Silvestri Says – 30 Lands Revisited


Recently a number of people have come up to me and talked about selling out of Standard for a bit and coming back after the rotation of Shards block. The reason? Not Mythics or the current price of the game; many of them owned all the cards necessary to play a top tier deck or had enough stuff to buy into a Legacy deck. Perhaps it was balance? Again no, as the field has opened up a bit since a few months ago. Rather it’s the nebulous concept of fun and feeling like you're actually playing the game. There’s no great way to describe their issues even though I’m sure everyone who has played Magic for a notable period of time has felt them before.

I just want to remind people that if you feel like you aren’t getting enjoyment out of this hobby that sometimes it’s for the best to take a step back and look into other endeavors. Don’t immediately jump to the conclusion Magic is dying or that you’ll never have interest in the game again and decide to dump all of your cards. It happens whenever you do anything long enough, especially if the activity involves a winning and losing component to it. I was getting pretty burnt on drawing until this weekend when I finally got to sell some of my stuff and now I’m ready to go again. Magic was much the same way a scant year ago when Faeries was seamlessly replaced by Jund as the deck that everybody wanted to play if they felt like winning.

Breaks are good for you and they allow the juices that got you into the game in the first place to come back without it feeling forced. Unless your friends do this every few months, it’s best to just let people drift away from the game and be ready to bring them up to speed when they return. Note that I said drift away from the game, as the community itself is separate for many players. I know if I quit Magic tomorrow and never played the game again, I’d still be happy hanging out with many of the friends I made through it doing other activities.

It was the concept of bringing fun back that originally led me to playing the 30 Land deck I wrote about a couple of months back. Now I enjoy winning, so I was quite sure it could do that, but it also gave me a lot of room for decision making and I could go back over my losses and pinpoint where a sequencing error or mismanaged risk caused me a loss. Unfortunately that deck has become antiquated and no longer works, but a couple of friends asking me to revamp it and the Grand Prix: DC results sparked my interest in it once again.

The best matches for the deck were always control decks since you could just play a better long game against them even without running very many planeswalkers. You’d eventually ramp into infinite mana and then slam Mind Spring or just attack with multiple manlands a turn. In some games you could win simply by resolving multiple [card]Martial Coup[/card], essentially trumping their own Coups each time. The problem now is that Jund was never that good of a matchup and the alternative versions of it, Geo Jund and Vengevine Jund, are even harder to beat. Still it isn’t all bad news; we finally have non-Jace Planeswalkers worth using like [card]Gideon Jura[/card] while Control and Mythic are a good chunk of the metagame.

For reference, this was my last pre-ROE version of the 30 Lands deck.

4 Celestial Colonnade
3 Glacial Fortress
1 Seaside Citadel
1 Sunpetal Grove
2 Halimar Depths
3 Forest
3 Island
1 Plains
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Stirring Wildwood
4 Tectonic Edge
4 Path to Exile
2 Bant Charm
3 Oracle of Mul Daya
3 Day of Judgment
3 Rampant Growth
4 Explore
4 Mind Spring
4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
3 Martial Coup

By the end of that format I had figured out what the most crucial elements of the deck were and attempted to use the remaining slots to cover up my weak early game. Against a deck like Jund or Mono-Red you really needed to have an immediate answer to the first threat they cast or the ability to play Jace or Day of Judgment on turn three. All of the other problems could effectively be traced to Martial Coup not pulling enough weight in matches. It would always require multiple Martial Coup to end the game (if it even did) while a single large [card]Mind Spring[/card] would almost always win the game if it resolved.

While 30 Lands didn’t gain anything insane from Rise, [card]Wall of Omens[/card] was a big help for early defense without giving up card economy and the influx of huge spells opened up some late-game options. One card which immediately caught my eye was [card]All is Dust[/card], which I like even more as every deck in the format adapts planeswalkers. After playing with the new Wrath for a bit, I’m about ready to shelve Martial Coup for good. Destroying any planeswalkers on the board has just been of more use to me than the 5 Soldier tokens which almost always would be reduced to blockers or killed by [card]Maelstrom Pulse[/card]. Of course it was still a 7 mana Wrath and having learned my lesson the first time around about having too many expensive spells I quickly found 2 was about right for many matches.

Of course what Rise also brought to a deck featuring 30 land was the ability to run gigantic game-ending monsters. Whenever I tried them out though I always ran into one or two problems depending on the configuration of the deck.

1. They wouldn’t do enough for the cost
2. I’d have to warp the deck around them to make them useful

Unfortunately the problem with the Eldrazi is the same I had with [card iona, shield of emeria]Iona[/card]: they didn’t end the game the turn they hit play (and typically not the turn after either) and were dead in situations where even [card]All is Dust[/card] and [card]Mind Spring[/card] were perfectly reasonable options. That’s a point where it’s just too expensive to ever reasonably see play without some sort of major cheating going on. Hence point number two where I adapted the decks to be able to actually use the Eldrazi effectively. The problem with that approach is you either end up with a deck worse than Polymorph in every reasonable way or you end up with a Block deck and little in the way of early defense (the problem with the first deck!) and terrible mulligans.

Instead I found an old classic via Adam Prosak’s GU Ramp deck, [card]Avenger of Zendikar[/card]. This guy actually ended up being perfect for what the newer version of the deck wanted. Instead of ramping into Martial Coup and clearing the board and having a tiny sucky army, I could ramp into Avenger and have a burly army capable of just beating up anything on the other side of the table. Even [card]Baneslayer Angel[/card] doesn’t look that impressive against seven 3/4’s and a 5/5 monster. Obviously Avenger isn’t the perfect solution, but to have a creature capable of winning the game immediately and providing tons of blockers if it wouldn’t was more than enough for me.

[card]Day of Judgment[/card] was the next on the chopping block because of the new makeup of the metagame. If you consider the decks you absolutely need to be prepared for, you’ll find that only Mythic really worries about Day of Judgment and prepares accordingly. Just like Martial Coup, as good as it is against this deck, they still have [card]Dauntless Escort[/card], [card]Negate[/card] and [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] to reduce the damage of any sweeper you run. Against Jund the card was never that good against any iteration of the deck and [card]Vengevine[/card] decks will laugh in your face as you take a billion after clearing the board. It could still be used as a sideboard option, but for maindeck defense I rather rely on the [card]Path to Exile[/card] and [card]Wall of Omens[/card] plan backed by planeswalkers and [card]All is Dust[/card].

As I mentioned previously, the remaining card I wanted to fit in was [card]Gideon Jura[/card]. Not only did it provide a good complement to the manland beatdown, but it allowed for some additional defense that wasn’t a necessarily a one and done spell. Against control, while not as effective as [card elspeth, knight-errant]Elspeth[/card] in ending the game, [card]Gideon Jura[/card] provides a threat that has to be dealt with quickly in some capacity. Speaking of Elspeth, I did try her in the maindeck for a while, but she couldn’t match the immediate impact of Gideon and since the deck was already well suited against control I left her to the sideboard.

After some additional tweaking I ended up with this version of the deck:

4 Wall of Omens
2 Oracle of Mul Daya
3 Avenger of Zendikar
4 Path to Exile
2 All Is Dust
4 Mind Spring
4 Rampant Growth
4 Explore
2 Gideon Jura
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
4 Tectonic Edge
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Forest
3 Island
4 Plains
3 Stirring Wildwood
4 Celestial Colonnade
3 Khalni Garden
2 Glacial Fortress
4 Negate
3 Day of Judgment
3 Oblivion Ring
3 Elspeth, Knight Errant
2 Telemin Performance

Note that the sideboard is a bit more generalized than it would be ideally. There are options like [card]Kor Sanctifiers[/card] and [card]Celestial Purge[/card] which are both valid options for different types of metagames. [card]Kor Firewalker[/card] and [card]Baneslayer Angel[/card] was a great combination to take on red decks previously, but since they aren’t that prevalent in my local meta I don’t worry about them.

One thing you may of noticed in the most recent list is the drop in land count down to a paltry 28. Sadly over time I found the 30 Land moniker just wasn’t warranted as I constantly wanted to add one or two more business cards to the deck over land. With the re-addition of the 8th accelerant, cutting [card]Treasure Hunt[/card] and the value of [card]Halimar Depths[/card] dropping dramatically there was just no reason to keep so many lands in the deck. With 28 lands I was still hitting my first four land drops in the vast majority of games and with so many cards either cantripping or fetching me extra lands I added more spells to the deck.

Now I’ve got to get going for testing the new version of this deck in case I’m attending SCG Seattle, which seems more and more likely based on this past weekend selling art and MTG stuff. Maybe I’ll be rocking Bant Ramp, maybe I won’t, but I know it’ll be fun either way, and that’s the important thing.

Josh Silvestri

27 thoughts on “Silvestri Says – 30 Lands Revisited”

  1. gullarackistanovitch

    I’m really happy for you and imma let you finish… but lsv’s videos are the best of all time.

    Tell him to post more.

  2. I agree that lsv’s video’s are the best part of this site, but he’s already posting them much more frequently than in the past, and the other channelfireball authors have good stuff to say too. I’m sure they would prefer to hear better feedback than “tell your colleague to post more, cause we like his stuff better than yours” on the articles they put their time and effort into…

  3. Having played this deck for almost 3 months, I can strongly agree on Avenger of Zendikar as a finisher. I’ve also found Terastodon to be quite useful, although it might be better relegated to the SB.

  4. Dbach, by quoting the Kanye meme the guy was making it pretty clear he was just joking/being a troll.

  5. Having seem my friend play this deck for 5 months,well,,he played the better Naya build with Ajanis and comet storms,also throwing trace of abundance on your raging ravines.And Avenger was ok,but after doing alot of testing,Kozilek is just better

  6. I’ve been playing GW ramp in block for a while and I agree that Avenger of Z is better than trying to cast Eldrazi.

  7. Kozilek is garbage. It dies to everything. Avenger gives you a bunch of plants plus priority to make them threats – resulting in a miniature army that requires 8 Path to Exiles rather than just the 1 that Kozilek would.

    I think Awakening Zone might have a place in this deck. Not in the ramp department – as an additional dude to chump with every turn. I was a little confused by why you think Elspeth doesn’t have a place, considering she can slow down your opponents early game somewhat dramatically. And to a lesser extent, Garruk would be pretty good too.

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  9. “Avenger gives you a bunch of plants plus priority to make them threats”

    Your opponent can PtE the Avenger while the make-plants trigger is on the stack, so you can’t always grow the plants to 1/2. Despite this I still love Avenger.

  10. MostlyHarmless

    Have you considered Time Warp? In my experience, it’s one of the most back breaking cards in Prosak’s list. It’s pretty solid as long as you have a cantrip or ramp card, very good if you have a planeswalker or oracle, and wins the game if you have an avenger.

  11. @ Simon J,,well we are not talking about block,,read the decklists kid.

    Also @Tony sorry u havent played the deck enough to know that hees good,the big thing is he draws u 4 cards and makes ur opponent have to spend a card on him,,making him like drawing u 5 cards,,u just need some more testing with it to see.

  12. I’ve ran this deck with tweaks a lot. Discussed it with the Aardvark to no end. If I were able to hit Philly this week it is probaby what I’d play. Kozilek was very eh in my tests. The deck draws enough cards and a resolved Avenger forces them to wrath the board just as hard. There is nothing that Koz does that Avenger does not.

  13. Did you consider adding eldrazi temple(s)? This would allow you to power out all is dust a little faster, since it is a tribal sorcery. Note that this might allow you to play more of them if you add a decent number of temples.

  14. When I read this article I was surprised it was so short.
    So @ DBach: You really think he put his time and effort into writing this?

    It looks like something he just threw together on a nice sunny afternoon. His computer must be a by a window and when he saw how nice it was outside he decided to go for a stroll instead of finishing this article…

    It leaves a strange taste in my mouth…

    I really like LSV’s draft videos as well. LSV is a freken piamp! Its hilarious when he disagrees with shaun. He is like nope hehe. ROCK IT LSV!

    As for Josh… My name is Joshua as well. And you are making all of us writer Joshua’s look bad!!
    Pick it up man! Put some time and effort into it boyyyy!

    I know its a nice sunny afternoon out there. Maybe you can write at night?

  15. I think the sideboard seems a bit weak but will definitely look at it for the next PTQ

  16. @Johnny: It isn’t optimal, that’s for sure. I’m open to suggestions, but for the most bland ‘this is purely off what the metagame data says’ kind of SB choices that’s what you get.

    @Awakener: It’s 1800 words. Most of my articles are between 1700 and 2200 and most articles in general fall between that 1500-2000 range. Shrug.

    @Just Some Guy: In fact actually tried it, but then you have to cut some amount of Tectonic Edge because hitting dubs colorless lands in your opener or only having one color of mana available sucks. If I went back to 30 land I’d probably run 2 over the old Halimar Depths slots, but at 28 there’s nothing to cut really.

    Re: Kozilek
    I tried him, he just cost one mana too much to really get a lot of use. If I was going to play him, I’d run him as a singleton in the sideboard as a Negate-proof Mind Spring. Of course then you could just be running Sphinx of Lost Truths and only pay 7…

    Re: Time Warp

    It’s a card I want to fit in. I’m open to suggestions for what it could take the place of. All is Dust and maybe a Wall of Omens are the only things I could see cutting atm. I’d also probably have to fit in the 3rd Oracle. If that deck had better game against T2 Leech or Geopede I’d probably just be playing that version, but I don’t feel the Fogs give the deck enough defense.

  17. I made this deck and played a few matches on MWS, and i’ve never seen more people ragequit and curse me out. Must be doing something right! The only card that tended to sit in my hand was All Is Dust. Not sold on that one yet. Might be SB card.

  18. I’m going to test the deck now, but as RI_MTG says, All is Dust tends to sit in hand for no reason and Martial Coup just seems better in like 80% of the times so I’ll try 1 All is Dust and 1 Martial Coup main. There are so many situations where you just want a coup and not AiD. Say you have a Jace or a Gideon out and opponent has some creatures or even a single Baneslayer…All is dust is about the worse card you could play there.

  19. @ Hagan,,,actually totaly opposit,,this deck needs card advantage,,if they kill your oracle ur off the top and ur chances of drawing a land is way alot lol.of course im talking about the Naya build in my first post,witch is just strictly better if u tested it.

  20. crush_card_virus

    I’ve been playing a similar deck for 3 to 4 months, and I have to say that I love this deck. On problem I have found is that having 4 tectonic edges is not to great to have, especially when you draw 2 or 3 most of the time. Now I run 2 Tectonic edge and 4 spreading seas, but since you have so much instant removal and All is Dust, Spreading Seas doesn’t seem necessary.
    Another problem I have is that I had to have some way to survive the first 4 or 5 turns by giving them more trouble. This is one reason I main 2 Elspeth. She also helps win you the game with the manlands, which I think is a common win condition for this deck. Avenger of Zendikar is beast, period. This idea w/ all of dust is cool and I would like to try it. 🙂

  21. garruk untapping two temples, 8 mana for anything eldrazi super quick. but i agree with RI_MTG. im not really sold on all is dust. there are just better cards to deal with your openents board, whether its wrathing their creatures away, or dealing with their planeswalkers via other methods (pithing needle). wait til they put out a planeswalker, and then pithing needle it, couldn’t be more simple.

  22. Re: Time Warp,

    I tried it for a while and it was usually irrelevant and/or win more. Like, you’re rarely going to have the mana to swing with, say, Wildwood + Colonnade AND cast Warp; and, in cases where you do, you’re pretty much winning anyway. It’s at its best when you play Avenger, drop a land (or three), then cast it to be able to swing for lethal the next turn.

    I think that the deck would have to have a slightly different core to truly make Warp worthwhile and better than other cards. But that’s just from my testing, so who knows?

  23. U guys jsut need to see the Naya list,,,i can expect u dont know since u havent seen it that Koz is better than avenger,,also u dont need all is dust.

    the deck runs like 9 wrath effect,that all do other stuff

  24. Have you tried sideboarded Terastodon? He answers a lot of problems that Avenger doesn’t, and still leaves you with lots of power on the table.

  25. Why aren’t you running spreading seas? In Bant colors we get the three best cantrips in standard effectively giving us a smaller deck, and the opportunity to get more hits off of oracle.

    I’ve found 4 mind springs to be too many. At what point are you casting mind spring simply to hit more mind springs?

    This is my current version. The proper way to think of this is not as a lands deck, but as a control deck with an insane card draw/ramp engine with oracle and jace.

    4 spreading seas
    4 explore
    4 wall of omens
    3 oracle of mul daya
    3 nest invader (I prefer this to rampant after much testing.
    I only wanted rampant to help me hit turn 4 jace or oracle in control MU’s, nest invader gives us the added benefit of chumps to throw in front of Jace or protect our own life total, or even peck away at opposing jaces.)

    3 jace the mind sculptor
    1 gideon jura
    1 iona the shield of emeria
    3 day of judgement
    2 mind spring
    2 martial coup
    3 Bant Charm (most underrated card in standard)

    4 stirring wildwood
    4 celestial colonnade
    2 halimar depths
    2 tectonic edge ( we cant get too greedy with these in a three color deck, maybe one more in the board?)
    2 glacial fortress
    4 misty rainforest
    1 sunpetal grove
    1 seaside citadel
    3 forest
    3 island
    2 plains

    Sideboard (in flux)
    3 meddling mage (for polymorph mostly, if red is more of a threat you will need firewalkers.)
    2 deprive
    2 negate
    1 Jace the mind sculptor (could be main if Jund is dying down in your area)
    1 roil elemental (funny tech against mythic. I used to run two mind control, cut it to one, then ran with this guy.)
    4 fog
    1 terastodon (only if you expect walker control actually, could be replaced with ulamog, or recurring insight or sphinx of lost truths, or kozilek as the 3rd mind spring)
    1 tectonic edge

    I’ve had great success with this deck at some competitive fnms. the fogs are an untested addition, previously they were some combination of celestial purge and oust or path.

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