Ranking Every Land with EDHREC - Part 1: The Worst Lands

(Expedition Map | Art by Franz Vohwinkel)

The Beginning of a Stupid Journey

Lands are tough. They are the part of building Magic decks I have the hardest time with. Striking a balance between utility lands, colored sources, untapped sources versus tapped sources, and all while staying within a budget that will hopefully cost less than the rest of the deck I’m trying to build. There are too many variables and options.

So one day when I was very bored, I decided to go through all 643 lands and rank them all via EDHREC.

Why? Partly because I am the strange human who finds data entry and stats fun. But also because there are a ton of different options for mana bases and I wanted to know what people thought the best were. Yes, shocks and fetches are good and tap lands are bad but what after that? Temples? Creature lands? What if I can't afford shocks? What if I'm mono-colored? I wanted to know what came after the "essentials." By looking beyond the most-played lands, I found a lot of really cool lands hiding in the dust bin of history, along with some hilariously bad ones. So join me on this journey and hopefully by the end, we both learn a thing or two about lands.

The Boring Rules Bit:

  • These are ranked only through how many decks they have on EDHREC.com. This doesn’t really indicate how good a land is but it does tell how often they see play on the average table.
  • For cycles of lands, I’ll take the average of the whole cycle unless the cycle does something substantially different between entries. For example, all ten shock lands (Breeding Pool) will be one slot, but each of the Hideaway lands (Shelldock Isle) will get its own slot.
  • Un lands like City of Ass and banned lands like Karakas are excluded because they have no stats on EDHREC. Lands from Modern Horizons, M20, and whatever sets are released after these articles are also excluded as they haven't had time to be put in a lot of decks yet.
  • Keep in mind that EDHREC receives hundreds of decks a week so these numbers are always in flux. I can’t guarantee that this list will be the same two weeks from now.
  • Don’t take this list as gospel. There are many factor for why people put certain lands in decks. (Colorless lands being legal in all lists, the prevalence of ally colors over enemy colors, the price of certain cards, etc.) This is mainly so that people can find some sweet lands that aren’t put in many lists.
  • Finally, I'll be listing my opinion on whether these lands are overplayed, underplayed or just right. If you disagree with my assessment, let me know! A lot of people catch things about certain lands that I missed originally.

Now, with that out of the way, on with the show! There are 369 unique lands on EDHREC and the worst one is....

369: The Ice Age Exert lands: 25 Decks

(Land Cap; 35, River Delta; 33, Lava Tubes; 28, Timberline Ridge; 17, Veldt; 11)

I mentioned this series was to highlight other lands people could be putting in their decks.

Yeah, these aren’t in that catagory.

The text makes these kinda confusing. Basically, if you tap them for mana, they don’t untap during your next untap step. Don’t you hate when you have to play a land that enters tapped in a critical turn? How about if you had a card that did that every other turn?

I actually have a lot of disdain for these. They're bad, obviously, but they aren't bad in a funny way. Some cards you look at and question how anyone in R&D thought anyone would play them. These aren't that. They're not so bad they're unusable, or bad but in a janky shell might do something cool. They just are bad. It's the same reason everybody knows One with Nothing but few could probably tell me what Keeper of the Lens does. They aren't even budget at two bucks a piece. There is nothing interesting about these cards and despite only being in 25 decks, I think it’s overplayed.

Over, Under, or just right? Overplayed: Hates Proliferate

368: Homelands Filter Lands: 27 Decks

(Castle Sengir; 37,Wizards’ School; 29, Koskun Keep; 25, An-Havva Township; 22, Aysen Abbey; 21)

These, on the other hand, are my kind of hilariously awful. Apparently being able to produce 3 colors of mana was just too good for Homelands. No, they needed to net negative mana to avoid being busted. Because if you want to have consistent mana without playing two turns behind, you’re obviously a degenerate and you smell bad! At least they are pretty dang flavorful, if you ignore what the cards actually do. Come to think of it, that kinda sums up Homelands, doesn't it? Yes, Baron Sangir, truly I cower in fear at your strictly worse Unknown Shores.

Over, Under, or just right? Underplayed: They aren't completely void of merit. These go in the “worst cards ever” Commander decks and they have sweet flavor. They still won’t crack 100 decks but they shouldn't be close to the stupid Ice Age lands.

367: Wintermoon Mesa: 29 Decks

For when you really need a Cabal Coffers tapped. I actually would be into this if it didn’t enter tapped. Entering tapped means that any shenanigans with stuff like Ramunap Excavator is glacially slow. Ah, Prophecy. What a stupid set you were, but you tried so hard. We’ll come back to you later.

Over, Under or just right? Just Right: I’m sure the decks that want it want it?

366: School of the Unseen: 30 Decks & 364: Henge of Ramos: 40 Decks

Speaking of strictly worse Unknown Shores, here’s two more strictly worse Unknown Shores, but not strictly better than the Homelands cycle. Wrap your head around that one. I could have given these separate entries but what else is there to say? They certainly tap for mana.

Over, Under or just right? Underplayed: For only one reason: Wastes go for about a dollar and these are each worth 25 cents. So for budget Eldrazi players, here you go!

365: Paliano, the High city: 39 Decks

How does a card that does stone nothing in Commander show up in 39 decks? What weird draft/Commander hybrids are you playing, and can you please invite me? Ah, but see, with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth out, it taps for mana. Congratulations! It's now a Swamp! Except you know what else is a Swamp? A Swamp!

Over, Under or just right? Overplayed: How?!

363: Maze of Shadows: 41 Decks

An homage to the vastly more popular Maze of Ith. It probably was great in its Limited environment, but there aren't many Shadow creatures running around Commander. Maybe you could run it to untap your own Shadow creatures as a strange Reconnaissance? That's kinda cool.

Over, Under or just right? Just right: Works well with Dauthi Trapper

362: Sheltered Valley: 42 decks

Yet another contender in the 'cheaper than a basic Waste' contest. Yes, since Commander gets around the "bury any other Sheltered Valley" clause, these lands are all upside. Well, unless you clone it, so I guess if your strategy is about making multiple Sheltered Valley, oh no.

Over, Under or just right? Just right: Put these in a deck and then message me the scenario where this card gains you more than 1 life.

361: 'Bands with other legends' cycle: 42 Decks

(Cathedral of Serra; 79, Adventurers' Guildhouse; 55, Seafarer’s Quay; 27, Mountain Stronghold; 26, Unholy Citadel; 25)

Hey, remember Banding? That old chestnut. How about we make an ability that’s basically Banding but slightly worse. That’ll really sell Legends!

Bands with others, as far as I understand it, is just like Banding except they can only band together with creatures that fit the criteria. So a Benalish Hero can be in a band with any other creatures but a creature with Bands with other legends can only band together with other legendary creatures and no one else.

Now I’m sure your next question is “What is Banding?” And that’s a great question... that I cannot answer in this article. I think it involves putting two creatures in a band during combat and then the person who controls the band being able to assign combat damage to those creatures when the band is blocking or blocked? But quite frankly, I've never played a game where it has come up and I hope not to. There’s also the small fact these lands are from Legends, and any card from Legends people have even thought about playing in a deck have been bought out already. They aren't a ton of money but do you really want to spend 4$ on lands that don't tap for mana?

Over, Under or just right? Just right: They actually don’t seem the worst in a deck like Reki, the History of Kamigawa and you could play them and say they make me leave the table and buy you a burrito and I’d believe you, but the price of these lands and how difficult they are to explain how they work to people is enough to keep me far away.

360: Sorrow’s Path: 43 Decks

Here’s the land that a lot of people point to as the worst land ever. It’s a land that doesn’t tap for mana, which is a pretty bad start, but the supposed reward is an ability that will only matter 5% of the time with a downside that can kill any board it's trying to protect with its own ability! It’s a prototypical old bad strange card.

However, I think this card actually has some merit in Commander. Not a lot, but some. The effect that this card provides is truly unique and can't really be achieved with any other card. Plus, that two damage clause can actually be an upside with stuff like the Enrage mechanic. Trigger Ripjaw Raptor every turn for two damage? Yes please! What about stuff like Stuffy Doll or Spiteful Sliver? Combined with something like Awakening and Sorrow's Path, it's dealing eight damage a turn. And if you're still ashamed to have it on your board, give it your opponent with Zedruu the Greathearted and tap it yourself with Rishadan Port. I’m not saying it’s a powerhouse that should be thrown in any random deck, but there might be a deck you own that might want this card.

Over, Under or just right? Underplayed: That's the great thing about Commander. Even the worst cards have a home somewhere.

The End of the Beginning

I think that'll do it for today. First time posting anything quite like this so I'd appreciate feedback, predictions, argument for or against Sorrow's Path, anything in the comments! I hope you enjoyed.

Next week, hopefully some slightly better lands.

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