General hints about lands in Commander?

Commander (EDH) forum

Posted on April 13, 2017, 7:15 a.m. by Dashiva7

It's the same story every time. I brew a new deck, feel like it may be sweet to try out next time I'm at the LGS. I only need to figure out the lands I want to include.

  • How many basics?
  • How many non-basics?
  • How many utility-lands?
  • How do I resist the temptation to scavenge my other decks for lands?

The answers is of course different for each deck depending on colors and needs, but...

I'm curious if you have any rule of thumb when you build manabases, or any lands you think need more (or less) attention? What is your general approach?

Panas says... #2

As a general rule have at least 2-3 basics from each colour as basics. The rest is a matter of how many colours are you running and what your budget is.

In a 3 colour deck, with 38 lands, I'd be running as many of the dual-lands and shocklands I can afford, the on colour fetchlands, the on colour filterlands, the corresponding triland and Command Tower at least. Depending on colour requirements I might include some more checklands/battlelands.

There can be no concrete answer here... The professor over at Tolarian Community College (youtube) has a series of videos concerning exactly this. Check it out! It's quite in depth.

April 13, 2017 7:29 a.m.

Steelspike says... #3

Value lands are a major factor in my deck building. Rogue's Passage for any creature heavy deck. Arcane Lighthouse for more targeted removal strategies. Reliquary Tower where card draw is one of the major focuses. Yadda yadda yadda.

In tri-color decks, I usually have 4 or 5 basics of each color because Blood Moon and From the Ashes are cards.

Two color decks have more basics because there's less concern about color fixing, and doubly so for mono colors.

April 13, 2017 8:19 a.m.

MagicalHacker says... #4

In terms of color fixing, I always strive to have 2/3 of the lands produce each major color with fetchlands counting as as many colors as they can fetch. (Overlap is your friend.) Because of this, I use Myriad Landscape in all my decks, and at least 2 basics of each type, but I never go below ten total basics in a deck.

April 13, 2017 8:40 a.m.

Epochalyptik says... #5

Start with the dual and fetch lands. In a multicolored deck, these form the core of your land-based mana production in terms of value and fixing.

For three-colored decks, the best lineup you can have is the 3-3-9 split: three ABUR duals, three shock lands, and nine fetch lands. Of course, this is expensive to do, and not everyone will have access to these lands. But it's a good way to think of optimization in mana production. I recommend starting with this concept because it helps you budget deck space for a strong and consistent core of mana-producing lands, which helps keep you from getting carried away with utility and other lands.

For utility lands, think about the effects that add value to your deck. For example, don't add Maze of Ith just because it fits in any color combination; ask whether the effect is really important to your strategy. Also consider the potential cost of running too many colorless-producing or non-producing utility lands; these cards can strain your mana base, especially if you don't have consistent and effective color fixing and production coming from other sources.

I usually add basics last to fill in empty slots in my land base. The number of each basic will be determined by the number of other color sources and the general saturation of mana costs in the deck. Consider also whether basics matter to other cards in your deck (e.g., for things like Prairie Stream, Glacial Fortress, etc.).

For building asymmetrical land bases (i.e., land bases designed with uneven numbers of sources for different colors, such as 50% blue sources, 30% green sources, and 20% black sources), there are a few considerations:
- How many cards require a given color.
- How saturated the costs of those cards are (compare the costs of Cryptic Command and AEtherize).
- How early you need to have access to a given color.
- How many cards require multiple colors.

Those are just basic (excuse the pun) guidelines for land bases. A lot of the process becomes more instinctive as you get more experience and think more about the deck. I normally start by drafting a list of the lands I want and then tailoring it based on the math and playtests.

April 13, 2017 9:28 a.m.

geekmp3 says... #6

The Professor at Tolarian CC did a couple vidoes that could help.
I wouldn't take it as the be-all-end-all but it will help get you a reference, then build to your needs.

April 13, 2017 9:46 a.m.

Dashiva7 says... #7

For early testing of a 2-color deck, I usually run 10 basics of each color followed by more commonly available fixing (evolving wilds, guildgates ect). Then I look into utility-lands that may have synergy with the strategy/theme. Lastly I use general goodstuff lands (personally I enjoy Mage-Ring Network) or additional basic to round of.

Once I have tested the deck through a couple of games (5-6) and feel it is worth investing more time into, that is when I start optimizing with more efficient lands (still try to keep 5-6 basic per color). Fortunately the particular group I usually play with is rather casual so I can forgoe the more expensive cards, but each to their own.

Lands that I actively try too discourage newer players to use is Ravnica bouncelands and cards like Rupture Spire. The bouncelands are just to tempting for Land-destruction or steal-spells, while the spire are just bad.

April 13, 2017 9:50 a.m.

SageOfStone says... #8

I generally start at 40 lands, then remove them as I get more acceleration. Realistically, your deck probably shouldn't have more than 38 with the basic amount of acceleration found in most ground level EDH decks.

Another factor to consider is whether your deck needs lands to function. Obviously every deck needs mana, but if it actually needs lands, the count should be higher. For example, my Damia deck runs over 20 cards that accelerate me, so my land count can be pretty low. However, I need two blue lands and a third land that can produce mana to combo off. As such, even though I have a massive acceleration package, I play 34 lands.

Its also important to consider how important it is to be playing color fixing. If your deck requires a ton of color fixing, play much fewer utility lands. This is usually the case for 3+ color decks. If you're playing 1-2 colors, you should probably be playing a lot of utility.

April 13, 2017 3 p.m.

Hjaltrohir says... #9

I always start with the dual lands in your colours;

3 Shocklands

3 ABUR duals (if your budget allows)

3 Checklands

3 Filterlands (also rather expensive)

3 Painlands (For more budget lists)3 Bounce lands

3 Gainlands

3 Temples

Then I have around 5 lands that add every colour;

City of Brass

Mana confluence

Command Tower

Reflecting Pool

Forbidden orchard

And then some utility/fetch lands;

Reliquary Tower

Rogue's Passage

Riptide Laboratory/Alchemist's refuge (for example)

Evolving wilds/Terramorphic Expanse/Myriad landscapes


The remaining slots can go to basics, i try to run 2-4 of each colour (In a 3c deck) but this number can be weighted by your colour saturation. I run between 34-38 lands in total.

To stop yourself salvaging lands from other decks, if I own one copy of a card, I permit myself to create some proxies if I need it for multiple decks. Not perfect, but cheap ;)

April 14, 2017 4:12 a.m.

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