Ranking Every Land with EDHREC – Part 19: The Wrath of Tron

(Ancient Ziggurat | Art by John Avon)


Welcome back to this crazy series where we rank every land based on how many decks they appear in on EDHREC. Before we start, a quick reminder that the MTG Content Creator Nominations are happening right now! Whether you vote for the new strange concoction that is Spice8Rack or our very own EDHRECast (which I think is pretty dang good) or some other MTG content creator, go vote for them! Your favorite creator should know you like their content.

There's no jokey introduction here. Go vote!

159: Eye of Ugin: 2,580 Decks

I'm surprised how close Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin are. Temple was a totally fine tribal land with no application anywhere else. Eye of Ugin is the rare case where a card transcends the tribal limitations and just becomes a good card, even if you only have a couple Eldrazi.

I'm less than thrilled we're back to the well of lands that don’t tap for mana, but can you imagine how many more decks Eye of Ugin would be in if it did? Tutoring on a land is insane. A lot of ramp decks or colorless decks or frankly just Commander decks in general may just happen to have a Kozilek, Butcher of Truth or a Blightsteel Colossus at their top end which they'd like to have once they hit 7+ mana. The downside of this land also makes it fair. Eye of Ugin is super awkward in your opening hand, but so is Maze of Ith, and that hasn’t stopped that from seeing play. I haven’t even mentioned that’s it’s a painless Ancient Tomb for all your Eldrazi. If you are in a tribal Eldrazi deck, this can help you find that Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and/or help you cast it a turn or two earlier.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: One of the stupidest games I've ever been in involved a player on Nikya of the Old Ways with a million mana casting Kozilek, Butcher of Truth every turn with a High Market and an Eye of Ugin. Who made Eldrazi shuffle back in?!

158: Novijen, Heart of Progress: 2,586 Decks

Every time I reach another one of these guild halls I think to myself, "We have to be done with this cycle now, right?" Nope! We've still got one more to talk about in this cycle of wasted potential. I used to think cards like Duskmantle, House of Shadows were funny because the power level of these locations in the Magic storyline doesn't nearly match up with their derpy effects on the cards themselves, but now I'm just annoyed. They can't use the name "Novijen, Heart of Progress" again, and they wasted it on this thing. I guess they could use a different subtitle. "Novijen, Heart of Slightly Less Bad Progress."

The easiest comparison is to Oran-Rief, the Vastwood, but Oran-Rief is free to activate. Novijen enters untapped, which I guess makes it slightly better late-game, but paying effectively three mana to activate this is just awful. When will you ever cast a creature, pay three mana to put a derpy counter on it, and go, "That was a good turn"? Never!

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I found one deck that wants this card: Experiment Kraj. That's cute, but that's the only deck it should be in, and the precon effect is buffing this one way too much. Keep it far away from Ezuri, Claw of Progress.

157: Sea Gate Wreckage: 2,592 Decks

It is surprisingly difficult to wind up with no cards in hand. Sure, I’ve activated Sea Gate Wreckage before. It doesn’t feel good, but it's gotten me out of a sticky situation or two. However, casting that reactive Counterspell or removal spell on any random card, just so you can get empty-handed for this effect... well, it feels pretty bad. Even aggressive decks run removal, or protection like Boros Charm. You don't really want to use those instants wantonly just so you can draw a card with this land, which reduces the times you'll actually use it, which reduces its actual usefulness, especially in decks that need access to multiple colors.

I would call this overplayed, but it should just be played in any colorless deck, period. Unless your name is Kozilek, you probably don’t have amazing options for card draw. Mind’s Eye, Staff of Nin, Mystic Forge, what are you running after that? Tower of Fortunes?

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Underplayed in colorless, overplayed in everything else. It evens out.

156: Ancient Ziggurat: 2,600 Decks

Let's say I put a basic Forest in my B/G deck. Assuming that my deck is evenly split between black and green, and that I’m running about 40 lands and 60 nonlands, then the Forest can make mana to cast about 30 cards in my deck. If I put Ancient Ziggurat in that deck, and I’m running 38 creatures, that makes Ziggurat better than a Forest. Right?

Small problem that isn’t quite apparent at first: that Forest can still produce mana to cast a black spell. Or a Heroic Intervention. Or pay for an activated ability. Or even pay for an opponent's Rhystic Study trigger. But Ziggurat? If Ziggurat isn’t casting a creature, Ziggurat doesn't make mana. I would have to be running less then ten noncreature spells before I felt comfortable running this. Not to say there aren’t decks that meet those requirements; Slivers, for example, are color-hungry and creature-dense. All the essential effects one needs in a Commander deck can be fulfilled by Slivers. The ramp is Slivers. The removal is Slivers. The card draw is Slivers. A̵͍̻͆̔l̵̦͔̑l̴͎̇̑ ̸͕̓͋ï̸̼̇s̶̟͊ ̵̟̞́͘S̴̪̳̐l̷͎̼̐̒i̶̖̻̅v̶̰͚̀ë̵̺͎r̷̨̓͝ś̴̻̿. Ziggurat is perfect in this deck.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: What is a Ziggurat, anyway? Ziggurat: an ancient Mesopotamian temple tower consisting of a lofty pyramidal structure built in successive stages with outside staircases and a shrine at the top. Well, don’t I feel smarter now!

155: Radiant Fountain: 2,631 Decks

I think this card is better than Kabira Crossroads, but that's not high praise. I guess I won't fault lifegain decks for running this. It's sketchy in anything with three or more colors, but it also enters untapped, so I'll give it skeptical pass. Where I won't let it pass is in all the colorless decks. When we were talking about lands with a couple hundred decks, tapping for colorless was enough, but now that’s we’re approaching lands with 3,000 decks, is this really the best option in colorless? It’s cheaper then a Wastes but if I’ve made anything clear in this series, it's that there are a million lands that are cheaper than a Wastes. Is that two life going to do anything for you in colorless?

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: You can do better!

154: Tarnished Citadel: 2,633 Decks

I was pretty annoyed when this card spiked up in price. This card was my secret, cheaper City of Brass. Sure, I'd spend six life early-game to ensure I can cast my Cultivate on time. It wouldn't go in every deck, but five-color mana on a budget is a delicate task, and this card at, like, $2.50 was doable.

However, it turns out that this card is apparently quite decent in cEDH. It's awkward to tap this land for mana more than once in a game that goes 10 turns and beyond, but paying three life for mana of any color is much more tenable in a fast format that commonly utilizes combos as primary win conditions. Not that this is cEDH's "fault," of course; casual EDH causes price spikes all the time. I'm merely lamenting that my old friend Tarnished Citadel moved off to Hollywood and left me behind. It's bittersweet.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Wizards, please reprint this for me.

153: Riptide Laboratory: 2,779 Decks

I had to double-check and see if we were done with the cycle of mono-color Onslaught lands yet. Look at the number of qualifiers I have to put on my Scryfall search to get this cycle to show up! Wizards, did I travel back in time and make you create Skullclamp? Why did you hate data archivists from the future when you made this card back in 2003?!

The Lab is probably the most interesting of the Onslaught tribal lands because it’s not entirely apparent that it’s, well, bonkers good. To a new and even intermediate player, it doesn’t look great. “I have to sacrifice my tempo to cast this creature again? That’s not worth the card.” But when you've been locked out of casting anything because of Riptide Laboratory's interaction with Venser Shaper Savant and you can’t even kill the dang Venser because they can keep bouncing it back to their hand in response to your removal spells... yeah, that’s when you realize this land is probably better than you thought.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Just Right: I didn’t even mention Inalla, Archmage Ritualist, the queen of durdling wizardry.

152: Mage-Ring Network: 2,796 Decks

I've been fairly negative on the charge counter lands, but this one seems to remove most of the issues I have with them. It enters untapped, so it can be played without worrying about tempo issues. It's colorless, and the colorless decks already want to make a ton of mana. It still has all the shenanigans with Proliferate and Atraxa, Preator's Voice.

So is this the charge land I actually like? Ehhhhhhhhhhhh...

The problem I have with all these lands is this: how often are you going to activate it, and when you do, how often will it matter? Early turns are way more mana-hungry than you realize. Casting Ponder into Sakura Tribe Elder into Abundance isn't that unusual, so that's your first few turns to activate this land right out the window. Then, when you actually have the mana and time to charge this, you might not have a card to cast with it. It take a few turns to actually charge this enough to make a lot of mana, and when it does, how many cards are you going to have in hand to cast with it?

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Yep. After all that, I think the card is actually fine, primarily if you're playing a colorless deck or if you have synergy with the counters. I think there are enough decks that meet those criteria that I'll give this a pass, but check back with me in a year, and I might give this an 'overplayed.'

151: Tomb of the Spirit Dragon: 2,799 Decks

How much life does this actually get you? I’m guessing not a lot. Colorless decks don't run a ton of creatures, so this gains you four or five life on a good day. That’s a pretty bad deal. You can do it every turn, but wasting three lands a turn to gain a small chunk of life isn’t really what I want to do when I could be casting Emrakul, the Promised End. Also, unlike other lifegain lands, this demands a colorless deck, and colorless decks usually aren’t known for their lifegain synergies. The exception, of course, is Morph decks like Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer, but even she has better things to do with her mana - for example, using that mana to un-Morph her creatures, which makes them no longer colorless and therefore out of reach of this land. If you have enough creatures to gain a lot of life from this land, I'd argue you should be spending that mana to make those creatures lethal to your opponents, instead.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Overplayed: To those that play this card, keep track how often you activate this ability, how much life you gain, and if that life ended up mattering. I would guess that actively checking if this card is useful will reveal that it really isn’t.

150: The Tron lands: 2,840 Decks

(Urza's Tower; 2,842, Urza's Mine; 2,841, Urza's Power Plant; 2,837)

I understand the argument for playing these. "Colorless decks need colorless lands, so why not run these for the chance they all end up in play, somehow?" That excuse may have worked before Oath of the Gatewatch introduced Wastes, but now I don't think that argument holds up. Quick question: has anyone ever assembled Tron in Commander? I’ve played many games with other colorless decks, and I've never seen anyone get close to getting these all in play. There are other colorless lands that actually do things. I will remind you, for instance, of Tower of the Magistrate, an excellent land that costs less than a black-border Tron land. There's also Throne of the High City. I literally just mentioned Mage-Ring Network above, and while I don't like it that much, that card at least does something. Point is, please let your memes be dreams.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Why does the Mine tap for three?


That'll do for now! After you all go vote for your favorite content creators, let me know what you think about this batch of lands in a comment section somewhere on the internet. Have you ever had a budget card spike? Have you seen Tron assembled before? I read every comment, so I'll be happy to hear it! 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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