Wandering Fumarole

Posted in Top Decks on January 1, 2016

By Luis Scott-Vargas

Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).

Each Magic set has many cycles in it, and some of them span multiple sets. The presence of Lumbering Falls and Shambling Vent in Battle for Zendikar gave us a strong hint that the other enemy color lands in the cycle would appear in Oath of the Gatewatch, and today I get to confirm that's at least partly true.

I somehow ended up with the blue-red addition to the latest cycle of creature lands, which I'm sure was fully random:

I guess these lands shamble, lumber, and now, wander. Does that mean that the rest scuttle, gallivant, and jaunt?

Things to note about Wandering Fumarole:

  • Blue-red is a very powerful color combination, and there are tons of great decks in Standard and Modern that utilize these two colors. That gives Fumarole an advantage over something like Lumbering Falls, which hasn't seen tons of play despite being powerful.
  • The creature you get can deal a lot of damage. Hitting for 4 per turn is no joke, and Fumarole is going to end a lot of games as a result.
  • It blocks well, albeit for a lot of mana. Leaving mana up to threaten a block is a lot less efficient than just attacking (because if the opponent doesn't attack, you may have just wasted five mana), but it's a relevant option. I do like that this can either trade with most creatures or survive most creatures, if not both at the same time.
  • Power/toughness switching is complicated, and I anticipate this leading to more than a few judge calls. If your opponent has one of these and tries to make it a 4/1, you should cast your burn spell in response. No matter how many times they switch, eventually your spell will resolve, and this will switch back into a 4/1, at which point it dies. Knowing that timing is important, and should cover most of the cases where this could be tricky.

As I've said many times, and will continue to say, I love having great options when it comes to lands. Being able to add lands to your deck that have abilities above and beyond just producing mana is fantastic. It lets you play more lands, reducing the chance you draw too few, while giving you something to do if you draw too many lands and reducing the chance you completely flood out. Adding two colors of mana makes it even more appealing. This is going to wander its way into many different decks.

One example is Jeskai, which often runs the risk of flooding with the normal 26-land mana base. Some Jeskai decks have even gone so far as playing Shambling Vents, but the colors from Wandering Fumarole are vastly preferable, so that is likely to cease.

LSV's Updated Dark Jeskai

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Here, Fumarole is a welcome addition. The curve of this deck tops out at four mana, and having Fumaroles are flood insurance. No matter where you live, when you play Magic, flood insurance is a smart buy.

Jeskai isn't the only deck that will gladly add Fumarole to the arsenal, or at least the mana base. Most decks in Standard can afford three to five lands that enter the battlefield tapped, and the number of combinations that don't have a creature land is getting small. Lands that enter tapped are almost by definition more powerful than those that don't, so if you aren't using up the slots, you are losing value. Some decks didn't have good options, so they passed—but that's going to become rarer and rarer. Even if activating Fumarole (or Shambling Vent, or Lumbering Falls, or Needle Spires) isn't your main game plan, as long as your deck doesn't have a ton of one-drops, the inclusion is practically free. Don't go overboard, since these do make lands like Prairie Stream enter tapped more often, but I'd assume most decks can play a couple creature lands without incident.

Cards like Wandering Fumarole make any format a lot more fun, and I'm looking forward to doing plenty of wandering once Oath of the Gatewatch comes out.


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