Leyline of Abundance is exactly the sort of dumb, go-big card that gets me excited. There are some pretty sweet ramp enablers and payoffs in Standard at the moment, and after seeing the new green Leyline, my head was immediately filled with starry-eyed visions of turn-two Nissa, Who Shakes the World.
Where better, then, to test the potential of the card than with the popular internet television program, Arena Boys? We’re no strangers to slamming big green idiots into play–could Leyline of Abundance help us do it even earlier than we were used to? Was it worth burning highly prized rare wildcards on a card that would be lucky to see play as a bookmark?
These are the questions we set out to answer in this week’s episode. We piled together all the mana dorks we could find, picked our favorite finishers, and were off to the races with this steaming–but very optimistic–pile of garbage.
Leyline Dorks in Standard MTG Arena
12 Forest (347) 1 Island (335) 4 Breeding Pool 4 Hinterland Harbor 1 Temple of Mystery 4 Llanowar Elves 4 Druid of the Cowl 4 Paradise Druid 4 Incubation Druid 2 Marwyn, the Nurturer 4 End-Raze Forerunners 4 Hydroid Krasis 1 Verdant Force 4 Leyline of Abundance 4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World 1 Vivien Reid 1 Growing Rites of Itlimoc/Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun 1 Finale of Devastation
There are eighteen mana dorks in this deck. That’s a lot of cards for Leyline of Abundance to beef up! While some dorks do nothing other than provide mana, a couple of them actually have lategame utility. Incubation Druid is a ramp all-star, providing value as the game goes long, and Marwyn only gets bigger and bigger with the more dorks you deploy.
The payoff is a collection of the best top-end available. End-Raze Forerunners is, of course, the perfect card to follow up flooding the board with creatures, as a big Forerunner hit ends the game in short order. We didn’t include God-Eternal Rhonas, however, because he doesn’t grant trample, and doubling the power of an Incubation Druid… yeah, nah.
We splashed blue for Hydroid Krasis, which is a great way to not only reload (a typical weakness of ramp decks) but also end the game quickly. Of course, the card holding all this together is Nissa, Who Shakes the World, who comes down early and produces ridiculous amounts of mana ridiculously fast.
She also has a very favorable interaction with the marquee card of the deck, Leyline of Abundance. If you untap a Forest with Nissa’s ability, it will tap for three mana: one normal mana, one bonus mana from Nissa’s passive ability, and one for Leyline of Abundance, as the land is a creature!
This is not a particularly decision-intensive deck. Your opening hand will largely determine how the game goes, as you need a Leyline, a dork, a land, and a threat to really get things going. Having more than one of these pieces is obviously fine (especially with Leyline of Abundance; it’s one of the rare instances of a Leyline being good in multiples), but if you have too many of one type, you’re going to have a bad time.
The built-in variance of opening hands is even more noticeable in a deck like this, where you can keep a solid mix of creatures and spells to set up a powerful ramp start, and never find the right payoff. As a result, this deck mulligans more than most and doesn’t always mulligan well, although the London mulligan definitely helps in that regard.
Outside of opening hands, it’s a very straightforward strategy. Play dorks, land early haymakers, and leave your opponent in the dust. This is why cards like Hydroid Krasis and Nissa are so important, as even if your opponent has an immediate answer, they still meaningfully advance your position.
There is also the Plan B of Leyline of Abundance’s activated ability. It costs eight mana, but as we demonstrated in the video, you can combine it with Nissa to unload a huge amount of damage. Still, this deck can pull together huge amount of mana, and with 18 mana dorks, there will often be a few warm bodies laying around to pick up counters.
Finally, be very mindful of sweepers. Cards like Kaya’s Wrath and Ritual of Soot absolutely destroy this deck, and there’s not too much you can do about it other than not over-committing to the board.
To be perfectly–and somewhat undiplomatically–honest, this is not a deck you should be interested in playing. We managed to generate some cool moments during the video, but that was after slogging through a bunch of non-games. When it works, this deck is a blast to play and feels unbeatable, but most games involve endless mulligans and then dying to any removal whatsoever.
We stand behind most of the decks we play as being sweet or fun decks that can hold their own in a semi-competitive environment. We get messages from people who build Arena Boys decks to play at FNM, and most weeks we’re happy to recommend whatever silly nonsense we’re playing as being perfect for an environment like that.
This time, however, we don’t feel comfortable trying to sell you a lemon. This deck is not very good, when it comes to both competitive viability and entertainment value. We’d rather be upfront about this rather than have you waste your time and money on a deck that isn’t going to give you an appropriate return for your investment.
However, if you have these cards lying around anyway and feel like trying your luck at Leyline of Abundance roulette, go ahead–at the very least, it can help you grind through the “play x green spells” quests on MTG Arena!
Next week, we’ve got another list from a viewer–it’s time to investigate a strategy that’s rarely seen in Standard, and reanimate some giant monsters. See you then!