Landstill in Legacy



By Belgareth



Table of Contents:


I. What is Landstill?
II. Why play Landstill?
III. The Deck Landstill
A. The Decklist
B. Card Choices
C. Decklists
D. Sideboard
E. Matchup Analysis
F. Vengeance Vs Disk
IV. Conclusion
V. Credits/Thanks.








I. What is Landstill?


Many people consider Landstill to be "the deck that won't die" in Legacy. Although it exists in many different forms, the basic aspect is the same: the deck revolves, as the name suggests, around Standstill and manlands.
As with all Control decks, the idea is to stall the game and use creature removal and counterspells to hold off your opponent's threats.


II. Why play Landstill?

Why should you play Landstill rather then any of the many other Tier 1 decks in 1.5?
The reasons are:
a) It’s extremely consistent, performing well on a regular basis and not relying on a perfect hand to win a game.

b) The deck employs a vast array of tools and has an answer to whatever it may face.


III. The Deck Landstill


A. The Decklist

Obviously, decklists change and there is no perfect list. The deck can change when the metagame changes.
There are currently three differing Landstill varieties that are seen in Legacy: UR, UW and URW.
The colour combinations all have specific strengths and weaknesses depending on the metagame.

B. Card Choices in Landstill

A card-by-card analysis:

Mana:

Usually, multiple colour decks have mild problems with mana. This is not so in Legacy. Landstill can easily gain access to the mana it needs to play two or even three colours.
The deck as the name suggests runs a higher than average land ratio, but this is largely because the lands are able to be played without triggering a Standstill while providing constant board threats via manlands.

Flooded Strand:
Allows the "Fetching" of the desired mana that is needed. This is because Dual lands such as Volcanic Island and Tundra counts as an Island as well as a Mountain or Plains respectively. Therefore, Flooded Strand can fetch any of the dual lands in the deck as they all count as either islands or plains even though they are nonbasic.
It is usual for a minimum of four sacrifice lands to be played, however sometimes there are as many as eight.

Polluted Delta:
Usually played as "fetch land" five-eight

Island:
Most landstill lists run solely on dual lands due to the colour requirements of the deck, however with evil enchantments such as Back to Basics being seen regularly it is often wise to include 1 basic Island.

Tundra:
Allows white mana for key creature removal and artifact/enchantment removal .
While maintaining the ability to tap for the predominant deck colour blue.

[card]Volcanic Island:
[/card] Similar to tundra but with red mana for Lightning Bolt, Fire // Ice and meta cards like Slice and Dice.

Wasteland:
Allows you to deal with an opponent’s land by slowing them down, killing a combo part (With Crucible of Worlds), or killing the opponent's man lands.



Denial:


The main reason most control decks play blue is that counterspells allow you the ability to stop almost any threat your opponent plays. They prevent your opponent's key cards from going off while keeping yours safe.
This deck carries the usual complement of Force of Will, Counterspell and in some cases Mana Leak as well.
This allows you to counter any spells that you know you cannot take care of with your removal.

Counterspell:
One of most important blue cards to see print. Legacy does not have access to the broken acceleration or the sheer ridiculous counters of Type 1. As such, Counterspell gives a solid way of stopping most cards at cheap low cost of UU. Often leaving two open blue mana is enough to put your opponent on edge for the rest of the match.

Force of Will:
What can be said about this powerful counter that has not already been said?
Its free alternate casting cost it allows you to reliably respond to threats without having to leave mana open on your turn
Simply put, this is a "four-of" card that you must have in any deck that contains 12 or more Blue cards.

Mana Leak:
In the early game it is as effective as Counterspell but in the later game it loses effectiventess because of its drawback.
Its main strength is its 1U casting cost.This allows you to keep opening hands where you only have one Blue mana.
Despite it's "splashability" it is often not played in tri-colour versions as it is inferior to other counters and space is limited. As Landstill has evolved some builds have dropped Mana Leak entirely in favor of other control elements such as Disenchant and Slice and Dice.


Removal:

has the benefit of sometimes being able to provide twp for one card advantage, so is often the best choice when facing 1 toughness weenies.
Lightning Bolt is your basic creature removal, while Swords to Plowshares acts as your answer to anything that is out of bolt range or has pro red.
[card=Swords to Plowshares[/card] has the added bonus of removing the problem from the game so it will never trouble you again.

Disenchant:
This is usually played main deck to combat the increase in Survival of the Fittest decks. A lot of decks in Legacy play a fair amount of Equipment. Two-Three is the preferred number with more Artifact and Enchantment control in the sideboard.

Fire // Ice:
It is quick efficient creature kill that can provide two for one card advantage when picking off small 1 toughness creatures such as Llanowar Elves or BoP. In emergencies it is a nifty cantrip, too.

Lightning Bolt:
Red's contribution to cheap first turn spot removal can help clear blockers for manland beats or provide those last few damage to opponent. This also gives the Red builds a direct damage route to victory (as well as Fire // Ice).

Swords to Plowshares:
The best spot removal in White's arsenal and possibly the format, this is a 3-4 of in any control deck packing White. Swords is very important because it's spot removal for any targetable creature in Legacy (Protection from White is more than rare). It has the added benefit of removing the creatures from the game, preventing people doing tricks with cards like Eternal Witness and Genesis.

Draw Spells:

In my opinion this is the most crucial part of the deck, as card advantage is what makes this deck so strong. Your opponent has to either stop from playing threats or risk you drawing three answers to whatever he/she just played, via Standstill. Fact or Fiction allows you to dig five cards deep and will net you either the exact answer you want or at very least three cards most of the time.
Brainstorm while not really card advantage , allows card quality and can be especially good combined with shuffle from fetch lands.

Brainstorm:
This card is not a true draw spell but is very important for finding answers when you need them. It is also awesome when combined with Fetchlands netting you vastly better card quality. This allows 2 cards that were not needed at time to be shuffled back into the deck for later. Again the use of protecting key cards from discard such as Duress cannot be overlooked. One of its most important roles is to act as a land finder; an opening hand with one fetchland, an Island, and a Brainstorm can be kept with a good chance of you will drawing into another land for that vital third turn.

Fact or Fiction:
This card spawned the popular catchphrase EoTFoFIW or "End of Turn Fact or Fiction I Win". It is simply that good; it combines card search with draw and you will either get the card you want or huge card advantage or sometimes even both. Even though it is such a
powerful card, Landstill often relies on other draw to provide the main card drawing fuel. This is because the 3U cost is quite expensive for a Landstill deck on the attack.

Standstill :
The deck's namesake, this little enchantment either forces your opponent to hold back on playing spells or risk you obtaining huge card advantage.
It isn't quite Ancestral Recall, but it's enough to put your opponent on edge while your land army builds up. You can often lay a Standstill and attack constantly with a manland or two, knowing that if they break the Standstill you will more than likely draw an answer. (Note: You can spot a better player if they break the Standstill straight away)

Other

Crucible of Worlds:
The crucible serves triple duty of recurring fetchlands for swift land thinning, Recurring man lands that have died in action but most importantly allowing the wasteland/crucible lock.


C. Decklists:-


UWR Landstill is what most people consider to be the mainstream Landstill archetype. It is packed full of Instant creature removal and answers. UWR's weakness is burning out. Because it plays more answers, it has to play less draw. This in turn means the deck fizzles out a little more often because you're literally going on a one card for one card basis unless you clear the board with Nevinyrral's Disk anyway. What UWR excels at, though, is killing creatures and making room for its land to attack. It does this very effectively.



I should state that Qwerty refuses to let me post his list without Kjeldoran Outpost, For all those that want a more normal version, replace it with Decree of Justice. UW Landstill plays a slower game then the others; this is mainly because it has more mass removal and lacks the burn UR and URW have. What it does have to help this slower game is the recursive Eternal Dragon giving a mana fix and a big beatstick for the late game. Out of all the builds of Landstill, UW has a better all-around game.


UR Landstill plays a slightly more aggressive game; the burn spells can give a real edge in ending a game quickly after a few turns of drawing cards. Of all the Landstill builds, UR is predictably a little more focused on dealing damage. UR Landstill's biggest weakness is its reliance on Nevinyrral's Disk to clear the board and control Artifacts and Enchantments. If a deck like Angel Stompy can destroy the Nevinyrral's Disk, its Protection from Red creatures and equipment will win the game for it in short order.


F) Akroma's Vengeance VS Nevinyrral's Disk
For years the disk has been the standard reset button of choice for landstill players all over the world , but times they are a changing.
Recently UW landstill players have found comfort in the arms of a new panic button, and her name is Akroma and she is very angry.
The advantages of vengeance are clear, It doesn't take 2 turns to use and as such is not to artifact removal as the disk is.
There is nothing more annoying than playing a disk only to have your opponent Disenchant/naturalize it and force you to waste counters or worse still into a counterwar.
Of course the UR and URW versions still run disk due to it's lack of coloured mana requirement.
Akromas Vengeance is never a dead card because at worst it can be cycled.
There are still some purist's that believe the disadvantage of vengeance being played on turn 6 as opposed to turn 5 (activated disk) means that it is too slow and thus less useful.
This choice largely comes down to personal preference, but it has started quite a few interesting debates to date.


The decks all have their own strengths and weaknesses, depending on the metagame expected. However, they all have the same overall goal, which is to keep your opponent's threats off the board long enough to gain card advantage and board position.


D. The Sideboard

I will assume you read the article, so you will know that Landstill was designed to be able to deal with nearly everything that gets thrown at it.
However, metagames all vary and as such I cannot tell you what you should be sideboarding.
If you need any help sideboarding, I will be happy to make suggestions based on your expected metagame, just let me know.
The sideboard of Landstill can be very varied, especially if Cunning Wish is run in the maindeck.
Here is some of the more common Sideboard cards.

E)Matchup Analysis


Vs Aggro

Against aggro decks such as Angel Stompy or Goblins, your main objective is to slow down the rush of creatures and buy yourself enough time to get the board control you require.

Angel Stompy
This game is about you preventing them from gaining too much advantage via equipment. Their Protection from Red creatures as well as Sword of Fire and Ice will cause huge problems if you have opted for the UR build as it will give you a lot of "must counter threats" to cope with. Exalted Angels will also prove problematic if left unchecked as Landstill aims to chip slowly away at your opponent's life total and the huge swing provided by the Angel can be a nuisance. The match is your favour, especially for the UW versions of the deck.


Vs Control

Control vs Control matchups are largely dependant on the build, however I will cover a lesser seen matchup that has been on the increase in my metagame.

Burning Tog
Landstill in general has a good match against Burning Tog notably URW has a very good game because it plays so many creature removal spells. The only real way Burning tog has of beating landstill is to get four-five mana on the table before Landstill has asserted control (which to be honest is pretty rare) as well as a Nightscape Familiar or two, and simple start to over power the landstill player with the ability to cast more cards. To stop this remove Burning Togs mana base the most obvious way is Wasteland+Crucible of Worlds. But killing the Nightscape Familiar can stop Burning Tog dead in its tracks. Your key card by far is Crucible of Worlds because it supplies you with a way of not losing to a huge Psychatog and turning Burning Togs creature removal into delay spells only,. Did I mention that their Flametongue Kavus are almost useless. One thing to watch out for that if you are caught unaware will lose you the game, is the Burning Tog player saving all his counter for a counter battle over Burning Wish-Haunting Echoes and without a doubt will win them the game. If you haven’t guessed already the game comes down to Burning Tog being able to kill you with creatures, which if you stop it can’t win (short of milling you).


Vs Combo

Solidarity
The only true combo deck on the scene is Solidarity, which has been on the increase but is easily disrupted.
A smart player will sense the signs early and realize they are up against Solidarity. Countering key cards is crucial and although Solidarity packs Force of Will, it cannot win a counter war.
Damage is irrelevant against solidarity as is the removal, the only thing that matters is countering their untap spells or Stifleing their Brainfreeze. Look out for end of turn draw/tutor spells in the early game, and fetch lands getting Islands. Solidarity will try to lock you out of stopping it by targeting you in your upkeep with Turnabout or Orims Chant (in the white splash versions). However to win as I have said, just stop Reset and it has a very hard time doing anything.

V. Conclusion

Landstill has been a strong contender throughout its transition through the format, and remains strong as it ever was. If you're looking to kick some butt at the next Legacy tournament, or just want a deck to test the format's waters with, give Landstill a try. Can't hurt, can it?

VI. Many thanks go out to Goblinboy as Editor, Qwerty my 1.5 partner in crime and Alex+ for Banner and art. Aswell as a big thank you to everyone who read the article.

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