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Legacy Lands Primer

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Many people have recently asked me about my thoughts on Red-Green Lands since I was fortunate enough to win Grand Prix Seattle-Tacoma with it. I decided to write up a pretty thorough analysis of the deck and some interesting variants I’ve discussed with other people.

Going forward, here’s the traditional R/G “Combo” Lands list I’d propose running for the foreseeable future:

Notable Cards

Glacial Chasm This is necessary a lot of the time to buy you a few turns against aggressive starts. In addition, you can keep up a Glacial Chasm lock if you have Exploration or Manabond by using Thespian's Stage to copy it during your upkeep with the cumulative upkeep trigger on the stack.

The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale This is a valuable weapon against Delver or tribal decks to force the opponent to decide how he or she wants to spend his or her mana. In combination with Wasteland, it often becomes Plague Wind. Note that the Marit Lage token is indestructible, so you never have to pay for it under your own Tabernacle.

Maze of Ith This buys a lot of turns against Delver variants or other various decks with Tarmogoyf to set up shop. It’s very easy to ’board out this card against Miracles and combo decks.

Thespian's Stage This is the actual hero of the deck. Analogous to a blue deck, it’s the virtual Snapcaster Mage of this deck in that it doubles up on any nonlegendary land that’s good in a matchup. It also provides you with the combo kill of using Thespian's Stage to copy Dark Depths—via the legend rule, you choose to keep the copied Stage-Depths, which incidentally has zero ice counters on it; then, the triggered ability triggers, you sacrifice the Stage-Depths, and you receive a 20/20 Marit Lage for your troubles! I also typically use this on a mana-producing land whenever I have spare mana to play around Pithing Needle and to give me extra green sources. Don’t forget you can use the Stage to copy a basic land in response to Wasteland as well (it just becomes a basic land with the Stage ability).

Dark Depths Don’t forget you can tick it down, albeit extremely slowly. The most likely case for this to come up is if your opponent has Pithing Needle on Thespian's Stage.

Riftstone Portal
Riftstone Portal This is the best card to Crop Rotation away, and it’s also the best card to discard to Mox Diamond, to hand size, or for any other reason. The most unintuitive interaction is that Riftstone Portal applies in a later layer than Blood Moon does, so all of your nonbasics will be Mountains that can also tap for green or white. In addition, making your lands such as Tabernacle, Maze, or Dark Depths able to tap for mana is incredible.

Horizon Canopy and Tranquil Thicket These cards actually let you pull ahead by dredging Life from the Loam multiple times per turn or by cycling to find an Exploration or Manabond. In addition, they help protect your Life from the Loam from Surgical Extraction or Rest in Peace post-’board. Notably, you can Crop Rotation for Horizon Canopy and sacrifice it to dredge your Loam to save it.

Common Matchups

Jeskai Miracles — This is a tough matchup. Generally, your plan in Game 1 is to get a ton of Rishadan Ports, lock down all of the opponent’s white sources, and put a 20/20 into play. Note that you need to Port the opponent’s white sources in his or her second main phase; otherwise, he or she will float mana and cast Swords to Plowshares targeting your Marit Lage.

Krosan Grip
Typical Sideboard Plan:

−3 Maze of Ith, −1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, −4 Punishing Fire, −4 Crop Rotation, −1 Glacial Chasm

+2 Choke, +4 Sphere of Resistance, +1 Chalice of the Void, +1 Thorn of Amethyst, +4 Krosan Grip, +1 Molten Vortex

It’s a tiny bit awkward that you’re taking out Punishing Fire when the opponent is almost certainly bringing in Monastery Mentor, but I believe trying to fight the opponent on that axis is a losing battle. Post-’board, you’re trying to prison the opponent out even more with Sphere of Resistance, Thorn of Amethyst, Chalice of the Void set at 1, and Choke.

Shardless Sultai — This is a great matchup. The opponent doesn’t have many ways to interact with your lands (two or three Wastelands at most), and Liliana of the Veil and Jace, the Mind Sculptor are the opponent’s only ways to kill a 20/20, so if you just end-step make a 20/20, the opponent generally has no recourse unless he or she happens to have a Baleful Strix in play.

Typical sideboard plan:

−1 Crop Rotation, −1 Manabond, −1 Glacial Chasm

+1 Molten Vortex, +2 Choke.

Sometimes, you can bring in Krosan Grip if you expect something wacky like Tsabo's Web from there, but I generally wouldn’t do that until Game 3.

Delver Decks (Temur, Sultai, and Grixis) — These are all great matchups, although Temur is probably the most difficult of the three due to the fact that Nimble Mongoose is hard to kill. The endgame I usually envision against these decks is to Wasteland the opponent to nothing and put a Tabernacle into play (acting like Wrath of God). Additionally, none of these decks has a way to kill the 20/20 in Game 1, so it’s safe to go for a fast 20/20 (Temur can Stifle the copy ability from Thespian's Stage a few times, but you can generally run the opponent out of those).

Molten Vortex
Typical sideboard plan:

−1 Rishadan Port (on draw), −1 Manabond (on play)

+1 Molten Vortex

Rishadan Port is often a lot worse on the draw; plus, Wasteland can kill basically all of the opponent’s lands. You need all of your other utility lands against the opponent. However, I would consider not bringing in the Vortex against the versions with Tarmogoyf.

Storm — This is a bad matchup. Try to deny the opponent mana and a fast combo. Many of your cards are ineffectual.

Typical sideboard plan:

−4 Punishing Fire, −3 Maze of Ith, −1 Glacial Chasm, −1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

+4 Sphere of Resistance, +1 Chalice of the Void, +1 Thorn of Amethyst, +2 Choke, +1 Bojuka Bog

If you suspect the opponent has Empty the Warrens, it’s okay to leave in the Tabernacle.

Sneak and Show — This is also a bad matchup. Again, try to deny the opponent mana and a fast combo. Sometimes, Maze of Ith buys you time against Griselbrand, but it is generally not effective enough in the matchup.

Sphere of Resistance
Typical sideboard plan:

−4 Punishing Fire, −3 Maze of Ith, −1 Glacial Chasm, −1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, −1 Horizon Canopy, −1 Crop Rotation

+4 Sphere of Resistance, +1 Chalice of the Void, +1 Thorn of Amethyst, +1 Karakas, +4 Krosan Grip.

The opponent often has Blood Moon, and Krosan Grip can eat a Sneak Attack that the opponent doesn’t have mana to activate.

Elves Combo — This is an even or slightly favorable matchup. Punishing Fire and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale are all-stars here. The opponent will usually fetch around your Wastelands, but Rishadan Port can lock down those lands. Crop Rotation for Glacial Chasm effectively counters a Natural Order for Craterhoof Behemoth, but some newer lists started packing Shaman of the Pack, which can circumvent Glacial Chasm. The game plan is pretty straightforward: Constrain the opponent’s mana, and make a 20/20.

Typical sideboard plan:

−1 Manabond, −3 Maze of Ith, −2 Wasteland

+1 Molten Vortex, +4 Sphere of Resistance, +1 Chalice of the Void

Be wary of Scavenging Ooze and Pithing Needle. Wasteland is much worse than Rishadan Port for the most part here, and you typically won’t die to random Elf beats (that’s why Maze of Ith goes) before making Punishing Fire or Tabernacle active.


There are too many decks in Legacy to list them all, but here are some tips and tricks:

Manabond

An alternate build of the deck that Kurt Spiess suggested to me eschews Grove of the Burnwillows and Punishing Fire for four Molten Vortex in the main deck as well as adding more Taigas and fetch lands. I haven’t had a chance to try it out, but it seems promising.

Yet another alternate build was suggested to me by Chris Andersen—that build splashes two copies of Intuition off a Tropical Island and the four Mox Diamonds. I’m not sure the mana actually functions correctly, given you’ll only have four fetch lands, one Tropical Island, and four Mox Diamond, but it’s certainly an idea that has some amount of merit.

I hope this answers most of the questions that people have about the deck, but I’m happy to answer other questions about it here or on Twitter (@jkyu06).

Thanks for reading!


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