I said that I would explore more Baleful Strix decks, but after seeing how many good players chose Turbo Depths at Grand Prix Seattle, and knowing how good the matchup was versus 4C Leovold, I decided to give the deck a try.
I started with Joseph Trojan’s Top 16 list and ran the deck through some Leagues last week. I will record with the deck soon, and this is my final list:
This is an all-in combo deck, and you don’t have to be afraid and play around the top of your opponent’s deck. Play around what you know, and put that Marit Lage token into play as quickly as possible.
There are some deck-building differences I want to point out since this deck has very few flexible slots, and it’s important to make smart decisions about which cards to use.
A long time ago, I remember playing Not of this World, but this Invitational card is a straight upgrade, though I wouldn’t go crazy and play three copies like many lists do. The most popular decks: Grixis Delver and 4C Leovold, don’t have many ways to target your Marit Lage—apart from Dead // Gone and Jace, the Mind Sculptor—so I’m not a fan of the card in that matchup.
Into the North
When I played this card for the first time, I was shocked at how good it was. Going Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth + Lotus Petal/Elvish Spirit Guide and Into the North is a fantastic start that lets you combo on turn 2 very often.
I was puzzled when I saw many lists with 0 or 1 copies of the card and I started to run four.
I then found out that if you already have Dark Depths in play and don’t need colored mana that this card might not be the best, so I cut it down to 2, and I think that’s the perfect number.
When I cut two Into the North, I replaced them with some Expedition Maps. Though slow, Expedition Map is exactly what this deck wants—a cheap way to get lands to combo off. I like this better than Sylvan Library or more discard spells that don’t directly help in finding the combo, which is your only plan.
I played this card in the old version of B/G Depths and really liked it. Versus 4C Leovold it’s fantastic since it stops Deathrite Shaman, Snapcaster Mage, and Surgical Extraction, and the matchup is slow enough that you have time for it. Versus Grixis Delver I don’t like it since you want to be fast and effective, but if you have more time to durdle, this is a great sideboard card.
I started with a list with two Dark Confidants and brought it up to three, but quickly found out that my opponents always had Lightning Bolt or Fatal Push. Even post-board, I wasn’t taking anyone by surprise like I would if I’d put Dark Confidant in Ad Nauseam Tendrils’ sideboard—people have to keep their removal to fight Vampire Hexmage, and to kill a Dryad Arbor fetched in response to a Diabolic Edict.
I don’t play any copies of Dark Confidant.
Dryad Arbor and Mishra’s Factory
I see some lists running one of these, but I believe that it is better to run both. You sideboard very little in every matchup. Hence, it’s okay to replace a Bojuka Bog or a Sejiri Steppe with one of these when playing versus a deck with Edicts effects.
Tip and Tricks
This deck doesn’t seem that hard to play, but you have to know it inside and out.
These tips might come handy even when playing against this deck, since very often I win games because my opponent doesn’t realize I can make a Marit Lage token and taps their Wasteland.
- Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth + Dark Depths + Thespian’s Stage enables you to create a 20/20 since Dark Depths adds mana, so on turn 1 try to lead with Urborg over another land if you want to play a discard spell.
- If you know that your opponent is playing a deck with Wasteland and no ways to deal with Marit Lage (e.g., Delver decks) then make a Marit Lage on your turn because you cannot respond to them playing Wasteland.
- If Wasteland is in play, you cannot combo off because they’ll wait until you’ve copied Dark Depths with Thespian’s Stage and sacrificed the original one, and with the ability to put a Marit Lage into play on the stack, they’ll kill the new Dark Depths, guaranteeing a 2-for-1.
- The ways to win through a Wasteland in play are A) Pithing Needle, B) Ghost Quarter, C) having both combos in play, so that you’ll target your Dark Depths with Vampire Hexmage, they’ll Wasteland the legendary land, and then you can copy it with Thespian’s Stage.
- If you have to use green mana from a Lotus Petal or an Elvish Spirit Guide, choose Lotus Petal, since Elvish Spirit Guide is an unknown effect and you can get your opponent into playing Daze, or pay 2 mana for Thespian’s Stage to copy Dark Depths out of nowhere.
- Elvish Spirit Guide + Crop Rotation is a common play that can either save your land from a Wasteland or let you combo off end of turn out of nowhere.
- Stifle doesn’t work as well as you might think. It will only be able to stop Thespian’s Stage from copying Dark Depths. Once Thespian’s Stage has become a Dark Depths with 0 ice counters, Stifle won’t do anything.
- If you play against this deck, don’t use your Wasteland too quickly. A Wasteland in play is much harder to deal with than a combo piece getting destroyed, unless you are afraid of Crop Rotation in their hand and you don’t want to let them play it profitably.
Turbo Depths is a fast and explosive combo deck that’s easy to win with but hard to master. With a little practice and the help of this article, hopefully you’re on the path to success!