I've been messing around with various Lands deck designs for a while and after Karn came out felt like Lands was just too slow and that the weakest elements were the Thespian's Stage-Dark Depths combo. Elvish Reclaimer and Ouphe Collector had been winning by slow beat down about as often as Marit Lage came out so I started experimenting without the combo. I got to this list with some tinkering, I think it's very strong against Dredge, particularly the newer Hogaak lists, good to moderately ahead of MUD lists and some of the mid-range decks. It's weak but not hopeless to fast combo, particularly ritual-based decks.

The deck plays as mana denial, blowing up lands and denying artifact mana through the Null Rod effects while dropping threats that are hopefully larger than those the opposing deck can drop under mana constraints. The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale is brutal against Dredge and helps slow down the opponent's tempo even if they can keep creatures in play. Pithing Needle can cripple Bazaars, Karns, Time Vault, fetch lands and planeswalkers hence its inclusion. Volrath's Stronghold plus Life from the Loam let you drag most of the deck out of the graveyard, though the deck is surprisingly robust against a Leyline of the Void, the graveyard recursion is a bonus.

Standard plays would be Elvish Reclaimer into Null Rod, then wastes and Tabernacle or a series of waste effects then creatures and Life from the Loam to begin wasting again. Volrath's Stronghold helps force creatures through counterspells by exhaustion as well as letting you get them back after dredging or using bazaar to fill the graveyard.

It would be great to hear people's thoughts on the deck and any play testing experiences from players who know what they're doing (unlike me!).

4 Pithing Needle
4 Null Rod

4 Elvish Reclaimer
4 Collector Ouphe
4 Tarmogoyf

4 Force of Vigor

4 Life from the Loam

4 Bazaar of Baghdad
4 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
3 Volrath's Stronghold
2 Bojuka Bog
4 Ghost Quarter
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
2 Forest
4 Bayou

1 Chalice of the Void
4 Nature's Claim
4 Darkblast
4 Guttural Response
2 Bojuka Bog

Darkblasts are to prevent Dark Confidants or worse Deathrite Shamans from taking the game away. They also protect against Ichorids. The additional Bojuka Bogs may no longer be needed as the deck's gotten stronger against Dredge as it's evolved. Guttural Response is aimed at Paradoxical Outcome decks along with Chalice of the Void.

last edited by ixid

Couple things I wonder off the bat;

•no Dark Confidant?

•no Treetop Village (or similar)?

•why not main the Chalice?

•do you really need Ghost Quarter too?

•isn’t Assassin’s Trophy really good and sort of on brand? (And just better than Ghost Quarter?)

•4 Tabernacle seems really high

I've tested those things.

Dark Confidant was in before Volrath's Stronghold, it seems win more. It's vulnerable and doesn't help against counterspells from card advantage mid-range decks as it just gets countered. Perhaps cutting a forest and a Tabernacle and maybe a Pithing Needle would let it fit in.

Treetop Village is just slow and bad, I've tried using it over and over but dedicating 2 mana just to animate a 3/3 every turn is very expensive when you could be using that mana to cast Life from the Loam. You will also be spending land drop spots on wastes, bazaar and Tabernacle so dedicating 3 turns of land development to a 3/3 isn't worth it. Also it comes into play tapped so it can't help on turn 1.

Chalice is in the sideboard, it felt too weak if you're not going first. Null Rod effects are better because they switch things that are already down off. You'd very rarely want to set it to anything other than 0 as 1 and 2 would cripple this deck.

Ghost Quarter - yes. It's a mana denial deck and Ghost Quarter can take out basics so it's a star. The deck wants as much mana denial as possible. Having as much land destruction as many decks run lands means chewing up their whole mana base is viable. You also want to get as many land destruction effects back from the graveyard with a single Life from the Loam as you can so you can keep dropping them while doing other things rather than having to cast LftL over and over.

The mana requirements for Assassin's Trophy felt too clunky for this deck, you can rely on having one coloured source usually but you won't have two fast enough and putting a basic into play for the opponent is counter productive. That slot would need to be able to stop Karn comboing off Key/Vault for example, half the time Assassin's Trophy would be too slow for that and of the rest of the times you won't always hit B + G mana.

Tabernacle is ridiculously powerful, it crushes dredge and often acts as uncounterable removal. It's possible the deck could function with 3 in its current stage with 1 in the sideboard, previous version relied on it more but it's so good I don't know why you wouldn't want 4. Additional copies can usually be chucked away to Bazaar or recycled by Elvish Reclaimer. If a deck overextends itself like Mishra's Workshop into Foundry Inspector or Bazaar into Hollow One you have instant, uncounterable removal. The threat reduces their tempo which gives you much more time to lock down their mana.

last edited by ixid

Fair enough. Those were just some initial questions I had. Another which now comes to mind is Riftstone Portal? And Fastbond? Where’s that? Even if it bites a Misstep it still seems like it should be good/great eventually. Could even see an Eternal Witness perhaps as an interesting candidate with Stronghold.

last edited by wfain

mikenobull - yeah, the sideboard needs way more testing, Guttural Response is a holdover from the purer Lands deck really struggling against PO so could likely be swapped for something else. Similarly the additional Bojukas may no longer be needed, the deck is already brutal against most forms of Dredge. Either your deck or lists very much like it are where I started from with this.

I came to this build after lands via a deck that ran 12 null rods (Stony Silence, Null Rod and Collector Ouphe) plus acceleration to get them down on turn 1 - various combinations of Moxen, Elvish Spirit Guide and Chancellor of the Tangle and found that adding the turn 1 answers (Force of Vigor, Pithing Needle and Nature's Claim) allowed cutting the acceleration. The deck needs to survive to grind it out but generally doesn't need to accelerate much as it tops out at 2 mana and can do quite a lot at 1. I've tested Manabond, Exploration and Fastbond endlessly in the lands builds leading towards this. The problems are that they walk into Mental Misstep and don't do much by themselves, the overall impact of being leanly functional has felt better so far. As the deck now has relatively chunky creatures for the amount of mana it intends to allow to be in play it has more time to grind away with wastelands to achieve a full waste/loam/null rod/tabernacle lock so dropping multiple wastes per turn is less important.

Riftstone Portal was a tough cut, it's a nice accelerant that lets you be more aggressive with bazaar first as well making playing Tabernacle easier to keep tempo. Once I moved away from white splash to black it felt less useful and ultimately needed the deck space.

The biggest problem with things like Riftstone, Fastbond and Moxen is what gets cut to make room. The pieces try to all be pretty active parts of the gameplan.

last edited by ixid

poxeveryturn - your post disappeared but to answer what I recall of it:

The deck uses 4 ofs and limited tutors so try to organically draw what it needs. It's not a deck that has individual restricted bombs, it should have the pieces it needs. They're also 4 of because it wants 4 of those cards. It could run Demonic Tutor etc but which pieces would you tutor for that you think it would struggle to get something functionally similar anyway? There are 8 engine pieces- the 4 Loams and 4 Bazaars, 9 land destruction, 12 creatures and 8 Rod effects. The versions of the pieces are pretty interchangeable and you don't generally have to get any particular card. Elvish Reclaimer can fetch Strip Mine or Tabernacle. I started the journey towards this deck with the typical Crop Rotation etc and toolbox set of lands. By removing the usually pretty marginal toolbox the deck becomes more consistent.

I try to use the latest representative decks from MTG Top8 so something like:
Smmenen Dredge plus other Ashen Rider Dread Return and Hogaak versions
Tattoocek Landstill
Shi Kahn Sultai Midrange
Ecobaronen Karn MUD
Iziter MUD (no Karn)
Standard MUD
Spencerbot Oath of Druids
UR Pyromancer
Various Paradoxical Outcome builds covering the different win conditions and planeswalkers used
Various Survival builds

It's only my own testing though so would be very different against a live opponent who knows what they're doing so it would be great if others could give it a go and see if it works. I'm not a serious player who's going to upset the meta and wasn't presenting it as such.

It's not that difficult for it to win against some of the major decks. Karn for example - the Pithing Needle and Force of Vigor tide you over to dropping a Null Rod. Once that's down they're very limited. You blow up lands so Walking Ballistas don't get that big and then Elvish Reclaimers and Tarmogoyfs beat them up.

Against dredge you waste the Bazaar, drop a Tabernacle , remove their graveyard via Bojuka if you have it or grab it with Elvish Reclaimer. You can Pithing Needle Bazaar straight away alternatively. As you have Volrath's Stronghold to get creatures back you can happily let your own creatures die to Tabernacle to remove Bridge from Below from the game. With the combination of Tabernacle and land destruction it's hard for dredge to get a lot of cards in the yard and keep any creatures in play. Ichorids and Bloodghasts aren't big enough to go through Elvish Reclaimers or Tarmogoyfs.

last edited by ixid

The deck doesn't have answers for really big creatures that come down quickly so Tinker into Blightsteel Colossus, Show and Tell, Managorger Hydra, sometimes Thought-Knot Seer or Vengevine if Tarmogoyf doesn't come down or grow enough when the other deck can also back it up with plenty of mana. It also loses when other decks get sufficiently far ahead on tempo that they can still execute their gameplan. If the meta shifted to be full of large, non-artifact creatures the deck would need to change, it's aimed at a MUD/Karn/Dredge/mid-range control meta. Some threats from variations of decks make life harder like Ashen Rider is a pain in dredge.

Give it a whirl goldfishing or on Cockatrice and let me know what you think.

last edited by ixid

If another deck gets a particularly good combination of cards then this would lose but that is generally the case in Magic. I'm not sure Karn Forge with a Defense Grid is that combination though, generally a turn 1 Defense Grid means a turn 2 Karn which means Key/Vault or Lattice is turn 3. If it's turn 3 you have a 50% chance of having 3 mana anyway for Force of Vigor or alternatively will have cast one of Pithing Needle/Null Rod or Collector Ouphe. Following that you can drop wasteland effects which will make it hard to hit 6 mana under a Null Rod so Mycosyth Lattice is out of reach and Vault/Key can't activate under Null Rod. If they delay at all then Elvish Reclaimer or Collector Ouphe will be hitting the Karn. You could certainly lose to it but I don't think it would be often enough to be a particular threat. Try the deck against Karn Forge and let me know how it goes, I think that would show the lines of play between the two decks and where any problems are.

last edited by ixid
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