Serious Vintage Episode 35: Frank, TSI Steveland, and Lands in Vintage

For episode 35, Geoff Moes (@ThallidTosser on Twitter), Nat Moes (@GrandpaBelcher), and Josh Chapple (@joshchapple) talk about Lands (the deck, not the card type) with Frank Singel, winner of the recent Team Serious Invitational.

Here’s the timestamped table of contents for your listening ease and enjoyment:
00:28 – Frank Singel: Landing Hard on Vintage
33:20 – A Time Vault Tangent
40:28 – Holiday Foods
Full runtime – 0:54:37

Lands in Vintage

It’s always fun to talk to a player who has spent a lot of time developing, playing, and perfecting one deck. Frank Singel is just such a player, and his deck of choice is an interesting one in a format where so many people are focused on playing many, many spells per turn: Lands.

Lands, by Frank Singel, 1st Place TSI Steveland

Lands (35)
Bazaar of Baghdad
Bojuka Bog
Dark Depths
Ghost Quarter
Glacial Chasm
Maze of Ith
Riftstone Portal
Strip Mine
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
Thespian’s Stage
Verdant Catacombs
Wooded Foothills
Not Lands (25)
Ancient Grudge
Chalice of the Void
Crop Rotation
Life from the Loam
Mental Misstep
Mox Diamond
Mox Emerald
Mox Jet
Null Rod

Sideboard (15)
Abrupt Decay
Assassin’s Trophy
Chains of Mephistopheles
Crop Rotation
Dark Confidant
Grafdigger’s Cage
Nature’s Claim
Stony Silence

Lands, the deck, is based on the similar build from Legacy. Lands, the card type, have the benefit of being free and uncounterable, with the drawback of being able to play only one of them per turn. There are a lot of unique effects available on lands, and in Eternal formats, there are several ways to break the one-per-turn rule. Vintage adds Bazaar of Baghdad to the mix, allowing Lands players the opportunity to grind through their own deck to find their best answers against an opponent—think The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale against Eldrazi or Bojuka Bog against Dredge. On top of that, Dark Depths and Thespian’s Stage provide a potential 20/20 flying, indestructible combo win. So the deck has some different looks depending on the cards it draws.

At TSI Steveland, Frank finished 3-2 in the Swiss but won a play-in to the elimination rounds and won out from there. Part of his journey involved staving off Paradoxical Outcome three times, which seems remarkable for a deck that has so little turn-one interaction against that spell. We talk about that matchup quite a bit, and though Frank agrees there was some fortune involved, it’s not as bad as one might think. Permanents are pretty good, it turns out.

If you’re interested in seeing how the Lands deck works, matches from the TSI are available on YouTube, with commentary and analysis from Andy Probasco and Jimmy McCarthy. Check out Lands versus Archon Oath in the swiss, Lands versus Archon Oath tiebreaker, and Lands versus Paradoxical Outcome in the finals.

There’s also some discussion of the Banned and Restricted List, particularly regarding Mental Misstep and Fastbond. Mental Misstep plays a critical role in Lands as the protector of important one-drop spells, like Fastbond, and particularly Crop Rotation, which is an awkward two-for-one if it gets countered. So which would help Lands more: restricting Mental Misstep or unrestricting Fastbond?

Full results of TSI Steveland are here on The Mana Drain.

A Time Vault Tangent

I (Nat) played against Lands at Eternal Weekend, piloted by Jody Keith. In the critical game three, I resolved an early Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and was hoping to ultimate that to win the game. I knew Jace wasn’t great against the Dark Depths combo, but Jody had multiple answers in play for my Oath, so Jace was currently my only hope. With Jace at nine counters, Jody final found both Dark Depths and Thespian’s Stage, so I was boarding the train for a loss. Except I had Time Vault in play. You can hear how things could have, should have, and did play out in the podcast.

You can also enjoy what is still one of the most resonant Magic: The Gathering articles ever written by a guy whose deck fell out of his shirt pocket and into a toilet: “Stuck in the Middle With Bruce.”

For reference, this is the picture of Nat that Frank sent to Jody while we were talking about the incident.

Holiday Foods

Our discussion on holiday foods was interrupted at one point, but we still had obviously heated discussion. There were strong feelings on turkey, cranberry sauce, red cabbage, vegetable sides, leftovers, and, surprisingly, ravioli. Hidden in there was the point that you have to make turkey stuffing with the giblets, because the stuffing makes the turkey. In the discussion of various family holiday traditions Frank mentions that his family makes pretty delicious sounding ravioli with marinara for their gatherings. That sounded pretty awesome. Geoff and I only had spiced apple rings from a jar.

I’m not sure how it went from my thinking you should enjoy turkey and not have it be just a holiday food to “Nat hates turkey,” but it was exciting talk. Josh also recommended recipes for roasted carrots with cider vinegar gastrique and cranberry sauce made with alpine liqueur. Alpine liqueur is an herbal liqueur (there are other makers than Leopold Bros.), so if you can’t find it, Josh recommended something like an amaro. (I recommend Jägermeister, to really show you care.)

Questions for Discussion

What’s the greatest number of lands you’ve ever played in one turn? Have you ever seen the right line of play and just blatantly ignored it for no reason, like some messed up trolley problem? Do you put cranberry sauce on your leftover turkey sandwiches? Do people actually eat spiced apple rings? Really? Gross!


Thanks for listening! However you choose to eat and drink when you celebrate with friends and family, we here at Serious Vintage hope you have merry times. This will probably be our last episode in 2018, but we have some exciting stuff coming up next year. We’ll look forward to any questions or comments here or The Mana Drain or on Twitter. You can also email us at