Ranking Every Land with EDHREC – Part 24: Crossing the Chasm
(Glacial Chasm | Art by Mike Bierek)
MTG IV: The Final Frontier
Y'all ever heard of Space: The Convergence? It was a joke article posted to the DailyMTG website back in 2007. They basically reimagined Magic as a sci-fi game, rewriting the flavor to make it space-themed. You know, lands became "resources", that sort of thing. I always come back to this article because, for a joke article, they put an impressive amount of worldbuilding and effort into it, and I actually wouldn't mind a full set themed like that article.
Anyway, here on this series we rank every land based on how many decks they have on EDHREC. No, this series has nothing to do with Space: The Convergence, but when else am I going to be able to talk about obscure DailyMTG articles? Speaking of which, have you ever heard about Maro's Elegance article...
110: Desolate Lighthouse: 4,619 Decks
There’re all the right elements here for a good card, but I'm just not a fan of it. It’s a fine ability. Late game, there’s often the mana to activate this and useless lands or mana rocks that you would happily loot away. Plus, in decks that like to play at instant speed, having something to do with the untapped mana when no one does anything is pretty good.
I think the issue is that it’s blue-red. If it were mono-red or colorless, I’d be on board, but Izzet shouldn’t have issues drawing cards. Maybe the argument is that this is another “free” way to do that, but even then, it's a lot of mana for no card advantage and a negligible amount of selection.
Over, Under or Just Right? Overplayed: Deeply medium.
109: Blast Zone: 4,732 Decks
I thought the card was good, but I underestimated how much a colorless Utter End would see play. It's not often going to be a Wrath. Even ignoring stuff like colorless, mono-black, and mono-red getting access to an ability that can take out enchantments, it's also just a plain ol' removal spell on a land. That makes stuff like Crop Rotation even more flexible, and the downside of putting this in a deck is low. Plus, against creature-based decks, having this just sit there as a deterrent is beautiful. If you haven't seen it in play, I'd recommend you try it. It's better than it looks, and it already looks great.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I have a note I wrote six month ago asking if this would hit 2,500 decks by the end of the year.
108: Terrain Generator: 4,740 Decks
I can understand this in any nongreen mono-color deck. Ramp for mono-color decks isn’t quite as good as two- or three-color decks, and not having enough basics probably won’t be a problem. Not as thrilled in two-color decks. There’re fewer basics, so there’s a real chance that this won’t ramp you, and two-color deck usually has some more flexible ramp options, including Talismans and Signets that you don’t get in mono-color. Maybe this is fine in Boros, but even then, I’d probably go all-in on artifacts anyway. Terrain Generator is just so slow, and warping my mana base for this one card probably isn’t worth it.
Over, Under or Just Right? Overplayed: Print the card into the ground and give it to budget players, and maybe I'd be nicer to it.
107: Volrath’s Stronghold: 4,889 Decks
I actually think this card is a tad overrated. It’s still very good - it’s recursion on a land and it can get back anything for functionally three mana. That's good, but top of library is pretty awkward. You have to know ahead of time you want to get something back, otherwise you’re waiting an entire turn cycle for your creature. Plus, black just has this effect in abundance. [elOversold Cemetary[/el], Phyrexian Reclamation, Sheoldred, Whispering one, all of these do this effect better. Yes, this is on a land, but it's not filling a hole that black needs filled. Stronghold is still a card I would happily play in mono-black or black-heavy decks, but in other colors, I think there are better options for utility lands.
Over, Under or Just Right? Overplayed: Given the price tag, I was expecting this to be way lower.
106: Nimbus Maze: 4,908 Decks
Nimbus Maze definitely benefited from its Iconic Masters reprint and a 2$ price tag. I've definitely seen games where someone had five or six lands but none of them were Islands or Plains. That’s a very real concern, especially if you can’t afford Shocks like Hallowed Fountain. Still, most budget decks have a lot of basics, and it's an untapped dual land, which is critical for budget decks. While this isn’t really a budget land, it is a small step that people can take to upgrade their mana base without feeling like that money could have been spent on a cool rare or flashy enchantment. I don't know how long this will be cheap, but as long as it is, this and River of Tears are excellent dual lands.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: It’s a great “Budget-ish” dual.
105: Memorial to Folly: 5,168 Decks
I subscribe wholeheartedly to the "play what you own" mentality. That's how most people get started playing Magic, let alone EDH. However, I assume that because the Memorials were in one of the most popular sets of all time, Dominaria, that's why this cycle is seeing a ton of play, and in this case is probably making those decks worse.
Let's ignore trying to play this is two- or three-color decks, where taplands carry a bigger liability because of the need to play other taplands like Rakdos Guildgate. Let's just look at mono-black. Early on, having this land is bad. Sometimes it won't matter and can come down when you weren't gonna play anything. But when it does, like when you have to play this as land #3 and miss playing Phyrexian Arena on curve, it matters a lot. Plus, not being a Swamp matters for everything from Cabal Coffers to Crypt Ghast, so there is actual downside here.
What's the upside? Well, late game you can get a creature back from your graveyard, except the ability puts you down four mana, so it's going to be difficult to cast that creature. Plus, you can't activate Memorial to Folly the same turn you play it. For this to work, you have to already have the land in play, and have nothing to do, and have a good creature to get back that you also are okay probably not casting that turn. It's not that what they do is bad, it's that circumstances will almost never line up for it to be good. It's not even like it would be better to play something like Barren Moor. I think it would be better to run a Swamp. It's not flashy, but it also won't possibly mess up your curve. I think playing these Memorials actively makes most Commander decks a tiny bit worse.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I'm stepping off the soapbox now.
104: Shrine of the Forsaken Gods: 5,222 Decks
And we have a winner of the "Cheaper than a basic Wastes" contest! The colorless decks can have a free Ancient Tomb with the only requirements being 'play lands'. A difficult task, I know. So obviously, this is just in every colorless deck ever.
Outside of that, I don't see a ton of application. There's Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer where it can help cast Morph creatures, but I don't think it's great in random artifact decks. They usually have a ton of cool colorless land options, and there's a real downside to playing too many colorless lands in colored decks
Over, Under or Just Right? Just Right: I said in a previous articles that Wastes are almost 2$. This is not true. You can get them for .50$. Still not cheap, but not as bad as I made it sound.
103: Tolaria West: 5,317 Decks
The actual land people think of when someone says Tolaria. At the base level, it’s basically a blue Sylvan Scrying, and I’m sure you can think of something good to get with that. Besides lands, there are a bunch of stupid things you can do, like grab a Summoner's Pact if you want to Hive mind someone. Or grab an Endless One to Possibility Storm into a Blightsteel Colossus. Or grab a Lion's Eye Diamond if you want to do anything stupid with Underworld Breach. Heck, grab a freaking Kobolds of Kher Keep for Cloudstone Curio combo. Shall I go on?
Over, Under or Just Right? Just Right: They need to reprint all these dang mono-blue lands so I can play Patron of the Moon.
102: Glacial Chasm: 5,342 Decks
Commander doesn’t have a lot of land destruction. Ignoring the social contract around mass land destruction, even stuff like Ghost Quarter isn't nearly as common as stuff like Doom Blade or Shatter. This mean cards like Glacial Chasm might single-handedly win you the game. Ignoring any shenanigans with stuff like Solemnity, playing a Glacial Chasm from 40 life gives you five turns where you can’t be attacked, can’t be burnt out, and can’t die to infinities like Walking Ballista + Mikeaus, the Unhollowed. You aren’t invincible; you still take loss of life so stuff like Gray Merchant of Asphodel will still get you. But this card can allow you to go shields down with the comfort that you’re not going to die to Craterhoof Behemoth.
Iif you start adding stuff like Ramunap Excavator and Exploration, then you’re just into soft locks on damage. Lands decks love this thing because they can play it early, buy some time, and then happily sacrifice it to get back later with stuff like Lord Windgrace. I really love Glacial Chasm. It isn't the card that actually wins the game, but it's the reason I've survived to win many games.
Over, Under or Just Right? Underplayed: And the least land-like land of all time. If this were a 2W enchantment, no one would flinch.
101: The Enemy Starter Deck Taplands: 5,387 Decks
(Highland Lake: 6,208; Forsaken Sanctuary: 5,697; Woodland Stream: 5,573; Foul Orchard: 4,773; Stone Quarry: 4,686)
I bet some of you were expecting this cycle to be lumped with the ally cycle talked about that weeks ago. I was too, actually, but then I saw the enemy-color average was almost twice as much as the ally-color cycle. Part of it is popularity; Izzet and Simic are some of the most popular Commander identities, and Golgari and Orzhov are close behind. Ally colors have Dimir and Selesnya, which are pretty popular, but the other three aren't quite at that level. There's another reason though, which feels like an archaic piece from Magic's past.
Remember a million articles ago when I mentioned the bad pain lands like Caldera Lake? Originally Wizards didn't print good enemy-color lands because they wanted to stress the fact that enemy colors don't play well together, before they realized, "No, wait. That's stupid," and stopped doing that. And yet, despite this mentality being gone, we only have one other unique cycle of enemy-color lands that isn't also ally-colored: the Horizon lands. Ally colors have the Tango lands, the Shadow lands, the Cycling lands, the Battlebond lands, and several others. Enemy-color players just lack option, especially on a budget. We certainly have more then we did a couple years ago, but until we get some lands to fix this imbalance, budget players will probably have to resort to lands like the starter decks lands more often.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: But hopefully not 'just right' forever.
One Hundred Remain
I can see the end in sight. It's far, but soon it ends! Before we get there, let me know which of these piqued your interest. How many times has Glacial Chasm saved you? What are you searching for with Tolaria West? Keep your thoughts coming in the comments below. I've really enjoyed reading the comments on the last couple articles! Till next week!