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Ranking All Deserts in Magic


Hello awesome Desert fans! I've got your fun thing next! We're going to rank all 36 Deserts, but many are in cycles, so there are fewer out there. Including the ones from Outlaws of Thunder Junction. This list is for casual formats like Commander, Pauper, Peasant, Five Color, Highlander, and multiplayer. Note that, because these can be fetched out like basics with things, they have enhanced value. Ready? Let's do it to it!

#16. Cradle of the Accursed AND Dunes of the Dead

Cradle of the Accursed
Dunes of the Dead

First, let's kick off today's list with this fun duo that makes 2/2 Zombie dorks. The first will tap for colorless mana, ETB untapped, and then tap and ac with three at sorcery speed to make it. Then the latter will also tap for colorless, ETB untapped, and this when it dies you'll make it instead, making this a great one to sacrifice in those land-sac decks. Not great, but they're there.

#15. Survivors' Encampment

Survivors' Encampment

This colorless tapping ETBs untapped land is next! It'll tap for any color of mana as long as you cans tap a dork you control for mana making purposes. That's great with tap triggers on Commanders like OTJ's Annie Flash, the Veteran or Wylie Duke, Atiin Hero. It's also great with token dorks made from your Commander to make the right color of mana from your stuff. It's pretty sweet there in decks that have a few colors to ensure we are making.

#14. Mirage Mesa

Mirage Mesa

This OTJ common is next! IT ETBs tapped, and taps for one color of mana of your choice when it ETBs. It good for two- or three-color decks or when splashing, or making sure you have green mana for that Cultivate to smooth your colors. But outside of that, and since you can only tap for one mana not two it isn't the best option for your decks, so I wouldn't overuse it in decks with too many colors. I wish it didn't ETB tapped since it's just a one-of.

#13. Hostile Desert

Hostile Desert

Now we are starting to get to the better stuff. This Desert is ETBs untapped, taps for colorless, and you can spend to exile a land to turn it into a 3/4 beater Elemental for the turn. Note Elemental for that kindred caring type. Then you can do this a few times and burnout that land but it's cheaper mana wise.

#12. Desert


The original! You can tap this with no mana to shoot an attacking dork for 1 damage but only at the end of the combat step, so you'll take it first. It's a colorless source for protection like Mother of Runes, and it'll keep back X/1 from swinging at you in multiplayer games. It's awesome possum!

#11. Conduit Pylons AND Painted Bluffs

Conduit Pylons
Painted Bluff

Next are two Deserts that can filter one color of mana for another of any you need, and each can tap for colorless and ETB untapped. They are commons for Pauper/Peasant. The better one is the former since it arrives and you surveil one for card filtration or graveyard adding. In a Highlander deck like Commander, you can add both, but otherwise I'd do four of the first.

#10. Bucolic Ranch

Bucolic Ranch

Hello Kindred fans of Mounts, I've got you covered with our tenth even number entry, that taps for mana of any color for Mounts, and then colorless and then also can be tapped for three to draw the top card if it's Mount, or toss it to your deck's bottom, great if you just cast Brainstorm and want to put the worst card there. Great with Sylvan Library, Sensei's Divining Top and many more tricks!

#9. Grasping Dunes

Grasping Dunes

Our next Desert is another colorless dork that ETBs untapped and has a tap-sac ability this time at sorcery speed to impact the battle by putting a -1/-1 counter on a dork to kill it. This will slip past indestructible like Stuffy Doll and you can proliferate it to kill a higher toughness thing. It taps for colorless too and can be tossed into any proliferate deck from poison to loyalty to +1/+1. Note that this will answer the +1/+1 counter from your undying dork to bring it back once more, or to cancel +1/+1 on opposing stuff or Commanders. It's just one to tap and sac, not bad at all. Don't sleep on this.

#8. The Color Tapping Sac-Desert Cycle

Ramunap Ruins

Next are the five that tap for colorless, swap a life for that color, and then tap to sac a Desert at sorcery speed. Since they tap for mana of a color, they are one better than Grasping Dunes. One of these broke Standard so much it was banned (Ramunap Ruins). Which would turn Deserts into death to kill after burn. Then you can add two -1/-1 counters, pump a dork by +3/+3 to kill, have someone mill four, or pump your team by +1/+1. All good stuff, and they can be done over and over again by not self-sacrificing.

#7. The Colored Tapping Cycle Deserts

Desert of the Fervent

This common cycle is next! They ETB tapped, they are Deserts that tap for a mana of their colors, and then you can cycle them for two, but one of their color, so they are the worst cycling land option of the three. They also count as Land/Deserts hitting the graveyard from anywhere, but not being sacrificed for Commanders that care. They are so strong at the stuff.

#6. Endless Sands

Endless Sands

Back to a non-cycle and mana with color tappers in this colorless tapping, ETBs untapped Desert. This taps with two to exile a dork you control as answer to answers, and then you can tap and sac it with four mana to return them all. That's already brilliant in decks with flicker/blink or midranges ETB love, like Ravenous Chupacabra or Eternal Witness, but also to save non-tokens about to die to targeted removal and then bring them back later. It's great in all of the places!

#5. Arid Archway

Arid Archway

This is a Desert that ETBs tapped, bounces a land to your hand, and then taps for two colorless. Getting a colorless Karoo is great especially when it's on a Desert. For example, you can bounce a cycling land after your mana is set and then cycle to draw. Or you can bounce the below #4. Or you can bounce a modal spell // land and cast post mana set. From surveil/scry ETB lands to ones that gain life, or Bojuka Bog, there are good things to abuse, and you can toss this into any Commander deck to recur and get another landfall trigger. Good start to the Top Five!

#4. Ping Deserts

Abraded Bluffs
Sunscorched Desert

Next are all 11 Deserts that ping a foe on arrival to the battlefield, from the ten that tap for two colors, and then ETB tapped, and the untapped colorless tapping Sunscorched Desert, too. These can be bounced with #5, and then other Karoo lands, to kill, and they count as crimes since they target foes. Love this cycle loads!

#3. Cactus Preserve

Cactus Preserve

This ETB tapped Desert from OTJ's Commander set is next. This will tap for mana equal to your lands, so one Command Tower will tap for all of your colors, easily done in Commander where you're running Shock lands or Triomes to make that mana fast. This is basically an ETB tapped slower version of Reflecting Pool, which is a Commander and multiplayer classic already, and now we've got one you can tutor for! Then you can spend three to turn into your Commander in cost and then with reach too, and it's not a sorcery, so you can do it when attacked to kill or save you. Love this loads!

#2. Sandstorm Verge

Sandstorm Verge

This uncommon is next, our top scoring OTJ or adjacent product is this taps for colorless, ETBs untapped, and taps with three at sorcery speed, to make anything unblockable! This is a tutorable Rogue's Passage, that cannot be used on others or instantly, but it's worth it. It's the same cost to tap as Access Tunnel, and much better since it can be used on any sized dork. Love it loads! And then there was one!

#1. Scavenger Grounds

Scavenger Grounds

Nothing else could ever make the cut after this Commander and multiplayer classic. It's colorless, so it can go into all builds, it doesn't arrive tapped You can tap it with two to sacrifice a Desert, often it, to exile all graveyards, yours too. It's so good since Commander often uses the graveyard as a second hand, so this is nasty for everyone for just two mana. It's so good that I have added other Deserts to decks just so I have more options, like the cycling ones. It ends at instant speed graveyards use and abuse of all, so it has to be here. Get it, run it, love it!

And there we go! I hope that you enjoyed this Desert deep dive! What would be your rankings? Let me know!

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