Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Non-Mana Lands in Magic
In Magic, most lands tap for mana, letting you cast your spells. You can only play one per turn, gradually improving your production as the match progresses. But not all lands provide resources; some offer alternative abilities instead.
These strange terrains still take up your turn's land play but provide a variety of interesting benefits—which deserve your attention? These are the ten best non-mana land cards in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Eye of Ugin
While this legendary land doesn't provide resources, it still helps cast spells, automatically discounting your colorless eldrazi spells by two mana. Additionally, Ugin can tap and spend seven mana to add any colorless creature from your deck to your hand, a nice way to tutor a late-game titan.
9. Diamond Valley
Diamond Valley was amazing when it first premiered, and it still holds its own. Valley simply taps and sacrifices a creature to gain life equal to its toughness. Since you can activate this at instant speed, you can utilize it in response to removals, putting your already-doomed monsters to good use. Blend with lifegain-powered tools (like "Felidar Sovereign") for a fierce combo.
8. Ice Floe
Ice Floe offers an easy and reusable defense. It can exhaust to tap an attacking creature without flying, and as long as Floe remains tapped (you don't have to untap it during your upkeep), its target won't refresh during their upkeep.
Now, Floe doesn't prevent the attacking unit's initial strike, but afterward, they'll be indefinitely dulled, unable to participate in combat. And if something more dangerous arrives, you can simply untap Floe and target the newcomer when it swings. Effective against just about any deck, Floe is also much cheaper than today's other cards, costing well under a single dollar!
7. Island of Wak-Wak
Wak-Wak may have a funny name, but it's a godsend against flying themes. This land simply taps to make a flying creature's power 0 until end of turn. Not only does this stall aerial enemies, since they're not actually removed from combat, you can safely block (and hopefully kill) them.
A prime defense, but note Wak-Wak won't prevent attack-triggered effects on cards like "Kaalia of the Vast," just their damage. Speaking of which...
6. Glacial Chasm
Glacial Chasm negates all damage (even self-inflicted) that would be dealt to you, making you near-invincible. Of course, it's not that easy. Your own creatures can't attack, you have to sacrifice a land when Chasm enters the field, and it has a cumulative upkeep of paying two life, gradually sapping more of your health.
Still, it's a prime barricade, especially for non-creature themes that don't mind sacrificing their attacks. You can keep Chasm in play without spending life by neglecting to pay its cumulative upkeep, then reviving it from the graveyard with "Crucible of Worlds," but remember it only shields you, not your planeswalkers.
5. Bazaar of Baghdad
At first glance, Bazaar doesn't seem terribly impressive. It taps to draw two cards, then discard three, weakening your overall hand size. However, you get to cycle through your deck and keep what you need while simultaneously preparing your graveyard, perfect for black zombie themes.
While only certain decks should run it, Bazaar is a surprisingly effective in builds that play from the graveyard.
Vesuva's one drawback is it'll enter tapped. But it can copy any land on the field, letting you duplicate non-legendary aces like "Command Tower" and "Cabal Coffers"—useful in singleton formats like commander. You can even copy opposing lands, potentially granting your final colors in a multi-faction deck. Or, mimic defensive plays like Floe and Wak-Wak to further stall your adversaries.
3. Dark Depths
Dark Depths is both legendary and a snow card, qualifying for any corresponding supports (or removals). More than that, it enters with ten ice counters, and you can remove one by paying three mana. Once all are gone, you sacrifice Depths and create a 20/20 creature token with flying and indestructible.
That's simply one of the game's strongest monsters, and you can cheat the token into play with spells like "Vampire Hexmage," who removes all counters from any permanent.
2. Maze of Ith
Unlike previous defensive lands, Maze of Ith works on all creatures (unless they have hexproof or shroud) regardless of whether they're airborne. It taps to essentially negate an attack, untapping your target and preventing all combat damage it would deal and be dealt that turn.
Most obviously, this can stall enemies, but you can even use it to protect your own creatures. For instance, swing with "Zur the Enchanter" to activate his effect, then target him with Maze to ensure he won't be defeated by a stronger blocker.
1. The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
Arguably the best anti-creature tool in the game, Pendrell Vale excels in enchantment or artifact-based decks that neglect creatures. Vale forces all players to either pay one mana for each creature during their upkeep or sacrifice them, making your rivals forfeit mana if they don't want to lose their warriors.
This works especially well in commander since you know your opponent will have at least one unit available, and bonus points if your own commander has an eminence effect, letting them assist you without needing to enter the field.
More of Magic's Best Lands
Terrains that don't tap for mana are a rare (and often pricey) threat, offering powerful enchantment-like effects under the well-protected guise of a land. Many haven't been reprinted in a while, so keep your eyes peeled for hidden gems in old collections.
Beyond today's unusual fields, remember to examine other powerful lands, like the scrying Temple set and legendary "Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx." But for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of abnormal lands, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill