The New Mana Base

[Editor’s Note: This article was written before the enemy-colored manlands were revealed.]

Battle For Zendikar is right around the corner and a new Standard format along with it. Siege Rhino, Mantis Rider, and Dragonlord Ojutai will still be legal—but we won’t have the scrylands to cast them.

Luckily, Battle for Zendikar brings with it new, fetchable dual lands.

First of all, note that, for now, we only have access to the 5 allied color pairs, with the 5 enemy color pairs likely following in the next set. On one hand, this new set of duals presents a huge increase in color fixing combined with the Khans of Tarkir fetchlands. On the other, being the same set of color combinations limits that significantly.

What is left for the KTK wedges are fetchlands, painlands, and Evolving Wilds—nothing amazing. You also don’t want BFZ duals to come into play tapped with no added bonus, so I believe that decks will run a considerable number of basics to trigger their ability, and reduce the total number of duals in their mana base. This should cause color proportions to bias toward 2 colors with a possible splash.

All this considered, I’m not sure whether the Khans wedges will be a viable option for PTBFZ, but also I will be shocked if cards like Siege Rhino or Mantis Rider don’t see any play at all. Maybe the power level of those cards is enough to justify an inferior mana base with fetchlands and painlands until the other 5 duals are released.

What really looks promising are allied two-color combinations or the Shards of Alara wedges, which will get plenty of mana fixing with no downsides. Now fetches can grab dual lands instead of just basics, meaning that a deck like Esper Dragons can run 8 fetchlands along with BFZ duals plus basics in order to fix the mana problems it has in the current format.

The last word about the fate of Standard will be spoken once the full spoiler is released—we’ll have to see how cards interact with each other, rather than simply what we’ll have access to.

Other staples like Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix retiring to non-rotating formats, so I except life to get tougher for green mages.

For those of you that are wondering if Abzan Hangarback will still be a tier 1, I’ve got a beta deck list with which I’ll start my Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar testing, even though we are missing much of the new set:

Hangarback Abzan

So what do you think will be the next top deck in Standard? Will it be Abzan again along with the other KTK wedges, two allied colors, or will the shards of Alara make a comeback?


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