Deck Tech: Lands with Jarvis Yu

Posted in Event Coverage on January 8, 2017

By Corbin Hosler

While Magic is a game of infinite possibilities, there is one constant that remains true through more than 99 percent of games.

It begins with a land.

For Jarvis Yu, it ends with one, too.

Lands are the most vital of all Magic components (yes, other than the Balustrade Spy deck), and in Legacy they can win games all on their own. Such is the objective of the deck aptly named, simply, "Lands."

At its core is Life from the Loam. With the ability to both recur lands and "draw" three cards a turn by dredging, Life from the Loam allows the deck to operate. Most often used to recycle Wasteland after Wasteland to take all mana away from opponents, Life from the Loam also helps to find the deck's other unique lands, which draw from all of Magic's history to form a surprisingly versatile engine.

Wasteland and Rishadan Port take opponents off mana in the early game. Maze of Ith and Glacial Chasm protect the life total, and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale is a land and a mass removal spell all in one. Tranquil Thicket is repeated card draw (or dredges) with Life from the Loam, while Boseiju, Who Shelters All protects key spells. Grove of the Burnwillows combines with Punishing Fire to build a recursive creature removal engine, and Thespian's Stage provides value where it can — Yu has used it to copy Glacial Chasm, Barbarian Ring and Taiga today — while also acting as a combo piece with Dark Depths to bring forth the 20/20 Marit Lage on demand.

The rest of the deck exists to support the lands. Exploration and Crop Rotation find needed lands on demand, while Gamble can search up Life from the Loam and essentially ignore the possible downside of the card.

All in all, it's a well-oiled machine that Yu is an expert with. He took the deck all the way to the title at Grand Prix Seattle-Tacoma in 2015, and ran it back to a Top 8 performance at Grand Prix Columbus last year. After some initial temptation with Delver of Secrets decks, Yu ultimately returned home for Grand Prix Louisville.

"Old reliable," he said of the deck. "In game one you can win with Life from the Loam quite a bit. In games two and three it's cut in half, but people overvalue graveyard hate against the deck, and don't plan enough for the 20/20. I had a match against Infect where he used Surgical Extraction on my Loams and Dark Depths, and then I killed all his creatures and then him with Punishing Fire."

In some ways, that's essentially Plan C for a deck that can establish a Wasteland lock as early as the second turn, but it's more than enough to find success in Legacy, and Yu was off to an undefeated start through six rounds in Louisville.

The versatility of the lands in the deck — and the consistency to find them — makes Lands a perennial contender for a skilled and practiced pilot like Yu. And it's that practice that makes all the difference.

"That's a huge part of it," Yu said of owing his success to repetitions with the deck. "You sit down against your opponent in rounds two or three, and they could be playing one of 20 or 30 decks. If you don't know your deck well enough to know what your plan is, or being able to adapt on the fly, you're going to have trouble. If you expect to play against the same six or seven decks like you can in Standard, then you can just play those, but here knowing your deck very well lets you adapt better.

When you can face nearly any card from Magic's history, that adaptation is the real key to success. Not many decks do that better than Lands, and no one does it better than Jarvis Yu.

Jarvis Yu's Lands

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