Special Guest

A few words on Jarvis Yu:

(Twitter: @jkyu06 | MTGO: Samwise_GeeGee)

Jarvis Yu works during the day as a mathematical statistician for the United States government. He has four Grand Prix Top 8’s (Seattle 2015 (Legacy), Columbus 2016 (Legacy), New Jersey 2017 (Standard), Atlanta 2019 (Legacy)), with Seattle being a win. He has also played 22 Pro Tour/Pro Tour-level equivalent events. His favorite formats are Legacy and Booster Draft.

What paths does Lands typically have to win the game, and how much time do they typically take? Which tend to be the most feasible against The EPIC Storm?

In general, the way Lands “wins” the game is by assembling [[Thespian’s Stage]] and [[Dark Depths]] (the fastest and best kill versus combo, such as The EPIC Storm). With [[Exploration]], this can happen as quickly as turn two. Other ways Lands can win the games are by building an army of [[Construct Token]]s with [[Urza’s Saga]], [[Punishing Fire]] recursion (with [[Grove of the Burnwillows]]) or by exhausting the opponent’s manabase with [[Wasteland]] and [[Life from the Loam]] and getting a concession this way.

[[Sphere of Resistance]], long a sideboard mainstay for Lands (and one of the deck’s best ways of interacting with The EPIC Storm), has recently begun to appear main deck, often with copies of [[Ancient Tomb]] to support a turn-one cast. What meta movements have facilitated this change, and do you agree with this build?

The idea behind this deck is that Lands is structurally favored versus fair decks, and by cutting some of the flex slot cards to play four main-deck [[Sphere of Resistance]], you should theoretically gain a lot of percentage versus unfair decks. In my own experience, however, this doesn’t actually happen in practice. What tends to happen is the [[Ancient Tomb]]-heavy version doesn’t have enough green sources (nine green sources without [[Mox Diamond]], and only 13 with [[Mox Diamond]]). Additionally, playing [[Sphere of Resistance]] versus fair decks only increases the play/draw dichotomy that’s already present in Legacy (i.e. [[Sphere of Resistance]] is VERY good on turn one on the play, but can be completely useless on the draw).

Which common [[Crop Rotation]] targets should The EPIC Storm pilot be aware of?

[[Tendrils of Agony]] bypasses [[Glacial Chasm]] (which isn’t even that commonly played anymore), but be wary of going for [[Empty the Warrens]] because of [[The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale]].

What other main-deck tools, if any, does Lands have to disrupt the TES player?

Depending on the hand the TES player keeps, [[Wasteland]] can be a real issue (if they are lacking artifact mana). [[Rishadan Port]] can also buy time (along with Sphere of Resistance) to set up a [[Construct Token]] beatdown or [[Marit Lage Token]].

How fundamentally has [[Urza’s Saga]] changed the Lands archetype since its printing two years ago? What tutor targets are typically included? Have any more traditional components of Lands’ strategy (e.g., [[Punishing Fire]]) been cut to make room for [[Urza’s Saga]] packages?

In my opinion, [[Urza’s Saga]] made the deck a lot more flexible and powerful. [[Mox Diamond]] synergizes well with [[Urza’s Saga]] (giving you the mana to activate it faster, and being an excellent card to search up with [[Urza’s Saga]] to recoup the manaloss). In my experience, the following cards are commonly played: [[Mox Diamond]], [[Pithing Needle]], [[Soul-Guide Lantern]]. [[Pyrite Spellbomb]] is fringe (but a favorite of mine). Post sideboard, you sometimes see [[Thran Foundry]], [[Tormod’s Crypt]] or [[Grafdigger’s Cage]].

To clarify: [[Urza’s Saga]] and [[Thespian’s Stage]] can give you a “[[Pack Rat]]” land that sticks around (A brief explanation here: use [[Thespian’s Stage]] to copy [[Urza’s Saga]], then let the stage tick up two chapters, then target any other land with the stage (preferably basic [[Forest]]). Since the [[Urza’s Saga]] itself grants the ability to the land, you’ll end up with a [[Thespian’s Stage]] that can generate [[Construct Token]]s indefinitely, kind of like [[Pack Rat]]).

What colors does Lands typically play, and what do you gain (or lose) with each? Which build of the deck is most favored against The EPIC Storm?

Usually you see Gruul or Selesnya Lands, with the occasional Temur maniacal build floating about. Gruul versus Selesnya is usually a tradeoff of [[Swords to Plowshares]] versus [[Punishing Fire]] and [[Pyroblast]]. Temur gives you access to [[Flusterstorm]]. To clarify, I think the three-color Lands are a bit too stretched, and it’s usually difficult to cast the spells you’d want to because of the number of colorless lands the deck plays.

How would you differentiate a true Lands shell from something like Selesnya / Naya / Turbo Depths? How do these strategies differ strategically, in particular in the TES matchup?

To me, the cutoff is [[Life from the Loam]] plus [[Exploration]]. Generally, you don’t see these cards in Selesnya/Naya/Golgari Turbo Depths, although it’s not completely out of the question. Strategically speaking, I think Golgari Turbo Depths is probably the best versus TES because of its ability to play discard and go for a fast [[Collector Ouphe]].

What is Lands’ sideboard plan for The EPIC Storm? What kinds of cards does the deck typically have access to out of the board?

Generally, the plan is to assemble a fast [[Marit Lage Token]] kill (preferably with some disruption). You’ll side in any amount of disruption for the defensive cards ([[Maze of Ith]], [[Punishing Fire]], etc). Depending on the specific pilot, you can see [[Sphere of Resistance]] in the sideboard, [[Chalice of the Void]], [[Mindbreak Trap]], or (in white lists) [[Deafening Silence]].

Given the graveyard-heavy nature of the current meta (and slots thus going to cards like [[Surgical Extraction]], [[Grafdigger’s Cage]], and [[Faerie Macabre]]), as well as some built in main-deck protection against spell combo in [[Sphere of Resistance]], [[Mindbreak Trap]] has appeared far less frequently in recent Lands sideboards. Should The EPIC Storm pilot still be playing around [[Mindbreak Trap]] out of Lands, post-board?

If you look at the recent lists of Lands, almost no one has that card. Obviously if you play a three-game set and see [[Mindbreak Trap]] in game two, then you should consider playing around it for game three, but I would otherwise just assume that the card isn’t in their deck.

Post-board against a known TES opponent, what does an ideal Lands hand look like? How does this differ on the play vs. on the draw, if at all?

Accelerant (either [[Crop Rotation]] for [[Ancient Tomb]] or [[Mox Diamond]] with another mana-producing land) plus [[Sphere of Resistance]] into fast [[Marit Lage Token]]. This doesn’t really change on play versus draw, since there aren’t that many cards that matter in the matchup from the Lands side.

How well does Lands tend to mulligan, particularly if it’s trying to find its relevant sideboard cards? How deep will a good Lands pilot go to find a disruptive opening hand against The EPIC Storm?

Since so few cards matter in the matchup, you should mulligan aggressively. I would generally say Lands is an excellent beneficiary of the London mulligan since [[Life from the Loam]] can recoup a fair number of cards.

How do you think The EPIC Storm matchup compares to other combo decks such as Oops! All Spells, Ad Nauseam Tendrils, [[Doomsday]], etc?

Honestly, it’s probably slightly better than Oops! All Spells, worse than ANT, better than [[Doomsday]], worse than Goblin Charbelcher. The real metric is “how fast do you kill”. The faster the deck is, the worse it is for Lands. Additionally, people who can kill through a [[Sphere of Resistance]] in a prolonged game are a nightmarish matchup as well (think Reanimator, Sneak and Show, Painter, and [[Doomsday]]).

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

The biggest mistakes from the TES side are: not mulliganing to a fast hand since slow resilient hands are the opposite of what you want. Also, basically ever putting [[Empty the Warrens]] on the stack is an easy way to lose the game.

The biggest mistake from the Lands side is just keeping a hand that either doesn’t have a fast [[Marit Lage Token]] or disruption.

Any final thoughts or comments? Any plugs or shoutouts?

I’d like to plug the free Lands guide I’ve recently updated here. You can also find me at:

Thank you to Jarvis Yu for joining Through the Looking Glass and giving some great context on the Lands matchup!

Until next time, keep counting to ten.