We at Adept have something pretty cool to show you today, and it's all thanks to this little guy.
It's been a long time since I have played with Crucible of Worlds, but seeing a (semi) functional reprint in Green with the stompy-approved mana cost of 2G got me all excited. Being able to tutor for Crucible with Green Sun's Zenith seems pretty strong.
The most obvious places to start are Green Sun's Zenith, Ancient Tomb, Mox Diamond, and Wasteland (and to a lesser extent, Ghost Quarter). All of these card play well with Ramanup Excavator and push us toward a Green Stompy shell. Such a shell already exists.
The deck colloquially known as "Sylvan Plug" (for reasons I won't go into) has been a fringe strategy in Legacy for some time now, utilising the power of Choke as essentially a Green Blood Moon in the Island dominated metagame. Sylvan Plug uses Choke alongside the tried-and-true Stompy strategy of Sol lands, Chalice of the Void, and Trinisphere, while also having access to the power and toolbox that Green Sun's Zenith provides. The deck seeks to lock opponents out of the game with mana denial and prison cards, and then win the game with...well, whatever, really. The plan is a good one, although it is very slow.
Surprisingly, this deck tech is not about Sylvan Plug (although you should totally Google that deck if you're into playing off-the-wall stuff like I am) - it only starts there. Many people, myself included, noted the synergy that Ramanup Excavator has with Azusa, Lost but Seeking. Playing two additional lands per turn accelerates the mana denial plan significantly, allowing multiple Wastelands (or Ghost Quarters!) every turn.
Azusa, Lost but Seeking is great in conjunction with Ramunup Excavator, and also has the magic casting cost of 2G. It also speeds up the deck significantly. I was sold, and ready to brew.
My first thought was to turn to the Sylvan Plug deck for inspiration. But while I was reading and researching ideas for the archetype, I came across a list by MatsOle, a player from Norway who streams on MTGO. He seems to be well-known for playing Aggro Loam (a deck that utilises Chalice of the Void along with the Mox Diamond, Life from the Loam, and Green Sun's Zenith package), and happened to be brewing with the exact cards I was looking at, but he went a step further with the plan.
His list used the full set of Exploration to complement Azusa, Lost but Seeking and get the Wasteland plan active much earlier. I was intrigued. As you probably know, there's another deck that takes advantage of this card in Legacy: Red Green Combo Lands (otherwise known as Lands). Lands is a prison/combo deck that can lock opponents out of the game, while also threatening a 20/20 flying indestructible Marit Lage as early as turn two. Its strength comes from the flexibility of being able to switch between the two plans depending on the matchup and board state, and it also has access to the Life From the Loam engine, which is ridiculous when you get to make multiple land drops a turn.
MatsOle's list was like taking Lands and Sylvan Plug and putting them in a blender; a wonderful combination of the two strategies that incorporated both Ramanup Excavator and Azusa, Lost but Seeking. It gets to play the best tutor in the format (Crop Rotation), the grindiest engine in the format (Life From the Loam), AND has a toolbox in Green Sun's Zenith. Plus it plays Titania, Protector or Argoth, which is super cool.
The list, in all its glory:
4 Verdant Catacombs
2 Ghost Quarter
2 Ancient Tomb
2 Tranquil Thicket
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Cabal Pit
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
1 Dryad Arbor
2 Thespian's Stage
1 Dark Depths
It's a little hard to see everything that is going on in the list, due to the toolbox nature of both the creatures and the lands, and all the synergy between the cards, but the deck is strong. It has an insane amount of possible lines to victory, and is capable of locking opponents out with mana denial, beating down with huge Tireless Trackers and tokens from Titania, Protector of Argoth, and just making a 20/20 to end the game quickly.
Titania, Protector of Argoth is insane in this deck, by the way. Even if your opponent has removal, you get a free land back from your graveyard (hello Wasteland, Ghost Quarter, Dark Depths, and Thespian's Stage), and can do cool things like crack fetch lands in response to their removal spell. You can even Ghost Quarter or Wasteland yourself for value and create a bunch of 5/3 beaters to win the game the following turn.
The Crop Rotation package gives us access to a huge number of silver bullets, notably Bojuka Bog, Karakas, and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. Bog is amazing vs Dredge and Reanimator, but also pulls its weight vs Lands and other decks with graveyard synergy. Karakas is amazing in Legacy, and gives us options against decks that this archetype traditionally struggles with. Finally, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale is insane in a deck filled with such a strong Wasteland plan. Often prison strategies can lock opponents out of mana, but then die to on-board threats. With this list, you can turbo-lock your opponent with Ghost Quarter and Wasteland, then drop a Tabernacle and laugh maniacally as your opponent scoops. Did I mention that Crop Rotation tutors for both halves of the combo kill: Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage. It's a strong addition.
Green Sun's Zenith provides a ton of flexibility. You can grab Dryad Arbor on turn one if you need to ramp, or any number of the silver bullets. Need Crucible? Check. Need Exploration? Check. Need to gain some life? Check. Need to draw some cards? Check. Need an army of 5/3 beaters? Check. Need to destroy Rest in Peace post-board? Check. Pretty cool.
Finally, you get to play Life from the Loam and grind fair decks to dust. Playing a land and Mox Diamond into Life from the Loam on turn 1 is gravy, and even better if you throw Exploration into the mix. Eventually you'll hit a Tranquil Thicket or two for maximum shenanigans. Life from the Loam also allows us to re-buy our 20/20 combo kill lands over and over until our opponent runs out of answers. Good stuff.
The deck is obviously quite soft to fast combo, and that is the reason for the full set of Chalice of the Void and the two Trinisphere in the sideboard. Having access to Mox Diamond and Crop Rotation into Ancient Tomb means that you'll often be able to play these lock pieces on turn one after sideboarding.
At first I thought it was strange to splash Black for Abrupt Decay instead of Red for the Punishing Fire / Grove of the Burnwillows combination, but after a few games I liked having access to the Abrupt Decays. I think Punishing Fire improves the match ups we are already good in, and is weak to the same kind of hate that our opponents are sure to be boarding in after game 1. Abrupy Decay is a great answer to Rest in Peace, plus you want the Black mana for Deathrite Shaman activations regardless.
I have been having an absolute blast playing this deck for the past couple days, and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys playing something a little different. You also get a bunch of style points for playing (an essentially) mono Green deck in Legacy, and we all know that's the only real measure of success there is.