The people have spoken, and apparently they have little to no interest in spells. Nope, not for the masses. After a Twitter asking which deck I should tackle next, the choice was overwhelming in favor of a deck that plays more than 50% lands.
The spells aren’t plentiful, but they are powerful.
One of the keys to playing Lands is that you want to mulligan to an accelerator. Without a way to speed up your mana development, the deck will fall too far behind.
The only non-4-of in the spell slot for this deck is Manabond. This is the most explosive way to accelerate, but it also is the most vulnerable. Manabond leaves you open to graveyard hate and potentially hurts future development depending on your hand.
Exploration keeps you steadily ahead and continues to propel you in that direction. Playing multiple lands per turn is a nice ability even for decks that already aren’t 60% lands. These do scale, so additional copies allow you to set up all sorts of awesome interactions.
While Mox Diamond won’t let you play extra lands, it does accelerate you. Putting a land into the graveyard isn’t a big deal at all in this deck, and with 35, you should always have plenty of spares. You want to play multiple spells while activating as many of the special abilities on your lands as you can, so Mox Diamond is explosive in this deck.
Life from the Loam represents your engine. With lands that have sacrifice abilities, Mox Diamonds, and other ways to get lands into the graveyard, it’s easy to get value from the first time you cast it. From there, the deck gets to go crazy. Being able to constantly dredge your Loam will provide you with a steady stream of utility lands and help you find what you need, even without any additional help (of which you should have plenty). Dredging Life from the Loam to bring back 3 lands in a deck that plays 35 is essentially an Ancestral Recall every turn. If you have an Exploration or two in play, you’ll lock out the opponent in no time.
Crop Rotation is your instant-speed tutor effect. Again, putting a land into your graveyard is not a big cost in a deck that looks to turn on Life from the Loam, so Crop Rotation is almost pure upside. If your Rotation gets countered you still lose the land, but there are a ton of utility lands that you’re happy to find at instant speed.
Punishing Fire provides your best interaction and inevitability. In conjunction with Grove of the Burnwillows, Fire can shoot down small creatures, planeswalkers, and eventually an opponent. It doesn’t mind being countered or being milled into the graveyard when you dredge a Loam.
When the card you want to find is Life from the Loam, Gamble is the perfect tutor. Often you’re even hoping to discard the Loam so you can get that first dredge off the bat and have some additional options in the graveyard. When you already have a Loam, Gamble again has practically no downside if what you’re looking for happens to be a land. If you discard that land, you already have the Loam to get it back.
25 total. That sure leaves lots of room for lands!
Dark Depths is how you win the majority of your games. A 20/20 flying indestructible is lights-out against the majority of decks in the format.
Thespian’s Stage is first and foremost your way to turn on Dark Depths. By copying the Depths, Stage will have no counters, and you will get your very own Marit Lage token. But Thespian’s Stage does so much more than that in this deck by making an additional copy of a disruption land or utility land. With Life from the Loam to get Stage back, you will eventually establish control.
Wastelands and Rishadan Ports make up the bulk of your interaction. Decks tend to be light on mana in Eternal formats, even more so when it comes to basic lands. Wastelands can cut a player off of an entire color. Rishadan Port won’t do much in the aggro matchups, but it’s awesome against control. Against Miracles, your game plan should be to tap all of their white sources during their 2nd main phase (or earlier), so that you can create a Marit Lage token during their end step and they will have no white mana to cast their Swords to Plowshares.
Grove of the Burnwillows serves double-duty in this deck. First and foremost, it’s a mana fixer. This is a GR deck that is looking for a nice dual land. This would already be nearly as good as Taiga if it didn’t allow for the combo with Punishing Fire. Letting your opponent gain life isn’t a big deal for a deck looking to finish the game off with a 20/20 flying token.
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale is a 1-of since it doesn’t tap for mana and it’s legendary. It’s also one of the most important tools in the deck and a critical tutor target. This is the best way to deal with a deck like Delver, especially one with Young Pyromancers. Wastelands will help keep their mana down, and then the Tabernacle will force them to decide between keeping their creatures or casting additional spells.
Maze of Ith can keep a Griselbrand off your back, but otherwise it’s one of the weakest cards against combo and control decks like Miracles. Against decks with Tarmogoyf and Delver, it’s a great way to keep their threats at bay before the Tabernacle takes over.
Glacial Chasm is key to stop an early aggressive rush. It doesn’t have applications everywhere, but it’s the only way to keep yourself alive in certain games. You can also set up a lock with Explorations or Manabond if you have a Glacial Chasm in play by using Thespian’s Stage with the cumulative upkeep trigger on the stack.
Riftstone Portal is the best land you can get into your graveyard. If you need to sacrifice a land to Crop Rotation or discard something to hand size or Mox Diamond, Riftstone Portal is the one to go for. Not only does this help your color fixing, it also turns lands like Maze of Ith and The Tabernacle into mana producers, which is an incredible ability.
Karakas bounces powerful legends like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Griselbrand, or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Being able to go get it with Crop Rotation gives you game against Sneak and Show, but it also doesn’t do much elsewhere. It will usually reside in the sideboard, but should be in the 75 somewhere.
Horizon Canopy and Tranquil Thicket make up the remainder of the utility lands. These are the lands that will effectively let you “go off” as you can now dredge your Loams multiple times per turn by using these lands to draw additional cards. They are also your important tools as protection against cards like Surgical Extraction that can ruin your day by nuking all of your Life from the Loams. By cycling a Tranquil Thicket, you can fizzle the Extraction by dredging the Loam. You can also accomplish this with Crop Rotation if you play carefully by fetching a Canopy to dredge the Loam.
Here’s the list Jarvis Yu used to take down GP Seattle:
Jarvis Yu, 1st place at GP Seattle
More recently, Jarvis found himself in the Top 8 of yet another Grand Prix, this time in Columbus. Karakas managed to make it into his main deck, replacing a fetchland, and the sideboard underwent a few changes:
Tireless Tracker is a huge threat that can also produce a ton of card advantage, especially with some Explorations around to provide assistance. Clue tokens allow for lots of Loam dreding, which is pretty sweet when your opponents are likely to board out a lot of their removal.
Against Storm, you’re looking to remove all of your creature interaction. Chasm, Tabernacle, Mazes, and Punishing Fires must go. Everything that can interact with spells in any way should come in. Chalice and Sphere effects are your best cards, but Bojuka Bog can steal a game and Tireless Tracker can at least be a threat.
Miracles is a popular matchup and it’s definitely close. The same cards that are bad against Storm are also bad against the controlling decks that are light on creatures. Crop Rotations join the other creature interaction cards on the sidelines as there aren’t really any great lands to tutor for, and getting your Rotation hit by a Counterbalance is pretty devastating.
Board in basically everything since you’re boarding so much out. Bojuka Bog won’t contribute much, but everything else is solid. Krosan Grips do serious work here, and you’re going to look to keep them down on mana as much as possible to force through a 20/20. Boil backed up by Boseiju, Who Shelters All is a big game.
Against other popular decks, you won’t board nearly as much. Against Shardless Sultai, the Boils will help to keep their mana down, and you bring out a Chasm and the Manabond. Against the various Delver decks, you’re basically not sideboarding. Boil is fine, but it’s slow and they don’t need much mana to operate, and everything in your main deck is reasonable.
Against Sneak and Show, board like you would for Storm, but keep Krosan Grips. Blood Moon is excellent against you, so try to avoid that pitfall, and you can sometimes catch them with a Sneak Attack in play without mana to use it thanks to Wastelands and Spheres. While Maze of Ith can steal a game by hitting a Griselbrand, it’s unlikely and it doesn’t do much against Emrakul. Don’t be afraid to take it out.
Against creature combo decks, such as Elves, Wasteland won’t do much, so some can come out, although a couple can help keep Cradle in check. Their spells are so cheap, but your game plan still revolves around locking them out with Tabernacle before you make a 20/20. Crop Rotation for Glacial Chasm can save you from a Craterhoof, but be aware that it won’t do anything against Shaman of the Pack. Punishing Fire is insane in this matchup and can win the game single-handedly, as well as Chalice. Spheres do slow them down, so overall you should be pretty far ahead before you factor in how good The Tabernacle is.
Against the new Eldrazi menace, you should bring in a couple Krosan Grips as insurance against Chalice on 2 and potential Leyline of the Voids, but the matchup is great. They’re weak to Wastelands and soft to Maze of Ith. They’re still a big, dumb creature deck, and this deck has tons of tools to fight against that. They’re very mana hungry, so repeatedly using Wasteland will really mess them up.
Lands is as unique a deck as you can find and one of the best choices in a field of creatures. Against Elves, Delvers, Tarmogoyfs, and Eldrazi, this is the deck I want to be on. That Miracles is a decent matchup as well means Lands is well positioned. If combo continues to rise in popularity, especially with Storm winning GP Prague, then that could be problematic for the deck, but adding more Thorn effects in the sideboard can help there too.
Lands attacks on a front many decks can’t deal with. It’s also one of the most popular decks, as evidenced by so many of you asking to hear more about it! So, what do you think? Is Lands the real deal or will the price of cards like Tabernacle in paper and Rishadan Port on Magic Online hold it back too much? Should the deck focus more on Molten Vortex and not Punishing Fire going forward? Sound off in the comments!