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Grub Lands or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Lands

So me and you will jump to legacy and leave the crappy modern/standard behind? lol

I used to run Jund in Modern. I crippled opponents’ hands with Thoughtseize, run over their boards with Tarmogoyf, and cascaded with Bloodbraid Elf into two-for-ones. Jund’s overwhelming power carved out a comfortable space for me at the top of my playgroup, and I hardly ever lost with that deck in its heyday. Bloodbraid Elf got banned, but that’s a different story…

Then, in the fall of 2012, Sam, a fellow player, encouraged me to try Legacy. I had no idea what Legacy was all about, but I wanted to trying something different. So I traded my beloved Dark Confidants for Jace, the Mind Sculptors (at the cost of a sizable hole in wallet). Little did I know, Legacy would alter my perception of the game forever.

In the beginning, I stumbled around the wide expensive landscape of Legacy for sometime, jumping from deck to deck, clueless but eager to try just about anything. Maverick, which ran a handful of familiar Jund cards, caught my attention first. I even naively told Sam I really wanted to fit Tarmogoyf in the deck. (Tarmogoyf, as I eventually learned, isn’t as much a green card as it is a blue tempo card.) It’s ironic to see that the first deck I was interested in had all the workings of a Life from the Loam deck with Knight of the Reliquarys and Wastelands. I moved on to try Esper Stoneblade, coming in second place with it at my first Legacy tournament. I then tried a variety of storm decks (I’ll write about them later), before finally settling on Lands.

11/08/16 Legacy - Grub Lands

Spells (26)
Mox Diamond
 Engineered Explosives
 Crucible of Worlds
Crop Rotation
Molten Vortex
Life from the Loam
Punishing Fire
 Sylvan Library
Lands (32)
Academy Ruins
Bojuka Bog
Dark Depths
 Ghost Quarter
 Grove of the Burnwillows
Maze of Ith
Misty Rainforest
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
Thespian’s Stage
Tolaria West
Tranquil Thicket
Tropical Island
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath

Sideboard (15)
Chalice of the Void
Krosan Grip
 Tireless Tracker
Abrupt Decay
 Phyrexian Revoker

Lands? What lands?

Most decks play around 20 lands. Control decks that want to improve their chances of making a land drop each turn play up to 26. A typical lands deck plays from 34 to 43 lands! Over the course of Magic’s history, many lands have been printed with a multitude of effects and functions. In Legacy, most multi-color decks play Fetch Lands coupled with Dual Lands to fix colors. A Flooded Strand not only gets Plains or Island but also Tundra, Underground Sea, Tropical Island, Volcanic Island, Plateau, Scrubland, and Savannah! Lands is no different, playing 3 Fetch Lands to find all the deck’s colors.

To punish decks with greedy mana bases, Lands plays Wasteland, Ghost Quarter and Rishadan PortWasteland is a powerful answer to Dual Lands. Once an opponent sees we are playing Wasteland, he or she begins to fetch only basic lands hindering the deck. Ghost Quarter gives our deck inevitability by destroying even basic lands. In a long enough game, the opponent ends up with no lands on the table. Rishadan Port answers decks that play a lot of basic lands overwhelming the previous two cards. The effect can be as powerful as Time Walk early in the game or tap down important lands that may negatively interact with us.

While the deck plays mostly Lands, a few key spells help make the deck function. Mox Diamond and Exploration accelerates the deck allowing it to race fast decks by combo-ing out earlier or playing more Wastelands to lock the opponent out of the game. Life from the Loam is the deck’s primary engine and is the basis for the entire archetype. In Legacy, where most cards that say “Draw 3 cards” have been banned, Life from the Loam lets the Land deck generate card advantage by “Drawing 3 lands from the graveyard”.

“How does a deck win by playing just lands?”

Wizards of the Coast announced the new legendary rule allowing a player to choose a Legendary permanent to keep when two or more copies are in play rather than just sacrificing both.

205.4d. Any permanent with the supertype “legendary” is subject to the state-based action for legendary permanents, also called the “legend rule” (see rule 704.5k).

704.5k. If a player controls two or more legendary permanents with the same name, that player chooses one of them, and the rest are put into their owners’ graveyards. This is called the “legend rule.”

The rule change allows Thespian’s Stage to combo with Dark Depths. When Thespian’s Stage‘s copy ability targeting  Dark Depths resolves, the new legendary rule requires you to sacrifice one copy of Dark Depths. If you keep the copy and sacrifice the original, the copy will have no ice counters on it. By keeping the new copy of Dark Depths,  then triggers and makes a Marit Liege token, a 20/20 creature with flying and indestructible. Love at first sight.

Punishing Fire is our answer to creatures and Planeswalkers that doubles as an alternative win condition when the Thespian’s Stage and Dark Depths plan is not viable. Grove of the Burnwillows provides easily accessible red and green mana while triggering Punishing Fire‘s gain life ability. When these two cards are in play, most creature strategies such as Delver of Secrets and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben have a difficult time recovering.

Playing Blue in Lands

Many players today are familiar with the more all-in RG Combo Lands deck that plays a full 4 Thespian’s Stage/4 Dark Depths. The deck plays Gamble over Intuition to be more aggressive and lower its curve. Recent tournament success has cemented RG Lands as a competitive strategy while Intuition builds, a solid tier 2 strategy from the past, continues to be forgotten. I am a strong proponent of the blue deck as it gives us inevitability against popular control decks such as Miracles and Death and Taxes.

Engineered Explosives and Academy Ruins are an unbeatable combo against Miracles, capable of destroying every non-land threat in the deck. The interaction between Sunburst and Engineered Explosives‘s X cost lets me play around Counterbalance. For example, if I anticipate cards of converted mana cost 1,2 and 3 on top of my opponent’s deck, I can cast Engineered Explosives with X = 4 but with only 3 different colors of mana. Unless my opponent counters it by spending precious counterspells, the Engineered Explosives enters play with 2 counters to destroy Counterbalance. Academy Ruins then recurs it back so that I can answer the next threat slowly grinding out the deck.

Tolaria West also provides an un-counterable means of tutoring through my deck for an important land or Engineered ExplosivesChalice of the Void is an important hoser against many decks in Legacy including RG Lands, which plays 4 copies of Gamble. It’s a card the blue version can afford to play 3 to 4 copies of in the sideboard without too much disynergy. When Sanctum Prelate its the table naming 2, RG Lands playing just Punishing Fire or Abrupt Decay doesn’t have an effective answer like Engineered Explosives.


The deck’s primary weakness are aggressive combo decks that try to win before we get a chance to establish a lock or pressure their mana base. Storm and Reanimator are examples of bad match ups. Lands can sometimes steal games with a timely Wasteland coupled with a Crop Rotation for Karakas or Bojuka Bog. I sometimes find myself sideboarding up to 5 tax effects like Sphere of the Resistance when I find myself in a combo heavy meta. In a normal meta, Trinisphere is my answer of choice. In a deck playing mostly spells with converted mana cost 2, tax effects would already cause them to cost 3. Trinisphere puts an unbalanced tax in our favor against fast combo decks.

To get a full understanding of the deck, check out the primer on MTGTheSource here.

Next time you’re playing Magic and you’re having issues with mana flood, think about how powerful flooding could be if you were playing Lands.

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