Wizards Asks: 12/8/2009

Posted in Feature on December 8, 2009

By Wizards of the Coast

When you play MiniMaster (a.k.a. Pack Wars)—opening a booster, shuffling in some basic lands, and playing—how many of each land do you use?

Kelly Digges: First off: There's a Pack Wars variant where you look at the booster then add the lands you want. So "as many as I want" is a perfectly reasonable, in-bounds answer. Heretical, but reasonable.

I always used two of each basic land (plus whatever land is in the booster), because that's how I learned. That gives you 11 or 12 lands in a five-color, 25-card deck, and over time I noticed a lot of mana-screw in Pack Wars. It also takes away the dream of ever even casting color-intensive spells like Roil Elemental.

Shimmering Grotto

On the other hand, three of each basic land leaves your deck at more than 50% land, which is a little much. That means that three-of-each-basic Pack Wars games come down to boring topdeck wars just a little too often for my taste.

The compromise my friends and I concocted was to use two of each basic plus two or three Shimmering Grottos, of which we had hundreds. This will fix your ugly five-color mana as well as bringing your total number of lands down to something a little more manageable. You can also customize with nonbasics that are interesting in the particular set you're using. You could put three Unstable Frontiers in a Conflux pack, or three Terramorphic Expanses in a Zendikar pack.

That's my personal favorite solution, but once you start requiring a particular nonbasic land, you're taking Pack Wars rapidly away from its roots as a quick and dirty way to play Magic. Three of each basic works fine (and it's definitely better than two of each). In a lot of sets, you'll even find there's something for you to do with that extra land—retrace in Eventide, Spellshapers in Time Spiral, and most recently, landfall in Zendikar.

When you play MiniMaster / Pack Wars, how many of each basic land do you use? Click the Discuss link below to tell us your story and then see what everybody else has to say!

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