A Beginners Guide to using Battle Lands and Fetch Lands in Standard
This time I am here to talk about Standard. More specifically, today I am going to analyze the new Standard manabase consisting of Fetch lands and Battle lands and then propose a way to achieve the best configuration of these lands depending on what we are trying to cast, i.e. 3-color decks, 3-color decks with one splash, 4-color decks… etc.
As we have all the Fetch lands and Battle lands in the allied colors, decks based on the shards colors, i.e. Esper (Blue-White-Black), Grixis (Blue-Red-Black), Jund (Red-Green-Black), Naya (Red-Green-White) and Bant (Blue-Green-White), naturally present a very good manabase as you can play two full playsets of Fetch lands and Battle lands on color. In Bant , for example, both [card]Windswept Heath[/card] and [card]Flooded Strand[/card] can search for [card]Canopy Vista[/card] and [card]Prairie Stream[/card]. So, you can play with a manabase like this for example:
[deck]4 Windswept Heath
4 Flooded Strand
2 Wooded Foothills
3 Canopy Vista
3 Prairie Stream
3 Lumbering Falls
Here you have access to 18 sources of green mana, 16 sources of blue mana and 18 sources of white mana spread over 25 lands. That’s a very consistent manabase. Sure, this is assuming you want your deck to be evenly distributed among all 3 colors. If you want, for example, be based on just 2 colors and splash the third it is completely doable and you can tweak the manabase according to what you wish.
Note that we play the full playset of Fetch lands and even a two “half-color” one ([card]Wooded Foothills[/card]), but we don’t play the full playset of Battle lands. This is because we do not to reduce the risk of drawing too many in our opening hand or in the early turns and having the Battle lands entering the Battlefield tapped. Depending on your color and curve requirements, it might even be better to play 2 of each and more Fetches and Basics.
Because it is easier and more simple to build manabases for Shard-colored decks, I will then turn my focus today on the construction of manabases for Wedge-colored decks, i.e. Abzan (Green-White-Black), Mardu (Red-Black-White), Jeskai (Blue-White-Red), Temur (Green-Red-Blue) and Sultai (Blue-Black-Green). In this case, it is a bit trickier since these color combinations are centered around enemy colors, thus matching oddly with the allied-colored Fetch lands and Battle lands.
The most unique and important thing to keep in mind when building Wedge-based manabases with Fetch lands and Battle lands is that the Fetch land corresponding to the allied color pair of a specific Wedge is not the best Fetch to give you access to all of that Wedge colors. Let’s use Mardu as an example to illustrate what I mean.
The allied color pair in Mardu is Red-Black, thus, the corresponding Fetch land is [card]Bloodstained Mire[/card]. At first, it is very intuitive to assume that any Mardu manabase would have to include 4 [card]Bloodstained Mire[/card]. This might even be correct, but I can assure you that the addition of the first copy of [card]Bloodstained Mire[/card] is only correct after the addition of a playset of other Fetch land. Which one you might ask? That’s where the fun begins.
Well, considering the aforementioned example, both [card]Polluted Delta[/card] and [card]Wooded Foothills[/card] fix your mana better then [card]Bloodstained Mire[/card]. All three can search for [card]Smoldering Marsh[/card], but what Mire can’t do that the other two can is search for a Battle land that taps for white mana (Delta can get [card]Prairie Stream[/card] while Foothill can search for [card]Canopy Vista[/card]), providing all Mardu colors in the process.
So, instead of looking at the Fetch land that represents the allied color pair within the Wedge of interest to build your manabase, you should first look to the “related” Fetch lands, i.e. the Fetch lands that shares one color with your main allied color pair. In the Mardu example, we got [card]Bloodstained Mire[/card] as the main Fetch land (Black-Red) and the “related” Fetch lands were [card]Polluted Delta[/card] (Black) and [card]Wooded Foothills[/card] (Red).
Using Sultai (Blue-Black-Green) as the example now, we would have Blue and Black as the allied color pair, thus, our main Fetch would be [card]Polluted Delta[/card] and the “related” Fetches are [card]Flooded Strand[/card] and [card]Bloodstained Mire[/card]. Now, using this concept, I am going to give you a Sultai manabase interested in casting [card]Sultai Charm[/card] as soon as turn 3.
[deck]4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Flooded Strand
2 Polluted Delta
2 Sunken Hollow
1 Canopy Vista
1 Cinder Glade
3 Lumbering Falls
2 Llanowar Wastes
With this we have access to 17 sources of Blue mana, 17 of Black mana and 16 of Green mana. I think this manabase will allow you to reach all three colors untapped on turn 3 almost 90% of the time. To give you a little context, take a look at this Sultai Control list piloted by Gerard Fabiano with last Standard’s manabase.
For reference, he had access to 15 sources of Blue mana, 20 of Black mana and 13 of Green mana. He focused more on Black mana due to [card]Thoughtseize[/card] and [card]Bile Blight[/card], but note that he wants to be casting [card]Sultai Charm[/card] and other green and blue cards early and his manabase allowed for it. Our proposed new manabase deliver a more balanced distribution among colors and the chance of having all lands and all colors on the battlefield untapped on turn 3 is higher.
Another interesting feature of the Wedge-colored manabases built with Fetch and Battle lands is that it became easier to splash a fourth color. As we already discussed, it is better to use “related” Fetch lands so that we are able to search for all 3 Wedge colors. As you may have noticed, to get the color outside the Wedge allied color pair, we have to search for a “off-color” Battle land. In our Sultai manabase for instance, to get a green mana source we are searching for [card]Canopy Vista[/card] or [card]Cinder Glade[/card]. In this case, we have access to “free” white or red mana, respectively.
This means that with a little effort we can easily add a forth color in our Wedge-based decks. That’s why we have seen a huge amount of Black Jeskai deks and some Abzan lists splashing for red or blue. Let’s look at this Jeskai Black manabase from the list piloted by Todd Anderson to a top 4 finish in the last weekend SCG Open:
[deck]4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta
1 Sunken Hollow
2 Prairie Stream
2 Smoldering Marsh
2 Battlefield Forge
He has access to 16 blue sources of mana, 15 red sources, 15 white sources and 15 black sources. It is worth to highlight a few things:
First, do you see the trend towards playing some Painlands to complement the manabase and the absence of Tri-lands?
Second, Todd is not playing [card]Gideon, Ally of Zendikar[/card], opting for [card]Sorin, Solenm Visitor[/card] instead.
I have to say I was glad to see this change. I was worried with the first Jeskai lists running Gideon, where they only had 14 sources of white mana. It is very tough to cast [card]Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy[/card] into [card]Mantis Rider[/card] and then have a second untapped white on turn 4 to cast Gideon. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying to not play with Gideon, I am just saying to build a better manabase to support him. The card is so good that even being cast on turn 5 or 6 were still good enough, but as decks get better tuned as the format evolves, this waste of tempo might cost you.
The most important thing to point out though is the need to play the full playset of your main Fetch land when you chose to play the forth color. If you noticed, he played the full 4 [card]Flooded Strand[/card] and that was absolutely correct. No, I am not crazy. Note that he plays one [card]Sunken Hollow[/card] making all his Fetch lands able to search for black mana. Due to the nature of the Fetch and Battle lands in this format, your main Fetch is able to search for Battle lands that produce colors supported by your “related” Fetch lands, making playing the forth color easy.
You might have noticed that I proposed manabases that do not use the tri-lands anymore. The reason is 2-fold:
1) The Battle lands don’t match very well with other nonbasic lands in order to enter the battlefield untapped, so we should try to play as few as we can;
2) As the tri-lands enter the battlefield tapped, drawing them in the mid-game might hurt your mana development too much to be worth.
To finish, I would like to summarize the more important topics:
- Shard-colored manabases are easier and more straightforward in their way of building than Wedge-colored ones.
- If you want to play a straight 3-color Wedge deck, like Jeskai (White-Blue-Red), the “related” Fetch lands (in this case, [card]Windswept Heath[/card] and [card]Polluted Delta[/card]) fix your mana better than [card]Flooded Strand[/card], your main Fetch land.
- Though, If you want to play a forth color, than your main Fetch land becomes very important, because it gives consistency to your fourth color.
Well, this was what I had for today. The Pro Tour is right around the corner to teach us many things and, hopefully, I got something out of this right. I hope you have enjoyed and that it was somehow useful for you all. As usual, any feedback from you would be much appreciated.
Good luck and success with your manabase construction!
Community Question: With the new Battle and Fetch Lands available in Standard, what do you think is the best colour combination in Standard right now and why?
Thanks for reading,