Duel Lands And Pain Lands
As all of you should know by now, there are some old lands (revised and earlier) that generate two colors of mana and count as two basic land types. These lands are commonly referred to as "dual lands" because of they generate two colors of mana. If you play in extended, you are going to see lots of dual lands and you might have trouble if you don't have a few yourself. There are ten of these dual lands, one for each possible pairing of the five colors of Magic.
In newer sets (Ice Age, 5th, and 6th editions), there are "pain lands." These are also lands that generate two colors of mana, but they do one damage to you every time you use them (ouch). In these sets, pain lands are limited to the allied colors. In Tempest, there were also pain lands that generated mana from either of two enemy colors, but came into play tapped.
Right now, it is clear that dual lands have only a limited time left in extended and apparently no future in newer sets. Allied color pain lands are now part of the base set and we can expect them to stick around for awhile. No one this side of Wizards R&D has any clue what will happen to the Tempest pain lands.
Now, why is it that dual lands are due for the history books? The only reason that I've heard is because they are "too good." "Too good" being defined as requiring no thought about including them in any multi-color deck you might want to play. They add mana consistency to two and three color decks.
But, hey, if you play blue, islands are an automatic, right? Red, mountains? Green, forests? White, plains? And, of course, black, swamps? If you are playing a mono-color deck you have consistency by using all basic lands of a single color (the color you are playing). But those are basic lands, you object, that isn't the same thing. Ok, how many black decks don't play Dark Ritual? How many white decks don't play Disenchant? How many blue decks don't play Counterspell? How many, well, I think you get the point. All of these cards are no-brainers for their colors and are COMMONS. If being a no-brainer for deck inclusion was the criterion for eliminating cards, how many cards would be left?
I don't buy the argument that dual lands are too good just because they add mana consistency to two color decks and are a no-brainer for inclusion in those decks.
If you dig a bit further into the "colors of Magic," you will find the phrase "color balance" bantered around a lot. Color balance basically refers to the fact that each color has its strengths and weaknesses and no color should be able to do all things and therefore dominate. The strengths and weaknesses of the individual colors are part of the reason for having allied colors. Since no color could do everything, multicolor decks would be needed for a deck to be effective. For example, green for good critters and red for land and artifact destruction. Or blue for control and black for general chaos and critters.
If you look at the sets that WotC is bringing out you see evidence of their desire to support multicolored decks. Henge of Ramos allows you multicolored mana, but at an effective cost of three for one. Pain lands and City of Brass also produce multicolored mana at a cost of 1 life. (Side rant, why is the pain from a two color land the same as the pain from a five color land?) But, if you look at Type II, with pain lands and three-for-one lands, multicolor decks are much less common than in Extended, where dual lands are available. Pain lands and three-for-one lands just are not supporting multicolor decks effectively.
When WotC was speeding up the game, I can see where dual lands were a potential problem. With reliable turn three and four kill decks in the environment, dual lands could only make things worse. But, if you look at MM, it seems that WotC is slowing the game back down to return it to a game of strategy, not broken combos. With this slowing down of the game, it is time for WotC to reconsider bringing back some of the dual lands.
Only the five allied color dual lands should be brought back. Allies are supposed to play nice with each other, aren't they? The idea of having allied colors was that these colors should play nice together and blend their strengths. So, having dual lands for allied colors makes some sense. For enemy colors, the Tempest pain lands are very appropriate. After all, enemies don't play nice and it should cause you some pain to play enemy colors at the same time.
To keep a check on abuse of dual lands, colors without good land destruction, like blue, could have more landwalk colors. Why? Because dual lands count as two land types for purposes of landwalk and other spells that target specific land types. With enough landwalk or spells that target all lands that "count as ______" floating around, dual lands would have a certain vulnerability. Trying to splash some white in that blue by using only U/W dual lands? You are going to hurt when the red mage Boils away your white mana sources along with your blue.
Of course, those who paid many dollars to get their hands on dual lands will scream about the loss of their investment as the secondary prices drop because of reprinted dual lands. But hey, if they were banned outright (which is likely in the next year or so), they would have no value anyway. Losing half the value of a card beats loosing all of it.
If WotC stays on course, when 7th edition comes out the environment should be slowed down enough that allied color dual lands would not be a threat to the game. I would like to see them replace the pain lands. I would also cheer the return of the Tempest pain lands in 7th edition. This would provide a nice mix of two color land options for decks.