Rule of Law – Should I Be Playing Tectonic Edge?



How good is Tectonic Edge? Should I add it to my deck? What do I cut? These questions immediately follow the release of a potentially powerful card like Tectonic Edge. You could play hundreds of games trying to figure out exactly how good it is, but you might not have time to. I can’t stress the importance of recognizing patterns enough. Metagames can change so quickly (as anyone playing Constructed PTQs knows) that you often can see a change in the metagame, but don’t have time to actually playtest the implications of this change. What I mean is that you might on Saturday notice that Blue decks are a lot more popular now than they were 2 weeks ago. You might only have a week before the next PTQ or 3 days before the next MTGO PTQ to adjust your deck. Are these Tectonic Edges still good? Should I add [card]Tectonic Edge[/card]s to this deck that didn’t have them before? This article will help you make these decisions, and may also help you set up similar models for how other cards are sensitive to changes in your deck and the decks others will likely play.

What does Tectonic Edge give me, and at what cost?

Here is a chart of typical land destruction cards, ranked from highest power level to lowest power level. The context for the power level is that I imagine we drop these cards into the current Standard and evaluate how powerful they would be.


What is the cost of “1 Land Drop”? It is typically more expensive than 1 mana, but cheaper than 2 mana. How did I arrive at this conclusion? Strip Mine is better than Sinkhole, but almost certainly not as good as “R (or B) – Sorcery – Destroy target land.” Also, Sol Ring would be better than Ancient Tomb, even if Sol Ring damaged you for 2 each use, but Ancient Tomb seems more powerful than an artifact that costs 2 with the same mana ability. This isn’t a perfect way to measure how much Strip Mine and Wasteland “cost” but it seems good enough to get them about where they belong in my chart.

Where does Tectonic Edge belong? It costs “Land Drop +1” to use, which assuming “Land Drop” is more than 1 but less than 2, makes it more expensive than Sinkhole but cheaper than Stone Rain. But there is more going on. You aren’t getting “destroy target land” for Land Drop +1, you are getting “destroy target non-basic land IF an opponent controls 4+ land.”

You get to activate your Tectonic Edge about the same time you get to cast a Demolish. The fact that it costs “Land Drop +1” instead of 4 and can be played and tapped for 1 when you don’t need to or can’t destroy a land with it makes it more attractive than Demolish. You get Demolish’s effect at a cheaper price. But is it cheap enough to make us want Demolish in our decks? Seismic Spike gave the player 2 mana back on his/her Demolish, so it was similar to a 2 mana Demolish that couldn’t be used until turn 4. Sounds like Tectonic Edge, doesn’t it? Seismic Spike wasn’t a good card. This is part of the analysis, but it is an incomplete comparison.

The Demolish/Seismic Spike analysis helps us understand how strong the land destruction effect is at the phase of the game we are likely to get access to it, but we aren’t just getting “Demolish for Land Drop +1″ when we add Tectonic Edge to our deck. We can use Tectonic Edge as a colorless land when we don’t want to or we can’t destroy a land. How much better than Seismic Spike is Tectonic Edge in my deck? This is the first thing we need to look at.

Principle #1: the more useful a colorless mana producing land is to our deck, the more we want Tectonic Edge.

There is a critical question deckbuilders must answer regarding Tectonic Edge: “Am I going to cut lands or spells from my deck when I add Tectonic Edges?” My first instinct is to cut something like 2 lands and 2 spells when I add 4 Tectonic Edge, since it sometimes will be used like a spell, and sometimes as a mana source. But this is just lazy deckbuilding. If most of my spells or a few critical spells in my curve cost only colored mana (I’m looking at you Bloodghast, Leatherback Baloth, and Cruel Ultimatum), I can’t add 4 Tectonic Edge to my deck and pretend I’ve added 4 mana producing lands. Thus, in Cruel Control, Vampires, or Eldrazi with Nissa’s Chosen and Leatherback Baloth, I would consider the Tectonic Edges more spell than land (it still helps you cast Eldrazi Monument, Malakir Bloodwitch, etc., so it isn’t pure spell, but if I’m adding 4 Edges to one of these decks, I might need to cut 3 spells and 1 land to preserve my ability to cast the all colored mana spells in my deck). Since Tectonic Edge is more spell than land in these decks, we must ask: do these decks want a slightly-better-than-Demolish spell? This leads us to principle #2, which deals with when we want the effect.

Demolish is so bad vs. aggressive decks that we wouldn’t play it even if it gave us 2 of the mana back (i.e. we won’t play Seismic Spike). Also, since many aggressive decks seem to be mono- or two-color in the current standard (Bloodghast, Leatherback Baloth, Elemental Appeal will lead to this), the faster decks tend to have less non-basic lands than the slower decks. The slower decks need Cruel Ultimatum or Ajani Vengeant to catch up, and thus they need non-basic lands to make their mana work. Control decks are also interested in casting expensive spells and reactive spells that need a particular type of mana. This leads to…

Principle #2: the slower our opponent’s decks are (on average), the more we want Tectonic Edge.

The addition of the very playable Worldwake man-lands provides a fairly obvious, but still important, third principle. The man-lands will always be an important part of Tectonic Edge’s position in the metagame. They show up even in aggressive decks that otherwise might not care about a land destruction effect on turn 4+, making Edges useful in those matchups.

Principle #3: the more man-lands we expect to encounter, the more we want Tectonic Edge.

Just to put them all in one place:

Principle #1: The more useful a colorless mana producing land is to our deck, the more we want Tectonic Edge.

Principle #2: The slower our opponent’s decks are (on average), the more we want Tectonic Edge.

Principle #3: The more man-lands we expect to encounter, the more we want Tectonic Edge.

These three principles force us to look at our deck and the expected metagame, and provide a framework for doing so (i.e. what to look for). Tectonic Edge will find a home in a successful deck at some point. Will it be at this month’s Pro Tour San Diego? Perhaps. This article isn’t about a single snapshot of “is this card good” at a particular time. Those of us planning to play in San Diego are testing now, trying to figure out how good we think Tectonic Edge will be. But after San Diego, as the metagame and our decks shift, we can re-evaluate whether we should be playing Tectonic Edge using the above principles.

27 thoughts on “Rule of Law – Should I Be Playing Tectonic Edge?”

  1. I definitely see Tectonic Edge in Extended, where people can pair with World Queller, Magus of the Tabernacle, and Trinisphere to make a Stax deck. Plus, it can force your opponent to have two Vampire Hexmages should they want to go off with Dark Depths.

    In Standard, I think the main problem with it is that since decks have such strict color requirements, Tectonic Edge doesn’t do enough for the risk. I definitely expect it to be played in the Spreading Seas deck as well as mono-colored decks. I love to take down Emerias with it.

    I’ll tack on another principle:
    Principle #4: The more effect-lands we see(pair these with manlands if you want) like Emeria, Crypt of Agadeem, Valakut, etc., the more we want to play Tectonic Edge.

  2. It’s worth mentioning that you can activate multiple Tectonic Edges in response to each other if you want to kill multiple lands but they only have 4 land in play.

  3. i can tell you a second hexmage doesn’t get the job done, you also need a second dark depths (like against ghost quarter)
    i think it is possible for tectonic edge to find a spot in constructed but its not a card i would build a deck around

  4. “Plus, it can force your opponent to have two Vampire Hexmages should they want to go off with Dark Depths.”

    or they could just not play a 4th land, something the deck is capable of quite often

  5. it’s really terrible. wasteland, port were good because they are good against any deck. Tectonic Edge is good against maybe half the field (if that).

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  7. The big problem with TE is the *only if an opponent controll 4 or more lands*

    Now I don´t really find Wasteland unfair because it´s a trade 1 for 1 trade. Yes it is not completely symetrical since you built your deck with wasteland in mind and you can include other spells to take advantadge of it but I see no problem with this really.

    If you ask me a card like Blood Moon is more unfair and alot more boring then Wasteland, atleast in a format where you can easily play it on turn 1 without any risk of haveing it countered and then go on to smash face againtst a helpless opponent.

    Extended for example would just be a better and healthier format with the inclusion of wasteland because currently there´s no way to punish people for being Greedy unless you play a deck with Blood Moon.

    I realise WotC will never reprint Wasteland but then atleast give us Dust Bowl. Printing a land that says, you can´t stonerain your opponent on turn 3 if you are on the play, atleast not if you are planning to take advantadge of this land is just terrible and I don´t like conditional cards in general (play only if your oponent. etc. etc.)

  8. Marcin Sciesinski

    I was thinking about including Tectonic Edge in decks that have top of the mana curve at 4-5 mana. This way, I can ensure I will be able to extend the “mid-game” for as long as I want/need to, by denying my opponent going over 5 mana mark. Great example of such deck is URW control – all of your most important spells you need to cast, cost 4 mana – Ajani, new Jace, DoJ.

    Side note: When you want to embed an image with only text on it. It’s better to export it as a GIF. Don’t use JPEG for that.

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  10. its amazing against jund. you could force an opponent to use a fetch land on command to spring your archive traps(some people sit on fetches).

    its great LD for non-red decks in standard.

  11. The key to whether we would want Tectonic Edge or not is really Principle #1. In other words, what is the opportunity cost of running TE in your deck? If you have a mono- or two-color deck without prohibitive mana costs among your spells, then you can generally consider TE as a land slot in your deck, in which case, why wouldn’t you run it? Put another way, if a colorless land is going to function essentially like a colored land the majority of the time in your deck, then the upside of TE (cutting a UWR or Grixis or Jund deck out of a color, killing man-lands, valakuts etc) is well worth it. If it starts interfering with your ability to reliably play your spells, then it’s not.

    The one other consideration is if your deck has the ability to tutor up a singleton TE (I’m thinking mainly via Knight of the Reliquary). In that case, running one seems good as a tutorable way to answer otherwise problematic cards like Emeria, man-lands, etc.

  12. Shadowsketched: 2 problems with your dark depths application 1) you would crack this in response to the saccing trigger on dark depths after the counters are removed so it doesnt matter how many hexmages they have, they wont get marit lage, 2) that deck many times doesnt have 4 lands when it goes off anyway so this is going to look pretty silly on the table

    3) (bonus issue) you have ghost quarter in extended… why would you even want this?

  13. Re: Marcin Sciesinski
    I think UWR is a bad home for offensive Tectonic Edge. That is, Tremble (the card) isn’t something the deck wants. I could see some number to deal with manlands but that’s it.

    Knight of the Reliquary is probably the reason it’ll see play most often. Being able to keep the game in Stage Two is something most decks with Knight would appreciate. I could see a 1-1 MD/SB split being fine.

    I don’t see this card seeing play in extended.

  14. The comparison table compares it to other cards that are not that relevant because they are either not in the format or just fit another role.
    It’s more important to compare it to other colorless lands like gargoyle castle, quicksand etc. because they are relevant for the oppurtunity cost of tectonic edge. Seeing as gargoyle castle got little play tectonic will be difficult to fit as well although it’s arguably stronger.
    Any deck with knight of reliquary will obviously play it, for the rest I only see some on the decks with easy color requirements fitting them which is only nissa monument at the moment. Vampires, mono red and WW are 1 color but still got quite the requirements so fit 2 at most.

    In extended the card is simply too slow and could be a board card along with Knight at most.

    The manlands and sejiri steppe are going to have a bigger impact on standard then tectonic edge I think.

  15. Not want to sound to bitchy so I´ll add that TE is infact better then GhostQuarter against Scapeshift so maybe in adeck that run GQ as 1-1 main-side board this could potentially get the side board spot. Against Scape Shift the “*if your opponent* won´t be a problem and it should be ok against Dark Depths too.

    Also people could potentially bring in Pithing Needle to Combat GQ so a split might not be terrible.

    It could also make up one fourth of a Gifts pile I suppose.

    I still think the card is bad but I won´t dismiss it that fast. Worse cards than this have seen Extended play after all.

  16. @cgriff19

    1) I would crack it in response to the Hexmage sacrifice. That way, when the counter removal
    part resolves, there is nothing to remove counters from.

    2) Good point on this part.

    3) It’s another named card. If for some reason you can’t use Ghost Quarter(it’s been Pithing Needle’d, or you’re doing a Gifts Ungiven) pile, you have this card. I’m not saying that this is on the same power level as GQ, but it offers an alternative should GQ be unavailable.

    @Sean O’Neill
    It's worth mentioning that you can activate multiple Tectonic Edges in response to each other if you want to kill multiple lands but they only have 4 land in play.

    I like this. It’s an important thing to note.

  17. I also disagree on calling Wasteland unfair. Without cards like that, nonbasics have no real drawback and building manabases is easy (I don’t think Blood Moon is unfair either, it is even too slow for bigger formats). In Standard, by the time you can play Tectonic Edge the opponent has already cast Sprouting Thrinax and Bloodbraid elf, and destroying the land is kinda pointless. It may be good against bigger curves, with leaves in the akward position of hosing control without being good enough to hose multicolor goodstuff aggro, which is the one that needs hosing. But Wizars think totally different, I guess.

    Just for the record, where does Armageddon fits in the fairness scale? Leaving opponents without lands all of a sudden hasn’t been a viable strategy since ages.

  18. I played with the edge in limited and it proved useful once. I made the mistake of using a land slot and not a spell slot for it though so it could have been better if I accounted for the mana curve better. I’d say overall its not very effective you’re probably going to want to destroy manlands with removal spells like path to exile rather then use this but it could definitely be SB material for extra removal against heavy manland/nonbasic land decks.

  19. It’ll be decent in Eldrazi Green, Vampires (maybe- Mind Sludge and Tendrils of Corruption don’t like TE), Mono-White, and perhaps some Knight of the Reliquary deck.

    It’ll be good against UWr Control, Grixis Control, Jund (keeping them off of Bit Blast and Broodmate Dragon is good enough), greedy new decks and “special” lands (Valakut, Emeria, etc).

    It won’t be amazing, but I’ll be happy to play 3 or 4 in Eldrazi Green and sideboard in Acidic Slime against Jund and actually hose them a bit harder. At least, in theory. It’s a fine card. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not absurd and it won’t define the format.

  20. Wizards of the Coast believes (judging by the contents of recent sets) that Stone Rain is not quite “fair.” Some guy on some website believes it is. I know who I’m going to trust.

  21. Anonymous #65

    It has nothing do to with Stone Rain being unfair. Only reason they made LD-spells worse are because of the fun factor to new players.

  22. What it comes down to in the end is basically:
    Tectonic Edge is an awful spell.
    Tectonic Edge is a great land.

    Whether or not you will be able to count it as a land is the deciding factor on if you can play it or not. Decks with lots of colorless mana in their costs will almost certainly want to play 4 of this. Even if you on average want more lands than your opponent, you can still use this as a mana source when needed to cast things like Earthquake, Jwar Jwar Sphinx or Baneslayer Angel.

    Decks like monored that run Ball Lightning and Elemental Appeal will not play it since they can only count it as a spell, plus they want to have won before their opponents turn 5 anyway. Vampires and Eldrazi Green are borderline. They have some cards that are uncastable with Tectonic Edge, but since most spells works just fine they will probably want to run it and reduce their land count by 2-4.

  23. If Tectonic edge happens to have a reasonably large place in the metagame, I think Grixis control is going to have a lot of difficulty with it. Getting 7 lands into play to cast Cruel Ultimatum will not be easy against decks running 4 Tectonic Edge. My prediction is that midrange decks with not that restrictive casting costs or lots of color fixing (Noble Hierarch, Lotus Cobra) are going to want to use Tectonic edge in order to combat control decks that usually have inevitability against them. Additionally, Knight of the Reliquary can tutor them up and fits nicely into these kinds of decks.

  24. Ok, so none of the 3 principles help me to decide whether tectonic edge or dread statuary is better for my deck. I would like to hear an analysis of when to put which in my deck and why. I’ll ask you in person in San Diego since I doubt either of us will check this forum in time. Thanks for the good read and gl in SD.

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