Landstill is a Vintage deck that’s been around for years, and I’m going to show you that hard control is still a force to be reckoned with! The concept of the deck is simple, counter anything relevant that your opponent plays, attack their mana base , recoup card advantage with Crucible of Worlds, Standstill and Jace, the Mind Sculptor and eventually find a way to win. There are parallels between Landstill and Workshops. The significant difference between the decks is that Workshops acts pro-actively to lock its opponent out of the game while Landstill players deal with their opponents re-actively on the stack, using Standstil as a tool to ensure that they win the card advantage war and the battle for dominance on the stack.

URG Landstill

Counterspells

4 Force of Will
3 Mana Drain
2 Spell Snare
2 Mindbreak Trap
2 Steel Sabotage
1 Flusterstorm
1 Misdirection

Gas

4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
4 Standstill
2 Crucible of Worlds
1 True-Name Nemesis
1 Ancestral Recall

Utility

3 Lightning Bolt
2 Engineered Explosives
2 Snapcaster Mage
1 Ancient Grudge

Mana

1 Mox Sapphire
1 Black Lotus
4 Mishra’s Factory
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine
1 Library of Alexandria
1 Barbarian Ring
3 Volcanic Island
1 Tropical Island
2 Island
1 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Polluted Delta
Sideboard

3 Null Rod
4 Ingot Chewer
4 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Firespout
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Viashino Heretic

The deck is extremely flexible, as is characteristic for control decks. I’ll break the list down for you now, and explain my card choices.

Counterspells

4 Force of Will
3 Mana Drain
2 Spell Snare
2 Mindbreak Trap
2 Steel Sabotage
1 Flusterstorm
1 Misdirection

Force of Will and Mana Drain are “non-optional” counterspells. Force of Will is required for a control deck to survive in Vintage, and Mana Drain fuels Crucible of Worlds and Jace, the Mind Sculptor as well as playing the role of the secondary “hard counter”. The rest of the counterspells are all flexible slots, you can customise these to match your local meta. Steel Sabotage pulls double duty in this deck, it shores up the Workshops matchup, giving an additional hard counter on the play, whilst also being a “Hail Mary” answer to a resolved Tinker from the blue decks. Spell Snare is a personal favorite of mine, there’s rarely a matchup where there isn’t a key card that can be hit with Spell Snare and it beats out threats like Oath of Druids, Time Vault and Arcbound Ravager. Mindbreak Trap wraps up my package of hard counters, and gives me an edge in combating combo decks and other blue decks on the stack, as well as letting me sometimes catch a Workshops player off guard if they play out their mana rocks before slamming a threat. Finally, Flusterstorm and Misdirection are a concession to the local combo decks.

Gas

4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
4 Standstill
2 Crucible of Worlds
1 True-Name Nemesis
1 Ancestral Recall

Most of these choices are a given. True-Name Nemesis made its way into the 75 because I wanted 1 additional win condition, and because it dominates popular local archetypes like RUG Delver, Workshops and Young Pyromancer decks. A resolved True-Name Nemesis is next to impossible for a Workshops player to beat (ED: unless they play Contagion Engine!), provides a real clock for Storm archetypes to deal with and threatens opposing Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

Utility

3 Lightning Bolt
2 Engineered Explosives
2 Snapcaster Mage
1 Ancient Grudge

Engineered Explosives and Ancient Grudge both contribute to the deck’s mana denial package, and can put the finishing touches on a Wasteland/Crucible of Worlds combination. Snapcaster Mage can rebuy any counterspell or utility spell you need, or you can change gears and “go on the offensive” with a Lightning Bolt and 2/1 beats!

Lands

The land base needs to strike a difficult balance between mana denial, man-lands, shuffle effects, splash access, protection from non-basic hate, utility, and still be able to support the UU of Mana Drain. Off-color moxen aren’t played as they’re both anti-synergistic with Standstill and Engineered Explosives and can’t be used to cast a Mana Drain. Barbarian Ring is a cute utility land that can remove an opponent’s threat under Standstill, as well as providing a win condition in a grindy control mirror.

The Sideboard

3 Null Rod
4 Ingot Chewer
4 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Firespout
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Viashino Heretic

Landstill in my experience has 2 very bad matchups in game 1 – Dredge, and aggressive creature-based decks. This event in particular I wasn’t expecting many creature-based decks around so the sideboard shows that fact. The room appeared to be filled with Workshops players, which lead to the 4th Ingot Chewer and the Viashino Heretic being added. If you’re expecting creatures, you can up the number of Firespouts or other Pyroclasm effects. Other meta-dependent inclusions can include Red Elemental Blast/Pyroblast, Nature’s Claim and Swan Song.

Tips and Tricks

The deck is simple enough to pilot, but there are still a few tricky plays that can give you the edge in tough game.

  • Crucible of Worlds and ]Library of Alexandria – it’s advantageous to play lands from your graveyard even if you have lands in hand, to help Library of Alexandria become a live draw.
  • Jace, the Mind Sculptor – Don’t forget about his -1 ability! You can rebuy your Snapcaster Mage if you feel you’ll need the utility it provides. You play 4 Jace, the Mind Sculptors for a reason. Don’t be afraid to pitch one to Force of Will], and remember you can slam a second copy down for a second activation.
  • Engineered Explosives – You can make some solid plays with Engineered Explosives to fight through Sphere of Resistance and Chalice of the Void. There are 10 colourless lands in the deck and 3 Mana Drains that can be used to enable you to pay colorless mana for your Engineered Explosives, allowing you to control your sunburst counters while at the same time still paying for any additional costs generated by the Workshop player’s sphere effects.
  • Don’t be afraid to break your own Standstill! Often the incorrect playt, but there have been at least two occasions I can remember where I’ve broken my own Standstill and won the game because of it!

If you’ve got any questions on the deck, my card choices, sideboarding or particular matchups, post here and let’s start a conversation!