Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How Does Landfall Work in Magic?
Many Magic cards offer "landfall," which activates special abilities when a land enters the field under your control. Assuming you don't run out of cards, you should be playing a land each turn, making these effects easy to trigger; and some spells let you play multiple lands each turn, forming fierce combos.
Landfall favors green, but it also dabbles in other colors, making it a diverse trait that can aid any deck. But with dozens of terrain-based abilities available, which members reign supreme? These are the ten best landfall cards in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Phylath, World Sculptor/Avenger of Zendikar
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 6/7
Other than a high mana cost, Phylath has several things going for him. He's a fierce 5/5 with elemental synergy who on arrival creates a 0/1 plant token for each basic land you control. From there, whenever you play a land (basic or not), his landfall puts four +1/+1s on a plant you control.
Avenger is a similar 5/5 elemental who creates a 0/1 for every land on entry, then gives a +1/+1 to all your plants with each land play. Comparatively, Phylath has lower mana cost and gives more counters individually, but Avenger only needs one color and spreads the counter faster among multiple creatures. Either way, both excellent for landfall decks.
While his stats are an average 2/1 and he can't block, Bloodghast has haste if any opponent has 10 or less life, letting him attack immediately. More than that, his landfall effect lets you return him from your graveyard to the field for free whenever you play a land! This makes Bloodghast ridiculously easy to revive, and you can quickly get him into your graveyard by using him as discard or mill fodder.
Throw in vampire and spirit synergies, and you have a surprisingly versatile card perfect for any black deck.
8. Scute Swarm
Many green players fondly remember Scute Mob, and Scute Swarm's just as tempting. For his mana cost, he's pitifully weak at 1/1, but when you play a land, he creates a 1/1 insect token. Of, if you control six or more lands, he instead creates a copy of himself, meaning you'll rapidly swarm the field and swing for the win.
For a particularly nasty combo, mutate onto Scute Swarm to create monster copies far stronger than 1/1.
7. Eternity Vessel
Like Phylath, Vessel needs a substantial sum of six mana, but its colorless nature pairs with any theme. When it arrives, Vessel gains X charge counters, where X is your current life. Then, whenever a land enters under your control, you can have your current life become X, essentially healing previous wounds and making self-mutilating cards much safer.
To sweeten the pot, try using proliferate to increase the number of charge counters on Vessel, letting your life reach new peaks. Just remember that your opponent can still win if they collect 21 commander damage in EDH format.
6. Steppe Lynx
Lynx's 0/1 stats are unimpressive until you consider his landfall, which grants +2/+2 whenever a land arrives! Thus, he should effectively serve as a 3/2 on your turn, an exceptionally strong unit for his low price.
Lynx is particularly helpful in cat themes, but I use him in many white decks for his unrivaled early-game power. Fortunately, he's also one of the cheapest top-tier cards available, costing less than fifty cents!
5. Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
Unlike many demons, Ob lacks flying, and he enters with a disappointing 3/3 stats. But don't despair, as his landfall lets him acquire three +1/+1 counters and sap three life from an opponent, a deadly boost that turns Ob into an impressive 6/6 after just one feeding.
Like other landfall cards, try playing Ob before your land for the turn (if you can already afford him), letting you immediately reap his benefits.
4. Searing Blaze
With its prowess, Searing Blaze rivals even the infamous "Lightning Bolt" for best low-cost red removal. It inflicts one damage to both an opponent and one of their creatures, but if you've had a land enter your field during the turn, each target is hit for three!
Three instant-speed pain should remove most early-game creatures, and scoring an extra three against your opponent edges you that much closer to victory.
3. Lotus Cobra
Lotus Cobra offers a great ramp tactic that doesn't require tapping, simply acquiring one mana of any color whenever you play a land. This works particularly well in multi-color decks, acquiring any hues you need Top it off with decent 2/1 stats and snake synergies for an excellent low-cost snake.
2. Omnath, Locus of Creation
Omnath's today's best card, with his only failing being his ban in most formats (but not commander). He's very picky with color requirements, needing one of each except black, but offers a sturdy 4/4 who gives you four life with your first land each turn. Your second landfall on a turn effectively refunds Omnath's cost by providing RGWU, and your third trigger hits all opponents and their planeswalker for four damage.
Subsequent landplays won't do anything (not that many turns see more than three), but these amazing effects rightfully earned Omnath a quick ban in standard and brawl.
1. Ruin Crab/Hedron Crab
Both crabs impress as amazing early-game setups with surprising long-term threat potential. Whenever you play a land, Ruin mills three cards from each opponent's deck, while Hedron mills two from any one player's.
Hedron gives the option of picking yourself, but Ruin is almost always better; he mills more cards, affects all opponents in multiplayer, and is a great blocker at 0/3 (compared to Hedron's 0/2).
But don't let that convince you that Hedron is bad; both are amazing mill cards that can later serve as chump blockers if needed.
Supporting Landfall Decks in Magic
Remember, to repeatedly trigger landfall, use green spells like "Exploration" and "Burgeoning" that allow multiple lands plays per turn. Additionally, several lands (like "Evolving Wilds") can sacrifice themselves to field others from your deck, activating landfall twice with a single play!
You can entirely devote to a landfall deck, but it's also a great supplement to other structures, as its units still work fine on their own. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of land-based effects, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill