Top 10 Desert Lands in Magic: The Gathering

Updated on October 12, 2019
Jeremy Gill profile image

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

What Are Deserts in Magic?

Like Magic's other lands, deserts tap for mana, fueling your spells. Unfortunately, many deserts can only provide colorless mana or require you to pay life for colored, but they compensate with unique abilities most lands lack. Additionally, controlling deserts powers-up certain spells.

So whether you're running desert-empowered cards or simply looking for lands with bonus effects, today we'll help you pick from the ten best deserts in Magic: The Gathering!

Ramunap Ruins mtg
Ramunap Ruins mtg

10. Ramunap Ruins

Ruins is red's entry in a series of deserts that can either tap for a colorless mana, or for a colored one if you pay one life. While you can get a red without losing life with a basic Mountain, Ruins also has the bonus ability to spend four mana, tap, and sacrifice a desert (possibly itself) to deal two damage to each opponent.

While a poor deal for four mana, it's a nice option to have available if you're out of spells, potentially delivering the killing blow against weakened adversaries.

Ipnu Rivulet mtg
Ipnu Rivulet mtg

9. Ipnu Rivulet

Rivulet does for blue what Ruins does for red, tapping for either a free colorless mana or a blue one if you spend a life point. Its unique effect taps, sacrifices a desert, and spends two mana to mill the top four cards from any player's deck.

This is the cheapest bonus ability in the set and makes a nice coup de grâce in millstone decks. You can even target yourself if you like, perhaps hoping to set spells with graveyard-activated flashback or aftermath.

Shefet Dunes mtg
Shefet Dunes mtg

8. Shefet Dunes

Dunes gives the white faction its specialty desert, again tapping for either a colorless mana or a white at the cost of one life. Additionally, Dunes can exhaust, sacrifice a desert, and spend four to grant your creatures +1/+1 for the turn.

Like the other unique effects, that's a rather expensive price (especially since you lose a land) for a minor effect, but if you've been swarming white's creature tokens, it can reinforce your army just enough to score the win. That said, note that unlike the previous abilities, you can only do this at sorcery speed.

Hashep Oasis mtg
Hashep Oasis mtg

7. Hashep Oasis

Oasis gives the expected options for either a colorless or life-draining green mana. Then, its unique trait taps, sacrifices a desert, and spends three mana to grant a creature +3/+3 for the turn, offering a generally-superior version of white's effect. Note the sacrifice helps empower cards like green's "Ramunap Hydra," who benefits from having a desert fielded as well as one in your graveyard.

Ifnir Deadlands mtg
Ifnir Deadlands mtg

6. Ifnir Deadlands

The final card of its set, Deadlands can tap for a colorless mana or a black by spending one life. Alternatively, it can tap, sacrifice a desert, and spend four mana to place two -1/-1 counters on an opposing creature.

You can only do this at sorcery speed, but it's a great last-ditch effort to weaken big threats or outright kill small ones. Bonus points if used alongside proliferate cards like "Atraxa, Praetors' Voice," which multiply the counters.

Painted Bluffs mtg
Painted Bluffs mtg

5. Painted Bluffs

Even the best rainbow decks often find themselves lacking the right mana types; six red and green mana doesn't do anything if your spell needs one blue. Painted Bluffs can help, tapping and spending any mana to produce one from a color of your choice.

This takes two lands but outputs whatever color you need, protecting against stale land draws. And Bluffs can always tap for a single colorless if you're already satisfied with your production.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Desert of the True mtgDesert of the Indomitable mtgDesert of the Mindful mtgDesert of the Fervent mtgDesert of the Glorified mtg
Desert of the True mtg
Desert of the True mtg
Desert of the Indomitable mtg
Desert of the Indomitable mtg
Desert of the Mindful mtg
Desert of the Mindful mtg
Desert of the Fervent mtg
Desert of the Fervent mtg
Desert of the Glorified mtg
Desert of the Glorified mtg

4. The "Cycling" Deserts

Like basic lands, these cards produce one mana of a given color, but they enter tapped. However, they make up for it with not just their desert subtype but also cycling abilities, letting you discard them from your hand and spend two mana to draw, useful when you're hurting for spells more than lands. Here's the specific card for each faction:

  • White: Desert of the True
  • Green: Desert of the Indomitable
  • Blue: Desert of the Mindful
  • Red: Desert of the Glorified
  • Black: Desert of the Fervent

Endless Sands mtg
Endless Sands mtg

3. Endless Sands

Endless Sands works well in decks that play for the long haul. It can't produce any colored mana, but can generate a colorless and enters untapped. You can also spend two and tap Sands to exile a creature you control. You want to do this in response to a removal that would defeat your minion anyway, since you can eventually spend four mana and tap and sacrifice Sands to return each creature it exiled to the field under its owner's control.

You can even use Sands after you play a field wipe, concealing a monster until you're ready for them to return.

Sunscorched Desert mtg
Sunscorched Desert mtg

2. Sunscorched Desert

If you're only running one color (especially red), consider running Sunscorched Desert, as your other basic lands will presumably meet your color demands. While it can't provide colored mana, it taps for a colorless, and when it enters the field, you deal one damage to a player or planeswalker.

Use this to stall opposing planeswalkers or scrape adversaries directly—which works great for triggering the reduced prices of cards with spectacle. Particularly useful in 20-life formats like modern, Sunscorched has saved my bacon more than once and costs well under a single dollar!

Desert mtg
Desert mtg

1. Desert

The aptly-named Desert carries its trademark subtype and can tap for a single colorless. Or, it can tap at the end of a combat step to deal one damage to an attacking creature. This can mean the difference between successful stalling an enemy or suffering its damage, and savvy players might even use the trait to nick their damage-triggered dinosaurs, like "Needletooth Raptor" and "Siegehorn Ceratops."

Which card do you prefer?

See results
Ramunap Hydra mtg
Ramunap Hydra mtg

Desert-Related Spells in Magic

While deserts offer various effects, remember they also empower certain cards, mainly from the Hour of Devastation set. These include "Ramunap Hydra," "Sand Strangler," and "Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs."

Whether fortifying desert-based spells or providing variety in other themes, deserts offer a unique blend to any deck. But for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of arid lands, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

© 2019 Jeremy Gill

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hobbylark.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)