For some time, many R/G Lands players have been dissatisfied with the position of the deck in the Legacy format. After a long stretch of being the secret best deck, preying on the fair decks people tend to play, over the last year we have seen real respect for the archetype.
R/G Lands used to get so much of its power from being an unknown quantity — very few players knew how to approach the matchup properly. But, slowly but surely, we have seen small shifts that slowly pick at its standing in the metagame. This arguably started with the breakout deck last year — B/R Reanimator. After that, we started to see every deck lean on either 2-3 Surgical Extractions or Leyline of the Void to be able to interact, which obviously led to a lot of splash-hate on Lands.
This was when players started to clue into attacking the matchup from a variety of axis’ both in the maindeck and the sideboard.
Finally, we saw Blood Moon to become a popular card in the format to prey on the greedy Deathrite Shaman decks. This has mostly gone away since the banning as control decks are back to playing a bunch of basic lands.
Before the bannings, man Lands players were looking for a new way to 20/20 their opponents and I finally caved and decided to try it out for myself.
Sharkcaster_Mage on MTGO – Turbo Depths
The upside of this deck is that it’s blisteringly fast.
Your plan is just to get a 20/20 into play as fast as possible and protect it for a lethal one-shot-kill. Another major upside to making the switch is that the hate cards people tend to play for the Lands matchup don’t really work against Depths with the exception of Blood Moon and even that you can race.
You shouldn’t be worried about Surgical if you’ve got your 20/20 into play. Speed and discard also gives you proactive game plans against the few combo decks in the format, and that’s where R/G Lands would typically struggle. I considered this version of the deck to be the best combo deck in the format before the banning. Things have settled now and I would say Reanimator decks would take that spot now, but this is a close second. All in all, this deck can be a little bit of a glass cannon. It’s designed to do one thing, and do it well, but when it doesn’t work the game is often over on the spot.
The next evolution of this archetype was to add the best creature in the format to the deck — Deathrite Shaman. Obviously, this card is no longer apart of Legacy but its important discuss the progression of the deck.
Vladimir Arneuve – Golgari Depths
I tried this version before it got banned and was overall unimpressed. The main difference with this version is the addition of a lot more creatures and less fast-mana in order to be able to grind a little harder. Just taking a deck that’s already winning and add the best creature in the format, sounds pretty smart right?
Deathrite Shaman is an absurd card and obviously is so good it was banned so we don’t need to go in depth on that. The other creatures also make this deck unique to its predecessor. Dark Confidant along with Sylvan Library give this deck some card advantage options to push into the late game if your core plan doesn’t work. It has similar one-shot potential but you can easily switch gears and bury your opponent in cards before ending the game with Marit Lage at your leisure. I’ve been super impressed with Dark Confidant in this deck and it leads to some games where you snowball the card advantage, shred your opponents hand and then Pithing Needle everything. This gives them no shot to participate in the inevitable outcome.
The second creature that’s always impresses me in lands decks is Sylvan Safekeeper. Obviously this has been technology since the turbo version but it’s worth giving it some shine. Against a lot of the format’s top fair decks this card just ends any chance your opponent has from removing a 20/20 token from the battlefield. I have found two-to-three lands and a Safekeeper to just lock-out some opponents. Especially if they’re packing Karakas and/or Swords to Plowshares.
But then Deathrite Shaman was banned, what do we do now?
David Long – Golgari Depths
David Long has been a dedicated Dark Depths mage for a long time and has often pushed innovation in these archetypes that I’ve agreed with.
Mox Diamond is probably the only reasonable replacement for Deathrite. For a lands deck it’s by far the best accelerator. The deck is built to capitalize on powerful two-drops like Dark Confidant and allows you to hammer through as many as you can over the first couple turns. Mox also gives you similar utility to Elvish Spirit Guide or Lotus Petal in matchups where you need to be explosives.
Mox is about the only interesting update to the deck, many of the cards here are holdovers from the Deathrite Shaman version. Some interesting choices are the Green Sun’s Zenith package in the sideboard and the three Dread of Night which are there due to the popularity of Death & Taxes in paper. I am a huge fan of Tireless Tracker but between Dark Confidant and Sylvan Library I’m not sure it’s the kind of card I’m looking for, its mana intensive and hit by similar cards that the rest of your deck is susceptible to. So I took this powerful starting point and made a few changes to account for how I want to attack the format at Eternal Weekend.
Matt Dilks – Golgari Depths
I have spent the weeks leading up to Eternal Weekend playing a list like this, and I used this one to Top 8 the MTGO Legacy Challenge this past week.
This deck got a nice tool from the release from Guilds of Ravnica in Assassin’s Trophy. Now, it’s true that this colour combination already had access to cards like Abrupt Decay or Maelstrom Pulse to handle problem permanents. But, in a format like Legacy, efficiency and flexibility is paramount. Trophy being able to target lands in a pinch is a great upside when combating cards like Karakas or Maze of Ith. That said, I think the biggest upside for this card is being able to cleanly remove a Jace, the Mindsculptor. It’s true that you can accomplish such a play with Vampire Hexmage but it’s not a play you want to make often and just having such a flexible card is incredibly powerful. I’m not convinced it’s better Decay in general because dodging counter-magic is just so good in this format. But it’s just another flexible answer to bolster the deck and its new midrange plan.
I also added Hymn to Tourach to the maindeck. Hymn has gone up in stock drastically in the format because it has become more tap-out centric. You just want to be as efficient as possible on every turn. It also adds more two-drops to the curve to capitalize on Mox Diamond. Other then those few alterations I’d consider any other changes minor; moving to a Ghost Quarter over the third Wasteland and moving the Maze of Ith to the sideboard.
In my sideboard the one distinct difference I can point to is Bitterblossom. I think this has become one of the best cards in the format, you even see Delver decks playing up to two copies maindeck as additional threats. It’s just so difficult for the control decks to deal with it. Grixis has maybe one Engineered Explosives but more likely no way to remove it once it’s in play. Similarly, Miracles has few outs especially when they are so taxed to deal with your core gameplan.
I have two very important byes for the Legacy portion of Eternal Weekend and I think this deck gives me the best chance to convert on this. I hope the combination of a diverse, fast and powerful gameplan with capability of a fast combo-kill backed up by disruption will carry me to victory.
Now, before I go, I’ve got a surprise for you. A bonus spicy Vintage deck:
Matt Dilks – GB Powerless Depths
This list is obviously rough but I think it’s not unreasonable that this can translate to Vintage and do reasonably well — even hopefully take the Non-Powered prize they give out for highest placing deck without any of the Power 9.
Obviously you are missing the appropriate moxes and Black Lotus for the most explosive starts. Mox Diamond is an underrepresented card in Vintage as it stands. I decided to have a full eight one-mana discard spells for the blue control and combo decks. On top of that we are trying to be a Null Rod deck to attack the top dogs of the format in the artifact-dense Workshops and Paradoxical Outcome decks. We still have the core Depths combo cards I have explained from Legacy accompanied by some restricted cards we get in Vintage. Normally this deck in Legacy is a four Lotus Petal deck but it’s restricted in Vintage so I’ll take the one. I rounded out our restricted suite with a Gitaxian Probe as free information, the best tutor in Magic with Demonic Tutor and its friend Vampiric Tutor. The only card I’m deliberating on is Dark Confidant to make it even closer to the Legacy version, that card is straight gas.
I’m not 100% to register for the Vintage portion. I might just relax the first day and just hang out in Pittsburgh before the Legacy tournament. If I am to join I’m going to register something like this and just Dark Depths people all weekend long.