For Grand Prix: Columbus, I decided about a month ago that I would commit to playing the Lands deck and getting a handle on how to make it work. Most of the rest of my team was also on board with the deck, with a few opting for Enchantress instead. We did our homework and tuned up the deck, but none of us had a stellar performance this past weekend. Here is my story of GP: Columbus and the Lands experience.
First, my decklist:
We had batted around on Gamble in the deck, and I probably would run Gamble if I played it again — against some decks, Intuition is just far too slow. You will also notice that this is only 35 lands. Our plan was that we could sweep game 1 and then board into a different, more spell-heavy configuration post-board. The Oblivion Stones were a great late addition; they sweep the board and get rid of trash like Tormod’s Crypt.
Round 1: Natural Order Bant
My opponent wins the die roll and leads off with a Tundra. I decide to test him by playing an Exploration, which he Dazes. I am holding three Rishadan Ports, so I am just fine making him pick up his land. I proceed to Port him out through the early turns and turn his creatures into churchgoers with the Tabernacle. Maze of Ith really shined here, as it usually does. With mana denial, he was unable to get Natural Order or Jace TMS mana, and he eventually scooped after asking how I would kill him. “I will deck you with Academy Ruins” was my answer. I never had Green enchantment acceleration in this game, only Mox Diamonds.
You’ll notice that we bring out the Manabonds in most sideboard games. As I said, you are more spell-heavy and opponents can really wreck you with graveyard hate if you play too aggressively. Our plan was to just let our superpowered permanents win the day.
In the second game, I point a lot of Wastelands at his manabase and he grinds a Sensei’s Divining Top. We had only about twelve minutes going into this game because my opponent was using Top slowly in the first game, among other things. When you play against Lands, you must get a sense of when they have Game 1 locked up and scoop efficiently. I had many opponents locked out throughout the day in the first game, running for their only out in the maindeck. Don’t do this! You will give up at minute 37 and then you will have about eight minutes of combined time after that to try and beat a deck full of Maze of Ith! This game ends up as a draw, and I win 1-0-1.
Round 2: Dredge
My opponent, Jeff, was at his first Grand Prix. He noticed that his deck was only 59 cards before he presented, and we called a judge. It may have been the result of a Mesmeric Fiend cast against him last round, but it turned out that it was just two cards sticking together. Jeff was, remarkably, not on total rollercoaster tilt because of this ten-minute delay.
I fanned open a sick hand containing Mox Diamond, Bayou, Life from the Loam, a Tabernacle and more. I did the classy Lands play of land, Mox, discard a land, Loam it back. Jeff drew and discarded a Golgari Grave-Troll as his first play. I got the Tabernacle onto the battlefield as soon as I could and deployed a Manabond alongside it. This game was a blowout, due to Wasteland and Tabernacle removing all hope.
Round 3: Goblins
My opponent mulligans to five, but leads with a Goblin Lackey! Oh no! I have an Oblivion Stone in my hand and a little bit of time, so I set that up. I got Mishra’s Factory going as a blocker that won’t stop and Maze of Ith to save some life. My opponent had three early Wastelands, which set me far back, and eventually took the first game with tight play.
-1 Ensnaring Bridge
-1 copy of something else which I can’t recall
I brought out the Bridge because most of the time, Goblins can get in under it anyway. The second game sees my opponent mulligan to six cards, while I get an early, threatening Oblivion Stone on the battlefield. My opponent plays Blood Moon, which makes my Maze of Ith a crucial Mountain and allows me to detonate my Stone (everybody must get stoned) and get access to my special lands again. With my opponent essentially locked out, he scoops and we move to the third game with eleven minutes left.
In the third game, I get another Oblivion Stone out and a Crucible of Worlds to go with my Exploration. I put fate counters on my two non-land permanents while I held off his attackers. We go into turns and my opponent pays for his Tabernacle requirements, stunting his army growth. At a crucial point, he puts Siege-Gang Commander onto the battlefield with Aether Vial in his upkeep, sacrificing many Goblins to Skirk Prospector. I see that his plan is to burn me out (I am at nine life) and, with the Commander’s goblin trigger on the stack, I blow the Oblivion Stone to prevent lethal damage. Putting the Commander’s trigger on the stack is a trick I learned from Type 4, where the end result of playing that Goblin is that you Shock someone and have three tokens on the battlefield — rarely are you able to actually fling them around.
Round 4: Faeries
My opponent started off with two Cloud of Faeries, which started whittling my life down. I had Tabernacle and Maze of Ith to stanch the lifeloss, but I was still under pressure. About 35 minutes into the match, I finally put him in an unwinnable position by answering all of his threats with Ensnaring Bridge and Manabond. He already had a Venser, Shaper Savant on the battlefield and could not profitably Aether Vial another onto the battlefield; although he would get the bounce on my Bridge, he would be left with no creatures. I was fearing Wasteland throughout this match, but none appeared.
My opponent started off with a risky play of Riptide Laboratory, Aether Vial. His next play was Mishra’s Factory. I Wastelanded both and his first Island showed up about nine turns later, ready for my Rishadan Port to lock down. He held his resolve pretty well and wasn’t too shaken up, even though there was just no way for him to win. I eventually got in with Mishra’s Factory beatings.
Round 5: Reanimator
My teammate Kevin played this opponent the round earlier, and I knew he had Extirpates, no Relics or Crypts, a Realm Razer and few basic lands. He also boarded in Tarmogoyfs. In the first game, I got Ghost Quarter and Rishadan Port active early. At one point, he had a Polluted Delta out and cast Lim-Dul’s Vault. I let him resolve it, and then I shot a Wasteland at his fetchland. He decided to shuffle up to get a precious basic land, foiling the tutoring. After taking out every land in his deck with Ghost Quarter and Wasteland, he scooped and we moved to the next game.
I get my opponent under an early Sphere, which I have to wreck with Engineered Explosives to take out his Tarmogoyf. I Extirpate his Inkwell Leviathan in response to his Thoughtseize, and we begin a very long game that eventually sees my Realms Razed.
Round 6: Enchantress
This is a rough matchup, but my opponent mulliganed to five cards and I had an early, active Ghost Quarter to eat the lands he put Wild Growth on. My plan involved getting Crucible of Worlds and Exploration active, and I eventually Ghost Quartered every basic land in his deck. He scooped and we went to game 2.
My opponent gets better hands this game and kills me with five Angels in short order, after locking things up with Karmic Justice.
In the third game, we play into final turns after time runs out. We end up drawing the game, and my opponent wants to drop and get his cards signed. He volunteers that he would scoop to me since he was dropping anyway, but that he wanted to preserve his ratings points and didn’t want a loss. With the draw, I was unable to get the 21 points necessary to make the cutoff for Day 2 and dropped. I was mentally exhausted.
Thoughts on the Deck
Lands seemed to be a metagame behind what we saw in Columbus. It could not handle the diversity that I encountered in the field and, most importantly, it had no quick kill. Lands is really good at winning the first game because there is just no graveyard hate. In the later games though, your plan changes with no Manabonds and your opponent is narrowing your Life from the Loam options. We thought about Keening Stone and Phyrexian Processor as cards to bring in that would quickly win the game when they were played. I would have liked to have a Processor in the maindeck, for sure. I don’t know if I would play Lands in my next tournament; it is a deck that wins with small margins. There is no Moat or Thopter Foundry to make big, splashy effects, so you have to optimize every turn.
Thoughts on the Event
Wizards did a pretty good job on this one; the Battelle Hall at the Columbus Convention Center was a good location and the event was run smoothly. The dealers were on the second floor on a ring that went around the main floor; you could go up and watch the whole event from the upper story. I was particularly amused by the near-still quiet that fell over the room about four minutes into every round, as players hushed up and got to slinging spells.
With the exception of my second and fourth round opponents, everyone I faced got really agitated at times, usually in mid-tilt. It was unprofessional. I know it’s not fun getting Ghost Quartered and then hit with Rishadan Port over and over, as you can’t play your spells and your opponent isn’t even killing you quickly. Having played Vintage when Trinisphere was legal and you could get locked out of the game in the first turn, this deck is much easier to deal with getting crushed by. I want to congratulate my second-round opponent Jeff, who kept his cool and was in good spirits, even as I was destroying him in two games. I would have liked to play against more people like that. I didn’t mention anyone else by name in this article because I don’t want to internet-crush egos, but you know who you are, and you have got to shape up your attitude about losing with grace.
So Grand Prix: Columbus was great, even though I didn’t do so well and I was very worn out by the end. I saw a lot of great friends, some I hadn’t seen in years, and I was reminded how cool it is that we have this game that creates an international network of friendships. Next week, we’ll look at the players who did a little better than me…
Until next week!
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