40 Land Brew Off

Today I’m running another deckbuilding challenge wherein the winner will receive $25 in ChannelFireball store credit  for their stellar submission.

The theme today is LANDS, and as always we will push the boundaries. This time, your goal is to produce a deck that thrives off of lands. The more the better.

What Is a Land?

Mana is the source of a planeswalker’s power. Spells require energy. Aside from a few exceptions, every creature, artifact, enchantment, spell—anything that does anything—requires mana to be cast.

The land is a renewable resource that produces mana. As a rule, every turn you get to play 1 land, and every turn you get to harvest 1 mana from every land on that turn.

Lands are the most reliable, most renewable source of mana, from which everything Magical gets to happen.

How Many Lands to Play?

There are no rules for how many lands you can play, though there are generally accepted guidelines.

The most basic starting point is 40%, or 24 lands in a 60-card deck. This proportion can be adjusted by preference or strategy.

Generally the lower the average converted mana cost, the lower the necessary ratio of lands to spells. The higher the average converted mana cost, the higher the percentage of lands.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 5.14.50 PMDo We Agree?

The goal is to have enough lands to produce enough mana to cast your spells. Too few lands and you can’t cast your spells. Too many lands and you don’t have enough spells to cast. Either way you can’t do much. Pretty similar result, so preference comes into play.

Would you rather be land screwed or land flooded? Since both are arguably about the same, but different, you have some choice over the matter. There are times you could adjust the land ratio without adjusting your win percentage—you’re just shifting the dial between screw and flood. There isn’t always a strategic advantage—sometimes it’s a matter of picking your poison.

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You also have to consider your mana ratio beyond the lands you play. That is, how do cards like Elvish Mystic and Rampant Growth affect the equation?

It gets complicated, but they replace lands to an extent. Thus you can push your mana ratio down to an extreme.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 5.11.06 PM

There are some exceptions that make for extremely low-land-count decks. How about 5-land Elf Belcher with an 8% land ratio but a 91% mana ratio?

Similarly, lots of cheap card draw spells can dig through the deck to find lands. A Serum Visions can turn that first Island into a second without having to play many in the deck.

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Alan Comer’s 10-land merfolk “Miracle Grow” is the best original example of this.

Hyper-low-land-count strategies will make for a fun future challenge, but today we are heading in the exact opposite direction.

Who doesn’t mind mana flooding? Who thinks lands are the best cards in the game? Who likes to play with extremely high land-count decks?

Land-heavy decks can presumably get away with higher cost spells, but they also get plenty of explicit support from pro-land spells. These are an option to build around.

Finally, let lands themselves be the reward.

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40-Land Challenge

Submission Guidelines

  • Modern Format
  • Must play 60%+ Lands
  • Cost Sorted Low to High
  • Explanation 250 words or less
  • Submission Deadline: Wednesday night here in the comments

The point of this exercise is to experiment with playing a lot of lands. You don’t have to play 40 lands, or even 60 cards. The technical requirement is to play 60%+ lands, but more is encouraged!

In next Saturday’s results article I’ll be highlighting my favorite submissions and picking one as the winner of $25 ChannelFireball store credit—selection criteria will include competitiveness, creativity, concision, and most importantly that your submission demonstrates a clear strategic advantage from playing a majority of lands.

The purpose of this series is to expand your thinking when it comes to lands. 40% is a fair guideline, but there is a lot of room for competitive variability.

My example submission:

45/60 Lands

“This deck plays 45 lands in a 60-card shell to maximize the power of drawing Seismic Assault and Life from the Loam together. Seismic Assault on its own is crazy and combos with Spinerock Knoll to find gas. Countryside Crusher and Oracle of Mul Daya are vulnerable creatures, but they pack the greatest punch possible. The rest of the deck is made up of utility lands which can be enough to stall the game out by themselves.”

Post your submission in the comments by Wednesday night. I look forward to reading it!

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