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Thread: GRW Land-Use Change (Orcish Lumberjack, Land Tax, Titania)

  1. #1

    GRW Land-Use Change (Orcish Lumberjack, Land Tax, Titania)

    GRW Land-Use Change

    Maindeck (Dec. 23, 2018)

    Creatures
    4 Orcish Lumberjack
    1 Sylvan Safekeeper
    1 Birds of Paradise
    1 Granger Guildmage
    2 Lotus Cobra
    2 Scavenging Ooze
    3 Knight of the Reliquary
    1 Knight of Autumn
    3 Thornscape Battlemage
    3 Titania, Protector of Argoth

    Other Spells
    4 Mox Diamond
    4 Land Tax
    2 Scroll Rack
    1 Umezawa's Jitte
    1 Life from the Loam
    4 Green Sun's Zenith

    Lands
    4 Windswept Heath
    3 Wooded Foothills
    2 Savannah
    2 Taiga
    3 Forest
    1 Mountain
    1 Plains
    1 Horizon Canopy
    1 Wasteland
    1 Barbarian Ring
    1 Karakas
    1 City of Traitors
    1 Gemstone Mine
    1 Dryad Arbor

    Sideboard (incomplete)
    3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
    2 Firestorm


    INTRODUCTION
    This deck is designed around two cards that are cheap to cast and have a high intrinsic power level: Orcish Lumberjack and Land Tax. The former accelerates your mana quickly while enabling the latter to trigger, and the latter provides the former with fuel. The best way to spend mana from Orcish Lumberjack is on Titania, Protector of Argoth, which is the primary win condition. The secondary win condition is Knight of the Reliquary, and Green Sun's Zenith provides a way to tutor for these creatures or other silver bullets if needed. Because the deck plays Knight of the Reliquary, there's also a land toolbox.

    The deck's name was suggested by an environmental scientist I know. In that field, land-use change refers to things like forest land becoming cropland, which kind of fits in with Orcish Lumberjack (direct land-use change) and Land Tax (a policy instrument).


    STRENGTHS
    (*) Titania is a bomb. If you play her on turn 2, assuming that you can recur a fetch land (which is usually the case) you get one 5/3 elemental right away. If she sticks around, you'll get an overwhelming number of elementals. If you play Titania in the midgame instead, you'll often have ways to sacrifice lands at instant speed even if your opponent has instant speed removal in response to her enter-the-battlefield trigger. Titania is the only 5-mana green creature that can quickly result in 20 to 30 power on the board, and many cards in the deck synergize with her. The only ways to stop her are countermagic (the best answer), sweepers like Terminus or Toxic Deluge, and global effects like Solitary Confinement or Ensnaring Bridge. Titania will snowball over nearly any creature strategy.

    (*) Toolboxes: Like Maverick, this deck has a toolbox of green creatures (with Green Sun's Zenith) and a toolbox of lands (with Knight of the Reliquary). You can customize the deck to suit your needs by including the right tools. Some of the usual go-to silver bullets are included in the list above (such as Scavenging Ooze and Karakas).

    (*) Acceleration: With Orcish Lumberjack and Mox Diamond, you can start off fast and outpace a lot of strategies that can't respond with Force of Will. (GSZ -> Dryad Arbor, Birds of Paradise, and City of Traitors, the last of which is under testing, also help accelerate your mana.)

    (*) Tax/Rack: Land Tax is great at stabilizing your mana, and it helps this deck not be an underdog on the draw. There are also plenty of ways of deliberately getting behind on lands once you know you can afford to, so I keep Land Tax included even when I'm on the play.
    Land Tax plus Scroll Rack is an old combo for getting a lot of card advantage. This deck is not optimally designed to benefit from that advantage because it does not play cheap, instant-speed, catch-all reactive cards like Swords to Plowshares and Force of Will, which would be included in a UW Tax/Rack deck. I think such cheap instants are the ideal complement to Scroll Rack, since the tempo that you lose by constantly activating Scroll Rack is regained using cheap answers. That said, the combo can still lead to massive card advantage and is a great side plan. (People sometimes proactively play Pithing Needle against Scroll Rack postboard when there are only 2 copies of Scroll Rack in your deck and none in your hand.)

    (*) Rogue factor/GRW goodies: A lot of people don't know what they're up against and they are caught off guard by some tricky GRW cards. Granger Guildmage is a GSZ target that started in the sideboard and quickly earned a place in the maindeck. It's especially good against Death and Taxes, but it has applications elsewhere too. Thornscape Battlemage is a bit of an eyesore when you glance over the decklist, and of course it cannot be (usefully) tutored with GSZ. However, it's a necessary and powerful way to keep up on card advantage, and it has all kinds of applications. This is a deck that generates a lot of green and red mana, so a 4-mana or 5-mana answer that can get 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 card advantage is often welcome.
    Because this is a new deck people will sideboard weird things against you. Sometimes a Life from the Loam or Scroll Rack will do good things in game 1 and people will really misread what's going on.


    WEAKNESSES
    (*) Countermagic: This deck isn't as suicidal as an Orcish Lumberjack deck could be, but it still hurts badly to have a key Titania or GSZ countered. This deck does struggle with Force of Will, and especially against UW Miracles.

    (*) Occasionally clunky mana: Running about 5 basic lands to satisfy Land Tax is a necessary evil, and some of the utility lands, while being a net positive, still have drawbacks in the area of mana. Barbarian Ring and Karakas provide key utility but they make mulligans slightly more common. You can often work around these issues without losing tempo if you play tightly and plan your turns, but sometimes awkwardness is inevitable, and poor choices are punished.

    (*) Fast combo is tough: This deck certainly cannot respond to combo on turn 0 and usually cannot even on turn 1. With your acceleration, Scavenging Ooze and Knight of the Reliquary into Karakas can and do stop shenanigans if are allowed to have a turn 2. Sideboarding is discussed below.

    (*) Not Tier 1: This sounds silly to list as a weakness, but overall, I can honestly say the deck is unmistakably not tier 1. I believe that with good play and some more polishing it might be tier 2. (That's part of why I'm posting it now.) When I face UW Miracles, I see a smooth, efficient card advantage machine that always has a quick answer for what I'm doing and the right amount of mana left over to keep getting ahead. URB Control is similar. Wizards may print pushed green creatures in the future, though, so it's conceivable that this deck could get some key tools.

    (*) Enemy Umezawa's Jitte: It's very bad when your opponent gets one active. This is a creature-based deck, and until you win with Titania, your creatures are small. Jitte is death. Play artifact removal.


    OBSERVATIONS
    (*) This deck isn't too bad against Chalice and also isn't too bad against Blood Moon --- if you know the Moon is coming. If you don't see it coming, you might get wrecked, but if you do, it hardly affects your development.

    (*) Against a lot of the decks in Legacy's wide field --- Death and Taxes, Goblins, 12-post, Enchantress, Lands and other Depths decks --- this deck has tools and feels like it can compete on solid footing.

    (*) Missing 4-drop GSZ target: I wish there were a really powerful 4-mana green creature that synergized with the deck's aims and worked well with GSZ.

    (*) Land Tax compared to Brainstorm: Land Tax is the glue of this nonblue deck. Compared to Brainstorm, Land Tax lets you keep 3 cards (instead of putting 2 back) and is repeatable. However, it cannot by itself ever get you gas. Brainstorm gets you gas or lands according to your needs, but Land Tax can only get lands and is a lousy topdeck when you're flooded with mana.


    WHY ARE YOU PLAYING THAT CARD?
    (*) Granger Guildmage is decent and was promoted to the maindeck based on my experience sideboarding it in, but I could also imagine leaving it in the sideboard.

    (*) Sylvan Safekeeper is Titania's best friend. Play Titania on turn 2 and you'll get a land back from the graveyard. Use that land to cast Sylvan Safekeeper and you're in an amazing position.

    (*) Lotus Cobra: I go back and forth between 2 and 3 copies. It's very synergistic and leads to explosive plays. Lotus Cobra, fetch land, crack the fetch, tap a Knight of the Reliquary to grab a fetch, crack that fetch --- in that example turn you're playing a 2/1 for two mana that generates four mana right away. It does happen.

    (*) Thornscape Battlemage: Yes, it's expensive, and no, you can't grab it usefully with GSZ. However, some of the premier green creatures that do work with GSZ, such as Scavenging Ooze and Knight of the Reliquary, don't actually provide card advantage. I have wished often enough that I had more artifact removal and small creature removal, and I have access to four or five mana often enough, that I included several of these guys and have been happy since. I go back and forth between 2 and 3 copies.

    (*) Life from the Loam: It's Land Tax number 5 when you're filling up your hand for Scroll Rack. It also gives you a pathway to wastelocking your opponent once in a while.

    (*) Umezawa's Jitte: It's a recent addition and I honestly haven't even resolved it yet, let alone equipped it. That said, this deck has a lot of random small creatures, and sometimes your opponent hampers your main victory plan and leaves you stranded with some Lumberjacks and a Lotus Cobra and no gas. I expect Jitte to have worth as a 1-of.

    (*) City of Traitors: Recent addition under testing. It enables you to GSZ for Titania on turn 2 if you have Orcish Lumberjack (otherwise you can play Titania from hand on turn 2 but not GSZ for her), although that's a dangerous route. I like that it's acceleration, and letting a land die can be desirable with Titania and Land Tax in the deck.

    (*) Gemstone Mine: Again, letting a land die can be desirable with Titania and Lan Tax in the deck. Recent addition under testing. Undiscovered Paradise could also be considered (synergy with Land Tax and Lotus Cobra).


    SIDEBOARD OPTIONS
    (*) Gaddock Teeg used to live in the maindeck, but I've faced little in the way of Storm. I'd definitely want him available in the sideboard.

    (*) Firestorm can be a real surprise to your opponent. (Remember, you have 4 Land Tax and 1 Life from the Loam as hand fillers, and spare Mox Diamonds and Land Taxes can clog your hand later on.) Given the digging power of Scroll Rack, I've sometimes kept 1 Firestorm in the maindeck as a cute/powerful trick. A good sideboard card at least.

    (*) Carnage Tyrant: This competes a bit with Titania, who is weak to countermagic. Carnage Tyrant is uncounterable, but doesn't create nearly the board that Titania does. I've had good experiences with the dinosaur, but it's hard to fit it in.

    (*) Dryad Militant: Sideboard this and throw it in against graveyard decks since it's cheaper to GSZ for this than for Ooze if you're desperate.

    (*) Thalia, Guardian of Thraben: This deck isn't really a Thalia deck. The best card in the deck might be Green Sun's Zenith, and it's bad when you have to pay GX+1. I like 3 copies of Thalia in the sideboard, though, because sometimes you really need her.

    (*) Tower of the Magistrate: I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but it could be a sideboard card. I listed enemy Jittes as a key weakness above.

    (*) Woodripper: Not many decks in the format merit boarding this in, and it competes in the 5cc slot with Titania, but I've got one in my sideboard and I'm dying to use it. Mono-red stompy/prison uses Chrome Mox, Chalice, and (most importantly) Ensnaring Bridge, so I could really imagine this being good. Death and Taxes leans heavily on Aether Vial and equipment, and they also love to play Phyrexian Revoker on your stuff.


    CONCLUSION
    This deck isn't as bad as it looks, and it's fun to play, especially if you enjoy putting underused old cards (Orcish Lumberjack and Land Tax) to good purpose. Let me know if you get a chance to try it out or have any thoughts. I would appreciate any feedback on how to make the deck better.

  2. #2

    Re: GRW Land-Use Change (Orcish Lumberjack, Land Tax, Titania)

    I've been playing the list above online with the following results. The sideboard is in flux and sometimes I play
    without a sideboard to feel out the weakest points.

    2-1 Mono-G Natural Order
    2-0 Mono-G 12-Post Eldrazi
    1-2 Pox
    2-0 UB Stiflenaught
    2-0 BUG Aluren
    0-2 UR Omnitell
    0-2 Grixis Control

    ***

    1-0 Steel Stompy
    1-0 Bant Delverick (???)
    1-0 Maverick
    0-1 ANT

    Questions for the community:

    (*) How could I improve the maindeck or construct a sideboard to improve my matchup against Grixis Control?
    It's a miserable matchup from what I've experienced so far. Is Carpet of Flowers good against blue control
    (Grixis or UW)?

    (*) I've been toying with the idea of running a few wishes and a wishboard. The logic is that this deck often finds
    itself with a lot of mana, but we don't want to just load up on expensive bombs because then the mulligans get
    awful and the matchups against disruptive decks get worse than they already are. Wishes give you a bit of flexibility
    in how you spend your mana. So, what wish is best and what would go in the wishboard?

    Living Wish:
    Titania, Protector of Argoth --- copy number 4 in the sideboard means that with 3 Living Wishes, we have 10 maindeck
    Titania.
    Loyal Retainers --- once one Titania has been countered or killed, Living Wish can get you another one for 5 mana
    rather than 7.
    Faerie Macabre
    Magus of the Moon --- seems interesting to have access to this via wishing without cluttering the maindeck. This could
    be wished for and cast on T2 with Orcish Lumberjack.
    Bane of Progress --- Enchantress, Steel Stompy, Moon Stompy, weird situations
    Ethersworn Canonist
    Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
    Containment Priest
    Any land suggestions?

    Burning Wish:
    Tsunami
    Fiery Confluence
    Natural Order --- maybe fit a 6-drop like Ruric Thar, the Unbowed or Carnage Tyrant into main as an option besides Titania

    Glittering Wish:
    Fracturing Gust
    Gaddock Teeg
    Goblin Trenches --- I was thinking this could do work against Grixis Control?

    I'm leaning towards Living Wish.

  3. #3
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    Re: GRW Land-Use Change (Orcish Lumberjack, Land Tax, Titania)

    You said you don't have a 4cmc GSZ target and also lack removal/card advantage, necessitating Thornscape. Master of the Wild Hunt? Huntmaster of the Fells?

    If most of the time you need to kill artifacts, run more Knight of Autumns.

    Also, if you're lacking card advantage with green tutor targets... Eternal Witness?

  4. #4

    Re: GRW Land-Use Change (Orcish Lumberjack, Land Tax, Titania)

    Is there a reason you're not running a Ramunap Excavator? Maybe a Crystal Vein instead of City of Traitors? It lets you consistently add mana but also sac it at your leisure...

  5. #5

    Re: GRW Land-Use Change (Orcish Lumberjack, Land Tax, Titania)

    Thank you both for the suggestions. Eternal Witness, Ramunap Excavator, and more copies of Knight of Autumn are good ideas, but the 3cc slot is tight. A fourth Knight of the Reliquary or some number of Tireless Trackers also have merit. It will take testing to find the right balance.

    Huntmaster of the Fells is interesting because, although it doesnít synergize with the land theme, it provides several small advantages and doesnít rely on the graveyard like KotR and Titania. I will test it when Iím done with the Living Wish experiment. Iíve also briefly tested Oracle of Mul Daya there. It wasnít a very flexible card. Huntmaster sounds more flexible at least.

    Crystal Vein is a nice thought. The only thing it cannot do that City of Traitors could do is generate two mana on each of two consecutive turns. Iím not sure which will be better.

    Iím working on a Living Wish build. Relative to the OP, itís minus three Thornscape, the Jitte, and one Ooze, plus four Wishes and a Scroll Rack. The targets are Titania, Loyal Retainers, Magus of the Moon, Knight of Autumn, Thalia, E Canonist, Bane of Progress, Faerie Macabre, and Elesh Norn. I will update when I have more matches under my belt. If you can think of any ball-busting Wish targets in Naya, let me know.

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