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I doubt I am alone when I say that I absolutely hate losing games of Magic strictly because I can't draw the right number of lands. Sometimes you draw too many, and you never get enough actual spells to use it all on. Sometimes you don't draw enough, and you spend the whole game wishing you could actually play all of those super awesome cards in your hand. Either way, relying on the luck of the draw to get just the right number of lands just plain sucks. If you have ever thought to yourself "Man, there has to be a way to lessen my reliance on lands, or even eliminate it all together..." then this article is for you! Every deck presented this month plays exactly zero lands and couldn't be happier. How does this work? Well, why don't we move on to the lists and find out?
Deck Name: Landless Dredge
Deck Type: Combo
Landless dredge is a less than traditional form of the Legacy Dredge decks you may be familiar with. This style of dredge first showed up during the Mental Misstep era to combat the huge push of control that was dominating the format at the time. The archetype's premier was a semi-impressive 81st and 77th placing at the same Star City Games tournament. This was soon improved upon in the best way and only a few months later Landless Dredge finished at the top of the tournament in SCG Cincinnati. The deck has gone through some changes since then, and has become arguably even stronger thanks to the printing of Balustrade Spy.
Balustrade Spy + Dread Return and No Lands
Phantasmagorian + Phantasmagorian or Nether Shadow or Dredgers
Flayer of the Hatebound + Golgari Grave-Troll or Cabal Therapy
Nether Shadow + Dredgers
Street Wraith or Gitaxian Probe + Dredgers
Landless Dredge has two very important rules that can almost never be broken. Unlike pretty much any other Magic deck out there, you can almost never mulligan and you always want to go second. Why? So you can abuse the maximum hand size rule of course! The maximum hand size rule is an easy and un-counterable way to get your initial dredger (or Phantasmagorian) into the graveyard without the use of any mana! From here on out it's a game of Magic all its own. If things go your way you will never use your draw phase to draw a card ever again. Instead, you will use your dredgers to fill your graveyard and empty your deck. From there, you will reanimate Ichorid and Nether Shadow as often as possible. These recurrable threats (along with Narcomoeba) act as Cabal Therapy food to disrupt your opponent's hand, and fuel for Dread Return, which hopefully targets Balustrade Spy. Because you have no lands reanimating Spy means milling your entire deck, leading into additional Golgari Grave-Troll, Flayer of the Hatebound, and Chancellor of the Annex resurrections. Of course, any of the Dread Return targets can be used as powerful finishers even without the spy. All of this sacrificing is made stronger with Bridge From Below, which can act as a very powerful win condition as well.
Gitaxian Probe and Street Wraith speed things up by providing multiple dredges a turn if they happen to be in your hand, with the Wraith also acting as Ichorid food once he has done his job. These cards can also be replaced with Urza's Bauble and Mishra's Bauble, but I prefer looking at my opponent's hand and feeding Horrors. Cabal Therapy is your disruption, which also provides a sacrifice outlet for Bridge activations. With multiple Bridges in your graveyard a single Cabal Therapy can create a drastic advantage in your favor. Sickening Shoal takes up one of four flex slots that can make a use for extra Phantasmagorians in your hand, turning them into a way to deal with troublesome creatures. Contagion is another option that fills the same role, with both being played in varying numbers. The other three slots are occupied with Chancellor of the Annex, who helps prevent turn one hate spells form your opponent such as Thoughtseize or Relic of Progenitus and can also be Dread Returned against combo and other strategies. Gigapede has also been played in the past, acting as another discard outlet that can combo pretty well with Phantasmagorian.
Of course, as a deck that eschews from using lands you can bet your buns that it has some pretty neat interactions to master. The first set I'm going to mention are in relation to Phantasmagorian. By himself, Ol' Gory can simply be used as an instant speed discard outlet, easily stacking creatures in your graveyard to make Nether Shadow activations easier. Because of the structure of his discard ability you can also use his ability in response to itself, allowing you to discard multiple sets of 3 cards with the same Phantasmagorian. In this same vein, you can use two Gories together to discard two cards at instant speed as many times as you'd like, discarding one Phantasmagorian to the other every time. Finally, when combined with Street Wraith you can discard a dredger with Phantasmagorian, respond with a Street Wraith to dredge it, and then discard that same dredger again with another activation of the same Phantasmagorian's ability.
Probably the most confusing trick at your disposal is one that comes up from playing what is one of the only reasons the graveyard order rule exists: Nether Shadow. When in the graveyard Nether Shadow needs creature cards above him in order to be resurrected. As you probably know, it is against the rules to re-arrange the order of your graveyard, so this kind of "cost" can be difficult to achieve at times. What makes this easier to accomplish is a little known ruling in relation to dredging. Rule 404.3 states "If an effect or rule puts two or more cards into the same graveyard at the same time, the owner of those cards may arrange them in any order." What this means for us is that whenever you dredge (or discard him to Gory) you can put him as far down in that group of cards as possible. Since you discard or Dredge as a single ability all at once, this is entirely legal. Dredging six cards with Golgari Grave-Troll and you hit a Shadow? Put him at the bottom of those six before you throw all of them into the graveyard. This will allow Shadow to come back much more often than he normally would be able to.
Finally, as always you want to try and learn how Bridge From Below triggers work as concretely as possible. Knowing how and when Bridge triggers, who gets Zombies and who doesn't in any given situation is an extremely important aspect of piloting this deck. Common questions come from trading creatures in combat, losing a creature in response to a Cabal Therapy or Dread Return and knowing what happens when your opponent has a Cursecatcher in play. These questions and more have all been answered in the past by multiple writers, so a quick use of Google or adventure to a Dredge primer can help you to study up.
As with every deck in this article, the absence of lands means that your options are pretty limited when it comes to the sideboard. Leyline of Sanctity and Leyline of the Void are nice when it comes to opposing combo. Tormod's Crypt, Ravenous Trap, Mindbreak Trap, and Chalice of the Void (being set to zero) are additional options.
Aggro matchups are best dealt with using cards like Contagion and Sickening Shoal, depending on your numbers in the main board. There are a few key fatties that favor you in these games as well, these being Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite,
Llawan, Cephalid Empress (for Merfolk), Ancestor's Chosen (for burn and similar strategies), and Stormtide Leviathan/Blazing Archon.
Control is one of your best matchups because most of what you do is uncounterable. Even then, Cabal Therapy will make sure they can never hold a counter when they need it. That being said, it is never bad to have something. Terastodon or Sylvan Primordial can help against permanents like Moat or Solitary Confinement. Iona, Shield of Emeria can blank their removal or win condition colors too.
Deck Name: Oops, All Spells
Deck Type: Combo
Continuing the long held tradition of naming combo decks after breakfast items, Oops, All Spells is the new combo kid on the block that gets its name from the similarly christened Captain Crunch cereal Oops! All Berries. True to its name, the deck boasts zero lands and couldn't be prouder. This deck is fast (some would argue the fastest in the format) and came into existence thanks again to Balustrade Spy and his buddy Undercity Informer.
Angel of Glory's Rise + Azami, Lady of Scrolls + Laboratory Maniac
Summoner's Pact + Elvish Spirit Guide or Wild Cantor
Bridge from Below + Cabal Therapy
The combo works like so: first, you gather up enough mana to either cast and activate Undercity Informer or simply cast Balustrade Spy and target yourself with the milling ability. Because you have no lands in your deck, this will result in you milling your entire library, which brings into play a number of Narcomoeba. These jellyfish will then be sacrificed to fuel Dread Return targeting Angel of Glory's Rise. Once your Angel comes down, she will revive a number of creatures, the most important being Azami, Lady of Scrolls and Laboratory Maniac, who will be used in combination to win you the game! Simple, right?
Oops, All Spells is very straight forward with little nuances to it. The majority of the deck is either combo pieces and win conditions, or mana. Simply find enough mana to cast a Rogue and watch your graveyard fill up. Lotus Petal is probably your best mana source, as it gives you whatever color you need. Dark Ritual accelerates better than anything else and the Spirit Guides provide uncounterable green or red mana. Chrome Mox is card disadvantage, but can't be discredited as one of the best free sources of mana available. Your final "Ritual" is Summoner's Pact, which finds Elvish Spirit Guide to add to your mana pool, or Wild Cantor to put you back on color. Manamorphose is another color fixer than can be cast off of mana from either Spirit Guide, which is pretty nifty if you ask me. The card also replaces itself, which is great in a deck like this.
As far as protection goes, the deck is pretty limited. The strongest option is Cabal Therapy, which is normally cast after you have done your milling just to make sure your Dread Return is going to actually resolve. By targeting yourself, Therapy also serves the alternate purpose of getting rid of win conditions that would otherwise be stuck in your hand. All the while Bridge from Below ensures that you always have enough creatures to cast Therapy and Dread Return together.
The last four protection slots are filled here by Chancellor of the Annex, but there are two other decent options. If you have the budget for them, four Pact of Negation is a strong counter spell that you can use to keep opposing counter magic and graveyard hate at bay. One card that I am super excited for is the soon-to-be printed Savage Summoning from the upcoming M14 set. This puppy is on color for our Elvish Spirit Guide/Summoner's Pact mana, makes either Rogue uncounterable and is uncounterable itself. This card single handedly makes the control match up that much better. At that point their only interaction with you is graveyard hate. What's awesome about the card is the fact that the matchups that it is normally needed against do not normally have a super-fast clock. This means you can spend all the time in the world finding it, the mana to cast it, or a Rogue, all as needed. Once you find Summoning, it doesn't matter how many counterspells they have in their hand, they can't use them on your Rogue, plus, Cabal Therapy will take care of anything that would prevent a Dread Return!
It's actually pretty unlikely that you will sideboard much of anything with this version of the deck. Depending on what protection you have in the main deck, you can run some number of Chancellor of the Annex, Pact of Negation or the new Savage Summoning. Gitaxian Probe is usually what would come out for said protection. One can also board in Leyline of Sanctity to prevent graveyard hate form hitting you, but it doesn't stop everything. Finally, something like Slaughter Pact is also an option to try and get rid of hate bears. Really, that is pretty close to the extent of your options for this version of the deck.
Deck Name: The Pitch
Deck Type: Combo
This next deck is one that I chose more for its flavor and fun factor than its competitive potential. The Pitch is a deck that has seen very little competitive play. In fact, the only time I have ever heard of it being played in a large scale tournament was way back in January of 2010, where it ended with what was no doubt a very lucky record of 3-3-1. The deck has had some new upgrades since, and is still as much of a blast to play now as it was then!
Blazing Shoal + A Large Red Spell + Crookshank Kobolds or Ornithopter or Chancellor of the Forge
Unmask + Chancellor of the Dross
The Pitch works like so. You will start the game by playing one of you zero cost creatures, or getting a free one with Chancellor of the Forge. You will then attack with this creature, pumping it with a Blazing Shoal that is cast by removing one of your large red spells (Progenitus and Reaper King being optimal). Two Blazing Shoal is normally enough to kill someone, and you can also just cast a single Blazing Shoal and followed by a Fury of the Horde Ornithopter is an easy addition as it is a free creature that still has evasion. I have seen Memnite being played over Crookshank Kobolds before, but I decided against him. Kobolds are colored, which means you can use them as pitch fuel for Fury of the Horde, unlike Memnite. The one damage difference will matter much less often than the need for pitch food.
As far as your other sources of damage/finishers go, you have a few. Chancellor of the Dross lets you start the game with a six life point difference. In a fetchland-driven format like Legacy, this is not a negligible hit. Shining Shoal can keep you alive and potentially deal a nice chunk of damage depending on what is sitting on the other side of the battlefield. Finally, Soul Spike can give the finishing blow, or get rid of blockers to let said finishing blow make contact.
Not every combo deck runs protection, but if you have the option it's always good to do so, even in a deck that is as all in as The Pitch. Misdirection basically acts as a Force of Will, redirecting removal or counter magic to keep you in the game. Unmask is in there for essentially the same reason and can be fueled by your otherwise dead Chancellor of the Dross. Other options include Chancellor of the Annex and, in some situations, Pact of Negation.
Because the deck relies so heavily on Blazing Shoal, I have included Serum Powder to increase your chances of opening with it. Despite the fact that I despise the card, Serum Powder seems to me to be a requirement, as mulligans hurt the deck quite a bit on account of the fact that our "mana" comes from pitching cards from our hand. Of course, this is a flex slot, so there are a few other options to be played in its place. Karona, False God is the best five color spell that has not already been included in the list, so she is always an option. Along that same vein, the old three color dragon elders each has a converted mana cost of eight, so they are pretty good as well. Nicol Bolas would be my dragon of choice in this case, as you can pitch him to Blazing Shoal, Misdirection, Unmask or Soul Spike, leaving out just the Shining Shoal. Finally, the very simple addition of Gitaxian Probe is a fine choice. At the very least it can still be pitched to Misdirection and it can show you whether or not blazing your opponent out of the game is a realistic play at the time.
Now, as I said earlier, this deck was included more for its flavor and awesomeness more than its power. If you want to have a blast with a unique deck and get a good laugh out of your buddies at a local tournament, please play this deck. If you want to have a chance at a decent placing at a larger tournament, I would pick something else, including one of the other two decks mentioned in this article, which are both extremely powerful for their price tags.
Most of the sideboard options for this deck are the same as the last two. Leyline of Sanctity and Leyline of the Void can deal with opposing combo. You probably don't want Tormod's Crypt because of its lack of a pitchable color. Ravenous Trap and Mindbreak Trap are fine additions as well, with each being pitchable to your other main deck protection spells of their respective colors.
Black gives you Contagion and Sickening Shoal as tools against creature decks while Red shows up with Cave In and Pyrokinesis. Sunscour is pretty costly, but can reset pretty much any board and is your only answer to anything with Progenitus stats or hexproof. Which you like better is really up to you, as they all have their ups and downs.
Depending on what protection you included in the main, Chancellor of the Annex and Pact of Negation are decent answers to control decks. There is also Commandeer, but it is extremely expensive compared to your already main-decked Misdirections. It does have the potential to steal a Jace, the Mind Sculptor from people, which normally results in you opponent's head exploding. So, you know, take your pick.
We are half way through the year and still going strong! As with my previous articles, feel free to make your way to the comments section and let me know how I'm doing! Did you enjoy reading about these decks? Have any ideas of your own? Let me know!
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