The first time I played Legacy was an unexpected occurrence. I was attending a PTQ during the old Extended format, and I was playing Elves. Alas, I was not well-practiced with the deck back in those days, and I quickly found myself out of the tournament with a 1-2 drop record. My eye turned to the side events desk.
There was a Grand Prix Trial I could play in for the upcoming Grand Prix in nearby Chicago. Unfortunately, the format was Legacy, and I knew nothing about the format. I had never played Legacy before, and to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it. I was a foolish young Chran back in those days, laser-focused on qualifying for the Pro Tour, and I didn’t have the patience to learn and appreciate a format like Legacy. Since I couldn’t win a Legacy PTQ, what was the point of learning the format? Well, soon I would find out. Luckily, my buddy Josh Guibault was a Legacy master, and he helped me pick a deck in two minutes.
“All right, Josh, I need to pick a Legacy deck to learn. All the best players play blue decks, right?”
“Okay, I want to beat all the blue decks. I don’t care about combo. All the good players will beat them with their blue decks.”
“I have the perfect deck for you.”
Josh introduced me to his friend David, who handed me a deck box with a number Sharpied on the top:
I opened up the deck, and inside was one of the wackiest piles of cards I had ever seen. Thumbing through such hits as Manabond, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, Glacial Chasm, and Riftstone Portal, I had no idea what was going on, but I couldn’t wait to figure it out.
I got a couple of practice games in before the tournament, and was able to piece together the general strategy of the deck: put a ton of lands onto the battlefield with Manabond, Exploration, and Life from the Loam; lock them out of the game with Wasteland recursion and Rishadan Port; stave off their creatures with The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale and Maze of Ith; and kill them at your leisure with Mishra’s Factory and Treetop Village. I was ready to take on the mystery format that was Legacy!
That was my only perfect tournament ever. I didn’t lose a single game all event; I 2-0’ed every opponent with my ragtag pile of lands and enchantments. To this day, I still have never been able to repeat this performance at any event higher than FNM. And honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if I never do. Perfect tournaments just don’t happen. Lands and I hit it off wonderfully, and there was no going back!
A few weeks later, after buying all the pieces I was missing for my own copy of the deck, I made the drive up to Chicago to battle in my first major Legacy tournament! I started that tournament strongly, making my first Constructed Day 2 at a Grand Prix. Unfortunately, I ran into some of the best magicians in the world at the time on Day 2 and missed the cash. Nevertheless, I learned an important lesson: Magic is about having fun just as much as it is about winning.
I was hooked, both on Lands and Legacy. For the next year-and-a-half, I looked for every chance I could to enter Legacy events. This was back in the days before The SCG Tour®, so there were hardly ever any Legacy events, but whenever the opportunity presented itself, you could bet I would be there, dredging back Life from the Loam and making bad Gamble jokes. I even got Cedric to play it once at a side event at Grand Prix Boston 2009, and he split the finals for a healthy stack of dual lands!
Lands and I continued our relationship for another year or so. We were even able to Top 8 the first Legacy Open of all time before eventually being defeated by a young Owen Turtenwald in the mirror, but eventually all good things must come to an end. Things started to get rocky for us when this card started getting out of control in Legacy:
If you think Ad Nauseam Tendrils is a good deck now, you should have seen it back in the days before Mystical Tutor was banned in Legacy. Back then, you could even float mana from your upkeep into your draw step, so you could tutor up your Ad Nauseam, crack your Lion’s Eye Diamonds in your upkeep, draw your card for the turn, and use the mana to cast the powerful instant and easily win the game. Busted, right!?
Well, between the storm decks and the Mystical Tutor-fueled Reanimator decks dominating the metagame, things were looking pretty bleak for us. Chris Woltereck managed to figure out a way to combat these decks with his innovative Blue Lands build. It leaned more heavily on Intuition and added Tolaria West to the mix as another powerful tutor. It was a great deck and a creative way to fight the Mystical Tutor menace, but that deck just never did it for me. This deck wasn’t playing Gamble, my favorite card in the deck. And you know what they say: “No Gamble, No Future.” It was time to learn Magic’s greatest format from a different perspective.
I bounced around looking for a new deck to champion, and eventually found it in Elves. Elves and I had some wonderful times together as well, but that’s a story for another day. This article is about Lands.
The second time I picked up Lands was just as unexpected a meeting as our first encounter. I was taking a break from Magic and hadn’t been to a tournament in a good nine months. At the time, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you ten cards in the most recent set, had no idea what was good in Standard, and had no clue as to what was going on in Modern. However, my love for Legacy never faded, and I kept tabs on the format even though I didn’t have a collection anymore.
I was excited to watch the coverage for Grand Prix New Jersey. Treasure Cruise was the new kid on the block, and it was bullying the Legacy metagame along with its partner in crime, Dig Though Time. Could anything stand up to these powerful blue draw spells, or were we going to have to pull out the banhammer soon? Grand Prix New Jersey would be the event that gave us the answers.
As it turned out, the answer was “bring on the banhammer.” Treasure Cruise sailed through the tournament, continuing its dominance of the format. However, I noticed a familiar face sitting at the top of the Day 1 standings. Lands was making a comeback, and it had gotten quite a nice makeover!
I hadn’t touched a Magic card in month, but one look at that decklist and I was itching to get back into the tournament hall and sling some cardboard. I did a quick check to see if there were any Legacy events coming up. The next Open was in Atlanta, eight hours away. No chance I was driving that far to play in a Magic tournament. I posted something about how cool the new Lands deck looked on Facebook and how I wished I could give it a spin. Unfortunately, the logistics just made it impossible.
Enter Andrew Tenjum
Tenjum messaged me saying that he, Peter Tragos, and Jeff Hoogland were driving through Indy on the way to the Atlanta Open, and that he had access to a copy of the deck. All I had to do was get into a car and become the road warrior one more time. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little excited to get back in the saddle again.
I had an absolute blast! I got paired against Miracles five times that day, and I managed to pull off a 4-0-1 record against the deck, including wins against Jack Fogle, Chris Boozer, and a draw against Chi Hoi Yim on my way to an unexpected Top 8 finish. The new changes to the deck were magnificent, and it felt just like old times, grinding away against Counterbalance and Sensei’s Divining Top all day. I wasn’t ready to get back to the grinder lifestyle just yet, but I truly got to have fun playing Magic at a tournament for the first time in ages.
I played a few other Legacy decks in the first half of last year, mostly because Dig Through Time was a truly broken Magic card, but as soon as I had the time was right, I jumped back on the landwagon and haven’t looked back!
Aside: I want give a shout out to my friend Vince Accetturo for letting me use his gorgeous copy of Lands over the past several Legacy events I’ve played in. Lands is not a cheap deck these days, and there’s no way I would be able to afford a copy of the deck myself. Thanks again, Vince. You’re the best!
Once I decided to become a full time Landsman in Legacy, I created a Facebook group with my friends Jarvis Yu and Jody Keith, two fellow Lands enthusiasts from around the country. Jarvis, Jody, and I worked on the deck over the second half of 2015, and our hard work payed off. I managed a Top 16 and a Top 8 perforce in the last two Legacy Opens of the year. Then Jody put up a fourteenth-place finish at Grand Prix Seattle and Jarvis took down the whole shebang, jumpstarting his Pro Point grind for Gold this year!
Here’s a video deck tech I did with Nick Miller at SCG New Jersey last year that does a good job introducing the deck to the uninitiated.
This weekend, I am expecting the Eldrazi menace to spill into Legacy. With a full sixteen “Sol lands” at their disposal, the deck will easily be able to power out a steady stream of vicious aliens way earlier than what should be deemed reasonable, but I think Lands will be ready for them. Maze of Ith and Tabernacle Match up very well against the Eldrazi, and as big as these space freaks may be, nothing can stand toe to toe against the dark lord Marit T.
If you have the means, I strongly suggest giving Lands a try this weekend, or even in general. The deck is some of the most fun I have ever had in twenty years of playing Magic, and I think it does a great job of encapsulating what makes the Legacy format, and Magic in general, so great. Good luck to all of my fellow Lands players this weekend. I think we’re going to represent this time around!