In between jaunts to some mid-sized Ohio town for a SCG Open, I needed to get my Magic fix from somewhere. After skipping the Modern MCQ in town I decided to hit up a local Legacy 1k and was offered my choice of Lands and Ad Nauseam Tendrils to battle with. Playing either deck with little to no experience was sure to be a comedy of errors but blundering my way through the day with Lands sounded more fun.

Not long later, I split the finals with this list:

Legacy Lands

Spells (13)
Punishing Fire
Life From the Loam
Crop Rotation

Artifacts (8)
Mox Diamond

Enchantments (1)
Sylvan Library

Planeswalkers (3)
Wrenn and Six
Lands (35)
Maze of Ith
Blast Zone
Rishadan Port
Ghost Quarter
Grove of the Burnwillows
Dark Depths
Thespian's Stage
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Sheltered Thicket
Ancient Tomb
Tranquil Thicket
Glacial Chasm
Bojuka Bog
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

Sideboard (15)
Chalice of the Void
Sphere of Resistance
Krosan Grip
Tireless Tracker
Nissa, Vital Force

Lands has been on the Legacy scene for almost a decade now but it has come a long way since the days of winning slowly but surely with Barbarian Ring and Mishra’s Factory. The combination of Dark Depths and Thespian’s Stage—and the ability to find them both quickly via Crop Rotation and Gamble—gives the deck a nut draw that can race any deck in the format, including the combo decks that used to be its worst nightmare.

Lands’ popularity tends to ebb and flow as the metagame moves around it. If Miracles or non-creature combo are the decks to beat, Lands won’t be very successful. However, when Lands is good it’s often the best choice you can make as long as you can pilot it well. It used to be said that the “cheat code” for team tournaments was to have a Lands master in your Legacy seat, and I hope that still holds true for me in Richmond.

Then Modern Horizons came out. Despite its name, the set has shaken up Legacy as much as Modern. Where do these changes leave Lands?

Wrenn and Six

A two-mana planeswalker has to be comically weak not to see play and Wrenn and Six is comically strong. The card has quickly become ubiquitous in Legacy and has reshaped how the fair Blue decks are built—both how they have to attack each other as well as the wider format.

Its arrival on the scene is a mixed blessing for Lands. Lands was such a scary matchup for the fair Blue decks because recurring Wasteland or Ghost Quarter (alongside Rishadan Port in some builds) could lock them out of ever casting spells while Maze of Ith and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale cleaned up any threats that slipped through the cracks. Wrenn and Six makes it much easier for those Blue decks to keep their manabase intact (with Arcum’s Astrolabe allowing them to fetch basics and still have perfect mana; in fact, former Lands master Daryl Ayers cast Wrenn and Six off two Islands against my teammate in Philly!) and even to beat Lands at its own game by assembling their own Wasteland lock.

On the other hand, Lands uses Wrenn and Six better than almost any other deck. The deck is now far less reliant on Life from the Loam to recur its lands and Wrenn and Six teams up with Punishing Fire to control the board and shoot down the Planeswalkers that used to give Lands trouble.

Wastelands out of miscellaneous decks are less prevalent as they no longer hobble the Blue decks reliably. Among the Blue decks, the easy access to all the colors of the rainbow thanks to Astrolabe and Wrenn and the ability to stretch the mana to fit Wrenn alongside the familiar Blue favorites, Abrupt Decay, and so on, has led to an arms race of sorts as these decks compete to out-grind each other. Miracles, a traditionally tough matchup for Lands, has been squeezed out of the format due to its weakness against Wrenn and the shells that have adopted it. A deck like Lands that operates on a fundamentally different axis stands to gain from this fight between the fair decks.

Dark Depths

As these fair Blue decks become more dominant, and thus more inbred to beat each other, Marit Lage threatens to rear its beautiful head once again.

A look at the stock four-color lists reveals a lot of countermagic, discard, targeted removal, and conditional interaction, but very little that can disrupt an indestructible, uncounterable one-turn clock that only relies on lands. Assembling the Depths-Stage combo early and naturally is the best plan against the fair decks. I just played the list I was given but cutting the fourth Depths is sacrilege right now.

With this weakness in the metagame becoming more and more evident, traditional BG Depths is seeing a resurgence and the Frankenstein’s monster that is Hogaak Depths is becoming very popular. Luckily for old school explorers, good old Lands boasts a very strong matchup against both of these decks. Hogaak Depths in particular matches up very poorly against a deck that can execute the same primary plan, disrupt that plan very easily with Wasteland, Karakas, and the like, and trump its secondary plan(s) with a variety of other tools.

Blast Zone

Every new release brings an interesting land or two and Lands is well positioned to exploit any of new cards of its namesake type.

Amid the hubbub over War of the Spark and Modern Horizons, Blast Zone is a quiet but important addition to the format—and not just for the Eldrazi or Cloudpost decks. Blast Zone gives Lands a tutorable answer to a True-Name Nemesis or Jace, the Mind Sculptor, cards that threatened to run away with and steal the game from you, as well as any random nonsense that always hovers around the fringes of a format as broad as Legacy.

I certainly had a blast playing Lands and exploring new zones in competitive Magic. The deck is fun, powerful, and well-positioned. If you can stomach the investment (or can borrow a triple-sleeved, half foil copy), you’ll be handsomely rewarded!

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