Through the Looking Glass: Selesnya Depths with Dan Neeley

Dan Neeley

Special Guest

Dan Neeley

(Twitter: danneeley1 | MTGO: DNEELEY)

Dan Neeley is a Legacy player known for playing Selesnya Depths, Maverick, and four-color Loam. Dan has a Star City Games Legacy Open Top 8, multiple MTGO Challenge Wins, and other smaller achievements. Dan is a father of three beautiful girls, he enjoys playing Legacy in his spare time.

Selesnya Depths by Dan Neeley

In a meta largely full of [[Grief]]-based reanimation strategies right now, why has Selesnya Depths re-emerged as a viable strategy? What does the deck bring to the table in this environment?

I believe the reason Selesnya Depths has re-emerged is that it is one of the most consistent strategies you can play outside the blue decks that have cantrips to help sculpt your hands. The Depths strategy is very simple: play [[Elvish Reclaimer]] or [[Knight of the Reliquary]] and use tools like [[Green Sun’s Zenith]] to put them into play. I have had fairly good results against the [[Grief]] strategies due to the deck’s consistency. [[Elvish Reclaimer]] is just the absolute best card in the deck. If the [[Grief]] deck doesn’t have a fast start and they allow [[Elvish Reclaimer]] to hold up the activation for [[Bojuka Bog]], they fall pretty far behind. I would also like to talk about [[Echoing Depths]]. This card is such a great addition to the deck. It allows you to have a second activation of [[Bojuka Bog]] in this matchup, which you sometimes desperately need. Moving to the sideboard, having 3-4 extra graveyard cards is essential. [[Veil of Summer]] is also very strong to help protect your creatures and your hand. Just to circle back to what this deck brings to the table: CONSISTENCY. The deck continues to execute its strategy better than the other decks I pilot.

What is your game one game plan against The EPIC Storm? Are you trying to win as quickly as possible with [[Marit Lage Token]], or are you interested in playing a longer game?

If I know I am playing against The EPIC Storm in game 1 before the game begins, my goal is to deploy a turn 3 [[Marit Lage Token]] or a possible [[Green Sun’s Zenith]] search to get [[Gaddock Teeg]]. This strategy is a tough match for Depths. [[Mox Diamond]] is one of the ways to help get to the mana needed to hopefully deploy [[Gaddock Teeg]] or the combo a turn sooner. So, to answer the question, we want to win as quickly as possible. If we get [[Gaddock Teeg]] into play, we want to make sure we switch our strategy and protect it from things like [[Grapeshot]] or other removal spells. Every match and situation is different; my best advice is to play more Magic to help get yourself in situations where it’s easier to make better or the right decisions.

What should the The EPIC Storm pilot be doing in game one? Specifically: Is there any reason why we shouldn’t be trying to win as quickly as possible once we know you’re on Selesnya Depths?

I think the The EPIC Storm pilot should avoid any lines that lose to [[Bojuka Bog]] or [[Endurance]], as that is typically the only interaction Depths has in game 1. I would most likely try to kill as soon as possible in case the Depths player is running a [[Gaddock Teeg]] or [[Collector Ouphe]] main. Also, beware of 2 [[Crop Rotation]] hands that allow making [[Marit Lage Token]] a turn quicker than you would expect. A common play of this would be turn 1 [[Savannah]], turn 2 [[Dark Depths]] or [[Thespian’s Stage]], turn 3 another land that taps for mana. The first [[Crop Rotation]] will get a [[Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth]], and the second [[Crop Rotation]] would get the second part of the combo that isn’t in play to make the [[Marit Lage Token]].

How do you identify that your opponent is playing combo? What key indicators would tip you off to The EPIC Storm in Game 1, and once you’ve figured this out, how does your strategy change?

The best indicator to figure out if your opponent is playing a combo deck is the lands they are playing. The best thing you can do is study the meta to know what fetch land and dual land combinations to best place what deck they are playing. The EPIC Storm plays odd land combinations. For example, if they play an [[Underground Sea]] and [[Ponder]] on turn 1, then on turn 2 they play a non-blue dual like [[Taiga]]/[[Plateau]], I typically put them on The EPIC Storm. Once I figure out they are on the combo plan, my focus shifts to trying to make a [[Marit Lage Token]] as fast as I can or to disrupt with a card like [[Bojuka Bog]]/[[Endurance]] or [[Gaddock Teeg]].

In the dark, what kind of hands are you keeping in the dark in game one? Are you typically mulliganing aggressively for a specific kind of hand (e.g., a fast [[Dark Depths]] line), or without knowledge of your opponent’s deck, will you keep a wider variety of lands and spells?

My typical keep in the dark tends to have one of the following:

  • Both combo pieces or one of the lands and a [[Crop Rotation]].
  • Hands that have green mana and a way to put [[Elvish Reclaimer]] in play. [[Green Sun’s Zenith]] and a [[Mox Diamond]] is a strong turn 1 play.

I believe [[Elvish Reclaimer]] is the best green card in the deck. It hurts to say that against my favorite card of all time, [[Knight of the Reliquary]]. I have accepted that in game 1 we can’t control turn 1 kills and we need to just execute our strategy as best we can. This deck can operate and win on 5 cards with turn 1 [[Elvish Reclaimer]] and lands. Don’t be afraid to mulligan.

What card out of The EPIC Storm are you most afraid of? Why?

The [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and [[Echo of Eons]] combo is so good, as the The EPIC Storm player can mulligan aggressively to rebuild their hand. The Depths player can’t interact with the combo as they hold priority when cracking [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to cast [[Echo of Eons]]. Being on the draw makes this even worse because Depths needs mana to interact, with a card like [[Veil of Summer]]/[[Deafening Silence]] or to cast a creature like [[Collector Ouphe]] or [[Gaddock Teeg]].

You are on maindeck [[Outland Liberator]] over [[Collector Ouphe]]. Why? Is this generally the choice that we should expect other Selesnya Depths pilots to make?

I think the biggest reason for me not to play [[Collector Ouphe]] main is because of playing [[Mox Diamond]]. It doesn’t sync well together. I like a card like [[Outland Liberator]] as it answers a lot of different things in other matchups that [[Collector Ouphe]] does not. Examples would be cards like [[Up the Beanstalk]], [[Urza’s Saga]], [[Leyline of the Void]], [[Exploration]], [[Sphere of Resistance]], to name a few. I would think most pilots of Depths would make the same choice unless combo storm decks are a high majority of your meta.

I see that your current list keeps most of its more hateful permanents in the sideboard. How frequently do true Selesnya Depths lists run maindeck hateful permanents (e.g., [[Gaddock Teeg]] or [[Collector Ouphe]] as [[Green Sun’s Zenith]] targets, or maindeck [[Sphere of Resistance]])? Should the The EPIC Storm pilot fear cards like these in game one?

I go back and forth on playing a [[Urza’s Saga]] version of Depths. If the deck is playing [[Urza’s Saga]], it’s hard to add a hate bear like [[Gaddock Teeg]] main. I am currently in favor of trying to execute the [[Dark Depths]] combo and believe the consistency of it gives me more wins to focus on creating [[Marit Lage Token]]. Playing the list without [[Urza’s Saga]] allows me to play a card like [[Gaddock Teeg]] main. I think the The EPIC Storm player shouldn’t be too concerned with a card like [[Collector Ouphe]] or [[Gaddock Teeg]] main, as I believe the majority of Depths players will not be playing it main deck. I think they will be playing the [[Urza’s Saga]] version, which my best guess would be 70-80%.

How do you sideboard against The EPIC Storm? Does this change on the play vs. on the draw?

My sideboarding against The EPIC Storm would look like this:


  • -4 [[Swords to Plowshares]]
  • -2 [[Legolas’s Quick Reflexes]]
  • -1 [[Maze of Ith]]
  • -1 [[Outland Liberator]]


  • +1 [[Deafening Silence]]
  • +1 [[Surgical Extraction]]
  • +2 [[Veil of Summer]]
  • +1 [[Collector Ouphe]]
  • +1 [[Endurance]]
  • +2 [[Force of Vigor]]

I would consider bringing in [[Choke]] on the play but not the draw. Other than that, I would keep everything the same.

Post-board, how deep are you going for cards that interact with our combo? Will you keep a hand on 6 or 7 that cannot meaningfully interact with your The EPIC Storm opponent on the first turn of the game?

I will mulligan aggressively down to 5 cards to have interaction for the match. I won’t keep a functional 6 or 7 just because it allows me to play a turn 1 [[Elvish Reclaimer]]. I am looking for at minimum a turn 2 card to put in play like [[Gaddock Teeg]] or [[Collector Ouphe]] or maybe a [[Veil of Summer]] that can at least protect you for a turn against [[Tendrils of Agony]].

While graveyard hate can be useful against The EPIC Storm, it’s beatable (especially via [[Song of Creation]]) in a way that a resolved [[Gaddock Teeg]] isn’t. Will you keep a hand, particularly on a higher mulligan, that exclusively interacts via graveyard hate?

I would keep a hand that allows me to combo quickly and makes a [[Marit Lage Token]] that has a card like [[Endurance]] or [[Surgical Extraction]]. It isn’t the Depths player’s best plan, but you also don’t want to mulligan to a hand that can’t cast any spells either. I believe most experienced The EPIC Storm players avoid using the graveyard in the dark against this strategy because [[Endurance]]/[[Bojuka Bog]] interactions are more common and consistent for Depths players to have.

Let’s talk about [[Force of Vigor]]. [[Crop Rotation]] for [[Bojuka Bog]] game one will always make me consider going for [[Song of Creation]] over [[Gaea’s Will]], but [[Force of Vigor]] changes that calculus post-board. How aggressively do you tend to use this card; should I expect a Selesnya Depths pilot to tank on it to blow out my [[Song of Creation]], or should I expect to see it used aggressively?

I don’t think you will see the Selesnya Depths player use [[Force of Vigor]] aggressively on a card like [[Chrome Mox]]. For myself, I am looking to use [[Force of Vigor]] specifically on [[Song of Creation]] or a line that allows me to use it on [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] with graveyard interaction like [[Crop Rotation]] for [[Bojuka Bog]], [[Surgical Extraction]], or [[Endurance]].

It’s a bit niche, but there’s a fascinating line in [[Veil of Summer]] blanking [[Tendrils of Agony]], then [[Crop Rotation]] for [[Glacial Chasm]] blanking a backup [[Grapeshot]]. Would you ever consider bringing in the [[Glacial Chasm]] for this purpose, or would that be too cute?

If I am playing [[Glacial Chasm]], I am bringing it in 100% of the time. I am bringing it in specifically for [[Empty the Warrens]], as I have lost to that card more times than I can count. I have never had the pleasure of using the exact situation you are describing against The EPIC Storm, but it is the other reason for bringing it in.

Revisiting the question on speed – should the The EPIC Storm pilot be trying to win as quickly as possible post-board, or would you prioritize slower hands that could better defend against your sideboard cards? In particular, if the The EPIC Storm pilot has an unprotected turn one kill on the play, would you jam or would you look for something that could better protect itself?

I think you should win as fast as you can without using the graveyard, as the Depths player will be bringing in additional graveyard interaction cards. Some Depths players will play up to 3 [[Force of Vigor]], so be careful of using the [[Song of Creation]] play. I think if you have a card like [[Chain of Vapor]] or [[Thoughtseize]], it’s always better to take a turn off to help secure a known victory.

Who do you think is favored overall in the matchup, The EPIC Storm or Selesnya Depths? How does this compare to other combo decks?

I do think the The EPIC Storm deck is favored in the matchup. Depths’ worst matchups are the faster combo decks. Just win before we can deploy the permanent-based threats. I think we match up a little better vs slower combo decks, but combo is not the Depths deck’s good matchups. The overall consistency of Depths allows the deck to win a good amount of games and execute its strategy.

Any final thoughts or comments? Any plugs or shoutouts?

Thank you to The EPIC Storm for allowing me to share my thoughts. Thank you to all the Legacy content creators who keep Legacy alive. I wish I had more time to give back to the community, but my career and family take up the majority of my time. I appreciate the dedicated Depths players I interact with, specifically Douges, Jonathon Yanik, and Michael Mapson, to name a few. Thanks again to the Legacy community; much love!

Big shout out to Dan Neeley for joining us Through the Looking Glass. Remember, if you lose the die roll, you’re probably bad at Magic.

Bang bang, Tendrils gang. See you next month.