Ranking Every Land with EDHREC - Part 8: Do Not Collect DEBT

(Expedition Map | Art by Franz Vohwinkel)

Gingerbread Tribal Better be a Thing

Yes, the rumors are true. Something groundbreaking has been announced that will change the landscape of Magic:

Commander 2019 will get spoilers in August! I was worried there for a moment!

Oh and I guess they spoiled Fairy Tale world with walking Gingerbread men. I guess that's cool.

277: Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper: 623 Decks

Back when I first started playing Magic around 2013, I read a lot of "Worst Cards of All Time" lists. Untaidake was on a lot of those lists, especially when the list was about lands. People hated this card. They cited how bad the legends in Kamigawa block were, and they weren't wrong. They complained about it entering tapped and having to pay life for the mana, and they concluded that the downside were not worth it for a land that could only cast cards that realistically only make up a 1/3 of your deck at best. Look at these old comments from Gatherer. People are calling this one of the worst lands of all time.

Boy, a lot changed in the last six years. Back then, Commander wasn't nearly the casual Juggernaut that it is today. Any 'legendary matters' theme was probably slow enough or in so many colors that folks didn’t want to pay the life for this card. Planeswalkers also weren’t legendary and at that time, there weren’t nearly enough of them for Superfriends to be a thing. Nowadays, turns out an Ancient Tomb that enters tapped and can only cast a few thing is still an Ancient Tomb. Even if you aren’t Superfriends or 'legendary matters,' casting your commander on turn four instead of turn five can make a huge difference. A card that was lambasted for being completely useless and being worth pennies, is now a pretty respectable option in a very established archetype that will cost you a respectable 3$.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Magic is a strange game. What’s currently bad and niche might become a card worth considering a few years from now.

276: Moorland Haunt601 Decks:

I'm kinda into this. Functionally three mana (two mana plus the land itself) to create a 1/1 flyer is pretty good. The catch is that your deck has to supply the creatures for this land, but while you would normally assume that Azorius decks are pretty light on creatures, you'd be surprised how many Azorius commanders can be fairly creature-heavy if you go beyond the most common ones. Ephara, God of the Polis would like to turn all those blink dorks into flyers when they die. Isperia, the Inscrutable wouldn't mind more flyers to bolster their ranks. Sygg, River Guide isn't really known for sitting on its hands. I could go on, but soon I'd have to defend Tobias Andrion so let's just say there are decks that might want this.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: It’s not a card for a traditional Azorius control deck but there are a lot of decks that would want a card like this.

275: Tower of the Magistrate: 634 Decks

One of my favorite colorless lands. Protection can be kind of difficult to parse so it can be tough to see how useful this is. Just remember: protection stops creatures from D.E.B.T

  • Damaged: Tower of the Magistrate makes your creatures unable to be dealt damage by artifacts. Make infinite chump blockers. Throw your Squire in front of a Myr Battlesphere or Wurmcoil Engine all day long.

  • Enchanted/Equipped: Creatures with protection can't be enchanted by artifacts (which probably won't come up) or equipped by artifacts. That means if you target a creature that's equipped, the Equipment falls off that creature. No more Sword of Feast and Famine or Batterskull for you. Equip activations can also be responded to, so activating Tower in response to an equip on Lightning Greaves means no more boots for the rest of the turn.

  • Blocking: Tower makes your creatures unable to be blocked by artifacts. This can range from making your opponent unable to block with a dopey Solemn Simulacrum to having your big creature zoom right on by an army of Thopter tokens.

  • Targeting: Tower basically gives Hexproof from artifacts. Breya, Etherium Shaper snipping your stuff? Not anymore. Memnarch being rude? Tell him to get his paws off your stuff. They can activate these abilities again in response to the trigger, so it's not foolproof, but it can make it much harder for these decks to control the board.

That was just at a base level. We can go real deep and start targeting stuff with Liquimetal Coating or give protection from all permanents with Mycosynth Lattice. The amount of flexibility from this little colorless land is insane.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: The colorless decks are really pushing this card's numbers up and I think it should be in every one. Even in non-colorless decks, this is just a really solid land that I want to try in all sorts of decks.

274: Prahv, Spires of Order: 657 Decks

How much would you pay for a Maze of Ith? Seven total mana? That's not even entirely unreasonable and this one even gets around Hexproof. I actually ran this in my first rendition of Zedruu, the Greathearted when I first started building Commander decks and I activated it once. It felt good. It also took my whole turn. It's also no longer in that deck but it felt good!

Over, Under or Just Right? Just Right: A seven-mana Maze of Ith is still a Maze of Ith. This one even stops stuff like Niv Mizzet, Parun.

273: Rainbow Vale: 685 Decks

Speaking of cards for Zedruu, the Greathearted, that's all this card is. A consistent way to draw a card in Zedruu. Why anyone else is playing it is beyond me. It must just be Group Hug decks bumping up the numbers. And on some level, Group Hug doesn’t really care about how good its cards are, but it also is trying to have fun! Getting mana screwed because you lost your third land and they won't give it back isn't fun.

Over, Under or Just Right? Overplayed: How about Spectral Searchlight? A card that doesn't have a chance to ruin you.

272: Memorial to War: 690 Decks

The memorials! The worst cycle everybody plays!

Maybe that’s a tad unfair, but I think this cycle see way too much play. It’s slow and they cost a million mana to activate. And what do you get in return? An effect that red has no problem getting for cheaper. Targeted land destruction is good but even if Ghost Quarter and Strip mine are too expensive for you, Encroaching Wastes and Tectonic Edge are perfectly fine alternatives that enter untapped. Yes, this taps for colored mana, but mono-color can afford to run colorless lands and anything with more colors can’t really afford a single color tapped land.

Over, Under or Just Right? Overplayed: If you are just all-in on land destruction then maybe you can consider this cycle, but run any other option before this card. At least the art is sweet, the callback to Decree of Annihilation is pretty nice.

271: Gargoyle Castle: 696 Decks

I often think about putting this in my Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer deck every once in a while but that deck is often overloaded on colorless sources so it never quite makes the cut. A 3/4 flyer is a real creature. It's not amazing but it can hit decently hard and hold Equipment well. It's the steep mana cost that makes it less then ideal. I've never tried it, so maybe it's better then I'm thinking but it's one of those cards that just doesn't quite do enough to get in.

Over, Under or Just Right? Just Right: Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury being the most synergistic commander looks odd. Not a lot of synergy between the two but take a look at its printings. Yep, It was in the 2014 Commander deck, Guided By Nature. The Precon Effect at its finest.

270: Riftstone Portal: 734 Decks

I really wish this said "lands you control become forests and plains" so I could put this in Sultai or Golgari decks. That said, this is still an incredible land if you even have a couple ways to discard it or mill it. People love Chromatic Lantern and this is essentially that, but free. You don’t realize how good having perfect mana is until you play with it. Having to count how much mana of each color you have or make sure you leave up certain mana while casting your commander is a pain, and makes games super slow. Perfect mana allows you to make the most efficient moves every turn.

The only real downside is that white and green aren't really known for discarding cards or getting rid of lands. Not to say they can't do it; white has ways to sacrifice permanents and green has stuff like Harrow or Sylvan Safekeeper, cards your deck probably wants anyway. Plus Abzan and Naya exist.

Over, Under or Just Right? Underplayed: Fifty cents for this card is insane, especially because this has only ever been printed in Judgment. The worst case scenario for this card is that it’s a colorless land, and the best case is free green-white lands for the rest of the game. Between this and Nantuko Monastery, all the secret gems are from Judgment.

269: Looming Spires: 736 Decks

Oh good. Another tapped land with a tiny effect. This one at least does something. First strike isn’t nothing and can make combat difficult. However, tapped lands in my mono-color decks aren’t generally what I want, so they have to really woo me, and I'm not wooed.

Over, Under or Just Right? Overplayed: It doesn’t even trigger Heroic.

268: Mouth of Ronom: 742 Decks

The biggest obstacle to recommending this card was the scarcity of snow-covered lands, such as Snow-Covered Forest. While that's still a problem, now that Modern Horizons has made them cheaper than they've been since Coldsnap from 2006, It's much more reasonable to run the 30 or so snow basics to make this work. Maybe it's not needed in black or white. They don't need help killing creatures. However, the other colors wouldn't mind this card. Most decks probably would rather have snow basics for other synergies anyway, and four damage can kill a lot of random creatures in the format. Is Mouth of Ronom alone worth the hassle of spending $30 on basic lands? No, but if you own them anyway or want the snow basics for other cards like Sunstone, why not?

Over, Under or Just Right? Underplayed: Even in decks with no other snow cards, I still think this is a good card to include, if you want to hunt down 30 or so snow basics.

267: Duskmantle, House of Shadow: 751 Decks

This card makes me laugh. The rate of three mana to mill one card is laughably bad. Even in a perfect world, where this comes out turn three, did they really think you were going to activate this multiple times? You would think they just crazy overestimated mill, but in the same set we got Dredge, one of the most busted mechanics of all time, showing they definitely were underestimating mill. So I guess milling opponents is busted and needs to be neutered completely and milling yourself is totally fine, definitely not gonna break all the formats.

Over, Under or Just Right? Overplayed: A few years ago I wouldn’t have faulted you for playing this card but now that mill has way more options, I can’t in good faith recommend it. Sweetest flavor text on a bad land, though.

Pretend Duskmantle Doesn't Exist

Seems like a good card to end on. Why aren't you running Tower of the Magistrate right now? This very second? Sell your atoms and buy one. As always, let me know what you think in whatever medium works best for you.

Next time, we'll discuss one of the most divisive cycles in Commander.

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.