Tiny Lands

tiny lands

ddt avatar final

I recently attended the Legacy Grand Prix in New Jersey last Saturday.


gp nj

The event was really fun, well run and rather huge. Having had two byes, I got a chance to walk around the convention center to catch a glimpse of various matches (One person in our group didn’t have the sleep-in special, so we all just got to the venue at the regular start time. Kind of annoying …) I handed in my decklist on the night before electronically. This is what I decided to play:


Legacy Format

4 Wasteland
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
4 Thespian’s Stage
4 Rishadan Port
2 Wooded Foothills
1 Verdant Catacombs
3 Maze of Ith
2 Dark Depths
2 Taiga
1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Karakas
1 Glacial Chasm
3 Tranquil Thicket
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Forest

Artifacts: 4
4 Mox Diamond

Instants: 7
4 Punishing Fire
3 Crop Rotation
Sorceries: 8
4 Gamble
4 Life from the Loam

Enchantments: 6
4 Exploration
2 Manabond

1 Primeval Titan
4 Sphere of Resistance
2 Thorn of Amethyst
1 Crop Rotation
1 Pithing Needle
3 Krosan Grip
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Worm Harvest
1 Ray of Revelation


I ended up barely missing Day 2, losing my last round to one of my first Legacy decks: Death & Taxes. In the first game, I won by repeatedly Punishing Fire‘ ing away his back to back to back Phyrexian Revokers (each one calling Mox Diamond, which was my only source of colored mana in play). He eventually conceded before actually losing since that game lasted 30 minutes. In the second game, I Crop Rotation‘ed into the Dark Depths / Thespian’s Stage combo on his attack. I took down an attacking Serra Avenger with the Marit- Lage token, but my opponent then cast Flickerwisp to deal with the token. Despite having stalled the board with the Tabernacle, I was unable to get enough Maze of Ith in play to slow down his onslaught. He later cast Cataclysm (haven’t seen that one in a looooooong time) followed by Rest in Peace to put the game out of my reach.

Game 3 was painfully quick as I had to decide if I wanted to keep my Mox Diamond mana up to Punishing Fire threats or just keep dredging Life from the Loam to dig up some colored lands or my win condition. I was already in a bind by turn 5 and his Phyrexian Revoker pretty much crippled me. It was a matter of a few attack steps before I lost the game and any hope of Day 2’ing that GP.

phyrexian revokerOh, the hate!

I really didn’t want to run the same deck on Sunday so I ended up just hanging out in my hotel and following the rest of that GP online. My roomate had borrowed the deck, but I suggested he play the Intuition version of the deck instead. It was less explosive but could better deal with hate cards and just control the board if it needed to. The main changes are:


3 Tropical Island
1 Bayou
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawmgoth
1 Academy Ruins
2 Engineered Explosives
1 Zuran Orb
3 Intuition
1 Misty Rainforest
2 Tolaria West


2 Taiga
2 Manabond
4 Gamble
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Punishing Fire
2 Thespians’ Stage
3 Tranquil Thicket

He ended up missing Top 8 losing to back to back Storm match-ups. Hopefully the 27 boosters he won will serve us well in testing for this week’s GP Ottawa.

gp ottawaNot as far as Jersey at least

I had adapted the Legacy Lands deck to the Tiny Leader format a few months back. The deck itself caused a few people to no longer like the format as much, so I avoided playing it as much as possible. I instead chose to play Black/White Teysa tokens for the most part. Still, for those of you that are looking for another Tiny Leaders decklist …

Tiny Leader Lands

Tiny Leader Format

Creatures: 2
1 Angus Mackenzie
1 Satyr Wayfinder

Artifacts: 7
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Vedalken Shackles
1 Ensnaring Bridge
1 Zuran Orb
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Mox Diamond

Enchantments: 3
1 Manabond
1 Prismatic Omen
1 Exploration

Sorceries: 2
1 Life from the Loam
1 Mulch

Instants: 5
1 Crop Rotation
1 Realms Uncharted
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Beast Within
1 Intuition

Lands: 31
1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
1 Academy Ruins
1 Vesuva
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Gargoyle Castle
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Tolaria West
1 Secluded Steppe
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Treetop Village
1 Tropical Island
1 Command Tower
1 Breeding Pool
1 Nantuko Monastery
1 Celestial Colonnade
1 Savannah
1 Tundra
1 Faerie Conclave
1 Temple Garden
1 Glacial Chasm
1 Tranquil Thicket
1 Mishra’s Factory
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Mutavault
1 Stirring Wildwood
1 Inkmoth Nexus
1 Blinkmoth Nexus
1 Windswept Heath
1 Riftstone Portal
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Maze of Ith

Sideboard: 10
1 Pithing Needle
1 Sacred Ground
1 Ray of Revelation
1 Nomad Stadium
1 Null Rod
1 Darksteel Mutation
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Elixir of Immortality
1 Sands of Delirium
1 Mana Vortex

I decided to go the manlands route instead of being too much on the ‘cheese’ side and opting for Dark Depths + Thespian’s Stage in this particular deck. Although, feel free to squeeze that in. Your opponents might end up thanking you for ending their suffering early.

dark depthsJust in time for winter …

The deck plays the exact opposite of most decks, running 31 lands and 19 non-lands. The commander is pretty irrelevant, although you could run Ragnar since he’s the least expensive. You could also try and run Jenar, Asura of War if you have some kind of delusions of winning that way. Angus Mackenzie is just straight up funny. Cast him as an emergency blocker later on or just sneak him in mid to late game if your opponent used up all his removal spells on your lands.

The deck plays pretty much like a watered-down version of the Legacy builds, except that it doesn’t run the Punishing Fire combo nor make Marit Lage tokens (since we run Ensnaring Bridge maindeck). I would attribute most of the wins to Inkmoth Nexus and Vesuva copying Inkmoth Nexus. The white is only in there mostly for more manlands and Enilightened Tutor. If anything, I would maybe switch it over as a a Temur or Sultai deck. The green and blue are obviously irreplaceable. Red would give us Gamble. Punishing Fire, Grove of the Burnwillows and maybe even Seismic Assault (ugh….triple red). Another great thing we would get from red is a really hard to deal with Commander: Animar, Soul of Element. The huge downside is that we won’t be casting many creature spells, if any at all (Satyr Wayfinder, anyone?)

The other route is to go Sultai. Obviously there is no Commander for that, but we can just use a generic 2/2 for BUG colors and not care. Black can give up a big more depth. We an run Abrupt Decay, Nephalia Drownyard, Ashiok,Nightmare Weaver and Gaze of Granite / Pernicious Deed if we deem it necessary. We also gain Bojuka Bog versus some graveyard strategies. Baleful Strix, Deathrite Shaman and Bitterblossom look appealing as well. The main thing we are losing is the manlands. We would gain Creeping Tar Pit but lose Celestial Colonnade and Stirring Wildwood.

creeping tarWorth it?

Going Black can also give us access to another rather nice land: Volrath’s Stronghold. This way we can run a few more creatures and maybe even Vampire Hexmage as well. That way we gain another way to combo with Dark Depths (and a way to kill the limited number of planeswalkers that exist in the format).


It’s going to be very grindy, that much is sure. You will be slowing them down via mana denial, blowing up permanents, controlling some of their creatures with Vedalkan Shackles and stopping/slowing down combat (Maze of Ith, Ensnaring Bridge). The original version had a Terra Eternal in the main deck, but it was a little counter-intuitive with Wasteland/Ghost Quarter.

The Vedalken Shackles will steal most smaller creatures straight up and it gets a little bonkers with Prismatic Omen. The Omen also bypasses Blood Moon effects if it was cast beforehand. The regular list also does this with a Riftstone Portal in our graveyard (giving us access to at least Green and White Mana). Mox Diamond also helps us out with our Blood Moon problem a bit.That way, if we draw any of our naturalize effects, we can use them. Of course, we have Oblivion Stone in case things go terribly wrong.

One thing that’s kinda cute is the Sensei’s Divining Top in the Sideboard. It allows us to plan our Life from the Loam Dredges ahead of time and prevents us from hitting a card we actually wanted t draw (aka. Krosan Grip). It’s proably good enough to go in the main deck, but I can’t quite figure out what to cut for it. I also like it because it allows us to dredge up Life from the Loam itself at instant speed and costs no mana to activate its ‘draw a card’ ability. There is maybe bonus value to be had if we use it to mill a Ray of Revelation in response to something like a Rest in Peace. We get Life from the Loam in hand off the Dredge 3 and then flashback Ray of Revelation in response to the Rest in Peace triggered ability.

sensei's divining topOne of the many reasons Counterbalance is banned in this format

Always activating and attacking with manlands can actually get quite rough and not let us free up our mana for much else, which is why Gargoyle Castle is in the list. Urza’s Factory was also considered and may appear in future iterations of the deck.

gargoyle castleSlow but effective

They also recently unbanned Bazaar of Baghdad. If you’ve got a decent-size budget for this, you might wanna pick one up. I would definitely add it to this deck.

 More to come …

I’ll be trying to post more Tiny Leaders decks on here, but until then you can also visit their Facebook group page for more updates and lists.

Tiny Leader Links

Tiny leader Blog Site

Tiny Leader Facebook page

Tiny Leader Ban List


Tiny Leaders Deck Construction:
– Deck Restrictions:
• 50 Card decks.
• Singleton (Only 1 of each card except for Basic Lands)
• All cards must be Converted Mana Cost 3 or less.
• Must include a LEGENDARY CREATURE as a General, which IS included in the 50 cards.
• Starting Life Total: 25
• No free Mulligan.
• No ‘Commander Damage’ rule.
• Tiny Leaders is a 2-Player format.

Give it a try!

Aggro Loam


aggro loam

francis avatar final

A long time ago, back when i played lots of Legacy, Aggro Loam was my deck of choice. You could get so much value from Life from the Loam and powerful lands, especially before Deathrite Shaman was printed.


life from the loam


the little engine that could

With the banning of Deathrite Shaman in Modern there is a window for graveyard decks to become better. Some people have been trying to port the Assault Loam strategy to modern. I’ve seen many different lists pop up online in the Magic Online Daily Events :  some run the same creature package as the old Legacy version (Dark Confidant, Tarmogoyf and Countryside Crusher), some splash white for Knight of the Reliquary and Lingering Souls, some lists play blue instead of black and others play Young Pyromancer with Smallpox.

My list combines two cards I’ve always wanted to play in the same deck: Young Pyromancer and Lingering Souls.

This is my current list:

Aggro Loam

Modern Deck

Creatures: 4

4 Young Pyromancer

Instants: 5

4 Abrupt Decay
1 Darkblast

Sorceries: 23

4 Faithless Looting
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Thoughtseize
4 Raven’s Crime
1 Flame Jab
4 Smallpox
4 Life from the Loam
4 Lingering Souls



Enchantments: 3

3 Seismic Assault

Lands: 25

4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Verdant Catacombs
2 Arid Mesa
2 Graven Cairns
2 Stomping Ground
1 Blood Crypt
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Godless Shrine
1 Forest
1 Swamp
1 Horizon Canopy
2 Raging Ravine
1 Treetop Village
1 Pendelhaven
1 Ghost Quarter


2 Duress
2 Anger Of The Gods
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Vengeful Pharaoh
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Syphon Life
2 Engineered Explosives
1 Vault of the Archangel



The wins

The main win condition is supposed to be Seismic Assault + Life from the Loam but in reality I’ve won many more games with Young Pyromancer and Lingering Souls. With Retrace spells, Young Pyro turns all your discarded lands into 1/1 s and with Loam you can get a lot of those tokens. Casting Lingering Souls with a Young Pyromancer on the field gets you 3 tokens, 6 if you cast Lingering Souls from your hand and Flashback it. You can easily build a scary board from scratch with these cards. Every time you Dredge a Lingering Souls you basically get free tokens.

young pyromancergiving value to all your instants and sorceries has never been sooooo good!

The downside of Young Pyromancer is that as the only creature in the deck, it will eat all the opposing creature removal so you have to be careful when casting them. You can wait until you destroyed your opponent’s hand with the discard spells or play it while having some untapped lands to cast spells so you get some guaranteed value from it. Also, they are our best win vs uninteractives decks. If we manage to slow down their combo, we can then kill them with tokens.

The tokens can be used both for offence and defence, Spirit tokens trade with most flying creatures in the format (aside from Restoration Angel and Celestial Colonnade) and chumping with tokens until you stabilize is fine. The Godless Shrine one-of is here solely to cast Lingering Souls from your hand and to activate Vault of the Archangel from the board, but in most games you won’t even need it.

The most powerful interaction in the deck is Seismic Assault + Life from the Loam. These cards together can both control the board and win you the game. Six damage a turn is a real clock and the ability to kill any creature your opponent draws makes it very hard for most decks to win after you’ve assembled the two pieces. This is less true versus Abrupt Decay decks and is the reason why drawing multiple Seismic Assaults isn’t always a bad thing. Seismic Assault puts a lot of strain on your Red mana so I’ve built my mana base accordingly.

Manlands are the last win condition. The ‘enter the battlefield tapped’ drawback often doesn’t matter much. They truly shine on empty boards, a board state that is likely to happen with all the discard and removal. They can also be recurred with Life from the Loam. Also, game 2 and 3 they become better since our opponents are very likely to side in some graveyard hate.


The discard


raven's crimeCaw! Caw! goes the raven 

Raven’s Crime is the main reason to play black in this deck. Combined with Life from the Loam, you can literally annihilate your opponent’s hand. The strong presence of combo decks in the format makes this interaction very potent. The deck also plays 25 lands so Retracing it a few time shouldn’t be a problem even if you don’t start with Life from the Loam in your opening hand. Every time you Loam and cast Raven’s Crime you basically 3 for 1 your opponent until he has no cards in hand. This strategy is very good against control decks as well, counterspells are pretty useless versus Raven’s Crime. If they can counter your Life from the Loam, sometimes this will be annoying if your hand is left with no lands but you can always Dredge it back later. Playing Raven’s Crime makes having access to multiple black mana a must, especially on the first few turns of the game. This is why I run as many black mana-producing lands as I can. Just beware of cards like Loxodon Smiter, Wilt-Leaf Liege and Obstinate Baloth !

A 1-1 split between Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize is best i think. We already take some damage from our lands so just one Thoughtseize. Inquisition is better vs aggro and Thoughtseize is better at taking away things like Cryptic Command.


The removal

I believe Abrupt Decay is a very good card right now. It can kill most relevant creatures in the format and is also is an answer to problematic hate cards such as Rest in Peace. Also, it can safely halt most creature-based combos and it kills random non-creatures too.For smaller creatures we have Flame Jab. Flame Jab is pretty good vs. specific decks, namely decks with mana dorks, decks with tokens and Affinity decks. It is also very useful combined with Young Pyromancer, just throw Jabs to the face and make lots of tokens. Flame Jab can also finish off a planeswalker or bigger creatures with lots of red mana and Life from the Loam.

Darkblast is sort of like Flame Jab, except it is instant speed, fills up our graveyard, can’t be thrown to the face and is harder to use multiple times against large creatures. This is why i think a 1-1 split between it and Flame Jab is the best. It can be a nice surprise with Young Pyromancer, just Darkblast an attacking creature, make a token and ambush the creature ! You can cast it additional times if you use it during your upkeep and then Dredge it. The card disadvantage isn’t that bad since you are filling your graveyard anyway (which is what we’re aiming for). You can do more tricks with it and Horizon Canopy.

Smallpox is a very disruptive spell and it doesn’t affect us as much as our opponents (most of the time). Discarding a card isn’t a problem, we can Loam back sacrificed lands and our only creature is Young Pyromancer  plus we can sacrifice the token Smallpox created. ‘Edict’ effects are good at taking down bigger threats that the deck can’t handle without Seismic Assault, provided we kill small creatures beforehand. On the play we can hit an Urzatron lands if our opponent leads with them and Celestial Colonnade which UW/x players often play first.

The engines


Life from the Loam is the centerpiece of this deck, but it is possible to win without them (usually via Lingering Souls and Young Pyromancer). In this deck, getting 3 lands is the equivalent of getting 3 spells a lot of the time.

Faithless Looting is basically draw 2 for one mana with Flashback since many of our cards operate from the graveyard. You can also Loam and just discard 2 lands. Also, if you draw multiple Seismic Assaults and don’t need them you can ‘loot’ them away. You can also discard Lingering Souls when you don’t have access to your Godless Shrine or Horizon Canopy.


The lands


25 lands is the minimum requirement for this deck since you get lots of value from them. Topdecking a land isn’t as bad as it can be in other decks because you can generally do something with it. The basic lands are a concession to Blood Moon, Path to Exile and Ghost Quarter. If you expect your opponent to play Blood Moon , then you should always search for your basic Forest so you can keep on Loaming. Also sometimes you don’t want to take damage from fetched lands, so having the option of getting a basic is nice.


blood moonBoo! the fun police is in the house

Horizon Canopy can do a lot of work. Firstly,  it is an additional white source which is sometimes useful. Secondly, you can Loam it and still draw your card for the turn. Lastly, with Horizon Canopy as your sixth land and with 2 other Green mana sources:  you can Loam 2 times a turn. Just Dredge and cast Life from the Loam, play Horizon Canopy, Dredge Loam with Canopy’s draw ability and Loam again. With Seismic Assault you get 5 lands to discard to it each turn, which is very useful when you need to end the game quickly. The damage from the mana ability can be an issue so one copy of Horizon Canopy is the maximum we can run in my opinion.

Ghost Quarter is general hate vs. special lands. It helps against Tron and kills Celestial Colonnade as well as other manlands that are found in a lot of decks in the Modern format. The deck is pretty color intensive so we only run one in order to avoid mana problems. Having a recurring way to handle problem lands seems good enough. Against a few decks that run almost no basic Lands you can even cut them off from a color and mana screw them. This won’t happen often as most decks run enough basic to prevent that from happening. In match-ups were Ghost Quarter is useless, we can side it out for Vault of the Archangel.


In Conclusion …

Aggro Loam is a hard deck to classify. It has aggro elements in the form of token beat down (or Tarmogoyf, Knight of the Reliquary and Countryside Crusher in the other version), lots of control elements with all the discard and removal as well as combo-ish interactions with Seismic Assault and Life from the Loam.

The deck is vulnerable to graveyard hate but we have access to Abrupt Decay and Engineered Explosives to get rid of those. Explosives is extra good vs specific deck like Aura Hexproof, Merfolk, Affinity, etc. We have access to 4 colors so we can even kill the occasional Leyline of Sanctity and Restoration Angels, if need be. Ancient Grudge can be an answer to Pithing Needle (on Seismic Assault), Grafdigger’s Cage, Relic of Progenitus, etc. You get extra value from them when they get Dredged. Anger of the Gods can replace some Smallpox vs. Birthing Pod decks. Duress is good additional discard and can replace removal vs. creature-light decks. Combined with Surgical Extraction, we can get free wins when facing combo decks. Syphon Life is here vs. burn, which is probably this deck’s worst match-up. Vengeful Pharaoh is tech vs. creature decks. When it triggers and goes back on top or your library, you can Dredge Life from the Loam and send it back in the graveyard or just discard it to Faithless Looting or Smallpox. Vault of the Archangel can make our tokens trade with anything and the life gain as well.

The worst thing that can happen to us is Surgical Extraction on Life from the Loam, it becomes very difficult (but not impossible) to win after that. Remember, if you have Horizon Canopy on the battlefield, you can play around Surgical Extraction  by ‘cycling ‘ dredging it in response. Just keep Loaming and play Hoprizon Canopy after Life from the Loam has resolved without passing priority. Scavenging Ooze can be a problem but we have main deck answers to that. Just kill it on the spot (if you can) whenever you see it! A trick to kill them with Flame Jab is to cast it on ooze and retrace multiple times without passing priority, your opponent will then not have the opportunity to exile your Flame Jab since it will always be on the stack when the opponent gets priority. Another weakness of the deck is GR Tron namely because of their maindeck Relic of Progenitus.

Life from the Loam is a powerful card advantage engine. If you like playing with your graveyard, then I suggest you give this deck a spin!


Seismic AssaultA fiery fist emerges from the mountain to punch a feathery face