Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Playing Lands in Magic
Lands are the backbone of just about any Magic deck, providing the mana needed for your actual spells. You can only play one per turn, gradually amassing resources as the game progresses, and many have additional abilities beyond providing mana. But even basic lands far outperform some of the game's worst terrain—which should you avoid at all costs? These are the ten worst land cards in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper
Untaidake enters tapped, can only provide colorless, spends two life to do so, and is legendary, so you can only control one (as if you'd want multiple).
Its one saving grace is that it gives two colorless at a time, but this is quickly overshadowed by the fact that you can only spend this mana on legendary cards. While I like that this includes all legendaries (not just creatures), it's still too restricted to counteract the card's lifeloss, colorless nature, and delay.
Maybe you might see it in a "Captain Sisay" EDH deck, where players have more starting life to fiddle with, but even in it's preferred environment, many still pass on Untaidake.
9. Hall of the Bandit Lord
Hall has similar problems to Untaidake—it enters tapped, only gives colorless, is legendary, and spends life to tap, this time draining three with each use! You can use Hall's mana for any kind of spell, but if devoted towards a creature, it gains haste.
While this helps avoid summoning sickness, it's far too costly to be practical—better haste-giving land alternatives include "Hanweir Battlements" and "Flamekin Village".
8. Rhystic Cave
Rhystic Cave enters untapped and can give any color you need—what's the problem? Well, an opponent can prevent you from gaining anything by spending one mana, meaning Cave only really works when rivals are all tapped out. That's far too unreliable to count on, especially in multiplayer.
7. Madblind Mountain
Despite not being basic, Madblind does have the mountain subtype and can exhaust for red, which is nice. But it enters tapped, a big detriment to red decks, which usually rely on speedy aggression to quickly defeat foes.
The only benefit Madblind offers to counteract its delay is the ability to spend one red and tap to shuffle your deck. But that's rarely worthwhile—it only helps if you know what's on top and want to change it, and you can't use the effect unless you control at least two red permanents.
6. Tomb of Urami
Urami's legendary, so you can only safely control one, but why bother when it's so bad? It can tap immediately for black like a basic swamp, but doing so inflicts one damage to you, gradually dwindling your life.
Urami's secondary ability lets it instead pay four, tap, and sacrifice all lands you control to create a legendary 5/5 demon spirit token with flying. Sure, that's a pretty strong creature, but it requires several mana and completely wipes your field of lands, far too risky to justify Urami's lifeloss.
5. Wintermoon Mesa
Mesa enters tapped and can only tap for one colorless, making it slow and useless for color-fixing. Its second effect doesn't help much, letting you spend two and sacrifice it to tap two other lands (presumably opposing ones).
The only thing Mesa has going for it is that its second effect doesn't require Mesa to tap, so it can tap itself to help pay for it. But even then, you're sacrificing a land, permanently depleting your mana just to temporarily hinder an opponent's. More than that, opponents can respond to the effect, tapping their lands for instants before they lose the mana.
4. Band Lands
- White: Cathedral of Serra
- Red: Mountain Stronghold
- Green: Adventurers' Guildhouse
- Blue: Seafarer's Quay
- Black: Unholy Citadel
These unique lands give your legendary creatures of a certain color (listed above) the ability to band with any of your other legendary creatures, meaning they have to be blocked as a group or not at all. This can be helpful albeit situational—making any use of it requires you control at least two legendaries ready to attack—but it's not worth running a land that can't tap for mana.
A cool idea, but almost unplayable until the band lands gain the ability to tap for some sort of mana.
Like the band lands, Oasis simply can't tap for mana, but still spends your land-per-turn, meaning it's just not useful in the game's early stages. What it can do is tap to prevent the next one damage a creature would take, a nice if small defense, but far outweighed by a lack of mana supply.
2. Nomad Stadium
Like a standard plains, Stadium taps for one white, but it deals you one damage to do so. Once threshold is active (meaning you have at least seven cards in your graveyard), Stadium can instead spend a white, tap, and sacrifice itself to give you four life.
But this means you're permanently losing a land to get a small amount of life that you probably lost from previous Stadium uses. And even in the rare cases you want to use the effect, you can easily be denied it when opponents are running common graveyard-hate tactics. If you want lifegain from lands, you'll find far better alternatives in cards like "Scoured Barrens" and "Radiant Fountain".
1. Sorrow's Path
Finally, some honest advertising: this pitiful card is as confusing as it is bad. It can't tap for mana, instead tapping to make two opposing blocking creatures trade places, but even then, this only works if both can legally block the other's engaged attacker.
Not only is this situational, only working when both players have at least two creatures, it has a massive usage fee, dealing two damage to you and your creatures whenever triggered! Even without this downside, the land would be terrible; with it, it's nothing more than a taunt, telling opponents you don't need functional lands to beat them (except you probably do).
The Best Lands in Magic
Non-basic lands provide fun options to spice things up from the game's vanilla options, but as our list proves, not all alternatives are winners. Still, most of today's card are from old sets, and Wizards of the Coast has gotten better at making modern lands worthwhile.
Today's stinkers are contrasted by the game's best fields, but for now, vote for your least favorite and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2020 Jeremy Gill
Matthew Smith from Iowa on July 13, 2020:
Did not know about a lot of these. Thanks for the article!