My first ever EDH commander was Scion of the Ur-Dragon, back when I was working with a limited card pool and a student’s budget. As a result, I ran the full ten Bounce Lands, aka the Ravnica Karoos.
Golgari Rot Farm
Simic Growth Chamber
The upsides to these lands are many:
- They provide card advantage - one land drop, two mana sources
- They allow you to “blink” your lands, like resetting the counters on a Glacial Chasm
- They play well with cards that untap lands, producing more mana than usual
At the time, I ran a few cards that played well with the manabase, and it was always a pleasant surprise when the stars aligned.
Amulet of Vigor
So what if that was my central gameplan?
The decision to create a deck revolving around Bounce Lands comes from a few recent events:
- My Maro/Zegana deck that reliably dumped absurd amounts of lands into play
- My playgroup increasingly favoring land-based ramp strategies
- The recently printed Fall of the Thran
My current guess is this: if I can resolve land destruction like Fall of the Thran in a deck full of Bounce lands, backed with a general game plan that rebuilds mana bases quickly, I should be able to manufacture enough tempo advantage to win the game.
I needed a five color commander to run all 10 Bounce Lands. Most of the WUBRG color commanders are just big bodies, and don’t offer much utility. Jodah will help me power out some of my big control spells that you’ll see later.
That said, he’s far from essential, and the deck isn’t built around him at all. I could see swapping in Progenitus for the guaranteed win-con, though just having him as your commander can start you off on the wrong foot politically.
So ten bounce lands. Check.
Given that this is a five color deck and “Landfall Matters”, I decided to stick close to the “perfect manabase”.
That means adding all 10 duals and 10 fetches, putting me at 30 lands. Then, because I need to hit Green early for fixing and ramping, add all the Forest shocks and cycling lands.
By that same logic, throw in a Krosan Verge, and round it off to 40 with a few ETB utility lands.
We can reuse the Bojuka Bog and Halimar Depths thanks to the bounce lands! It may seem slow, but we’ll have land acceleration to spare.
About those Forests
I want to ramp and color fix since I’m five colors. But given the constraints of my mana base, the usual all-stars like Kodama's Reach won’t work. Instead, thanks to our duals and shocks, anything that tutors up a Forests will help us color fix easily.
We can also grab non-Forests by their type, or grab anything with more generic tutors.
Tempt with Discovery
Given our graveyard recursion and general strategy, the correct play for non-basic tutors is to always grab Bounce Lands.
Knowing we run fetch lands, and that we like to blow things up, we want to re-use the lands in our graveyard. Thankfully, we’ve got a couple options now.
Life from the Loam
Crucible of Worlds
Muldrotha, the Gravetide
So given the graveyard recursion, and that Bounce Lands require another land drop to replay what was bounced, how do we get all these lands out quickly?
We’ve got two categories of land acceleration. The first ones increase the total land drops possible. These play nicely with Crucible and friends.
Oracle of Mul Daya
Rites of Flourishing
The second category “cheats” them directly into play from our hand. Though less synergistic, we can always use our normal land drops (from hand or graveyard) to play a Bounce land, then use one of these to cheat the bounced land back in.
Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis
Tappers like Sakura-Tribe Scout are of particular note:
- There are a number of functional reprints, allowing us a lot of redundancy
- They all form a powerful combo with Retreat to Coralhelm
Retreat to Coralhelm
With Retreat out, you tap a creature, put in a land, then untap that creature. This can accomplish one of two things:
- Dump all the lands from your hand into play
- Put a Bounce Land into play, then have it bounce itself
The second loop gives you infinite landfall triggers. If you have Amulet of Vigor out, you can also generate infinite mana by tapping the land with the bounce trigger on the stack.
Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
Tatyova, Benthic Druid
Amulet of Vigor
Let’s not forget the Land Destruction
Part of the original conceit was that:
- Our average land is worth more than theirs
- We should be able to recover faster
So blowing up lands is good. But we still might need SOME mana to restart our engine. Rather than just running every Armageddon and Jokulhaups available, we want cards to play to our specific strengths.
Strategy #1: My Finite Resources are Better than Yours
If everyone’s land counts become equal, we should be best positioned to produce more mana. We’re also better prepared to sacrifice lands given our plentiful graveyard recursion.
Strategy #2: I Can Rebuild Faster from a Soft Reset
These are the times I’m both grateful and sad that Upheaval is banned. If we want to be particularly rude, we can follow up a Sunder with a wheel.
Strategy #3: Ramp Fast then Pause The Game
Ward of Bones
In both cases, we can make a “fair” card one-sided. Ward of Bones works especially well given the small number of lands we need to reach decent mana. Territorial Dispute can be continually fed and circumvented via “cheats” like Sakura-Tribe Scout.
Rounding it Out
So we’ve got our gameplan. How do we make this a deck?
We’ve got plenty of mana and maybe too much ramp, which means we need lots of draw to compensate. Wheels are particularly good for ramp decks like this where you’re constantly dumping your hand onto the field, and the Wheels that discard can also feed our graveyard interaction.
Wheel of Fortune
“Free spells” like Time Spiral and Frantic Search also double as rituals thanks to the bounce lands.
We need interaction. This is where my buddy Jodah finally comes in, giving us a discount (as well as color fixing) for some high-end spells.
Decree of Pain
In Garruk's Wake
The List as of Writing
# name Jodah, the Vigorous
# info May 2018
# link https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/jodah-the-vigorous/ TappedOut
1x Jodah, Archmage Eternal *CMDR*
1x Arid Mesa
1x Azorius Chancery
1x Bloodstained Mire
1x Bojuka Bog
1x Boros Garrison
1x Breeding Pool
1x Dimir Aqueduct
1x Flooded Strand
1x Golgari Rot Farm
1x Gruul Turf
1x Halimar Depths
1x Izzet Boilerworks
1x Krosan Verge
1x Marsh Flats
1x Misty Rainforest
1x Orzhov Basilica
1x Overgrown Tomb
1x Polluted Delta
1x Rakdos Carnarium
1x Scalding Tarn
1x Scattered Groves
1x Selesnya Sanctuary
1x Sheltered Thicket
1x Simic Growth Chamber
1x Skyline Cascade
1x Stomping Ground
1x Temple Garden
1x Tropical Island
1x Underground Sea
1x Verdant Catacombs
1x Volcanic Island
1x Windswept Heath
1x Wooded Foothills
1x Balancing Act
1x Bring to Light
1x Broken Bond
1x By Force
1x Decree of Pain
1x Hunting Wilds
1x In Garruk's Wake
1x Life from the Loam
1x Merciless Eviction
1x Natural Balance
1x Painful Truths
1x Ranger's Path
1x Razia's Purification
1x Skyshroud Claim
1x Spoils of Victory
1x Summer Bloom
1x Tempt with Discovery
1x Time Spiral
1x Wheel of Fortune
1x Whispering Madness
1x Constant Mists
1x Cyclonic Rift
1x Fact or Fiction
1x Frantic Search
1x Realms Uncharted
1x Garruk Wildspeaker
1x Azusa, Lost but Seeking
1x Budoka Gardener
1x Courser of Kruphix
1x Dread Cacodemon
1x Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis
1x Llanowar Scout
1x Mina and Denn, Wildborn
1x Muldrotha, the Gravetide
1x Oracle of Mul Daya
1x Ramunap Excavator
1x Sakura-Tribe Elder
1x Skyshroud Ranger
1x Tatyova, Benthic Druid
1x Trinket Mage
1x Walking Atlas
1x Fall of the Thran
1x Retreat to Coralhelm
1x Rites of Flourishing
1x Territorial Dispute
1x Amulet of Vigor
1x Candelabra of Tawnos
1x Crucible of Worlds
1x Ghirapur Orrery
1x Ward of Bones
We’ll see how powerful (or fragile) this deck is when I test it next week, but it was lot of fun to build and write about!
Until next time, happy brewing!
A week later, I got a chance to playtest the deck, and immediately made 22 swaps!
The core strategy as outlined in this article is the same, but if you want to read about the lessons I learned, check out the changes post.