The last few months of Standard have rewritten the rules about mana bases in Magic. Cards like Nissa, Who Shakes the World, Hydroid Krasis, Fires of Invention, and Cavalier of Flame have created a world where the worst thing you can do is miss a land drop in the first five turns of the game. Excess lands, aka flooding, isn't as back-breaking as it used to be. You can always pitch lands for new cards with Cavalier of Flame or animate them into attackers with Nissa. Castles have abilities, triomes cycle, temples scry. You need more and more lands to do all the nonsense that the Standard engines are capable of, so we play more and more lands.
If hitting lands is so important, then removing lands can be tremendously disruptive. Stealing lands is the ultimate, fueling your engine and short circuiting your opponent at the same time. Agent of Treachery is the arch-villain in this new world, but the big bad agent man is seven mana himself.
Jeskai Lukka rose to be the best deck in the format because nobody can do busted stuff without their lands, and your stuff gets more busted the more lands you steal. Jeskai Winota can steal lands sooner, but that deck is vulnerable to every type of interaction. Spot removal for Winota, Joiner of Forces, counterspells for Winota, sweepers for the non-human creatures, nearly everything messes up that deck's gameplan. But what about cheaper land destruction spells to keep your opponent from ever getting to set up Agent of Treachery locks?
Stone Rain is long gone. I still remember the first time my opponent played Llanowar Elves into Stone Rain. I was not happy. Wizards continues to print four-mana Stone Rain effects, and they seem comfortable with that cost. Most seasoned Magic players have scoffed at paying four mana for destroying a land, and usually with good reason. Spending a turn and four mana on a card your opponent can play for free is a terrible proposition if you are getting attacked at the same time. But what if your opponent has no interest in attacking you? What if they only want to set up an engine to steal your permanents? Is four mana too much to pay to disrupt that plan. Perhaps not.
Last week I set out to beat Jeskai Lukka and the other Yorion, Sky Nomad decks in the meta at their own game by keeping them off the lands required to make their fancy plays. I was honestly impressed by the results, and the deck has been very fun to play... for me. It is definitely on the evil side, but to be fair, so is this meta.
Lurrus Land Destruction | IKO Standard | CB 5-17-2020
- Companion (1)
- 1 Lurrus of the Dream-Den
The core of the deck are the ramp spells, Paradise Druid, Wolfwillow Haven, and the one Arboreal Grazer. Without these the deck couldn't hope to keep the opponent away from their gameplan. The sequence of turn two ramp, turn three land destruction is powerful on the play and crucial on the draw, or else you will be overwhelmed quickly by most decks.
I continue to be stunned by all the places you can use Lurrus of the Dream-Den. This deck uses the cat nightmare as an engine with Rix Maadi Reveler to keep the land destruction rolling along. Sometimes I even cast my own copy of Dead Weight from the graveyard on my own Rix Maadi Reveler to draw more cards the following turn.
I wasn't excited about this deck at all until I added Once and Future. This card gets back multiple land destruction cards to keep the opponent locked down in the late game. The biggest risk when playing land destruction is that you don't have 24-30 land destruction spells, so given a long enough timeline the opponent will find lands and then you have to deal with all their spells. Once and Future getting back Rubble Reading and/or Casualties of War keeps the deck from running out of action. Another option I played with was Doom Whisperer, which lets you pay life to surveil another land destruction spell to the top every turn. It turns out that eventually you run out of life on that plan, and I like the free Lurrus companion plan better.
Bedeck is great for killing early creatures, while Bedazzle is great at picking off Narset, Parter of Veils and Teferi, Time Raveler, two planeswalkers that can easily slip under your land destruction plan. It is natural to target your opponent's triomes, temples, and shock lands with Rubble Reading and Demolish, but consider saving some nonbasic lands to get hit by Bedazzle in some situations.
If you blow up all of your opponent's lands, and you continue to have access to more land destruction effects for future lands the opponent will draw, your wincon can be anything with power and toughness. Don't be in a rush to use Rix Maadi Reveler, but don't be too slow either. The endgame you reach usually involves Lurrus of the Dream-Den hitting the opponent, giving you Spectacle, and casting Rix Maadi Reveler to draw three cards. Do this as much as possible to make sure you have plenty of land destruction spells to keep the opponent locked down.
This is your most powerful spell. Casualties of War cleans up all the permanents that slip through the barrage of Stone Rain effects. Getting back two copies of Casualties of War with Once and Future is often more than enough to get a salty rope from the opponent.
Companion Mulligan Guide
If you see Yorion, Sky Nomad, you are sitting pretty. You would love an early ramp spell, but you don't need one. What you need is plenty of land and land destruction. Dead Weight is worthless, Bedeck // Bedazzle is very slow, and ramp spells are nice but not as required as in some matchups. Whether you are on the play or draw, you can usually start the Stone Rain party before they get the engine going.
If you see Keruga, the Macrosage, you are also in a good place, but there are some differences. Fires of Invention decks with creatures can pressure you and force you to take time away from blowing up lands. On the play you all right without a land destruction spell most of the time, the worst thing they can do is play multiple Bonecrusher Giants. On the draw you want to mulligan for a ramp spell. Dead Weight is bad, Rix Maadi Reveler is bad because of Stomp, and Once and Future is bad in your opening hand because it gives the opponent a chance to get a creature on the board. Casualties of War and Rubble Reading with a ramp spell is the best thing to see in your opening hand.
When you see Lurrus of the Dream-Den as the companion, you are in trouble, but not as bad as you may think. The Jeskai Cycling decks and Rakdos Sacrifice decks are more mana intensive than you think. Your best cards in this matchup are the Dead Weight, Bedeck // Bedazzle, and ramp spells. You will probably take some damage resolving land destruction cards, but it can be worth it if they fail to find more lands. Casualties of War does clean-up. Block with Paradise Druid if you don't have a use for it. Once and Future is your slowest, and worst, card. Don't forget Demolish can blow up Witch's Oven.
Whether it is Mono-Red or Rakdos, Obosh, the Preypiercer is scary, and you need to mulligan for a ramp spell and interaction. Casualties of War seems slow against them, but it can actually blow them out if they play Heraldic Banner. Ramp, ramp, Casualties of War is the best hand you can hope for. Dead Weight, Arboreal Grazer, ramp cards, and Bedeck // Bedazzle are all great in this matchup while the four-mana Stone Rain effects and Once and Future are very bad. Demolish is the best of them because it can also tag a banner. Rix Maadi Reveler is pretty good in this matchup as a speed bump for all the one-drop creatures.
If you want to see some gameplay with an early version of the deck, check out my video -