Playing Lands for Fun and Profit

I’ve been on a Lands kick lately. Maybe it’s that I got tired of being mana screwed, maybe it’s that I like playing Moxes, or maybe I just like destroying all of my opponent’s lands. For whatever reason, the deck has really clicked with me, and I’ve been on a Land-playing rampage. I’ve been jamming it in Legacy Leagues, and even recorded my first outing with it. Today I’m going to run through the list, some sideboard guidelines, and tips and tricks. I know that the presence of The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale unfortunately restricts how many copies of the deck can exist in paper, but it is a lot more obtainable online, and this may inspire some of you fine readers to make some land drops.


Game Plan: Find Life from the Loam, using Gamble if necessary. Dredge and keep playing lands, using Mox Diamond and Exploration for speed. Finish the opponent by copying Dark Depths with Thespian’s Stage, which makes a 20/20 Marit Lage token.

This deck really wants to combine one of the nine acceleration cards (4 Mox Diamond, 4 Exploration, 1 Manabond) and Life from the Loam. To that end, it has 4 Gambles and a number of cycling lands, because it’s hard to win without assembling the engine. Once you are Loaming and have a way to make it a little faster, you can usually disrupt the opponent with Wasteland, Ghost Quarter, and Tabernacle, and kill them with Dark Depths plus Thespian’s Stage. Maze of Ith, Glacial Chasm, and Barbarian Ring offer additional protection, and Punishing Fire leaps out of the graveyard to clear away annoying creatures.

It is possible to keep hands without Loam, but in the dark I would mulligan hands with no acceleration or Gamble. If you know the matchup, you can run a slower hand, but just playing one land per turn and having no Moxes is usually not fast enough in Legacy.

Gambling for Loam is the most common play, since you don’t care if you discard it (and often would prefer to), but don’t be afraid to Gamble for Exploration, Manabond, or Mox early. Later, Gambling for Punishing Fire or whichever specific land you need is safe as well.

Tips and Tricks

• Try to get the most out of your Loams. You often will want to use Crop Rotatation or play Moxes first, so you can get the full three lands back, and make sure you are cycling well enough to use up your mana each turn.

Wasteland and Ghost Quarter are a high priority—disrupting the opponent is usually plan A.

• It’s important you know other decks, and particularly their mana bases. Ghost Quarter is an effective weapon, and figuring out how many basics your opponents run is critical. Most Delver decks have zero, Death and Taxes has enough that you rarely GQ them out, and Miracles has 2 Plains (and lots of Islands).

• You can play Tranquil Thicket early and use fetchlands to get Sheltered Thicket, at which point you can Wasteland, Ghost Quarter, or Crop Rotation them so you can Loam them back.

Deathrite Shaman is public enemy number one. Try and set up Punishing Fire or Barbarian Ring ASAP to deal with it, and don’t be afraid to let them exile Loam if you have multiple copies or a lot of action.

• In post-board games and against Deathrite Shaman, cycling can protect Loam from graveyard hate. You can even Crop Rotate for Horizon Canopy in response.

Barbarian Ring is mainly to kill Sanctum Prelate out of Death and Taxes, and it is colorless, so it gets around Mother of Runes.

• If you have extra mana, copying random lands with Thespian’s Stage protects you from Pithing Needle and Sorcerous Spyglass since it now has a new name.

• Against Wasteland decks, you need to find Wasteland or Ghost Quarter to force them to use their Waste, at which point you can make a 20/20 with Depths.

Glacial Chasm is mostly a last resort, since it incurs a heavy cost. You can use Thespian’s Stages to copy Chasm, and keep the upkeep low (though age counters stick with Stage, so if it ever turns back into Chasm you will have to pay for it).

Crop Rotation for Ancient Tomb is +mana, you can to use it as acceleration when needed.

There are a lot of strange and interesting lines that come up with this deck, and I recommend practicing with it. I’m like 15 Leagues deep and I still find novel situations, so be aware that you’ll make plenty of dumb plays until you get the hang of things. The basic game plan isn’t too complicated, but this deck is an elaborate resource-manipulation puzzle (likely why I think it’s so sweet), and that means maximizing your cards each turn is tricky.


Sideboarding is always tricky, and I don’t like strict guides. This deck does have some repeated patterns, and groups of cards you can often swap. Here’s how I approach boarding:


I bring these in often because they are your hedge against graveyard hate and Blood Moon. If you have dead cards and extra room, it rarely hurts to have Tracker in the deck.

These also come in often, because the vast majority of hate cards happen to get hit by Grip. It’s hard to overboard these, so bring them in when you’re unsure.

These all come in against combo, and Chalice sometimes comes in against low-to-the-ground decks like Delver (at least on the play—I don’t like it nearly as much on the draw). Don’t bring these in against random decks. Based on streaming, people always want to bring these in, and they are focused anti-combo hate, not catch-alls. Don’t just jam Spheres unless the opponent is trying to play tons of cheap spells and can’t win otherwise (Storm, Belcher, Elves).

These are for Delver, Death and Taxes, Elves, and any other midrange creature deck. If you see Tarmogoyf or anything like an Eldrazi, you want Drop. A good rule of thumb is that if you want Punishing Fire, you want Drop.


Against decks without creatures:

When you don’t need anti-creature cards, you have a lot to take out. Against decks where you want Spheres, you rarely need Trackers, and against control decks you want all the Trackers and Grips.

This comes out a ton—it’s worth the main-deck slot for the mirror, Dredge, Storm, and Reanimator, but otherwise you can cut it.

I usually cut this when I’m bringing in 6+ spells, because you have fewer lands and more cards you don’t want to discard, particularly reactive ones.

Against resource denial decks with counterspells (Force of Will and Daze), I usually cut 2 Crop Rotation. Grixis Delver is the biggest offender, as they have Wastelands and Hymn to Tourach too, so I like throwing away a card for Rotation a lot less.

I don’t like going below 31-32 lands, so I often keep lands like Karakas or Barbarian Ring even against decks where they don’t have an ability. Cut the non-mana producing lands first.

Lands is awesome, and I think it’s a ton of fun (more fun than it sounds, based on having 35-36 lands). If you can, give it a spin, and let me know if this was useful. Good luck!


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