Legacy’s Allure – Solid Land-ing

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Monday, August 10th – This week, Doug tackles Lands!, one of most quirky, unique decks in Legacy! Packing over forty lands, the deck aims to generate amazing card advantage with Life from the Loam. Get the breakdown on what cards are really worth devoting space to and how to sideboard competently. Inside, find tricks for playing around graveyard hate cards and prioritizing how to use mana every turn. All this, plus a solid Lands! list in this week’s Legacy’s Allure!

After reading the Cedric Phillips article from last week, I got excited again about one of the most quirky, unique decks to Legacy – 43 Lands! It’s a deck that’s a genuine Legacy invention, running green enchantments that put extra lands into play and Life from the Loam to act as Ancestral Recall every turn. The deck gets its name from the absurd number of lands it runs – usually at least forty. It takes advantage of lands that “do other things”, from Mishra’s Factory to Riftstone Portal. Thus, the Lands player ends up getting extra value out of every land drop and has a pretty consistent plan of just drawing lands, dredging lands, recovering lands and playing even more lands. In today’s article, I’ll be going over the basic construction of the deck and some critical evaluations of more common cards in the deck and sideboard.

First, I want to differentiate Lands from Eternal Garden, which is another land-heavy deck that also runs cards like Intuition, Dark Confidant, Crucible of Worlds and more. Though it looks similar, the deck has a much different strategy. Lands aims to just play lots of lands every turn and get crushing card advantage, while Eternal Garden looks to create a toolbox with recurring Engineered Explosives or Profane Command on Eternal Witness. It is, dare I say, a more greedy kind of deck and sometimes the lines between Lands and Eternal Garden get blurred. For this article, I want to only talk about Lands, and how to make it consistent, powerful and resilient to the common hate cards in the format.

First, let’s look at a sample list. I talked to Ced a bit about his list and this is what he arrived at, after making changes to the list he had in his article:

43 Land
Cedric Phillips

4 Exploration
4 Manabond
4 Gamble
4 Life From The Loam
1 Forest
2 Barbarian Ring
2 Forgotten Cave
4 Maze Of Ith
4 Mishra’s Factory
2 Nantuko Monastery
1 Riftstone Portal
4 Rishadan Port
3 Savannah
3 Taiga
3 Tranquil Thicket
3 Treetop Village
4 Wasteland
2 Windswept Heath
3 Wooded Foothills
1 Nomad Stadium
1 The Tabernacle At Pendrell Vale

Next, let’s look at what I consider to be the “uncuttables.”

Manabond and Exploration

These function as the acceleration cards in the deck, and it’s absolutely critical to have access to one early in the game. They’re so important that you should attempt to mulligan into them. Manabond is mostly better than Exploration, but either allow you to play lands at an unfairly fast rate and actually make use of the Life from the Loam engine.

Life from the Loam

As mentioned before, the engine card of the deck that gives it real strength over the long term. You can cycle lands to dredge this back, so it’s not uncommon to replay it in a turn that you dredged it, getting five or more cards per turn from it. It’s almost always preferable to dredge the sorcery instead of drawing a card during the draw step.

Maze of Ith and Mishra’s Factory

Lands can take awhile to get rolling, so these two cards perform the function of absorbing early attackers. Mishra’s Factory doubles as a good win condition, obviously. There are few answers to Maze of Ith in the format, and I’ve lost several games while playing CounterTop decks against lands because I could not find my Tarmogoyfs faster than they could get Maze of Ith online, and my Nimble Mongeese could not punch through blocking Mishra’s Factories. These two cards are key for getting to the lategame and are a real frustration to play against.

Wasteland and Rishadan Port

Lands also has a mana denial element to it in the form of these two lands. While straight-up Waste-locking opponents rarely happens, the lands serve to slow down much faster decks or ones that rely heavily on dual lands. Combined with The Tabernacle At Pendrell Vale, they become much stronger and can aid in locking out Zoo decks that have become a lot more common. If you’re considering whether to attack with a manland or Port someone, it’s often better to Port their land during their upkeep; Lands needs to get its Life from the Loam engine established, and then victory can happen in short order anyway.

Cycling Lands

Tranquil Thicket and the like serve to keep the dredge engine going several times a turn and can be used on their own in the meantime. The Extended Dredge Loam deck made extensive use of these as well, but their use was a bit different in that application. Dredge Loam wanted to get back several cycling lands a turn to draw extra spells, while Lands just wants to get more lands in the graveyard and cast Life from the Loam more. Lands needs at least six, though overloading on them can strain the deck, which supports numerous other comes-into-play-tapped lands.

The Tabernacle At Pendrell Vale

The Church is critical against aggro decks and, as I mentioned before, plays really nicely with Wasteland and Rishadan Port. Unfortunately, it’s also pushing $100 or more. Tabernacle is solid against tribal decks and, like many other cards in the deck, buys a lot of time. It’s unlikely that you’ll be killing all of your opponent’s creatures with it through mana denial, but what’s more likely is a scenario where they’re paying for two creatures on board, getting the rest of their lands locked away and having their creatures get Mazed when they attack. All the while, Lands is dredging more and getting in for an attack here and there. Luckily, you need only one Tabernacle; its power increases as the game goes on, as you’re better able to make use of the advantage it provides when you’ve got a Port or a Maze on the table.

Now, let’s look at some of the other options available to Lands players; they’re a little more situational or do better in known metagames, and a deck can perform well without them. Here are some others to consider:


I put Gamble on this part of the list only because I have seen and played with lists that run two or zero Gamble and they’re still competitive. It’s a powerhouse of a card and should probably be in every Lands list in some quantity. The card has almost no downside, as lands going to the graveyard are no problem and it can kickstart a Life from the Loam as well. Ced’s list runs four and I’m entirely comfortable with that.

Burning Wish

Wish can give access to a great number of sideboard answers and takes the deck towards an Aggro-Loam angle. It can get another Life from the Loam, a Devastating Dreams, a Hull Breach or more. I don’t fancy Burning Wish much in my Lands lists because it tends to dominate precious sideboard space and decrease the number of actual lands I am running in the list. It’s hard to beat Gamble, which is the standard for non-land cards that could be added to the deck. That said, it’s a fine card for grabbing Worm Harvest, Reverent Silence or other cards that perform well in known metagames. If you play in smaller weekly events, it’s a fine choice because you can tailor your sideboard to an extent.

Glacial Chasm

When Chasm works ideally, it’s being sacrificed every upkeep and replayed with another land. The combination locks out a whole host of decks, from Goblins to Enchantress. I discussed the card with Ced, and we both felt that it was a lot of setup for a card that might not be that useful otherwise. For example, it shines when you have an Exploration out and a Life from the Loam going, but if you’ve got those active, you can usually win anyway. It solves a lot of corner cases in Legacy, but I don’t think it does much on its own. However, if your metagame has a lot of burn players, Zoo decks or tribal players, then Chasm is a contender. It’s also an okay substitute for The Tabernacle At Pendrell Vale if you are on a tight budget.


In the original incarnations of Lands, Mulch featured prominently. It drew at least three lands and would serve as a convenient discard effect for Life from the Loam. However, Gamble sort of outclasses it, and Mulch, consequently, seems a little slow for not a whole lot of effect.

Ghost Quarter

The closest thing to Strip Mine outside of Wasteland, Ghost Quarter can exhaust an opponent’s manabase over a series of turns and leave them virtually locked out of the game. It’s a nice idea, and theoretically it’s got a lot of strength to it, but the land denial angle isn’t the strongest in the deck (the overall draw engine is) and it takes several turns and several Ghost Quarters to run an opponent out of land. If you’re set on running the card, I’d run at least two and probably find a way to justify three, to make sure that you can play multiple copies every turn.

Worm Harvest

When Retrace cards were revealed, Worm Harvest shone the brightest for Lands decks. You can, after all, conceivably be getting six or more worm tokens every turn. It’s also a good trump to opponents who might Extirpate your Life from the Loam or find another way to stop your main strategy. Unfortunately, you rarely actually have many lands in the graveyard! Ced and I talked about Worm Harvest as well, and he said it was weak in the maindeck and might be best in the sideboard. It’s another example of how a card and look good theoretically, but fall short in actual play. It’s not awful by any stretch, but it rarely does what you think it’ll do.

Nomad Stadium

Ced expressed that he wanted this card in his maindeck as a foil to the Naya Zoo decks that are cropping up. It looks mediocre, but four or eight life a turn can get you out of the range of their burn for the most part. It takes less setup than Glacial Chasm and actually taps to make mana. I don’t know if it’s for all lists, but you should consider it in your list if you expect to face heavy aggro opposition.

Barbarian Ring

Just about every Lands deck runs some number of the Ring, usually one or two. It takes a ponderously long time to actually kill someone, and most creatures in Legacy can survive the Shock it provides. That said, Barbarian Ring is a fine alternate win condition and can randomly blow up pesky guys like Meddling Mage or Lord of Atlantis. Ced only wanted one, while I like having two.

Nantuko Monastery

The monks at this dojo fight hard, and the Monastery is very hard to beat in combat. One is almost essential, but more than one and you end up being without colored mana at awkward times. It increases the critical number of manlands in the deck, and two is a fine number to go from. You’ll sometimes have problems getting the GW to activate it or have better things to spend the mana on, but it’s useful to have a First Striker that can come out of battles with Nimble Mongoose, Vendilion Clique and others unscathed.

Finally, let’s talk general strategy, as well as efficient sideboarding.

One of the greatest strengths of Ced’s sideboard is that it is quite conservative. For example, if he’s facing a CounterTop deck, he brings in Krosan Grips to fight the nefarious Blue enchantment and kills it solidly, instead of attempting a Ray of Revelation. Zuran Orb is critical against aggro decks and is a great foil to Price of Progress, allowing you to deftly mitigate the damage that the killer instant can deal and also blunting most burn spells. Sure, you can play Choke against Blue decks, but most people playing Islands will also be bringing in a way to kill your maindecked enchantments, so the Choke isn’t going to be the surprise you thought it was. Instead, keep the deck focused, as cutting too many cards can dilute it unnecessarily and result in really weak draws.

Against aggressive decks, it’s like you’re already pre-sideboarded. Lands has a splendid matchup and usually, the only swap necessary is Zuran Orb for either Wasteland or Rishadan Port. Against aggro-control decks, you can afford to cut Tabernacle and Maze of Ith for Krosan Grip, since they run fewer creatures and you can generally handle those easily. Unfortunately, the combo matchup is unwinnable. If you’re paired against it, use the round to go find some food instead. Some people run a few Chalice of the Void and bring it in with Zuran Orb, but really, who are we fooling? When you choose sideboard cards, consider ones that will answer problematic cards from the opponent and make sure that you don’t over-board the deck.

The most common hate card you will encounter is some form of graveyard disruption. This is almost always Tormod’s Crypt or Relic of Progenitus, and these can be foiled by bringing in some quantity of Ancient Grudge or Krosan Grip. Further, you can protect your Life from the Loams against just about all the graveyard hate around. By holding a cycling land in hand, you can reclaim the sorcery when an opponent cracks the Relic, keeping your engine around longer. Luckily, Extirpate is a rare occurrence, because it’s significantly harder to beat. The key is to only play Life from the Loam when you can immediately get priority back and to cycle a land to put it back in hand. It doesn’t protect you completely, since someone can respond to the cycling trigger, but it does minimize exposure and give you a chance to Port their black sources to remain safe. Vendilion Clique is becoming more common, and the trick to playing around the Fae is to only keep Life from the Loam in hand when you are about to play it. Again, cycling lands are important here. You ideally draw a card normally, then cycle a land in the mainphase to get the sorcery back and then immediately cast it. The opponent will never have priority to hit you with the disruptive creature. Ultimately, many players think their graveyard hate is going to do a lot more to Lands than it actually will, which is to your advantage.

The next most common hate, something that can really ruin your day, is the Blood Moon effect. You can mitigate it to an extent by getting your basic Forest as soon as possible, but for the most part, it’s hard to play around. Magus of the Moon can be answered by Firebolt or Flame Jab, but a deck like Dragon Stompy will have Trinisphere or Chalice of the Void to make that plan much harder. I don’t have a very good solution to Blood Moon effects currently, except hoping that I don’t have to face them! With another basic Forest accessible, Worm Harvest is also an option for dealing with Blood Moon if the Lands player can get their basics out quickly enough.

I hope this article inspires you to pick up what always promises to be a very fun and resilient deck and give it a whirl! The deck isn’t too hard to assemble, and you’ll have a blast playing it. I’d like to thank Cedric Phillips for his input, as well as the numerous Lands players who have advanced the deck.

Until next week…

Doug Linn

legacysallure at gmail dot com

P.S. I’m still soliciting budget Legacy lists from players who want some input on tuning up their decks to compete with friends or at local events. If you’ve emailed me already and I haven’t gotten back to you, don’t disparage!