Ranking Every Land with EDHREC – Part 33: You’re Looking Fetching Today
(Ancient Tomb | Art by Yeong-Hao Han)
The Opening Act Before the Main Event
Welcome to the Penultimate article of this series where we rank every land in Magic based on how many decks they're in on EDHREC, which in this case means we rank the ten lands that are not on the top ten most played lands of all time. Now that we've given all these lands a number rank, and all we humans care about are nice round numbers like 10, any land below the top ten is objectively worse.
Yeah, they're seeing some play, but not posting the numbers to be worthy of the top ten? Worthless. Awful. Throw them away. Clearly no one cares about these underpreformers and we're just talking about them for the sake of completion.
Hey, what's the first land(s) we're talking about this week?
20: The Enemy Fetch Lands: 26,951 Decks
(Misty Rainforest: 30,251; Marsh Flats: 28,027; Verdant Catacombs: 27,469; Scalding Tarn: 24,812; Arid Mesa: 24,198)
Cornerstones of the format, whether you like it or not. With Shocklands, Original Duals, or any other land with basic land types, a fetch land can often be an untapped source of whatever color you need, and that’s ignoring any synergies with stuff like graveyards or Landfall. The artifact lands show that deck synergy coming from lands is powerful, and these have such synergies in spades. If you're building a commander mana base with no restrictions, Fetches will be in there almost every time.
Back in the real world, the thought of spending $70 on one land that doesn't straight-up win the game isn't an easy pill for everyone to swallow. Some have no issue with that, and that's great, but it is an obstacle for others, even for non-budget decks that would rather buy an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, which is why the enemy fetch lands are a fair bit behind the Ally-colored fetch lands, yet another example that what is theoretically best and what actually sees play are two different beasts.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Still posting amazingly high numbers, obviously, but maybe not quite as amazingly high as we might expect.
19: Strip Mine: 28,611 Decks
And so we reach the original and best targeted land destruction land: Strip Mine! I'm kinda surprised it's seeing so much play. It's a $20 land that doesn't do anything particularly unique. I wouldn't have pegged it as a must-have land. I mean, I can't say that Mine doesn't have the power to back up the playability. Unlike Wasteland, Mine is the unequivocal best version of its effect, and $20 is reasonable. If you want a LD effect, and most decks do, there's an argument for using only the best.
But I wouldn't say that Strip Mine was a priority card to acquire. Your Strip Mine is pretty interchangeable with your Ghost Quarter, your Tectonic Edge, your Field of Ruin, etc. The only deck I might say needs Strip Mine, specifically, are decks that wanna use Mine every single turn with Crucible of Worlds, and even then, Tec Edge does a decent impression there, too. I would definitely recommend you take that $20 and spend it on a read card. Amulet of Vigor, Life from the Loam, Wayward Swordtooth, Tireless Tracker. There are way better things than Mine that also aren’t really replaceable. Unless you already own one, I'd say just pick any other LD land and it's probably going to be almost identical to Strip Mine 99% of the time.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: As with my opinion on Wasteland, it's fine to be running this. I'm just saying it isn't worth seeking one out.
18: Path of Ancestry: 28,743 Decks
You could absolutely make a land that entered tapped and had "Tap for one mana of any color." That would not be near broken, but would see so much play. I know this because that’s basically what Path of Ancestry is. Yes, in tribal decks this card is very good, but there’s no restriction on the mana like Unclaimed Territory. You can spend it on non-tribal members. If this card wasn't $7, I would play this in decks with no tribal synergies and few creatures just because rainbow lands are tough to come by. But because they added a tribal synergy, now the card is outside of most budget deck's reach. It’s still an amazing land for Slivers and Humans regardless of budget. Probably even better than Unclaimed Territory for those decks, but if it gets a reprint, I consider grabbing a few for whatever Kenrith, the Returned king jank you had in mind.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I’m serious on them making a land that’s just a tapped rainbow land. It would make budget players very happy because it would be good enough for budget without being good enough for non-budget.
17: City of Brass: 30,091 Decks &
15: Mana Confluence: 30,373 Decks
The classic rainbow land and the new spin on it from Theros block. Similar to the threshold lands, having no option for colorless can hurt more than some people think. In cEDH, these are basically free; play them all day long. In games that goes to turn 7+, these can hurt if you play them early. Is it worth it? In four- or five-color decks, absolutely. Untapped restrictionless five-color mana makes them staples of chromatic decks, regardless of theme. City isn't even completely out of the question for $100 or $200 budget decks. It has been reprinted a million times and you can sometimes get one for $5, if you're lucky. Confluence isn't that cheap yet, but is hopefully easier to reprint because it’s not based on a strange real-world piece of fiction, but not Great Value branded enough to be okay on a weird plane like Innistrad.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: From Arabian Nights to now, we need fixing lands.
16: Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx: 30,105 Decks
I love cards that incentive mono-color decks. I don’t need to tell you that mono-white and mono-red have issues with ramp and card draw. Mono-black has issue with artifacts and enchantments. Mono-blue has difficulty keeping a table under control and can get run over by creatures. Even mono-green can struggle recovering from wraths. Rather than try and solve these inherent flaws, it’s often easier to just throw your hands up and add another color to fix it. I’m always happy to have strong reasons to stay mono-color, and Nykthos is a great payoff. All the colors have ways to fuel this. Beyond mono-black and mono-green, which can make stupid amounts of mana with Nykthos, mono-blue has planewalkers or big behemoths like Stormtide Leviathan. Mono-white has tons of token generators and enchantments, and mono-red has a bunch of giant Dragons. Unless you're playing a spellslinger deck, a mono-color deck can't go wrong by putting Nykthos in. The price tag is, once again, the biggest stumbling block. It already was pretty high, and then it turned out to be good in Pioneer. I assume it's going to be tough to find a place to reprint this, but we can always hope.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I keep trying to spell Nykthos, with an X because of Nyx. Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this.
14: Ancient Tomb: 32,411 Decks
40 life means you can spend a lot of that life fueling whatever your heart desires, so Tomb is going to be good most of the time. However, much like City of Traitors, the lower the power lever of the meta and the longer games goes, the worse Ancient Tomb is. It’s better than City in most decks, but tapping this five times is a quarter of your starting life. Five times sounds like a lot, but you’ll be surprised how often you need to tap out, even late game. Plus, the extra one mana isn't as good in Commander. It's still great, but getting out Thundermaw Hellkite a turn earlier doesn't win the game like it might in two-player formats.
None of this is to say that Tomb is bad; it’s pretty playable in almost anything. But after playing with it, you may find some decks want something less painful.
Over, Under or Just Right? Just Right: Whenever I say the name of this card, I hear Road to Ruin from Crash Bandicoot 2. My brain is weird.
13: The Shocklands: 36,691 Decks
(Watery Grave: 43,700; Overgrown Tomb: 40,457; Breeding Pool: 39,465; Hallowed Fountain: 38,022; Godless Shrine: 36,950; Temple Garden: 35,856; Steam Vents: 35,011; Blood Crypt: 34,737; Stomping Ground: 31,548; Sacred Foundry: 21,187)
The core of most Commander mana bases. Yes, Duals and Tango lands exist, but Duals are like an artisan $200 pizza that few get to sample, and Tango lands are like a $5 from Little Caesar's. Shocklands are like your local small pizza shop, striking the right balance between quality and price. In twenty life, losing four or six over the course of the game matters a lot, and can get you killed by aggressive decks, yet these lands remain the cornerstone of Modern. When life is doubled and we spend excessive amounts of life for Necropotence and Bolas Citadel, do you think we really care about losing four or six life? Thus, a Shock + Fetch mana base is the core for a lot of decks. Shocks are still excellent without fetches, but when people acquire Shocks, it's usually with fetches in mind, and that mana base does the heavy lifting for most non-budget decks
Over, Under or Just Right? Just Right: Along with fetches, these are about the standard when it comes to mana bases.
12: The Ally Fetchlands: 39,350 Decks
(Polluted Delta: 43,062; Windswept Heath: 40,402; Flooded Strand: 40,294; Bloodstained Mire: 36,953; Wooded Foothills: 36,040)
Yep. Fetches don't crack the top ten. It’s surprising, but there is something super liberating to me about fetch lands being outside the top ten most played lands. Part of it is that some decks are mono-colored, but part of that is the elephant in room: while not untenable, $20 for lands continues to be rough, and some players can't or won't pay that. But in this format, that's okay, and I think it ultimately is a testament to the mission statement of the format that these are not the most played lands of EDH.
Other formats are focused around winning the game as a primary goal, with fun being a result of that goal. My favorite games of other formats, like Booster Draft, contain suspense about who's going to win, and the moments were great because of that suspense. There's nothing wrong with playing this way. I love these formats, but logically decks in these formats gravitate towards cards that accomplish these goals easier, so not having top tier lands that hold $20 price tags means it's harder to get something out of these formats.
Commander doesn't have this problem because the ultimate goal is to have communal fun, and, because that varies between groups, top tier lands aren't a necessity. Fecthlands can do a good job of enabling fun, but it’s not always needed. What matters is what aligns with what you wanna do. Sometimes that's combo-ing off consistently with The Gitrog Monster, and Fetchlands are a must-have. Sometimes it's building a $25 focused Anje Falkenrath deck, and fetchlands certainly help, but you have other options, and sometimes you're trying to make Goat tokens, and nothing about Fetchlands is needed for that goal.
Over, Under or Just Right? Just Right: There is a reason Commander exploded, and I’m glad to be reminded of it.
11: Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth: 41,618 Decks
Talking about Urborg... Ugh. Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is impossible without mentioning its partner in crime, Cabal Coffers. However, to my surprise, Coffers is only in 47% of decks that include Urborg. Part of that...most of that is the price tag of Coffers, but Urborg is a fine card outside of Coffers.
It effectively makes all non-Swamps into dual lands. I mentioned when talking about Riftstone Portal how good not having to worry about mana-fixing is. Well, when Urborg is out, you don’t have to worry about having black mana ever again. Technically, no one does because opponents' lands also become Swamps, but I’ve only ever had that be an issue once in five years of EDH play. It doesn’t really matter.
Plus making other lands into Swamps does matter. Playing colorless lands in mono-black hurts a little bit more because black has stuff like Crypt Ghast or Tendrils of Corruption. Urborg means these can even benefit you outside of their utility. I wouldn’t have expected Urborg to be this high, but considering how good it is, I think it’s deserving of being just outside the top ten.
Over, Under or Just Right? Just Right: If you wanna get real nutty with Urborg, you can do that, too.
If Your Tomb is Full of Water, Something has Gone Wrong
Well, we've gone this far, but next week, it ends! Before that, though, we've got one more set of lands you have to comment on. What your opinion on Fetches? Are you a fan of Nykthos? Let me know in the comments below. I leave you till next week for the big one.