How to Play With Marsh Flats

Just what it sounds like… How to play with Marsh Flats in the Junk Mana Ramp Deck.

What is the Junk Mana Ramp Deck?
Marsh Flats
1 Behemoth Sledge

4 Grim Discovery
2 Mind Shatter
4 Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
2 Sorin Markov

4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Maelstrom Pulse

4 Lotus Cobra
1 Thornling

4 Baneslayer Angel
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4 Path to Exile

1 Graypelt Refuge
4 Forest
4 Marsh Flats
4 Plains
4 Swamp
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Verdant Catacombs

sb:
1 Behemoth Sledge
4 Doom Blade
2 Mind Shatter
2 Sorin Markov
1 Filigree Fracture
4 Summoning Trap
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

The short story: This deck is excellent.

It doesn’t play Blightning, but other than that, I don’t know what kind of shots you can take against it. It has been playing superbly for me against everything; as much as I hate to admit this, it has a much better batting average than Black Baneslayer.

I guess the shot you can take against it is that this deck is all rares and mythics, making it super cost prohibitive for some players.

The deck plays three different game plans, all extremely potent.

The first is a Lotus Cobra based plan. Basically, you play Lotus Cobra and cross your fingers; if you untap with it, you can usually demolish your opponent. Typical turn three plays include Baneslayer Angel and an initially unimpressive Ob Nixilis, the Fallen. However in concert with one another, multiple Lotus Cobra activations can be truly disgusting. Consider…

  • Turn Two: Lotus Cobra
  • Turn Three: Marsh Flats (adding W), sacrifice Marsh Flats for Swamp (adding W), Baneslayer Angel.
  • Turn Four: Marsh Flats (adding B), sacrifice Marsh Flats for Swamp (adding B), Sorin Markov; put the opponent on 10, attack for 5-7… Unless the opponent has a Planar Cleansing, he is most likely dead to something on the battlefield already… Maybe even just the Cobra.

I generally dislike playing Maelstrom Pulse main deck (in Black Baneslayer I like to play it in the sideboard against attack oriented decks or Howling Mines), but it has been pretty good in this deck; without Red mana access, this deck needs something, and Maelstrom Pulse is the best candidate.

The second major plan is operating as a high quality creature deck; you can play Ob Nixilis on the third turn with Lotus Cobra, but that is often dangerous (unless you have a backup Ob Nixilis or the opponent has only shown Green or White mana); in this deck Ob Nixilis can just kill the opponent if you untap with it. There are eight Marsh Flats and Verdant Catacombs, and if you have Knight of the Reliquary on the battlefield, they are probably just dead if you have a removal spell (or maybe you don’t even need one).

You have solid resource management capabilities in the Junk Mana Ramp deck due to Grim Discovery, which is simply one of the best cards in Zendikar (considering the fact that Marsh Flats is a Ball Lightning in this deck).

The advantage Junk Mana Ramp has over the updated Jund Mana Ramp is that instead of going to six mana for Broodmate Dragon and Rampaging Baloths, this deck has the best fives; eight of them. It’s not like I need to sell you on Baneslayer Angel.

But the card that is something special in this deck is Knight of the Reliquary. I noticed in the Pro Tour Austin Coverage how popular Knight of the Reliquary was in Ben’s and Brian’s Zoo deck, Ikeda’s Zoo deck, lots of Zoo decks… Probably it is good enough for Standard!

I found it excellent.

One of the important things I learned about playing with Knight of the Reliquary is how to properly manage my Marsh Flats. Maybe this is old hat to you but it took me a couple of games to realize that I should be getting Marsh Flats instead of basic Plains when using the Knight’s special ability… Just +1/+1 and possibly important Landfall triggers.

When Knight of the Reliquary and Lotus Cobra link arms, it is a mana and power (and power level) explosion!

The last plan, which is a plan you will most often execute against Vampires and control decks, is Planeswalker lock, specifically winning with Sorin Markov. If you haven’t played with Sorin yet… Do it. This is a card I started to take more seriously after seeing @conley81‘s Pro Tour Austin deck. Sorin is just unbeatable in some games; for instance Vampires has a huge number of 2/2 creatures where Sorin is just a progressive The Abyss that can only be breached by a small number of cards in the Vampires deck (typically Malakir Bloodwitch and sometimes Vampire Nocturnus). But unless they have previously emptied you with a big Mind Sludge, you can just out-quality the Vampires on the board with Ob Nixilis, Baneslayer Angel, or your many removal cards. Vampires is one of the best matchups for this deck, though it’s hard to point at any one single reason… Basically you are faster, your cards are better, and if you get Sorin in play, they are in a lot of trouble.

Even against some Red/x decks Sorin gives you a lot of space. Sorin kills every Bloodbraid Elf they can play while generating a profit; this leaves you room to spend your cards or set up your blocks anywhere else: all good.

Here is a rundown of the last five matches I played with Marsh Flats, Knight of the Reliquary, and Lotus Cobra tonight:

Three-color Vampires
I lost Game One to a Malakir Bloodwitch off the top; I had a Behemoth Sledge but no man, and a Path to Exile. He had no cards… but I had only three life. It’s not like I would have unconditionally won on any other play, but it would have been a heck of a lot better than dead on board.

For the second game I sided out Mind Shatter for the other two copies of Sorin Markov; the second game I locked him with Sorin and he conceded fairly quickly out of frustration.

Game Three I got a turn three Baneslayer Angel; he got three copies of Vampire Nocturnus but couldn’t really attack me; I had a 6/6 Knight of the Reliquary and removal, etc.

G/R Valakut
This was a cool deck I have played against several times this week. Basically it’s Rampant Growths and so on, setting up super Valakut + Mountains action with Harrow… all that. I don’t know if he played Warp World, but he did play Bogardan Hellkite (and in a previous match a Valakut opponent ran out a Warp World which left me with three Baneslayer Angels and him with nothing good). Anyway…

Game One I went Knight of the Reliquary into Baneslayer Angel; Lotus Cobra (with Knight in play) to a Mind Shatter for six or seven. He packed.

Game Two he got double Oracle of Mul Daya and Needled me for Knight of the Reliquary. I had a Knight, but also two Maelstrom Pulses… Goodbye Pithing Needle and Oracles both. I eventually set up for a Baneslayer Angel on only six life; if he ripped a Mountain he could have killed me with double Valakut, but he ripped, ironically, a Hellkite.

Four-color Control
Game One I shipped to Sunpetal Grove + Grim Discovery. Yes, that is a mulligan to two. I won’t say I almost won, but I was somewhat competitive. I steeled myself and elected not to concede; instead I recorded all of his cards for the next game. They were…

  • Naya Panorama
  • Rupture Spire
  • Rupture Spire
  • Rupture Spire
  • Arcane Sanctum
  • Lightning Bolt (my fifth turn Knight of the Reliquary)
  • Plains (from Naya Panorama)
  • Arcane Sanctum
  • Esper Charm (taking my Ob Nixilis, the Fallen and Lotus Cobra)
  • Offering to Asha (my second Knight of the Reliquary)
  • Esper Charm (Baneslayer Angel and Plains)
  • Crumbling Necropolis
  • Liliana Vess
  • Esper Charm
  • Arcane Sanctum
  • Ajani Vengeant

I conceded the turn he was going to go ultimate on Liliana Vess after making me dump my hand.

Game Two I played a turn three Ob Nixilis; this was a screwup because he had a Lightning Bolt (could have played Baneslayer instead). I followed up with Knight of the Reliquary, then screwed up on an Offering to Asha (I didn’t see that with my Lotus Cobra down, I could generate just enough Lotus mana to pay for the Offering).

Anyway I stalled on three lands forever.

On the last turn I actually drew the card I needed to win on the spot (Verdant Catacombs for a long ball Ob Nixilis with Knight of the Reliquary in play) but he spent his fourth Esper Charm on my grip.

This was frustrating to lose due to the ship to two, but moreso Game Two; I think I won this close one if I either played Baneslayer Angel over Ob Nixilis on turn three or if I figured out to pay for the Offering.

Vampires
Game One went long, with me controlling a huge Ob Nixilis and finding the Thornling. Thornling went north with Elspeth’s help, forcing a block from Vampire Nighthawk (I didn’t want to put Ob Nixilis in that position due to Deathtouch); Thornling went both hasty and indestructable to win that exchange.

I lost the second with no Green. It would have / should have been an easy one.

Game Three I actually ran a savagely poor mis-click. I tapped my only Swamp to play Lotus Cobra and lost it main phase to a removal spell with Grim Discovery in my hand. The game was close but I ultimately got there with Sorin Lockdown.

Naya
I haven’t played this loose in a while; after winning the first I accidentally discarded my second turn Plains instead of putting it on the battlefield. I played out but it was not good enough.

I redeemed myself in the third though. He stalled for Red for some turns, which gave me time to develop.

Overall: 4-1

LOVE
MIKE

Currently Reading: The Death of Captain America, Vol. 3: The Man Who Bought America

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10 comments ↓

#1 Joey Pasco on 10.31.09 at 12:31 am

I mentioned this on Twitter (I’m @fotolorea) but thought it was worth posting here as well. Gargoyle Castle seems like it would fit nicely in the deck as a one-of, with Knight of the Reliquary able to search it up, and Grim Discovery allowing you to reuse it after you crack it for a gargoyle. I’ve been itching to exploit this synergy since I saw Grim Disco. With Knight on board to fetch it, GC can feel a bit like Plumeveil—a surprise flying blocker.

#2 Alfrebaut on 10.31.09 at 1:22 am

Well, I for one could never afford to play that deck. 8 Fetches, 4 M10 duals, full sets of Ob Nixilis, Baneslayer, Cobras, Knights, Pulses, Sorins, and 2 misers’ Elspeths? That must just cost like, a million-billion dollars. I also noticed you’re not sporting any Celestial Purges. Are the matchups against Vampires and Jund easy enough for you that 4 extra random removal spells wouldn’t make much of a difference?

#3 wobblesthegoose on 10.31.09 at 1:33 am

I’ve been playing quite a bit with this list and variations on this list since you posted it, because this deck is awesome. A few comments/questions based on my experience:

Using the knight to get you from 4 mana to five mana is often key. The fact that you can tap 4 lands, activate knight, and drop a five is insane, especially because you typically get to untap with 10+ power on the table. Knighting up sac lands has totally pushed this card over the edge.

Two, understanding what lands to fetch is equally important. I mean, this deck rarely needs more than 1 green source after turn 3, but desperately needs that first forest to cast anything at all. Then it needs two white sources by the time it gets to five mana, so it can hardcast baneslayer, but it would like to have double black as well, just so that it can cast mind shatter. Basically, what I wind up trying to do is go: 1st Green, 1st White, 1st black, 2nd White, 2nd black, 3rd black. It’s an important pattern, because the snake allows you to play anything but it never survives long. Also, this makes the 1x thornling random and really hard to use effectively. I mean, like everything in the deck it’s great with the snake powering out green, but without it Thornling is almost always requiring you to leave a Green up, which makes it cost at least 3GGG, or 3GGGG with haste or trample. Either way, that’s awkward with 3WW, 3BBB cards in your hand, too.

Third, Mind Shatter is great. Even just for 3, it puts you way ahead. Against everything but the most agressive burn decks you really want 3 in the main. And even against boros it’s pretty good in the main, because having them lose lands takes a lot of damage off the board.

Forth, Grim Discovery. This card is so good when you get blightninged. It’s also great when they kill your cobra and you’ve got time to get it back. That said, if they aren’t running discard (or don’t see it) and you don’t have a cobra opening it’s mostly a fair to middling lay of the land. I mean, this build is really focused on cobra. I’ve had a really hard time closing with ob when it isn’t backed up by a sac land immediately after playing it or on the board. And that’s not an easy situation to get to.

This is what my build has become over the course of easily four or five dozen games:

5 Forest
4 Marsh Flats
3 Plains
3 Swamp
2 Sunpetal Grove
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Lotus Cobra
4 Baneslayer Angel
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Lord of Extinction
4 Maelstrom Pulse
4 Path to Exile
3 Mind Shatter
1 Behemoth Sledge
1 Sorin Markov
1 Grim Discovery
1 Elspeth, Knight Errant

Sideboard
1 Sorin Markov
2 Grim Discovery
4 Disfigure
3 Duress
3 Tidehollow Sculler
2 Captured Sunlight

The biggest change is Lord of Extinction for Ob. Lord doesn’t need any other cards to become easily the biggest threat on the board, ends the game if you untap with it while usually being able to both block and survive burn, and isn’t legendary. It’s also ridiculous after a mind shatter. The Terramorphic Expanses are for the Lord, but also to makes sure that your opponent can’t just lightning bolt your knight on turn three. Having the knight survive is really important to dropping your fives at least a turn early. With a turn one hierarch into a turn two knight that can easily be a turn 3 five drop, without a cobra. Hierarch makes 12 accelerators, all of which are able to attack for damage (Often while also making mana!). In a world of lots of planeswalkers, early beaters are that much more important. The sideboards have some important differences too. Mostly, focusing on a discard package instead of the traps vs control and cheaper removal against ridiculously fast red decks. I’d love to hear what other people playing with this deck have found, because I’ve spent quite a bit of time with it.

#4 Tekanan on 10.31.09 at 3:52 am

I like wobblesthegoose’s version but are these numbers right?

1 Behemoth Sledge
1 Sorin Markov
1 Grim Discovery
1 Elspeth, Knight Errant

They seem very miser-ish. IMO Grim Discovery and Sorin begs to be at least a 2-off. Maybe tweak the LoE numbers? He isn’t as potent as Orb Nixilis during the first few turns (when having fetchlands in hand), so I see him more as a late-game insurance.

I would also like to see Malakir Bloodwitches in the sideboard if you are playing against a heavy white deck.

#5 admin on 10.31.09 at 6:58 am

@Alfrebaut
RE: Celestial Purge… If you think about it Celestial Purge is a relatively low power card. It’s just worse than Maelstrom Pulse against Malakir Bloodwitch (i.e. a lot worse especially at that curve point) and it is just inflexible in a different way than, say, Doom Blade. I guess it could be good as an anti-Red beatdown measure. I would sooner play Disfigure (and have been thinking about that).

@wobblesthegoose
I like a lot of your strategic comments and agree with them (first Forest important, subsequent Forests relatively unimportant) and the flash point comments; however I think that you are a bit off in your card valuations. Ob Nixilis just kills the opponent on the spot about 1/3 of the time. Lord of Extinction gets blocked by Elspeth tokens. I really agree about the mana constraints that Thornling puts on this deck (I hate losing it in combat) but it is massively more powerful than almost anything else you can play there.

I don’t see how you can be happy with one Sorin. He is one of the best cards in the deck and I side up to four in so many matchups (Vampires, anything Red, any control deck)… He’s just unreal. I think Sorin is the main reason you beat Vampires with Junk Mana Ramp. Also have you never just put them to 10 and then killed them on the spot with Ob Nixilis? I just don’t understand why you think Lord of Extinction is comparable… Don’t get me wrong I love Lord of Extinction and could see testing him in the Thornling spot purely due to the Green mana issue, but Lord of Extinction will not generally be 9/9 to 12/12 on his first attack, where Ob Nixilis often–even usually–is that big.

@Tekanan
I hate using Grim Discovery as a Raise Dead or Lay of the Land but you do what you’ve got to do to facilitate Baneslayer Angel… Also wobblesthegoose’s deck can’t get broken Ob Nixilis draws so he isn’t seeing the same value from Grim Discovery (one Grim Discovery is like a cantrip Ball Lightning, maybe even cantrip double Ball Lightning or double cantrip Ball Lightning depending on the opponent’s play). It’s a good play to recycle Lotus Cobra on turn three as well (or just tax the opponent’s removal with Knight of the Reliquary, which is also unreal in this deck).

Thanks for the comments guys–keep the discussion going.

#6 Alfrebaut on 10.31.09 at 10:26 am

Well, I was just thinking about what Feldman wrote about it being really awesome against threats you don’t really want to bin like Thrinax and Bloodghast, with the added bonus of it being really awesome against the rest of Jund and Vampires, minus Bloodwitch. I suppose that might have more to do with Feldman’s lack of fatties, meaning that he cares more about random 1/1s and a recursive 2/1 than your deck with boom booms Galore to hold it down.

Also, I don’t know about Disfigure as an anti-Red. Sure, it’s a 1-mana removal spell, but I feel like it’s a little unreliable. RW “Boros Bushwacker” is probably the model for Red aggro in the format, and their threats include Steppe Lynx, Plated Geopede (both of whom are hard to kill with Disfigure because of all their fetches) and Kor Skyfisher. Obviously, Purge misses a lot of their threats as well, but I don’t really think that’s where it’s supposed to shine.

#7 GRat on 10.31.09 at 10:37 am

<3 this.

#8 ProdigalT on 10.31.09 at 2:45 pm

This deck would be great if it didn’t cost infinity dollars. The break-in price for new players, or even veterans like myself, is becoming increasingly high and Wizards ought to do something about that. With the rapid release of new sets, there’s less time for cards to saturate the market. Since the release of Zendikar, nobody is opening Baneslayer Angel in draft anymore, so the price is essentially fixed at $40ish, and I don’t see that price changing much, whether or not she gets reprinted in the next core set. Starcity is currently selling it at $50, and they have only one in stock.

#9 MTGBattlefield on 10.31.09 at 7:42 pm

How to Play With Marsh Flats…

Your story has been summoned to the battlefield – Trackback from MTGBattlefield…

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