Top 10 Basic Land Sets (Based on Artwork) in Magic: The Gathering

Updated on February 13, 2020
Jeremy Gill profile image

Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

Artwork in Magic: The Gathering

One of Magic's most iconic features is its stunning artwork—even non-players sometimes collect the cards simply for their art. And few backgrounds impress more than the mana-providing basic lands, each of which has over 100 different depictions across all sets!

Sure, art is somewhat subjective, but many sets offer particularly captivating landscapes that I think you'll enjoy—here are the ten best MTG expansions that went above and beyond with basic land artwork!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ravnica Allegiance MountainRavnica Allegiance ForestRavnica Allegiance IslandRavnica Allegiance PlainsRavnica Allegiance Swamp
Ravnica Allegiance Mountain
Ravnica Allegiance Mountain
Ravnica Allegiance Forest
Ravnica Allegiance Forest
Ravnica Allegiance Island
Ravnica Allegiance Island
Ravnica Allegiance Plains
Ravnica Allegiance Plains
Ravnica Allegiance Swamp
Ravnica Allegiance Swamp

10. Ravnica Allegiance

Set Release Date: 2019

Ravnica's sprawling stonework buildings offer many opportunities for breathtaking visuals. Within its city walls, numerous guilds (two-color pairings) coexist in a tentative alliance. Ravnica is also where the Gatewatch fought Nicol Bolas in the War of the Spark set.

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Game Night SwampGame Night ForestGame Night IslandGame Night MountainGame Night Plains
Game Night Swamp
Game Night Swamp
Game Night Forest
Game Night Forest
Game Night Island
Game Night Island
Game Night Mountain
Game Night Mountain
Game Night Plains
Game Night Plains

9. Game Night

Set Release Date: 2018

Magic's Game Night bundle features five premade decks (one for each color) designed to ease newer players into the game. The decks also feature awesome artworks for each basic land, a trend that continued in the following Game Night 2019 pack.

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Throne of Eldraine IslandThrone of Eldraine ForestThrone of Eldraine MountainThrone of Eldraine PlainsThrone of Eldraine Swamp
Throne of Eldraine Island
Throne of Eldraine Island
Throne of Eldraine Forest
Throne of Eldraine Forest
Throne of Eldraine Mountain
Throne of Eldraine Mountain
Throne of Eldraine Plains
Throne of Eldraine Plains
Throne of Eldraine Swamp
Throne of Eldraine Swamp

8. Throne of Eldraine

Set Release Date: 2019

Before Eldraine, Magic had been exploring more technological planes, which was fun, but Eldraine brought a welcome return to fantasy roots. The fairy tale-esque world offers several stunning locations with four artworks from each basic land; above you'll find my favorite visual for each (the others are also worth examining).

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Kaladesh ForestKaladesh IslandKaladesh MountainKaladesh PlainsKaladesh Swamp
Kaladesh Forest
Kaladesh Forest
Kaladesh Island
Kaladesh Island
Kaladesh Mountain
Kaladesh Mountain
Kaladesh Plains
Kaladesh Plains
Kaladesh Swamp
Kaladesh Swamp

7. Kaladesh

Set Release Date: 2016

In the Kaladesh plane, mystical energy called Aether warps the landscape, leading to captivating structures that look man-made but are really sculpted by nature. Drawing inspiration from both steampunk and Indian styles, this set yet again provides stunning basic land arts.

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Guild Kit: Boros PlainsGuild Kit: Selesnya PlainsGuild Kit: Golgari Forest Guild Kit: Gruul ForestGuild Kit: Dimir IslandGuild Kit: Izzet IslandGuild Kit: Rakdos MountainGuild Kit: Gruul MountainGuild Kit: Orzhov SwampGuild Kit: Rakdos Swamp
Guild Kit: Boros Plains
Guild Kit: Boros Plains
Guild Kit: Selesnya Plains
Guild Kit: Selesnya Plains
Guild Kit: Golgari Forest
Guild Kit: Golgari Forest
 Guild Kit: Gruul Forest
Guild Kit: Gruul Forest
Guild Kit: Dimir Island
Guild Kit: Dimir Island
Guild Kit: Izzet Island
Guild Kit: Izzet Island
Guild Kit: Rakdos Mountain
Guild Kit: Rakdos Mountain
Guild Kit: Gruul Mountain
Guild Kit: Gruul Mountain
Guild Kit: Orzhov Swamp
Guild Kit: Orzhov Swamp
Guild Kit: Rakdos Swamp
Guild Kit: Rakdos Swamp

6. Guild Kit

Set Release Date: 2018-2019

Boy do I love the Guild Kit lands. Not only are they gorgeous, each takes inspiration from a second color; for example, the Boros (white/red) plains depicts a militaristic gathering, perfect flavor for a red/white duo.

While the lands don't have any special abilities, they let players express flavor without deviating from their standard colors. Each color can pair with any of the four other colors; above are my two favorites from each.

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Unhinged SwampUnhinged ForestUnhinged IslandUnhinged MountainUnhinged Plains
Unhinged Swamp
Unhinged Swamp
Unhinged Forest
Unhinged Forest
Unhinged Island
Unhinged Island
Unhinged Mountain
Unhinged Mountain
Unhinged Plains
Unhinged Plains

5. Unhinged

Set Release Date: 2004

Unhinged only features one artwork for each basic land, and as a "joke set", its cards aren't usually tournament-legal. But for a semi-official set that debuted back in 2004, it offered immersive full-arts that still hold up today.

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Zendikar PlainsZendikar ForestZendikar IslandZendikar MountainZendikar Swamp
Zendikar Plains
Zendikar Plains
Zendikar Forest
Zendikar Forest
Zendikar Island
Zendikar Island
Zendikar Mountain
Zendikar Mountain
Zendikar Swamp
Zendikar Swamp

4. Zendikar

Set Release Date: 2009

Zendikar yet again highlights the power of full-artwork lands (alongside some regular-sized ones), fitting for a set that focuses on land-based effects. With new landfall and fetch abilities, land support was on the rise, a perfect time to display the set's visuals (which often featured levitating monuments).

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Amonkhet ForestHour of Devastation ForestAmonkhet IslandHour of Devastation IslandAmonkhet MountainHour of Devastation MountainAmonkhet PlainsHour of Devastation PlainsAmonkhet SwampHour of Devastation Swamp
Amonkhet Forest
Amonkhet Forest
Hour of Devastation Forest
Hour of Devastation Forest
Amonkhet Island
Amonkhet Island
Hour of Devastation Island
Hour of Devastation Island
Amonkhet Mountain
Amonkhet Mountain
Hour of Devastation Mountain
Hour of Devastation Mountain
Amonkhet Plains
Amonkhet Plains
Hour of Devastation Plains
Hour of Devastation Plains
Amonkhet Swamp
Amonkhet Swamp
Hour of Devastation Swamp
Hour of Devastation Swamp

3. Amonkhet/Hour of Devastation

Set Release Date: 2017

These sets showcase Nicol Bolas's "Horn Monument", depicting his cruel enslavement over the Amonkhet plane. Not only do I simply enjoy these artworks, I like how they tell a story; the sun starts off to the side of the monuments in Amonkhet, before coming between them in Hour of Devastation (prophesied as the chosen time Nicol Bolas would reveal himself).

Both sets also feature new regular-sized land artworks that deserve a look.

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Theros Beyond Death MountainTheros Beyond Death ForestTheros Beyond Death IslandTheros Beyond Death PlainsTheros Beyond Death Swamp
Theros Beyond Death Mountain
Theros Beyond Death Mountain
Theros Beyond Death Forest
Theros Beyond Death Forest
Theros Beyond Death Island
Theros Beyond Death Island
Theros Beyond Death Plains
Theros Beyond Death Plains
Theros Beyond Death Swamp
Theros Beyond Death Swamp

2. Theros Beyond Death (Full-Arts)

Set Release Date: 2020

Today's most recent cards, these full-arts feature the color's symbol bathed in breath-taking hues. They're more abstract than most lands, but offer vivid representations of each. Plus, since players get one full-art land in each TBD booster, they're pretty easy to snag; you can score a full set (one of each) for less than four dollars!

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Unstable ForestUnstable IslandUnstable MountainUnstable PlainsUnstable Swamp
Unstable Forest
Unstable Forest
Unstable Island
Unstable Island
Unstable Mountain
Unstable Mountain
Unstable Plains
Unstable Plains
Unstable Swamp
Unstable Swamp

1. Unstable

Set Release Date: 2017

Like the other "Un" sets, Unstable isn't legal in most official events, but its wacky shenanigans offer completely unique battles for casual play. And like Unhinged, its full-art lands have just one art per land type, but impress with vivid colors that make even basic lands feel powerful.

With hundreds of images for each land type throughout Magic, there's some tough competition, but given the choice, I'll always take the Unstable variants.

Which lands do you prefer?

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Other Lands in Magic

Today we covered some of Magic's most iconic landscapes, but don't forget to check out the awesome artworks on non-basic lands. Also consider the snow-covered lands (full-arts of which released in Modern Horizons), which offer cool backdrops alongside the unique snow subtype, boosting certain effects, and colorless-providing Wastes lands.

Magic's artwork only gets better as time passes, and I'm eager to see what its future brings. But for now, vote for your favorite visuals and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

© 2020 Jeremy Gill

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