Make Preparations for Landing

Posted in Command Tower on September 3, 2015

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

The first set I had any advance knowledge of was Zendikar. The only thing I knew was that Lorthos, the Tidemaker was coming and that it was a sweet card. In the emerging days of Commander, when 60-card decks ruled the tables I played at, I found it a wonderful treat of game-ending power.

Then a set full of awesome lands, and effects that got better with more of them, was revealed.

Kabira Crossroads | Art by James Paick

That was a crossroads for my life. From a simple idea—write articles about having fun with Magic—I've come to opportunities like writing about the finals of the 2015 World Magic Championship at PAX. Seeing the amazing previews from Battle for Zendikar over the same weekend was a nostalgic blast from my Magic past.

Fortunately, I really like lands and you do too.

Going back to Zendikar means lands will be at the tip of everyone's tongue—just like the Eldrazi—and we should be prepared to make the most of our favorite ones, including the new ones from Magic Origins:

Dear Adam,

I like lands that do stuff. Any deck can slap 37-ish basics and dual lands together to fix colors, but it's important to recognize that your mana base is a utopia for free little effects. Mana fixing is always priority, but the joy of my Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer deck is that it's only two colors and features many colorless spells. That allows many of my lands to pull double duty.

Magic Origins gave me two lands I love very much: Foundry of the Consuls and Mage-Ring Network. The Foundry can be sacrificed for two Thopters, perfect for the artifact theme and metalcraft. Mage-Ring Network is a storage land that can go into any deck, turning all those turns of extra mana into an investment for the future. It's quickly growing into my favorite land in the format. It's a perfect partner for Temple of the False God when it comes to ramping up.

Modern has seen Slayers' Stronghold and Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion put to good use. Being able to upgrade creatures at instant speed without losing spell slots is efficient and deadly. Buried Ruin doubles as recursion for an artifact-centric deck, grabbing a key card whenever I need it.

Finally, an artifact deck can always make use out of Darksteel Citadel, Great Furnace, Ancient Den, and Mishra's Factory. Lands that are also artifacts help turn on metalcraft, can be sacked to Daretti, Scrap Savant to bring back haymakers like Scourglass, and add to my artifact count to win with Hellkite Tyrant.

If your lands are only adding mana to your mana pool, you're usually missing out on lots of extra value.

We will endure!

- Andrew

Andrew's Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer

COMMANDER: Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer
Planeswalker (2)
1 Karn Liberated 1 Daretti, Scrap Savant
Enchantment (2)
1 Bludgeon Brawl 1 Tempered Steel
99 Cards

It's easy to get caught up in looking at lands that are beautiful or obviously powerful. Having basic subtypes, like the new cycle coming in Battle for Zendikar, makes them work with whole swaths of cards that most nonbasic lands can't. But ignoring the odd and off-the-beaten-path options leaves a whole host of sweet choices behind.

While Andrew's deck is obviously an artifact-driven deck with powerful hits, there's a ton of lands in addition to the Magic Origins gems that help everything move along a little smoother:


Lands as utility, since their effects are typically "uncounterable" as they aren't spells, is my favorite aspect of building mana bases in Commander decks. Quinten's look at the utility lands he uses in his Glissa, the Traitor deck is a great dive into options for green and black:

Hello Adam,

Everybody loves playing lands, right? I also love synergy, so I'll jam Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Cabal Coffers into any deck that can tutor them up. Before the tuck rule change, I played High Market in all my decks—and in this deck it doubles up to put Glissa targets like Solemn Simulacrum in my graveyard. Bojuka Bog can be instant graveyard hate when combined with Crop Rotation. Vesuva doubles up on all of the above, and of course I play other staples like Evolving Wilds and Temple of the False God in most of my decks. The snow-covered basics are only in there because of Dark Depths (hello Thespian's Stage!) and Mouth of Ronom, all fetchable by Into the North. Rounding out the scary lands is Eye of Ugin, which—in addition to helping cast the Eldrazi—can search up artifact creatures in a pinch!

- Quinten

Quinten's Glissa, the Traitor

COMMANDER: Glissa, the Traitor
Planeswalker (2)
1 Garruk Wildspeaker 1 Vraska the Unseen
Instant (2)
1 Crop Rotation 1 Relic Crush
99 Cards

Utility lands don't have to support a specific battle plan. General options, such as Bojuka Bog and Eye of Ugin, fit into a wide variety of decks. Part of the difficulty in building mana bases in Commander is how widely the traits that make a land good may vary. They can:

The list could go on, and become much more specific, but you get the idea. Once you start scouring all of Magic's lands you'll soon understand it seems as though there's a land for everything.


You'll also discover that lands themselves can be everything, as Kevin shared:

My favorite lands to use in Commander would have to be the same as Captain Sisay's favorite: legendaries! In a format dedicated to legendary creatures, it makes since that their land counterparts are my favorite. Legendary lands come with powerful abilities, and with Sisay leading the way, she can easily tutor up one of them when you need it. Need to mana fix? Search for Flagstones of Trokair, Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers, Eiganjo Castle, or Pendelhaven. Want to ramp into something big? Gaea's Cradle, Serra's Sanctum, and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx are good options to find. Want to play the political game? Mikokoro, Center of the Sea, Kor Haven, and Yavimaya Hollow have you covered. Have tons of mana and nothing to use them on? Dark Depths, and Marit Lage should make an appearance.

Now, my favorite of the legendary lands—which is in many of my Commander decks—is also in this deck: Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. The Tomb is able to be played due to its colorless color identity. Some people are usually confused to see this in a Selesnya deck. It does two things for me here. The first is that it turns fetch lands into colorless mana producers late game. The second is a combo that will probably win you the game: Kormus Bell, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Two of the three pieces are easy to find, but the Bell not so much. It is not going to appear every game, but it is funny to see the other players' reaction when it does.

If it wasn't for the abilities that legendary lands have, some of this deck's ridiculousness wouldn't be possible.

- Kevin

Kevin's Captain Sisay

COMMANDER: Captain Sisay
Instant (1)
1 Enlightened Tutor
Enchantment (2)
1 Nature's Chosen 1 Day of Destiny
99 Cards

Thanks to the Amulet Bloom combo deck in Modern, Azusa, Lost but Seeking has made her presence known outside of Commander. Within the format, she's the premier way to dish up lands in a hurry. And thanks to her small initial cost, you'll be able to play several extra lands off of her over the course of a game.

Forgotten behind the Human Monk is a Human Soldier that can help you play lands all the same. Captain Sisay gets attention for her ability to assemble a variety of powerful creatures, from creatures like Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger to Brimaz, King of Oreskos. Kevin knows the truth: Finding amazing lands can be just as good or better.

Lands are valuable tools to spruce up decks. Lands are invaluable utility effects that make any deck work better. Lands can be core to the central theme of your Commander deck. Whatever you do though, don't forget you need them.


This week's question is one that you'll have time to answer, so don't rush into it if you want to wait until you've seen more: What card from Battle for Zendikar are you most excited about for Commander?

  • Feedback via email in English
  • 300 word limit to share the card(s) and decklist
  • Sample decklist (does not count against word limit)
  • Decklists should be formatted with one card per line with just a leading number, such as "3 Mountain"—just a space (no "x" or "-") between the number and the card name, without subtotals by card type. Submissions that don't follow this rule will be ignored.
  • Name and email required (non-personal information to be used in column)

Two weeks of previews are coming up, but the amazing show at PAX Prime gave us a taste of things to come. Check in and let me know which cards you're going to jam into decks as soon as you can get them.

Join us next week when we process something brand new. See you then!

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