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All About that (Land) Base

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Readers!

Long-time readers of this column will know that I have a tendency to "yada yada yada" the land base part of my decklists because I operate under the assumption that land bases are not that difficult to construct, you'll run what you already own, EDHREC and mana base crafter exist and lots of other, well, excuses. It's not that I'm lazy or am fried by the end of an article and just want to call it a day, it's just that I want to convey ideas about 75% building and don't consider the mana base a place I can do that. I am going to test that assumption this week, because I think there are some underrated lands that people should play more. If 75% is nestled in a gray area between optimized decks and totally casual ones, it stands to reason that 75% decks are the MOST likely to benefit from unconventional land choices. Optimized decks are running fetches and shocks or duals and Cabal Coffers and maybe 1 or 2 utility lands like Strip Mine. There is a "right answer" for which lands to run in a deck that considers itself optimized and most players who build with that mindset will run those "right answer" lands. Similarly, a lot of more casual decks, especially ones that start with a preconstructed deck and add cards, will run precon lands. Vivid Marsh, Tainted Peak, Blossoming Sands.

Meanwhile, 75% decks have the most freedom to run whatever. We can run lands that are considerably better than the ones in precon decks and, in fact, we should. There are a ton of great lands out there that do things we'd like our spells to do and if we can run them in the place of similar lands with less utility, we can have the advantage we need. Remember, we're trying to beat those optimized decks occasionally, so we'll need all the help we can get, and if every land on top of our deck is a Basic Island, we're getting no help from a significant portion of our deck. If one of those Islands is a Halimar Depths, however, we're in much better shape. I run a lot of basics in my decks because I tend to run cards like Boundless Realms that let me benefit. However, I also run a lot of interesting utility lands in my decks and I don't always mention them in these articles. I'm going to make a few suggestions to help 75% builders get some help from all of their deck, not just the spells.

Ghost Town

Ghost Town

I've mentioned old GT before, but I think it bears repeating. I have a lot of decks that are concerned with landfall abilities and Ghost Town makes it so you don't have to topdeck a steady stream of lands to keep getting your triggers. If you have Burgeoning in the deck you can get a landfall trigger on every opponent's turn if you want without having to draw any new land. Ghost Town can insulate you slightly from Mass Land Destruction spells as well, to the extent that having 1 extra colorless mana can help with a painful and annoying rebuild process - it's mostly in my decks for landfall. This is criminally underplayed and with a new Zendikar set on the horizon, it's likely some lands-matters abilities will be here soon and it's good to think about ways to make sure we hit lots of land drops.

My favorite deck to run Ghost Town is my Omnath, Locus of the Roil deck. I get plenty of landfall triggers and it pairs great with Burgeoning, Sakura-Tribe Scout, and Exploration.

Undiscovered Paradise

Undiscovered Paradise

This is worse than Ghost Town and more expensive, but if you run one, why not run both?

Terrain Generator

Terrain Generator

I am harping on landfall enablers a lot, I guess, but in a 1- or 2-color deck, Terrain Generator can ramp you a couple of times a game and isn't totally useless otherwise. You get to do Green deck stuff in Mono-White or Mono-Red and those colors need all of the help they can get, sometimes. This is great for throwing out the extra lands you get from Land Tax, pick up with Meloku or draw off of Necropotence.

My Heliod stacks deck in particular makes good use of the ability to put extra lands into play, in addition to my many landfall decks all running it.

Mirrorpool

Mirrorpool

The ability to copy whatever you need a copy of can make or break a game. I've won a counterspell war with Mirrorpool, I've made a second Craterhoof Behemoth to ensure I had lethal damage and I've turned simple spells like Decimate or Crush Contraband into serious beatings. Mirrorpool should be less obscure.

The first deck I ever wrote about was Riku and this is right at home in that deck.

Llanowar Reborn

Llanowar Reborn

I run quite a few decks that put +1/+1 counters on creatures and one issue I run into is getting that first counter on something. Reborn can be sacrifice and replayed very easily in Green, generating significant advantage and making sure your creatures get the initial counter before you start to proliferate. You can even Graft a counter onto someone else's creature, making them feel like you did them a favor. It can be a favor, getting you political leverage, or it can be a ruse for when you steal the creature with Cytoplast Manipulator or steal its essence with Experiment Kraj.

My Pir and Toothy deck abuses this card regularly and I built it from the piece of my old Vorel deck.

Artifact Lands

Darksteel Citadel

Artifacts that you can bring back with Crucible of Worlds are very useful. The ability to tap for a mana, sac to KCI for 2, replay, tap for a 4th mana and sac for a 5th and 6th mana can be a powerful boost that not everyone will see coming. I like to run Artifact lands and Crucible of Worlds in any deck with Goblin Welder, and they're not bad with Scrap Mastery, either. You are more vulnerable to spells like Vandalblast but the additional utility is almost always worth it in the right deck.

My recent Chainer deck makes great use of the Goblin Welder strategy to keep replaying Mindslaver.

Blighted Cycle

Blighted Fen

With Ramunap Excavator and Crucible of Worlds in all of my "lands matter" decks, these cards get a lot of work done They're not all great because they don't all scale into 100 card, 40 life formats well, but the ones that do are quite good. Woodland gives you a ton of landfall triggers, Steppe can gain you a ton of life and Cataract draws 2 cards every time you use it. If you can keep bringing Blighted Fen back, you have an on-board Edict effect. It's expensive, but you can recur it, tutor for it with lots of different cards and it can't be countered. It's a good cycle and I feel like Woodland is the only one anyone knows about.

Ice Floe

Ice Floe

I see Maze of Ith, Kor Haven, and even Mystifying Maze get a lot of play, but I feel like Ice Floe is a good solution to a lot of problems those cards don't solve. This stops a lot of additional combat phase combos, for one. It also keeps a big or infect creature from finishing you off. Anyone planning to kill you with Commander damage will have a tough time with it. Also, people just might not attack you if you can Floe their creature. A lot of newer players don't have experience with "you may choose not to untap" cards, so be careful and remember to leave Floe tapped if you want one of their creatures frozen.

Halimar Depths

Halimar Depths

I mentioned this above, but it deserves its own paragraph. Putting a land into play tapped isn't a death sentence, especially if you draw it a bit later. Too many CIPT lands can be clunky, but Depths can smooth out your early draws so much that it's worth the risk. If you're playing Temple of the False God and not Halimar Depths in a deck with Blue, you're doing it all wrong. This is half of a ponder for free and it can't be countered. More decks should run this, especially ones that benefit from knowing what's on top of their deck.

Mortuary Mire/ Witch's Cottage

Mortuary Mire
Witch's Cottage

This isn't always worth a whole spell but being able to get the effect on a land drop is powerful. Everyone knows to run Bojuka Bog to hurt opponents but it's less obvious to run lands like this to help yourself. Getting back a dead creature is better than drawing an unknown card sometimes. This replaces a mystery draw with a known, good one and it does it all for the low low price of "playing a land like you were going to, anyway." There's a lot to like here.

Mystic Sanctuary

Mystic Sanctuary

In case you missed it, I gave this card a whole article when it was first printed.

I had to skip a lot of lands I like, and it's possible this article could get a sequel (it's like a squeakuel, but for things that aren't Alvin and the Chipmunks movies) in the future if it's received well. One way you can let me know you enjoyed this one is to put your favorite utility land that I didn't mention in the comments below. Thanks for reading, everyone. Until next time!

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