Welcome back to my 2-part article on the lands of Extended. Part 1, which can be found here covered those lands which tap for precisely 2 colours of mana – either allied or enemy. In this part we first cover those lands which tap for 3-5 colours and then those single-colour or colourless lands which can add a bit of spice to your deck:
We will bunch these together partially by time-order but also by function, for ease of comparison:
The Trilands were staples during their time in Standard but the Vivid lands practically obsolete them outside of strictly 3-allied-colour decks. The Panoramas are basically worse than Terramorphic Expanse and Evolving Wilds or the Zendikar Fetchlands, but are fine choices for casual gaming.
Ancient Ziggurat and Primal Beyond are exceptionally good if you are focusing on the card types they promote but Rupture Spire is too slow and Exotic Orchard relies too heavily on what your opponent is playing (but was fine in standard when everyone was running around with Reflecting Pool). Springjack Pasture can act as a “storage land” of sorts, in that if you have a deck which plays a lot of instant-speed Magic, you can use your timing to create 0/1 chump blockers which double as being sources of mana eventually. It is a consideration as a techy land for the 4cc decks being played to get ahead on mana in the long game but the lack of immediate coloured mana will probably rule it out.
The two cards which really stand out in this set are Reflecting Pool and Murmuring Bosk. Reflecting Pool is a true great when combined with the Vivid lands as an easy way of producing any combinations of coloured mana you want. Seriously, it feels like basic lands are truly awful after playing a manabase which has every land tapping for any colour. The other card, Murmuring Bosk, is deceptively powerful. Treefolk aren’t an amazingly playable tribe – after Doran, the Siege Tower the card quality drops dramatically. However, Wizards printed one very important word on this card – Forest. Combined with Misty Rainforest and Verdant Catacombs this land gives you a lot of ways of fixing your mana, for example turning Misty Rainforest into a virtual Polluted Delta when required, giving a Blue-Green deck easy access to White or Black mana if it wants it, and other uses. Definitely a major player in current Extended in a variety of decks.
Single-colour lands have two natural competitors: 1) Basic lands of the same colour, and 2) lands which tap for more than one mana, giving your deck access to spells of more than one colour and thus greater strategic options. There is the occasional exception to this, such as the Pendelhaven which found its way into otherwise Blue+Black Faeries decks during Time Spiral + Lorwyn Standard. Single-colour lands which enter the battlefield tapped can be considered to be like basic lands which always force you to cast a 1-mana spell when you make them, but for free.
Our first row here contains three of the rare lands from Zendikar. Emeria gives you an extremely powerful effect – repeatable reanimation effects – at the cost of having to play a great many Plains cards. Before Extended became the smaller format that it is now, the Ravnica duals such as Hallowed Fountain allowed you to play Plains which tapped for real colours of mana, such as Blue and Black. Unfortunately, as we can see above, we can very easily generate mana of 2 or more colours with the lands we have available, which is a far more attractive option than limiting ourselves to spells of a single colour, which is what we would have to do to consistently `activate’ Emeria.
Oran-Rief saw play in Standard and Block (note: saw; it is still legal at the time of writing) as a way of pumping hoards of green creatures. Due to people playing Volcanic Fallout, among other wrath effects, decks which want to make lots of creatures really want to do it as soon as they possibly can, in order to overwhelm the opponent before they can deal with what you’re presenting. The cost of entering the battlefield tapped is significant because it costs you one of your mana in a deck which uses mana to make more mana, so the cost becomes exponentially greater the earlier you play it and the effect becomes exponentially worse the longer you wait because you are playing out all your green creatures early.
Valakut is tremendously exciting. Although it appears that, like Emeria, you have to play many substandard lands to support it (Mountains), people have found that one can splash Prismatic Omen in a deck with real colours to make the Valakuts work without the need to play any real Mountains, using Wargate as a tutor for either the land or the enchantment, as required. It can also be played as a land in a mono-red burn deck as a way of ensuring that one of your ways of losing the game – mana flood – actually is a way of winning. Contrast this with the Oran-Rief, which gets worse the longer you wait.
I next present a `cycle’ of lands from Zendikar and Worldwake. There were cycles of lands in each set, but only one in each colour is playable between them. These are very obvious cards for comparing their effect versus a basic land (remember that being a basic land also includes being fetachable by various effects, such as Rampant Growth) to decide if its worth it. Khalni Garden‘s value varies depending on if you’re using the token to block and keep yourself alive longer, or if you want to use it to fuel something like a Polymorph. Combined with fetchlands, Halimar Depths can be very powerful as a way of searching for a desired card quickly. Although there are no graveyard-based strategies in Extended at the moment, Bojuka Bog is worth remembering as a `free’ Tormod’s Crypt in a Black deck.
The last 3 lands here, part of the `Hideaway’ cycle of lands, give you a free spell for having met a certain condition. Free spells have always been very powerful in Magic, such as Force of Will or cheap enablers like Tinker. The alternative cost to these spells is having to set it up. The Green and White lands are very creature-based, wanting you to have many or simply large creatures and having them attack. They fit very nicely in the Green+White Hideaway deck which aims to set up a free Emrakul if possible via fast mana in the form of creatures. The Red Hideaway land has not yet made a splash in Extended but was superb at Worlds 2007, helping to put 2 players in the top 4 of the tournament by giving out free Dragonstorms.
Colourless lands have a built-in significant drawback – they do not tap for coloured mana. As obvious as that seems, take a look at the deck you currently play and see how much the spells cost. They probably mostly have a coloured mana symbol or two, and a couple of colourless mana symbols. However, is your deck two colours? Say it is a blue+white deck, with Journey to Nowhere, Mana Leak, Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Baneslayer Angel. Between those 4 cards are 2 Blue mana symbols and 2 White mana symbols, plus you would like access to both Blue and White mana on turn 2. Dual lands help significantly with this but Colourless lands have the opposite effect. Therefore, their inclusion is due to `having room’ from all the duals you’re playing, or because of some significant effect they offer your deck and usually see play in one- or two-colour decks.
Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple both produce more than one mana, which is a great benefit because it’s like playing 2 lands in one turn, at the cost of only drawing a single card! The downside, of course, is that they don’t let you spend it on many spells. Eldrazi Green in Standard makes good use of these lands and Primeval Titan to tutor them up to cast the massive Eldrazi creatures, but I think they will prove too slow for Extended. Bitterblossom puts control decks on a clock, stopping them from trying to be too slow.
The three colourless man-lands add options to aggressive decks which want mana early and creatures late. Mutavault is the only one of these really worth playing as its cheap activation cost makes it very aggressive and its tribal synergy in Faeries is relevant a lot of the time. It even sees play in Legacy Merfolk due to its having all creature types – a terrifically designed land.
Lastly, I want to talk about Tectonic Edge. Magic has a history of lands which destroy other lands, beginning with Strip Mine and Wasteland as the big examples. Tectonic Edge isn’t quite as obnoxious as these cards because it doesn’t prevent your opponent from playing Magic, it is designed to deal with problem lands – many of which you may have seen in this 2-part article already. If you suffer from a particular land your opponent regularly plays, such as Creeping Tar Pit or Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle then the inclusion of Tectonic Edge can go a long way towards solving your problem.
So there you have it, every playable land in Extended identified and discussed and more besides. My personal top 5 lands (in order) are *drumroll please*
Now, if I could only find a deck which plays all 5…