After seeing Avenger of Zendikar in the Zendikar vs Eldrazi deck, it basically confirmed what everyone expected already – landfall is coming back as a mechanic in Battle for Zendikar. In Magic Origins it seems like with have a few plants that suggest landfall, including one card that actually has it – Zendikar's Roil.
So we know that landfall is coming back, right? Right! So doesn't it seem like a good time to build a Landfall-esque deck? Well, it certainly does for me! Landfall mechanics and similar ramp strategies have been in lockstep with the Commander format for an extremely long time, and after Zendikar I began to see a lot more of these really powerful decks that ramped quickly. Normally cards that put lands into play or something similar get weaker as the game goes on. A Cultivate drawn and played on turn ten is a lot worse than on turn three. By then, you want business stuff, right?
Landfall triggers help to turn a topdecked land or land-searching spell into a quality play, even late – there's no bad time to draw a basic land in these decks, so they became a quality investment that a lot of folks enjoy.
I figured it would be nice to splice together the traditional power of that deck along with the latest cards from places like Magic Origins or Theros Block. We have a very gross deck below, but with a few additional Abe-ish additions to keep things a little different.
Now, a quick caveat on flavor before we begin. Remember back in Mirrodin when the locals were fighting the Phyrexian invasion? It was a little off-flavor for me to see Commander decks from the locals here, such as Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer, and then these decks would add in Phyrexian cards into the deck. Alright, look, many players care a lot more about mechanics than about flavor, I get that all day long. Often I'll toss together something similar for these articles, just to get your deckbuilding juices going.
Today we're not ramping to Eldrazi. There is no Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre in here, no Kozilek, Butcher of Truth. We aren't running All Is Dust. Zendikar isn't going to support the Eldrazi in this deck. Sorry. I just don't feel it right now.
With that caveat out of the way, let's start with a very disgusting, obvious, deck for you:
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 1 Admonition Angel
- 1 Avenger of Zendikar
- 1 Birds of Paradise
- 1 Budoka Gardener
- 1 Dreamscape Artist
- 1 Emeria Angel
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Joiner Adept
- 1 Knight of the Reliquary
- 1 Lotus Cobra
- 1 Mulldrifter
- 1 Oracle of Mul Daya
- 1 Panglacial Wurm
- 1 Prophet of Kruphix
- 1 Rampaging Baloths
- 1 Realm Seekers
- 1 Reclamation Sage
- 1 Roil Elemental
- 1 Skyshroud Ranger
- 1 Skyward Eye Prophets
- 1 Vinelasher Kudzu
- 1 Courser of Kruphix
- 1 Azusa, Lost but Seeking
- 1 Brago, King Eternal
- 1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
- 1 Phelddagrif
- 1 Roon of the Hidden Realm
- 1 Titania, Protector of Argoth
- 1 Karametra, God of Harvests
- 1 Darksteel Plate
- 1 Horn of Greed
- 1 Lightning Greaves
- 1 Seer's Sundial
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Sword of Feast and Famine
- 1 Sword of Vengeance
- 1 Bear Umbra
- 1 Future Sight
- 1 Khalni Heart Expedition
- 1 Lifegift
- 1 Mirari's Wake
- 1 Prismatic Omen
- 1 Seed the Land
- 1 Trade Routes
- 1 Zendikar's Roil
- 1 Beast Within
- 1 Dismantling Blow
- 1 Rootborn Defenses
- 1 Treva's Charm
- 1 Sword of the Animist
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 Decree of Justice
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Rude Awakening
- 1 Scapeshift
- 1 Supply
- 1 Wargate
And there we have it. Roon of the Hidden Realm is going to be leading this deck. Now, it's a bit hard to sometimes find the right leader for your deck. I knew right away that someone like Rafiq of the Many was never going to work. I considered (and then dismissed) Derevi, Empyrial Tactician or perhaps even Jenara, Asura of War. You could certainly have a Commander to ramp into, like Treva, the Renewer. But at the end of the day, I liked Roon the best since I knew that I would be running some on-theme creatures with enters-the-battlefield (ETB) abilities.
And while this deck certainly has a few fun cards in here that are a bit off the beaten path, for the most part, it's running a lot of Commander's greatest hits. To be fair, that's not something I shy away from when it fits the theme of the deck. Cards like Oracle of Mul Daya or Azusa, Lost but Always Powerful are two creatures that often get played too much for some folks, and I get that. Shoot, personally I'd rather run against the eminently-killable Azusa than Avacyn, Angel of Hope. But that's likely just me; I get it.
To fight against that, I added in some cards that help everyone – like Horn of Greed and Seed the Land. Sure you are (hopefully) getting more triggers off these things than your foes, but don't forget that ramp generally isn't an uncommon deck to run against at the kitchen table. You could easily run into someone who takes full advantage of these sorts of engines. I also tossed in Phelddagrif, because that's just fun, right? You can also use Jace Beleren to have everyone draw a card a few times. I included a few of these cards to the deck in order to sort of make up for the gross power level or annoyance factor of a lot of these cards. (If you like that idea, you could certainly turn to other cards, like Veteran Explorer.)
I began the deck by tossing in all of the obvious Landfall triggers. We have to have run Emeria Angel, Zendikar's Roil, and Rampaging Baloths. When I play a land, I want to start swinging with my creatures – and all of these make solid token creatures. We've all seen a ramp deck that gets so focused ramping up that it forgets to do anything else and just loses. So we need Landfall triggers that will stave off those issues. They also can help post-mass removal to make a new army.
On a similar note, a great way to ensure that your deck won't run out of gas or fail to draw something to ramp into is to run Panglacial Wurm. You are searching your deck heavily, from fetchlands to Cultivate. Anytime you do, you can tap the mana and plop Panglacial Wurm onto the battlefield from your library. That's a great way to keep the pressure up or to get an attacker if you don't have one.
After tossing in the creature-making Landfall stuff and the Wurm, I want Landfall cards that really help us out. This isn't a Standard deck. I don't need something like Adventuring Gear or Steppe Lynx clogging this up. Sure, it's great that you're getting bigger – yay you! But I don't see you here. I'm not even running Baloth Woodcrasher.
My Landfall cards need to provide some serious ammunition. And the ones we are including do! Take a looksee at something like Admonition Angel. That's the gas that I want. It's big and a flyer, and it'll pop out any annoying permanents out there (other than lands) until someone manages to kill it. You can Landfall away a planeswalker, a potential blocker, a really egregious artifact or enchantment - whatever strikes your fancy!
Joining the Angel is the ever-powerful Roil Elemental. As long your opponents have creatures, you have ways to steal them. And don't forget to draw cards off the trigger for Seer's Sundial. Getting that card advantage is crucial to pushing in the long game, and turning a simple land drop into a cantrip is a powerful way to keep your cards flowing.
I thought about stuff like Hedron Crab or Grazing Gladehart, but in the end I just wasn't feeling them that much.
So I mentioned earlier that Theros brings some serious heat to this deck. What was I talking about? Well, let's see!
Courser of Kruphix is a powerful adjunct to cards like Azusa. It also has a Landfall trigger right on the creature. So you have to run it – it's on-theme and awesome.
Another powerful entry is the Prophet of Kruphix. It just breaks a deck like this wide open. Untapping your creatures and lands at the beginning of other turns is nasty good. You can swing with all of your beaters, tap all of your lands for something, or ramp lands into play (which often puts them out tapped) and then untap and use them. Plus you can flash out creatures on other turns with that untapped mana. It's just a nasty addition to what we are doing.
Fully six of the fifteen Gods are in your colors. But consider Karametra, God of Harvests. Is your deck playing creatures? Oh, it is! Then when you cast a creature, you can search your library for a Forest or Plains and put it into play for free. Every time you play a creature, you fetch up a land and you get those Landfall triggers as well. Sound good?
Now the final powerful entrant is Kiora, the Crashing Wave. Kiora's second ability is an Explore that you can use to drop an extra land and keep on going, or she can do a bit of a Gaseous Form impersonation on one thing. These four additions to the traditional ramp-y Landfall decks we had are all potent.
And Magic Origins gave us stuff like Sword of the Animist. It's a brilliant card to push lands out for doing something you want to do anyway, to attack. For serious flavor points, you can equip Avenger of Zendikar with it. (Check out the flavor text!)
Obviously you want someone like Nissa in the deck too. She can help to lead your group. Her Worldwaker version can turn lands into beaters, and you have a lot of lands, right? Meanwhile you can play the Vastwood Seer version of our good elf and then easily transform her.
Now that's the core of the deck, the Landfall stuff, along with the various goods that build around it. So where to next?
Clearly there are a few options out there that I really like. When I run a deck with a lot of cards that reveal or care about the top of my library, I like to push that theme. Since we have Oracle of Mul Daya and Courser of Kruphix here, I want to push that theme a little.
Now you could delve really outside of the box. You could toss in stuff like Sindbad or Fa'adiyah Seer. That's awesome! Or you could run Scroll Rack, Sensei's Divining Top and Sylvan Library style cards, which also work. But I don't want to belabor this mechanic that much.
Take Future Sight. You flip over the top card of your library. Is it a land? Then you can play that as your land drop for this turn. Otherwise you can play it with the mana you already have. And you can keep going until you run out of mana or you hit your second land. Either way, the card is extremely powerful in a ramp deck that wants mana. That's the sort of space I want to use.
Skyward Eye Prophets is another. They are an improved Sindbad. You put the land revealed right onto play, or else you draw it – so you always get a card from them. If you just hit your second land from Future Sight, or your third land with Oracle of Mul Daya, then why not tap your Prophets to put that land onto the battlefield and keep on going?
And you could blow through five or six cards on the top of your deck in one turn easily.
Since this deck has a tendency to draw a smash-ton of cards, you'll often have too many lands mugging up your hand. Why not play Budoka Gardener (or Skyshround Ranger) to tap and drop those extra lands onto the battlefield? You'll note that the Gardener can flip into the amazing Dokai, Weaver of Life. Trust me, I have played Gardeners ever since they were released and Dokai is one of the worse flip cards in the game to have to deal with. You don't want your foes to be dropping 12/12 tokens every turn.
Many of the creatures we run are interchangeable. I have Acidic Slime, Reclamation Sage, Eternal Witness, and similar cards, but these could just as easily be any number of creatures that support our themes.
I rounded out the deck with a ton of creatures and spells that fit the theme. I didn't see this as a reactive deck that uses a heavy amount of counterspells. Instead I have some solid removal, like Beast Within, Dismantling Blow or Treva's Cham that are very flexible.
I felt like the deck could use some mana sinks. I steered clear of my normal choices, like Staff of Domination. I wanted to win. So I tossed in Decree of Justice, Urza's Factory, and Supply // Demand. If you have out Mirari's Wake or fifteen lands and you are wondering what to do with that mana, you can make an instant army or make one over a few turns. Whichever works for the board position you currently rock.
And that's my Landfall deck. There are a lot of places for you to flesh it out according to your own needs and card collection.
Zendikar has always been one of my favorite blocks, and we are about to return! So what do I think will happen?
Well I think we'll see a flip of the Mirrodin into New Phyrexia storyline. Here, we'll see folks working together, and then they'll actually stop the Eldrazi. It might not be a total win, the Eldrazi could be just hurt or something, but it'll be a win.
Nissa had this annoying face-turn-heel plotline where she helped free the Eldrazi expecting them to leave Zendikar alone and head out to other planes. She didn't care what happened to those planes as long as Zendikar was saved. She caused this whole mess.
So I expect that Nissa will gather and lead a pan-planar coalition of creatures and 'walkers to help fight. That's what Kiora was doing, after all, heading to other planes to find giant sea creatures like Krakens and Leviathans that she could bring to fight the Eldrazi on her home plane of Zendikar. So Kiora should appear.
We'll likely see the trio of planeswalkers that secured the Eldrazi long ago return as well. Nahiri was freed from her prison and Ugin was just brought back from his earlier death at the hands of Nicol Bolas. Ugin, Nahiri and Sorin could likely return.
I would also suspect that Sarkhan will return as well. Sarkhan was in Zendikar once before, and now a different Sarkhan could be involved and help to put the stopper on the bottle.
Nissa, Kiora, Sarkhan, Ugin, Nahiri, Sorin – That's a powerful set of planeswalkers. And I wouldn't be surprised if you saw another one or two in there as well. And with creatures summoned from other worlds to fight and with a coalition of local forces too, I think our intrepid squad will win out.
It's time to come back home!