Through the Looking Glass: Lands with Albert Lindblom

Abert Lindblom

Special Guest

A few words on Albert Lindblom

My name is Albert Lindblom and I am a Swedish magic player living in Denmark. I have played magic since Ice Age and Legacy since 2010. I used to play The EPIC Storm exclusively for many years, and a big part of my paper legacy collection is actually built up from store credits that I won playing TES. I stopped playing Storm during the peak of the Deathrite era and I have not played a single match with the deck since Gitaxian Probe was banned. I am now an online grinder with Lands. I have many great finishes with Lands including multiple Legacy Showcase Top 8’s and a 9th place in last year’s Eternal Weekend. I also managed to qualify for one of the Arena “Pro-Tours” via a 2nd place in last season’s Showcase Qualifier.
How has [[Urza’s Saga]] changed the Lands? How does it impact the match-up against The EPIC storm?

[[Urza’s Saga]] is strong in Lands. It’s a better midrange engine than [[Sylvan Library]] or [[Valakut Exploration]] in the current Legacy meta (that in many ways is warped by the card [[Prismatic Ending]]). [[Urza’s Saga]] has great synergy with [[Life from the Loam]] and [[Crop Rotation]] and I like the toolbox that it provides as this makes our deck more non-linear.

[[Urza’s Saga]] does very little in game one against TES as it’s often too slow. In post sideboard games however a Saga combined with a Sphere effect is an effective strategy that requires less resources compared to the [[Dark Depths]] combo.

In game one, is [[Wasteland]] recursion via [[Life From the Loam]] the primary game plan?

No. This strategy does not work against [[Lotus Petal]] decks as they can just sandbag a land in hand or go off from a [[Lotus Petal]] or Mox.

Game one is only won by a turn two or turn three Marit Lage, and it’s better to use the mana from our copies of [[Wasteland]] to speed up our clock.

How effective do you think [[Empty the Warrens]] is against Lands? Is it a card that you generally worry about coming from The EPIC Storm?

I know that many great TES players refuse to go for [[Empty the Warrens]] against Lands, so this is not a card that I worry about. In fact, I sometimes side [[The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale]] out in the matchup as I am confident that my opponent will not try to win with [[Goblin Token]]s.

In the olden days, when we played four [[Gamble]], [[Empty the Warrens]] was truly a non-issue. I was jumping for joy every time that my TES opponent went for the [[Goblin Token]]s plan. BAs we started cutting [[Gamble]] for [[Valakut Exploration]], [[Empty the Warrens]] became a little bit better as it was harder to consistently find [[The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale]]. Even in these builds, we played four [[Crop Rotation]] and two [[Elvish Reclaimer]], making [[Empty the Warrens]] was somewhat of a risky option. In today’s version of Lands, we play an [[Expedition Map]] that can be found via [[Urza’s Saga]], and I would say that it’s easy to find a [[The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale]] with this configuration.

With The EPIC Storm playing white for [[Prismatic Ending]] and [[Orim’s Chant]], how have these cards changed the match-up for you — if at all?

They have not changed the matchup much in my opinion. Sure, [[Prismatic Ending]] is a cheap way to destroy [[Sphere of Resistance]] that also dodge [[Pyroblast]], but TES already had access to this effect in [[Abrupt Decay]] or [[Crash]].

[[Orim’s Chant]] can stop Marit Lage for a crucial turn, and it also plays nicely around [[Mindbreak Trap]]. We typically don’t play [[Mindbreak Trap]], however, or any other spell-based interaction and hence [[Orim’s Chant]] is mostly a dead card against Lands.

How do you think The EPIC Storm matchup compares to other [[Dark Ritual]] combo decks such as [[Ad Nauseam]] Tendrils against Lands?

It’s hard to find sideboard cards that are great against TES, ANT and [[Doomsday]] at the same time. The best one I can think of is [[Flusterstorm]], but this requires us to have a blue splash.

TES is good at ignoring our spell based interaction. [[Crop Rotation]], [[Endurance]] and [[Pyroblast]] do very little against TES. I still think, however, that TES is an easier matchup than ANT. This is because TES has a shaky manabase, and they also use artifacts as their mana sources (and hence [[Force of Vigor]] can be used to attack their mana). A single Sphere is often enough to win over TES, but I don’t feel the same way when playing against ANT.

[[Doomsday]] is another [[Dark Ritual]] deck, and this got a lot easier once [[Endurance]] was printed. We can now fight [[Doomsday]] with both permanent and spell-based hate. There are even utility lands, such as [[Ipnu Rivulet]], that we can add if we want to improve our chances against [[Doomsday]]. I still think that this is a very difficult matchup as it’s a fast combo deck with [[Force of Will]].

How heavily do you look for a [[Mox Diamond]] in your opening hand? Does this answer change at all in post-board games?

In game one, [[Exploration]] is better than [[Mox Diamond]]. We want to go turn one [[Exploration]] into turn two Marit Lage (possibly via a [[Crop Rotation]]).

In game two, [[Mox Diamond]] is one of our best cards. We want to go turn one [[Mox Diamond]] plus [[Sphere of Resistance]], and then follow this up with a turn two [[Urza’s Saga]] or turn three Marit Lage. I will definitely keep a hand with [[Sphere of Resistance]] but no [[Mox Diamond]] on the play, but this can be too slow on the draw.

[[Force of Vigor]] is a relatively new addition to slow down The EPIC Storm, how good is it in the matchup?

[[Force of Vigor]] is very good against TES. TES players will often play out their artifact mana to play around Spheres, and this gets punished by [[Force of Vigor]]. Good TES players will sequence their spells in a way to minimize the impact of [[Force of Vigor]]. I will not keep a hand where [[Force of Vigor]] is the only interaction as this will not be enough.

What does your sideboard plan entail?

I think that the Lands master Casey Lancaster has described this matchup very well via this sentence: “if we both are casting spells then I’m going to lose”.

This really sums up my strategy against Storm. I want to stop them from casting their Spells. If I play [[Rishadan Port]], then I will try to land a [[Sphere of Resistance]] and then heavily attack my opponents mana. If I play [[Urza’s Saga]] (instead of [[Rishadan Port]]), I will play more like a Prison-Combo or Prison-Aggro. This means that I will try to slam a Sphere and then win before my opponent manages to remove it.

[[Sphere of Resistance]] is the most important card in my sideboard, and I bring in 4-5 of these effects against TES. I also take in [[Force of Vigor]] and some copies of [[Pyroblast]]. I usually have 10-13 cards to bring in against TES. In order to make room for these I will take out 4-5 lands ([[Bojuka Bog]], [[Karakas]], [[Maze of Ith]], [[Field of the Dead]], and sometimes even [[The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale]]) as well as 2-3 [[Life from the Loam]]. I also take out all removal spells and shave down on [[Valakut Exploration]].

How do you value cards such as [[Endurance]], [[Bojuka Bog]], or any additional graveyard hate against The EPIC Storm? Do you play any of them?

These cards do close to nothing against TES.

What is the sideboard plan that you expect from The EPIC Storm?

I don’t think Storm players should overboard against Lands as you are already favored to win, just take in a few answers to [[Sphere of Resistance]].

[[Galvanic Relay]] is a card that continues to overperform in The EPIC Storm? Is it a card you would expect the Storm pilot to sideboard in?

I think you are over-boarding if you bring in [[Galvanic Relay]] against Lands. This is not an attrition matchup. I will try to slow you down with a [[Sphere of Resistance]] and then kill you as soon as possible. Your focus should be to find an answer to my [[Sphere of Resistance]] or kill me before it resolves.

What is the biggest mistake you see Lands players make against The EPIC Storm? What is the biggest mistake you see TES players make against Lands?

From the Lands side, I think trying to Wastelock your Storm opponent in game one is a trap. As I said before, [[Wasteland]] is better as a colorless mana source in game one than as a land destruction spell. Another mistake that I see Lands players do is to focus on the wrong thing once a [[Sphere of Resistance]] is resolved. If we have [[Sphere of Resistance]] down, we are favored to win, and all focus should be on preventing our opponent from removing the [[Sphere of Resistance]]. We should not tap out for [[Valakut Exploration]] if we have [[Pyroblast]] for a potential bounce spell. It’s also better to use our mana to [[Rishadan Port]] the TES opponent in their upkeep compared to casting an expensive spell on our own turn.

From the TES side I sometimes see players do the following: Go down to two life with [[Ad Nauseam]] and die to [[Punishing Fire]]. Play out [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] too early just to have it destroyed by [[Force of Vigor]]. Here is a hint, the spell that you cast after [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] should be [[Burning Wish]] / [[Infernal Tutor]] / [[Wishclaw Talisman]]. Otherwise your [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] will be destroyed in response to your next spell and you won’t be able to crack it. Go for the [[Goblin Token]]s plan. It’s not great to 7-for 1 yourself just to lose it all to a [[The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale]]. Forget to crack your fetches in response to the third chapter of [[Urza’s Saga]]. Once that chapter resolves, you will not have time to crack your fetches before [[Pithing Needle]] is in play.

Any final thoughts or comments you would like to make? Any plugs or shoutouts?

I would like to give a shoutout to the Lands discord. This is the best place to learn the deck and all masters are in there. You can use (this) invite to join.

There is also a website dedicated to Lands that can be found (here).