Monday, June 23, 2014

Mana Bases Part 2: Modern

Continuing the series on mana bases for decks, I'm moving on from Standard mana bases to Modern. Due to the wide variety of lands open to this format, I'm going to break it down by land types as opposed to the number of colors in a deck. The reason I did it that way for Standard is that there are limited options as to deck types. In Modern, deck types are far more defined. Bogles, TRON, Faeries, Zoo, etc. all have their own traditional deck lists with the mana bases figured out. I can't be generic and say "Two Color Decks" because there are many different deck archetypes.

Anyway, enough about the format. It's time to look at the lands:

Fetch Lands

Okay, so when I think of Modern, the first thing that comes to mind is fetch lands. You know, those lands that buying a playset winds up costing your entire paycheck for the week. But in decks with more than two colors, these are absolutely important.

Arid Mesa Marsh Flats Verdant Catacombs Misty Rainforest Scalding Tarn

Some of you who are either new to Modern or don't know anything about Modern might wonder what is so special about fetch lands that they cost so much. Well, you can play this land, pay a single life, and find a land with the basic land type. This allows you to run a couple less lands in order to slim your deck. For instance, I'm playing a W/B/R burn deck. I need three colors, yet all I have in my opening hand are an Arid Mesa and a Mountain. My turn 1 play is simple: Mountain and Lightning Bolt, yet the next turn I have a Bump in the Night and a Path to Exile but no black or white mana. Basically I can pay one life after playing the Arid Mesa and find a Godless Shrine because it looks for a card with the subtype "Plains." I could also go for a Sacred Foundry if I had black and no red or white or go for a Blood Crypt if I did have any red or black mana. It's that simple. Of course, you can also go for basic lands which is why people have playsets of these in their decks but have only one or two of each shock land in their decks and basics filling in the rest.

Shock Lands

Hallowed Fountain Watery Grave Blood Crypt Stomping Ground Temple Garden
Godless Shrine Overgrown Tomb Breeding Pool Steam Vents Sacred Foundry

Shock lands, like fetch lands, are very important to the modern format. These allow two colors whenever you want just by paying two life the moment you play it. One reason they are so much better than any other dual land is due to how well they work with fetch lands since you can search for them with fetch lands due to having the basic land subtypes. Shock lands also work with the check lands. Anything that looks at basic land subtypes will look at the shock lands.

Check Lands

Glacial Fortress Drowned Catacomb Dragonskull Summit Rootbound Crag Sunpetal Grove
Isolated Chapel Woodland Cemetery Hinterland Harbor Sulfur Falls Clifftop Retreat

Check lands are dependent on lands with basic land subtypes which includes shock lands. They will come in tapped unless there already exists a land with a basic land subtype that matches one of their colors.

"Scar Lands"

Seachrome Coast Darkslick Shores Blackcleave Cliffs Copperline Gorge Razorverge Thicket

These are special because they let you tap for either of the two colors for the first, second, or third turn without any downsides like the check lands or shock lands have. Of course, the downside is having them come in tapped if you already have three lands in play.


Adarkar Wastes Underground River Sulfurous Springs Karplusan Forest Brushland
Caves of Koilos Llanowar Wastes Yavimaya Coast Shivan Reef Battlefield Forge

Pain Lands are yet another dual land that is used in Modern. They don't see as much use as the other lands, but they are still pretty useful. Caves of Kolios, the White/Black pain land , was in the recently released Modern Event Deck with a complete playset. They do allow you to tap them for mana without paying life (except only with colorless mana), and then they allow colored mana with the payment of a single life. It works much better paired with other lands. Paying life for mana is not always a great thing to do, especially if you have to do it every turn. If it is a once-in-a-while thing, it's fine, like paying two mana for a shock land to be used immediately and you never have to pay the life again, but using these for colored mana every turn can be bad.

Filter Lands

Mystic Gate Sunken Ruins Graven Cairns Fire-Lit Thicket Wooded Bastion
Fetid Heath Twilight Mire Flooded Grove Cascade Bluffs Rugged Prairie

Filter lands are not typically found in a Modern deck, or at least I haven't seen anyone use them, but they are all hovering around somewhere above or below $20 so they are being used in some format. They are pretty useful as they always come in untapped and can create colorless mana. They do not cause any damage when creating mana, but the only downfall is that it requires one of the colors it can produce in order to produce two colored mana. The good thing is that if you have one color and need double of another, you can use these lands for that.


Celestial Colonnade Creeping Tar Pit Lavaclaw Reaches Raging Ravine Stirring Wildwood

The manlands were a cycle from Worldwake of lands that could be turned into creature and used to attack. The downside is that they come into play tapped, but after that, they can tap for either of the two colors they can produce and can be turned into a creature. Mutavault also can be included in this category as it is also a "manland."

Future Sight Lands

Grove of the Burnwillows Horizon Canopy Nimbus Maze River of Tears Dryad Arbor

Grove of the Burnwillows works about the opposite of a painland by giving an opponent a life. Horizon Canopy can be tapped for mana by paying one life (like a pain land) but can also be sacrificed to draw a card. Nimbus Maze acts like a Checkland, but comes in untapped but can't make mana without the basic land subtype. River of Tears can tap for one color without a land entering the battlefield and tap for another color when another land enters the battlefield. Dryad Arbor is a forest that is also a creature. The good thing is it comes in untapped, but because it is a creature, it cannot tap for mana the turn you play it. The other plus side is that you have a 1/1 on turn 1.

Affinity Lands

Inkmoth Nexus Blinkmoth Nexus Glimmervoid

Inkmoth Nexus and Blinkmoth Nexus turn into creatures (like manlands) and each one has a purpose in an Affinity deck. Inkmoth Nexus has infect and Blinkmoth Nexus can boost Inkmoth Nexus. Glimmervoid allows the creation of any color of mana as long as you have an artifact.

Lands That Produce Any Color

City of Brass Mana Confluence Reflecting Pool Cavern of Souls

City of Brass and Mana Confluence are both like painlands, but they can tap for any color of mana. Reflecting Pool creates any mana that a land you control could make, and Cavern of Souls produces any color of mana for a creature type you named when it entered the battlefield and also prevents that creature from being countered.

Other Mana Types

Mox Opal  Noble Hierarch  Birds of Paradise

As far as Mox Opal goes, it fits into Affinity decks. Noble Hierarch is found in modern white/green midrange decks. Birds of Paradise fits into any green deck. All of these are relatively popular in their deck types.

In Modern, mana bases are typically different from Standard decks in that several fetch lands show up for two color decks, and then other lands appear in specific decks. Manlands are found in control decks, green decks use Noble Hierarch and Birds of Paradise as mana fixing. Shocklands show up in almost every two color decks. There are several more types of mana sources available, but these are some of the more popular ones.

Any mana base should stick to around 20 lands, but then again, it does depend on the deck.

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