Commander Deck Tech: Dissent in the Land

Today, we look at a Lands deck, but one that doesn't revolve around the popular commanders that we see everybody using in this context: no Omnath, no Mina and Denn, no Gitrog Monster. Today we turn to an unexpected commander for a Lands strategy. Welcome to Samut Lands.

A Brief History of Lands in Commander

Wizards have released a lot of commanders that utilize lands as a strategy over the past couple of years. I remember that for a long time Child of Alara from Conflux (2009) was one of the most popular lands commanders. Playing all five colors allowed you to run the Maze's End combo, while Child was just a way to keep your opponents' board in check. Battle for Zendikar (2015) and Oath of the Gatewatch took land-based Commander in a new direction with all stars such as Omnath, Locus of Rage and Mina and Denn, Wildborn. The landfall theme allowed players to move away from the durdly and slow Maze's End combo and pushed them toward an aggressive playstyle that could easily go over the top.

Shadows over Innistrad gave players yet another land-themed commander, this time completely centered around combos and graveyard interaction. I'm talking of course about everybody's favorite Frog Horror, The Gitrog Monster. While this deck played completely differently from previous land commanders, it's high power level and combo-centered linear strategy made it both feared and loved, depending on who you ask. Commander 2018 brought us perhaps the most straightforward land-themed commander yet, Lord Windgrace. Here was a commander that allowed players to combine the strongest landfall cards with a dredge/cycle graveyard package. Jund also seemed the most logical color combination, as the most important cards for such a strategy—Life from the Loam, Gamble, Omnath, Locus of Rage, and The Gitrog Monster—all fit right in.

Last but not least, M20 gave us a card that I'm sure everybody is familiar with by now. Golos, Tireless Pilgrim replaced Child as the go-to five-color lands commander. Being able to fetch any land from your deck allows you to ramp, to complete combos, or to find other key pieces.

Loaming the Land

As we can see from the previous section, there are plenty of options for playing Lands in Commander. There's one interesting land strategy missing though. I'm talking about the powerful Aggro Loam decks in Legacy, centered around one of my all-time favorite cards in the entire game: Knight of the Reliquary.


knight of the reliquary

For those of you unfamiliar with the Loam strategy in Legacy, it's a grindy midrange deck that wins by utilizing cards like Life from the Loam, Punishing Fire, Grove of the Burnwillows, Sylvan Library, and, of course, Knight of the Reliquary.

To make the transition from Legacy to Commander, we need to build a grindy deck that can allow the Knight to draw from a toolbox of lands, while having a top end. We also need to make some obvious adjustments: while Punishing Fire is amazing in a one-on-one game where small creatures run wild, it's a laughingstock among the behemoths that dominate a typical EDH battle.

Picking the Commander

We have figured out our plan, but since Knight of the Reliquary isn't a legendary creature, we can't put it at the helm of the deck. In addition to that, the Knight is just one card in the 99, so we need to find some redundancy. Karametra, God of Harvests seems like an obvious candidate. However, Karametra poses a massive problem: to make a strategy such as this work, we need to add at least one additional color. After some research and discussion with fellow EDH players, I've come to the conclusion that the most logical commander for the deck is Samut, Voice of Dissent.


samut

Hear me out. Samut's ability allows us to untap creatures such as Knight of the Reliquary, the color identity allows us to add red as support color, and the collection of keywords will let us use the card as a backup win condition.

The Land Package


elvish reclaimer & green sun's zenith

Now it gets interesting. We know what we'd like to do with the deck, and we have picked a commander to lead the way. Let's explore the possibilities that these colors have to offer in regards of lands. You're probably thinking, "Okay, this sounds interesting, but Knight is just one card, and a Commander deck exists of 100 single cards." While you are right, there are some other options we will include in our deck to provide the necessary redundancy:

We have our enablers, but what will they find? We need to make sure that if we invest so much into the Knight's ability to find lands, it needs to be worth our while. Fortunately, Commander's large card pool leaves plenty of options:

  • Dark Depths plus Thespian's Stage is another famous Legacy combo, and because we can untap our Knight with our commander, we can bring out this combo in a single turn, straight from the library. To make things even better, Samut makes sure that the 20/20 Marit Lage has haste.

  • Horizon Canopy and Sunbaked Canyon provide card draw.

  • Field of the Dead looks for lands entering the battlefield and provides a solid stream of 2/2s which we can use on offense or defense. Because the Field doesn't care how the lands enter the battlefield, it will always trigger, even when we activate Knight of the Reliquary or Elvish Reclaimer.

  • While our color combination doesn't allow us to play Bojuka Bog, Scavenger Grounds can help fight graveyard strategies. It's a shame that this card also exiles our own graveyard, but this is a small price to pay.

  • Strip Mine helps against the utility lands that people love to play in Commander, such as Cabal Coffers, Glacial Chasm, and many more.

  • Maze of Ith protects us against people going big and against Voltron strategies.

  • Kessig Wolfrun allows our double-striking commander to go big—or it adds trample to Marit Lage.

It's All About Synergy


titania & crucible

We have our strategy, tutors, and toolbox lands. Now we need to find more cards that look out for lands entering the battlefield or—more importantly—lands leaving the battlefield.

  • Titania, Protector of Argoth has exactly found the sweet spot of this deck. The card allows us to bring back one of the aforementioned utility lands, many of which we can sacrifice to make an army of 5/3s, which incidentally all have haste when Samut, Voice of Dissent is on the battlefield.

  • Lotus Cobra is cheap to play and is unseemly good when you're making multiple land drops per turn.

  • Tireless Tracker is a Constructed all-star that can convert land drops into card draw.

  • Sylvan Safekeeper will protect our key pieces such as our beloved Knight of the Reliquary, our Samut, or even Marit Lage.

We'll sacrifice a lot of lands to their own abilities or to others. So we obviously need to include ways to recur our lands and fortunately we have plenty of options.

  • Life from the Loam is the namesake card of the Legacy deck we draw our inspiration from and is simply too good not to play.

  • Crucible of Worlds might be the single best card in the game to recur lands directly to the battlefield, and for that reason is a must-have. Think of all the sweet things you get to do with Titania, Protector of Argoth, Crucible, and Horizon Canopy. Simply delicious.

  • Ramunap Excavator is basically a second Crucible and therefore a no-brain inclusion.

  • Being in red gives us access to Wrenn and Six, which seems like the perfect fit for this deck.

Not Quite There


kiki-jiki & pilgrim

Our land package and synergy are taken care of, but this still leaves a lot of room in the deck. Let's look at some of the more basic categories that EDH decks need to check. Ramping isn't hard in green, but as we will run a small amount of basic lands, we can't rely on the classic Cultivate/Kodama's Reach package.

Since we use our lands for card advantage and run a lot of smaller creatures anyway, there's no need to play direct card draw. We should rather focus on creatures that net extra cards.

  • Beast Whisperer works great with all the low-cost creatures we have in the deck, not only our mana dorks, but also the Recruiters and Knights are great with this card.

  • Ohran Frostfang rewards us for going wide with our creatures and converts our attacking mana dorks into either removal or card draw.

  • Regal Force also rewards us for going wide with mana dorks and can be easily cheated into play with one of our many tutor abilities.

Samut, Voice of Dissent's untap ability is strong, and we shouldn't just limit ourselves to abusing Knight of the Reliquary.

  • Selvala, Heart of the Wilds can generate large amounts of mana—especially with Marit Lage—and untapping this one doubles the fun. Bloom Tender and Faeburrow Elder are mini versions of Selvala.

  • Both Mother of Runes and Giver of Runes make it very hard to kill our creatures, and allowing them to untap again makes it even more difficult for our opponents to use spot removal or to chump block.

  • Red gives us the very powerful Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. I don't need to tell you how good this card is. Now imagine the possibility to activate it twice per turn.

Playing to Your Strengths


sun titan & stoneforge mystic

Now that the deck is starting to take shape, we can look at other valuable additions that interact nicely with our land plan or with our going-wide strategy. While reading these cards, keep in mind that we are of course playing a Birthing Pod and want to have a target on most of the converted mana cost slots.

The Decklist

Here is the final list as I currently run it. The deck is as of writing in version 1.1, meaning that I already made some adjustments from my initial design. I'll explain some of them below.


Commander: Samut, Voice of Dissent
 

Budgetary Considerations

I made this list without any budgetary limitations in mind. This doesn't mean that you can't play the deck if you don't own some of the expensive cards. Here are some tips to make the deck more budget friendly:

Exclusions and Maybes

I'd like to spend the remainder of this article to talk about cards that I already tested and removed from the deck, and cards that are currently on my shortlist of possible additions.

Exclusions

  • Boros Charm was in the deck originally as it served two purposes: protect your Elves against board wipes or give double strike to Marit Lage for an instant kill. While this looks good on paper, the card proved to be too narrow and often ended up stuck in my hand.

  • Dragonlord Dromoka served as another Grand Abolisher as well as one of the few ways to gain some life. While it was by no means bad, it was a bit too expensive and one of the more obvious cards to cut.

  • Inkmoth Nexus formed a nice two-card combo with Kessig Wolf Run to kill players who were out of reach of regular damage-dealing capabilities. The deck is very tight on mana producing lands versus utility lands however, and I found out that it wasn't necessary to run two land combos. I removed Inkmoth since it was very mana intensive.

  • Glorybringer was in the deck at one point. Being able to untap it ignores the disadvantage of its exerted ability and turns it into a serious threat, able to kill most commanders and a lot of utility creatures. I removed it because, while being good, it had no synergy with the rest of the deck.

Maybes

  • At first glance, Azusa, Lost but Seeking looks like an auto-include. Still, I don't think the card's great here. The deck doesn't really run that many lands and is more focused on ramping with mana dorks. Though it is great with Crucible in play. I want to test a bit more before I decide whether or not Azusa should come in.

  • Cavalier of Flame seems sweet, as it can wheel our hand, buff the team, and straight up kill people upon dying. At 5 mana, this is a lot of bang for your buck. The issue I have is that it's hard to get this card to die when you want it to. There are no direct sacrifice effects in the deck and your opponents will likely try to exile or bounce it.

  • Ruination Rioter is small, but fun. It has the same issues as the Cavalier.

Will You Enjoy This Deck?

The deck is a blast to play. There are many lines and interactions, and the amount of options you get from the creature toolbox and land package allows you to be either proactive or reactive, based on what your opponents' board state is. If you enjoy creature-based toolbox strategies that are more complex than "I want to go wide," this deck should be right up your alley.

Advantages

  • Deck can switch gears from fast and aggressive to slow and grindy.
  • Lots of lines and interactions that reward deck knowledge.
  • Multiple game plans: aggro, midrange, Voltron, or combo.
  • Toolbox in both creatures and lands allow you to react to whatever your opponents are doing.

Disadvantages

  • Not cheap to build, even after making the suggested cuts.
  • Deck has a bad matchup against Stax strategies.
  • Deck can't go over the top as much as other EDH decks, such as green-blue.

I very much hope you enjoyed this decklist and description. I've now been playing this deck for a little over a month and have had an absolute blast. Hopefully it inspired you to start brewing as well. As always, thanks for reading. Until next time!


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.

1 Comment

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RJGiel
RJGiel(2019-12-03 12:18)

As of this week, I decided to put Azusa, Lost But Seeking in the deck, removing Centaur Vinecrasher.

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