Land That I Love – Part 3
Hello fellow Commanders. If you’ve followed along in our Commander Lands That I Love series thus far, you’ve read a bit about basic color-fixing strategies in Part 1 and supportive utility in Part 2. Part 3 brings to light a special set of lands that I think have a considerably stronger power level than what I’ve previously talked about.
In this installation we’ll look at the Cream of the Crop. The crème de la crème if you will. Fasten your seatbelts, here we go.
Shameless Mana Producers
It has been written on the wind, stories of individuals Genesis Wave-ing their deck into play, Comet Storm-ing for X equals infinity, Crop Rotation-ing for a game saving additional Ka-Jillion mana. In some cases these people should be shot for their transgressions, but what is it that causes such otherworldly events?
One only need whisper Gaea’s Cradle and the veil of mystery slips away. If you run green and creatures, particularly tokens, don’t be surprised if you see this “verboten” land lingering around.
Gaea’s Cradle taps adding one green mana for each creature you control. Those creatures can be any color by the way, so you’re not locked into a mono-green situation. As long as you have bodies on the field, Gaea’s cradle will make mana.
Another strategy to note is making sure to play Gaea’s Cradle after you play creatures out for turn. This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen many scenarios where a player will tap his or her Gaea’s Cradle for mana before playing an Avenger of Zendikar. Oops! Don’t miss out on an additional 10 mana if you can help it.
I apologize if I’ve gone on at length about this land, but it gets my award for *cough* most broken.
Tap two colorless and Cabal Coffers to produce black for each swamp you control. Sounds pretty strong, and it is. Mono black has never been happier and is the only color outside of green that has a (legal) land able to produce an exceptional amount of mana. Exsanguinate for 30? Your opponents may not like it, but your life total will.
The main drawback of this land is that it tends to underperform in multicolored decks. Unless you lean heavily on a swamp base, most times there just aren’t enough swamps to make it viable, particularly anything beyond two colors. And even in mono black, if you’re running a lot of non-basics, Cabal Coffers might only tap for half of what you expect. If only there were a way to make all your lands swamps…
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
(Urborg for short)
All lands are swamps in addition to their other types.
Well fancy that. It’s Cabal Coffers soul mate. It’s a mana smoother. It’s very, very effective. For starters, you absolutely max out your mana base. Maze of Ith now taps for black! So do fetchlands. (Unfortunately, so does everyone elses. Be judicial if you notice an opponent who needs black mana or also has a Cabal Coffers out. Playing an Urborg may be more enabling for them than empowering for you.) With Cabal Coffers, this land gets a little nutty. Tap a soul ring, a Mana Crypt, anything that produces mana essentially, and Cabal Coffers and you get almost double your maximum mana potential. I consider Urborg an auto include in any deck running black (and sometimes even those that don’t!).
Quick tip for maximizing your Urborg/Cabal Coffers activation: In multi-color decks, when Urborg is in play, try tapping colorless or black mana for Cabal Coffers. Leave your precious other colored resources for casting non-black spells. Tapping two plains to activate Cabal Coffers is not a good idea when they need to be spent on a Wrath of God. You get the idea.
As mentioned before, the drawback for Urborg is it’s tendency to benefit opponents as much as it can yourself. If Urborg is on the field, another black player only needs to play his or her Cabal Coffers to really profit from it. Additionally, Urborg is legendary, so it is susceptible to the “legendary rule”. Although honestly, I wouldn’t want more than one on the field at the same time, so thumbs up to that.
Last Word on Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is it’s unique ability to be run in any deck. Situationally this is a good thing. You can run it in mono-red to bomb another Urborg, or just to make those lands which don’t tap for mana able to do so.
Really Good Utility
I hate to suggest it, but Mindslaver locking an opponent is indeed a way to win a game. With Academy Ruins, such a feat is possible with only two cards. But what if we don’t want to be the most disliked person at the table? In that case, consider using Academy Ruins for a more tame purpose like recurring your Steel Hellkite or Tormod’s Crypt.
Restricted to a blue-based deck, Academy Ruins is a strong way to create artifact recursion. Recursion, of any form, is by itself strong. It gives us a greater range of ability from our deck and provides us with something unique or useful to do when we’re all but top-decked out. In fact, consider Academy Ruins and Memory Jar as a way to continually Restock your hand, if only for the turn.
Academy Ruins gives us a way to think more dynamically about deck construction and ways we can begin to use more than just our deck as part of our build. Don’t forget, the graveyard can be just as important as our deck. Just be prepared for a bit of graveyard hate should Academy Ruins prove to be strong enough. Remember, it’s all part of the game.
In the vein of recursion, let’s take a look at Volrath’s Stronghold. Another in the top-tier cards we’re looking at in Part 3, this land is an Academy Ruins for creatures. Just like we can Mindslaver Lock someone out of the game, we can be just as cruel with Yosei, the Morning Star. Let’s look on the more useful benefits of this land though, shall we?
Yosei is a degenerative way to use Volrath’s Stronghold, so let’s look at what I believe is the true intention of running this strong land in a deck. Utility is the name of the game here, so consider running a creature like Fleshbag Marauder instead. Yosei is asymmetrical, targeting one opponent and no more. Recurring a card like Fleshbag Marauder creates symmetrical effects, helping deal with a clogged board state as a whole. Additionally, the benefit of Marauder over Yosei is it’s ability change the board state instead of letting it stagnate.
What are some other good Volrath’s Stronghold targets? Consider these cards; Rune-Scarred Demon, Nekrataal, Mulldrifter, Reveillark, Ranger of Eos, Siege-Gang Commander, or Regal Force. The list goes on. Use your imagination, the essence of this format.
This one is fairly self-explanatory. A land that taps for three to cast artifacts. That’s pretty serious business, especially early game in an artifact based deck. Arcum Dagsson and Mishra’s Workshop? Best friends for life.
Just remember, this land doesn’t produce mana for any other purpose. It’s mana can’t be used to activate abilities of artifacts either. Not for every deck, Mishra’s Workshop may be more narrow than the other cards listed here, but it makes up for that in sheer leverage.
Finally, I bring you the best of the hideaway lands. For one green you can cast any spell put underneath Mosswort Bridge as long as the total power of creatures equals ten or more. And this can be done at instant speed!
Let’s look at one of myriad examples where Mosswort really holds it’s own. Earlier, you were lucky enough to hide a Natural Order under your Mosswort Bridge and now your opponent is trying to Go for the Throat your Seedborn Muse. Instead of being down a creature you shrewdly decide to activate your Mosswort Bridge, sacrificing your Seedborn Muse and tutoring out your choice of green creature from deck into play, all at instant speed. I’d say that’s a strong move!
Additionally, cards like Kozilek which say “When you cast” trigger their ability. This means you get the “When you cast” benefit of the card. Just be forewarned, a card being cast from a Mosswort Bridge can be countered, so don’t be disappointed if that Kozilek doesn’t make it’s way onto the battlefield.
And don’t forget about the “bounce lands” to return Mosswort Bridge to your hand after it’s been used. It can then be replayed whenever it’s legal to play a land for added value.
Side note: If you happen to hit four lands off a Mosswort Bridge, don’t be discouraged, you can still hide one of them away. In this case you can only use Mosswort Bridge on your turn when playing a land is legal, not on an opponent’s turn. But hey, at least you get a land out of it.
I’ve included these last two cards as particularly useful because of their supportive quality not only to the amazing lands listed in this article, but to all lands. And the best part is they can be played in any deck.
With Gaea’s Cradle and Cabal Coffers running around like kids without clothes on, why not give them a little more energy in the form of additional activations?
Deserted Temple untaps target land for a colorless mana and tap. If your friends didn’t think you were nutty enough before, Deserted Temple will surely push you over the edge. It can be particularly useful if a land comes into play tapped as well.
The last on the list is a fan favorite. It kills legendary lands, it make copies of lands you don’t have in your deck. It’s good in a pinch and when you need a little oomph from your mana base.
Vesuva copies lands in spades. It does come into play tapped, but if you can’t run a particular land in your deck due to color restrictions, and the land can still be effective, you’re free to make a copy of it (as long as the land is still around when it comes into play).
As a drawback, Vesuva can’t be played if there are no targets, so if you find it in your opening hand and it doesn’t synergize with your other cards, it may be advantageous to pitch it for a later time.
Another note: One player in my group has used Emeria, the Sky Ruin and Vesuva together in a surprisingly powerful combination. Needless to say, many instances of graveyard hate were needed to keep the power level in check.
With that, I conclude my Land That I Love series. If you have any suggestions, commentary, or corrections about the content you’ve read, please send along your messages. I’m curious to hear what experiences you, the player, have had playing with these lands or any others that you’ve found overwhelmingly powerful.
Thanks for reading and happy gaming.