Land destruction: taboo or legit tactic?

General forum

Posted on Sept. 13, 2018, 7:18 a.m. by wefal

I'm new to magic (since AKH) and I always wondered what's the general feeling about land destruction across all formats (but more importantly in EDH my favorite).

Whenever I ask about LD, players look it me like I told them that I killed their mother. Why infinite combos are ok but not LD? How about infinite unblockable hexproof creature with trample? Stax freak control deck that doesn't let you do ANYTHING is ok?

IMO lands are not sacred. They are another resource that you can destroy in order to win.

I want to build a Jeskai edh with Nomut and make it creature theme with sub-theme of LD and cards that can help me cheat the effect like Teferi's Protection, Faith's Reward or cards that give indestructible Avacyn, Angel of Hope.

So, what do you think? Taboo or legit?

Boza says... #2

In non-EDH format, taboo - because there are rarely decks that destroy lands and are actually good. Sure, in modern there is RG Ponza deck (that might now splash black for Assassin's Trophy) but outside of that it is non-existant.

In EDH IMO - also taboo. Most decks that play an Armageddon cannot do anything for several turns afterwards as they have to rebuilt. It is a Wrath effect that slows the game A LOT. Nobody wants a slow game for no reason.

Any deck is broken in what it does, no matter the strategy. However, you have to make sure it is not oppressive or people will not want to play with you.

Personal example: I had a Yidris storm deck that after the first or second attack with the commander and a 20 minute turn of storming off. That is not fun for anyone on the table, so I retired that deck after games. Comparatively, the other superstrong deck, My Nekusar deck is still thought to be unfairly strong but at least it ends games super quickly, so it is still heavily played in my meta.

TLDR: ASK your playgroup before you do this!

September 13, 2018 7:42 a.m.

wefal says... #3

I dont mean to blow up all the lands to slow the game. I want to do it so I can attack with my creatures and win in 1-3 turns depending on board state.

As I see it, it's no different than combo deck that does nothing the entire game suddenly BOOM-COMBO-YOU-LOST.

Boros/Izzet are my favorite dou, but if you combine them to Jeskai you get this sweet combination of a deck I want to build. I plan to have enough board presence then LD and swing for the win. Not to drag the game another hour.

I was even thinking maybe instead of Numot, go for less obvious and threatening commander so it will be a nasty surprise. Just like those pesky combo decks do. 99% of the game they do nothing, then you lose in 1 turn.

September 13, 2018 7:57 a.m.

Boza says... #4

Now, let me ask you this - what happens when you do not win in 1-3 turns? Blowing up the lands does not blow up their blockers. Nor are you guaranteed to have an overwhelming board presence when you do cast it. If you do have the overwhelming board presence to win in 1-3 turns, did you really need to cast that Armageddon?

Additionally, there is a difference between a "BOOM-COMBO-YOU-LOST" and mass LD - mass LD almost wins you the game. After the "BOOM-COMBO-YOU-LOST", you can immediately shuffle and start a new one. After an Armageddon, not so much. People still have their artifact mana and can still play their spells and draw into lands. The game is definitevely not over, but slowed down significantly.

And finally, even if you have an overwhelming board and win the game in 1-3 turns afterwards, I can tell you, players will likely still not enjoy it, simply because getting your lands blown up is not an enjoyable thing.

Of course, all of this depends on the playgroup.

September 13, 2018 8:11 a.m. Edited.

Using Myr Landshaper or Liquimetal Coating combined with Splinter is a fun way to do this.

See here:

September 13, 2018 8:52 a.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #6

The problem with LD (Land Destruction) decks is that a they are slow. painfully slow.

I run one in Modern. Rakdos () LD.

You limit yourself to , which is a powerful color combination, but the issue here is you can win so much faster using those colors.

The majority of LD spells in red cost 4. This means you aren't doing anything until T4.

Rakdos has a serious lack of ramp. Sure, there ARE cards that are "technically ramp", but traditionally you are wanting to increase your available mana consistently every turn, not bring out Rakdos Keyrune on T3 and have MAYBE 5 mana on T4, assuming you hit all land drops each turn.

Keep in mind that even if you ARE hitting lands 4 turns in a row, in Rakdos that's not optimal. You want swift, cheap spells. Lightning Bolt and Fatal Push and Terminate. Not land after land after land.


Having said that, there are great ramp cards available. Infernal Plunge, Generator Servant, Koth of the Hammer, Crypt Ghast, Liliana of the Dark Realms, Iron Myr, Leaden Myr, Plague Myr, Palladium Myr... But again, you detract from your LD spells. The further you push back your goal, the further ahead your opponent gets.

Uuuugh... On a phone. Fml

NOW we get to the problems. In Modern, games are fast. Really fast. Pushing out a game 5 - 7 turns is not ideal when you can design to win on T1. Casually you're golden. FNM is a toss up. Competitively? Good luck.

This is why Blood Moon, and in some decks Alpine Moon are so important. They CONTROL the lands, not remove them. If you want to optimize LD, look for cards that destroy lands as a secondary effect, such as Ghost Quarters, Field of Ruin, and Encroaching Wastes. -- The problem here now is you fill your deck with colorless lands, and you destroy your land base while giving your opponent basic lands of their choice (mostly).

Ugh, this was a poor decision to type it all out on my phone...

Okay. So let's ask a question: Why Rakdos?

There's a surprisingly good amount of land destruction spells in Modern and in Red (34 in Sorcery) and the cheapest are Cryoclasm, Molten Rain, Stone Rain, and Peak Eruption. Note that with Cryo and Peak, you don't need to target basics. You can target lands such as Hallowed Fountain and Irrigated Farmland, or combine Peak Eruption with Blood Moon.

In black, there's really just Rain of Tears, if you're trying to keep it all under CMC < 4.

You'll also want to recycle spells. Good way to do this is Charmbreaker Devils, but at 5 CMC there are better spells. I like to run him because he let's me get back LD spells every turn. If they don't have 1-Drop removals like Path to Exile, they are F-'ed. I run minimal removal and lots of LD, so even if I don't topdeck into one I can always get one back for free.

Now it is true that green has LD as well. Acidic Slime, Creeping Mold, Reap and Sow, Spreading Algae, but again they are either slow and require ramp or are very specific in nature.

The more colors you add, the more fixing you need, and the less specialized your deck is.

That's why we don't run green. Stick to res as your main color with black support.

I'd focus on red LD sorcerys, and black instant creature removal for cheap, such as Fatal Push and Terminate.

Overwhelm with cheap 1/1s like Goblins, and pick cards with huge bang for your buck. Kiln Fiend and Monastery Mentor are perfect. Goblin Guide hurts you here as he is doing what you don't want - Getting them more lands.

Goblin Offensive and Krenko's Command are good. Two 1/1s for 2 CMC? Decent.

Overwhelm and go wide. It's cheaper and saves you Mana for LD.

If you want and can work it in, Reverberate and Increasing Vengeance copy spells so you can hit twice in one turn.

I'm not going to build a deck for you, but I hope I helped a lot.

It's a legit strategy, but needs to be precisely honed and even than may be too slow.

Control / removal is better than LD, but LD does work. Modern prides itself on non-basic lands.

That's where you attack.

As for EDH? Against 3 other opponents, you'll be so vastly overwhelmed it's not even worth it.

September 13, 2018 9:14 a.m. Edited.

TypicalTimmy says... #7

Though I will share my ultimate EDH control method with you all ;)

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth + Kormus Bell + Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

Things like Night of Souls' Betrayal work as well.

  • All lands are swamps
  • All swamps are 1/1s
  • Creatures you don't control get -2/-2

All lands you don't control die to State based actions, and whenever a land comes into play that you don't control, it dies.

You forever lock your opponents out of a land base for the rest of the game.

Enjoy your new friendless life.

September 13, 2018 9:21 a.m. Edited.

cdkime says... #8

I'm with Boza--it really depends on your playgroup. The same goes for every type of deck you've listed as "ok"--there are plenty of playgroups out there that dissuade or don't allow infinite combos, storm, or other instant-win mechanics, as well as a number that don't allow stax. These might either be explicit prohibitions in the form of house rules, or an unspoken taboo written on your opponents' faces as you play the deck.

Whether or not this deck would be acceptable is not something we can really answer here--you'll have to ask your friends. That said, unless you have a very competitive meta, I'm guessing the answer will be "no." After all, in casual settings people are mostly there to play, not to win at all costs--decks that prevent them from playing sort of defeat the point.

September 13, 2018 9:22 a.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #9

Btw I meant Monastery Swiftspear, not Monastery Mentor.


September 13, 2018 9:31 a.m.

Last_Laugh says... #10

It's taboo and it'll paint a huge target on your back going forward (even with other underpowered decks, you earn a reputation). I've run mass LD before but it was in a deck that already made me public enemy number 1, ran 17 mana rocks, and was able to play spells anyways so it was able to win fast (Narset, Enlightened Master). I felt like a total douche after and only played the deck once every 6 months or so.

I do however recommend running a few spells that can destroy single lands in case someone is trying to do gross things with lands like Dark Depths/Thespian's Stage etc.

September 13, 2018 10:07 a.m.

clayperce says... #11

First, welcome to Magic!

As others have said, it totally depends on your playgroup.

In EDH, most playgroups frown on LD. But there's a ton of variance, so ask around if you're thinking about an LD Commander.

In Modern, competitive LD strategies exist in a bunch of colors (RG Ponza and Mono-W Death & Taxes are the most competitive, but BG, Naya, Jund, and Mono-G have all placed at Competitive REL events too). Most players understand that LD is just another (slightly) broken strategy in a sea of broken strategies. But there are plenty of folks who don't get that, so anyone playing LD has to be prepared for a fair amount of salt. If you want more, please stop by the PonzaMTG subreddit sometime!

Draw well!

September 13, 2018 10:30 a.m. Edited.

saj0219 says... #12

I think the reason people look so angry about LD is that, while it is not any more oppressive than other things people hate, it feels worse. With most other prison style strategies, your opponent can feel as if they can draw out of it (even if that is not actually the case). You can look down at the board and think "If only I could draw my _ and find a way to cast it, I'd be out of this jam!" Meanwhile, when someone blows up 5 lands you've already played, there isn't an out that you can draw... you just have to painfully hope for land after land from your top deck.

In short: I agree with everyone that you just need to check with your playgroup (my playgroup is happy to let me play a really obnoxious Stasis deck, for example), but I think the reason people hate on LD more than other similar strategies is it feels like there is no out once it happens.

September 13, 2018 11:36 a.m.

pskinn01 says... #13

My group hates my atraxa deck as it can pull a turn 0 lock everyone else out of lands with Living Plane and Elesh Norn. I have never pulled it off that quickly but have done so on turn 3, 4, and 5 (different games). Then people started targeting me no matter the deck I played. So if I play casual and get targeted, I usually grab a stronger/quicker deck the next game.

September 13, 2018 1:22 p.m.

wefal says... #14

Well, thank you all for your insight! I reconsidered it and wont build LD deck as @saj0219 said, your opponents feeling of completely helplessness and with little to no chance to recover. In random group I can see myself playing LD, but not with my friends.

Thanks again!

September 13, 2018 2:04 p.m.

Melchezedek says... #15

I don't want differ too much from the previous conversation, but WOC proscribes the legality of playing a specific card...that said cards like Armageddon are legal in Vintage, Commander, and Legacy format. Much of the previous discussion has concerned itself with the social/moralistic/fairness implications of actually playing these types of cards. In my view when MTG is reduced to its distilled essence, it's simply a card game based on Scissors, Paper, Rock, all be it a much more complex and sophisticated implementation. Because of that WOC has provided a means of dealing with cards like Armageddon just like any other situation our opponents may legally set-up. One way to do this is by adding cards like Dimir Charm to your deck. There are a lot of game situations in which an opponent can throw a high inside curve at's just part of the game. Consider cards like Alpine Moon, Damnation, or Blood Moon: They have the potential to create real havoc...isn't that just part of the game???

September 13, 2018 2:22 p.m.

cdkime says... #16

Melchezedek - I take two issues with your conclusion that these are all just "part of the game":

(1) This thread is talking about kitchen table. The fundamental aspect of kitchen table is having fun with your friends--if you are playing a deck everyone else finds oppressive, your friends are not having fun, and you are contributing to the misery of the group.

It's very important to know the taboos of your kitchen table, whether it be against certain cards, strategies, or specific decks. My kitchen table, for the most part, is made up of a few very creative Johnnies and some less experienced Timmys. If I pull out an optimized legacy deck that wins on turn 1 most of the time, and by turn 3 in every game its used, that's not going to be fun. It might be "part of the game" but I'm still failing as a friend.

(2) Commander is a multiplayer game, so politics is often just as important as pure deck construction. Understanding the taboos is not just necessary for others' enjoyment, but also for your own survival. If you constantly play a deck/strategy that annoy your friends, your friends are going to retaliate in one of two ways. They will either (a) gang up on you to remove you from the game swiftly, or (b) will modify your deck specifically to hate your deck. Neither of those are ideal situations.

September 13, 2018 2:56 p.m.

Gleeock says... #17

  • MLD is fine, it just gets control & instant-based undies in a bunch. Find yourself in a less opinion-tilted playgroup and it will be just fine. You know the most mind-blowing anti MLD play? Strong permanents!! Ooh! there's the big secret, I'm probably not playing my 'geddon if A SINGLE planeswalker, or self-sufficient creature is on the field.
  • And I don't really agree that the slowdown is anywhere near Yidris storm, combos, solution-finding, or general storm. The game is near RESET, you know which turns go fast?... Beginning rounds do, because all you're doing is resetting the field: drop my land, pass... repeat. Being someone who has played MLD regularly I can tell you that those following turns tend to go hyperfast - If you have the right deck you recover quite nicely.
  • I believe MLD should be thought of as more "acceptable" in mono-color due to the other limitations inherent to those decks. I mean Sram, Senior Edificer should have access to harder locks than the fragile mono-W voltron, if mono-U has a bunch of durdle-locks then why not MLD for mono-W? If I set up a permanent presence advantage some wait-to-play spellslinger should be punished & not able to instantly topple all that work at whim. Also, mono-colored decks should enjoy ways to turn a perfectly filtered multi-colored advantage into a big fat disadvantage.
September 13, 2018 3:21 p.m.

Melchezedek says... #18


Your comments concerning my opinion, given the context, are absolutely correct. As I indicated, for me the question was more about the legality, rather than about the social acceptability/consequences of actually playing the LD card in a friendly game. The kitchen table analogy you used is very appropriate and I apologize for making any statements that contradict that framework. I play in tight circle of friends and we usually play for cards, and for keeps. We're all good friends, but the competition can get fairly stiff. Some of my comments came from that playing experience and you are quite right to remind me of that, that kind of playing scenario is not normally sought by others. Thanks much for your feedback.

September 13, 2018 5:14 p.m.

SteelSentry says... #19

The opinions on MLD and how it compares to stax, combo, etc. can seem overly harsh and at times hypocritical. And that's because a lot of times they are. I have players that complain when I Ruination and then proceed to Winter Orb me out of the game, or blinking Fall of the Thran in a Brago deck because "you get up to 4 lands back if you can stop me blinking it every turn, it's not MLD". If you want to blow up lands, playing Numot, the destroyer seems like a nice way to ease your playgroup into it, provided you can win in a timely fashion, and try just including targeted destruction and a little non-basic hate at first.

September 13, 2018 8:48 p.m.

DragonKing90 says... #20

Boza: i find it kinda unlikely that a deck based around destroying lands, would use a removal spell that lets the opponent get a land.

September 13, 2018 11:09 p.m.

The general opinion where I play, as others here have suggested, is that MLD is taboo unless you immediately win the game. I've had game before where a player drops Armageddon with no board state. What's your game plan now? Just restart the game? Without a solid, immediate play, you're giving the game to the player with the most aggressive board state.

On the other hand, targeted land destruction is completely acceptable in the meta. Sinkhole, Strip Mine, Ghost Quarter, etc. As others have mentioned, there are problem lands (cough Gaea's Cradle cough) that just need an answer.

September 13, 2018 11:51 p.m.

Just played a game on Arena that demonstrated how awful land destruction is in current Standard:

Crucible of Worlds + Memorial to War sure makes for a one-handed exercise.

January 15, 2019 4:41 p.m.

wefal says... #23


Not sure what you try to say? That combo is bad. Even if you can play additional lands, Memorial to War ETB tapped and even then it costs you 5 mana. To destroy 1 land...

I'm working on Ruric Thar, the Unbowed land destruction against Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

January 16, 2019 7:28 a.m.

Gleeock says... #24

Yes, agree with above, 5cmc combo ETB tapped shouldn't be impossible to overcome. Ruric Thar MLD sounds like a kickass anti-control deck!

January 16, 2019 9:32 a.m.

@wefal There was a heavy use of blue counters as well; not being able to play anything, do damage or use lands was a nightmare.

January 16, 2019 1:58 p.m.

wefal says... #26


You need to play cards that punish control players. Ruric Thar is a good example. Also cards that protect you against counter spells like Vexing Shusher . Cards that increase cost of spells like Sphere of Resistance , Defense Grid , Thalia, Guardian of Thraben , Thorn of Amethyst .

More nasty cards against control: Dragonlord Dromoka , Plow Under , Citadel of Pain , Price of Glory , Gaddock Teeg , Grand Abolisher , Conqueror's Flail , Aurelia's Fury , Silence

And if you really wanna watch control player cry: Bazaar Trader + any permanent that doesnt let your opponent cast noncreature spells like Nikya of the Old Ways .

As you can see I know alot of anti control cards. That's because my playgroup is ridden with filthy control players. We're good friends but they just love to play some sort of control.

January 16, 2019 11:59 p.m.


Thank you for your help and suggestions! Control feels so frustrating, like being kicked in the back by a young child on a long flight.

January 17, 2019 9 a.m.

Gleeock says... #28

  • ...but MLD is one of the most effective anti-control measures. As I said further up this post, it is a strong means of making sure those players "use it or lose it". Pretty difficult to play "in response" with a huge stacked hand with MLD.

  • Nikya of the Old Ways + Assault Suit would be another way to hose people & you can change selection, & lend people a beatstick.

  • I've used a ridiculous amount of control-hosing as it is by far the most prevalent strategy in my meta, same as the other guy, filthy control-friends. A low-cost card that gets em' every time is: Tectonic Instability ... crazy to think I picked up 7 of them for 20cents apiece when Price of Glory has its' price tag.

January 17, 2019 9:36 a.m.

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