Any kind of Lands strategy gets me excited. After my recent 40+ Lands Brew Off my head has been spinning with ideas.
Last year I worked on a 45 Land red/green deck that worked surprisingly well. I’ve decided to revisit the strategy and update it to play with some new cards in a more competitive version.
I’m hoping that by sharing this list I can inspire some of you to think outside the norms. This idea looks totally crazy, but it works well.
If we’re going to play mono lands, Seismic Assault is the best option. A turn-3 Seismic Assault with 7 lands in hand does 14 damage immediately, which is enough to kill some Modern opponents on the spot.
It’s no wonder that Assault/Loam has seen some serious play. This combination of cards is enough to overwhelm almost any opponent. A steady rate of 6 damage a turn to be split how you choose between creatures and players, with no possibility of running out of gas, is hard to stop. Loam goes perfectly with Assault.
Treasure Hunt also goes well with Seismic Assault but it hasn’t seen as much competitive love. The casual players do know what’s up. In a 48-land deck, Treasure Hunt is likely to draw about 5 cards, or 10 damage with a Seismic Assault. Treasure Hunt also digs toward Assault which seriously improves your consistency.
Together Life from the Loam, Treasure Hunt, and Seismic Assault make the core of a potent lands deck. From here all you need is to fill in the lands.
I start with the red filter lands because these lands are necessary to make the triple-colored mana work well. Seismic Assault is a greedy RRR and playing multiple other colors makes this hard to hit even in a land-heavy deck.
Without the maximum number of filter lands I would recommend sticking to 2 colors. But if you have them, 3 is a great way to go.
The filter lands allow you to play an abundance of value lands for effect. Halimar Depths is a good one for digging for a crucial spell. It also combos with a sacrifice or hideaway land to dig through the chaff.
Faerie Conclave makes a good attacker or blocker. Flying is a nice ability to have to poke opponents and planeswalkers down or block a terrifying flier.
With Fire-Lit Thicket you can take advantage of both Khalni Garden and Treetop Village. Khalni Garden works great in this strategy at stalling the game. You are a control deck, and the more time you can buy to find Seismic Assault the better. The instant tempo of Seismic Assault can get you back into the game from anywhere if you can survive to draw it.
Treetop Village doesn’t need much explanation—this is an extremely efficient creature land for its cost. Trample is a nice ability as well.
The red value lands will work well in any Seismic Assault strategy whether you have the filter lands or not.
Spinerock Knoll is a special favorite of mine in combination with Seismic Assault. Sometimes Assault + Lands to the face is enough to win instantly, but you usually need a Life from the Loam or a Treasure Hunt to finish them off. Spinerock Knoll gives you 4 extra looks at gas for the instant win. Uniquely powerful.
Ghitu Encampment makes a solid creature and first strike is surprisingly good in combat.
For multicolor lands, you have the usual fetch and shock lands. You also have Temples to fix your mana, and the scry ability is very good. Between the Temples, Halimar Depths, and Treasure Hunt, you have a good chance to find Seismic Assault before dying in every game.
You also have Raging Ravine, which, while very slow, is the most inevitable creature land finisher. This thing grows and grows and grows and takes down a surprising number of games by itself.
In a 3-color deck you need to be stingy with colorless lands, but in a 2-color deck you can play more of these.
Reliquary Tower is a favorite for holding on to extra cards from Treasure Hunt. However, Reliquary Tower doesn’t tap for Seismic Assault, so I am cutting it from my version. Instead you can play Seismic Assault first and Treasure Hunt second, or wait until you hit 5 mana to do both at once.
Instead I choose Tectonic Edge, as the Tectonic Edge + Life from the Loam combo is a way to beat slower, land-reliant decks. It’s nice to have some inevitability.
Modern 48 Lands
This deck is a ton of fun to play. It is reasonably consistent at finding and playing Seismic Assault, at which point all bets are off. Even if the opponent is able to destroy Seismic Assault, the game may already end, or the board can be cleared to buy more time. The deck is surprisingly resilient.
If you are excited, but apprehensive, I recommend watching the video series here.
Perhaps the best part of the deck is that it can win without playing spells. It sounds unrealistic, and it is, but I’ve done it several times against top tier decks.
In the above game, the opponent had nothing but Scavenging Ooze and Tarmogoyf and no way to grow them. Eventually Raging Ravines started entering the red zone. Abrupt Decay was no help and Path to Exiles started to ramp me on mana. Eventually Tarmogoyfs and Dark Confidants started chump blocking lands and the opponent lost with a full grip of 6.
Are games like this common? No, but they happen. And I don’t know how else you would win a 12-turn game against Junk without playing any spells. Truly a dream come true.
Metagaming with 48 Lands
I chose to go with the All-in Seismic Assault version to maximize Treasure Hunt, but there are multiple directions to take it, depending on your preference and the tools available to you.
If you want to use creatures, there are some good ones. Countryside Crusher is an old favorite of mine that does a nice Treasure Hunt impression in a non-blue version. Unfortunately Countryside Crusher can be weak to Lightning Bolt, so I like this as a sideboard card against removal-light decks.
I’m choosing to rely solely on Seismic Assault for creature removal, but you have a lot of good options in your colors. You could draw from spot removal in Lightning Bolt or sweepers in Anger of the Gods.
Depending on your matchups you could switch up the utility lands. Ghost Quarter and Tectonic Edge win in certain matchups, and Bojuka Bog is a nice way to attack the graveyard without getting in the way of Treasure Hunt.
Urborg and Raven’s Crime are a combo with Life from the Loam. Against combo or control decks that need to keep a bunch of cards in hand, this combo can tear them down to their most vulnerable.
I’ve decided to run with the above sideboard for a mix of more disruption and proactive threats. You have many options however.
If you love lands, and want to play with majority lands, you can do it and be competitive. This deck is a good example of that which I find to be absurdly fun.
Of course, there are many ways to go and I encourage you to make adjustments based on your wants, haves, and needs. Whichever direction you choose to go, you can make Lands work in Modern.