Home Forums Discussion Magic Discussion [Vintage] URx Landstill

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  • #210
    pandaman
    pandaman
    Participant

    Introduction

    UR Landstill is THE control deck in Vintage. It runs more counterspells and control elements than any other deck in the format. Forget Turn 1 wins and broken plays – this deck is built to grind out its wins, and does so with superlative efficiency and effectiveness.

    If true Vintage control is your style, read on.

    History and Evolution

    Firstly, I did not invent and popularise this deck. Credit for that should, in my understanding, be attributed to Josh Potucek (oshkoshhaitsuyosh on The Mana Drain and landstillmaniac on The Source), a Vintage player from the United States. Josh has been grinding Standstill in Legacy and Vintage for a long time, and is primarily responsible for the deck’s early development and a lot of its early success on the competitive Vintage stage. Josh initially played the deck to respectable finishes in a number of Vintage tournaments in 2009 and 2010, but went on absolute tear in 2011, winning three consecutive Blue Bell Vintage events in July, September, and October and putting the deck well and truly on the map. Josh has gone on to further success with the deck, with numerous Top 4 and Top 2 finishes.

    The deck is based around the concept that a playset of Standstill in a Vintage deck essentially allows you to play 5 Ancestral Recall, and this almost always leaves you with more cards in hand than your opponent. It also has at its core an aggressive mana denial strategy – a full playset of Wasteland, a Strip Mine, and at least 2 copies of Crucible of Worlds allow you to take advantage of the sketchy mana bases that abound in Vintage. Manlands, such as Mishra’s Factory and Faerie Conclave, have always been present and fit into the deck seamlessly, because they play extremely well with both Standstill (by attacking under it) and Crucible of Worlds (by recurring from the graveyard). Finally, a full complement of Mana Drain, Force of Will, and some number of Red Elemental Blast are the tools the deck uses to dominate the stack.

    The evolution of the deck has taken place due to both the printing of new cards and the changes in the metagame. Jace, the Mind Sculptor was adopted soon after its release and now figures as the deck’s primary win condition, with manlands now often standing by on guard duty rather than attacking. Mental Misstep, Spell Pierce, Steel Sabotage, and Mindbreak Trap have been adopted readily to enhance the counter wall the deck can assemble, relegating their predecessors – Mana Leak, Counterspell, and Spell Snare to the trade binder. Fire//Ice and Lightning Bolt used to compete for position, but with the printing of Lodestone Golem and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Lightning Bolt has become a necessity because of its ability to deal with both, as opposed to Fire//Ice, which cannot kill either. Finally, the deck previously used Null Rod to severely punish fully powered decks and Workshops, but the rise of the fish archetype in Vintage – Merfolk, BUG, RUG, GW Hatebears, and Mono White Trash – has seen the vast majority of Landstill pilots turn to Engineered Explosives, which can still deal with the Black Lotus and the Moxen, but can also combat creatures of all shapes and sizes, as well as destroy troublesome permanents such as Oath of Druids, other players’ Crucible of Worlds, and one-mana pests such as Fastbond, Sol Ring, and Mystic Remora.

    Card discussion and analysis

    Lands/Mana

    Black Lotus – Enables a Turn 1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, or a Turn 1 Standstill with Mana Drain backup. Play it.

    Mox Sapphire – Enables a Turn 1 Standstill. Play it.

    Mox Ruby – Optional. Some like it, some don’t. It gives you more acceleration, but opens you up to being blown out by your own or your opponent’s Engineered Explosives or Null Rod. Test it and make the call yourself.

    Island – You need basics to play around Wasteland. Play 2 or 3.

    Mountain – You need a basic Mountain to ensure that you don’t get locked off your Red mana by Fish and Workshop decks. Lightning Bolt, Red Elemental Blast, and your sideboard cards are integral to your success and you need ready access to Red mana to play them. Play 1.

    Volcanic Island – In a UR deck, obvious UR land is obvious. Play 3 or 4.

    Wasteland – Mana denial is one of the two core strategies of this deck. Play 4.

    Strip Mine – It’s restricted for a reason – it kills any land. Play it.

    Ghost Quarter – For when you really feel like ramping up the land destruction pain. Ghost Quarter with Crucible of Worlds is absolutely brutal, but perhaps overkill in most situations. Not an auto-include, but a very effective card worth serious consideration if the meta favours its use.

    Library of Alexandria – Turn 1 Library of Alexandria wins games. It gives you superior card advantage, which is what this deck enjoys. Play it.

    Mishra’s Factory – The best manland every printed. Play 4.

    Faerie Conclave – If you feel Mishra’s Factory isn’t enough, this is the second best manland available to you. It produces Blue mana, supporting your primary colour, and untaps under Choke for good measure. Not an auto-include, but worth serious consideration if you can fit it in.

    Barbarian Ring – Barbarian Ring is amazing with Crucible, amazing with Standstill, and out of this world if you have both. It cleans up nearly all of the creatures regularly played in Vintage, and should seriously be considered as a 1-of.

    Academy Ruins – Engineered Explosives lock is the real deal in Vintage, but, again, perhaps overkill in most situations. Not an auto-include, but another seriously effective card.

    Counterspells

    Force of Will – The best pitch counter ever printed. Play 4.

    Mana Drain – The best counterspell ever printed – play 4. Nothing beats Drain into Jace/Crucible to put a smile on your dial.

    Misdirection – You want to win the counter wars and steal the occasional Ancestral Recall, and this card helps you do both. Play 2 or more of these.

    Mindbreak Trap – The longer the game goes, the better your chances of winning. However, broken stuff on Turn 1 is no good for you. This card stops the shenanigans. Don’t be surprised when your friends start playing “Land, Mox, Sol Ring, go” against you because you have blown them out multiple times with this card. You can also hardcast it once you hit 4 mana, which is incredible useful because it allows you to stop uncounterable creatures played off Cavern of Souls. Play some number of these.

    Mental Misstep – Counters Ancestral Recall and all manner of other annoying things people do for 1 mana in Vintage, including other Mental Missteps. Play some number of these.

    Red Elemental Blast – Counters anything blue, and kills Jace. It also deals with annoying creatures such as Delver of Secrets, Trygon Predator, and Vendilion Clique. Utterly useless against Workshops and the main part of creature decks, but there is enough Blue in the format for that detriment to be outweighed by hosing the big Blue decks game 1. Also, because it is totally dead against some decks, it makes sideboard decisions easy. Play 2.

    Spell Pierce – A great one mana counter. You could definitely consider playing some number of these. However, it does lose effectiveness in the late game unless you have some mana denial going on, and you don’t always hit Crucible and Wasteland to make mana denial happen. If you don’t, it often sits in your hand doing nothing.

    Spell Snare – Again, a great one mana counter, because there are heaps of things in Vintage that cost 2 mana that you don’t want resolving – Time Vault, Dark Confidant, Demonic Tutor, Time Walk, to name a few. However, a lot of these cards can be dealt with by other counterspells or cards in your deck. Spell Snare is really a metagame call, but if the meta favours its use, Spell Snare is a very powerful card. Bear in mind that a lot of people may start using it against you to combat your Mana Drains and Standstills.

    Removal

    Lightning Bolt – In the current meta, this card is amazing. It kills Jace if your opponent doesn’t ramp it immediately, and deals with nearly all creatures in the format. Play 4.

    Fire//Ice – An amazingly useful card in all manner of circumstances, its ability to tap down Blightsteel Colossus and kill two Dark Confidants has now been outweighed by the detriment of it not being to kill either Jace or Lodestone Golem. You could consider playing 1 or 2 of these.

    Win conditions

    Jace, the Mind Sculptor – A respectable argument could be made that this is the best blue card ever printed. It nets you card advantage, it bounces creatures to draw out the game, and it wins the game for you with its Fateseal ability. Certainly, it is the best win condition available to this deck at the moment, replacing Fact or Fiction in the 4 CMC slot. Play 3 or 4.

    Tinker – Because this deck is built to grind, Tinker doesn’t fit in well here. You don’t have many artifacts you would want to sacrifice to cast it, and if you draw Blightsteel you don’t have a hope in hell of hardcasting it, and will find it difficult to shuffle it back into your library. Avoid.

    Utility cards

    Ancestral Recall – 3 cards for 1 Blue mana? Yes, please! Play it.

    Crucible of Worlds – Being able to recur Wasteland/Strip Mine for land destruction locks, manlands for eternal blockers, Barbarian Ring for inevitable death in 2-life increments, and fetchlands to essentially draw 2 cards a turn while thinning your deck, are all amazing things to be doing. Play 2.

    Echoing Truth – A great utility card. It deals with Blightsteel Colossus, Jace, Empty the Warrens tokens, and other things you don’t want on the battlefield. The deck has a real weakness to a resolved Blightsteel Colossus, so play one of these as a miser’s out for it. If you don’t bounce Blightsteel with it, you can use it on something else, or pitch it to Force of Will or Misdirection.

    Engineered Explosives – Another amazing utility card. Play it proactively on Turn 1 to stop people dumping multiple moxes, or reactively to blow them out when they have done exactly that. Kill creatures and other pesky permanents. Play 3-4 of these.

    Null Rod – You don’t play many moxes, but other people do. If you want to hose a metagame of Big Blue and Workshops, play this card. Normally not very useful against creatures, so utilise only when the meta is right for it. If you use it, play 3-4.

    Steel Sabotage – This nifty one-cost spell counters artifacts like Time Vault, Voltaic Key, Black Lotus, and Blightsteel Colossus, or bounces them once they’re on the board. You should seriously consider playing one if you can fit it in your deck.

    Brainstorm – You often find that in this deck you want the cards in your hand to actually DO something to something else. Brainstorm doesn’t do this, so I don’t play it. However, many do. A personal choice.

    Time Walk – Usually a USD$600 Explore. Avoid.

    Creatures

    Snapcaster Mage – Who doesn’t want 2 Ancestral Recalls a game? If you’re going to play a creature in Landstill (I don’t) this would be the one. The number is subject to testing. You can sneak these in EOT before dropping a Standstill for great value.

    Trinket Mage – This card needs to come with a package, usually Pithing Needle, Sensei’s Divining Top, Relic of Progenitus, and Engineered Explosives. It nets you card advantage by fetching the previously mentioned artifacts and can be bounced by Jace and replayed for more value. It also chump blocks like a champ and occasionally joins Mishra’s Factory for a beat session. I haven’t tested this card at all, so I can’t speak to its effectiveness, and I am looking to other, more experienced pilots for information.

    Vendillion Clique – 3 damage per turn plus disruption is great for a control deck, and flash is just gravy, allowing you to sneak it in EOT before a Standstill for a very respectable clock and a frown on your opponent’s face.

    Sideboard

    This deck usually splashes either Green or Black for sideboard hate, but not both.

    Ancient Grudge – the ultimate artifact-killing spell, incredible value. Great if you have Red, even better if you have Green, but you can get by without. Bluff Green with a fetchland for ultimate laughs. If you’re splashing Green, you should seriously consider playing at least 2 of these. You can even play it maindeck if there are a lot of Workshops or Turbo Tezz decks in your meta.

    Firespout – An amazing sweeper that kills almost any creature, and again, one that is still effective even if you only have red mana (hardly anything flies in Vintage). If you use it, play 2-3.

    Goblin Welder – I don’t have any experience with this as a sideboard card, I only know that some people play it. I would love some insight from other Vintage players as to its effectiveness.

    Ingot Chewer – Everyone hates Workshops. Ingot Chewer really hates Workshops. It also hates Bridge from Below if you evoke it! Play 3 or 4.

    Viashano Heretic – Smash on a stick. Absolutely brutal if it sticks. Nothing beats that look on a Workshops player’s face when you untap with this card – they know they are in a world of pain and that the game is over. Seriously consider playing 1 or 2.

    Grafdigger’s Cage/Leyline of the Void/Tormod’s Crypt/Relic of Progenitus/Yixlid Jailer/Bojuka Bog – Everyone hates Dredge. Play at least 7 of these if you want a positive matchup against Dredge postboard. Ideally, you want one of these hate cards and at least one counterspell in hand. Dredge hate protected by counterspells will win you this matchup.

    The Tabernacle at Pendrall Vale – An amazing creature hate card. If only it wasn’t so expensive, because you want 2-3 in your sideboard if you’re playing it. Effective because it plays with your mana denial strategy. Great because you don’t need a splash colour to play it, and it works without you having to cast a spell.

    Toxic Deluge – The new sweeper on the block as I write this. Effective at killing any creature in the format if you have enough life. However, you need a Black splash to play it, and with only 4-5 fetchlands and a single Underground Sea for a splash, you could find it stranded in your hand. Firespout is certainly better against anything other than True-Name Nemesis and fatties such as Myr Battlesphere and Blightsteel Colossus. If you are going to play it, consider playing 5 fetchlands and perhaps a second Underground Sea in the sideboard. Play 2-3.

    Strategy

    The deck wins one of three ways: attacking with manlands, using the ultimate ability of Jace, the Mind Sculptor, or destroying every permanent on your opponent’s board so that they simply concede. On the play, keep hands that can ram an early Standstill, Crucible, or Jace with some counter backup, or can be worked into either a Jace or Crucible in the mid game. On the draw, keep hands that have free counterspells.

    Match ups

    Blue decks (Keeper/Grixis Control/Gush, not including Oath)

    Your bread and butter matchup. You should win this matchup most of the time. You are simply doing what they are doing, but better, and with a lot more consistency. You have more counterspells, more lands, and more control elements. Drag this into the mid game and you won’t lose many. Be aware that you can get blown out by bonkers Turn 1/2 plays, like early Tinker into Blightsteel Colossus, or Vault/Key. You really don’t need to board anything for these matchups, that is how good your deck is against Blue.

    Oath

    Oath is a Blue deck, but gets its own section because it plays out a little differently to the typical Big Blue control deck. Oath is still a good matchup, but more difficult than regular Blue. An early Oath of Druids or Tinker into Blightsteel will hurt you. Save your Wastelands and Strip Mine for Forbidden Orchard, and remember you can use Lightning Bold and Engineered Explosives to kill Forbidden Orchard Spirit tokens, to prevent Oath from triggering. You should be proactively trying to set EE for 2 to combat Oath, because if you do this, you reduce their win condition to Jace, and they typically only have 2 of these (EE on 2 screws Time Vault too). Again, you don’t need to sideboard anything for this matchup, but you can bring in a couple of Grafdigger’s Cages if you have them in the Board, taking out a Lightning Bolt or two.

    Workshops

    Despite popular opinion, this is a positive matchup for you. You have more lands than the average deck, and ways to recur them, which means that more often than not taxing doesn’t work on you. You have Lightning Bolts for an early Lodestone Golem and Engineered Explosives for other troublesome permanents. The card you fear the most in this matchup is Crucible of Worlds, followed by Phyrexian Metamorph copying Crucible of Worlds, because this gives the Workshops player instant inevitability against you. However, on the flip side, if you land a Crucible it pretty much gives you the same inevitability. Your plan in this matchup is to keep reasonably land-heavy hands with some way to stop an early broken play of Lodestone Golem or Tinker/Crucible. Ideally, the lands you keep should be basic lands and fetchlands to get basic lands, to protect yourself from being mana screwed through Wasteland. If you succeed in this, your strategy is simply to run them out of cards, land a Jace, and fateseal for the win.

    You have an excellent sideboard for this matchup. Take out 2 Red Elemental Blast, 2 Misdirection, 2 Mental Misstep to bring in Ingot Chewers and whatever other hate you are playing.

    Dredge

    This is a miserable deck to play for anyone except the Dredge player. You won’t win game 1 unless you can land a Turn 0 EE and counter their Dread Return while they totally brick on recurring Ichorids and Bloodghasts.

    You have a good sideboard for this matchup. Unfortunately, I am not experienced enough with it to know exactly what to take out and bring in. Looking to the more experienced pilots for input.

    Creatures

    Creature decks are somewhat difficult for you. You need to keep a hand that can deal with at least 2, and preferably 3 creatures in succession, with either counterspells, Lightning Bolt, or Engineered Explosives. If you can do that, you are in with a fighting chance.

    Postboard, you want your Firespouts and any other creature hate you have.

    Deck Lists

    My current deck list (24 January 2014):

    Main deck (60)

    2 Island
    1 Mountain
    3 Volcanic Island
    1 Tropical Island
    4 Scalding Tarn
    4 Wasteland
    1 Strip Mine
    4 Mishra’s Factory
    1 Barbarian Ring
    1 Library of Alexandria
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Mox Sapphire

    4 Force of Will
    2 Misdirection
    2 Mindbreak Trap
    2 Mental Misstep
    2 Red Elemental Blast
    4 Mana Drain

    4 Standstill
    1 Ancestral Recall

    4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    2 Crucible of Worlds
    3 Engineered Explosives
    1 Echoing Truth
    1 Steel Sabotage
    4 Lightning Bolt

    Sideboard (15)

    4 Grafdigger’s Cage
    3 Tormod’s Crypt
    4 Ingot Chewer
    2 Viashano Heretic
    2 Firespout

    Past deck-lists

    Main deck (60)

    2 Island
    1 Mountain
    3 Volcanic Island
    1 Underground Sea
    4 Scalding Tarn
    4 Wasteland
    1 Strip Mine
    4 Mishra’s Factory
    1 Barbarian Ring
    1 Library of Alexandria
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Mox Sapphire

    4 Force of Will
    2 Misdirection
    2 Mindbreak Trap
    2 Mental Misstep
    2 Red Elemental Blast
    4 Mana Drain

    4 Standstill
    1 Ancestral Recall

    4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    2 Crucible of Worlds
    3 Engineered Explosives
    1 Echoing Truth
    1 Steel Sabotage
    4 Lightning Bolt

    Sideboard (15)

    4 Grafdigger’s Cage
    2 Yixlid Jailer
    1 Bokuka Bog
    4 Ingot Chewer
    2 Viashano Heretic
    2 Firespout

    Notable finishes for UR Landstill

    UR Landstill, 6th out of 47, 28 September 2013

    http://www.thecouncil.es/tcdecks/dec…7&iddeck=86610

    URg Landstill, 4th out of 78, 15 June 2013

    http://www.thecouncil.es/tcdecks/dec…8&iddeck=81139

    URb Landstill, 3rd out of 321, 19 May 2013

    http://www.thecouncil.es/tcdecks/dec…0&iddeck=80066

    Legacy devotee
    Vintage dilettante
    Australian Highlander enthusiast
    Cube Draft cognoscent

    #211
    pandaman
    pandaman
    Participant

    I haven’t been doing too well with Landstill after my (constructive) Top 8 at GP Melbourne. I didn’t make Top 8 of the Brisbane Vintage League, losing to RUG, Esper StoneBlade, and Griselbrand Oath, I went an embarassing 4-5 at the Bazaar of Moxen Vintage event, and I have been getting crushed by pretty much everything I have been casually testing against. Some of this is, of course, because I have been making bad plays. At GP Melbourne, I could have been a lock for an ID into the Top 8 if I had used my active Barbarian Ring against Charlie’s Dark Confidant instead of Mana Draining it, wasting a counter and leaving me unable to answer his game-winning Yawgmoth’s Will the next turn. At BoM I made all sorts of horrible misplays that I don’t even want to remember. All of this may indeed have had a negative effect on my confidence with the deck. However, the inescapable fact is that the deck as I’m currently running it doesn’t quite fit with the current Vintage metagame. Specifically, it doesn’t deal well with True-Name Nemesis, creatures, or MUD of any kind.

    So, it’s time for a change and, unfortunately, sacrificing percentage points in the deck’s best matchup: Big Blue.

    Mainboard (60)

    2 Island
    1 Mountain
    3 Volcanic Island
    2 Underground Sea
    4 Scalding Tarn
    1 Misty Rainforest
    4 Wasteland
    1 Strip Mine
    4 Mishra’s Factory
    1 Library of Alexandria
    1 Barbarian Ring
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Mox Sapphire

    1 Snapcaster Mage

    4 Force of Will
    4 Mana Drain
    1 Mindbreak Trap
    1 Mental Misstep
    1 Misdirection
    1 Red Elemental Blast
    1 Spell Pierce

    4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    4 Standstill
    4 Lightning Bolt
    3 Engineered Explosives
    2 Crucible of Worlds
    1 Hurkyl’s Recall
    1 Ancestral Recall
    1 Steel Sabotage
    1 Dismember
    1 Toxic Deluge

    Sideboard (15)

    2 Grafdigger’s Cage
    2 Tormod’s Crypt
    2 Yixlid Jailer
    1 Hurkyl’s Recall
    3 Ingot Chewer
    1 Steel Sabotage
    2 Viashano Heretic
    2 Toxic Deluge
    1 Engineered Explosives

    The mainboard changes explained:

    -1 Misdirection, -1 Mindbreak Trap, -1 Mental Misstep, -1 Red Elemental Blast

    All of these cards, there for the Big Blue matchup, were hindering my preboard MUD matchup considerably, and had to be cut to make room to add cards that improve other matchups.

    +1 Spell Pierce

    A more versatile counter than any of the above, and not as dead against Shops Game 1 while still being good against Blue.

    1 Snapcaster Mage

    I have been on the fence about Tiago, but I think he might be the x factor the deck needs, and he can be rebought with Jace for value.

    -1 Echoing Truth +1 Hurkyl’s Recall

    No one plays Empty the Warrens, and 4 Bolt, 1 Dismember, and 1 Snapcaster Mage shores up the creature matchup enough to remove it. I have seen Hurkyl’s own MUD so many times now that I can’t resist it. It deals with Myr Battlesphere a lot better, too.

    +1 Dismember

    Shores up the creature matchup and kills Lodestone Golem and Steel Hellkite.

    +1 Steel Sabotage

    Great in the MUD-infested meta we currently occupy, and counters Time Vault.

    +1 Toxic Deluge

    There are creatures, including TNN, everywhere in Vintage right now.

    The sideboard changes explained:

    -1 Bojuka Bog +1 Hurkyl’s Recall

    Dredge is on the decline, so I am skimping on hate for it, pure and simple. See above for commentary on Hurkyl’s Recall

    -1 Steel Sabotage +1 Viashano Heretic

    Heretic is a much better option and I really don’t ever see myself losing the MUD matchup if I draw one. And that is saying something.

    -1 Toxic Deluge +1 Engineered Explosives

    This gives me the option of a full playset of EE postboard.

    Legacy devotee
    Vintage dilettante
    Australian Highlander enthusiast
    Cube Draft cognoscent

    #213
    Shane
    Shane
    Keymaster

    How was BoM actually? Did you run into alot of rogue decks?

    #214
    Shane
    Shane
    Keymaster

    I think your changes are largely correct btw, MUD is hugely oppressive, and has become almost half the Aussie meta. It’s ridiculous.

    #217
    pandaman
    pandaman
    Participant

    BoM was amazing fun. I was really sick, though, and that, coupled with the fact I had to ride from Annecy to Sevrier every day on a shitty bike, in the Alpine cold and rain, didn’t do much for my mood. Next time I’m staying in Sevrier itself, or hiring a car! My plays in Vintage aren’t worth mentioning, really. I didn’t play well, and made many mistakes that I remember but don’t want to talk about. Next time, next time.

    Legacy devotee
    Vintage dilettante
    Australian Highlander enthusiast
    Cube Draft cognoscent

    #218
    pandaman
    pandaman
    Participant

    By saying “largely correct,” you imply that there are still changes you consider incorrect. What are they? I actually think that the changes will weaken the Big Blue matchup uncomfortably, but we’ll see how it plays out.

    Legacy devotee
    Vintage dilettante
    Australian Highlander enthusiast
    Cube Draft cognoscent

    #219
    Shane
    Shane
    Keymaster

    By largely correct I mean that they look good to me, but I should’t be putting forward too many opinions considering my recent performances, which would put your bad beats to shame :p

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