Tricky Terrain Precon Review - Modern Horizons 3

Tricky Terrain Precon Review

Hello precon appreciators! We’re back for some more precon guides here on EDHREC, and today we’re covering the green and blue deck from Modern Horizons 3 that’s all about lands, lands, and more lands. It’s Tricky Terrain, led by Omo, Queen of Vesuva.

Who Are the Commanders of Tricky Terrain?

Omo is a green and blue 1/5 Shapeshifter Noble for three mana. Whenever she enters the battlefield or attacks, you put an everything counter on up to one land and one creature. Lands with everything counters are every land type, and nonland creatures with everything counters are every creature type. 

It’s a rare Simic commander that isn’t a broken value engine all on its own, which is something to celebrate. In fact, this commander does literally nothing on its own. Which means any deck you might build around her has a lot of room for experimentation. The important thing to note here that Omo’s ability doesn’t specify basic land type, so nonbasic land types are included (Cave, Desert, Locus, Gate, etc.).

Our backup commander is Jyoti, Moag Ancient, a 2/4 Elemental for four mana that makes a 1/1 Forest Dryad land creature on entry for each time you’ve cast a commander from the command zone. Then at the beginning of combat (and this is every combat, not just yours), it pumps all of your land creatures +X/+X, where X is Jyoti’s power.

Here’s the full list for Tricky Terrain:

Tricky Terrain Precon

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Commander (1)
Planeswalkers (2)
Lands (44)
Creatures (24)
Enchantments (4)
Sorceries (10)
Instants (8)
Artifacts (7)

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What Are the Themes and Strategies of the Deck?

Although Omo also puts everything counters on your creatures, it’s the lands that really matter here. This deck is all about playing with nonbasic land types and profiting from them. Cloudpost is a lot more powerful if all your lands are Locuses. Ditto with Basilisk Gate for Gates. And of course the Urza’s lands (particularly Urza’s Power Plant, Urza’s Tower, and Urza’s Mine) are all “turned on” if only one other land has an everything counter, meaning they’ll give you the extra mana. And with all this extra mana, it’s much easier to cast expensive cards like Apex Devastator and Terastodon, or pump a lot of mana into X spells like Hydroid Krasis and Finale of Revelation.

The deck also has token and copy themes. The token theme is mostly powered by Landfall effects from Avenger of Zendikar, Rampaging Baloths, and Scute Swarm. Copy effects include Mirage Mirror, Replication Technique, and the lands Thespian’s Stage and Vesuva

The deck also tries to shoehorn in a small (too small, tbh) sub-theme of creature lands, which ties into our backup commander Jyoti. But this theme is so minimal that it’s barely playable (more on this later). 

How Do You Play Tricky Terrain?

This isn’t a deck that you can just pick up and start playing and know what to do. In other words, it’s not very intuitive. For most decks you can read the commander and know what the deck wants to do. With Omo, that’s not the case. If I were to guess based off the commander, I’d assume it’s a deck that cares about creature types, like an “everything typal” deck (my friend Mike used to have a great deck built around Morophon, the Boundless that took advantage of creature type buffs). That’s definitely not what we got here. The creature types are far less important than the land types. In fact, the everything creature counters do almost nothing here. The best use of them is Avenger of Zendikar putting +1/+1 counters on all of your Plants (which will include any creature with an everything counter). Beyond that, I struggled to find a reason for them.

The main use of the everything counters is as a form of ramp with the Urza’s lands and Cloudpost. But this is overkill, since the deck already has 16 ramp cards and a bloated land suite of 44. But with all this extra mana, you certainly won’t have any trouble getting the deck going. And, although the end result is a bit nebulous, you’ll definitely have fun playing it. Also, Magus of the Candelabra is one of the best cards in the deck, so make sure to get him out early.

Surprisingly, (and sadly) the deck’s main path to victory is through combat with tokens. One token in particular will really hurt your opponents, and that’s Marit Lage. Yep, Dark Depths is here, as is the coolest way to cheat out Marit Lage, Thespian’s Stage. You can even tutor both of them out with Hour of Promise. Obviously Marit Lage is a lot less potent in Commander than 1v1 20-life formats. But it’s powerful nonetheless. Except when an opponent has a Path to Exile handy.

What Are the New Cards in Tricky Terrain?

Now for what most of you are here for. The new cards! Each of these MH3 precons comes with 13 new cards, in addition to the two commanders. And this deck does something unprecedented in the history of precons: it gives us six new lands! Now you might think six lands could feel like a ripoff, but considering the lands, you might be surprised.

We’ll start with the card that is currently preordering for almost $40: Planar Nexus. So what does it mean to have every nonbasic land type? Well, it means the Urza’s lands will turn on more easily. It also means one more Gate for your Maze’s End and Nine-Fingers Keene decks. It also counts as a Desert for your Hazezon, Shaper of Sand and Yuma, Proud Protector decks.

Trenchpost is a Locus and lets you pay three to mill a player for the number of Locuses you have. Talon Gates of Madara is a Gate, and can phase out a creature when it enters. This is definitely a neat removal trick that gets around counterspells, similar to the Channel lands from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. Lazotep Quarry is a Desert that can sacrifice a creature to make a mana of any color, and also be used to “embalm” a creature from your graveyard as a 4/4 Zombie (this isn’t exactly the embalm mechanic, but close enough). We’ve also got a Cave with Sunken Palace. It only taps for blue mana, but you can also use it to copy a spell or ability, as long as you have a spare seven cards laying around in your graveyard.

Our last new land is Horizon of Progress, which starts as a cross between Reflecting Pool and Mana Confluence, but can also be tapped with three mana to get an extra land on the field. If that weren’t enough, it can also be sacrificed to draw a card. This card is incredibly useful and versatile, and will easily become a Commander staple.

Let’s look at the creatures next. Sage of the Maze is a powerful mana creature that can tap for two mana of any color combo, and can also turn a land you control into a Citizen creature - sure to be an auto-include in Gate decks. Wonderscape Sage is reminiscent of the Moonfolk from the original Kamigawa block, like Meloku the Clouded Mirror, that returns lands to your hand for profit. This is a cool card draw engine if you’ve got ways to play extra lands on board, but it’s weakened by needing to tap to activate, so you can’t go crazy with it. 

Our last creature is Rampant Frogantua, a 3/3 with trample that gets +10/+10 for each opponent who’s lost the game. And when it deals combat damage to a player, you can mill that many cards and grab any lands milled and drop them on the field. This one is gonna be great for self-mill decks as well as land decks. Grolnok, the Omnivore absolutely loves it.

We’ve also got two enchantments in the deck, with Copy Land, which does exactly what it says, and Desert Warfare. Warfare seems like it would have been much more at home in the Desert Bloom deck from Thunder Junction, but will certainly make a lot of Sand Warriors in this deck as well. Copy Land is perfect for getting extra value from powerful nonlegendary lands, like Cabal Coffers, Ancient Tomb, and Field of the Dead (none of these are in the precon, btw).

Our last two new cards are sorceries. Aggressive Biomancy has the potential to be a lot better than Ezuri’s Predation, assuming you have a big powerful creature on the board and a lot of mana, or a lot worse if you don’t have a good creature worth copying. So it’s very situational, but certainly great in the right deck. Then there’s March from Velis Vel, which has the potential to be an absolute blowout, but a lot of things need to happen first. You’ll need multiple lands of a certain type, and a creature worth having many copies of. In this deck it’s going to do great things if you’ve been dropping everything counters for a few turns. Outside of this, though, it’s pretty much relegated to Gate decks (not Desert decks, which are all red, white, and green).

Is Tricky Terrain Worth Buying?

Is this deck any good? Here’s my final grade:


I really struggled with this deck, mostly because I really wanted to like it. Omo, Queen of Vesuva is an incredibly unique commander that can really be built in fun new ways. Sadly, this precon kind of ignores those possibilities and just focuses on lands while giving us the same old token landfall stuff in the creature package. The deck plays well, but it just doesn’t live up to its commander’s potential.

One of the biggest dings in this score is because of the backup commander, Jyoti, Moag Ancient. This creature is absolutely useless in this deck. Do not try to run the deck with Jyoti in the lead, because you’re not gonna have a good time. There are two lands in the deck that can become creatures (Lair of the Hydra and Lumbering Falls) and two cards that can turn lands into creatures (Sage of the Maze and Nissa, Steward of Elements). That’s it, just four cards out of 99. Such a waste.

A big saving factor for the deck is the new cards. We have some really cool new lands here that are going to see a lot of play, some fun new token makers, and a giant Frog. Also helping the score is the reprint quality of the deck, which is top notch. Our standouts here are Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, Apex Devastator, Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth, Vesuva, Dark Depths, and Mana Reflection.

Can I make this deck better? Find out in my Upgrade Guide, here on EDHREC.

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Andy's been playing Magic on and off since Fallen Empires. He loves to travel, drink, eat, and spend time with family and friends.

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