fbpx

Domain Mana Bases by the Numbers – Modern MTG with Leyline Binding

For Modern, one of the most exciting cards in Dominaria United is Leyline Binding

Leyline Binding

With the right combination of fetch lands, shock lands and Triomes, it can easily be cast for a single mana in the midgame and for two mana on turn two. It fits particularly well into cascade decks as a piece of interaction that you can cast before turn three while not screwing up your Violent Outburst.

Sure enough, in the first MTGO Modern Challenges since the release of Dominaria United, Leyline Binding showed up in multiple decks, the majority of which were Crashing Footfalls or Glimpse of Tomorrow decks. Somewhat unexpectedly, however, some of the best-performing ones were 80-card versions! Before analyzing their domain mana bases in more detail, let’s first address the matter of deck size.

 

 

Is going up to 80 cards worth it?

Yorion, Sky Nomad

The natural reason to go up to 80 is to gain Yorion, Sky Nomad as a companion. A free card never hurts in grindy matchups, and Yorion’s blink ability is particularly powerful in conjunction with Fury, Solitude and Omnath, Locus of Creation, all of which are included in the decks I’ll consider today.

The main downside of going up to 80 cards is a loss of consistency. Rhinos and Glimpse Elementals traditionally play four Shardless Agent and four Violent Outburst, and drawing them is quite important for their game plans. Moving from 8/60 to 8/80 would be a big sacrifice.

However, the possibility to add Ardent Plea, which matches a Leyline Binding mana base, changes the equation. In fact, 12/80 is a better ratio than 8/60, so an 80-card version with four Ardent Plea can actually cascade more consistently than the traditional 60-card versions. There is still a loss in consistency for other types of cards, but at least it doesn’t really affect the heart of the deck.

For cascade decks, there is another benefit in going up to 80 cards: you want to have three copies of, say, Glimpse of Tomorrow in your deck so you can cast them multiples throughout a game, but you don’t really want to draw them in your opening hand. And the larger your deck size, the smaller the probability of starting the game with an awkward suspend card.

While all of these reasons are valid, they were all present before, and players still decided that the inconsistency caused by going up to 80 cards wasn’t worth it. So what changed?

The answer is the domain mana base requirements. In a fetchland deck with Leyline Binding, you want a full assortment of in-color shocklands plus a Triome or two. If you have these in your library, then you can reliably find the right lands for domain. But your best opening hands contain a mixture of fetchlands, so you want all of these shock duals and Triomes to be present in your deck, but you don’t want to draw them all to often. It’s similar to the suspend spells. A larger deck size accomplishes this.

There are precedents to increasing your deck size to support fetchland mana bases, set by some of the best players all-time. Hall of Famer Makihito Mihara made Top 8 at Grand Prix Kobe 2011 with a 64-card Scapeshift deck because that was the only way to have at least seven Mountains for Scapeshift while retaining a sufficient ratio of blue-producing sources for Cryptic Command. Likewise, Hall of Famer Ben Rubin made Top 8 at Grand Prix Oakland 2016 with a 64-card special, again because he needed more than 60 cards to fit in all the fetchable lands he wanted to have access to.

Given that domain similarly encourages you to run more fetchable options, going over 60 cards might be warranted. When 80 cards gives you Yorion as a reward, then going up to 80 makes complete sense to me.

Now let’s actually zoom in to the two lists that I alluded to.

 

Mana base checkup: Four-Color Glimpse Elementals

Modern Four-Color Glimpse Elements by Capriccioso

For a primer on the 60-card version of this deck, check out Andrea Mengucci’s article. Glimpse Elementals can not only play like a midrange Elementals deck but also has the potential to cascade into Glimpse of Tomorrow. Glimpse of Tomorrow usually produces a dominant board presence. To ensure you have enough permanents to support that sorcery, Khalni Garden and Wavesifter are essential. But even a turn-two Leyline Binding counts as a permanent.

New additions compared to that 60-card version are Solitude, Teferi, Time Raveler, Ardent Plea, Leyline Binding and a number of lands. All of these are perfectly reasonable cards, so you don’t lose much in terms of card quality. Chancellor of the Forge was cut in the process, which is questionable, but perhaps you need more pitchable white spells now that you added Solitude to the deck.

A land count of 35 seems perfect. The 60-card deck used to play 25, but if you add Triomes and more involved mana requirements, then going up to 26 would have been warranted. Multiplying that by 80/60 and rounding up (because Yorion is mana-hungry and because larger deck sizes are more inconsistent by nature, since the cards you draw in your opening hand have a comparatively smaller effect on the remaining land ratios in your library) yields a total of 35 lands. Approved.

Even the choices of the Triomes make sense:

  • Indatha Triome – You need a black Triome to have the potential for full domain, but you’d like to be able to fetch it on turn one, then fetch a basic and evoke Wavesifter on turn two, followed by another basic and a cascade spell on turn three. To support Wavesifter, the Triome should be green or blue. It should also be white because you may want to cast Leyline Binding on turn two. This means that two options remain, and Indatha Triome is superior to Raffine’s Tower. The reason for this is that Indatha Triome into basic Island allows you to cast Ardent Plea on turn three regardless of your third land, whereas Raffine’s Tower into Forest would not. As a note, this typical sequence of Indatha Triome into basic Island means that blue duals are more valuable than normal. Even though Scalding Tarn cannot fetch Indatha Triome, it may still be superior to Arid Mesa for this reason.
  • Raugrin Triome – In two-land opening hands with Khalni Garden and a fetch land, the presence of Raugrin Triome will ensure you have access to all colors, so it’s a useful one to have access to.

But does the mana actually work? First, let’s add up the colored sources, including Cavern of Souls on Elementals.

  • White sources: 21 (+2 for Elementals)
  • Blue sources: 22 (+2 for Elementals)
  • Red sources: 22 (+2 for Elementals)
  • Green sources: 24 (+2 for Elementals)

Based on the tables from my “How many colored sources do you need to consistently cast your spells?” article, this is all good for the spells in this 80-card deck. Even casting Endurance for 1GG on turn three is doable.

But how about Leyline Binding on turn two?

To cast Leyline Binding on turn two, you need at least four basic land types. Hence, you need two opposite duals, or Indatha Triome plus an Island or Mountain (which could be a basic, shock dual or Raugrin Triome), or a Raugrin Triome plus Forest (which could be a basic, shock dual or Indatha Triome). You have plenty of fetchlands to assemble such combinations. But other combinations, such as Breeding Pool plus Hallowed Fountain, won’t work.

I ran the numbers and calculated the probability of having such a combination in your top eight cards, conditional on having two lands in the first place. This represents turn two on the play. Mulligans, drawing sequences or the presence of Leyline Binding was not taken into account. The result was a conditional probability of 81.8 percent. Not terrible, but I was hoping for higher consistency.

What if we’d cut two Cavern of Souls and add, say, two Arid Mesa? In that case, the probability goes up to 86.7 percent. That’s a substantial improvement, and one that I would strongly consider for this deck. It sucks to lose uncountability on your Elementals, but the domain mechanic needs a consistency boost.

In fact, we can go up to 86.9 percent if we additionally cut two Scalding Tarn and add the final two Arid Mesa, which increases the probability of fetching Indatha Triome. But this is only a tiny increase, and we’d have to shock ourselves far more often to get access to blue mana, so this is unlikely to be worth it.

 

Mana base checkup: Four-Color Rhinos

Modern Four-Color Rhinos by D00mwake

For a primer on a 60-card Temur version of this deck, check out Andrea Mengucci’s article. New additions compared to that 60-card Temur version are Teferi, Time Raveler, Omnath, Locus of Creation, Solitude, Ardent Plea and Leyline Binding. In the process, Bonecrusher Giant, Dead // Gone and Prismari Command are gone, but the white spells are all arguably better.

This Four-Color Rhinos looks quite similar to the Four-Color Glimpse Elemental deck, but it does not have Wavesifter, Risen Reef or Endurance. This makes sense when you don’t need to have as many powerful permanents in your deck to support Glimpse of Tomorrow. Instead, there are additional interactive spells in Fire // Ice, Force of Negation and Brazen Borrower. This supports the Crashing Footfalls plan well.

The land count of 32 seems low. The 60-card deck used to play 24, but if you add Triomes and more involved mana requirements, then going up to 25 seems warranted. Multiplying that by 80/60 and rounding up yields 34. I would try to find room for two more lands, perhaps shaving a pair of Teferi, Time Raveler.

Compared to the Four-Color Glimpse Elementals deck, this list has Boseiju, Who Endures and Otawara, Soaring City in its no-type land slots, and it adds Overgrown Tomb and Ketria Triome. I guess there are scenarios where you’d want to fetch those lands, and without the need to run Khalni Garden, there’s enough space to slot them in. Fine.

But does the mana actually work? First, let’s add up the colored sources.

  • White sources: 22
  • Blue sources: 23
  • Red sources: 22
  • Green sources: 24

Based on the tables from my “How many colored sources do you need to consistently cast your spells?” article, this is all good for the spells in this 80-card deck. I guess we’re two blue sources off for casting Brazen Borrower as a 3/1 flyer on turn three, but that’s rarely something you’ll aim for. The main role of that card lies in its two-mana bounce Adventure.

But how about Leyline Binding on turn two?

Using similar logic and definitions as for the previous deck, I ran the numbers once more on the probability to have a combination of lands in your top eight cards to cast Leyline Binding on turn two. Conditional on drawing at least two lands, the result was a 86.7 percent probability. That’s certainly not bad. Not having to deal with awkward Khalni Garden hands certainly does help.

What if we’d cut two the two legendary lands and add, say, two Arid Mesa? In that case, the probability goes up to 91.5 percent. That’s again a substantial improvement, and one that I would strongly consider for this deck. It sucks to lose utility in your lands, but the domain mechanic needs a consistency boost.

In fact, we can go up to 93.3 percent if we additionally cut two spells and add the final two Arid Mesa, as this increases the probability of fetching the right combination of lands. Again, I would advocate for this.

 

Conclusion

Domain mana bases are fascinating, and we’re only just starting to understand them. Going up to 80 cards is reasonable, and properly constructed Modern decks can cast Leyline Binding on turn two consistently enough. Just be mindful of the fact that every land without a basic land type (whether it’s Cavern of Souls or Boseiju, Who Endures) comes at a substantial cost.

 

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top