Sunday, 24 December 2017

“In Praise Of” Part 3: Land Tax, by Brother Ben (plus December roundup)

This has been a great month for Old School in London. 

Chris Cooper attracted some criticism in advance of his Team Cup event for charging a hefty entry fee and involving a judge. I confess to have had my reservations, but I was wrong - it transpired the 'judge' was more of a jovial compere, ably keeping the pace up and tracking scores so Chris could participate with his innovative mono brown deck. The entry fee included a three-course meal which was a highlight; eating together was a bonding experience enabling us to get to know the other players from around the world. The traders at Magic Madhouse had a great selection of old cardboard goodies ready for us, and kindly converted my unused legacy staples and junk rares into a beta pearl. A first class event, well done Chris.



Markus hosted the London Christmas gathering and sourced old product for us to draft. A great crowd of relaxed players any of whom I'd be glad to play cards with all day long - not something that can be said of some of the attendees at standard GPs. Indeed, escaping obnoxious punks is a big draw for Old School. Which is why I am troubled by the recent chatter from spikes who are vocal on social media about banning cards that aggrieve them and trying to rewrite the format before they have played it for long enough to appreciate the subtleties. There is a joy to getting a basic deck and gradually improving or pimping it over time, inching towards a Swedish legal version. 

Optimised decks aren't necessarily the most fun to play. At the Brothers Of Fire COPcon events our most coveted prize is awarded for the most interesting deck. I fell in love with N00bcon piloting a deck including Dakkon Blackblade, Lady Evangelina, Knights Of Thorn, and Angry Mob. 

It also included Land Tax, which, like Blood Moon, is a great card for anyone who doesn't have playsets of dual lands. So in keeping with the series of articles at Brothers of Fire, I will blast the trumpet for Land Tax!



I love drawing three cards from Ancestral Recall, and Land Tax can give that happy feeling every turn. It means those have to be basic lands, but this enables easy splashing for non-white cards - including one of my all-time favourites: Braingeyser.  



The card also enables hand and library manipulation.  Your spare basics can be converted to business cards with Jalum Tome.  And searching your deck with land tax is one of the few ways to shuffle away the unwanted top two cards after using Sylvan Library.



Of course, Land Tax is also your best friend against evil decks - I'm thinking here of two in particular.  Firstly, those that try to destroy your mana base, largely negating classics such as Ice Storm, Stone Rain, and Sink Hole.  Secondly, a fistful of basics weakens the power of Hypnotic Specters and nullifies Disrupting Sceptre.



On top of these generic benefits, Land Tax interacts beautifully with a load of my favourite cards in the format. A glut of land can be used to good effect with Land's Edge, Dakkon Blackblade, Ivory Tower, Library of Alexandria, and Armageddon.

Land tax thins your deck so you are more likely to draw non-land cards in the late game, and even allows you to play Blood Moon without drawback.

Truly a card to love!

Happy Christmas one and all.

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