[NOTE TO READERS: I’ve tried really hard this week to get this done, under very difficult work conditions. I couldn’t finish it. I’m hoping to get black done in time for you to read it Monday. Please swing by again then, to read the rest! In the meantime, we can review the lands…]
Rattlesnakes warn, gorillas impact, spiders surprise, pigeons love gatherings, and plankton feed everyone. Let’s hop right to the last bits of the Hall!
The occasional Armageddon deck notwithstanding, lands are the most rigorous and long-lasting resources you can count on in a Magic game of any kind. While non-basic lands are slightly more vulnerable, getting good use out of every land ought to be a priority for those decks of yours that you feel really ought to win.
I’ve expanded the list from ten to thirteen to fit in a couple more lands that I think look really nice. Wizards has been very careful not to overpower lands lately; so none of these have sky-high ratings. To avoid looking silly, I set aside”ultimate” ratings for land. (I may still look silly, but at least it won’t be because of land-ability-inspired hyperbole.)
Enhancements (Awakening) and countermeasures (Ruination) for these cards are self-evident, so I won’t bore you with any. As for our ongoing poetry challenge, I have selected tetractys (get it?…”tract” of land?), a poetry form that orders its twenty syllables along five lines, 1-2-3-4-10:
You need them
Or else you lose
And then tell everyone you should have won.
Strip Mine (and Wasteland) are both excellent options to keep in mind when dealing with this sort of thing. A few months ago, a green-blue-black deck I had (Mystic Snake, Pernicious Deed) was facing down a few opponents and I was rapidly losing life to a Shivan Gorge. I didn’t think I had a single answer in the deck, and I felt really foolish – until I top-decked the Strip Mine I had put in on a lark, and saved my butt. (Well, I lasted a few more turns, anyway.)
13. GLACIAL CHASM
Cumulative Upkeep: Pay 2 life. If this would come into play, sacrifice a land instead. If you do, put this into play. If you don’t, put it into its owner’s graveyard. Skip your combat phase. Prevent all damage that would be dealt to you.
A stall tactic to set up an amazing combo. Not my cup of tea, but in more established groups, you have to expect someone to try this card every once in a while.
Put up a shield
And put out Transcendence to stay alive.
12. HIGH MARKET
Tap: add one colorless mana to your pool. 1, Tap, sacrifice a creature: Gain one life.
A very simple and modest solution to all kinds of cards, especially blue theft or Agonizing Demise with kicker. You can also work High Market into strategies easily – such as Grave Pact, fading, and Reincarnation…
Let the elf go
And Reincarnate for Penumbra Wurm.
11. SAFE HAVEN
2, T: Remove target creature you control from the game. Play this ability as an instant. 0: Sacrifice Safe Haven to return all creatures it has removed from the game directly into play under their owners’ control as though they were just summoned. Use this ability only during your upkeep.
Gorilla: Low, increases with use
It is a crying shame that you can’t dump all the creatures back out whenever you feel like it. Bear in mind they’ll have summoning sickness when they return (unless, of course, they have haste). This is a reader’s choice; I’ll admit I don’t have one yet. This card does get used pretty often in Break this Card submissions, though!
Far from harm
Comes back to play
With seventeen siblings wreak havoc
10. TREETOP VILLAGE
This comes into play tapped. Tap: add G to your mana pool. 1G: This becomes a 3/3 green creature with trample until end of turn. It still counts as a land.
One of the better turn 1 plays for green – though perhaps not Bird-of-Paradise quality! People tend to forget about man-lands, which will cost them a creature (or even the game) down the road.
How to trample?
Use a lot of chainsaws, really quickly.
Legendary. Tap: add W to your mana pool. Tap: Return target Legend to its owner’s hand.
As Wizards gets better at producing legends worth playing, this old-school card gets better and better.”Gorilla” impact could be absolutely zero in some games, and beyond critical in others. Note that this doesn’t work on legendary lands or other legendary permanents – just creatures with”Legend” in their creature type text. And yes, you can use Unnatural Selection in a combo with this.
It is really hard for a deck with dragon legends to stick an answer to Karakas in their deck – their best bet is putting two different legends on the board and accepting that they’ll move half as fast. Of course, it depends on what legends you’re using.
Sees this land,
And laughs softly:
He has a charm that nails non-basic lands.
8. WINDING CANYONS
Tap: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool. 2, Tap: Until end of turn, you may play creature cards at any time you could play an instant.
Similar cards: this is the”instant creature generator” slot, so Kjeldoran Outpost and Griffon Canyon also fit here.
It’s a fairly cozy feeling to know that you can throw creatures out in the middle of combat, or the end of an opponent’s turn. Don’t bother using creatures with haste; you effectively have them. If you play with weenies, you’re probably better off: You only have to activate the Canyon once, and then play as many creatures as you have mana for.
And out come kobolds and ornithopters!
7. THE TABERNACLE AT PENDRELL VALE
Legendary. All creatures have”At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice this creature unless you pay 1.”
Plankton: Very low
One of the most expensive (money-wise) cards in the Hall, the Tabernacle is one of the few lands that acts as an enchantment. Wizards doesn’t do this much anymore, and that’s a good thing.
The combinations with Stasis, Winter Orb, Armageddon, or other nasty control cards should be self-evident. My brother-in-law Pete has a deck using Vile Consumption, Pendrell Mists, and similar cards; if he had this land, he’d certainly put it in there.
It’s really fun counting all this stuff out!
6. MAZE OF ITH
Tap: Untap target attacking creature. Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt to and dealt by that creature this turn.
The Maze was recently unrestricted, so groups following Type I guidelines for deck construction may see four of these at a time in a given deck! They should replace spells, not other lands, since they do not produce mana.
Creature gets lost
And stands up straight again, unscathed by war.
5. BALDUVIAN TRADING POST
If this would come into play, sacrifice an untapped mountain instead. If you do, put this into play. If you don’t, put it into its owner’s graveyard. Tap: Add 1R to your mana pool. 1, Tap: This deals one damage to target attacking creature.
Similar cards: This is the”combat land” slot. Desert, Island of Wak-Wak, and Pendlehaven would all look fine in the named slot, as well.
As with all combat-oriented cards in the Hall, keep in mind that you don’t have to wait until your combat to activate these things. Interfering in other people’s combat phases gives you the reputation of being just a little bit crazy… And that’s a good thing.
You lose yours
And I keep mine
That is how they trade in Balduvia.
4. BARBARIAN RING
Tap: Add R to your mana pool. This does 1 damage to you. Threshold: Tap, Sacrifice this: This deals 2 damage to target player or creature.
As Masticore taught us, colorless damage is very, very good… Especially in red decks. Necropolis may be slightly superior to the Ring, since it’s reusable; but since the Ring gives red and doesn’t cost you a creature, I was comfortable giving it the title here. Plus, hey, we’re in Odyssey block… And this is the one card I could use!
3. RAINBOW VALE
Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. An opponent gains control of this at end of turn.
One of a very few lands that is obviously made for multiplayer.
I’ll repeat some useful rulings to remember. The Vale stays in its tapped/untapped state as it passes (so normally, it doesn’t untap until the beginning of that player’s turn). You can’t gain control of an opponent’s Vale by casting Twiddle or Mana Short (since it’s not being tapped for mana). Nor does Conquer keep it under your possession, if you then tap it. You can’t tap the Vale for mana and then keep control of it by casting Shimmering Mirage on it. You choose the receiving player when you tap it for mana (and then you actually pass control at end of turn).
The Vale is still fun, and you should play it in a deck that doesn’t care so much if it wins or loses.
You could use it
If you splashed a card and forgot the land.
2. VOLRATH’S STRONGHOLD
Tap: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool. 1B, Tap: Put target creature card from your graveyard on top of your library.
Gorilla: Medium, increases over time
The Stronghold slowly whittles down the will of your opponents. The only card I’ve seen that can even compare to what Stronghold does is Haunted Crossroads (which is cheaper to activate, but more fragile as an enchantment). This is not just recursion – this is selective, anti-milling, morale-destroying card advantage.
And a slow grind to certain victory.
1. SHIVAN GORGE
Legendary. Tap for one mana. 2R, Tap: This does one damage to each opponent.
Rattlesnake: Medium-high, decreases over time
Gorilla: Medium-low, increases over time
Unspectacular early on, the Gorge is the only land out there that serves as its own path to victory – all you need are three other mana each turn. A near-automatic inclusion for any multiplayer deck that uses red, the Gorge should be laid down only when you are ready to handle sudden assault by anyone under five life.
It’s also a heck of a team card, since it only pings opponents. An Emperor wielding this tool makes life very easy for his lieutenants; and a lieutenant using this can hit players he normally couldn’t.
Until you win:
It’s as smart as any other”red” card.
TO BE CONTINUED WITH BLACK MONDAY…