Leyline Of Abundance, Not Leyline Of The Void, Is The Leyline We Should All Be Talking About

Have we been looking at the wrong Leyline in Core Set 2020? Sam Black sees surprising potential in Leyline of Abundance, and he’s here to show you how to exploit it in Standard and Modern!

It’s always risky to print free mana. When we think about the best starts people can have, we generally think about the restriction of playing one land per turn. When we’re talking about green decks, we generally assume a mana creature can be cast on the first turn, so we’re looking at three mana on Turn 2. From there, we generally talk about draws that have another accelerator of some kind to cast on Turn 2 (if you want to talk about casting something like a Nissa, Who Shakes the World on Turn 3), but if your draw requires a Llanowar Elves on Turn 1 and three more on Turn 2, it’s not really taken seriously, even in Modern, where you can play more than four functional Llanowar Elves.

Leyline of Abundance radically throws this off. How much mana can you have on Turn 2? Four? Yes, but four is the baseline. You only need two Leyline of Abundances and a Llanowar Elves (and two lands, of course) for five mana on Turn 2. Technically, you can have more than that. In fact, do you know the most mana you can spend on Turn 2 in Standard? Obviously if you have four Leylines, a Llanowar Elves, and two lands, that would give you seven mana, which is a fine start, but if you add Nissa, Who Shakes the World to untap a Forest, that Forest can give you an additional six mana, and you can also get two extra from your lands because you only need to tap the Llanowar Elves to cast the Nissa, so that means you could spend five mana on the Nissa and still have ten mana left to spend.

If we’re talking full Magical Christmas Land, we can do better than that. Imagine one of those lands is a Temple Garden. We tap it for GW, untap it with Nissa and make it a creature, then we tap it for GGGGGW and cast Gauntlets of Light enchanting the Temple Garden. We can now tap that Temple Garden for GGGGGW and untap it for GGW, so we have infinite mana on Turn 2.

That’s pretty great, but four Leyline of Abundances is pretty unrealistic. Okay, but what if we only have three?

What do you do with that mana? Well, Leyline of Abundance answers that, as it happens: you make an infinitely large Llanowar Elves and Temple Garden and see if your opponent can answer both.

Okay, so it’s possible to make infinite green mana on Turn 2 in Standard if you’re very lucky and put a fragile Aura in your deck. Is that really a big deal? No, honestly, I don’t think that matters at all. It’s pretty unlikely that the infinite mana Gauntlets of Light deck is much of a concern, even if it can happen with much less luck with Incubation Druid (admittedly a little bit slower).

I’m more concerned about the more normal cases. If your opponent starts with just one Leyline of Abundance and a Llanowar Elves, you’re looking at a pretty silly Turn 2. If they have two Leylines, things are probably about to get nuts.

Here’s what happened in the first day of a small number of people playing with the set on Arena:

That’s a 10/10 draw. They had to get very lucky to have two Leylines, a Llanowar Elves, lands, and great things to do with the mana that worked well together. On the other hand, they didn’t have to play any bad or narrow cards to do it. Their normal Selesnya Ramp deck just gets occasional very busted draws thanks to Leyline of Abundance.

Fortunately, you can only play four Llanowar Elves in Standard, but we’ve already been seeing decks with twelve mana creatures or so, and even when Leyline of Abundance isn’t creating insane plays on Turn 2, it can still lead to some pretty nutty Turn 4s with a couple of Paradise Druids.

Building the decks that take advantage of this is pretty simple:

I’m not entirely sure if Nexus of Fate is better than more Mass Manipulations or any other expensive spells. The point is just that you’ll want some payoffs in that slot.

The other point to keep in mind with Leyline of Abundance is that it will exist with the London Mulligan, which is a big help to any Leyline, so this will offer a great chance to stress-test the London Mulligan in Standard right out of the gates.

In Standard, Leyline of Abundance is kept in check because you can only play four copies of Llanowar Elves, but what about in Modern?

Dana Fischer surprised some people last weekend by setting aside her signature Elves deck for some graveyard shenanigans, but maybe Leyline of Abundance can tempt her back. It’s hard to make room for noncreatures in a deck that leans heavily on Collected Company and Lead the Stampede, like Elves, but Leyline of Abundance might just be powerful enough to make the cut:

It feels weird to move away from the Heritage Druid / Nettle Sentinel interaction that’s been the defining backbone of Elves since Glimpse of Nature, but without Glimpse, the ability to tap Nettle Sentinel several times as you cast more Elves just doesn’t matter that much, and it’s better to maximize the number of Elves that can give you really explosive starts with Leyline of Abundance.

One of the most exciting things about building Elves this way is that it will result in casting Collected Company on Turn 2 a little over 4% of the time (ignoring mulligans). That doesn’t sound like a lot – you need two lands, a one-mana Elf that taps for mana, Leyline of Abundance, and Collected Company – but that means that something like 15% of the time that you draw Collected Company you’ll be able to cast it on Turn 2. Almost 20% of hands will have a land, a one-mana Elf that taps for mana, and Leyline of Abundance, so again you’re around 15% to have four mana on Turn 2 (because you’ll also need a second land). That’s only one more mana than you’d have without the Leyline, but this didn’t cost anything; it’s like starting with a Mox that didn’t turn on until Turn 2, but then you have a Mox for every creature you have that can tap for mana.

My real concern with this build, which I based on Dana’s deck from Grand Prix Los Angeles earlier this year, is that it actually doesn’t do enough to take advantage of the mana. It’s a nice bump, but this deck just empties its hand and runs out of things to do. I feel like I should be trying to go bigger…

A fairly normal draw with this deck with Leyline of Abundance might look like:

At this point, when you untap you have a Forest that taps for one mana, two creatures that each tap for two mana, and a Nykthos that costs two mana and taps for six mana, but it will tap for more than that if you cast other spells before you need to use it, and you’ll draw cards for enchantments you cast. This means that even if you don’t have another land, you can cast Hydroid Krasis with X=7 and you can cast up to three mana creatures from your hand first at no extra cost (each costs one but makes Nykthos tap for one extra mana).

As with Amulet of Vigor, the deck does great things with one copy, but if you have a hand with two Leylines, things get really nuts, especially with Nykthos because of the four free devotion. If you have two Leylines; a hand with any green land; any mana creature; and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, you’ll have seven mana on Turn 2, which means you can cast Primeval Titan on Turn 2. You won’t be able to give it haste, but that’s still pretty good.

The sideboard for this deck is pretty nice. Rest in Peace is a good fit with Eidolon of Blossoms and an easy splash, while Leyline of Vitality offers some easy lifegain against Burn, but more importantly, it means that Plague Engineer won’t kill any of your creatures and it protects them from Gut Shot and Lava Dart. It’s also another green Leyline to power up Nykthos. Primal Command offers lifegain against Burn, slows Tron down, answers noncreature permanents like Ensnaring Bridge, and gives you additional threats that you can bring in against discard decks. Walking Ballista and Hornet Queen are good tools against opposing creature decks, and Force of Vigor is just an amazing card at doing what it does.

Do I think they’ll have to ban Leyline of Abundance? I don’t, but I do think you’ll want to be ready to kill a mana accelerant on Turn 1. At the moment, this deck should be kept in check by cards like Gut Shot and Lava Dart out of Mono-Red Phoenix decks, but if Faithless Looting ends up getting banned, it will be much harder to get Arclight Phoenix into the graveyard, which means players will have less incentive to play Lava Dart, which might make it safe to fill a deck with this many mana creatures, and then this kind of deck could become a real contender.

There are a lot of different Modern decks based around different ways to get a Primeval Titan onto the battlefield as quickly as possible, but this deck could actually be the fastest on average, and that’s worth quite a bit.