Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How to Play Lands in Magic: The Gathering
Lands are your fuel source in Magic. You can only play one each turn, but unlike other cards, they're free, and most can tap for a single mana, gradually letting you cast bigger spells. Typical decks devote a bit more than 1/3 of their slots to lands; 60-card decks usually run around 24.
But some terrains offer special effects, potentially tapping for whopping mana totals. Of course, you usually have to fulfill some sort of requirement to gain the additional mana, but today we'll explore the 20 best multiple-mana lands in Magic: The Gathering!
20. Eldrazi Temple
Just like a basic wastes land, Eldrazi Temple can tap for a single colorless mana. However, it can also tap for two colorless, but you can only use this mana for eldrazi spells or colorless eldrazi abilities. That's still an appreciated boost, especially since eldrazi are some of the strongest (and most expensive) cards in the game.
I like that Temple has such an easy fallback; if you're not yet ready for your colossal eldrazi creatures, you're still getting the standard mana-per-turn in the meantime.
19. Cabal Stronghold
Like Temple, Stronghold can simply tap for a colorless mana. However, if you spend three when you exhaust it, you add a black mana for each basic swamp you control.
Use this in mono-black themes to score massive amounts of resources, and since Stronghold isn't legendary, you can field multiple copies without sacrificing.
18. Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Unlike previous lands, Nykthos is legendary, but this shouldn't prove an issue in singleton formats like commander. Once again, it has the default tap for a single colorless, but by spending two and tapping it, you add an amount of any mana type equal to your devotion to that color.
Devotion tallies the number of colored symbols in the costs of permanents you control, so if you're running a mono-color deck, you can score amazing amounts of resources, especially with symbol-heavy cards like "Primalcrux".
17. Guild Bounce Lands
Each color-pairing guild has its own land. They enter tapped, so you have to wait for their mana, and they return another land to your hand upon entry. However, each taps for two mana in two different colors, ensuring you're not color-locked out of a spell. You can also use the bounce to retrigger entrance effects on lands like "Dismal Backwater". Here's a quick list of each guild's land:
- White and Blue: Azorius Chancery
- White and Black: Orzhov Basilica
- White and Red: Boros Garrison
- White and Green: Selesnya Sanctuary
- Blue and Black: Dimir Aqueduct
- Blue and Red: Izzet Boilerworks
- Blue and Green: Simic Growth Chamber
- Black and Red: Rakdos Carnarium
- Black and Green: Golgari Rot Farm
- Red and Green: Gruul Turf
16. Phyrexian Tower
Like many of today's cards, this legendary land can simply tap for a colorless, but it can also tap and sacrifice a creature to gain two black mana. Try running Tower with themes that swarm weak tokens or reward you for killing creatures, like with zombies or saprolings.
15. Lake of the Dead
Lake of the Dead plays a high-risk high-reward game. You have to sacrifice a swamp for it to arrive, and it can either tap for a single black mana, or it can tap and sacrifice another swamp for four black!
With careful timing, you can forfeit lands to obtain late-game plays far ahead of schedule, and losing them isn't such a big deal when you're running graveyard-land support like "Crucible of Worlds". And don't forget you can tap your swamps for one last mana before Lake sacrifices them.
14. Balduvian Trading Post
Trading Post requires you to sacrifice an untapped mountain upon entry. However, it produces one colorless and one red when tapped, and (unlike similar cards like "Dormant Volcano"), it enters untapped and ready to go. Additionally, it can tap and spend a mana to deal one damage to an attacking creature.
Rare are the cases where you'll want this small damage over two extra mana, but it's always nice to have available, and you can even use it on your own creatures (perhaps to activate the damage-triggered abilities of dinosaurs).
13. Soldevi Excavations
Excavations is blue's version of Trading Post, forcing you to sacrifice an untapped island when it enters. To offset this, Excavations taps for a blue and a colorless, or it can tap and spend one to scry a card. Great for both mono-blue decks and ones that can return sacrificed lands to your hand or field.
12. City of Traitors
City of Traitors can be tricky, as it automatically sacrifices itself when you play another land. However, it enters untapped and ready to go, exhausting for two colorless each turn.
Either use this after playing other lands to provide the final boost towards your strongest cards, or run it alongside Crucible of Worlds to recover City if it ends up sacrificed.
11. Urza's Lands
Urza's three lands—Tower, Mine, and Power Plant—tap for one colorless, just like basic wastes. However, if you control all three, they tap for additional mana; Mine and Power Plant willprovide two, while Tower produces three!
Combined, a single copy of each card will total seven mana each turn, and since they're not legendary, you can safely field multiple copies in non-singleton formats. Use cards that can search any land (not just basic ones) like "Primeval Titan" to quickly tutor all three.
Cloudpost enters the field tapped, but it taps for one colorless mana per locus on the field. Since Cloudpost itself is a locus, you'll get at least one, and many more if you field multiple copies.
Now, the only other locus card as of this writing is the land "Glimmerpost", meaning these guys aren't great in singleton games, but they're wonderful tools in standard matches. A staple in my own colorless decks, Cloudpost is also one of today's cheapest cards, costing well under two dollars!
9. Cabal Coffers
Unlike most of today's cards, Coffers is all or nothing, offering no fallback colorless mana. But this is rarely an issue; by spending two and tapping Coffers, you add one black for each swamp you control.
Note this counts every swamp, not just basic ones, so multi-type lands like "Scrubland" still empower the effect. Try blending with "Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth" to make every land (including Coffers itself) a swamp, essentially gaining one black for each land you control!
8. Lotus Vale
Another risky but rewarding card, Vale requires you to sacrifice two untapped lands when it arrives. However, it enters untapped and can exhaust for three mana of any one color, giving an impressive and variable boost.
Land-destroying tools like "Sinkhole" make Vale a gamble (if you lose it, you've basically wasted the lands it sacrificed), but again, spells like Crucible of Worlds can help regain forfeited fields.
7. Scorched Ruins
Just like Vale, Ruins forces you to sacrifice two other untapped lands. But it taps for four colorless! If you forfeit standard one-tap lands, you're down two but up four, meaning you're gaining a net sum of two extra resources, even without land-untapping gimmicks.
6. Lotus Field
As great as Vale and Ruins are, you're up a creek without a paddle if they get destroyed; Field offers a safer alternative. True, it enters tapped and you have to sacrifice two lands when it arrives, but they can be tapped, so at least you'll get their mana first.
However, like Vale, Field exhausts for three mana of any color, and since it has hexproof (preventing foes from targeting it), it's much harder for opponents to destroy.
5. Serra's Sanctum
Sanctum's a fantastic addition to enchantment-focused commander decks, tapping for one white mana per enchantment you control. This counts all enchantment types, including regular ones, auras, and enchantment-creatures, an excellent support for generals like "Zur the Enchanter".
You should hold off on playing Sanctum until you have at least one enchantment out, but if you luck out with the Leyline cards, you'll start the game with some in play and be able to utilize Sanctum immediately!
4. Gaea's Cradle
A card I'm surprised hasn't been banned in commander, Cradle provides green's version of Sanctum, tapping for one green per creature you control. Since commander grants constant access to at least one creature (two if you're using partners), it's easy to see how quickly Cradle can ramp, especially with spells that swarm elf tokens, like the planeswalker "Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury".
You can also find a similar effect on the land "Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun", but it first has to transform from the enchantment "Growing Rites of Itlimoc" by controlling four or more creatures during your upkeep.
3. Tolarian Academy
Blue's answer to Sanctum and Cradle, Academy similarly taps for one blue per artifact you control. Since artifact field-wipes are less common than creature removals, it's generally harder for foes to hinder this mana flow than Cradle's, especially when you're swarming thopter tokens and low-cost relics like "Sol Ring".
2. Mishra's Workshop
Workshop's caveat is that its mana only works on artifacts, but it scores not two but three each turn! The fact that it's colorless shouldn't be a problem since most artifacts don't need color, and remember that Workshop can help cast artifact-creatures and equipment spells in addition to standard artifacts.
1. Ancient Tomb
Whenever you tap Tomb for mana, it deals you two damage, but you score two colorless mana that can be applied to any type of spell. In formats that start with 20 life, its lifeloss somewhat balances the card, but in playstyles like commander where you have health to spare (40), you'll barely notice.
As icing on the cake, Tomb isn't legendary, so you can copy it with cards like "Vesuva" to nab even more mana.
Land-Untapping Cards in Magic
To reap the most reward from lands that tap for multiple mana, use cards that untap them like "Kiora's Follower" and "Garruk Wildspeaker". This lets you ramp incredible amounts of mana each turn, gaining a massive lead and accessing just about any spell.
Additionally, remember that some cards (like "Dowsing Dagger") transform into lands that tap for extra mana, rewarding you for meeting their conditions. But for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of mana powerhouses, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill