Welcome back to the Epic Experiment. I’m glad to be back with yet another visit.
I have recently spent a great deal of thought on mana bases and how to keep things affordable with the ever growing demands of the modern EDH deck. Let’s have a look and explore some options for helping to keep our budgets under control. There are plenty of expensive options out there if you want to run an optimal mana base, but the truth is many players can’t just splurge for the Fetch/OG Dual land mana. Most players need to find more budget friendly options so having an in depth understanding of what are our options is important.
Let us begin with the level 0 of multi-colour mana bases and that is the wide plethora of common or uncommon tapped lands that all take inspiration from Guildgates. These range from life-gain lands, snow covered duals from Kaldheim, just some plain old tapped lands, Campuses from Strixhaven and Artifact dual lands from Modern Horizons 2. These lands are all viable options for someone playing on a budget and can even be decent additions to a deck depending on what payoffs you are running elsewhere.
The drawback to all of these lands is that will virtually always come into play tapped and that can be a real cost. So, even casual players like myself play these sorts of lands with great trepidation because I KNOW there will be a point in the game where I need an untapped land and all I got was a life gain land. So, players beware.
Another very viable option are the Scrylands. These were originally printed in our original visit to Theros and while it may be hard to believe but at the time some of the lands in this cycle eclipsed $10! Today, they have been reprinted frequently enough such that they hover around $1/ land making them very reasonable budget options. I am a big fan of these lands because I find that little bonus of a Scrty 1 super valuable and can really help smooth out a rocky opening hand, or set up an optimal draw later in the game.
Again, the same problem as with the Tapped lands is that these also enter play tapped. The cost rises as the power level of your meta increases, meaning that typically these get cut in favor of lands that are untapped, but they make a solid basis for a budget deck.
Originally given to us in Shadows Over Innistrad, this land cycle has largely been panned for being not particularly good. However, these can be useful options for a budget deck.
First off, the 5 allied lands from Shadows Over Innistrad all hover around $1 making them very budget friendly. The 5 Enemy coloured pairs found in Strixhaven are worth slightly more because they might see some measure of play in Standard, but even at $3 they are pretty reasonable. The benefit here is that they do have the option of being played untapped. The most likely scenario is that these get played on Turn 1 when you may have another basic or two in hand, but really, the fact that this comes in untapped, even T1, is a big boost because it means you have just one more land that is untapped and doesn’t force you to wait.
Also, should you draw a big ol’ pile of cards you could play this untapped if you draw multiple lands, which is a nice thought. They are a little tricky to use effectively and the tension between having them play untapped vs tapped is certainly a concern, but the fact the option exists is a nice thought.
As we continue to explore budget options we get to the bi-cycle lands from Amonkhet. Truth be told, this cycle is pretty decent because on top of being dual lands, they are also templated with the land type so that you can fetch them with the correct Fetchland. The fact that Sheltered Thicket is a Mountain and a Forest is terrific and allows it to be accessed quite readily, helping to smooth out your mana.
The extra cherry on top here is the cycling cost that can allow you cash in the land and draw another card. What’s not to love? Once again, this cycle comes into play tapped, which is a drawback, but the fact remains these lands are increasingly versatile… and run you somewhere around $3 making them excellent budget options.
Another excellent budget option are the Tango lands from Battle for Zendikar. They earned their name for being able to be untapped if you already have 2 basics on the battlefield… because of course it takes two to Tango! These are great budget options hovering between $1 and $2 a card and provide some real solid benefits.
Firstly, these DO have the capacity to be untapped, which is very valuable. With this land cycle, late game plays are much likely to be online because chances are a late top deck will allow you to have the untapped land you need to make your big play. They are also templated with the land types so that they are lands that are legal targets for fetches giving you yet more options.
Another viable option for budget players are the creature lands. It is interesting that these all originate from the plain of Zendikar but come from different visits to the plane. The 5 original allied lands found in Worldwake have all seen some measure of competitive play (except Stirring Wildwood) and some have even been quite expensive. These originators were probably a little too good and cards like Celestial Colonnade were widely played and were very expensive.
The 5 enemy coloured creature lands from Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch, on the other hand, have all been relegated to support roles or outright discarded because many of them aren’t good enough. The truth is that all of these lands can be very useful to provide a surprise blocker, can carry swords or equipment, and can survive board wipes and leave you with a credible threat. They also now have seen their prices sink to under $5 for even the most expensive and many hover around $1 making them good budget options that provide versatility.
The Pathways that appear in Zendikar Rising and Kaldheim are perhaps some of the best budget friendly dual lands we have seen in quite a while. While they are currently quite expensive, but I would expect that upon rotation these all see a very tangible drop in price.
The best attribute with these lands is that they always come into play untapped. That is a HUGE upgrade on many of the other lands we have seen in this article. However, the tension at play is that they can only be used to produce one colour or the other once they have been played because you have to select which side of the card you wish to play. I appreciate the tension that is created by a player having to make a choice about which side to play because decisions are ultimately at the core of our game. The more decisions we make, the more I like the game. So, I can’t wait for these to see their price recede as they approach rotation because I see these as being a very real and bright option going forward.
Well, that is going to wrap our look at budget dual lands. Hopefully we’ve given casual players a slightly different perspective into why play some of these land cycles. With new cycles being printed with every new expansion these options are going to continue to grow and help budget players keep their decks viable and their wallets a tad more full. If you enjoyed my thoughts or have something you would like to see explored in more detail, please check out our decks and much more each week on our podcast on iTunes, Google Podcast, Spotify, Amazon, and anywhere else you find better podcasts. Just look for the name The Epic Experiment Podcast! We’d love to have you join us!