The Lands Archetype in Highlander

Welcome to the Lands deck archetype for 7 Point Highlander! On this page you will find all the content related to this play style.

A Summary of the Lands Archetype

All decks play some number of land cards, however dedicated ‘Lands’ deck archetypes are filled with a high density of special lands that have powerful spell-like abilities, such as Strip Mine, which can be very tricky for opponents to interact with. The Lands archetype is designed around effects that search the library for these lands, as well as return them from the graveyard, making for an incredibly consistent framework for any colour combination. However all variations on the Lands archetype will fundamentally contain Green which provides access to reliable land synergy spells like Life from the Loam and Crop Rotation.

Although Lands decks are fundamentally Midrange in nature, access to a greater land count and the consistent ability to play a land every turn does enable them to play larger threats than the average Midrange deck, such as Primeval Titan. Likewise, their ability to tutor for (and repeatedly recur from the graveyard) both parts of the Dark Depths and Thespian Stage combo gives Lands players consistent access to a powerful game-ending threat that goes over the top of many opponents. This means that the Lands archetype also contains elements of both Ramp and Combo decks. Whilst hybrid strategies like this will rarely win the ‘heads-up’ battle with their linear counterparts (e.g., slower than a dedicated Combo or Ramp deck, and less likely to win the card advantage war with Midrange), their power comes in the ability to change tack and operate on an axis that the opponent cannot, making role-recognition an important skill for players of these hybrid strategies.

Lands Deck Lists and Variations

A popular addition to Green is the combination of Black and White, which are together known as the ‘Abzan’ colours. White offers exile removal like Swords to Plowshares, as well as a card that is the perfect intersection of land-tutor and win-condition: Knight of the Reliquary. Black provides access to powerful tutor effects like Entomb, which can place Life from the Loam straight into the graveyard and allow the Abzan Lands player to start ‘Dredging’ as early as Turn 2. Whilst milling oneself may feel odd (especially when powerful or Pointed cards are placed into the graveyard), in reality a Lands player can essentially ‘draw’ a Life from the Loam every draw step. When cast, it returns up to 3 of these ‘Dredged’ lands back to hand, and given that the archetype fills its deck with lands that have special effects, Entombing a Life from the Loam effectively says that any time you draw a card for the rest of the game, you can choose for it to be a “1G sorcery: Draw 3 cards”.

Deck ListAbzan Lands

In addition there is a video primer available, which covers the key groupings of cards and touches on the fundamental aspects of the Lands playstyle in only 7 minutes. You can watch it here:

If you choose to forego Knight of the Reliquary, Red provides another powerful variation on the Lands Archetype. The Jund colours (Green-Black-Red) offer access to land recursion via the planeswalker Wrenn and Six, as well as yet another means by which to search out Life from the Loam with the spell Gamble. Jund Lands decks are also very happy to put another card in the graveyard: Punishing Fire. In tandem with Grove of the Burnwillows, this ‘burn spell’ can be repeatedly cast to clear the opponent’s board of creatures and eventually close the game by slowly working on their life total. Red also contributes more toward the Midrange strategy by grinding out incremental value through cards like Kolaghan’s Command, Bloodbraid Elf and Huntmaster of the Fells.

Deck ListJund Lands

Whilst almost any colour combination can be paired with the Green synergies in the Lands archetype, some versions opt to have it all. In 4-colour Lands you have the benefits of powerful Blue cards that enable your Lands interactions, like Gifts Ungiven and Intuition which act as powered-up versions of Entomb and Gamble. Likewise, Blue provides counterspells from the Sideboard as a means by which to shore up your Combo match-up, as well as card selection in the form of Brainstorm to smooth out your draws and mitigate ‘land flood’. Whilst this is still fundamentally a Midrange deck, the addition of both counterspells and hand-fixing effects provide you with the ability to play a Control-style role in certain matchups, especially post-Sideboard, giving you the advantage of flexibility. Although Blood Moon effects will prey on your manabase, 4-colour versions rationalize that you will already be weak to Moon and actively playing around it post Sideboard with cards like Hydroblast, so you may as well embrace the power that four colours offer.

Deck List4-colour Lands

Here is a video primer for another take on the 4-colour Lands variant, which takes a more Combo-Control approach over the conventional Midrange-Combo strategy. The deck tech video covers the key groupings of cards and touches on some approaches to playing the variant in only 7 minutes. You can watch it here:

Building Lands on a Budget

If you enjoy the sound of Lands but you are on a budget, the two non-Blue versions (Jund and Abzan) are likely to be a good starting point. Both these decks have Green and Black in common, suggesting that these two colours are the essential components involved in Lands synergies. Golgari Lands (Green-Black) provides an excellent budget alternative that not only allows you to play a Lands deck in highlander, but also makes you more resilient in the face of Blood Moon. Although your special lands themselves will not be able to function under a Blood Moon, your higher basic land count will mean that you are almost guaranteed to have a Basic Forest on the battlefield and therefore access to your Krosan Grip effect and remove the punishing Enchantment. Note that an opposing Blood Moon can sometimes be a boon when you play a Dark Depths followed by enchantment removal, as the land will not have entered with its usual 10 Ice counters. Last, some Lands lists sport The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale in their Sideboards, but this card is by no means essential to the archetype so don’t let that discourage brewing on a budget with the Lands deck archetype.

Playing 7 Point Highlander on a budget? Don’t forget to listen to one of the 7 Point Highlander Cast’s seminal episodes on how to construct a good deck whilst on a shoestring!

Podcast – Building on a Budget

Highlander Lands Video Content

Compiled below are links to some excellent YouTube resources that can help you see versions of the Lands deck archetype in action.

Watch this video to see Abzan Lands in action:

Watch this video to see Jund Lands in action:

Enjoy!

Where to next?

Did Lands fit the kind of deck archetype you’re looking for? Want to know more about other Midrange decks? Visit the Midrange hub here.

Lands decks in general also contain a small Ramp sub-theme. If you’d like to know more about dedicated Ramp decks or those that have a ‘Ramp element’ to them, visit the Ramp hub here.

Although predominantly a Midrange deck, Lands archetypes sometimes involve a Control sub-theme like the 4-colour Lands variation. If you’d like to know more about dedicated Control decks or those with a Control element to them, visit the Control hub here.

Last, did you particularly like the look of assembling the two parts of the Dark Depths win-condition and go for lethal in just one attack? You might enjoy learning more about dedicated Combo decks or those that also have a Combo sub-theme in them, so feel free to visit the Combo hub here.

Dr Sarven McLinton

Sarven has been playing Magic the Gathering since Stronghold (1998) and is on The Highlander Points Committee. He is well-versed in a wide variety of deck archetypes but remains an avid student of the game. Sarven is a passionate writer and seeks to apply his extensive experience in research and statistics to gaming. By day, 'Dr McLinton' works as a Research Associate at the Centre for Workplace Excellence (CWeX) managing various projects investigating psychosocial factors at work, as well as lecturing Psychology Honours and supervising PhD candidates. By night, 'McLinton Sensei' teaches traditional Japanese Karate in South Australia's premiere sporting centre, the ARC Campbelltown. He holds a 4th-degree black belt and is a gold medalist, competing both nationally and internationally in Karate and Open-style contact tournaments.