Arch of Orazca

Commander (EDH) forum

Posted on Jan. 1, 2021, 12:18 p.m. by Mcat1999

How do people feel about Arch of Orazca? It's basically to draw a card. Yes the cost is but you also tap the land itself, meaning you lose a total of mana you have access to.

Obviously it's not a very good trade off, however it is a steady form of draw and most players don't attack lands, meaning it's relatively safe.

So is it a "good" choice for decks who routinely run out their hand or lack sufficient draw, or no? And I think we can disregard the Ascend ability. You'd be at 10 permanents by the time you'd be using the draw ability.

I honestly think that (and I'm prepared to catch massive amounts of shade for this) even the better versions, War Room and Bonders' Enclave aren't playable

January 1, 2021 12:40 p.m.

Mcat1999 says... #3

How come you believe those clearly superior cards aren't playable? For example, if you leave mana open to interact during an opponent's end step (say for a counterspell or removal) and you didn't need to, why not spend the mana and get a free card out of it?

January 1, 2021 1:09 p.m.

They are quite superior, but not superior enough. If your deck is built around leaving mana open, you should be able to do something more influential with 4 mana than draw one card.

War Room is better in mono-colored decks for obvious reasons... I guess I would consider it for mono-red or mono-white. The thing about it is, you're going to be spending basically or all of your entire turn to draw one card from turns 3-6, and those are really influential turns for how the rest of the game will turn out.

But Bonders' Enclave doesn't help you draw cards unless you have a fairly large creature on board, and so recovering from a boardwipe is something it can't really help with, and BOTH of the aforementioned options don't help you hit land drops early game

January 1, 2021 1:19 p.m.

Keqing420 says... #5

the ascend ability can't actually be disregarded. even with 6 lands, you still need 4 other permanents. if your opponents have removal, you could easily not have 10 permanents at any stage in the game. i'm honestly surprised wotc thought this was rare-material. i wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole lol

January 1, 2021 1:42 p.m.

MagicMarc says... #6

They may not be the best forms of card advantage, but getting utility off of lands should never be completely disregarded.

Especially if they are in decks where man-fixing is not a major need of the deck. For me, the fact they tap only for colorless is more of a disadvantage than the costs of getting the extra card.

In decks where tap for colorless is not a big weakness, I can only think you get more value from Arch of Orazca and War Room than a basic land. If they entered play tapped, they would be rated a lot worse but since you get mana from them the turn you play them and gain the utility of additional draws, I would consider them options.

January 1, 2021 2:28 p.m.

MagicMarc they are definitely all QUITE good in EDH decks with Eldrazi in the CZ--literally no reason not to run them there.

January 1, 2021 10:30 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #8

Do you guys only play games that end with your hand still full of cards? I've used this one in many decks, especially decks that run out their hand fast. Once you have the 10 permanents out, you can never lose the city's blessing. Paying 6 mana for an additional card is fine when it's turn 13 and everyone ran everything in each others' boardwipes and are now topdecking. And in that stage of the game, I was glad I had this card out, because even when topdecking a land, my lands draw me cards to keep going.

It is priceless to have those effects on utility lands. Even if you never draw a card with them, they still pay for your spells and you lost nothing by running them.

Unlike things like Maze of Ith or Temple of the False God that can do literally nothing depending on your boardstate, the carddraw lands are still Wastes with upside and no opportunity cost to help you beat your opponents who play Painful Quandary or every single version of Planar Cleansing.

If my commander doesn't draw cards, I'll have at least one of these in the deck because not every deck curves out perfectly and is able to spend all mana every turn. Sometimes all you draw is lands and this is the difference between playing the game, or being bored while others play the game. Don't overload on lands like these, obviously, there's a downside to colorless lands in colored decks, and every color has more efficient cards to help you with card advantage, but actually calling them unplayable? I would only be able to say that with a straight face if RNG in Magic was always on my side.

January 2, 2021 11:19 a.m.

plakjekaas: sounds like a simple power-level disparity here--games I play hardly ever last into the teens of turns, and if they do it has been clear who's going to win for several turns prior.

Blood Moon, Magus of the Moon, Archon of Emeria, Back to Basics, Price of Progress... the list goes on, sometimes I'd RATHER have a Wastes.

It's hard (for me) to imagine a scenario where you're only drawing lands and an Arch-type land gets you out of that tight spot--as I mentioned in one of my last posts, you're going to be spending your entire turn drawing a card for a good percentage of games, so even if you draw a lifesaver you won't be able to deploy it until the following turn. I would go so far as to posit that, if you're running low on gas in many games, you might be better off running a nonland card-draw spell OVER a card-drawing land... but it is true that utility lands in general are excellent for the exact reason that they're lands: I won't deny that.

January 2, 2021 1:03 p.m.

Mcat1999 says... #10

I can say from my own experience that I've had some games end on turn 7, some not end until like turn 13 - 15. One game went into the mid 20s. And yes by the game ending on turn 7 I do mean all three opponents have been taken out by then.

Sometimes your hand runs out of cards and you get into topdeck mode, and that's never fun. What's worse is when you have 8 or 10 cards that bolster your draw and somehow you've gotten none of them, or perhaps you've gotten one or two and they have been removed from play.

To me, having at least one utility land that draws is always a good idea, because it ensures some safety and padding later on. Sometimes you topdeck a land and you don't need more mana. There's no purpose in playing that land you drew, as the element of surprise and suspense can outweigh the value of the card on the battlefield. For example, perhaps I have 9 lands on the field already and zero cards in hand. I topdeck a Breeding Pool. Is there more value gained by me playing it and having 10 lands and 0 cards in hand, or holding onto it and leaving my 9 lands untapped and forcing my opponents to question if I just topdecked a Cyclonic Rift or a Counter spell or even a Fog?

That's where the game turns from chess into poker. That's something I've heard over the years is that Magic is like chess and poker combined. The poker aspect comes from knowing when to bluff, when to reveal, when to play, etc. I may not have a Cyclonic Rift in hand, but my opponents don't know that. They just see that I passed with a card in hand and have the mana open for it.

Now, come the end step of the opponent before my rotation, I can spend the mana and draw off a utility land. Now I enter my turn with 3 cards (after my draw step) which puts me in a far superior position.

I'd rather have that 3rd card in hand now, then a 10th land in play last turn and only 1 card in hand this time because I didn't draw off a utility land.

And suppose someone decides to call my bluff? Suppose they attack into me, wondering if I actually am holding up a Cyclonic Rift or a Fog. I do nothing and it goes through. Well, in response I can draw a card. Not using that mana for anything else, afterall. Might as well gain value.

The way I see it, SOME value is ALWAYS better than no value.

January 2, 2021 2:16 p.m.

I view the draw-lands as a trap. I'll reiterate--if you need card-draw, just play one of the many effects that have a better rate: even in mono-white there are artifacts that cost way cheaper to activate than these lands. They may be of a more vulnerable card type, but I care much more about the mana-to-draw ratio.

January 2, 2021 2:41 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #12

Cutting lands for spells you'd rather play, is the worst deckbuilding advice, period. You need lands to play your spells, make sure you include enough, depending on your mana curve. Consider your color requirements when deciding how many colorless utility lands you can play. (More Forests over Bonders' Enclave when you play Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig over Rhonas the Indomitable )

With that out of the way, of course you're also playing Endless Atlas if you're playing War Room, they're good in the same decks for the same reasons and purposes. But this is 100 card singleton and you're not going to guarantee those cards will ever be in your hand, so you play more of the same effect to increase the chance to have drawn one of them by the time you need them.

If you're playing in a meta that frequently punishes nonbasic lands, yeah, then you make a conscious, meta-depending choice to run less of those. I can see how you'd then rather have a Divination in hand than a Arch of Orazca in play. Although an actual Wastes will not help you more than the Arch when your opponent has Blood Moon or Magus of the Moon in play, and Divination will help you a lot less if your opponent has the Archon of Emeria.

Activating your Arch on turn 8 to find the Nature's Claim for an opposing Omniscience just feels so much better than staring at the Harmonize in your hand. That makes those lands worth it. It happened more times than the Arch actually color-screwing me. It might seem like the Arch-like lands feel like too desperate to play, I can understand that, but there's a lot of desperate moments in multiplayer Magic, and I've never regretted my decision to include them.

Your mileage may vary.

January 3, 2021 7:43 a.m.

Mcat1999 says... #13

I can see and understand why you'd practically never want a land in a deck that's 3 or more colors, aside from something such as Ancient Tomb. But in mono and possibly even guild decks, I think having a few lands that offer in exchange for the benefit of being able to draw later on is a good idea. Most decks run approximately 34 lands and usually another 8 - 10 artifact sources of mana, which puts your deck at around 42 - 44 cards that produce mana. A lot of decks will run maybe 4 - 6 sources of draw. Some players use more, some players use less. It all depends on how the deck is meant to be played.

The way I see it, if a single slot in the deck can serve more than one function, it's always (generally) better than a card that does not. For example, is War Room or Bonders' Enclave protected against Blood Moon? Absolutely not. But are they strictly better than Wastes? Yes. They don't enter tapped and they offer additional benefit.

Remember, not every deck runs Blood Moon. In my experience and from what I've seen on here, few if any decks actually run it because it harms the player who owns it as well. You're really only going to see it in either extreme budget decks that run only basics (and thus are at a disadvantage unless the group also plays this way), or monored decks which aren't always that great and tend to fizzle out unless built and reinforced with extreme redundancy.

I feel like we, as a community, tend to have this notion that just because a card is bad to play against (Cyclonic Rift, Damnation, Blood Moon, etc) that we must be fearful that every single deck we encounter runs it. If this were true, every single deck out there would just be a carbon copy of something else, which they are not. Not everyone plays these cards, so it's best to not worry about it. Don't play the game out of fear, play it out of fun. If someone has a card that bests your current boardstate, laugh it off and see if you can dig your way out of it. Remember, you have two other opponents who have ways to stop it, also.

January 3, 2021 12:21 p.m.

plakjekaas fair point about cutting lands. I'd say then that--when building the deck--you should remove the Arch and such from the deck, replace it with X land(s), cut Y other nonland card(s), and add Z card-draw effect(s).

As to your point about singleton, I'd say there are enough cards that have a better rate-to-draw than these lands, that shouldn't be an issue.

I don't quite understand your example with Omniscience: how would Harmonize fail to find the removal spell that the Arch did? Seems odd.

Mcat1999 it's true that not every deck plays land interaction, and if you're playing monocolor or something of the like then they don't hurt enough to NOT play them... but they're still pretty bad cards. Once you're in topdeck mode often enough with a deck that the Arch becomes good you should probably just up your draw-effect count (in my opinion! Ofc this is all subjective!)

January 3, 2021 3:16 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #15

Harmonize is sorcery speed, you'll have to wait until your turn to try and find an answer. Your name might be Omniscience_is_life but as soon as someone resolves an Omniscience and it's not you, it spells death for you. Instant speed on your draw and answers becomes more important, the higher your table's power level goes. So finding the Nature's Claim at instant speed makes you able to answer the Omniscience with the first free spell on the stack, leaving a little hope the game can continue.

There's also a niche use to get around Narset, Parter of Veils and be able to draw on other people's turns one card at a time. I did that in Standard with Castle Locthwain with decent success, it translates to commander pretty well, either against a Spirit of the Labyrinth or, even better, with a Seedborn Muse.

January 3, 2021 6:43 p.m.

plakjekaas gotcha... they can hold priority and cast at least one thing though. Of course it's best to be able to remove it at instant speed but there are still plenty of artifacts that emulate that ability for cheaper.

January 3, 2021 7:04 p.m.

TriusMalarky says... #17

The primary downside is no colors, locking them out of 3+ color decks entirely. You can't really afford the slot in those.

But, Arch lands are never bad outside of that aspect. You just need to ask yourself if it's worth it to waste a perfectly good land slot that could be fixing you on a card that you might draw off of.

I think the cost of not having colored mana is too high to balance out the occasional situation where the card pulls you out of a deadzone and back into a competitive state.

I'd consider castles Lochthwain and Vantress, and the Horizon lands from MH1, before a colorless draw land. And there's a red-white horizon land for like $8. Not the worst pricetag for both fixing and a card draw.

January 4, 2021 10:13 a.m.

Cadois says... #18

This is not a good card. You would only play it if you meet all three conditions:

  1. You're playing mono red, mono white, or boros.

  2. You're playing on a budget.

  3. You're desperately lacking card draw.

January 4, 2021 11 a.m.

VampDemigod says... #19

Utility lands are overrated. Yes, you can leave up 6 mana to interact on the opponent's turn or draw a card. Well, even if they just play mediocre cards, you've drawn a card while the rest of the table advanced their boardstate. Is the Arch bad? No. I'd play it if I was in a mono colored deck, I had very few other utility lands, and the utility I needed the most was card draw. But outside of that very slim margin, I'd say this card is not good. It was a rare for draft reasons. Unless you have an Ascend theme in your deck, I really don't see a reason to play this outside of the narrow margin I listed above. Also, even if you do have an ascend theme, all your cards that care about the city's blessing already have ascend on them. I just can't imagine a world where this card sees wide play (unless the world in dominated by colorless commander decks, where this is actually a pretty good land).

January 5, 2021 2:13 p.m.

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