Jace, Crucible, and How Many Lands???
Now that I’ve got your attention, I want to talk about Standard Delver again. Just kidding.
People often ask me what I am “playing” in Legacy and the answer is pretty much always the same: Canadian Threshold. But, when I am not sleeving up for a tournament, I have recently almost always had this spicy brew in my bag to play against friends:
It is a ton of fun to play, and absolutely no fun to play against.
Traditional Lands decks have a high reliance on their graveyards which make them very susceptible to splash hate for decks like Reanimator and Ichorid. Their card advantage engine is totally shut down post-board by one piece of graveyard disruption.
This deck attacks from a few angles. While graveyard hate is no doubt good against this deck, one shot graveyard removal is pretty mediocre. Crypt, extraction, relic and the like are far worse against Crucible of Worlds than they are against Life from the Loam. The deck also has Jace, the Mind Sculptor as another super powerful draw engine that is unaffected by graveyard hate. The Tolaria West package gives you access to the key cards in many matchups (EE, Zuran Orb, Tabernacle, Maze, Karakas) and can be uncounterable and even bought back. This deck plays some very high impact three and four drops, and basically all its spells are must-counters. Jaces are easy to keep alive with so many lands that double as denial or removal. Once Crucible is active the game gets out of hand quickly, with many recurring lands. Intuition is a one card engine with so many possibilities. It can find the other piece of an Exploration/Crucible/Jace engine, find a wide variety of cards in this deck’s toolbox, or just a traditional Life from the Loam pile featuring two awesome lands and a Life from the Loam. Getting a Life from the Loam a key artifact and an Academy Ruins is a neat trick and with a Crucible in play Intuition lets you get three key lands.
Why don’t I often play this deck in tourneys? For two reasons: first off, it’s really slow at killing people, and people are really slow at playing against it. I am one of the fastest players I know, and I went to time with it two times in the tourney I played with it (lost in turns of one match). People often need to read your cards and figure out how to interact with you which takes a fair amount of time. On top of that, you are playing Legacy, which means you often face new and interesting decks and are forced to come up with new plans and lines of play which take a long time to execute. This leads into the second reason I don’t often play this deck: it’s extremely hard to play. It is a pseudo combo deck in some aspects due to all the small synergies and because of the crazy number of singletons the tutor cards are very hard to play with correctly. Just look at some of the important synergies that play into this deck:
Crucible of Worlds + Wasteland/Fetchland/Horizon Canopy/Ghost Quarter/Mox Diamond/Zuran Orb
Exploration + Crucible of Worlds/Life from the Loam/Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Intuition + Crucible of Worlds/Life from the Loam/Academy Ruins/any number of singleton hosers
Life from the Loam (while there is only one, the three Intuitions often go for this) + Tolaria West/Wasteland/Fetchland/Horizon Canopy/Ghost Quarter
Decision trees are deeper than with most decks, which is why it’s so fun to play. Some games require you to prison out your opponent with recursive Loam by fetching out all your Rishadan Ports and Wastelands and slowly Ghost Quarter’ing them out of the game before killing them with a single Mishra’s Factory or a Jace’s ultimate. Some games you are required to play “Protect the Queen” with Jace being the Queen, other matchups require you to find a key card to win the match, and your gameplan becomes finding that card as soon as possible (Ensnaring Bridge, Engineered Explosives, Zuran Orb, Bojuka Bog).
If you’ve played Lands before you will no doubt know that the deck plays much differently than traditional Magic decks, just like a Dredge deck or another prison deck. It is a prison deck, with no aggressive win conditions. It uses powerful singletons with recursion and card advantage engines to establish a soft or hard lock for your opponent’s gameplan. That means stopping all your opponent’s win conditions or establishing your own Jace-lock.
Against decks that kill via creature damage you have:
These are all fairly high impact and recur-able. The sideboard Glacial Chasm and Crop Rotations give you a fairly easy way to hard lock your linear aggro opponents. Crucible makes this much easier to maintain than in traditional Loam lists.
The deck also has a significant Mana Denial suite which is effective against almost every strategy in the format. Wasteland/Ghost Quarter + Ports, and the ability to play multiple a turn, plus recurring them gives the deck the ability to randomly lock out games against decks with sketchy manabases or mana-light draws. This is pretty significant against almost every archetype, and games often end with your opponent missing land drops and your Jace preventing them from finding them.
Storm combo decks are the real problem for this deck. Because you don’t interact with spells, and only with permanents, if a deck wins solely based on an all-spell combo (like Storm). The only real way to win this matchup is to mana denial them, and Jace-Lock them. Post-board you have access to Chalice, Trinisphere and Arcane Laboratory, with a bunch of ways to tutor them up (Intuition gets the artifacts, Enlightened Tutor gets them all, and Tolaria West gets Chalice).
Intuition is a very strong and versatile card in this deck. There are so many possible piles, and the deck is built so that if you really want one card, you can almost always get to it with Intuition, but most of the time you can just play it to gain incredible card advantage. Here are some sample piles and what they are used for:
3 Exploration or 3 Jace or 3 Crucible (For card advantage, recursion and lock engines)
Life from the Loam/ Any two lands (access to any silver bullet lands)
Life from the Loam/Academy Ruins/Silver bullet artifact (gets Crucible while dredging Loam, Zuran Orb or Ensnaring Bridge)
3 Lands or 1 Land/1 Artifact/1 Academy Ruins (With Crucible or Loam recursion)
Remember, the above piles are customizable, and they change if you have one of the components already. Having an Academy Ruins in play drastically changes your possible piles, as does having Crucible in play. The sideboard also opens up a wide range of possible Intuition piles with more singleton artifacts and lands.
Into the sideboard:
The sideboard Knight of the Reliquary have proved to be very powerful. Most decks can’t afford to leave in creature removal, they have better sideboard cards, and they think you are a creatureless deck. Not only is Knight a huge beater in this deck (34 lands!), but it gives you access to an enormous toolbox of utility lands, including Ports and Wastes to keep them off mana for dealing with the Knight. Remember, Maze can untap a Knight after damage, giving you the opportunity to beat and find a land.
The Crop Rotations are there to tutor up the singleton Glacial Chasm or Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, or whatever land you need in a pinch. Against decks with no counters, Crop Rotation shines as you can be sure to recoup the disadvantage using the tutored card to buy you time to Crucible.
Ancient Grudge and Ray of Revalation provide a little Artifact + Enchantment hate that is tutorable with Intuition and mill-able with Loam, but an argument can be made for something like Krosan Grip in this slot. Even Seal of Primordium might be okay with Enlightened Tutors.
The Combo hate cards are pretty self-evident, but cards like Chalice and Trinisphere can be good against control and decks with low curves.
After writing this article, I think I am going to take this to my next local Legacy tournament, and see if I can make it through the event without going to time. The deck is a lot of fun to play, and provides some entertaining puzzles and cool interactions. Make sure if you want to play this deck at an event to test it beforehand with a friend. The deck is fairly complex and it certainly doesn’t play out like regular magic decks. Playing it without any experience will probably lead to a lot of unintentional draws. Any questions or suggestions on the list are welcome; it’s still a work in progress. Until next time!
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