This past Saturday I was able to achieve a second place finish at Top Deck Games monthly vintage event piloting Vintage Lands (lost to Ravager Shops in the finals).
I wanted to share some thoughts on the deck, gameplay, and matchups, as I know it has been an experiment of some. I have put a lot of thought and time into the deck in recent times and was glad to see it do well.
This was a 30 person, 5 round event.
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Diamond
1 Chalice of the Void
1 Engineered Explosives
2 Null Rod
4 Life from the Loam
3 Mental Misstep
2 crop rotation
3 Ancient Grudge
1 Academy Ruins
1 Glacial Chasm
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Strip mine
2 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
3 Riftstone Portal
3 Ghost Quarter
3 Thespian's Stage
3 Dark Depths
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
4 Mana Confluence
4 Bazaar of Baghdad
1 beast within
1 Krosan grip
1 Maze of ith
1 Bojuka Bog
2 Urborg Tomb of Yawgmoth
2 null rod
2 nature's claim
2 punishing fire
3 abrupt decay
Round 1- 4c Delver- 2-1
Round 2- Rector/Flash/Storm -2-0 (won game 1 through an Emrakrul, won game 2 through a turn one Rest in Piece)
Round 3- Dredge- 2-0
Round 4- Intentional Draw against Blue Belcher
Round 5 (played for seeding)- Draw the Hard way against Ravager shops (Joel Lim)-1-1-1
Top 8 (As 5 Seed)
Match 1- Ravager Shops (Joel Lim again)- 2-1
Match 2- Paradoxical- 2-0
Match 3 Ravager Shops- 0-2 (opponent had incredible draws and was on the play)
Thoughts on matchups:
For anyone who has put in time trying this deck you know the matchup against shops and dredge is good for you and playing blue is bad. I think the deck can beat blue decks given the correct draw and a little luck.
I will say, if you want to win with the deck consistently, you cannot afford any mistakes. The deck has a lot of lines and it creates a lot of weird interactions that can be easy to mess up.
I would say the deck is heavily favored against shops (at least the version I played). Obviously however, shops has certain hands at this point that are nearly if not completely unbeatable.
Clearly, being able to land a fastbond effect against a deck without counters is hugely beneficial. It sets the deck up for a fast Merit Lage, or lets the deck grind away at the opponent, and in my opinion this deck grinds like no other.
Null rod is essential to this matchup in my opinion, being able to go up to four null rod effects in game two helps a lot. It not only slows their side of the match down, it also shuts off their Tormod's crypts, which is the scariest hate they can play against you (though sorcerous spyglass does hurt a lot).
My matches against shops were mostly a grind, and Tabernacle was hugely essential to winning. I think any lands list that wants to succeed needs at least two tabernacles, the card is insane against any creature strategy shops or otherwise.
The dredge matchup is also good due to so many strip effects, multiple tabernacles, main deck bog, and glacial chasm. The dredge opponent largely has no interaction with you (as is normal) unless they are playing Leyline of the Void.
The match is draw dependent as any match with dredge is, but the deck has a lot more outs than it seems at first. Again tabernacle is huge, wasteland slows them down, and glacial ghasm is a power house. Game two against my oppoenent I was able to get a first turn fastbond and chasm out and I hid behind it for a few turns before he was totally locked out of the game and merit lage did his job.
Playing blue is obviously the worst nightmare of this deck. Msstep is your worst enemy and planeswalkers are soon to follow, along with getting largely out tempoed or just having your opponent go off with a combo.
I think there are a few essentials to playing against blue. First, the cards you keep are essential. The seven you want against delver and the seven you want against paradoxical are completely different. Don't be afraid to mulligan. This deck, again in my observation, has really good mulligans, if you know you need specific cards, don't be afraid to mull down.
Second, null rod and wasteland effects a lot and early are where you want to be. If you let the blue opponent hit any critical mass you are in trouble. Null rod was essential in both games I beat paradoxical. I was able to win game two off of a six card hand with no fastbond effect but multiple null rods. Even against blue control doing anything you can to slow them down is obviously to your benefit.
Against oath, game one can be really rough. If they land an early Oath you really have to hope your karakas is well placed and helps. Game two, abrupt decay is huge, as is punishing fire. I have bought myself a lot of time in certain oath matchups just killing the spirit tokens off of the orchard to buy time. It isn't pretty but you have to do what you can with what you have in this match.
You also need some luck, these are really hard matches, and you need to capitalize on game two and three, game one steals are awesome where you can get them and you really want to keep up the momemtum.
One advantage the deck has is that some people sideboard completely incorrectly against the list which allows you a big advantage if you know what you are doing game two.
The only blue match I lost on Saturday was to a turn one mentor and it was really close. Obviously a turn one Mentor puts a lot of decks on the back foot.
No Gamble: in vintage I don't think this list needs gamble. Having an even greater amount of one drops is not where the deck wants to be. Having four Bazaar's and a lot of redundancy in cards allows you to quickly dig to whatever card you need without getting missteped or otherwise countered.
No duals or basics: my list runs no duals but instead runs 4 confluence. Bringing in the abrupt decay from the side board I never want to have an issue with mana fixing. Between the confluences and the two urborgs I never had an issue with this. Confluence also makes it easier to activate my academy ruins, and increase the counters on engineered explosives. Just have to suck up the damage it does to you.
Crop rotation: In my observation, crop rotation is essential to the deck. Yes, it is a very high risk card in a world with misstep. Against blue decks you have to choose you line and be willing to take risks. Learning to read the opponent and their hand is really important for this card, but it is essential to setting up your board state where you need it to be. Against shops and a lot of dredge builds it is free and lets you get exactly what you need
Urborg: I like the side boarded urborg for many reasons. First, as mentioned above it is great to cast decay. Second, it turns on all of my non-mana producing lands without having to go to the graveyard like portal. Some games I sided out a portal for an urborg if I anticipated a lot of hate from the opponent that I couldn't play around as easy such as leyline or rest in piece as opposed to crypt which you can manipulate more. On the other hand, if you have extra space you can go up to 5 of this effect which enables your combo faster (something to do against dredge for instance). Something to keep in mind is the deck has a lot of lands that produce no mana, this can create weird board states and easily derail you if you aren't paying attention.
Null Rod: as mentioned aboice null rod is a power house for the deck. I think a successful vintage lands list needs this or stony silence and a lot of it. It can be essential to keeping the tempo in your favor. It stops combos and filtering with top. It’s everywhere the deck wants to be.
As a final note I will say that win or lose this deck is a lot of fun. It has a lot of interesting game play and there are a ton of different builds you can make. It is also great watching the increasing confusion on your opponents face. If you have interest in the deck I suggest you try it out but also suggest you spend a lot of time practicing and learning all of the lines. If you don't know how to pilot the deck it can easily beat itself in any matchup.
Have fun brewing!