Ranking Every Land with EDHREC – Part 16: Life in the Fast Lane!

(Expedition Map | Art by Franz Vohwinkel)

Now a Weekly Scheduled Program!

That's right! Starting today, there'll be a new article, written by yours truly, ranking every land based on how many decks they're in on EDHREC, every single week.

Hard-hitting analysis? Random data minutia? Trying to convince you to build random decks that aren't particularly good? Straight from my 0-3 Commander nights every week!

Let's kick it off!

189: Faerie Conclave: 1,820 Decks

Time to say goodbye to the last of the mono-colored creature lands from Urza's Legacy. I'm pleasantly surprised by how good this cycle is for Commander. I originally didn't think a random cycle of mini-beaters in a 40-life format was very good, but there's a lot of random neat things this cycle does. Even Ghitu Encampment is a Warrior for Lovisa Coldeyes.

Faerie Conclave is the best example of how flexible these lands are. It's evasive for Edric, Spymaster of Trest, it's a land for Noyan, Dar, Roil Shaper, it's sacrifice fodder for Jalira, Master Polymorphist, it's a flyer for Isperia, the Inscrutable, and it's probably got some synergy with Zhuge Jin, Wu Strategist, somehow. It does it all!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: One of the better self-animating lands, and definitely the best of its cycle.

188: The Ally-Color Fast Lands: 1,834 Decks

(Darkslick Shores; 2,557, Razorverge Thicket; 2,246, Seachrome Coast; 1,917, Blackcleave Cliffs; 1,228, Copperline Gorge; 1,222)

I think this might be the first widely known cycle we've ever done on this ranking list. You might think we're getting towards the more well-known lands, but I would remind you that we're only on number #188; we're not exactly up to heavy hitters just yet.

So why is this cycle so low on the list? There are a couple factors, first of which is that these are not a top-tier cycle for Commander. That doesn’t make the cycle bad; compared to Dimir Guildgate, Darkslick Shores can provide critical early-game mana when you need it most, while entering tapped in the late game. However, if I were making a list of the dual lands that need to be in the most optimized EDH decks, Underground Sea, Watery Grave, and Morphic Pool, would certainly be high on the list, while the fast lands would be pretty low. I'd even put the Future Sight lands above these because those always enter untapped.

This is not the whole story, though: the enemy-color fast lands, like Concealed Courtyard, are way higher in popularity. This is where we acknowledge that *gasp* you can play Magic in ways other than Commander!

Did you notice that Blackcleave Cliffs is seeing way less play than other members of the cycle? Did you also notice the card is $30? This is the most obvious evidence of that fact that this cycle is very good in Modern. I don't normally engage in the 1v1 formats, but even I know those formats live and die on unconditional untapped early mana. Combine this with the fact that these ally-color lands only appeared in Scars of Mirrodin, which was almost 10 years ago, and you have a highly valued cycle that isn't really worth the effort to acquire for casual play.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Just Right: Until they get a reprint, they won’t see much more play.

187: Cathedral of War: 1,834 Decks

A tapped colorless land? That's a rough one. The ability isn't bad, though. I suspect Voltron decks could make good use of it. If it was untapped, I would be kind of into it. If it tapped for green or white, then I would be on board. But a tapped colorless land? This is just bad, now, right?

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Almost 2,000 decks?

186: Winding Canyons: 1,863 Decks

Picture this: you're playing a control deck. Think Tasigur, the Golden Fang, full of counterspells, Wraths, and tons of removal spells. Your opponent is playing some creature-based deck. Mono-green Omnath, Locus of Mana, or Nikya of the Old Ways. Then they play Winding Canyons.

You're suddenly in for a very bad time.

Winding Canyons makes it really difficult for people to play reactively. Wraths and sorcery-speed removal get way worse because someone can flash in an Avenger of Zendikar right before their turn, and suddenly they have a lethal board despite having nothing at all mere moments ago. Counterspells are awful against this, because the aggressive player can flash in something at the end of the control player's turn, and force them to tap out, rendering them unable to respond to anything on the aggressive player's turn. Even instant-speed removal gets worse, because suddenly no matter what you remove, there may be something else around the corner at that moment. Speaking as a resident control player, I hate this card. I've lost far too many games to it.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: $20 is steep, and you need a high density of creatures to justify it, but if you can make it work, this land gives reactive players like me a ton of nightmares.

185: Unknown Shores: 1,877 Decks

I'm a big fan of Dana Roach's In the Margins series (it's still weird writing for the same website as the articles I like reading!) whose main premise is to find better alternatives to popular cards. For instance, taking a card like Cancel and finding something that's better in every way, like Dissipate or Stoic Rebuttal. Cards like Cancel see a ton of play, not because they are good, but because, when players start out, they open cards like Cancel that are ubiquitously available, and may not yet know to search for better alternatives.

Unknown Shores is exactly this type of card. Using its ability puts you one land behind for the rest of the game, and there are just a ton of better options. Guildmages' Forum and Opal Palace are better in every way than Shores. If you want other budget five-color lands, Exotic Orchard, Transguild Prominade, Thran Quarry, and even Evolving Wilds are way better than Shores for around the same price. However, because Shores has been printed to death, people own one, and they need lands that make multiple colors of mana.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: There's nothing wrong with that, though. Games need chances for players to level up. Every Magic player uses cards like these. That's why the game is great. However, it means the data can be skewed in ways that aren't necessarily representative of a card's power level.

184: Eiganjo Castle: 1,890 Decks

The Legends cycle of legendary lands and the Kamigawa cycle of legendary lands are blending together for me. It's just one big mass of basic lands in all but name, each with little candies attached to them. Each one comes up to me with a slightly bigger piece of candy and asks me if that's enough to be worth putting into a deck, but the candy is all like Tootsie Rolls, which I don't hate, but I'm not excited enough to actually eat them. I respect that each piece of candy is getting bigger, but they're still just Tootsie Rolls, and they're not worth the calories to eat, so I just ignore them.

How did I get on this website again?

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Maybe if they come with like a Twix or something.

183: Aether Hub: 1,961 Decks

Hey! Tendo Ice Bridge is actually budget now! Still not interested. Obviously, for decks that use energy counters, this is a must-have, but that’s only 200 of the almost 2,000 decks that play Aether Hub. What is the one spell that you’re going to cast off Aether Hub that will make it worth it? A ramp spell like Cultivate? Why not just use other budget lands to ensure you can cast the Cultivate on time? Even Transguild Promenade is better than this.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I actually think that there should be more energy decks, but not 2,000 of them.

182: Grove of the Guardian: 1961 Decks

Apparently Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree was mad I that didn’t like it, and it decided to go all out. We go from paying five mana to make a 1/1 to now paying six mana to make an 8/8. It’s kind of a spin on traditional creature lands, and it makes a big boy! Unlike other self-animating lands, it’s not great against Wraths, so there will be awkward times when you want to activate this because you have no creatures, but you can’t, because you have no creatures. Despite that, between Memorial to Glory and Grove of the Guardian, I’ll pick this land every single time.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Wizards, this was a prime reprint for Ghired, Conclave Exile precon deck!

181: Kabira Crossroads: 1,984 Decks

Why was this printed in the Edger Markov precon? Was It for Licia, Sanguine Tribune? Because it does nothing for the face commander, Edger Markov, and actually is kind of detrimental for an aggressive strategy, so it already shouldn't be in 500 of the decks it's in.

Lifegain is similar to decks that use specific types of counters; on some level, it doesn’t matter what the card does, because decks themed around that type of counter will still try it. Does it matter that this is a tapped Plains? Not really, because lifegain! I think it’s fine in a mono-white lifegain strategy, a cautious recommendation for Orhzov lifegain decks, but anything more than that and I think it’s a hard "no." You can't afford a tapped Plains in any other decks.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I think the precon effect has inflated the numbers. Who put this in the Edgar Markov precon but hasn't bothered to put Mirrorpool in a precon yet?

180: Maze's End: 1,992 Decks

I love this stupid thing! Alternate win conditions can be very polarizing in Commander, but personally, I'm never upset when Maze's End wins a game. How can I be mad? I can see it coming a mile away, and it takes a lot of investment to actually secure the win. If someone built their deck and jumped through the hoops to win with Maze's End, and didn't get disrupted, I think they deserve it.

The last couple years has been amazing for Maze's End. Guilds of Ravnica gave us Gateway Plaza, which is huge, because an extra Gate means an effect like Praetors' Grasp doesn't shut down the deck down completely. Ravnica Allegiance gave us some other Gate payoffs like Guild Summit and Gate Colossus. Then Core Set 2020 came out and gave the deck the best commander it could have asked for: Golos, Tireless Pilgrim. It has never been easier to jank people out!

The turbo Maze's End deck is definitely more viable now, but it's also a card that can just be thrown in random budget mana bases. Five-color decks often have to resort to taplands like Guildgates anyway, so here's a card that doesn't require these decks to change much, and it can straight up win on its own.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I can’t actually see if there are dedicated Gate decks that are not playing Maze's End, but apparently only 99% of decks that play Maze’s End also include Gruul Guildgate. What are the other 1% doing?!?

What an A-maze-ing End (I'm not sorry!)

Well, I'll be back next week, which means I should probably start writing that article now. Before I enter the writing cocoon, let me know what you think about this week's cycle. Is Cathedral of War better than I think? Can we spread the good news of Maze's End? Let me know what you think somewhere on the internet. Until next week!

Joseph started playing in Theros Block but decided that the best way to play the game was to learn every single card and hope that would somehow make him good at Magic. It hasn't. He is a college student in Santa Fe, New Mexico and also enjoys reading and other games of all shapes and sizes.

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