Developing your skills as a deckbuilder is crucial to success in any format, but in my experience, there’s no format besides Modern that rewards mastery of deck construction like Modern does. Modern is an incredibly diverse format; with a giant card pool and a wide variety of viable archetypes, there’s always room for new ideas and new innovations. Innovating, and finding the new best thing to do in the format, is a great way to take down a tournament. But if you want to have success innovating in Modern, it’s important that you develop fundamental skills that you can build upon, even including what lands for Modern you choose.
One of these fundamental skills, and the subject of this Deep Dive is understanding the roles of the different mana-fixing lands and utility lands for Modern and selecting the best ones for your deck. There are already lots of great resources on the topic that I highly recommend reading. Among these are:
- Frank Karsten’s legendary article the number of colored sources you need for your decks: This is a great resource for understanding the number of colored sources you need to support the spells in your deck. I highly recommend this article to newer deck builders, it’ll definitely help you form a deeper understanding of the game.
- Another important Karsten Article on the number of lands you need to play for different mana curves.
These two Karsten articles will give you a great foundation for mathematically building your mana bases.
This is a great follow up read to Karsten’s articles, as Reid expands on some interesting nuances with building mana bases.
These articles (and many others) are fantastic resources for making sure your decks have the right number or lands, the right number of colored sources, and understanding deck construction as a whole. These articles also exhaustively and expertly cover these topics.
What I’d like to focus on in this article is specifically Modern’s mana bases, and some of the nuances that come when selecting which lands to play for your decks. Since Modern has access to such a wide array of different lands, there are usually a handful of ways to build functioning mana bases with enough lands and enough colored sources. Fetchlands, shocklands, Triomes, filterlands, tangolands, checklands, fastlands, creaturelands, Pathways, modal double-faced cards, utility lands and of course basic lands are all competing for a spot in your deck and choosing the right combination of these cards can be tricky. Contrast this with Legacy, where most decks play a combination of fetchlands, the ABUR dual lands, basic lands and Wasteland. Also contrast Modern’s mana bases with smaller formats like Standard, Pioneer or Historic, where the mana-fixing lands are less powerful but options are more limited, so choices when deck building become easier.
I’m going to be going into depth about deckbuilding decisions that come with the various lands types, and of course we need to start with the most iconic and powerful cards in Modern: fetchlands.