Greetings, readers! This week, I take a break from the Top Soldiers Of series to put in the monthly entry to my ongoing Let’s Build series, where I take you through the deckbuilding process for my personal picks for fun or interesting generals or themes, focusing on card choices and giving insight on strategy.
This month, I again delve into personal builds, though this only recently became a deck I decided to pursue. When I first built this list back in May of 2012, a couple of key components were missing, and I hadn’t really gotten a handle on the strategy. I still don’t believe I do, which is why I’ve done a couple edits to the list already, despite never having gotten to live test it. That being said, that’s another hidden gem to this article series; it serves to show that theory and practice are two entirely different things, and that’s half the fun of the format, isn’t it?
The strategy in question is one I saw utilized in Legacy, and truly wondered how it manages to work. That being said, it’s a truly unique deck with resilience and flexibility, practically immune to countermagic as well as many destruction effects (especially now with Sylvan Primordial out of the picture). The deck I’m talking about is the Lands deck; the engine of Crucible of Worlds, Strip Mine and Glacial Chasm.
The Lands strategy tends to lend itself to a green-aligned plan where you puke your hand of lands onto the table and use the power of utility lands such as Buried Ruin and Haunted Fengraf to maintain your resources, drawing cards with Lonely Sandbar, Barren Moor and Tranquil Thicket and keeping yourself alive with Mystifying Maze, Maze of Ith and Glacial Chasm.
The deck is very defensive in nature, making blue an obvious choice as a secondary backup for access to countermagic. As well, being able to constantly destroy creatures is very nice, and because the deck relies on key players, tutoring is a wonderful second option. That leaves black as a fantastic third color to utilize, and given how often your hand can deplete itself, a fantastic general to fit the bill is Damia, Sage of Stone.
I’d like to summarize some pros and cons about the list itself before getting into Damia specifically:
+You get to play Islands and Forests in the same deck
+Prone to incredibly explosive starts; able to cast Damia on turn 2 with two different draws
+Incredibly resilient against countermagic; creatures and artifacts have Haunted Fengraf and Buried Ruin respectively as recursion, and Boseiju, Who Shelters All makes sure your endgame spells resolve
+Glacial Chasm can seriously shut entire tables down
+The lines of play throughout mid-lategame are flexible and fascinating
+You get to make use out of really niche and unique win conditions such as Death Cloud, Descent Into Madness, Rude Awakening and Worm Harvest
+You never miss land drops with 55 in the deck
-You rely extremely heavily on enablers such as Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Crucible of Worlds to help you maintain your game plan, so exiling either of these will be easy pickings for your opponents
-Not the most politically powerful deck; it’s still rather vulnerable to fast, aggressive starts and without the proper draw can be frail defensively
-Damia getting put in your deck seriously hinders you
-Armageddon is not your friend, even with a Crucible of Worlds
-Glacial Chasm might save you, but it doesn’t save your Planeswalkers
-Spot removal sucks for you and will often be aimed in your direction
CHOOSING YOUR GENERAL
Damia, while she costs a lot of mana to cast, can be cast very easily in the right shell. While keeping her alive is a different story entirely, untapping with Damia in play can just spell doom for your opponents, as she can easily draw you what is essentially 3-4 cards in a single turn, and proceed to exist as a rattlesnake, threatening to bury the table in card advantage.
What makes Damia very useful as well is that the strategy innately can run itself out of cards to draw rather quickly, and at that point can simply lock itself with Life From the Loam / Dakmor Salvage and keeping 7 or more cards in hand at all times.
Damia’s choice as the general honestly stems from effects such as Manabond and Azusa, Lost but Seeking rapidly depleting your hand, so a general who can consistently refill your hand is extremely useful to have, despite how frail Damia innately is, being 7 mana and needing to untap to be useful. That being said, once you get going, her casting cost becomes largely irrelevant.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE DECK?
The gist of the deck is to amass permanents and draw a lot of cards. Overall, a 55-land deck has no issue with this, as getting ahead with this deck means 3-4 lands enter the battlefield in a given turn. Eventually, you’ll be sitting on upwards of 50 mana, and you’ll have dug into a win condition that you can use at your discretion, either because it’s uncounterable, or if it’s stopped, it’s easy to make happen again.
Overall, though, you generally play a rather defensive strategy at first; your goal is to ramp to 7, dump your hand, and cast Damia to refill it. Interaction really isn’t your game, but in early turns, you can spot remove or counter things. For the most part, though, you ramp, benign to aggression, and casting / playing harmless things that don’t do anything but eventually get you a lot of mana.
Then, by turn 8, you have upwards of 20 mana, and suddenly you’re clearing the board and threatening to crush the entire table in your grip whether they like it or not. Whether it’s a token army, Mindslavered opponents doing the work for you, or a resolved Mind Grind for upwards of 15, this deck can seriously steal games out of nowhere at a moment’s notice.
Overall, the biggest goal this deck has is to get its lands in play as soon and as frequently as possible, so the first batch of spells we establish is the ramp package.
Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Oracle of Mul Daya
Tempt with Discovery
Crucible of Worlds
Kiora, the Crashing Wave
The next batch of spells we go over are the deck’s wealth of tutors. The deck has a number of extremely important permanents that need tutoring, so we have a rather extensive package of tutors, relatively speaking.
The next thing I want to establish are the utility spells; spot removal, recursion and general goodstuff.
Life From the Loam
Gaze of Granite
Decree of Pain
Unravel into Aether
Crucible of Worlds
The last batch of spells will be what wins us the game; our grindy permanents, our finisher creatures, and our X spells that get us there.
Moving on to our 55 lands, we begin with the boring lands – the color enablers!
Golgari Rot Farm
Simic Growth Chamber
Jwar Isle Refuge
Temple of Deceit
Temple of Mystery
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
The next suite of lands we establish are the ones that have the potential to tap for more than one mana. Typically, these lands will carry the most weight lategame, fueling our X spells to do as much work as possible.
Next, the utility lands. Given that it is a lands deck, this section will take up a vast majority of the lands in the deck.
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Maze of Ith
Last, but not least, we move on to our suite of basics.
And with that, we’ve arrived at the final product!
(This list as posted in this article will not be final. If you want to see what changes might have occurred to the list since the posting of this article, check out the decklist posting on MTG Salvation here.)
There you have it, readers; my take on porting the popular Lands deck from Legacy into EDH. It’s a concept I’ve held near and dear to my heart for a while, and I was really dissuaded from it when Griselbrand got banned, but now I’ve decided to pick it up again because I realized it has strengths past just casting Griselbrand all the time.
Expect changes to come to the deck frequently over the coming weeks; it’s still very much in prototype stage, so if it’s different by the time this article gets posted, don’t be surprised!
Next week will mark a return to my Top Soldiers Of series. Until then!
Check out my previous articles here:
Adapting to EDH Metagames:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454
Building on a Budget:
Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:
Hits & Misses of:
Dragon’s Maze -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
Innistrad - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2586
M14 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295
Theros - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2508
Born of the Gods - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2800
Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1606
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1595
Part 3 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2214
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2278
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2303
Part 6 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2310
Part 7 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2323
Part 8 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2336
Part 9 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2341
Part 10 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2525
Part 11 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2617
Part 12 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2691
Part 13 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2822
Let’s Talk M14:
Painting a Target:
Planeswalking and You:
Stacking Up Commander 2013:
The Slippery Slope:
The Top Soldiers Of:
Azorius - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2640
Bant - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2907
Boros – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2854
Dimir - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2653
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Orzhov - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2681
Rakdos - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2663
Selesnya - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2677
Simic - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2900
Trial & Error: