Land Tax has been banned from Premodern and I’m left trying to figure out what I want to play next.  I loved using Swords to Plowshares and Counterspell to answer every threat my opponent presented. But that was only possible because the Land Tax/Scroll Rack engine with Gaea’s Blessing let me see so many cards that I could draw more Swords to Plowshares than my opponent drew creatures once the game got going. Without that, answering everything is a lot harder.

I haven’t worked out what I want to play yet, so this article is going to go through my thoughts, but as a warning, they’re somewhat scattered.  Still, I think this should be a great look at my deck/card selection process.

Where To From Here?

My starting point is that I think Mox Diamond is the strongest card in Premodern.  This is a controversial opinion in a world without Land Tax as the card disadvantage is real and not as easy to recoup.  Mox Diamond plays a very different role without Land Tax.  With Land Tax, it lets you operate smoothly with fewer lands in play than your opponent, which lead to the final form of my Land Tax deck having no spells I needed more than two mana to cast.  Without Land Tax, there’s no reason to avoid putting lands onto the battlefield, so Mox Diamond is only good if you’re playing it and lands and using it to have more mana than your opponent.  This implies a very different curve and a deck that wants to spend a lot more mana.

To play Mox Diamond, you need a good source of card advantage (unless you’re just trying to use it to execute a combo on turn one or two, but that’s not my goal).  There are a few different ways to approach doing that in Premodern.  One is Enchantress, but in that context, Exploration is much better since it’s an enchantment.  Another is Phyrexian Arena, but that’s a little slow and vulnerable for my taste, given that there are a lot of powerful enchantments in the format, so most decks can answer them.  Another is using cards like Weathered Wayfarer, Mulch, Krosan Tusker, or Yavimaya Elder that give you lands at a slightly better rate than drawing cards.  Finally, you can simply play a lot of card draw spells.  The best with Mox Diamond is Gush, but that doesn’t necessarily play well with trying to get a lot of lands on the battlefield. But still there are a lot of other good blue card draw options, like Fact or Fiction, Deep Analysis, or Intuition+Accumulated Knowledge.

Where I imagined I’d want to go after Land Tax was banned before it actually happened was a deck with Sapphire Medallion and a lot of blue card advantage spells. But when I sketch those decks out, I want to play so few answers and so much card draw that I think I would lose to aggressive decks.

Enlightened Tutor is much worse now, which means decks have much less access to Engineered Plague, Humility, and Oath of Druids.  This means that decks like Elves and Goblins get a lot better, which means playing card draw spells and Swords to Plowshares doesn’t sound particularly effective to me.  I feel like I need to build around answers to going wide or try to win quickly.

I think the established Phyrexian Dreadnought decks are reasonably well-positioned, and despite that, I think Fluctuator also sounds pretty good, as I think it’s heavily favored against most decks that don’t have a lot of counterspells, and trying to play counterspells in this metagame sounds a bit difficult to me.  Elves and Goblins also seem pretty good, but I’m not looking to play an established deck.

A Sultai or Domain control deck with Pernicious Deed is appealing to me, but it wouldn’t use Mox Diamond well and I’m not prepared to give up on that.

Mox Diamond+Sapphire Medallion fueling Psychatog with Upheaval is somewhat interesting–I don’t love the black removal suite, but it’s probably functional, and you could sideboard a lot of Engineered Plagues.

A bit of a weirder direction is some kind of Gruul or Naya control deck with Lightning Bolt, Pyroclasm, and maybe Flametongue Kavu, possibly with a Beast theme, and possibly with a Mulch/cycling lands engine, likely with Terravore.

Cards I have in mind:

Such a plan seems reasonable against creature decks, but I’m not sure that combo matchups would be solvable with a slow Naya deck.

Speculating On Elephants

I think Call of the Herd is a pretty solid and slightly underplayed threat.  I like the idea of playing it with Quiet Speculation and/or Fact or Fiction with Deep Analysis.  It’s very easy to splash White in a Blue/Green deck, so I’d likely also want Swords to Plowshares and Meddling Mage in my 75.  I’m not sure exactly what the rest of the deck should do.  I like Battle Screech a lot, but I’m not sure which white creatures I like outside of Mother of Runes and Meddling Mage.  Maybe Sunscape Familiar, which is a bit of a weird fit when you’re trying to play a bunch of white creatures and Battle Screech, but does play really well with Quiet Speculation.

This isn’t quite right, but something in this space:

Domain Control

I really want to play Gaea’s Blessing, which doesn’t play especially well with flashback spells.  I like the idea of playing Domain control so I can just play all the cards I want to play, and that deck would possibly look something like this:


Between Birds of Paradise, Mox Diamond, and Harrow, this deck is pretty good at getting mana into play, and between Harrow, Thawing Glaciers, and Fetchlands, I get the lands out of my deck pretty quickly. This makes my deck a lot more powerful when I start improving it with Gaea’s BlessingPsychatog lets me exile fetchlands so that I can avoid shuffling them into my deck when I put Gaea’s Blessing into my graveyard off Fact or Fiction, and Burning Wish gives me regular access to Allied Strategies so that I never run out of stuff to do.

I’m not sure what the right mix of Krosan Tusker and Harrow is, and this kind of thing requires a lot of tuning to get the maindeck and sideboard right, but this looks like the kind of thing I’d love playing.


I think Enchantress is a really strong deck, but I don’t really like the white cards people play.  I don’t have much experience with the deck, but Words of Wind/Cloud of Faeries build has always seemed stronger to me.  I’d want to start with something like this:


The fact that people don’t usually play Worldly Tutor is another thing that seems off to me.  It seems like the deck wants to have Argothian Enchantress and would happily mulligan for it, and Worldly Tutor seems to do just that.

This deck doesn’t have a “win con” outside of Words of Wind–the idea is that you bounce all of your opponent’s permanents and attack them with Cloud of FaeriesWords of Worship allows you to avoid getting burned out while doing this.  It’s possible that the deck wants one Counterspell and one Scrivener to help lock people out.  I’m not sure, but my sense is that people use too many slots in their enchantress decks to actually win the game, which doesn’t seem necessary.

Psychatog and Friends

I’m pretty uncertain about the best way to build Psychatog.  I think cost reduction effects seem strong, but I’m not sure exactly how many Nightscape Familiars vs Sapphire Medallions you want, and the options for removal and card draw are also pretty difficult to evaluate.  I might start with something like this, which notably only uses Recoil for creature removal in the main deck.  I don’t know if that’s a great or horrible idea.


I kinda wonder about a version with some Squee, Goblin Nabobs and Zombie Infestations to make better use of Circular Logic and Deep Analysis, possibly with more Intuitions.  That version likely wouldn’t have Upheaval.

Mox Diamond is a pretty appealing addition to the Upheaval plan in Psychatog, and with some cost reduction effects, I could see profitably Upheavaling pretty early in a game, but I don’t know if it’s early enough to be meaningful against the fast decks in the format.

Removing Land Tax removes a relatively small portion of the field of Premodern in a way that seems like it shouldn’t impact the deck composition in the format as a whole very much. But, I think there are two fundamentally different approaches to Premodern that happen at the same time and in the same tournaments–casual Premodern, where deck selection is just informed by which old cards people think are cool, and competitive Premodern, where people are trying to beat the other competitive decks.  In any given tournament, a lot of the players are playing casual Premodern, and to those players Land Tax existing or not existing doesn’t really change much. But to the competitive Premodern players who are trying to win tournaments, Land Tax represented a much higher percentage of their relevant matches, and its absence could really shake up the winners metagame,  I think I’ll need to play a good number of matches before I figure out whether I think control is a viable approach to the new format, or whether winning tournaments is a question of Dreadnought vs Elves/Goblins vs combo (Fluctator, Full English Breakfast, Aluren, or something like that).

Sam Black (any) is a former professional Magic player, longtime Magic writer, host of the Drafting Archetypes podcast, and Twitch streamer. Sam is also a Commander Cube enthusiast, and you can find Sam’s cube list here. For anything else, find Sam on Twitter: @SamuelHBlack.

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