be the best deck in the format. This is because Delver will push down the amount of combo decks that you will face in the winner’s meta. If WoTC took out the large banhammer and wiped Tempo out as an archetype then I think we would get a meta of blue Control / Soup decks vs Combo. I prefer the meta that we have now from a competitive Lands player’s perspective. If you want to learn more about the Lands vs Delver matchup you can read this deep dive that I wrote a few years ago.


In this article I have discussed the major Legacy archetypes and their strengths and weaknesses. But there is a lot of room for maneuver inside each archetype. In fact most top tier decks in Legacy can be built to beat any of the other top decks. You have access to an enormous cardpool and you can often find the tools that you need to make your deck favored in any given matchup. 

The issue is that you cannot build your deck to consistently beat all other top decks at the same time. Fifteen sideboard cards are not enough for you to do this. You will have to make sacrifices and concede (accept that you are below 40%) in certain matchups. You should also not try to be 100% in any matchup as this is impossible in a game with variance such as MTG. If you don’t accept that you can lose some amount of games vs all matchups then you will waste sideboard slots vs your already good matchups. I try to build my deck so that I win the games where both players have an average draw or where both players have a good draw. If this is already the case then I would be hesitant to dedicate more slots for a given matchup as these slots can be better used to improve my bad matchups. 

Finally, I prefer sideboard cards that have a broad utility such as Sphere of Resistance. Sphere may not be a 10 in any matchup (outside Storm) but it’s a 7 in many matchups and this will improve my winrate across the board. Sideboard bombs can be very effective but they are often narrow. I therefore prefer bombs that I can tutor for such as 1 mana artifacts or lands.

If you want to get more of my content then checkout my Thanks for reading!

Legacy Lands Update by alli


Many months ago I launched Season 2 of the Competitive Lands Project by formulating a dream to qualify for the Legacy Showcase Qualifier in June. This would be achieved if I managed to Top 8 in either of the March or April Showcase Challenges or if I would go 5-0 in one of the Last Chance Prelims. In order to maximize my chances to realize this dream I put up a list of strategic, gameplay and mental goals for myself. You have been able to follow the preparations on my YouTube Channel. I have intended to write this summary report for months but the fantastic Danish summer weather kind of got in the way. 

It turns out that the Legacy metagame has changed during the summer as a few red decks (Moon Stompy and Painter) have entered the winner’s meta. UR Delver has also declined from the winner’s meta (see table below). In order to keep this article relevant I have added a final section where I give you an updated sideboard guide as well as the decklist that I recommend for the Legacy Super Qualifier tomorrow (3rd of September). 

Thanks for reading!

ArchetypeMetashare (Aug 22)Metashare (Jun 22)Change
Dark Ritual7%8%-1%
Show & Tell6%4%+2%

Goals Checklist

First things first. Season 2 is over and it’s time to evaluate my progress. As I explained in the introduction video I would need a fair amount of luck in order to realize the dream that I had formulated and hence when evaluating Season 2 it’s not meaningful to look at the outcome of my dream. It is more meaningful to evaluate if I managed to complete the goals that I set out for myself.

Strategy Goals

In order to get an edge over the field I wanted to first have a good estimate of what “the field” was, and then I wanted to know my macro role(s) against the top decks. This led me to define the following strategic goals. 

Strategic Goal 1: Estimate the winner’s meta prior to the tournament 

I completed this goal. I started by creating a spreadsheet to keep track of the winner’s meta, and I then spent every Monday filling in the winning decks from last weekend’s Challenges. I usually define the winner’s meta as the Top 32 but this time the size of the tournaments were very different (some Saturday Challenges had 60+ players and some PTQ’s had 200+ players) so I decided to make a cut-off based on winning records instead. 

So what was the winner’s meta? Up until the March Showcase Challenge the winner’s meta was UR Delver, Jeskai Hullbreacher, Uro Tradebinder, Death & Taxes, GW Depths, Lands, Doomsday, Reanimator, and 8 Cast. This was a fantastic meta for Lands as Endurance was great against both combo decks in the format. Endurance was also really strong vs Delver, GW Depths and in the mirror. 

After the March Showcase Challenge we started seeing a resurgence in Storm based combo decks and a drop in Doomsday. Unfortunately the Storm decks didn’t completely take over the combo portion of the meta and we instead had Storm, Reanimator, Show & Tell and Doomsday with basically the same metashare. I don’t think it’s possible to build a Lands 75 that can beat all those decks and I had to make sacrifices.

Strategic Goal 2: Have a decklist and sideboard that is tuned for the winner’s meta.

I discussed my strategy for choosing a decklist in one of the first episodes of the season. I initially tried various 3 color decklists but I decided to focus on the more consistent RG shell that would allow me to put 3 copies of Rishadan Port into my manabase. Rishadan Port was primarily there to combat the fact that Jeskai (with a basic heavy manabase) was the premier control deck of the format. I teamed up with Jordy, who is an excellent Lands player from the Netherlands (also his nickname in Discord), and you can see our discussions in this video. I would say that I completed this goal.

Strategic Goal 3: Know the macro strategy for all big matchups (>5% metashare)

I did complete this goal, and it was kind of a no-brainer that I would, given that I have several thousand reps with Lands. But I did something extra this year as I actually wrote down my key strategic notes on paper (see the guide further down in this article).

Gameplay Goals

In order to maximize my chances to play tight, and to make good in-game decisions, I defined the following gameplay related goals.

Gameplay Goal 1: Practice all big matchups (>5% metashare)

I completed this goal by either playing in Legacy prelims or by doing dedicated matchup training. You can see my practice rounds below.


There are numerous videos of me playing vs Delver on my channel. Here are a few ones from Season 2 of Competitive Lands.

Jeskai Control
GW Depths
8 Cast

Gameplay Goal 2: Be conscious about when to play using intuition and when to stop up and think

I had identified, already prior to the start of Season 2, that I had started to play more and more on autopilot. This is an easy trap to fall into when playing a deck that you have a ton of reps with. I therefore set up a goal to get better at “stop up and think before making plays”. I discussed this with Jarvis Yu during our coaching session and he taught me the following method that would force my brain to stop up and think. After each drawstep (or everytime that my opponent makes a play) I will say the following questions out loud:

  • What has changed?
  • How do I win from here?
  • How do I lose from here?

Gameplay Goal 3: Do a coaching session with Jarvis Yu

Jarvis is one of the best Lands players on the planet, and he also has an incredible range since he plays many other decks and formats. I contacted him in the beginning of Season 2 of Competitive Lands and asked for a coaching session where we would review some of my matches. Jarvis taught me the “stop up and think” strategy explained above but he also identified that I have a tendency to underestimate my opponents. I sometimes choose suboptimal lines in order to give my opponent the chance to mess up and this is clearly not a great strategy when playing against killer opponents (as you will do in a Showcase Challenge). I liked the session with Jarvis so much that I decided to do a similar one with Jordy from the Lands Discord.

Mental Goals

In order to ensure that I would have the stamina to play well at the end of a long tournament I defined the following mental goals for myself. 

Mental Goal 1: Get regular exercise during Season 2 of Competitive Lands.

I set out a goal to run at least once per week and I did achieve this goal. In fact I exercised more than 2 times per week. I did not only run, I also did some fun exercises with my kids such as ice skating and parkour.

Mental Goal 2: Ensure that my tournament weekends are not filled with mentally exhausting activities. 

I completed this goal. I had talked to Camilla well in advance and we ensured that the Showcase weekends were free. She is very supportive and I am lucky to have such an understanding wife.

Mental Goal 3: Don’t practice too much.

I felt a bit exhausted in the middle of Season 2 and I therefore decided to take a 1 week break from playing magic. This really paid off as I started to feel fresh again. I think this goal is one of the most important to have because it is super easy to fall into bad habits when playing magic online. 


So how did it go? I played in 4 qualification tournaments and you can find a quick writeup of the events below.

Practice Round – March Showcase Challenge

I started the day by taking a run so that I would feel fresh for the tournament. Unfortunately I got a pretty big headache after the run (I think I ran too fast / long and got dehydrated). I took various painkillers but the headache didn’t really stop before round 4 or 5 of the Showcase Challenge. I went 6-2 in the tournament which is a great result but not quite good enough for Top 8. I would have had to go 7-1 (or have had better breakers) in order to make it. I lost to Doomsday (round 1) and Blue-Zenith. I won against 3xUR Delver, Madness, Moon Stompy, and GW Depths. I actually misplayed in G3 vs Doomsday and I could have won if I had cropped for Rishadan Port in the upkeep of my opponent’s last turn. I realized this immediately after the match and luckily I did not tilt. Instead I started to play better and better the longer the tournament went on (likely thanks to having achieved my mental goals stated above).

The Tournament – June Showcase Challenge

This was the big event that I had prepared so hard for. I felt great going into the tournament. I knew exactly what to do vs all common matchups and I felt almost unbeatable. I went 7-2 in the tournament which again is a great result but it was not quite good enough for Top 8. I would have had to go 8-1 (or have had better breakers) in order to make it. I lost to GW Depths (round 1) and Reanimator. I won against 3xUR Delver, RUG Delver, Reanimator, 8 Cast and Jeskai Control. My round 1 was interesting because I actually won G1 but I only had 1-2 minutes left on the clock at this time. My opponent had 3-4 minutes left on their clock and they removed all stops for the rest of the game. I timed out in G2. This was annoying because I was actually ahead of the clock for most of G1 but, as the boardstate swung back and forth, I lost track of my clock and started falling behind. This is something concrete that I can improve and I take this lesson away with me. I also did not tilt after round 1 and continued to play tight for the rest of the tournament. My loss vs Reanimator was pretty heartbreaking as I had both Endurance and Surgical in my G3 opener but my opponent cast turn 1 Show and Tell into Archon. This taught me that no matter how much hate I bring in I cannot beat the best hands from Reanimator so it’s likely better to use some sideboard slots for other matchups (and I started cutting Surgical from my sideboard after this tournament). 

Monday – Last Chance Prelim

I started 4-0 (winning against Goblins, Cephalid Breakfast, UR Delver and Blue-Zenith) and I played against Jankyb in the last deciding round. I had googled Jankyb and I saw that they usually play Jeskai Control. I kept a hand with Urza’s Saga and Thespian’s Stage (super good vs Jeskai Control). I also have a Pithing Needle that I played out on turn 1 (as my mana would be clogged up for the remaining turns). I named Flooded Strand with my Pithing Needle. My idea was to possibly mise a win, and even if I miss on Pithing Needle my Thespian’s Stage copying Saga would likely do the trick. It turns out that my opponent was not on Jeskai Control but on UR Delver and I go ahead and lose G1. It’s possible that it was too risky to blind name Flooded Strand with Needle but I stand by that play. I always google my opponent’s in high stake tournaments and it usually pays off as most players stick to the same deck for high stake events. In G2 my hand is clunky and I lose to Delver, Wasteland and Daze. It was heartbreaking to lose the “win and in” to a good matchup but this happens sometimes.

Wednesday – Last Chance Prelim

I went 0-1 drop losing to UR Delver again. My brain was not really turned on at this event and I felt a bit exhausted after playing a lot of high stake magic for several days in a row.

Final Reflections from Season 2 of Competitive Lands

Alright, time to sum up. I did complete all the goals that I had set out, and I did give myself the best chances to realize my dream and qualify for the Showcase Qualifier. I came very close but I didn’t quite get there. This is totally OK though. As I explained in the intro article you need a fair amount of luck in order to qualify for these tournaments and I came up just short a few times in a row. I had a fantastic run overall and it was not only me that did well with Lands in this Season. Lands was the most successful deck in the June Showcase Challenge and we got several pilots into the Showcase Qualifier. I feel proud to have contributed to this success, and it was fantastic to hang out in the Lands Discord and cheer for my fellow players as we competed in these Showcase Challenges.

Legacy Super Qualifier


There is a Legacy Super Qualifier on MODO tomorrow (Saturday 3rd of September). I will play in this tournament and here is my decklist and preparation notes. Let’s start with the list and how it differs from what I played in Season 2 of Competitive Lands. If you look at the online winner’s meta (see the table in the introduction of this article) you can see that it has changed a little bit since June. Most importantly Moon Stompy has gone from almost non-existent to (in my opinion) the 2nd best deck in the format. This is not great for Lands as it’s a hard matchup but it’s not completely unbeatable. I think that a card like Hydroblast is pretty well positioned in the meta as it answers most stuff from Moon Stompy (and Painter) and it also answers all hate cards out of the fair blue decks (Price of Progress, Meltdown and Ruination). Finally, it answers the new planeswalker Minsc & Boo. I recently went 4-0 in a prelim with this RUG Lands list that plays Hydroblast in the sideboard. I think this shell has potential but I still believe that RG Lands is the best version for the Legacy Super Qualifier. 

UR Delver, Elves, Reanimator, Jeskai Control, GW Depths, Blue-Zenith, Sneak & Show, Moon Stompy, Death & Taxes and 8 Cast have all had above 5% of the winner’s metashare in August. I think UR Delver, Reanimator and Moon Stompy will be overrepresented in the Super Qualifier as these decks tend to attract online grinders from other formats (Delver because it’s the best deck and the others because they are very powerful and proactive strategies). I think Blue-Zenith and GW Depths are the decks that best exploit Minsc & Boo so these might also increase a bit (if people are able to get their hands on the card). 

So where does this leave me? I will play this list.

How does this differ from the version(s) that I played in Season 2 of Competitive Lands? 

  • 0 Elvish Reclaimer, 3 Depths (I used to play 2 Reclaimer and 2 Depths). This is a direct result of Moon Stompy. I really want 3 Depths vs this deck as it’s important to naturally draw it. They play Chalice of the Void and Fury so Reclaimer is unreliable.
  • 1 Soul-Guide Lantern (this used to be 1 Pyrite Spellbomb). I want a combination of spell and permanent based hate vs Reanimator, and when I don’t play Reclaimer I want another Saga target and Soul-Guide Lantern is the best one.
  • 2 Lightning Bolts in the sideboard (this used to be additional Storm hate). I really want 4 answers to Magus of the Moon post sideboard. I thought about playing Pyroclasm as it’s one of a few cards that can catch up vs Goblin Rabblemaster and it can also answer 2 Maguses but I think Lightning Bolt is better because it can also answer Minsc & Boo and Ramunap Excavator from GW Depths and Blue-Zenith.

Strategy and Sideboarding

UR Delver

My Role: Prison-Combo-Aggro

How do I win?

  • Marit Lage (play around Brazen Borrower and Submerge).
  • Wasteland lock (this happens less often than you think).
  • Endurance and Constructs + Shadowspear (this strategy is much better in G1).

How do I lose?

  • Brasen Borrower or Submerge on Marit Lage.
  • Murktide plus Wasteland on my Maze of Ith (Pithing Needle on Wasteland can be good).
  • Dragon’s Rage Channeler and Expressive Iterations can sometimes grind me to pieces.
  • Multiple 1 drops can sometimes run me over.
+3 Blasts-1 Karakas
+2 Choke-3 Urza’s Saga
+2 Lightning Bolt-1 Pithing Needle
-1 Soul-Guide Lantern
-1 Shadowspear


My Role: Prison-Combo-Control.

How do I win?

  • Super-fast Marit Lage (watch out for Boseiju and sometimes Run Afoul).
  • Early disruption and semi-fast Marit Lage.
  • Tabernacle + Wasteland + Sphere of Resistance.
  • Destroying all their creatures with Punishing Fire (this happens less often than you think).

How do I lose?

  • Natural Order into Progenitus.
  • Their bigger creatures like Endurance.
  • Explosive Glimpse turns. 
+2 Lightning Bolt-1 Karakas
+4 Sphere of Resistance-2 Urza’s Saga
-1 Soul-Guide Lantern
-2 Endurance


My Role: Control-Prison.

How do I win?

  • I overload them with answers. I need a mix of spell based and permanent based hate. They will 3 for 1 themselves when trying to go off so we win the card advantage game in this matchup.

How do I lose?

  • Their nut-draws.
  • Not having enough turn 0 disruption.
  • Show and Tell (attack their mana after stopping their first attempt).
+1 Thran Foundry-1 Blast Zone
+4 Sphere of Resistance-1 Tabernacle
-1 Shadowspear
-2 Punishing Fire

Jeskai Control

My Role: Prison-Aggro

How do I win?

  • Run them over with Constructs.
  • Tap all their Plains and make a Marit Lage at their end step.
  • Grind them down with Urza’s Saga and Thespian’s Stage.
  • They lose by timing out (this is the most common way that I win).

How do I lose?

  • Games go long and I draw too many Mox Diamonds and Explorations.
  • Tempo:
    • I have a slow hand and T3feri bounces my Urza’s Saga and then I get Mind Twisted before I have played out my lands.
    • Prismatic Ending destroys Mox Diamond and then I get Mind Twisted before I have played out my lands.
  • Their hate cards such as Ruination and Blood Moon.
  • Their bombs such as Monastery Mentor, Jace the Mindsculptor or Shark Typhoon.

Note: If I suspect Blood Moon then I might take out 2 Crop Rotations for 2 Force of Vigor.

+3 Blasts-1 Karakas
+2 Choke-1 Tabernacle
+4 Sphere of Resistance-1 Dark Depths
+1 Lightning Bolt-1 Exploration
-1 Mox Diamond
-1 Shadowspear
-1 Soul-Guide Lantern
-3 Endurance

GW Depths

My Role: Prison-Aggro.

How do I win?

  • Run them over with Constructs (try to maximize Urza’s Saga every turn).
  • I destroy all their creatures with Punishing Fire.
  • They don’t draw enough lands and I have multiple copies of Wasteland and Rishadan Port as well as Tabernacle.
  • Marit Lage can win at any time where they tap out without an active Knight (this is very unlikely to happen against a good player).

How do I lose?

  • They get onto the board faster than me. This will often result in one of the following boardstates that I can’t really beat:
    • Ramunap Excavator plus Wasteland.
    • Knight of the Reliquary plus Wasteland (Endurance is a good answer to Knight).
  • Force of Vigor. This card is often a total blow out and it’s very hard to play around.
+2 Lightning Bolt-2 Dark Depths
+2 Force of Vigor-1 Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth
-1 Shadowspear


My Role: Prison-Aggro.

How do I win?

  • Run them over with Constructs (try to maximize Urza’s Saga every turn).
  • They don’t draw enough lands and I have multiple copies of Wasteland and Rishadan Port as well as Tabernacle.
  • A fast Marit Lage can sometimes do the trick as they play 80 cards and might not always have Swords to Plowshares.
  • I manage to grind them down with Thespian’s Stage copying an Urza’s Saga.
  • They lose by timing out (this is less common vs Blue-Zenith compared to Jeskai Control as their clock is faster).

How do I lose?

  • They manage to assemble Ramunap Excavator plus Wasteland.
  • They ramp (with Uro or Ramunap plus fetches) into Primetime.
  • Games go long and I draw too many Mox Diamonds and Explorations.
+2 Lightning Bolt-1 Dark Depths
+2 Pyroblast or Sphere-1 Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth
-1 Exploration
-1 Mox Diamond

Sneak & Show

My Role: Prison-Aggro-Combo.

How do I win?

  • Super fast Marit Lage (this is the only way to win G1).
  • Neither player is casting spells and I attack with 5/5 constructs (Sphere + Saga).
  • Early disruption (Sphere of Resistance) plus semi-fast Marit Lage.
  • I manage to mess them up in the middle of their combo. For example if they cast Show and Tell then I can put in Sphere of Resistance and destroy Omniscience with Boseiju / Force of Vigor before they can cast another spell.
  • Choke.

How do I lose?

  • Their nut-draws (cannot really beat that).
  • Magus of the Moon (they no longer play Blood Moon).
  • Not finding enough disruption (Sphere and Blasts are MVP’s). 
+3 Blasts-1 Tabernacle
+4 Sphere of Resistance-2 Maze
+3 Force of Vigor-1 Bog
+2 Choke-1 Blast Zone
+2 Lightning Bolt-3 Endurance
-1 Shadowspear
-1 Soul-Guide Lantern
-1 Punishing Fire
-1 Exploration
-2 Life from the Loam

Moon Stompy

My Role: Combo.

How do I win?

  • I have Dark Depths plus a timely answer to Blood Moon / Magus of the Moon.
  • They mulligan to oblivion.

How do I lose?

  • I don’t draw Dark Depths.
  • I happen to draw the wrong answer to their lockpiece (Force of Vigor vs Magus of the Moon or Punishing Fire vs Blood Moon).
  • Karn the great creator (if they play him).
  • They don’t play out their Moons and instead run me over with goblins.
+2 Lightning Bolt-1 Bojuka Bog
+3 Force of Vigor-2 Urza’s Saga
-1 Karakas
-1 Soul-Guide Lantern

Death & Taxes

My role: Prison-Aggro-Control

How do I win?

  • Run them over with Constructs (try to maximize Urza’s Saga every turn).
  • Destroy all their creatures with Punishing Fire.
  • They don’t draw enough lands and I have multiple copies of Wasteland and Rishadan Port as well as Tabernacle.
  • Marit Lage can sometimes win but it’s super risky as they have Swords to Plowshares and Solitude.

How do I lose?

  • They have a turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic into Kaldra Compleat.
  • They land an early Sanctum’s Prelate and name 2.
  • My hand is not functioning (mull to 5) and they run me over with dorks.

Notes: I might bring in two Sphere of Resistance on the play.

+3 Force of Vigor-1 Bog
+2 Lightning Bolt-1 Dark Depths
-1 Soul-Guide Lantern
-2 Endurance

8 Cast

My Role: Prison-Control-Combo

How do I win?

  • I kill their first creature and then Wasteland them to oblivion. Urza’s Saga comes down once we have stabilized the board.
  • Fast Marit Lage. It is risky to go for a slow Marit Lage as they have 2 Otawara, 1 Spellbomb and sometimes Brazen Borrower (post sideboard).

How do I lost?

  • Their nut-draws (cannot really beat that).
  • My hand lining up poorly against theirs:
    • I have 1 drops and they have Chalice.
    • I have Blasts and they have Urza’s Saga.
    • I have Wasteland plus Force of Vigor and they have Emry or Sai.
  • They can sometimes grind me out thanks to Thoughtcast and Crucible of Worlds. But I often feel favored going long as long as I am able to control their early board.

Note: Kappa Cannoneer is more like Tangle Wire than True-Name Nemesis. Once we reach 5-6 mana we have plenty of answers in Maze of Ith and Boseiju. I only die to Kappa if it lands early or if they have 2 copies. 

+3 Blasts-1 Dark Depths
+3 Force of Vigor-1 Urza’s Saga
+1 Lightning Bolt-3 Endurance
-1 Soul-Guide Lantern
-1 Crop Rotation

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

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

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

Enter Dack Fayden, the greatest thief in the multiverse.

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

The Decklist

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

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

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

The Event

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

Round 1: Burn

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

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

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

In: Counterspells

Out: Dack, Currency Converter

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


Round 2: Death & Taxes

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

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

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

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

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

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


Round 3: TES

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

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

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

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

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

In: everything except Endurance & Drop of Honey

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

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

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

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

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


Round 4: Death & Taxes

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

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

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

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

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

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


Quarterfinals: 8Cast

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

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

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

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

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

In: Blasts, Chalice, Force of Vigor, Drop

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

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

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

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

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


Semifinals: RG Lands

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

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

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

In: 2 Force of Vigor, HydroBlast, Spell Pierce

Out: 1 Maze, 2 Dark Depths, Tabernacle

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

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

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

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


Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, happy loaming!

The Land(s) Down Under by William aka Kixian

G’day Lands lovers and greetings from Down Under!

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

What is 7 Point Highlander?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do people play Lands in 7PT?

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

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

Loke and the origins of “Gardening Australia”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jake Sims and his many Lands builds

An older Jund list:

An older Junk list:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Magus of the Basics. Ew!”

Justin and his Dirty Jundstapants Lands (Jund)

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

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

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

Having access to cards like Knight of the Reliquary is bonkers

@TangleTal (on Discord) and their Naya Lands brew

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

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

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

My “Piggy Lands” build (5c Rainbow)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Happy Loaming!

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

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

Preparing for the Tournament

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

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

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

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

MTGGoldfish Link

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

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

Legacy Showcase Qualifier

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

Round 1 – UR Delver

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

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

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

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


Round 2 – GWr Depths

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

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

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

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

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


Round 3 – UR Delver

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

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

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

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

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


Round 4 – Reanimator

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

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

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

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

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


Round 5 – Death & Taxes

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

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

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


Round 6 – Day’s Undoing

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

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

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


Round 7 – UR Delver

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

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

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


Round 8 – UR Delver

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

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

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

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


Round 9 – Lands

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

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

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

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

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


Top 8

Quarterfinals – UR Delver

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

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

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

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


Semifinals – UR Delver

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

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

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

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

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


Finals – Split

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


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

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