Add a Land
You love playing Magic, building your own decks, and battling against your friends. You just finished your newest creation and are ready to defeat foes on the battlefield, but you forgot the crucial last step: add a land to your deck. Let me repeat that, add a land to your deck. One of the biggest mistakes newer players make is adding all the sweetest spell, creatures, and planeswalkers to their decks without fully thinking about how many lands are needed to cast them. Today I want to get you thinking about how many lands your deck really needs before sleeving it up and going into battle.
The typical Magic deck is going to want to be about 40% lands. If your deck is 40 cards for a format like draft that means 17 lands because limited decks often require a little bit more mana. If the average manacost of the cards in your deck is very low you can get by with 16, but if the opposite is true then don’t be afraid to go up to 18 lands. If you’re playing one of Magic’s most popular constructed formats then that means your deck is generally going to have 60 or 100 cards. For a 60 card deck, the average is 22-25 lands and for Commander you’re going to see 38-42 lands as the range to shoot for depending on card filtration, mana curve, as well as color requirements.
The TLDR of this piece would simply be ‘your deck needs more lands than you think,’ but I think it’s important to expand on each of the reasons I listed above so that as a player you can understand why your deck likely needs more mana production capabilities
- Mana Curve – This one is kind of simple. The more expensive the spells in your deck are the more lands, or mana sources, you need to cast them. A deck that has 10 cards that cost four or more is going to want upwards of 25 lands the majority of the time. Decks like these need to hit every single land drop for the first 4 turns, no questions asked. If you skimp on lands by the time the 4th turn rolls around you could be starting at a hand of expensive cards with no way to cast them. A recipe to guarantee a short, unfun game ending in defeat.
- Color Requirement – Color requirements don’t refer to the converted mana cost of the cards in your deck. This refers to the specific colors required in order to cast a spell. The card Cryptic Command (1UUU) and the card Chemister’s Insight (3U) both cost four, but one requires three blue mana meaning a deck containing that often requires both more lands and many more cards the produce blue mana in order to consistently have the requisite blue on the fourth turn of the game.
- Card Selection – Selection is often something in blue-based decks, but black decks and green decks are getting much better at this over the last few years. A card like Ponder might allow a deck to play far fewer lands because a card that provides such aggressive selection can find a land or a spell when needed. Black has cards that often lose a few life to draw cards and this can give a player access to more cards to find their lands as well. The card selection in green when it comes to mana is different but very powerful. Something like Rampant Growth might not draw cards but allows you to select exactly the mana you need. It’s important to keep in mind that this might be a reason to cut a land, but the opposite is true as well. If your deck doesn’t offer these specific things it’s very, very likely an additional land would benefit you.
That’s all for today! Just remember in your next games to have fun, learn new things, and, most importantly, know that you need a good mana base to cast all those sweet, sweet spells.
Until next time,
The author recommends:
Daryl is known for his love of all things Temu and can normally be seen waiting for standard tournaments to end so he can indulge his real loves for both Modern and Legacy. This normally is not the best strategy for a Magic player, but it has proven somewhat successful, resulting in multiple Pro Tour appearances as well as a handful of top 8’s on the SCG Open circuit and Grand Prix stage.