Jacob Wilson’s version of RG Landfall is my Pick of the Week!
This might look like a crummy version of Atarka Red, and that’s because that’s exactly what it is. Comparing this deck to Atarka Red in the first place is a big misconception though, because it’s much closer to a Splinter Twin deck than it is a Hordeling-Outburst-and-Dragon-Fodder-based beatdown deck. The entire point of this deck is to assemble Temur Battle Rage and Become Immense to one-shot the opponent. This deck is better at doing that than Atarka Red because it plays more fetchlands and more copies of each of those cards.
If you’re choosing to be aggressive in this format you simply can’t compete with the 4-color midrange value decks on a level playing field. That’s why you need to step up to a totally unfair level with Temur Battle Rage and Become Immense. This combo is well positioned in Standard right now because the decks that people play are just bad against it. Abzan doesn’t have cheap instant-speed removal spells and almost every threat in that deck costs 3 or 4 mana so they’re prone to tapping out on the most important turns of the game where you can combo most effectively.
I also like the combo against decks like Rally the Ancestors and Eldrazi Green—they have virtually no ways of interacting and the only thing stopping you from goldfishing them is your ability to draw the combo in a reasonable time frame. Lastly, I think the popularity and success of Atarka Red will make it such that Dark Jeskai players will gravitate to Radiant Flames and Arashin Cleric which are not nearly as effective against RG Landfall as they are against Atarka Red.
This deck has even less sophisticated forms of noninteractive combos such as Den Protector plus pump spells. Clearly we’ve all seen what Den Protector can do as a grindy, card advantage tool, but in this deck is can come out fighting on turn 2 as a 2/1 for 1G. That’s not particularly impressive on its own, but its evasion clause becomes quite relevant. Last season, playing Abzan Control, I would regularly use Abzan Charm to put two +1/+1 counters on my Den Protector which made it deal more damage and often made it unblockable. It was fairly innocuous, but I was surprised how often it was relevant and what a powerful interaction it was. This deck does that on a whole new level.
It can also be used for some very simple, effective plays:
- Turn 3: play a face-down Den Protector
- Turn 4: cast Titan’s Strength, flip Den Protector targeting Titan’s Strength, recast it
- Attack for 9 points of damage
Protectors clause makes it unblockable, unless somehow, your opponent has a 9-power creature in play on the 4 turn of the game. This isn’t even difficult to assemble, it’s comically easy in fact, all you need is a Den Protector and a Titan’s Strength and you can burn the opponent for 9 damage. You just chip-shot in some damage early with Scythe Leopard, Zurgo, and Snapping Gnarlid, and hope to finish them off with 1 or 2 turns of pump spell combo turns.
Clearly, Become Immense and Temur Battle Rage will end the game outright if you draw them, but you can win with combinations of Atarka’s Command plus Become Immense or Titan’s Strength plus Temur Battle Rage. There’s a really odd amount of redundancy when you realize you don’t need to combine 2 unique cards like Deceiver Exarch and Splinter Twin or Illusions of Granduer and Donate, you simply need to combine creature cards with instant spells that enlarge your creatures and deal 20.
Lastly, this deck is a superior choice to Atarka Red because it has more staying power in the mid- to late game. If you flood the board with Atarka Red and get hit with a Radiant Flames, you’ve almost assuredly lost that game. But with RG Landfall, all you really need is a Den Protector on turn 5 to return an Abbot of Keral Keep and you’ve totally reset your board position and even generated card advantage. I would say this deck is more resilient, but at the cost of speed—which is exactly what you want to do in this format when so many of the decks have life gain and cheap disruption.
I think this is a great choice for Grand Prix Oakland this weekend and I also feel that if you don’t want to play this deck or for whatever reason you’ve decided that Atarka Red is a better fit for you, I would recommend going with 4 Temur Battle Rage and 4 Become Immense. There are many decks in the format that are weak to it right now, and the only reason those decks have been successful is because the people who choose to play Atarka Red only run 2 Temur Battle Rage and 3 Become Immense. Those are the conventional numbers because that is what other players have been successful with, and nobody has really deviated from conventional wisdom.
Conventional wisdom is wrong.