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Hello all, I’m WizardSpartan, and I love Commander. Lands are one of the most important (if not the most important) aspects of your deck. A bad land base can make an otherwise good deck horribly clunky and disheartening to play. That’s where I come in. I have listed every full cycle of dual lands (so not Krosan Verge, tri-color lands, or mono color cycles like the Vivid lands), gave an average price to give a ballpark idea of how much they will set you back, have given some thoughts on each cycle (including some hidden synergies), and have given a star rating that describes how good the cycle is at fixing mana and providing immediate access to both colors (Note: this rating is independent of price and just considers how efficient the cycle is at getting you multiple colors).
$ < $2
$$ = $2-10
$$$ = $10-25
$$$$ = $25-100
$$$$$ = >$100
= Absolutely useless, you are actively hurting yourself by running these.
★ = These aren't even niche, there are major and obvious downsides to running these lands.
★★ = While these aren't the absolute worst, it is more likely than not that they will slow down your gameplan/not consistently provide 2 colors.
★★★ = Situational, sometimes they won't come in untapped, but there are plenty of situations where they will work fantastic.
★★★★ = Almost no downside to running these lands, they will do a fantastic job almost every single time.
★★★★★ = Perfect, basically no downside to running these lands.
Note: I am taking the average price of the cycle, which means that some cards will be more expensive/less expensive than the range I designate for that cycle.
> Battlebond Lands (Morphic Pool)
These are one of the absolute best cycles for Commander. They will come in untapped 90% of the time (only coming in tapped when you’re in a 1 v 1) and provide easy access to 2 colors.
>Battle Lands (Sunken Hollow)
Some of my favorite lands because of their bang for their buck. They are extremely cheap and have basic land types, enabling them to be tutored with Nature’s Lore, Farseek, etc. Also, in more budget 2-3 color decks, they are almost guaranteed to come in untapped after the first 3-4 turns of the game.
>Bi-Cycle Lands (Fetid Pools)
While these lands come in tapped, they can also be cycled for 2 colorless mana, which can be nice to avoid flood. They do have basic land types, so like the Battle Lands, they can be tutored with spells like Nature’s Lore, Farseek, etc. I like them in more budget-oriented 2-3 color decks containing green, as they provide decent color fixing and are very anti-flood.
>Bounce Lands (Dimir Aqueduct)
This cycle is a tricky one. Most of us who have watched Command Zone have seen someone forced to play a Bounce Land on turn 2 with a 7 card hand, bringing their hand size up to 8 and forcing them to discard a card. In most decks, that's not fun. Also, they enter tapped and are susceptible to land destruction (although that's rare outside of extremely high level EDH). On the other hand, they have lots of fun uses. Here are some of my favorites:
Derevi, Empyrial Tactician can untap a Bounce Land to net 2 mana.
Graveyard decks like Alesha, Who Smiles at Death can play a bounceland on turn 2, bringing their hand size up to 8 and forcing them to discard a Siege-Gang Commander, Karmic Guide, or other expensive creature to be cheated out at a later time.
Decks that run a lower number of lands can use Bounce Lands to give themselves “extra land drops,” allowing them to keep some 2 land hands that consist of a Bounce Land and any other land.
>Check Lands (Drowned Catacomb)
While a little bit pricier, Check Lands are some of the best lands an EDH player can get without going into the double digits for single card. They work well with lands with basic land types or just mana bases that run lots of basics.
>Creature Lands (Creeping Tar Pit)
Like the Bounce Lands, Creature Lands are situational. For example, Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow can use the unblockable Creeping Tar Pit as free Ninjutsu targets. In my opinion, Creature Lands are a lot more situational than Bounce Lands, but if you can afford to fit a tapland in your mana base without losing out on much, feel free to. Hissing Quagmire and 3 untapped mana can deter a lot of would-be attackers.
Additionally, these get around boardwipes very nicely. Most boardwipes are sorcery speed (Rout is the only exception I can think of off the top of my head), so they can turn into creatures on your turn to crew vehicles & do other things while still turning back into lands to avoid boardwipes on your opponents' turns.
>Deplete Lands (River Delta)
This cycle may have some of you scratching your head, but it (most of the time) boils down to this. You tap it for mana, it won’t untap on your next untap step. 90% of the time, this cycle is basically the same as the 2 Slow Untap cycles I will discuss later.
I’m sure there are a few people out there running janky decks with Vampire Hexmage that may be able to strip their Deplete Land of its depletion counters, but otherwise I wouldn’t run it.
>Fast Lands (Darkslick Shores)
Outside of the overpriced Blackcleave Cliffs (thanks, Modern), this cycle is relatively affordable. Any deck that prioritizes early plays will love these lands. They do come with the hefty downside of being a regular tapland post Turn 3, so keep that in mind.
>Fetch Lands (Polluted Delta)
This cycle is mucho expensive, and for good reason. They are basically untapped dual lands that let you choose which basic you want to find. That’s cool, but it gets even better. Lands with basic land types suddenly become even better. Combine Fetch Lands with Shock Lands or True Dual Lands and your mana base becomes smoother than a baby’s bottom. And what’s the price for a strong, consistent mana base? Oh, it’s 3.7 kidneys and your firstborn child? #Worth.
In all seriousness, these are arguably the second-best dual land in EDH only beaten by the True Duals, of course. If you can afford these, I would highly suggest you grab them up (especially in 3+ color decks).
>Filter Lands (Sunken Ruins)
These lands are a bit odd. They are somewhat expensive, but can be sort of awkward. They are pretty good at fixing colors (especially in 2-3 color decks) but you always run the chance of not having the right colors in your 4-5 color deck, leaving yourself with a colorless land. I would definitely prioritize Shock Lands and Check Lands over this awkward cycle.
>Gain Lands (Dismal Backwater)
These are the love of super budget players. To people running on $50 budgets or less, their choices are often a mana base of basics or some Gain Lands (and maybe Tap Lands). I can’t really recommend them outside of budget situations, though. They are incredibly cheap, but always coming in tapped is a big turnoff. There are plenty of fantastic dual lands that are under $10 if you are looking for a decently affordable, consistent mana base.
>Guildgates (Dimir Guildgate)
In most decks, these are just worse gain lands. I wouldn’t run them, except in 2 conditions:
- You are on a budget and want them in addition to Gain Lands. Tip: Run Circuitous Route if you have decided to run Guildgates. Solid fixing + ramp on an extremely tiny budget.
- You are running Guildgate tribal (likely with Maze’s End as your win condition). I know some casual Golos, Tireless Pilgrim decks run 10 Guildgates + Maze’s End as a win con, if not the game plan of their entire deck, so feel free to run them in that situation.
>Horizon Lands (Horizon Canopy)
I’m a big fan of these lands. They feel a lot like Pain Lands (which I love a lot, will discuss later) but they are really solid at keeping your deck moving. They come in untapped, tap for either of 2 colors and can be sacrificed for cards at a reasonable price when you no longer need the mana.
>Invasion Tap Lands (Salt Marsh)
They’re cheap, they’re meh. Only run them if you are already running both Gain Lands and Guildgates. Not a fan otherwise.
> MDFC Lands (Riverglide Pathway // Lavaglide Pathway)
These lands are pretty solid, but nothing crazy. I would only include these in decks with 3 or less colors, as while they are dual lands, you have to pick a color. If you run a lot of basics in your 2-3 color deck and you don't actually need all the basics, feel free to bring these in. They're solid.
>Pain Lands (Underground River)
This cycle is my absolute favorite in terms of bang for buck (Battle Lands are a close 2nd). About half are $10, which sucks (plz reprint, WotC!!!), but the other half are less than $2, which is absolutely bonkers for how good they are. UNTAPPED DUAL LANDS!! Nobody cares about the life, and certain decks (lookin’ at you Marchesa, the Black Rose and Greven, Predator Captain) even like the life loss. That’s unheard of. Even the ones that are ~$10 are worth it in my eyes, they are just getting into the range of more expensive, better cycles.
>Odyssey Filter Lands (Darkwater Catacombs)
I’m a big fan of this cycle, especially in 2-3 color decks that run several colorless utility lands like Karn’s Bastion, Ghost Quarter, Geier Reach Sanitarium, etc. While they are sad by themselves, they do a good job at fixing mana, especially considering every member of the cycle is under a dollar.
>Refuge Lands (Jwar Isle Refuge)
See Gain Lands.
>Reveal Lands (Choked Estuary)
I rate these a bit below Battle Lands. In fact, they are almost the opposite. They want basics in hand to come in untapped, while Battle lands want basics in play to come in untapped. I think these are solid duals when your mana base is mostly basics, and they are cheap enough to fit into budget decks, which are already likely to run a lot of basics.
>Scry Lands (Temple of Deceit)
Out of all the lands that always come in tapped, these are my favorites. They have been reprinted to oblivion recently, so they are dirt-cheap, and a free scry is always nice. If you care about what’s on the top of your deck, like Aminatou, the Fateshifter; Intet, the Dreamer; or Gishath, Sun’s Avatar, they are even better.
>Shock Lands (Watery Grave)
This cycle is the king of mid-priced lands. Basic land types & negligible downside to come in untapped combines to make a really good cycle of dual lands.
>Slow Fetch Lands (Bad River)
These lands have a niche place.
They are extremely similar to Evolving Wilds & Terramorphic Expanse, but they can serve different roles. They work nicely in budget mana bases when paired with Battle Lands, doing a decent Fetch Land & True Dual Land combo at a fraction of a fraction of the price.
Unfortunately, they are a bit delayed when compared to Evolving Wilds, etc., which doesn't matter in most cases (you have to take the turn you play them off) but in landfall decks with Rampaging Baloths, etc., Evolving Wilds can instantly provide 2 Landfall triggers, while the Slow Fetches provide only one that turn.
I think Slow Fetch Lands have a place, but be careful and make sure you know why you are including them.
>Slow Pain Lands (Pine Barrens)
Please don’t ever run these. There’s basically no reason to. There are 4 cycles I have already mentioned that are as cheap as these but don’t chip away at your life total. Just don’t run them.
>Slow Untap Lands - Kamigawa (Waterveil Cavern)
Like the Slow Pain Lands, don’t run these. Take the 1 turn tempo loss that regular Tap Lands hit you with, rather than losing tempo every. other. turn. Blegh.
>Slow Untap Lands - Tempest (Rootwater Depths)
See Slow Untap Lands - Kamigawa.
>Snow Tap Lands (Frost Marsh)
I would only ever run these in budget snow decks that really want a tap land that makes snow mana. Otherwise, I’ll pass. Regular Tap Lands are ~$0.50 cheaper, as an added bonus.
>Storage Lands (Dreadship Reef)
Initially, these are hard to analyze, but look at them like this. They cost 4 mana spread out over 2 turns to even net just a single colored mana on the 3rd turn they are out. Even in decks that love proliferating counters, I still wouldn’t run these. Horrible.
If you are under so little pressure that you can afford to spend 4, 5 turns slowly, inefficiently storing mana up in these lands, perhaps consider putting your opponents under pressure to get the game going instead of taking a load of turns just to get an extra 3 mana on turn 8. :P
>Tainted Lands (Tainted Isle)
These are solid lands in 2 (maybe 3) color decks. Just make sure you can get a Swamp out a decent percentage of the time
>Tap Lands (Submerged Boneyard)
These lands are likely the most widely accessible dual lands in existence. All are literal pennies, and anybody who has opened a few core set packs probably has a few of these lying around. If you are building a deck entirely from your collection or are trying to keep your deck as budget as possible, these are decent inclusions. A few taplands are fine in most cases, just don't include too many. Drawing 2 or more can really slow you down.
I will note that these are strictly worse than the Gain Lands (Dismal Backwater and its ilk), but if you only have Tap Lands and don't have Gain Lands, don't worry about purchasing replacements.
Simply put, these are the type of lands you add when you have a land base comprised of only basics. There are other taplands that are extremely cheap but it's less likely you will happen to have them in your collection, especially if you are newer to EDH or Magic in general (Ex. Scrylands & Bouncelands).
>Tribal Lands (Gilt-Leaf Palace)
If you are running one of these 5 tribes that have a color identity that matches these, feel free to pop them in. Most are sub-$5 (Auntie’s Hovel is the odd one out), which is nice.
>True Dual Lands (Underground Sea)
IT’S THE BIG DADDY. BIG POPPA. YOU KNOW WHAT CYCLE IT IS.
The True Duals. Always untapped, basic land types, no downsides. They just average at ~$150 a pop. No big deal. Honestly, if you are smart with your mana base and do the work, you likely won’t need them. A mana base of Shocks, Checks, and good ramp can go a long way, even in 5 color decks. Compared to the True Duals, even Fetch Lands aren’t too bad, and anything more than a mana base of Fetches, Shocks, and Checks is unnecessary in most cases.
I hope this primer was helpful to y’all! If you have any questions, suggestions to make it better, or if you want help with your mana base, feel free to comment! I am more than happy to work with you.
>6/27/20 - It Begins
Created primer and added an example of the cycle in parentheses in the title of each section.
>7/2/20 - Primer Changes
Editing the content of the primer to make it more objective & more appealing to newer/budgeted audiences.
>7/20/20 - Primer Changes
Added in star ratings to give a basic idea as to how well the cycle does its job of fixing mana/making your manabase more flexible.
>10/1/20 - Zendikar Rising Update
Zendikar Rising includes a new cycle, deemed the MDFC (Modal Double Faced Card) Lands.
+1 Branchloft Pathway // Boulderloft Pathway
+1 Brightclimb Pathway // Grimclimb Pathway
+1 Clearwater Pathway // Murkwater Pathway
+1 Cragcrown Pathway // Timbercrown Pathway
+1 Needleverge Pathway // Pillarverge Pathway
+1 Riverglide Pathway // Lavaglide Pathway
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