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

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

Preparing for the Tournament

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

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

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

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

MTGGoldfish Link

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

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

Legacy Showcase Qualifier

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

Round 1 – UR Delver

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

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

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

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

1-0

Round 2 – GWr Depths

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

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

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

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

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

2-0

Round 3 – UR Delver

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

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

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

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

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

3-0

Round 4 – Reanimator

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

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

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

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

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

3-1

Round 5 – Death & Taxes

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

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

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

4-1

Round 6 – Day’s Undoing

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

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

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

4-2

Round 7 – UR Delver

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

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

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

5-2

Round 8 – UR Delver

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

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

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

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

6-2

Round 9 – Lands

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

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

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

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

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

7-2

Top 8

Quarterfinals – UR Delver

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

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

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

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

8-2

Semifinals – UR Delver

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

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

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

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

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

9-2

Finals – Split

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

Conclusions

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

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

Introducing 8Mulch by Bryan

Just out here mulchin’

Background

I have been experimenting with proactive combo-oriented Lands builds in many forms for a long time. I started with creating Ad Nauseam lands way back in the Miracles meta, and have gone through many iterations of Treasure Hunt memes.

While Crop Rotation and Dark Depths are very powerful cards, and key parts of traditional Lands and Turbo Depths, they take up a lot of deck space and provide a point of weakness against common hate like Force of Will and Wasteland.

I discovered Mulch while testing a Treasure Hunt Lands list. Even though the upside was nowhere near as crazy as Treasure Hunt, the consistency was far higher, and it got me excited about diving even deeper into the Mulch plan.

Deck Card Choices

The deck is based on using traditional Exploration as well as Manabond to get as many lands into play as possible to power the land threats Field of the Dead and Urza’s Saga. To back this up, we use land-advantage spells like Life from the Loam, Mulch and Winding Way, which all can easily be 3-for-1 land card advantage.

The printing of several new powerful cards enabled this deck to rise in strength, making it a new viable archetype:

Urza’s Saga – A more consistent and powerful threat than Dark Depths. It doesn’t require tutor support to put on pressure.

Boseiju, Who Endures – Flexible card that gives a maindeckable, recurrable, tutorable answer to common problems such as Dark Depths, Blood Moon, and Leyline of the Void.

Winding Way – Mulch 5-8. With access to 8 Mulches, we can consistently find them.

Roadside Reliquary – This land is very easy to turn on with Urza’s Saga alone easily covering both card types. Divination on a land gives the deck another line of card advantage that is not disrupted by graveyard hate.

Commune with Spirits – This awkward cantrip actually works in this deck, since it adds consistency at hitting the 1 mana enchantments in green.

Decklist(s):

12-0 Match streak, showcasing the raw power of the deck. Shoutout to isthetim for ending my streak with LANDS. Here are some of the lists I and others have done well with.

5-0 By Me, Bryanftw

Safer version with less power:

5-0 By Me, Bryanftw:

decklist link here

5-0 By PunishingWaterfalls learned of the deck, got excited, and took it for a spin.

decklist link here

Bonus Memes for high rollers:

Matchups

Fast Combo 
(Storm, Belcher, Doomsday, Omnitell)
These are very bad matchups, as they are for most land-based decks

GY Combo
Reanimator, Dredge, Oops
Can be favorable with enough sideboarding

Delver
Slightly favorable, but can get delvered just like everyone else

Slow Control
(Bant, Miracles, etc)
This is why we play the deck, if you have an uncontested exploration, you WILL win.

Land-based
(Lands, Depths)
Skill matchup, slightly favorable since we are faster and have many tools to answer depths

Death and Taxes
Very favored, bury them in inevitability

Prison
Very favored, good luck with Blood Moon or Chalice of the void against Boseiju. If you get a basic forest against Moon Stompy you win the game.

Hullbreacher/Day’s Undoing Combo
Unfavored, we don’t have enough answers for hullbreacher, narset

Elves
Even-ish. We have Cage and Spirit out of the board, but rely heavily on Tabernacle like traditional Lands

Gameplay Examples

Making zombies is fun. Winning a G1 against a reanimated Griselbrand and Archon is also fun.

In addition to the screenshot, there are a number of gameplay videos thanks to PunishingWaterfalls, who played the deck to a 22nd place finish in the 2/26/22 Legacy Challenge. Their content can be found on Twitch and on YouTube (and just below).

Challenge run:

League Matches:

Closing thoughts

I don’t know what the best version of this deck is. I just know that there’s enough power here for the 8-mulch deck to become its own archetype. Should we splash blue for Uro and flusterstorm? Red for Valakut Exploration and blasts? Is there space for inevitability engines such as Hall of Heliod’s Generosity?  I would love for you to come join in enjoying the archetype to help figure it out.

Legacy Challenge 2/12/22 Winning Run by @mattbrown_mtg

This weekend I decided that for the legacy challenge I would want to play a version of Lands slanted towards combo because of the recent uptake in the Creature/Temporal Mastery version of Doomsday so ended up registering a list close to something that @Alli_on_mtgo posted a few weeks ago with 3 main deck Sphere of Resistance and 3 Rishadan Port. There were a few card changes due to the deck being just over my Manatraders limit such as the Shifting Ceratops in the sideboard.

I think that a lot of the card choices are pretty common knowledge at this point but some selections change with the introduction of the main deck Spheres + Ports. The main one is playing Bolt > Punishing Fire + Grove. When you introduce Sphere + Port while still having 4 Saga in the main deck then your mana is a lot more constraint and the difference between 1 and 2 (or 2 and 3 under Sphere) can become a pretty big deal so Lightning Bolt becomes more appealing then Punishing Fire. The selection of tutorable 1 drops for saga are also quite important and I have been happy with having access to all 4 in game 1s with the only thing that could change being the addition of a 2nd map.

Side note that you should be playing 1 or 2 Boseiju in the deck but I was unable to find one after being unable to rent it from manatraders for the event. The addition of Boseiju would also allow you to cut the Return to Nature for a more specific hate card in the sb such as a 3rd choke or a 2nd surgical.

Round 1 – Curses

Round 1 I mulligan to 5 on the play to a hand of Sphere, Ancient Tomb, Depths, Stage, Port. I make turn 1 Sphere and my opponent leads with Saga + Chrome Mox + Chrome Mox + Chalice for 0 and while they are stumbling to cast their spells efficiently I make a turn 3 20/20 and we move to sideboarding. 

I sideboard in the 4th sphere and some naturalize effects for a Maze, Spellbomb, Tabernacle and a Mox (I Generally like cutting 1 Mox vs Karn/Teferi decks and I expected my opponent to have Karn)

Game 2 I mulligan to a hand of Force, Exploration, Mox, Forest, 2x Saga but my opponent had a turn 2 Karn + Coating into turn 3 Curse of Misfortunes which was too taxing and I lost pretty quickly.

Game 3 I keep a 7 of 2x Mox, Ancient Tomb, Depths, Exploration, Loam, Shadowspear and make as many permanents as I can on turn 1 while loaming back my lands. Opponent’s turn 1 was Saga go while my dredge found me a Saga of my own and a stage so I can set up for a turn 3 20/20. My opponent makes a Construct on turn 2 then passes with edict mana up. My 20/20 falls to a Sudden Edict but I am far enough at this point that my loam + Exploration can make a 20/20 every turn and eventually overrun my opponent

1-0

Round 2 – 60 Card D&T

On the draw I keep a hand of Misty, Maze, Tabernacle, Exploration, Loam, Crop, Shadowspear. Opponent mulligans to 6 and leads with Plains + Esper Sentinel, I draw Taiga for turn and decide to let my opponent draw a card from sentinel so that I can deploy Exploration + Tabernacle. Opponent doesn’t pay for Sentinel and instead makes Plains + Stoneforge Mystic to get Lion Sash. I draw Urza’s Saga, play 2 lands and cast Shadowspear. Opponent doesn’t pay for their mystic, casts Sash and passes and quickly gets overpowered by Construct tokens.

I sideboarded in some artifact destruction and unholy heat for some spheres and lands. I mulligan in game 2 to a hand of Mox, Bolt, 2x Saga, Depths, Stage so lead with Mox + Saga after my opponent’s turn 1 of Plains pass. They follow up with Stoneforge for Lion Sash and I draw Exploration to allow me to turbo out my hand by playing the second saga to try and take over the game with constructs. Opponent makes Sash and Wastelands my Saga on 1 counter but my drawstep was Loam so instead of making a construct I fetched up Pyrite Spellbomb for the sash, cast loam and make 2 more Sagas which quickly got out of hand for my opponent.

2-0

Round 3 – Greenpost

On the play I kept a hand of Forest, Taiga, 2x Saga, Wasteland, Exploration, Shadowspear and deployed Forest + Exploration + Saga. My opponent responded with Forest + Needle on Saga which shut down my entire gameplan, this is a spot where the Boseiju would’ve been excellent if I had access to it. The next few turns involve wastlanding my opponent to try and keep them low on mana but I fail to draw relevant cards for many turns and eventually lose to a cast Ulamog.

I sideboard some forces + return to nature for Spheres and keep a mediocre 6 of Saga, Forest, Mox, Force, Exploration, Loam. I forced my opponent’s t1 needle so that I could try to make constructs and win the game quickly but that was shut down by a second needle and I lost pretty quickly to Primeval Titan.

2-1

Round 4 – Mono Red Prison

Game 1 I keep a reasonable hand and die to Turn 1 Blood Moon (another spot where Boseiju means that I am not dead on the spot.)

Sideboard in some Forces + Return to Nature again as well as Unholy Heat and keep a 7 of Yavimaya, Saga, Port, Wasteland, Crop, Bolt, Loam. I lead with Yavimaya so that I can crop for a basic against Blood Moon but had an even better outcome than that.

Game 3 I mulligan to 6 and am given the below 7 cards to pick from after my opponent quickly kept 7. I considered what to put on the bottom for a minute before putting Maze on the bottom with a potential turn 1 Blood Moon in mind but eventually settled on Maze with the assumption that I am likely to draw a non saga land in the first 2 draw steps.

My opponent made a turn 1 moon and I was rewarded by drawing a Taiga. I made Waste + Map and my opponent followed up with T2 Magus. I draw unholy heat, make Taiga and pass. My opponent’s turn 3 was a Goblin Rabblemaster. I EoT Force the Moon and crack my map for depths, untap and make a 20/20 which was good enough.

3-1

Round 5 – UR Delver

Game 1 OTP I mulligan to a quick hand of Mox, Foothills, Saga, Stage, Wasteland, Exploration. I make Mox, Exploration, Saga which my opponent responds with Steam Vents + DRC. I draw Dark Depths, waste them and make a 20/20 and we head to game 2.

I decided to keep Spheres in on the basis of seeing the Steam Vents and assuming they are locked under Choke + Sphere while also bringing in Red Blasts, Endurance and Heat. I keep a 7 of 2x Exploration, Sphere, Wasteland, Forest, Foothills, Endurance, my turn 1 Exploration gets dazed and my opponent replayed their Island and makes Delver. I untap, make the 2nd Exploration and a Sphere. Opponent has little followup pressure and I get to eat a Delver with Endurance before starting to Wasteland their fetches, Loaming back waste and hitting their duals and the game quickly ends

4-1

Round 6 – Elves

I know that my opponent is on Elves so keep a good 7 of Taiga, Saga, Exploratio, Loam, Bolt, 2x Crop. I lead with Taiga + Exploration + Saga to which my opponent leads with Fetch > Forest > GSZ for Dryad Arbor. I untap, crop my saga for a fetch, fetch, loam back my 2 lands and bolt the Dryad. Opponent Bojuka Bogs me and makes an Allosaurus Shepard, I draw Wasteland, kill their Bog, cast Loam and pass with Saga mana open. Opponent makes an Elvish Visionary so I decide to main phase make a construct and then crop my Saga before it sacrifices to go get a Tabernacle + Pyrite Spellbomb and the game quickly ends from the constructs.

Game 2 my opponent mulligans to 5 and puts a Leyline of the Void into play while I keep a 7 of Wasteland, Forest, Taiga, Tabernacle, Yaviyaya, Exploration, Loam. I lead with Exploration + Tabernacle after my opponent’s T1 Forest > Heritage Druid. They played Verdant Catacombs and passed, I drew a 2nd Loam so made 2 lands and passed, EoT they fetched Dryad Arbor. They untapped and made Cradle + Shepard so I copied my Thespian’s Stage into a Dryad Arbor to be able to block if needed because I have enough mana to pay for Tabernacle each turn. I untapped, wasted their Cradle and passed. They sacrificed the Druid and attacked for 1 while my next draw step was Dark Depths which prompted the concession.

5-1

Round 7 (QF) – Jeskai Hullbreacher

I keep a hand of Mox, Sphere, Loam, Tabernacle, Taiga, Depths, Saga OTD and am happy to have my Sphere resolve after my opponent’s t1 Island Ponder but it meets a quick demise at the hands of Prismatic Ending. I make saga and loam back my depths while my opponent makes Karakas + EoT Hullbreacher. I draw exploration and make my 2 land drops holding up Crop. Opponent untapped, casts Brainstorm and then casts Day’s Undoing with Force backup and we move to game 2.

I sideboard in some Chokes, Unholy Head, Red Blasts and a Return to Nature (because I didn’t want to have 0 outs to a sideboard Blood Moon, another spot where Boseiju would’ve been great). I keep a 7 of Mox, Crop, Choke, Stage, Wasteland, Taiga, Misty. I make T1 misty and my opponent makes T1 Island Ponder. I untap and slam a Choke which gets Force of Negationed, the opponent plays Tundra + Prismatic Ending on my Mox so I get to untap, waste their Tundra and make a Sphere. A couple of turns go by of playing lands and my opponent casting a Ponder before I crop rotate for a Saga EoT. I make 2 constructs over the next 2 turns and go fetch up Pyrite Spellbomb to protect against a Hullbreacher while Wastelanding their Volcanic Island. My opponent responds with a Meltdown for x=1 to destroy my constructs + Spellbomb off of their lands of Island, Plains, Mountain. I cast Loam on Saga + 2 lands to start trying to make constructs again and my opponent spends their turn on a Prismatic Ending on my Sphere and a Surgical on my Loam. I draw exploration so am able to develop my lands while holding up a Saga activation and also make a stage into a saga. I make some more constructs while turning my Stage/Saga into a Forest that can make constructs and beatdown my opponent while they never find more lands.

Game 3 I mulligan to a mediocre 6 of Bolt, Forest, Taiga, Waste, Stage, Port with the hope of porting them into a longer game and having a bolt for a Hullbreacher but thankfully I drew T1 Exploration so begin developing my lands. Opponent casts some cantrips and I draw another port so begin the mana denial plan. They continue to draw lands and cast a Snapcaster mage in response to my first Port activation in their next upkeep and flashback a Brainstorm. I have only drawn lands so turn my Stage into a Port EoT to continue the mana denial. Next upkeep they use the mana to cast a Hullbreacher in response to Ports which I use my Bolt on and continue taking small beats from the Snapcaster. My next draw step was Saga which meant I could Port twice and then copy saga with my Stage/Port which allowed my opponent to cast a Teferi which I had the pyroblast for. I start making constructs while continuing to port my opponent who casts a few cantrips. My draw step Sphere was countered by a force of negation while I fetched up a pyrite spellbomb to have some protection against hullbreacher, unfortunately they had Narset which found a Prismatic Ending for one of my constructs. I untapped and turned my stage/saga into a basic with the search trigger on the stack and went to get a Pithing needle on Teferi to keep the pressure up. I attack Narset with my 3/3 construct but snapcaster jumps in the way. I double port my opponent but they still had mana to cast a Day’s Undoing which drew me into a bolt. I untapped, killed the Narset to stop them digging deeper and then double ported holding up a construct activation, my opponent cast a brainstorm and fetched afterwards passing with 7 cards in hand. I made a construct and untapped, went straight to combat with two 4/4 constructs and my opponent at 12. They flashed in a hullbreaker but decided not to block which meant that making another construct meant that my pyrite spellbomb was lethal post combat!.

6-1

Round 8 (SF) – Yorion D&T 

OTD I keep a 7 of Sphere, Exploration, Mox, Wasteland, Blast Zone, Saga, Taiga and am surprised to be met by Plains go, I draw crop and proceed with Taiga, Mox, Exploration, Saga, Sphere. My opponent untaps, wastes my saga and passes, I draw a tabernacle and make 2 lands. They miss their land drop so I crop for a saga and start going to town, a few more missed land drops and we are going to game 2.

I sideboard in some forces, return and heat but have to mulligan to a mediocre 5 that never really gets going and I get buried quickly by Stoneforge Mystic making Batterskull and Lion Sash.

I keep a 7 of Crop, Exploration, Force, Depths, Port, Taiga, Yavimaya and lead with Yavimaya, Exploration and Port. Opponent has Plains pass, I draw bolt, make my other 2 lands and pass. Opponent plays a land and Stoneforge Mystic so I decide to bet it all on no Solitude by Crop Rotating for Stage. That’s all she wrote!

7-1

Round 9 (F) – UR Delver

Finals of the challenge, I’ve been here twice before and lost both times… third time’s the charm?

I’m on the play and keep a 6 of Foothills, Blast Zone, 2x Bolt, Loam, Mox and start by casting loam on my 2 lands. Opponent leads Scaling Tarn > Mountain > Dragon’s Rage Channeller. I dredge over 2 more lands including a saga so I bolt the DRC and get my lands back. My opponent makes Polluted Delta and passes so I decide to draw, make saga and pass to which my opponent double bolts me to set up a large Murktide Regent the following turn. I dredge to try and find an answer to the 5/5 but miss and pass with construct mana open. Opponent finds a Wasteland for my saga to stop me searching and gets in for 5, I continue dredging to try and find an answer to Murktide or a stage to go with my depths but can’t find anything.

Game 2 I keep 2x Saga, Forest, Spellbomb, Crop, Exploration, Loam. My Exploration resolves so I have an explosive start with Loam to blow out my opponent’s T1 wasteland and run away with the game through the pair of sagas + Shadowspear.

Game 3 I keep a hand of Loam, Pyroblast, Mox, 2x Wasteland, Port, Stage. My opponent lead with Volc > DRC so I waste and run out my Mox, they crack a delta and cast ponder which I decide to Pyroblast to be as efficient a possible. I draw and play tabernacle which is met with Fetch for Island + Delver, I make Saga + Loam which gets FoN’d leaving a card on top with DRC. Opponent reveals Ponder to Delver, pays for their creatures attacks me to 14 and passes. I draw and cats exploration, play 2 lands and hold up a construct which holds off the DRC. Opponent didn’t find wasteland which allowed me to make 2 constructs, find Shadowspear and get in for 5 lifelink, opponent can’t find an answer and I remember to pay for my constructs and swing in for the win!

Closing Thoughts

Was very relieved to have finally won a challenge and to do it with my favorite deck at the moment makes it feel even better. The best part was winning a set of Kamigawa so that I could play a Boseiju without buying it! Am still not 100% sold on the main deck Spheres but Port definitely felt very good and feel like it could make a comeback to the deck now but could entirely depend on the build.

Was not previously sold on 4 Saga being the correct number but after this event I can’t see myself not registering 4 again, the card just does so much by creating another axis to attack on much faster than Field of the Dead could.

Went 5-2 in the Sunday challenge and 15-5 in manatraders bringing me to 28-8 over the last 3 days which is not a bad record and I am looking forward to running it back in the Manatraders swiss this weekend! @mattbrown_mtg

5th in the 2/13/22 Legacy Challenge by aslidsiksoraksi

On Friday, 2/11/22 I was informed that I was positive for COVID. Two days later, I was 6-1 and locked for top 8 of the Sunday Legacy Challenge. What’s the secret to making this happen? Funny you should ask.

Just play Lands, the deck is absolutely cracked. Here’s a decklist:

https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/4612814#paper

On Saturday I woke up at 4am thinking I’d play the Saturday challenge because hey why not, I had the day off because I was sick. But the challenge didn’t start until 5am my time, so I went down for a quick snooze before it started and… woke up at 6am. Not really a bad outcome to be honest – I got to spend the day watching Jarvis play Modern (thanks Anuraag for the great stream!).

On Sunday, the challenge happened at a much more reasonable hour and I even had some time to think about my decklist. So here’s the thinking behind some of the choices:

No Spheres – Sphere of Resistance has been worse and worse for a while and I think I’m finally willing to just let it go. Back in 2020 Freya beat Sneak & Show in the finals of the Leaving a Legacy Open with her (S)Fearless Lands and today I wanted to follow in her footsteps. The thinking here is to just play 4 Depths and a pile of tutors so you can combo faster than your opponent. We do have 4 Endurance, 3 Blasts, and 2 Surgical Extraction, all of which can help against combo, but these cards also have application in fair matchups. The plan worked pretty well in this event, which actually ended up being unfortunately full of combo.

3 Expedition Map – Most people played just one Map until Anthony Rivera won the AZ Legacy Masters with a 3 Map build. While I’m not sure 3 Maps is correct (2 seems like it might be enough), they do provide a ton more selection and they let you chain Sagas into Maps repeatedly. This can be a big game against control, for example. Since it puts the land in hand, Map’s stock also goes up with the printing of this next card…

1 Boseiju – I might have played 2 but I lent one to a friend. The card is very good but it didn’t end up coming up much for me this event. Overall quite excited for it going forward.

1 Field of the Dead, 2 Valakut Exploration in the sideboard – I wanted a hedge against Death & Taxes and the control decks. It turns out all the blue pile players were in Philly, but still. Playing 0 Spheres gave me room to tech for those matchups.

4 Endurance in the sideboard – Is there a matchup where this card isn’t good? Some people are even playing it in the maindeck of Lands, but I was too attached to my Pyrite Spellbomb to cut them for the cow (deer?). I wanted the full four since it functions as both anti-combo and anti-delver tech.

I hadn’t played a ton of Lands until about a week or two before this event. After doing decently well in a couple challenges during the Ragavan era I kind of lost interest in Legacy and mostly just played weird Lands builds at my local stores. But after the ban I slowly started playing more online, and the deck has changed a bit. It seems that these days Valakut Exploration has fallen out of favor, and people are really making Urza’s Saga work as the long-game plan. The deck plays a little differently built like this, but in a good way. We care a good deal less about resolving any particular spells and have a lot of selection with multiple Maps. This means that whatever land-based game plan we want to enact, we can usually find the pieces to do it.

So, armed with this pile of digital assets, and with my head still slightly throbbing from the disease of the decade, I paid my 300 play point fee and registered for the Challenge.

Round 1 – UW Delverblade

I’m always nervous in these events. It’s gotten better since I started playing them more often, but my stomach gets tight and I constantly feel like I need to take a deep breath. That physical tension is the main reason I sometimes don’t play at all, and it’s at its worst right at the start of the event.

Still, no pain no gain, so lets do this. I start off on the draw and keep a 6 with Map, Crop Rotation, Saga, Maze, Grove, and Boseiju. A slow hand but serviceable. I play out Map and my opponent plays some fetchlands. I look them up and I’m in luck – their entire list is online. It’s a UW deck with Delver, Stifle, and a Stoneblade package.

They play Stoneblade, find Kaldra, and start beating down. I muster some meager defense with my constructs, but I can never seem to get my mana together to do anything. When I finally make a hail Mary pass to Marit Lage, Stifle jumps in with the interception and I lose.

Out – 2 Crop Rotation, 1 Expedition Map, 1 Forest, 2 Dark Depths, 1 Karakas, 1 Bojuka Bog, 1 Crucible

In – 3 Endurance, 3 Pyroblast, 2 Valakut Exploration, 1 Pithing Needle

Tempo decks that play Swords to Plowshares suck. Didn’t they get the memo that you shouldn’t give your opponent life when you’re playing tempo? My usual plan against Delver is to just make a 20/20 and kill them, but white Delver builds always cramp my style there. So I shave a few Depths and bring in the Valakut Explorations, planning for a longer game.

Once again I mulligan, and my 6 has Diamond, Endurance, and an assortment of lands including Stage and Wasteland. I lead on a fetchland, but when I crack it on my second turn, they stifle the activation. This, however, gives me the window to waste their newly-fetched Tundra.

Unfortunately, they have a Surgical for my Wasteland, which is extra sad because I just drew Life from the Loam and was looking forward to locking them. Instead, I land an Endurance. From here they spend a lot of resources trying to deal with my green sources – a Meltdown hits my Mox and a Wasteland hits my Taiga. I’m not really in danger of running out though, so I just keep loaming and attacking and they just scoop pretty soon therafter. I’ll take it!

In game 3, I keep my first 7 of the event. I’ve got Crop Rotation, Loam, Blast, Map, and plenty of colored sources. The beautiful thing about Lands is how the whole deck is always at your fingertips. This 7 has two tutors – I could do anything with this.

My opponent leads on a fetchland and I play a Grove. On their next turn, they fetch a Volcanic Island and cast Brainstorm. Then they follow that up with Karakas. To me this means their mana is shaky and they’re brainstorm-locked. So when I draw a Diamond for the turn, I get to play Diamond, pitch a land, rotate my Grove for a Wasteland (holding up Blast for countermagic), waste them, and then play a land and Loam back my Wasteland.

My opponent misses their next land drop, I waste their Karakas, and they scoop. Let’s just say if I ran Alcatraz, Clint Eastwood would never escape. 1-0

because I’m playing a prison deck, get it?

Round 2 – Sneak & Show

I look up my opponent (is this shady? It seems no different than just walking around a room during an event but it feels slightly off) and I see that they usually play Sneak & Show. Not fun.

Game 1 I’m on the draw and my 7 has Exploration, Stage, and Karakas. One card off a turn 2 Lage, and with a little insurance as well. I draw Depths for the turn (praise Lage), and they scoop two turns later. Nice!

Out – 1 Crucibe, 3 Punishing Fire, 1 Tabernacle, 1 Shadowspear, 1 Maze of Ith, 1 Bojuka Bog, 2 Life from the Loam

In – 3 Pyroblast, 2 Surgical, 3 Endurance, 2 Force of Vigor

I’m on the draw again and my 7 is a little less exciting, but it does have Exploration, Crop Rotation, Stage, and Yavimaya. That means another turn 2 20/20, though this time it’s weak to countermagic and I do have to draw another mana producing land.

Instead of the land I draw a Mox Diamond, so it takes me a minute to assemble everything since I have to use a Map to find the Depths. But turn 3 Lage is almost as good as turn 2, and my opponent picks ’em up.

Looks like the 4 Depths and pray plan is working out pretty well so far! 2-0

Round 3 – Lands

I keep 6 with Diamond, Loam, Map, Wasteland, Port, and Forest. Not amazing but it can do stuff. My opponent has turn 1 Diamond into Exploration into Saga into Loam. Basically the Lands dream start, and exceptionally good in the mirror.

I Bog their Loam but they keep copying their Sagas with Stages and finding more Sagas with Maps and I can’t waste them fast enough. Eventually robots kill me.

Out – 3 Punishing Fire, 1 Spellbomb, 4 Dark Depths, 1 Tabernacle, 1 Maze of Ith

In – 2 Valakut Exploration, 2 Force of Vigor, 2 Surgical, 4 Endurance

My sideboard is full of graveyard hate and the two Valakut Exploration are exceptionally good in this matchup. I’m feeling pretty confident overall.

I keep a pretty slow 7 with multiple green sources, Loam, and Valakut Exploration, but no acceleration. I get pretty lucky though and draw an Exploration on my second turn. My opponent plays a Retrofitter Foundry and a Sylvan Library, but I’m soon running away with it as Valakut Exploration finds me a second regular Exploration. They don’t have the Force of Vigor they’d need and even though they Boseiju my VE, I’ve got Loam, Map, and multiple Sagas going off on them. They scoop before I make the first construct.

In the third game, my hand has Crucible, Rotation, Endurance, Diamond, Wasteland, Maze, and Blast Zone. This hand has answers to anything the opponent can do and has its own engines as well. Not broken, but solid.

My opponent kindly fixes my mana by playing a Yavimaya, but they also have the perfect mirror start of Exploration plus Loam. Luckily my Endurance puts an end to their Loam and they’re left with 1 card and an assortment of lands in play, none of which really do anything. When they play a Saga to get something going, I have Force of Vigor plus a now-endless stream of Wastelands thanks to Crucible.

They do draw their own Endurance, but they can’t endure the endless stream of robots. Another victory for the deer (cow?). 3-0

POV – Endurance is about to tuck your graveyard

Round 4 – Jeskai Hullday / Daybreacher / Narset’s Undoing / whatever

Does this deck have a name yet? Does it deserve one? I leave those questions to those wiser than I. All I know is that it’s a deck that plays Swords to Plowshares and can’t kill me very fast.

In game 1 I keep a 6 with Crop Rotation, Crucible, Diamond, Port, Fetch, and Dark Depths. They lead on a Scalding Tarn, so I lead on Port + Diamond. On their second turn, they play another fetchland, and this one is Arid Mesa (the worst fetchland in all Jeskai decks). On their end step I port their Tarn. They oblige me by fetching a basic Island.

My turn two sees me drawing a Diamond so that I’m able to play a Crucible with mana to spare. They fetch a Tundra with their Mesa in order to clear a Brainstorm. So here’s the board at the end of that turn:

What’s the play? You could just grind out value with the Saga and hold the Crop Rotation for down the road. However, with Crucible in play, it’s valuable to keep your opponent off 3 colors of mana, because then they can’t cast Prismatic Ending to destroy it.

So in their upkeep, I rotate my Port into a Wasteland and tag their Tundra. That means that they will not hit a third color for the turn and Crucible will live to see another day. They respond by casting a Snapcaster for their Brainstorm, which strikes me as a slightly desperate move. My suspicions are confirmed when they pass through their turn without another land drop, and the Brainstorm sits there uncast. At that point the game is essentially over and they scoop.

Out – 1 Crop Rotation, 1 Life from the Loam, 1 Tabernacle, 1 Depths, 1 Shadowspear, 1 Maze of Ith

In – 3 Pyroblast, 1 Field of the Dead, 2 Valakut Exploration

My opener has Exploration, Pyroblast, and Field of the Dead, plus a pile of other lands. Pretty solid. However, I don’t have enough colored mana to play Exploration with Blast to protect it, so it gets countered.

From there, the game moves along slowly, with me porting them and inching up to 7 land names. I also assemble the combo along the way, but I can’t port them entirely off of white so I don’t go for it since I want the land names. Unfortunately, despite several layers of interaction (Pyrite Spellbomb is great) they eventually do their whole Narset + Day’s Undoing thing. Which isn’t really a huge deal since they already had 6 cards and I was on 3.

I’m starting to make zombies and getting close to taking them off white altogether when they land a Blood Moon. I actually have reasonable outs to that with 3 Map and a Boseiju, but then they steal my Mox with Dack. I’m a bit over it at that point so I figure we’ll just go to game 3 and I’ll bring in some Force of Vigors.

My game 3 hand again has Exploration and Pyroblast, but the rest are 5 lands with no real engine. I have a Depths but no Stage, and no other payoffs. However, the matchup is pretty slow so I figure I can just ride it out and hope to draw into something. I’ve got 1 Field, 4 Saga, 4 Stage, 3 Map, and 3 Crop Rotation, after all, and any of them would turn this hand into something reasonable.

Exploration resolves and my deck shows me the love by giving me a Field and a Stage. Soon I’m making zombies like no one’s business and my opponent can’t tap out because I’ll Lage ’em. When Loam joins the party, they pack it up. 4-0

Round 5 – Doomsday

I’m getting worried because I notice the names that are undefeated are almost all combo players. And as luck would have it, I have to play against Doomsday this round. Just the normal turbo kind, not the fancy Murktide kind, but still.

I know what my opponent is on, so I keep a hand that makes a turn 3 20/20. This is a little slow, however, since the doomsday clock ticks to midnight on turn 2. So they resolve Doomsday and have basic Island and basic Swamp in play. From here, the highlight of this game was me spending 5 minutes clicking my Boseiju wondering why I couldn’t tag their basic Island with it. I even restarted my client thinking something must be wrong. Eventually I asked my opponent, “is there any reason I wouldn’t be able to channel Boseiju here?”

“My lands are basics, so, you can’t target me with that,” they say.

Wow I’m dumb. Lage will not answer the prayers of her idiot apostle, and she’s still a turn away when Thassa’s Oracle foretells my demise.

reading the card explains the card

Out – 3 Punishing Fire, 2 Life from the Loam, 2 Maze, 1 Karakas, 1 Tabernacle, 1 Bog, 1 Crucible, 1 Exploration

In – 3 Pyroblast, 4 Endurance, 2 Surgical Extraction, 2 Force of Vigor, 1 Pithing Needle

My opener threatens Lage on turn 3 and has Endurance. Snap keep. You’ve probably noticed that I look at every opener and think about when it makes Lage. With this many Crop Rotations and Maps in the deck, basically every opener can summon the Witch, it’s just a matter of when. A good thing to be aware of, especially in combo matchups.

I do some cute Port stuff, and even play an Urza’s Saga, and on the turn the cast Doomsday, I’m ready to rotate for Depths and summon our Dark Queen. Who’s doom is it now, huh??

Unfortunately, that question remains undecided, since they have a Force of Will for my Crop Rotation. I use the floating mana to copy my Port so now I have two of them. When a Wasteland joins the party, I’m able to keep them to no lands in their main phase. Apparently they weren’t anticipating this and they scoop.

In game 3 I’m on the draw and I have a turn 2 Marit Lage backed up by Endurance. My opponent mulligans to five cards and I start to think I might finally win a match against this godforsaken deck.

Their five-card hand has turn 1 Ritual into Doomsday. They have Force for my Endurance and Marit Lage is a turn too slow. 4-1

Round 6 – Reanimator

It was a bit of a bad beat but well, we never really expected to win. I shake it off and focus in. This round for sure we’ll get paired against Delver and it’ll be a walk in the park.

No such luck. I’m on the draw an my opponent leads on a Chancellor trigger. Which is unfortunate because my hand is actually pretty solid against Reanimator – I’ve got two Crop Rotations. But it’s no use, I can’t cast them in time. They reanimate a Chancellor, which is more or less fine – I’ll have Lage next turn. But then they get a Griselbrand, and then Griselbrand brings his kids from Korlis to visit him. It’s a whole thing. I die wrapped up in Tendrils of Agony.

Out – 3 Punishing Fire, 1 Crucible, 1 Spellbomb, 1 Maze, 1 Blast Zone, 1 Shadowspear, 1 Tabernacle

In – 2 Force of Vigor, 4 Endurance, 2 Surgical Extraction, 1 Pithing Needle

Of all the combo decks, Reanimator is one that I actually feel my sideboard can do decently well against. I’ve got a lot of turn zero interaction, and Lage is still a 20/20 at the end of the day.

I’m on the play and my seven has Crop Rotation plus a Diamond. I keep this knowing that I can beat a Chancellor, but not discard + turn 1 reanimation. My opponent has the discard, so I use the Crop Rotation to get a Karakas. They don’t seem to have anything to reanimate, though, since they cast Faithless Looting and put nothing in their yard.

They continue loot and sometimes destroy my artifacts with Shenanigans, all while I’m slowly assembling my own combo and drawing a Surgical to back me up. I get there first and create Marit Lage, a 20/20 black Avatar creature token with flying and indestructible.

So now it’s game three and I’m on the draw. Showtime! My 7 has Crop Rotation, Exploration, Endurance, Dark Depths, and a bunch of lands, including a green source. That’s turn two Marit Lage with two pieces of interaction for you viewers at home. We keep those.

My opponent mulls to 5 and opens on Faithless Looting, pitching Griselbrand and passing the turn with three cards in hand. I weigh my options.

We could play Taiga into Exploration and hit their Badlands with a Wasteland. This would leave us with only one layer of protection since we won’t have any green mana so we couldn’t cast Endurance and Crop Rotation. But it puts them on 1 land so they’d need exactly Reanimate or else some free mana to do anything exciting.

I take a safer route and just play Taiga and pass. That play lets you beat discard + reanimation, and stopping them from reanimating is probably good enough to buy you the turns it takes to make Lage.

As it happens, they don’t have discard, they just have Exhume. I evoke Endurance, and then Exhume it back. A few turns later we win. 5-1

Round 7 – Reanimator

My breakers are great (my Doomsday loss is the only undefeated player), so 5-2 should make it. But no one likes betting on breakers, so lets do this. Luckily, I know what my opponent is on. I also know they’re a master so… it won’t be easy!

I mull to 5 trying to find a Crop Rotation. They discard it. Listen, it’s Reanimator, no one wins game one, lets all just move on.

Out – 3 Punishing Fire, 1 Crucible, 1 Spellbomb, 1 Maze, 1 Blast Zone, 1 Shadowspear, 1 Tabernacle

In – 2 Force of Vigor, 4 Endurance, 2 Surgical Extraction, 1 Pithing Needle

I start game 2 with a Surgical Extraction and an Exploration, plus Stage, Port, Wasteland, and Taiga. Plenty of mana denial, good outs to find the combo, and some interaction. Solid.

I lead on just Taiga in order to represent Crop Rotation, since they don’t have any lands in play yet for me to kill. They seem to want to take it slow, just playing a fetchland and a petal. Over the next few turns I port their fetch and they sac it. Eventually they go for it but I still have the Surgical so I tag their Griselbrand and summon the Witch on the next turn. Just how we drew it up.

In game 3 hand is weird but pretty strong I think?

We can’t really make mana very well, but we have two forms of free interaction. I keep.

My opponent is on the play and leads on the classic Swamp into Ritual into Entomb into Animate Dead on Griselbrand. I have the Surgical and I see their hand – Faithless Looting, Reanimate, and a fetchland.

On my turn I needle their fetchland (no need to needle Griselbrand any longer). I draw into Ports and Sagas and there is some token defense from my opponent but the game is essentially over. 6-1 and locked for top 8.

Quarterfinals – Reanimator

I’m ecstatic to be in the top 8, but playing against Reanimator again is a bit much. I guess all the blue players are in Philly so the combo kids are running the Challenge.

I know what I’m up against and I mull to 4 to find anything reasonably fast in game 1. They have discard plus turn 1 Griselbrand. Woooo. Hopefully they spent their luck on this and I can take the next two.

Out – 3 Punishing Fire, 1 Crucible, 1 Spellbomb, 1 Maze, 1 Blast Zone, 1 Shadowspear, 1 Tabernacle

In – 2 Force of Vigor, 4 Endurance, 2 Surgical Extraction, 1 Pithing Needle

My game two hand has Endurance and Crop Rotation, plus Depths, lands, and Exploration. Good to go. They loot some creatures away and then cast a discard spell. I respond by getting rid of their graveyard. From there they have Serenity, which is pretty great against my Diamond + Saga, but they aren’t really able to put a lot else together. I make Lage and win.

It’s time for game three and my initial 7 has no interaction. My 6 has Crop Rotation but no green mana. My 5 and my 4 have nothing but lands and Force of Vigors. I finally end up keeping a 3 card hand of Yavimaya, Crop Rotation, Thespian’s Stage, and a vial of my mother’s tears, cried over her son’s brutal defeat in the quarterfinals of the 2/13/22 Legacy Challenge.

I lose. My breakers are still great, so I end up in 5th place. Good enough for me. 6-2.

my feelings about this tournament in a nutshell

Final Thoughts

Although the matchups weren’t exactly ideal, we still managed to pull out a decent finish. And while the event was overshadowed (rightly) by the Legacy 10k in Philadelphia, 5th out of 93 people is still a solid showing.

I know I say this all the time, but Lands feels like a great deck to be on right now. We won the 2/12/22 Challenge and had two players in the top 8 of this one. A big part of this of course is that combo continues to be at an all time low. The most common combo deck, Reanimator, is the one that we’ve historically been fine against, and with the right sideboard we can consistently beat them if we want to. Doomsday is played only by a few eccentric masters who sleep under waterfalls, and Storm is basically dead except for Bryant Cook, who will keep winning events with it because he doesn’t just sleep under waterfalls, he is the waterfall.

Despite all the combo in this specific event, I have no regrets playing a list without Spheres, and I actually loved how streamlined the deck felt in my matches. I’d run back the same 75 again in the next event, though maybe I’d find room for the second Boseiju.

Thanks as always to the whole Lands community for being amazing and especially to Tim for lending me the 4th Endurance. Much love to all the legacy players out there and don’t forget to live, laugh, and loam.

Competitive Lands – Season 2 – Intro

The Tournament

Last time that I played in a Showcase Challenge was in June 2021 just after MH2 had been released. This was 8-9 months ago! I have a real itch to get back into these big tournaments, and I have therefore chosen to dedicate Season 2 of Competitive Lands to demonstrate how I prepare for such a tournament. We will cover the following topics in this season:

  • How to articulate a Dream and set Goals. 
  • How to manage your data. 
  • Your testing plan and time management.
  • Macro Strategies for common matchups.
  • Decklist & Sideboarding.
  • Mental Health and Exercise.

The tournament that I am preparing for is the Legacy Showcase Challenge that takes place on the 10th of April 2022. I hope that you will enjoy seeing me prepare. This intro article is also available as a video in case you prefer that medium.

Goals vs Dreams

I define a goal as something that you want achieved and where you have full control of its outcome. I define a dream as something that you want achieved but where you don’t have full control of its outcome. 

For example if someone says “I want to be well prepared for the tournament” then they are expressing a goal because if they put in enough work then they will be well prepared. It is within their own control whether or not they will achieve this goal. But if someone says “I want to Top 8 the tournament” then they are expressing a dream because it’s not fully within their control if they will Top 8 any given tournament. They will in fact need a fair share of luck in order to make a Top 8 even if they are a very good player.

Why do they need to get lucky in order to Top 8? If you look at the best Legacy players online their long term winrate is between 60% and 70%. In order to Top 8 an eight round tournament you need to go 7-1 or 8-0 (some players sneak in at 6-2 but let’s ignore that for now) and you therefore need a winrate of +87.5% for this given tournament. If we assume that you have 65% probability to win every match, and that the outcome of each match is independent of each other, then the probability that you go 7-1 or better is 17% (this is calculated as 8 * (0.65^7 * 0.35) + 0.65^8). Seventeen percent is far from a safe bet and as you can see you will need to get lucky in order to Top 8 a tournament (but if you play in 5-6 tournaments per year then you will on average get one Top 8 every year). 

This does not mean that you should not work hard towards realizing your dream. If you don’t prepare then you will not have a 65% winrate. Your winrate will more likely be close to 50% and now your probability to Top 8 an eight round tournament drops from 17% to 4%. 

My Dream and Goals

I have formulated the following dream and goals for Season 2 of Competitive Lands. 

My dream is to qualify for the Legacy Showcase Qualifier in June. This will be achieved if I Top 8 one of the next two Showcase Challenges or if I go 5-0 in one of the Last Chance Prelims.

In order to maximize my chances to realize this dream I have put up the following goals for myself. I will try to complete these goals before the Showcase Challenge on the 10th of April.

Strategy Goals

First step to get an edge over the field is to have a good estimate of what “the field” will be and then to register 75 cards that are well equipped to beat the expected top decks. It’s also important to know your role(s) against these decks. I have defined the following strategy goals to help me achieve this:

  • Estimate the winner’s meta prior to the tournament.
  • Have a decklist and sideboard that is tuned for the winner’s meta.
  • Know the macro strategy for all big matchups (>5% metashare).

Gameplay Goals

Macro strategy is very important but it’s also important to get the basic gameplay right. Most games of magic are won by the player who makes the fewest mistakes. We make thousands of micro decisions in a tournament and there are plenty of opportunities to make bad plays and mess things up. I have set the following goals to help me  improve my basic gameplay:

  • Practice all big matchups (>5% metashare).
  • Be conscious about when to play using intuition and when to stop up and think. 
  • Do a coaching session with Jarvis Yu where we go over replays of one of my tournaments. I hope to get into a process where I am able to spot and learn from my mistakes and also get some tools to minimize doing bad plays. 

Mental Goals

In the math example that I gave above I did a simplification that you had a 65% winrate in every match. In reality your winrate changes from match to match. Two things that influence this is of course your matchup and your opponent but these factors are out of your control. Another thing that influences your winrate is your mental stamina. I have lost many late round matches against good matchups where I was tired and made bad plays. Likewise I have won many times when I felt fit and where my opponent messed things up. I have defined the following goals to ensure that my mental stamina is on top for the tournament:

  • Get regular exercise during Season 2 of Competitive Lands.  I want to run at least once per week.
  • Ensure that my tournament weekends are not filled with mentally exhausting activities.
  • Don’t “practice” too much. I especially don’t want to be jamming leagues, all night long, up to the event just to get mentally numb. 

Practice Plan

I don’t feel like playing too much before the new Channel Lands are available on MODO as I believe that these (in particular Boseiju, who Endures) will change how we build Lands. I do want to decide rather early what type of Lands deck that I will play and a key driver for this decision will be the control matchup. I will therefore schedule a dedicated testing session vs control already now in February. 

My aim is to be well prepared for the Showcase challenge on the 10th of April. There is also a Showcase challenge on the 6th of March and I will use this as a “practice round”. I don’t expect to be fully prepared for this tournament but I will play in it anyways, and I have also talked to Jarvis about having a coaching session afterwards to review my plays and give me advice on how to notice and correct in-game mistakes. 

I have a busy life with work and family but I will try to dedicate 1-2 nights each week to playing magic. Taking this into account I have created the following  plan for how to prepare for the tournament.

Week (starting with)Actions
7th of FebruaryKick-Off.
14th of FebruaryChoose target decks.
21th of FebruaryMatchup-testing: Control.
28th of FebruaryBuild a sideboard map.
6th of MarchLegacy Showcase Challenge (Practice Round).
7th of MarchCoaching with Jarvis to review my play in the Showcase.
14th of MarchReview of my deck choice.
21st of MarchLegacy Prelim and / or matchup testing.
28th of MarchLegacy Prelim and / or matchup testing.
4th of AprilReview Sideboard map.
10th of AprilLegacy Showcase Challenge (The Tournament)
11th of AprilLast Chance Prelims

Final Words

I am super motivated to play in the Showcase circuit again and I hope that you will enjoy seeing me prepare for the Showcase Challenge on the 10th of April. I will do my best to achieve all goals that I have set out in this article, and I believe that this will give me the best chance to get lucky and realize my dream to qualify for the next Showcase Qualifier. 

As always the Competitive Lands project is a combination of articles, YouTube videos and live discussions in Discord. You can use this link to find all places where I post my content. 

Thanks for reading!

AZ Masters Series Report by Anthony Rivera

Anthony Rivera here, winner of the 2020/21 AZ Legacy Masters Series. Before saying anything else, I would love to thank the stores and the tournament organizers for the series, as putting on any event while having to navigate the last two years is a massive undertaking. The series was very impressive, considering it was organized by a small group of guys in their free time.  

The List: 

MTG Goldfish link

RG Lands

4 Exploration 
3 Punishing Fire 
4 Life from the Loam 
4 Mox Diamond 
4 Crop Rotation 
3 Expedition Map 
1 Pyrite Spellbomb 
1 Pithing Needle 
1 Shadowspear 
4 Thespian’s Stage 
1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale 
4 Wasteland 
3 Grove of the Burnwillows 
3 Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth 
4 Urza’s Saga 
1 Maze of Ith 

2 Taiga 
3 Rishadan Port 
3 Dark Depths 
1 Ghost Quarter 
1 Blast Zone 
1 Forest 
1 Wooded Foothills 
1 Ancient Tomb 
1 Bojuka Bog 
1 Karakas 

Sideboard: 
2 Choke 
3 Endurance 
3 Pyroblast 
3 Force of Vigor 
4 Sphere of Resistance 

Card Choices: 

3 Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth: I want as many free wins as possible. I also want a shooter’s chance against any combo deck in the format. Playing three copies of Yavimaya first and foremost gives you way more natural turn three 20/20s. Also, the extra green mana opens up turns where you can cast multiple Crop Rotations to combo off out of nowhere. With so many colorless and non-mana producing lands in the deck, I pretty much always want one copy of Yavimaya on the field, especially with Endurance out of the sideboard.  

3 Rishadan Port, 1 Ghost Quarter: I want to be able to disrupt any deck in the format. Rishadan Port is not something that Cloudpost or Bant players are expecting to play against these days. Additionally, firing off a fast Urza’s Saga and then using Rishadan Port or Wasteland to make sure that the opponent can’t answer the constructs is a very solid game plan in fair matchups.  

3 Expedition Map: The Ragavan/Daze decks are very susceptible to specific lands. At any given point, you are going to want Tabernacle, Karakas, Bojuka Bog, Maze of Ith, or Wasteland. These cards allow you to make it into the midgame, when our chance of winning sharply increases. When we sideboard, playing multiple copies of Expedition Map allows us to take out the Crop Rotations against the Force of Will/Daze decks while still allowing us access to direct tutoring. Finally, playing multiple copies of Expedition Map allows us to chain Urza’s Sagas without relying on Life from the Loam (and thus the graveyard).  

1 Ancient Tomb: Casting a turn one Sphere of Resistance is our best plan against most combo decks, and I want to mulligan less and increase my chance of having a second turn.  

1 Shadowspear: This card is insane, and 21/21 creatures with lifelink and trample are also insane. 

1 Pithing Needle: This is the ultimate answer to Aether Vial, equipment, Griselbrand, fetchlands, planeswalkers, and Wastelands—the list goes on. The card is extremely powerful in game one, when the effect is not usually expected. Its most common use is to name opposing Wastelands so we can run amok with our lands without fear of harassment.  

The goal of this list is to be aggressive and play to the board quickly. I am not running any card draw or card advantage engines outside of Life from the Loam. I’m relying on Loam to be enough when I need to grind and Urza’s Saga to be enough when Loam is answered.  

All this flows into the sideboard, with Endurance as a turn zero answer to graveyard and Thassa’s Oracle decks, Force of Vigor as a turn zero answer to Blood Moon and broken starts from 8-Cast, and Pyroblast as the best answer to the format. 

Sphere of Resistance is the catch-all answer to anything that we don’t have a plan for: Aluren, Cephalid Breakfast, and Hullbreacher combo decks, among others. It’s just the best plan against random decks, especially with our land disruption plan.  

The two Chokes come in and out as meta calls, but with the best control decks being blue-based, I like having the option to shut them out of blue mana for the easy win. Bringing in Choke and Sphere of Resistance is NOT my sideboarding plan against Delver. Choke comes in against the Jeskai decks, which aren’t as aggressive.  

Please let me know if I missed any unusual cards, as I would be happy to discuss my choices further.  

The Event: 

As this was a 16-player invitational, the first part of the event was a race to three wins before three losses, and the second part of the event was the Top 8 single elimination event that we all know. I came into the event as the points leader of the series, with three Top 8s and multiple 9th–10th place finishes.  

Round 1: BR Reanimator 1-2 

My opponent is a standard noninteractive player who typically plays BG Depths. He has a GP Top 8 with the deck, but he has not been playing it in the current meta. I put him on 8-Cast or a random deck. He went the Spike route, playing Griselbrand. This round does not last long. 

Game 1: I keep a great hand, but he has the turn one . . . 

Game 2: I have the turn one Sphere of Resistance and follow it up with an Urza’s Saga and a turn two Sphere of Resistance.  

Game 3: My first hand is almost the nuts. I have a turn two Marit Lage with Crop Rotation backup, but I feel like it isn’t good enough, so I mulligan for something better. I end up mulliganing to four cards, keeping a hand with a turn one Sphere off Urza’s Saga, but he goes off on turn one. I never saw a single Endurance.  

Round 2: Jeskai Hullbreacher 2-1 

I would attribute the less-than-perfect gameplay during this match to the fact that most of us have not played Legacy since November due to a postponement of the Masters Series from December to January. 

Game 1: My opponent plays some fetchlands, and I tap my only red source, which gives him a window to flash in Hullbreacher, untap, and play Day’s Undoing. I completely forgot Hullbreacher had flash.  

Game 2: This time, my opponent was the one who was a little rusty, and I am able to needle his fetchland off of an Urza’s Saga trigger. I was able to prolong the game with Rishadan Port and Blast Zone long enough to win with Punishing Fire (weird, right?).  

Game 3: This was a weird game. I wasteland a Volcanic Island on turn one and play a natural Pithing Needle on Scalding Tarn, as he had already cracked a Flooded Strand. (My thought was that he would have played the Prismatic Vista if he had had it.) I get a Sphere of Resistance down, and we trade back and forth for a while. On a crucial turn, he cracks another Flooded Strand without remembering that his only Volcanic Island was in the graveyard. Thus, he couldn’t meltdown my board. Resolving Meltdown would have been a big deal.  

Eventually he taps out for a planeswalker, which I blast, and I get to untap and resolve a Choke to go with my Sphere. I was sitting on Choke/Red Elemental Blast for a while, as the game was very slow, and with the Sphere down, I never had the chance to resolve the Choke with Red Elemental Blast backup.  

This was a big win, and my mana disruption played a huge role.  

Round 3: UR Delver 2-0 

This was another good matchup against an extremely good player who knew that Lands would be represented at this event. These games were not particularly close, as I had it all in both games, with Loam, Wasteland, Tabernacle, and acceleration.  

Game 1: I have early Wastelands along with Loam and Exploration. Dredging Loam quickly finds Tabernacle. 

Game 2: I have basically the same hands as above. He is able to cast Surgical Extraction, targeting Wasteland and then Loam. Thespian’s Stage and Rishadan Ports allow me to keep an active Wasteland and him low on mana until I am able to get an active Urza’s Saga.  

Round 4: Yorion Death and Taxes 2-0 

Game 1: An early Pyrite Spellbomb stops Stoneforge Mystic from ruining my day. Pithing Needle stops the Vials from helping him out, and I can keep him low on mana while I beat down with constructs from Urza’s Saga.  

Game 2: I have another turn one Pyrite Spellbomb to disrupt my opponent, and my constructs get too big too fast.  

Round 5: I have the Bye 

Top 8: 

Match 1: BR Reanimator 2-1 

Yay . . . I wish I was a better sport, but I did text my fiancé to say I would be heading home shortly. Just like my last match against Reanimator, the games in this round were all decided on turn one.  

Game 1: I have the Crop Rotation, but he has the turn one Griselbrand. I love interactive magic.  

Game 2: I have the turn one Sphere, and he can’t get out from under it.  

Game 3: I keep a seven card hand with Mox Diamond, Rishadan Port, Crop Rotation, Endurance, Exploration, and two Maps. He mulligans to five and leads with a turn one Thoughtseize. He takes the Crop Rotation, which means I have to commit more resources to keep his graveyard clear. We play draw go as I tutor for lands with Expedition Maps, and eventually, I have two copies of Endurance. I cast one to start to beat down, and he doesn’t draw anything that would allow him to beat the Endurance and Exploration (to pitch) that were still in my hand.  

Match 2: UR Delver 2-1 

Game 1: My opponent allows me to resolve a turn one Exploration, signaling that he does not have counter magic. On his second turn, he taps his Volcanic Island and then plays Wasteland, activating it targeting my Thespian’s Stage. I have Crop Rotation, so I make Marit Lage in response, and we move on to game two. 

Game 2: I keep a slow hand with Loam, and he has Surgical Extraction. He plays a Dragon’s Rage Channeler and attacks me to zero while finding multiple Wastelands for my Urza’s Sagas. I drew nothing of much importance. 

Game 3: I go aggressive with Mox Diamond and Urza’s Saga, and he cannot stabilize. 

With both of my games over relatively quickly, I was able to watch some of the best magic that I have ever watched. Arizona’s best Death and Taxes player was giving a master class on how to stone-face a Torpor Orb, playing three-mana Gray Ogres to beat both Jeskai Hullbreacher and Jeskai Control. Both games were on stream, and we were going wild in the casting booth. I couldn’t have watched from the tableside, as I would not have been able to keep quiet.  

Match 3: Yorion Death and Taxes 2-1 

Game 1: I keep a slow hand that doesn’t have any way to pull ahead quickly, and we play back and forth. He has two copies of Mother of Runes and a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. I make a play error that goes unnoticed, and with the stream delay, the judge wasn’t able to try to rectify the error until we were multiple plays down the line. The judge explained that I still had a Crop Rotation in my hand that shouldn’t have been there. Instead of both of us getting warnings and continuing to play, I decided to concede in good faith.  

I was supposed to sacrifice a fetchland to cast a Crop Rotation through the Thalia tax to get a Karakas to bounce Thalia, but instead I fetched for the Karakas directly, paying two mana but never playing the Crop Rotation. Additionally, I drew my last fetchable source that turn, so there was no way to easily rewind the game state that would have not involved the judge having to “take my word for it.” 

Game 2: This was a super fun game, and it most likely decided the event. I get an early Punishing Fire and miss a land drop. On my opponent’s turn, he plays his fourth land and casts Armageddon. He makes a land drop the turn after, but I am stuck drawing off the top. In the best turn of events, I draw land, land, Loam to restock. After I cast one Loam, he slams Rest in Peace to shut me down again. I had two copies of Force of Vigor to stop anything egregious from happening on the other side of the table, and eventually I can start looping the Dark Depths combo. I end the game at 88 life, when he had finally run out of Swords to Plowshares effects.  

Game 3: Game three was not as interesting as game two. I have an extremely fast start with double Mox Diamond, Loam, and Urza’s Saga, and I can slow him down with Rishadan Port while I attack through his creatures.  

Final Thoughts and Changes 

I have always been super happy with my list and was very happy with the results of the tournament, obviously. In the week since I first typed this up, Ragavan has been banned and Boseiju, Who Endures has been spoiled. I figured I would finish out by discussing those topics. 

Ragavan was an obvious ban and should have never been printed. When it was spoiled I felt like most of the format knew the card was a mistake and we had to live in a fake format for months. This led to people stepping away from the format and hopefully the ban wasn’t too late to bring people back. On paper the ban will not change much with Delver being back in the UR decks (and still being tier 1) but now we get to see the power level of the DRC/Murktide/Iteration shell without the velocity and “Oops I win” factor of the monkey.  

That brings me to the new Boseiju, Who Endures. A few months ago, I made a make-believe card that should be printed that I felt would “fix” the format. I believe it was ‘WW, Instant: Destroy Target Creature or Permanent’. Wizards came and printed Prismatic Ending and completely revitalized control decks in legacy. I feel like if we were going to create a “dream” card for lands (besides a Sphere of Resistance land) this would be about as good as it can get.  

I do not feel the card will be format defining by any means, but for Lands players to no longer fear Blood Moon or Back to Basics game 1 (2/3) is huge. Slotting 2 of these into the main deck and being able to free up sideboard slots is also amazing as we can potentially have room for the 4th Endurance and the 4th Pyroblast. Expedition Map is now a more viable tutor as it puts the card in hand and those of us who are playing three Expedition Maps (me) should always have access to the card when needed. Lands players will have to formulate a plan to deal with the Bant/4c players that have started winning events, but I trust that the combo decks will keep them in check for the most part.  

Thank you for reading and I would like to thank the Lands discord for being the best community in Legacy. Please look to the team at AZEternalMagic for future events and hopefully I can run it back in 2022! 

Bant Lands Evaluation

Introduction

I launched the Competitive Lands Project at the beginning of this year. It is designed to showcase Legacy Lands from a competitive perspective. You can learn more about this initiative via this article or this introduction video.

Season 1 is now complete and I focused on playing and tuning Bant Lands for the entire season. I have played the deck in 6 Prelims on MTGO and it’s now time to draw some conclusions. But before we start with that here are the hypotheses that I had when I started this season.

  • I was worried about playing against the Blue-Zenit deck with RG Lands and my hope was that Swords to Plowshares would help in this matchup.
  • I did not think that Planeswalkers would be popular and I was hoping that Constructs + Pithing Needle would be enough to combat walkers. Karn in particular felt horrible to play against but I was not predicting that card to be heavily played.
  • I did not think that I would miss Punishing Fire against the Tribal decks but this remained to be seen.
  • Flusterstorm is the only card that I can think of that is good against TES, Show & Tell and Doomsday, and I expected Bant Lands to be better against spell based combo decks.
  • Elvish Reclaimer felt great in the meta but I did not think that I would have room for Urza’s Saga and Reclaimer in the same deck. For reference here are examples of my initial Bant Saga Lands and Bant Reclaimer Lands decklists.

My Results

I played 24 Legacy Prelim matches and won 19 of them. This is a win rate of +79%, against excellent opponents, and is way over my expectations. I am of course super happy with the result. I want to add a caveat to the metashare and winrates posted in this article as they are based on very small sample sizes. I don’t think that we can draw too many conclusions based on these numbers without also taking into account how the matchup felt when I played them. My deck did in fact feel strong against both fair and unfair matchups. I had a healthy mix of spell based and permanent based hate vs combo and when I had a good draw I felt almost unbeatable (even against hard matchups). 

The table below shows my results split per archetype. It also shows the metashare that I expected vs the metashare that each archetype realized.

ArchetypeRealized MetaExpected MetaMy Score
Daze25%27%5-1 (83%)
Karn21%5%3-2 (60%)
Control17%21%3-1 (75%)
Graveyard13%14%2-1 (67%)
Depths8%4%2-0 (100%)
Dark Ritual8%6%2-0 (100%)
Brew8%2%2-0 (100%)
Tribal0%11%

Daze Decks

I expected Daze decks to be 27% of the winner’s meta and my prediction was spot on as I played against them in 25% of my matches. Bant Lands felt very strong vs the Daze decks (even stronger than RG Lands). My removal cost 1 mana so my deck is lean and this matchup is all about gaining a mana advantage. I am not going to write a detailed matchup guide here but I did write about Lands vs Delver before and, although that article is a bit old, the basic concepts and strategies still apply today.

I went 4-1 against UR Delver and 1-0 against Jeskai Murktide to a combined winrate of 83%. I cannot really complain about that. My strategy in these matches was to try to stay ahead on mana and (when I could) play in a way so that I would not lose to Ragavan or Murktide. This went well and the only match that I ended up losing was when my opponent had Karakas for my Marit Lage in both game 2 and game 3.

Here are some quick notes on playing against UR Delver.

  • They have 0 answers to Marit Lage in the main and 3 answers in their sideboard (1 Karakas and 2 Submerge). This means that Marit Lage is very safe in G1 but it gets riskier in the post sideboard games.
  • Shadowspear is a game changer in this matchup and it completely takes over any kind of race. Shadowspear + Construct can often race even a Murktide.
  • It’s better to be proactive than reactive and this is why I like Elvish Reclaimer and Endurance so much in this matchup. Your opponent will have many cheap threats and just overloading on one for one removal is risky. Reclaimer can play defense but at the same time help us work towards a Marit Lage or Constructs + Shadowspear.
  • Their best cards are Ragavan, Wasteland and Murktide. Turn 1 Ragavan (blanks our Wastelands) into turn 2 Wasteland (blanks our Dark Depths and Saga) can make it difficult for us to win (especially if we are on the draw). Murktide kills in just a few turns and it can mice some wins for our opponent if they also have a timely Wasteland for our Maze of Ith.   


I only played against UR Delver once on camera and it can be found here.

Karn Decks

Going into this experiment I said that I wanted to “dodge” the Karn decks. I only expected Karn to take up around 5% of the winner’s meta and I thought that it would be very hard to beat a resolved Karn with Bant Lands. I ended up playing against Karn decks 21% of my matches so this prediction was completely off. Part of the reason that my prediction was so off is that I had labeled 8-Cast as Urza’s Saga instead of Karn going into this experiment. It turns out that 8-Cast decks have started playing Karn so that was a mislabelling from my side. But on top of this various blue Painter decks started popping up in January and these decks all played Karn.

I went 1-0 against 8-Cast, 1-0 against Bomberman and 1-1 against Painter and 0-1 against Mystic Forge. This gave me a combined record of 3-2 and actually a positive winrate against the matchup I wanted to dodge. It turns out the matchup is not as bad as I had feared. Here are some quick notes.

  • Needle on Karn makes these matchups alot easier and I will blind name Karn with my needles.
  • Shadowspear beats Sai, and Shadowspear is a big part of the reason why 8-Cast is a favored matchup when they don’t draw Karn.
  • Marit Lage can still mice some wins in 2022.  

I played against Karn decks 3 times on camera and you can find them here.

Control Decks

I expected Control decks to take up 17% of the winner’s meta and this prediction was a bit low as I ended up playing against Control in 21% of my matches. Going into this project I was fearing the Blue-Zenit deck, and this deck was in fact the contributing factor for me choosing to play white over red removal. It turns out that the Blue-Zenit deck is currently only the 3:rd popular Control deck online and the current split is something like 50% Uro Piles, 40% Jeskai Hullbreacher and 10% Blue-Zenit. Punishing Fire and Pyroblast seems very good against Jeskai Hullbreacher and it is not clear to me that Bant Lands is the best configuration for this meta. 

I am also not sure that Bant Saga Lands is actually favored vs Blue-Zenit. I played against McWinSauce on Omnath Pile (that is like Blue-Zenit on steroids) and it did not feel good. I only felt that I won the game where my hand was good and their hand was bad and this is not where I wanted to be vs blue control. Blue-Zenit gets a lot easier for a Lands list that is centered around Elvish Reclaimer, Flagstones and Uro though. It turns out that when we want to then we are the best ramp deck in Legacy, and I believe that my match against mei0024 in Episode 7 highlights this.

I went 3-1 vs the Control decks and this is a good result in my opinion. I feel that the Uro Piles are the easiest of the Control decks as they can have a real hard time killing me on time if I handle Uro. My overall strategy against Uro Piles is to get the Stage + Saga online and eventually find Karakas via an Expedition Map or Crop Rotation. They will now spend their cantrips and card draw looking for something like Dress Down. If they find it then the game goes and if they don’t find it then they lose. But even when they do find Dress Down they are still on a route to lose the match because now the entire match revolves around time and they will be behind on the clock as they have many more game actions to perform each turn. I think my match against Bant Control in Episode 2 shows this pretty well.

I played against Control decks 4 times on camera and you can find them here.

If you want to learn more about Lands vs Control then I recommend that you read my in-depth article about the matchup.

Graveyard Decks

I expected Graveyard decks (Reanimate and Madness) to take up 13% of the winner’s meta and this was spot on as I ended up playing against these types of decks in 14% of my matches. Reanimate won the Showcase Qualifier Event in December last year and it was on everyone’s mind when I started this project. I think having access to white removal really helps against Reanimate as (even with 3 Endurance) it can sometimes be hard to stop them from reanimating a creature and Archon of Cruelty is non-legendary so it cannot be bounced with Karakas. Having Swords to Plowshares as a clean answer to Archon will win some otherwise unwinnable games against Reanimate. I think my Bant Saga Lands has a healthy mix of permanent and spell based hate and I feel comfortable playing against Reanimate with this configuration.

Madness is an interesting matchup that reminds me a lot about Hogaak. It is more explosive but it lacks the combo finish with Altar. Historically the Lands strategy has been good against these “go wide” types of Graveyard decks as Tabernacle, Bojuka Bog and Marit Lage are all great in the matchup. I also think Bant Lands is favored vs Madness and I went 2-1 in the matches that I played against them.

Elvish Reclaimer is an absolute all star against Graveyard decks and if we get to untap with him then it feels hard to lose. He dodges all the artifact and enchantment hate that Reanimate plays, and he puts them in a difficult spot because they won’t have many turns to find an answer before he finds Dark Depths and Thespian’s Stage. Reclaimer also acts as an extra Maze of Ith against Madness, and he will find anything that we need from Tabernacle to Bojuka Bog and Dark Depths. I absolutely love a proactive card that can play defense!

I played against Graveyard decks 3 times on camera and you can find them here.

Tribal Decks

I didn’t face a Tribal deck (Elves, Goblins or Death & Taxes) in any of the Prelims that I played. However, I did manage to get a testing session in with EronRelentless. We tested Bant Saga Lands vs Reclaimer Elves. My goal with the session was to figure out if Punishing Fire is needed to reliably beat Elves. 

My strategy in the pre board games was to keep a hand with light disruption (Swords or Tabernacle) plus a turn 3 Marit Lage. This went really well as I won both pre board games. Shadowspear was surprisingly good here as a way to Trample over Endurance. 

My strategy in the post board games was the same as in the pre board games but I also had the option of landing Spheres and Tabernacle to completely prison the Elves player out. I went 2-1 in the post sideboard games, and the only game that I lost was one where my hand was filled with interaction but no clear path to victory. 

I think this demonstrates that Punishing Fire is not needed to beat Tribal decks. What about the Death & Taxes matchup? I have tested this before and found that Urza’s Saga beats everything that they do outside a turn 2 Stoneforge into Kaldra. This means that maximizing Saga every turn and saving our removal for Stoneforge (or the Kaldra gem as our removal exiles) should be good enough. Post sideboard we can even destroy the Kaldra itself with Force of Vigor if we activate Shadowspear to make their permanents lose Indestructible. 

My testing session against Elves can be found here.

Dark Ritual Decks

I expected 6% of the winner’s meta to be on spell based combo (Storm or Doomsday) and this was pretty accurate as I ended up playing against these decks in 8% of my matches. Bant Lands is well suited to face these decks after sideboarding. We run a healthy mix of permanent based and spell based hate. For example against Doomsday we have the following relevant interaction:

  • Spell Based
    • 3 Endurance
    • 3 Flusterstorm
    • 4 Crop Rotation (for Ipnu).
  • Permanent Based
    • 1 Thran Foundry (+4 Saga to find it)
    • 1 Ipnu Rivulet (+7 ways to find it)
    • 4 Sphere effects + Wasteland

We also have a pretty decent clock with Constructs, Reclaimer and Marit Lage. It’s very hard for Doomsday players to build a pile that can beat Ipnu Rivulet and I therefore find that Lands have inevitability in the matchup. Unless we die on turn 1 or turn 2 then we will be able to find Ipnu and lock up the game. But if our opponent rushes then they play into our spell based interaction and can get destroyed by a timely Flusterstorm or Endurance.

I went 1-0 vs Doomsday and 1-0 vs Ruby Storm to a nice 100% winrate against this historical bad archetype. You can find my matches below: 

Other Decks

I played against “other decks” in 4 of my matches. I went 2-0 vs Cloudpost and 2-0 vs Lands. There is not much to say here really other than that Urza’s Saga has given us a new route to victory against these Crop Rotation decks. Saga is a safer kill than Marit Lage and I ended up going for that route in most games. I also think Prismatic Ending was excellent against Lands as a cheap way to remove a Mox Diamond or Exploration or Marit Lage.

You can find my matches here.

Conclusions

It is time to draw some conclusions from the experiment with Bant Lands. As I wrote in the introduction 24 matches is a very small sample size but when tuning magic decks we need to draw conclusions based on incomplete data as there is just not enough time to get large datasets. My conclusions here are therefore based on magic theory and backed up with the games that I have played these last few weeks. 

Hypothesis 1: I was worried about playing against the Blue-Zenit deck with RG Lands and my hope was that Swords to Plowshares would help in this matchup.

Conclusion: I don’t think that Swords to Plowshares is enough to swap the Blue-Zenit matchup. Sure, it helps but they are still favored against Bant Saga Lands. If we want to beat these decks then we need to play their game i.e. we cut Saga and play Reclaimer, Flagstones, Uro and Field of the Dead ourselves.

Hypothesis 2: I did not think that Planeswalkers would be popular and I was hoping that Constructs + Pithing Needle would be enough to combat walkers. Karn in particular felt horrible to play against but I was not predicting that card to be heavily played.

Conclusion: Planeswalkers were more popular than I had expected. Control decks started playing T3feri (that is amazing against Urza’s Saga) and Narset, and the Karn decks were more popular than I had anticipated. Constructs plus Needle do a decent job at combating walkers though. I love that Needle can shut off a walker before it hits play and this ensures for example that Karn won’t be able to tutor for Ensnaring Bridge before getting killed. I did play some Leagues with RG Lands (with Spellbomb instead of Needle) and I missed having access to Needle in these Leagues. It even turns out that I had a positive record vs Karn decks with Bant Lands. Punishing Fire would improve the situation vs walkers though and it seems good vs the deck with Narset, T3feri and Hullbreacher.

Hypothesis 3: I did not think that I would miss Punishing Fire against the Tribal decks but this remained to be seen.

Conclusion: We can beat Tribal decks with other strategies than recurring Punishing Fire. 

Hypothesis 4: Flusterstorm is the only card that I can think of that is good against TES, Show & Tell and Doomsday, and I expected Bant Lands to be better against spell based combo decks.

Conclusion: I felt favored vs spell based combo (including Doomsday) with Bant Saga Lands. Game 1 is awful but in the post sideboard games then we have a healthy mix of spell and permanent based hate, and we have plenty of tutors to find our hate. We also have a decent clock to back this up.

Hypothesis 5: Elvish Reclaimer felt great in the meta but I did not think that I would have room for Urza’s Saga and Reclaimer in the same deck. 

Conclusion: Elvish Reclaimer was the card that impressed me the most in Season 1 of Competitive Lands. He is great vs Daze decks and any deck that does not run removal (Elves, Madness, 8-Cast, etc). If we can protect him with Flusterstorm then he can also do major work against control decks ramping us towards Field of the Dead with Flagstones.

Next Season

I will be taking a break from the Competitive Lands Project while I plan Season 2. We just had a B&R announcement where Ragavan got the axe. I have posted my thoughts on what this menas for the Legacy meta, and I hope that you will come back and watch Season 2 when it starts in a few weeks time.

Thanks for reading!

Season 1 Recap

Here are all Episodes in Season 1 in case you missed something.

Competitive Legacy Lands Project Launch by alli

My name is Albert Lindblom, and I am an online grinder playing Legacy Lands under the MTGO alias alli. I have played Lands online for years and have multiple good finishes in premier events such as Showcase Challenges and the Eternal Weekend online. This year I am kicking off a new project with the aim of showcasing Legacy Lands from a competitive perspective. This will be done via a combination of (short) articles, videos, and live discussions in the Lands Discord. You can also find a video introduction to this project here.

Decklists 

I will play different variations of Lands (RG, RGu, RGb, GW, GWu, GWr, BG and BGu), and I will try to stay with a variation for at least four weeks so that I can arrive at a list that is well tuned for the expected winners’ meta in online Challenges. I will kick off each variation with a short article that highlights why I chose to play a certain splash color, and I will also end with an article that explains my conclusions. To ensure that my list is well tuned, I will follow the principles that I describe in this article. If you join the Lands discord, you can even help me tune the list in the #decklists section.

Gameplay

I intend to play one competitive tournament every week. This will be one of the following:

  • Prelim
  • Challenge
  • Showcase Challenge
  • PTQ

If I want to test something specific, then I will also organise a dedicated testing session with another online grinder. All matches will be recorded and posted on my YouTube channel.

Conclusion

After four to eight weeks, I will try to post an article on PendrellVale.com with my conclusions about this specific Lands variation. In the article, I will address questions such as these:

  • How did the deck feel? What was my overall record?
  • How did my meta predictions line up with the decks I faced? Did I predict the meta correctly?
  • What did I win against?
  • What did I lose to? Can these matchups be improved without adding another color or giving up percentages in other matchups?

I hope you will enjoy this content! Let’s dive right into it and explore the first iteration of Lands that I want to play.

Expected Meta

I had a look at the Top 32 from the last three challenges (Dec. 12 to Dec. 26). They show the following winners’ metagame.

If we consider matchups that have >5% meta share, then I think that the top decks are Delver, Blue Zenith, Reanimator, Elves, various Urza’s Saga decks (8-Cast, Painter, Lands), and Doomsday. 

Bant Lands

I am going to start by playing Bant Lands. Why do I want to abandon red and play white instead? The main reason is that white provides better removal and another broken land in Flagstones of Trokair.

Swords to Plowshares vs. Punishing Fire 

Let’s talk a bit about the difference between  white and red removal. Swords to Plowshares answers Murktide Regent, which means that we don’t need Pyroblast against Delver (and we can instead run up to 3 copies of Flusterstorm). Flusterstorm improves the Doomsday, Reanimator and Blue Zenith matchups. These decks make up more than 40% of the winners’ meta.

Punishing Fire is very good in the Tribal matchups and against planeswalkers. I expect that Tribal decks (primarily Elves and Death and Taxes) will be fine even without Punishing Fire (this will have to be confirmed in testing, of course). We win most games vs. Elves with early disruption and a semi-fast Marit Lage, and the most-difficult-to-deal-with card from Death and Taxes is Kaldra Compleat, and that card is not answered by Punishing Fire (but it is answered by the white removal). Most planeswalkers can be killed with constructs or stopped by a timely Pithing Needle (which can be found via Urza’s Saga’s third chapter). Karn, the Great Creator is the only planeswalker that I am truly scared of, but the Karn decks are not popular right now, and I hope to dodge them.

Elvish Reclaimer or Urza’s Saga

Adding white to our deck also allows us to play Flagstones of Trokair. This land is very interesting. First, it removes the drawback of Crop Rotation, transforming it from a semi-risky line vs. blue decks into a split card of Tinker and Hymn to Tourach (depending on whether the opponent decides to Force of Will it or not). Second, Flagstones of Trokair combined with Elvish Reclaimer ramps us by one land drop every turn that the cards are online. A hand of Forest, Flagstones of Trokair, Elvish Reclaimer, and Thespian’s Stage represents a turn three Marit Lage, and a hand of Forest, Flagstones of Trokair, Elvish Reclaimer and Life from the Loam allows us to have Field of the Dead online as early as turn four. 

However, Elvish Reclaimer and Urza’s Saga both require more than 8 slots (see the below table), and it can be difficult to fit both packages into the deck at the same time. I am leaning toward Urza’s Saga being better, as it’s a more powerful card and it kills quickly if the opponent stumbles, but Elvish Reclaimer is very strong against decks without removal, such as Elves, 8-Cast, Reanimator, and the Madness deck. I do want to test the Elvish Reclaimer package in the weeks to come.

Urza’s Saga PackageElvish Reclaimer Package
4 Urza’s Saga4 Elvish Reclaimer
3 Tutor targets2 Flagstones of Trokair
1 Crucible of Worlds2 Field of the Dead (or 1 FoTD and 1 Vesuva)
0-3 Sphere of Resistance0-3 Uro
Total: 8-11 cardsTotal: 8-11 cards

For reference, here are two sample decklists of Bant Saga Lands and Bant Reclaimer Lands. The first Prelim that I recorded with Bant Saga Lands can be found here.