Ranking Every Land with EDHREC – 2021 Edition
(The World Tree | Art by Anastasia Ovchinnikova)
The Lands Before Time
If I've timed this out correctly, this article should come out after Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is fully revealed and set reviews have all gone up, but right before the set actually releases, which makes this the perfect time to finish up ranking all the cards from 2021 from our miscellaneous ranking series. We can give all these lands from 2021 a fond send-off as we venture into the future.
After all, you're surely gonna remember all the busted new lands that come out 2022, right? An average human being can certainly remember every Commander-relevant card that releases in 2022, right?
Lands of 2021
- Eligible Sets: Kaldheim, Kaldheim Commander, Strixhaven, Commander 2021, Modern Horizons 2, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, Forgotten Realms Commander, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, Midnight Hunt Commander
- Previous Number of Lands: 432
- New Additions from 2021: 38
- New Number of Lands: 470
Yeah, 38 unique lands. You think I'm gonna waste space in the intro with that many cards to go over? This is a chonky boi, and we need to get moving. Let's start!
Kaldheim Off-Color Activation Lands
- 413: Immersturm Skullcairn: 668 Decks
- 402: Gnottvold Slumbermound: 780 Decks
- 384: Surtland Frostpyre: 1,048 Decks
- 355: Bretagard Stronghold: 1,408 Decks
- 352: Great Hall of Starnheim: 1,429 Decks
- 285: Gates of Istfell: 2,940 Decks
- 267: Skemfar Elderhall: 3,513 Decks
- 257: Littjara Mirrorlake: 3,828 Decks
- 253: Port of Karfell: 3,979 Decks
- 225: Axgard Armory: 5,046 Decks
Were I doing these in a full-blown series, I'd have individual write-ups for each of the Kaldheim lands with probably a lot of gushing in each one. However, EDHREC has assassins posted outside my house if this article goes over 4,000 words, so we'll go over the broad strokes of how awesome this cycle is.
Is this the most powerful or flashy cycle of lands? No. None of these lands do anything absurd. No one is gonna be super excited to crack Gnottvold Slumbermound or Surtland Frostpyre, and even the really good ones, like Port of Karfell, are always gonna be expensive and slow. The power level is limited.
Even so, this uncommon cycle of lands are some of the cleanest, most flexible designs. They're powerful enough that they can be perfect choices for a ton of different scenarios. You wanna jam Bretagard Stronghold for the lifelink synergy? Go for it! Wanna jam Gates of Istfell to go off with a random Sun Titan? Sounds good to me. Wanna jam Port of Karfell in any Dimir deck with big creatures? Every single time.
Sure, they're not all winners. I might even say some, like Skemfar Elderhall, are overrepresented, but even Elderhall has good synergy in the right deck, and since these were uncommon cards and opened like crazy, they're also cheap to acquire! I'm cool with giving them a blanket "underplayed" here.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: The best of the cycle are probably Littjara Mirrorlake and Axgard Armory, but I think they all will continue to see play in all sorts of decks for a long time.
383: The Biblioplex: 1,065 Decks
This is one of those cases where I feel like I should make clear I've never seen this card in play. This is pure theoretical card judging here.
That said, this card is bad, right? Library of Alexandria this is not. Like, The Biblioplex can still miss even when you can trigger the ability! This card's gonna do nothing 99% of the time.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Yeah, it also works when you have zero cards, but it still requires three mana and only hits instants. That still looks bad!
359: Dungeon Descent: 1,374 Decks
274: Power Depot: 3,271 Decks
It's the parasitic land with the set mechanic! The Ally Encampment, Throne of Makindi, and Frostwalk Bastion equivalents of 2021. Did you remember what any of those cards did? Don't lie. You didn't, and I didn't until I checked last year's articles. Just like those lands, you won't remember Dungeon Descent and Power Depot unless you build a dungeon or Modular deck, and even then, they will be mediocre.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I have already kicked these lands out of my brain to make room for obscure pop culture references!
356: Hostile Hostel: 1,420 Decks
This is a fabulous Magic card that is absolutely terrible. It's a worse, more fragile, slower Westvale Abbey that isn't even good when it gets going. It sucks - so you should play it! The flavor of this card is unparalleled. It's freaking named Hostile Hostel! Hostile. Hostel! It's fabulous, and it's going to do nothing for you.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Yes.
337: Archway Commons: 1,716 Decks
Oh, goodie! It's the fourth functionally identical copy of Transguild Promenade. Aren't you excited?!? Now, the deck where every card starts with "A" gets to have a copy of one of the slowest lands in existence. Yaaaaaaaaaay....
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: These lands are passable if you're on the shoestring-iest of budgets, as they're free rainbow lands once you play them. I don't think there's any deck that wants four of these, but if you own Archway Commons, it's not the worst thing you can play.
326: Hive of the Eye Tyrant: 1,855 Decks
315: Cave of the Frost Dragon: 2,031 Decks
300: Hall of Storm Giants: 2,532 Decks
263: Lair of the Hydra: 3,645 Decks
262: Den of the Bugbear: 3,646 Decks
My general opinion on creature lands is that you only want them when they have synergy with your deck. You play Faerie Conclave in Yuriko, or Inkmoth Nexus in Ezuri, but you don't really wanna play Forbidding Watchtower in Tajic, Blade of the Legion.
None of these really fit that bill. The activation costs on these cards are all pretty decent, but they're too vanilla to be worth activating most of the time. Cave of the Frost Dragon might be okay because it's evasive, and Den of the Bugbear has Goblin synergies, but even those aren't fantastic scenarios. I'm pretty low on this cycle overall.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: There are some decks like Noyan Dar that slam any and all self-animating lands that fit the colors, but outside of that, these aren't really built for our format
288: Faceless Haven: 2,850 Decks
Now this is a creature land with synergy! You do have to warp your mana around snow to play it, but your reward is a slightly worse Mutavault. I'll remind you that Mutavault is a windmill slam in any tribal deck that can support it, especially since it pads out any janky tribe you might be jamming. Faceless Haven is not as flexible as Mutavault, since you need a lot of snow, but if you can swing it, the card is nuts!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: It's the perfect card for the right deck.
287: Temple of the Dragon Queen: 2,909 Decks
258: Shimmerdrift Vale: 3,807 Decks
If these came out in 2019, I think I would have given them high praise. As budget five-color options go, these fix you for any color of mana, and they're 25 cents. They wouldn't be amazing, but I'd recommend them as space fillers.
Unfortunately, my new favorite budget toys, the Thriving lands, already exist, and those are better in every way. The Thriving lands are all the fun of these lands, but they also tap for a color on their own. Sorry, y'all, you just arrived a bit too late.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Even in places where they'd have upside (Dragon decks and snow decks, specifically), they still seem worse than other options.
286: Hall of Oracles: 2,927 Decks
I think Hall of Oracles also technically counts as a parasitic land with the set mechanic, but the decks Hall goes into happen to be much more common. It definitely goes in the spellslinger aggro decks - you know the ones, the same decks that play Leering Emblem and Fists of Flame. Your Valduks and Mavindas and Feathers and such. Hall even has synergy with +1/+1 counter commanders, like Hallar, the Firefletcher. When you hit that perfect intersection of spellslinger and aggro, Hall of Oracles is the perfect land.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Much better than the other parasitic lands we've seen. I'd mention one of those for comparison, but I legitimately forgot what they were.
256: Strixhaven Campuses: 4,041 Decks
(Witherbloom Campus: 4,261; Prismari Campus: 4,245; Quandrix Campus: 4,078; Lorehold Campus: 3,948; Silverquill Campus: 3,671)
Hey! More Guildgates! That might be odd to be excited about, but I'm always up for more cheap, accessible taplands that can be reprinted in all the decks. Would it be great if they would put things like the Filter lands in every precon? Yes, but they won't, and as long as they won't, I'll accept any cheap color-fixing we can get.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: The scrying probably puts the Campuses somewhere among the best of the common taplands, but they aren't substantially better than other taplands you could play.
242: Artifact Bridges: 4,305 Decks
(Rustvale Bridge: 7,160; Mistvault Bridge: 5,620; Silverbluff Bridge: 5,619; Razortide Bridge: 5,029; Goldmire Bridge: 4,386; Drossforge Bridge: 4,212; Darkmoss Bridge: 3,345; Tanglepool Bridge: 3,005; Thornglint Bridge: 2,485; Slagwoods Bridge: 2,196)
I'm surprised how cheap the MH2 Bridges are right now, and I don't think they'll stay that way. They seem like staples for any artifact deck. Maybe the most high-power of high-power decks won't want to run these because of the tempo loss, but everyone else? Why wouldn't you run a land that could draw you a card off Trading Post and dome someone for seven off Marionette Master? I'm giving them Underplayed not because they are being slept on, but because I'm making it clear these will absolutely go up.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I will also continue to rep the Borderposts. How the heck are these so slept on? They're like artifact lands, but with unique upside!
230: Study Hall: 4,895 Decks
An Opal Palace for the new generation! It's got less synergy than Palace, but the scry probably matters more for the average deck. Not a huge deal either way, though. This and Palace are the best Unknown Shores in the format (which is to say, you never want to play an Unknown Shores, but you will if you have to).
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: It's fine.
181: Witch's Clinic: 7,893 Decks
Here's a card that will not be useful in 90% of decks, but when you have a deck that does want it, it'll be one of the best lands in your entire deck. Any commander that deals massive amounts of damage (or requires big life payments) will absolutely use a utility slot on this thing.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Your Heartless Hidetsugu deck is very happy this card exists.
178: Access Tunnel: 7,951 Decks
Why you gotta mess with a perfect formula, Wizards? Rogue's Passage was and still is the best! There's no need to make a worse version of it.
It's not just that Access Tunnel doesn't work with 4+ power commanders, although that is a big downside. No, I'm also bummed because Passage is also a great political card! There's a ton of flexibility in helping Sally Sanderson's 20/20 unblockable to help take down a mutual foe, and Access Tunnel isn't able to do anything like that. Outside of the odd Guiltfeeder, you're never gonna create those epic stories with Passage.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I'll spend the extra mana for the potential to be very silly, thanks.
160: Kaldheim Snow Dual 9,164 Decks
(Rimewood Falls: 13,528; Woodland Chasm: 13,245; Ice Tunnel: 10,077; Highland Forest: 9,292; Arctic Treeline: 8,955; Glacial Floodplain: 8,102; Snowfield Sinkhole: 7,503; Alpine Meadow: 7,402; Sulfurous Mire: 6,840; Volatile Fjord: 6,702)
I am 600% on board with giving land types to the common dual lands. Will most decks care much about those land types? Not really. The green ones have extra utility with Nature's Lore, and Fetchlands can search them up too, but decks that have the budget for Fetchlands often already have Shocklands. Budget decks won't have typed dual lands as a cornerstone of any strategy, unlike those omnipresent Shocklands.
Still, there's no reason not to let budget decks have this technology. Why not let the decks running Kor Cartographer or Corpse Harvester have the tiny power boost? It's not gonna break any format, and the people doing it will feel clever when it goes off. It's all upside! I'm glad to see land types on more common lands.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I'm honestly a little upset they made them snow, though. It makes them better, for sure, and the snow decks are happy to have it, but I feel that it inflates the price of them a little more. Ah, well, I'll take what I can get.
152: Enemy Reveal Lands (Snarls): 9,706 Decks
Frostboil Snarl: 10,816; Necroblossom Snarl: 10,401; Vineglimmer Snarl: 9,630; Shineshadow Snarl: 8,921; Furycalm Snarl: 8,765;)
I refuse to call these "Snarls." This cycle already had five members in it and they weren't Snarls! We're calling the entire cycle the "Shadows reveal lands." I don't care if these aren't from Shadows Over Innistrad. I care about consistency!
I went back and reread my original thoughts on the Reveal lands, and I think I basically stand by my opinion, though I'd be a bit nicer to them now. These are especially good in budget two-color decks. Those decks are high enough on basics that you can usually have these enter untapped. On the flip side, I don't like them very much in 3+ color decks. They usually either enter untapped for colors I don't need, or enter tapped when I really need them untapped. Overall, they're an easy way to make a budget mana base slightly better, but they're never amazing.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Alright, here's my compromise: we'll call these "the Shadow Reveal Snarls".
140: Tyrite Sanctum: 1o,750 Decks
I didn't understand the hype for Tyrite Sanctum when it came out, and I don't really get it now, either. Does any deck really want to tap three lands, and then five lands on another turn, just to give their commander indestructible? Swords to Plowshares chortles at the effort. Outside of niche cases, like Skullbriar, the Walking Grave, there are other ways to protect your commander that aren't so ironically fragile or tremendously mana-intensive.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Nooooooo, thank you.
137: Ally Slow Lands 11,112 Decks
(Shipwreck Marsh: 14,037; Haunted Ridge: 12,246; Overgrown Farmland: 10,419; Deserted Beach: 9,447; Rockfall Vale: 9,412)
Just so we're all on the same page, I should start off by saying the Slow Lands are quite good. After the first two turns, these lands have no downside. They're basically untapped color-fixers 90% of the time. A lot of decks will take advantage of these.
However, the reason I personally don't like these is because they're just awkward enough to not be worth the price tag. The 10% of the time these enter tapped are some of the most critical moments in the game. Turn 1 is rough, but, y'know, it's manageable. Turn two is the Big Turn when you really need your lands to do something, especially for budget decks. After that, these lands are really, really good, but that pretty large downside makes it difficult to justify the $10 price tag over Shocks, or Battlelands, or Pathways. If I opened a copy of this from a Midnight Hunt pack, I'd windmill slam it, but if someone was considering buying these for a lower budget deck, I'm not sure I'd recommend them. It seems like there're better upgrades you can make to your mana base.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: They fall into a similar spot as the Lorwyn filters for me. They're good, but never top tier for any budget.
118: Kaldheim Pathways: 13,485 Decks
(Blightstep Pathway: 19,494; Barkchannel Pathway: 19,300; Darkbore Pathway: 19,208; Hengegate Pathway: 15,165)
More pathways? Yes. Good. All of this. In my decks. Reprint plz.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I won't even ask why they split the cycle in this weird fashion. Okay, I can't help it - what the heck, Wizards?
117: Treasure Vault: 13,511 Decks
I wasn't super high on Treasure Vault at first because the rate is not great. You spend six mana for three Treasure tokens, and on its face, that's mediocre.
Then I thought about the silly board states my Brudiclad deck makes, and that I absolutely would tap out to make five Frost Titans and yeah, I'm into that. You need to have strong synergy with the Treasure, like Marionette Master, and honestly, it's kinda win-more, but if you're into the silliness, then hey, go for it! It's also a non-indestructible Darksteel Citadel, which is neat.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I'd run all the colored artifact lands first unless you have really strong synergies with the Treasure.
105: The World Tree: 15,188 Decks
Well this is basically a five-color staple now, isn't it? Here's what's funny, though: I'm not actually that mad about it.
Supposedly, the downside of playing a five-color deck is that your mana is rougher than most, even on the most tuned budget. The World Tree eliminates that concept, but look, let's face the facts! If you had the expendable income, five-color mana bases were never a problem with Shocks, Fetches, rainbow lands, green mana-fixing, and so much more. How much is it really gonna break the integrity of the format to let the already-lavish decks have one more in the pile?
What I care about most is how it helps out everyone else. I don't even mean for the $50 budget decks I'm famous for harping on about; those decks will never afford this card. No, I mean that everything from the $100 to the $500 budget decks will adore this card. It sucks to get mana screwed, them's just the facts. This land mitigates that experience quite a lot. I think I'd call it a positive for the format without qualification, and for a busted card like this, I don't say that lightly.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Okay, maybe one qualification: reprint pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease.
67: Urza's Saga: 27,359 Decks
Should we have been more afraid when they named a card Urza's Saga? I mean, have they learned nothing in the 20+ years since Urza's Saga released?
Wait, have we learned anything in the 20+ years since Urza's Saga released? I think I need to go lie down.
Surprisingly, Urza's Saga is on the list of lands I haven't seen in play yet. I mean, it seems bonkers. Everybody was freaking out about it getting Sol Ring, but frankly, if you're getting a turn-four Sol Ring with this, I am way more relieved than if you get a Skullclamp, or an Altar of the Brood, or an Amulet of Vigor, or a Sensei's Divining Top. There are tons of engines this card can enable, and even if you don't have any of those left in your deck, you can just make two 12/12s in an artifact deck. Seems dece!
Of course, that's why the card is $40+ and I've never seen it in a real Magic game. If you've seen this card and would like to be contrarian in the comments, please feel free. I'm going to look at it from afar and say, "Yep, seems dece," until I happen to come across it in a real game, where I'll probably look at it and say, "Yep, seems dece!'
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I'm getting sleepy. I'm gonna sit up now.
35: Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth: 41,601 Decks
There's a world in which you can print a card like Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth and no one complains a smidge: the world where they also made a white version in the same set! Why not double up, WotC?
Nah, I know why they started with the green one: because it's the one that's going to do the most. It's not about color-fixing, it's about Forests having a greater number of synergies, from Howl of the Night Pack to Nissa, Worldwaker. "Emeria, Palace of Angels," or whatever the heck a white equivalent would be called, wouldn't do quite as much. Again, though, green really didn't need the color-fixing, which is why Yavimaya feels like a case of the rich getting richer, even though I don't think that's what they'd had in mind when they made it. If this cycle is completed some ten years down the line, I think people will be pretty chill on this land as a concept, but for now, there's mostly still salt.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: By far the best use for this card is in Chatterfang, Squirrel General. Yes, I lost to this quite badly.
I Have Died to Squirrels Too Many Times!
With that, I am done with 2021! Next week, we'll be back to ranking Battlecruiser cards, but to give 2021 a proper send-off, let me know what you think about this batch of lands in the comments. What's the most underplayed land from this year? What hot takes must be expelled from your brain into the world? Let me know in the comments. So long for now!