Ranking 2020 with EDHREC: Lands (Oh my Gosh, So Many Lands)
(Bala Ged Recovery| Art by Lucas Staniec)
Like, Seriously, So Many Lands!
Hi. Welcome back to this catch-up series where we rank the lands that came out in 2020 based on their number of decks on EDHREC. Yippie skippie for us, whatever. We have no time! This article can tell you more. We need to get moving!
Lands of 2020
- Eligible Sets: Theros: Beyond Death, Ikoria, Commander 2020, Core Set 2021, Jumpstart, Zendikar Rising, Zendikar Rising Commander, Commander Legends
- Previous number of Lands: 390
- New Additions from 2020: 43
- New Number of Lands: 433
As before, odds and ends. Other lands not in 2020. Whoop-de-doo. Go go go!
"Oh, I should do a retrospective on 2020 lands. That'll be a nice easy article to pump out," I thought naively. "I mean, how many lands can they release in a year? 15? 20? It can't be that bad, right?"
Then this happened!
Over 30 modal double faced lands! Over... Thirty! And that's in addition to the 20 or so regular lands released across the year! I can barely talk about ten cards without going over my prescribed word limit. Why don't we ask my editor how he feels about editing a 10,000-word article?
(I think I just heard a sobbing man poke holes in all my card sleeves.)
Yeah, I obviously cannot talk about all of these in great detail, but since the word on the street is that these Modal Double-Faced lands are bonkers in our format (and I can feel my contrarian instincts kicking in), I did want to go over them, so let's subcategorize this!
The Niche MDFC Lands
- 386: Akoum Warrior: 348 Decks
- 384: Umara Wizard: 355 Decks
- 380: Song Mad Treachery: 348 Decks
- 379: Beyeen Veil: 373 Decks
- 370: Makindi Stampede: 511 Decks
- 371: Zof Consumption: 500 Decks
- 357: Pelakka Predation: 605 Decks
- 340: Spikefield Hazard: 766 Decks
- 311: Blackbloom Rogue: 1,129 Decks
In the months since Zendikar Rising released, there's been this argument tossed around that you should play 3-5 of these MDFCs in every EDH deck regardless of theme. Since you need lands to cast your spells, but also are in danger of flooding out if you draw too many lands, the claim is that having these dual land/spell cards increases your odds of drawing a spell late game while also not decreasing the amount of mana sources in your deck. Compare the person with 40 lands, to the person with 35 lands and 5 MDFC lands. The second person is more likely to draw a card that does something later in the game.
This is an argument that sounds nice, but I feel it kinda ignores a couple things. One:, some of these MDFCs are not very good. Like, yeah, if I put Zof Consumption in my deck, I technicallyhave another spell I can draw, but do I ever want to actually cast that spell? I don't think Soul Feast is going to do a lot for me on 99% of board states. It might as well be a land for all the good it does me. Two: coming into play tapped and only tapping for one color of mana can be a severe tempo loss for lots of decks out there.
In specific decks, they might do a little bit more. For example, a tribal Rogue actually probably wants a card like Blackbloom Rogue, but those are very much the exception and not the rule. Few decks are gonna like having Umara Wizard in their deck even if it's also a land.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: For these niche MDFCs, that's pretty easy to see. For some of the other ones though? Let's take a look.
The Overplayed MDFC Lands:
- 367: Skyclave Cleric: 522 Decks
- 330: Kazandu Mammoth: 913 Decks
- 298: Kabira Takedown: 1,324 Decks
- 275: Jwari Disruption: 1,710 Decks
- 256: Tangled Florahedron: 2,201 Decks
Some of these are not powerful enough for the amount of play they receive. Like, how many decks want a two-mana Force Spike? Or a two-mana Elvish Mystic? It can't be this many.
And I understand the argument: "Tangled Florahedron is more flexible than Elvish Mystic since it's a land when you want it and a creature when you don't." That's true, but there's no scenario where I'm happy to have this card. You draw it early, it's a bad land. You draw it late, it's a mana dork that does nothing. The flexibility on these means nothing if that flexibility doesn't provide power.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: In an effort to not be totally mean, I will mention that Song Mad Treachery seems pretty underplayed, frankly. In theft decks, like Yasova Dragonclaw, or decks with sacrifice outlets, like Marchesa, the Black Rose, it's like Slave of Bolas on a land. I love it.
The Generically Good MDFC Lands
- 249: Kazuul's Fury: 2,346 Decks
- 234: Silundi Vision: 2,699 Decks
- 219: Ondu Inversion: 3,021 Decks
- 207: Sejiri Shelter: 3,471 Decks
- 157: Glasspool Mimic: 5,628 Decks
- 102: Valakut Awakening: 9,490 Decks
So now we reach the MDFCs that are actually decent Magic cards. If they weren't lands, I still probably wouldn't be happy playing them, but I can imagine scenarios where I would be happy drawing these. That means I should be advocating for these in every deck, right?
The other problem I have with the argument that these spell-lands are the best way to mitigate flood is that it kinda ignores all the other sweet lands you could be running. Yeah, if the choice is between Glasspool Mimic and Island, I'd probably run Mimic, but that has never been the choice. We've got almost 30 years of lands with benefits to draw on. Glasspool Mimic is up against Faerie Conclave, Mirrorpool, Scavenger Grounds, Inventor's Fair, War Room, Cephalid Coliseum, and so much more. Sure, against all of that, sometimes Mimic is still the best choice, but sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it's too slow, or I don't have enough good creatures to copy, or I don't want a mono-colored tapland. These cards are all fine, keep them in mind, but they absolutely are not staples.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Alright, that's most of the MDFCs taken care of. Let's see what else 2020 brought us.
380: Throne of Makindi 419 Decks
366: Base Camp: 600 Decks
Is it just me or is the "land that synergizes parasitically with the set mechanic" becomes a staple of Magic sets now? Last year, we had Frostwalk Bastion and Tournament Grounds, and this year we got Throne of Makindi and Base Camp: all lands that you play in exactly one type of deck and nothing else. You'll find it when you need it and it will escape your brain until then.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Next thing you know, we're gonna see a land that say "Tap: Put a counter on Goats" for a Goat tribal subtheme.
299: Animal Sanctuary: 1,318 Decks
I WAS KIDDING!
Animal Sanctuary just makes me sad. Swarmyard was a surprisingly unique and powerful payoff for some niche tribes (and was just reprinted. Woot woot!) so they totally could have made a new Swarmyard for the next generation of janky tribes, but nope. Instead we get this utterly dull, safe, and pretty low-power ability to put a single counter on a single dork for functionally three mana. Boooooooooo.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I wonder if they powered this down so much because they didn't want to break it with the Changelings in Kaldheim? Stupid Changelings ruining our Dog tribal payoffs.
281: Crawling Barrens: 1,661 Decks
My general rule with ceature lands is that I'm primarily looking for synergy it might have over general stats, and none of the synergy options on Crawling Barrens seem worth the cost. You don't really want this in +1/+1 counter decks since it costs four mana to activate every single turn. The only Landfall deck that might want this is maybe Obuun, Mul Daya Ancestor? Lots of mana, and also cares about having creature lands, but even then, Obuun does that without Barrens anyway. It's an outlet for mana commanders, like Yurlok and Belbe, I guess? A hidden win condition in the mana base for infinite-mana combos, but infinite-mana combo decks usually have better options anyway. It's all so meh.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Like, I don't the think the card is worthless, but it's just clunky at a base level, so I'd need more than this to be convinced.
243: Nesting Grounds: 2,676 Decks
I don't think you want to play Nesting Grounds in decks just to move +1/+1 counters around. Generally better to just put more counters on things than to move the existing ones around.
No, with this you want to do silly things like move your flying counters from Kathril, Aspect Warper, or gold counters from Athreos, Shroud-Veiled, or even counters to help Volrath, the Shapestealer to clone things. Nesting Grounds is not only very powerful in those decks, but basically the only way to make that effect happen.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Okay, here's a bad deck idea for you: Fair Dark Depths.dec. No Vampire Hexmage-like combos, but you still have to kill them with Marit Lage. Actively terrible.
234: Guildless Commons: 2,968 Decks
I find the Bouncelands to be passable at best. They're slow, risky, clunky, and not worth the upside for a lot of decks, but I know there's a lot of people that like the fixing they provide, and the synergies they have with Landfall, or the free spells, like Frantic Search.
Even if you like the bounce lands, though, I'm not sure when you'd want a card like Guildless Commons. If you want to gain extra Landfall triggers, you'll want to reach for your Gruul Turf first. Maybe your deck wants multiple bounce lands - Kodama of the East Tree says hi - but you never want to see multiple bounce lands in your hand early on, so it's a risky proposition. Only argument I can kinda see is if you're mono-colored and can't run the other bounce lands. Anywhere else, I'd be super hesitant to play this card.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: It's better than the Karoos, at least.
215: Emeria's Call: 3,331 Decks
198: Turntimber Symbiosis: 3,970 Decks
179: Shatterskull Smashing: 4,533 Decks
135: Sea Gate Restoration: 7,325 Decks
I feel like I've talked about that mythic MDFC cycle of lands, like, six times already. It's the Legends lands again, it's the Kamigawa legendary lands again, it's the Eldraine Castles again. They're all just basic lands with no "basic" subtype, and, like, 5% more upside.
Granted, the upside on these is much better than something like Pendelhaven or even Castle Ardenvale, but at the end of the day, you're basically paying $10 to play a basic land with a lot more text. In theoretical statistic world, this increases your odds of winning by, like, 1%, but very few games are gonna be won by you casting Shatterskull Smashing and Emeria's Call. It's not zero, it's probably more than any of the cycles I mentioned above, but not enough that I'd say these are worth seeking out.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Like, you wanna spend $10 on one of these or $10 on Unbound Flourishing? That choice is super easy for me.
200: The Thriving Lands: 3,923 Decks
(Thriving Isle: 4,186; Thriving Moor: 4,135; Thriving Heath: 3,830; Thriving Grove: 3,773; Thriving Bluff: 3,691)
I was so happy when these cards got spoiled! I love the Vivid lands because they are some of the best budget lands for 3-5 color decks. The Thriving Lands were another great cycle in the same vein! No non-budget decks out there were gonna want these, but the flexibility of being dual lands that also tapped for whatever color you most needed when you played them made them a card I was super happy to have for my $25 and $50 decks.
And then Jumpstart had a bunch of supply and production issues, and the cards floated up to between $1-3 for a while, which completely eliminated the point of them existing for me. Urgrumphurgumbrurahmrghfflbrghmfgrgrmmmmmmmmahhhhhhhhhggggggg.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: They're still more expensive than I want them to be, but they have settled down a bit, and, even inflated a smidge, they're still excellent budget choices if you want to build a mana base for $10 or less!
183: Labyrinth of Skophos: 4,263 Decks
So you take Mystifying Maze, remove the weird loophole of it triggering ETBs on opponents' creatures, and add the ability to target your own stuff, you get Labyrinth of Skophos. I'm glad they wanted to just put so much effort into fixing a mediocre card!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Good for them. Still mediocre!
217: Hagra Mauling: 3,282 Decks
153: Agadeem's Awakening: 6,205 Decks
116: Malakir Rebirth: 8,784 Decks
81: Bala Ged Recovery: 13,002 Decks
The Empyrean Eagle-eyed among you might have noticed that I pulled these four out from the rest of the flipland categories. That's because despite the fact that I spent a good majority of this article roasting the MDFCs, I think these four are strong enough I could see them being decent in almost any deck. Every deck wants Murder, every deck wants Regrowth, and a Gruesome Menagerie that scales as the game goes long ain't the shabbiest thing I've ever seen. Malakir Rebirth is the weakest of the four, but every deck is going to have at least one creature that they probably want to protect - like their commander - and you could even use it to save opponents' creatures if you want!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I don't think you have to play these cards because I don't think you "have to play" any card, but playing them will very rarely be a bad choice.
142: Zendikar Pathways: 6,758 Decks
(Riverglide Pathway: 7,489; Clearwater Pathway: 7,309; Needleverge Pathway: 7,276; Brightclimb Pathway: 7,175; Branchloft Pathway: 5,811; Cragcrown Pathway: 5,488;)
I love the Pathways so much, you have no idea! If you were gonna make a cycle lands just for me, these would be pretty close to what I'd want. Untapped, both Enemy- and Ally-colored, and most important of all, fairly budget! Sure, the Pathways aren't as cheap as, like, the Shadow Reveal lands, but they're a super reasonable budget upgrade that will substantially improve your manabase and will continue to be good in your deck whether it costs $30 or $3,000. Yeah, there's a danger that you'll choose the wrong color when these enter and you'll get mana screwed, but if the rest of your deck is consistent then the speed and power boost here is absolutely worth the cost.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I would love to see these get reprinted every year and join the pantheon of excellent budget lands! Please, Wizards?
118: Bonder's Enclave: 8,768 Decks
Not my favorite colorless card draw land that came out this year, but Bonder's Enclave is still a card I'm super happy to have access to. I think I'd only be happy playing this if my commander had four power. Otherwise, this land gets shut down by mass removal too easily, but it is not much of a problem to find four-power legendaries. It's not amazing, but I'm still super happy it exists.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: The only real reason I'm not super excited about this land is because it's not War Room
110: War Room: 9,322 Decks
Speaking of which, let's talk about War Room! Goodbye Arch of Orazca! I never liked you, and now I never have to never see you in my opening hand again, because hello, War Room!
This is the mono-color card advantage dream land! Four mana is way less of an investment than six mana, and paying one life for it is basically no cost at all. As with most things in life, I wish it didn't cost so much money, but the $5 price tag is not enough of a deterrent to stop me from playing this in any mono-color deck (and most two-color decks) that I can!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Between this and Bonder's Enclave, colorless decks got a ton of card draw lands this year. Eventually, those decks will just be 99 lands and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.
99: Enemy Battle Lands: 9,903 Decks
(Training Center: 10,637; Rejuvenating Springs: 10,379; Undergrowth Stadium: 10,180; Vault of Champions: 9,445: Spectator Seating:8,873)
I'm pretty sure that we all can collectively agree that these are just a net boon for the format. Sure, you might want them to be cheaper, (pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease reprint them as many times as possible, Wizards), but I don't think anyone would say these cards are bad for the format. Whether you're on Boar tribal or The Gitrog Monster cEDH combo, getting mana screwed sucks. These cards aren't gonna break any other competitive formats, but they basically say that anyone playing them is gonna be slightly more likely to actually play the game of Magic. I wish they would print this to Command Tower levels, but I'm happy that some people have access to these.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Seriously, though. Wizards, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease.
81: The Triomes: 13,002 Decks
(Zagoth Triome: 14,906; Ketria Triome: 14,060; Savai Triome: 13,488; Indatha Triome: 12,651: Raugrin Triome: 12,394)
And we reach the most-played lands of 2020, (although Bala Ged Recovery might overtake these by the time this article actually goes up). Of everything that came out, these are the ones that win the big banana! Are they worth it?
When the uncommon Tri-lands (like Mystic Monastery) came up in my ranking list, I mentioned that you could give these tapped tri-lands basic land types and it wouldn't break anything. It's a neat bonus, but it really only matters if you're already running Fetchlands, Farseek, Skyshroud Claim, etc. It's definitely better, but it's not going to substantially make them overpowered. It's just a neat bonus for budget decks.
So then they did exactly that, and they wound up being $20, and that kinda killed my enthusiasm for them. To be fair, they also gave them the upside of Cycling in the late game, but three mana is not a great rate. It makes it difficult to do much else that turn. All the things they added do make the cards better, but they don't justify the price over the common tri-lands for me. 90% of the time, Ketria Triome is just gonna be a fancy Frontier Bivouac, so why bother? The Triomes seem too clunky for my blinged-out decks and too expensive for my budget decks. Budget decks should prioritize untapped lands, and non-budget decks don't care about the extra trinket text enough to justify the cost, so, personally, I don't see much of a home for these.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Maybe I'm down on them because they just don't match what I want to do in Commander, but I can't see myself recommending them to anyone.
The Long Way Home
And that is a wrap for 2020. Next week, we'll be back to our ranking of Equipment! I may need a week to just recover from whatever this nonsense is, but I somehow did it without taking a break, so who knows?
In the meantime, how do you think lands fared in 2020? Have you been playing a lot of the double-faced lands? Are you up for War Room? What's your favorite land from this batch? Let me know in the comments. Until next week!