All too often, when I start to write about a topic, I vastly underestimate how long it will take me to finish it. This is another one of those cases, and I really have to force myself to trudge on. Maybe I wasn’t aware how many cards I dismiss at first glance when going over a list – now that I need to write at least something about them I realize how many bad and uninteresting designs are actually out there! Well, I’ll try to be briefer this time.
Let me remind you once again that on principle I do not use lands which do not provide mana at least indirectly. That said, let’s start with lands which are supposed to provide more than one mana under the right circumstances:
Posts & Tron lands
There are several reasons these lands are useless to me: They don’t do interesting things in limited even under the best circumstances; I only use one copy of each card; and (in the case of the Urza lands) I do not want cards which refer to other cards by name because this is too much to process for newer players for too little gain.
Other mana-ramping lands
City of Shadows
City of Traitors
Crystal Vein *
Eye of Ugin
Temple of the False God *
Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper
City of Shadows, the Network and the Generator (which is a very generous inclusion in this group) are just too awkward in limited, or in general. City of Traitors plays a bit better, but not great, and is certainly not worth acquiring such an expensive card. I do not use eldrazi tribal, so that Temple and the Eye are out, and the same goes for legendary, so no Untaidake. The Workshop is both way too powerful and too expensive, while the Ruins are too all-in (note that I always run some maindeckable land destruction in my cubes so that special lands do not get out of hand). The Tomb is usable, but a bit too strong and too all-in at the same time (and also not exactly cheap), so I removed it. That leaves Crystal Vein and Temple of the False God as reasonable options for the decks which want them. These cards do not necessarily go into the same deck, though – one is a one-time speed bump, the other a permanent lategame mana advantage (in my opinion, the clean version of the Ravnica bouncelands).
Manlands in the broader sense
Foundry of the Consuls *
Gargoyle Castle *
Gods‘ Eye, Gate to the Reikai
Stalking Stones *
Urza’s Factory *
This kind of card is so useful in cubes that I put almost every one in my pool, unless I have a specific reason to leave one out. Such reasons are obscure tribal synergies (blinkmoths, goats and assembly-workers), infect, morph, producing 0/1 tokens, and being legendary. Otherwise, only Dread Statuary is left out, being a bit weak and not fitting in between Mutavault and Stalking Stones.
These lands range from way too good or annoying to too weak or obscure in limited. I really need at least one land capable of answering non-basic lands, and would prefer having two, but all options present problems: being to oppressive by affecting basic lands (Mine, Port) or through repeated use (Bowl); being too weak, at least in limited (Wastes, Quarter, Mesa); being too expensive – and admittedly also a bit too powerful – (Wasteland); and finally a bit awkward for my taste, but workable and thus my choice (Edge).
Positive interactions with lands
The Field is great, but the Temple will just never have enough to do to warrant its inclusion in a cube.
Well, I am not using snow.
The tribal synergies must not be too obscure, and the land itself interesting enough (this is where the Sanctuary fails), so the Canyon is the only good choice here.
Interaction with atifacts
Well and Core do too little, and the Tower too much (the death knell for it is the ability to drop equipment from opponents‘ creatures). The Tomb is, of course, neither interacting with all artifacts, nor exclusively with artifacts (although I do not use morph), but still useful to support this theme.
The least complicated option is the best (and the only interesting one).
The Landscape is fine, but I do not need another cycling land in addition to the monocolored ones. The Fengraf is on a good power level, but I despise abilities requring random decisions. Mikokoro makes no sense in limited, and I certainly do not need to address the Library, right?
I do not use hexproof (and the Lighthouse is too obscure anyway). Maze of Shadows is too narrow (and too frustrating if it works), and Desert too annoying for that cheap cost, as opposed to the other Maze and the Edge, which are too costly.
Boseiju, Town, Hall, Path and Tower do essentially nothing useful in limited, while the Canyons add too much cost, and the Zone is too symmetrical. Cathedral and Passage are in a good place, though.
Since this series took me so long to finish, Battle for Zendikar will be completely spoiled soon, and it makes sense if I talk about the the new lands from that set as an addendum. Until then!