The Kitchen Table #187 — Building Your First Five, TNG: Volume 5, Creating a Manabase
As I sit down to write this article, I am finishing up lunch with my final pepperoni roll and my last can of Mr. Pibb. Mr. Pibb, one of my favorite carbonated drinks, is not available in stores in Michigan. It's a Coke product, but they are not allowed to sell it in competition with Dr. Pepper in those regions of the country where Coke bottle Dr. Pepper. In West Virginia, Pepsi bottles Dr. Pepper, so I was able to stock up on some Pibb while I was home, but I am now finishing my last drink. So sad.
The pepperoni roll has been called the state food of WV and is a local delight. Pepperoni sticks are cooked inside rolls. When that happens, the pepperoni grease soaks into the bread and it becomes an amazing tasty treat. I just finished my last one of those too.
It's sad to see my food and drink gone, back to the blandness that is Michigan “cuisine.” At least here in SE Michigan, the food at fast food stores and sit down restaurants alike is somewhat boring. Yuck.
Let's start the Magic column.
For the past four weeks, I have been revisiting an old series of mine from over four and a half years ago. In that series, I broke down building a Five Color deck into five steps, although I continued with several articles after that. Although much of the strategy to building a large deck remains the same, the sheer number of cards and changes to the format over time warrant a new series. In homage to the old series, I am cutting and pasting the old article, and then deleting out the old examples. I have created two all-new decks to demonstrate the process. When I begin the strategy in a few paragraphs, I will write my comments in bold so you can see modern day Abe next to the Abe of yore.
Before I head into the fifth article, I want to touch on something I said in the sixth article. After I was done writing the first five articles, I finished with a sixth going over various miscellany. Here is a quote from that article:
In Five Color, the combos are more elaborate, the creatures are bigger, the spells are flashier, the effects are more grandiose: Did I mention that the decks are the size of Mt. Vesuvius?
That's a good tagline for Five, and I wonder if I actually wrote it or stole it from somewhere else. It doesn't seem like my own words. Still, it's a great phrase and I like it.
Alright then, let's turn to today's topic.
Today we are going to discuss the manabase of decks. This is the single most important step in the process. This is where bad decks are made okay, and okay decks are made good, or vice versa. During my years, I have looked at an awful lot of Five Color decks. Everybody building their first deck asks me for my opinion. Sometimes they include awful cards, and I call them on it (seriously, who plays Fog?). The biggest mistake I've seen, however, is not having a manabase that works.
There are multiple elements to having a good manabase. Now, if you are like some people, you have a full set of dual lands and Fetches from Onslaught to toss into a deck and make your manabase. If this is you, then do so and stop reading this article. This article is about what to do when you do not have an obvious choice.
Even if you know exactly how many cards are dedicated to the making of mana, how do you even begin to determine how much of each color you should run?
That is what today's article is all about. You have the great cards of yore in your deck, now let's see if we can't give you the mana to use them!
Begin the Original Article (Comments are in bold)
For several articles now, we've been examining the construction of a Five Color deck. This final stage is all about creating the mana base for your deck. More than any other place in the deck, this is where the financial resources come to bear. In the past, any player who has the resources to front dual lands a-go-go will have a leg up on other players.
However, since the release of Invasion, this factor has significantly decreased. Now, we have Tap Duals, Lairs, Pain Fetch Lands, Tainted Lands, Enemy Pain Lands, and Filter Lands, plus a few other lands like Grand Coliseum and Terminal Moraine. All of these help contribute to a healthier land base.
Obviously, this list has changed even more since the writing of this article. Artifact lands, the new duals, the weird lands from Future Sight, the legendary lands from Kamigawa block, the Karoo two color lands, snow tap lands, and so forth can all contribute to a stable mana base, plus cards like Terramorphic Expanse.
And, to debunk the myth, some decks play practically nothing but basic lands: Kurt Hahn performed very well with a deck just that way. So even a poverty-stricken player, or one with a girlfriend, can field a legitimate Five Color deck with cheap lands.
I used to try to write jokes into my articles in order to be the funny. Unfortunately for my readers, I am usually only funny when the entire article is designed to be funny, and my little cracks like this really read more annoying than anything else in retrospect.
SNIP – I cut a few paragraphs just reiterating what I had already said or talking about the sample decks. They were not needed. With the cuts, we now head directly into the meat of the article. I warn you now that this can be a little heavy. Mana is not an easy subject to discuss, but it is necessary.
Mana, Take One: What Lands are Which?
The question of how many lands is an interesting one. I personally often run a little over 100 cards that are either lands, produce mana, or get me lands. If one third of your deck is mana, that leads to around 83 lands. I like to include another twenty cards or so that get lands or produce mana on their own.
Now, of course some decks will need more mana. Some decks guzzle mana profusely, and will want to play with some more lands. Control decks may want 90 to 100 lands, based on the cards they are playing.
From there, it is a simple mathematical exercise to figure out how many lands to play. If you are playing straight basic lands, then sum the number of colored mana symbols in the cost of a card for each color, then add them together. Divide and get your percentage of colored mana costs in each color. Then simply use that percentage to figure out how many basic lands to run.
So, for example, suppose that you have 28 Black mana symbols in cards, 36 Red, 103 Green, 61 Blue, and 41 White. Then you would sum those, getting 269 colored mana symbols in all. Then calculate percentages for each color. In our hypothetical example, it would be 10% Black, 13% Red, 38% Green, 23% Blue, and 15% White. Then, if you are playing an average amount of lands - say 85 - take percentages of that. So play 9 Swamps, 11 Mountains, 32 Forests, 20 Islands, and 13 Plains.
This is a really simple example, obviously, and most of you will not want to run all basics. There may be deckbuilding reasons to do so, of course. Maybe you have a non-basic hosing deck with Ruination and Blood Moon and Back to Basics.
The problem is that our formula only works if we are playing all basic lands - and usually, that is not the case. If it were, then we could play 32 lands that tapped for every mana, which would increase the number of lands that tap for the non-Green colors. Then the remaining 53 lands could tap for colorless mana and we'd still be set. But, that is simply not a good strategy. So if we assume that every non-basic land taps for at least two colors, then I recommend simply doubling the final numbers.
In other words, in our hypothetical example above, I think that we should be running 18 Black sources, 22 Red sources, 64 Green sources, 40 Blue sources, and 26 White sources.
Like I said before, this gets really heady really fast. Remember, this example assumes that every single land played can tap for mana of two colors. Will that really be the case? Won't you want to run fetch lands, or some basics, or some special lands? These examples are meant to demonstrate the theories by using extreme samples.
Of course, this assumes that you have access to good lands. Even if you do not, the Invasion tapduals and the Planeshift lairs will really smooth out a mana curve tremendously. The loss of speed these cards provide is more than made up by a satisfying color base.
This double manabase is easy to get to if you have some lands that tap for 2x colored mana, some that tap for more, and then some basic lands to shore up your manabase. The double formula works very well for spells with fewer cards, but sometimes you have to cut off some of the biggest color. Some decks have massive quantities of the most prevalent color, and this is definitely a diminishing returns sort of thing.
Are you ready for the next step? The math only gets more prevalent from here.
Mana, Take Two: How Many Lands Again?
So, we now have a general formula for determining the basic structure of our lands. It relies on knowing how many lands to run. Which, of course, begs the question, "How many lands should we run?"
I can still remember when the golden rule of deckbuilding was 40 spells, 20 lands. Our communal deck construction skills have progressed since then. Today, a 60-card deck might want 20 lands only if it is a fast speed deck. Lots of other decks run 22, 24, or 26 lands. So, surely, a 33% division of a deck with 250 cards in it hardly acceptable. Right?
Earlier in this series, I went over the mulligans. Here is where the very liberal mulligan rules of Five Color come into effect with regards to deckbuilding. When you can take a One Land, No Land, or All Land mulligan, in addition to taking your opponent's mulligans and Paris, then you can afford to have a few less lands in your deck. Additionally, most 60-card decks do not dedicate resources to finding lands - but you have to. You need to be able to smooth out your mana and get all five colors.
I made sure to mention it in this series as well. Mulligans change things, and that's why our sample deck sizes heading into today are at the numbers they have.
Liberal mulligans combined with the need for mana gathering lead to less lands being required. Again, as mentioned above, I generally like to have a little over 100 cards dedicated to the production or retrieval of mana. However, of those, I like to have around 80-85 actual lands. Please note, usually I do not count special lands that do not make some mana towards these requirements - Maze of Ith and Bazaar of Baghdad don't count. Then, I want around 20-25 land tutoring effects.
The 80-85/20-25 breakdown of cards is a nice, healthy amount. Of course, there is a lot of wiggle room, based on the lands you use, the cards you have access to, and the mana costs of the cards in your deck. I use it as a guideline, but it can be easily broken.
Today I am a bit more conservative with my manabase. With more deck playing experience, I know how to trim a few lands and search effects and still be fine. That's why you'll see my aggro deck running significantly under the 100 card suggestion in the original article. Even my other deck will be running a bit below it. For a first deck, however, I can see why I suggested it. I think it's alright to err on the side of caution and suggest a bit more mana than needed rather than the exact amount. People often have a tendency to cut lands and mana makers.
Today I'd recommend 90 cards of mana for most decks, with more for some and less for others.
Mana, Take Three: Basic or No?
There are a lot of possibilities that your deck can go for mana. Some decks will play with non-basic land hate and a bunch of basic lands. This is a powerful strategy in the right environment. As such, it is probably a good idea to run some basic lands. The question is simply put - how many basic lands versus non-basics?
If you happen to be lucky enough to own a full set of duals, then you might want to consider playing the full set, and a few extra lands like City of Brass and Grand Coliseum. Then go heavy into the basic lands for support of your main colors. That will give you your correct proportion, and still give you a host of tutoring options.
Just like I said earlier, full duals is an easy manabase to build. All basics is an easy manabase to build. You probably want something else.
Remember, most cards which get lands out of your deck get either any basic land, or a specific land type - which can also net duals. There are very few ways of getting any land, which makes Crop Rotation and Weathered Wayfarer (which was recently restricted) even more valuable.
On the other hand, if you lack the resources for dual lands, you need to dip into other options. Often, the less money you have, the more non-basic lands you run, simply because they are less effective, and therefore you need more of them. It's a weird reversal of what you would think - the poor player playing more basics. But it doesn't work that way normally.
This is a very valuable point. There is a real tendency for players to be in what I'd call tiers of manabases. In the absolute top tier are full dual land decks. Only a handful of players have those, and you might see them at tournaments and such. Next are higher tier decks that run basics for fetch effects, have a smattering of duals, and then back up those duals and basics with a handful of other non-basics, like City of Brass. This is where my decks are, for reference. At the lower tier, you have the low value decks with a lot of cheap non-basics, and they may run more non-basics that at my tier, simply because they have too. Often a non-basic hate deck hits up and down the tiers. That's why I'd gravitate towards more basics, not less, if you can.
In fact, I'd recommend that budget players squeeze in as many basics as they can get away with in their land base.
There is still one overriding factor in discussing what sorts of lands to play: How many dual lands do you have to play with? If your answer is less than ten, then your manabase will have to play a lot more lands to compensate. As the answer gets closer to forty, you want more basic lands to round out your mix. Also, the cards you use to get lands out of your deck and smooth your mana will change in direct proportion to your dual land count.
Mana, Take Four: Other Mana Sources?
There are other options in addition to lands: Some of these are vital, while others are much less so. Starting with artifacts, you have to look at Fellwar Stone and Mox Diamond. The Stone is cheap while the Diamond is quick and more reliable... But both are key artifacts at in Five Color. The ability to produce mana of any color is just too good to pass up.
It is here at this step that you can flavor your deck to suit your manabases needs. Basic heavy manabases can use artifact mana to shore up their needs, and Fellwar Stone is cheap. Other options like the Signets, Darksteel Ingot, the Medallions from Mirrodin, Coldsteel Heart, Spectral Searchlight, and other sources are all around. You can find mana from non-land sources and still have a good manabase.
Other choices in the colored mana section certainly abound. You could play something like Moxes, Ramosian Body Parts, or Diamonds - but they see significantly less play, because they are simply lands with disadvantages. The Moxes cost too much money, and the other options cost too much mana. Other cards, like Diamond Kaleidoscope or Mana Prism see play occasionally. Of course, there are also the perishable Lotus Petal and Black Lotus - but the former is often too fragile, and the latter is often too expensive. Chimeric Sphere or Barbed Sextant might see occasional play, but only because they cantrip.
Again, a list of cards like this should include more modern day cards like Terrarion and Chromatic Star and maybe even Prismatic Lens. I have come to a conclusion that cards that make mana should not cost more than three mana. You don't want to be spending your fourth and later turns making mana outside of combo decks. Really, you don't want to be spending your third turn either. I'd recommend something like Pentad Prism long before I thought Gemstone Array was good.
The artifacts worth investigating, after Mox Diamonds and Fellwar Stones, produce colorless mana. They can help your acceleration, and turn a mana light hand into a fast reliable hand. Fast mana starts at the cheap - and restricted - Sol Ring. It costs very little, both in terms of cash and mana. Continuing the restricted theme of good artifacts, Grim Monolith and Mana Vault offer excellent acceleration as well. There are a lot of other options as well, especially if your deck can use a lot of colorless mana. Thran Dynamo can make a solid amount of mana. Voltaic Key can also be used in fours, often being used to untap artifacts and make more mana.
Ultimately, artifact mana is used as an adjunct to other sources of mana.
Again, I would not use Thran Dynamo in most decks – four mana is too much to spend. Grim Monolith and Mana Vault and Sol Ring are good suggestions. Forget Voltaic Key outside of artifact decks. There are colorless sources that I recommended above, like Prismatic Lens. There could be others, like Guardian Idol, that you want to explore. I wouldn't laugh at you if you dropped an Idol.
Creature mana is a little different. There are enough cheap creatures, usually in Green, that you can easily have a horde of mana producing Green creatures. Again, there are several ways you can go.
Most will start with the undeniable King of Mana himself: The Birds of Paradise. No creature is better at making the mana you need in a Five Color deck. His price tag is a bit high, though. Utopia Tree sees some play as another option as well. Again, any mana, but for disadvantages.
Today we have new Duke of Mana and his name is Sakura-Tribe Elder. He's great at being a roadblock to aggro and then getting you a land of your choice. His land bump cannot be stopped with removal, and he plays well with most manabases, being Green and all. Mass removal likes him instead of other choices because he dodges removal. Aggro won't like him as much because he can't wield equipment and swing like normal creature mana, unless you don't want his land.
STE is a great choice for the modern day, and I needed to mention it now, before we get into the jank.
And there are other ways of making mana other than Green. Skyshroud Elf taps for a Green, but can filter as much mana as you please into Red or White. Essentially then, the Skyshroud Elf taps for a Green, Red, or White, and filters into Red or White. Urborg Elf can make Blue, Black, or Green, and probably renders the old standard, Elves of Deep Shadow, useless. Quirion Elves can tap for any color of mana, and therefore can smooth out whatever you desire. Then Vine Trellis, Llanowar Elves, and Wall of Roots are played for both their mana-producing abilities as well as their ability to swing or defend.
There are a few other options in creatures. Scads of Green creatures get lands - like Yavimaya Elder. Here is a creature that will yield two basic lands, and a 2/1 body, and can be sacrificed to draw a card. An excellent choice for the Green-focused deck. And some Green creatures get lands in a variety of ways, from Avenging Druid to Wood Elves.
There are also a few unusual creatures that focus on mana. Workhorse sometimes sees play in reanimation style decks. Weathered Wayfarer regularly tutors for any land. And Krosan Tusker cycles for a basic land and a card.
The Tusker is really, really good, and I love the card. I love having a Green Inspiration cost one mana less, be uncounterable through traditional means, and be a large beaters later in the game. Krosan Tusker = fun.
All told, creatures are a very common way of affecting the manabase.
Enchantments are a much less common way. Your basic option here is Land Tax - a restricted tutor for land. However, it does not produce mana itself, so it fits better in our next section. Really, only Eladamri's Vineyard reliably makes mana - and even then, its advantage is so slight in a Five Color deck that it does not see regular play.
It is important to use some non-land sources of mana because it can help shore your deck against weaknesses like Armageddon. Or it could play into your strategy as well.
Armageddon is played, and we have a Geddon deck ourselves so you can see its power. Forcing an opponent to re-establish a new manabase after they did so once already is very tough. Mana is a weakness of Five Color, and that's why today's article is so important.
Mana, Take Five: Getting Those Lands in Play
When discussing the cards in Onslaught that have had the most impact on Five Color, several friends and I came to the realization that, other than Future Sight [the card, I presume, and not the set… - Craig], all of the cards circled around mana. The pain/fetch lands, Weathered Wayfarer, Krosan Tusker, and Explosive Vegetation were all on our short list of powerful Five Color cards from the set. That should show how vital it is to have a sturdy manabase.
There are scads of ways to get lands into play. The first are lands themselves. The Mirage fetch lands, Onslaught pain/fetch lands, Krosan Verge, Thawing Glaciers, and Terminal Moraine often see a lot of play in Five Color. Each of these lands can get any color of mana; The Glaciers and Moraine by getting any basic land, and the others by getting the appropriate dual lands. They are quite versatile, and most of them are easy on the pocketbook as well.
Plus Terramorphic Expanse.
Most other options lie in the realm of spells. In White, we have Tithe, which can get a dual land or two. If you are not playing duals, however, its power quickly diminishes. Green has loads of ways. The restricted Crop Rotation can get any land at instant speed. Living Wish can also get a land from outside your deck, and can be used in an emergency to smooth out mana. Rampant Growth, Gaea's Bounty, Harrow, Explosive Vegetation, and Lay of the Land are just a few options that exist as well. Green simply has loads of ways to get lands. We also saw Yavimaya Elder and Krosan Tusker mentioned above, which are both nice ways to get a creature and mana in the same card.
In getting any land, three new cards have since been printed. Tolaria West was just printed and can get any land without using a Blue card. Sylvan Scrying is basically a Demonic Tutor for any land. Lastly, Reap and Sow gets any land and puts it directly into play. The Scrying is restricted and Tolaria West is currently being voted upon but Reap and Sow can be used in any number up to four.
Any discussion about mana should include Land Tax. A restricted permanent, it can single handedly turn a game into a rout. It has great combo-ability with a variety of cards - most notably Scroll Rack. The Tax fills up your hand with cards that can be used for a variety of purposes, including simply playing lands and helping your mana out. Over time, it can be a slow Mana Severance for a deck with mostly basic lands. It's just a good, solid card and maybe the most broken of the land gatherers.
And remember that Land Tax is currently up for unrestriction. If that happens, this section becomes even more important.
And Weathered Wayfarer might be right behind. The Wayfarer can tutor every turn for any land, as long as you have fewer lands than your opponent. As we have seen with the Land Tax, that is not much of a disadvantage... And the Wayfarer can get any land, which can help just about any deck out. He fits in everything from a more aggressive deck to a control-oriented deck.
After creatures, spells, and lands, only a few other cards can net you some lands... And they are rarely played. Braidwood Sextant might apply. Even Lodestone Bauble can have some interesting effects.
Remember that most land gathering effects are in green, with enough in white to flesh out that color as well.
Also remember that a lot of cards can substitute for mana retrieval. All of the Black “tutor for any card” effects can get mana, as can Gamble. Living Wish can get a land. Card sifting from Impulse to Brainstorm to Thirst for Knowledge can yield land. In my deck building, I'll often take the cards that tutor cheaply or look at several cards cheaply and give them a different amount of mana than the normal cards. A deck loaded with these effects can obviously run less mana as a result.
And now we come to a close to the theory. Let's put this in practice with our sample decks. Since all of the next section is new, I am writing it all in normal, non-bolded text, leaving the bold for titles.
Temporal 250: Adding the Mana
I won't be posting the old deck lists like I have before. It will be largely unnecessary and I don't want to swell an already large amount of space. I'm already ending page 9 in Word without any comments on decks or decklists. Instead, it's time to investigate the deck's colors and cards used, and create a manabase for the deck.
The first deck is the aggro 250 with the tempo elements tossed in from Armageddon to Stingscourger. I have 79 open spaces. The deck already has five lands that tap only for colorless mana. Let's take a look at the breakdown of the deck.
Analysis of the Temporal 250 deck thus far:
Green Mana Costs: 36
White Mana Costs: 41
Blue Mana Costs: 21
Black Mana Costs: 20
Red Mana Costs: 35 (39 if you count the kicker in Orim's Thunder, which I am not)
Total Cards Used Thus Far: 171
Total Colored Mana Costs: 153
Percentages of total Land:
Number of mana producing lands to be used (a guess): No higher than 84.
For this deck, we'll need less mana retrievers. This particular deck needs less artifact mana, creature mana and such. Instead, it needs hardcore lands, just simple everyday lands. A No-Holds-Barred Aggro deck is not going to want to spend turns in the early game playing lands that come into play tapped. That means no tap lands or Karoo lands, for example.
If we use just basic lands for the remaining 79 cards, then the goal is to take the percentages, apply them to 79 cards, and add them in. That would give us 18 Mountains, 18 Forests, 10 Swamps, 11 Islands, and 22 Forests.
Remember that I'd rather double that number for our purposes. That means we'd need 44 sources of Green through 20 of Black.
The first thing I am going to do is add four Fellwar Stones. That drops us to 75 additional lands. The Fellwar Stones cut our mana requirements by four in every color. They are one of the sole mana accelerants in the deck. On the second turn, we'd almost always rather be playing a two-drop creature than a Stone. The Stone will often get played on subsequent turns prior to an Armageddon or in order to cast additional spells from the hand that may require different mana from what we have out.
After that, I am left with 75 lands. The easiest lands to add are those that do not come into played tapped, such as mentioned above. City of Brass is ideal here. This deck cares less about the loss of life, instead wanting to play threats early and often.
After that, I would like to point out that you don't need that much mana in play, (never more than four) but you do need the right colors of mana. Therefore, something that retards your mana growth but does so without locking off mana and gives you great colors is a solid card. Take the Planeshift Lairs, for example. On the turn you play them, you get the extra mana since you can tap the land you bounce. You then have a land that taps for three colors of mana, no problem. Play a Lair on the third turn, drop a three-drop, and have an extra lands in your hand. On the fourth turn, drop that third lands again at no real loss to tempo since everything costs three or less mana except for a few cards. You can even use a Lair to bounce a land back to your hand just before a Geddon. They may not be the best cards ever, but they do make your manabase better. Three lairs have Green in them. Therefore, I am including several of those lairs.
Everybody has a few of the Onslaught fetch lands and the dual lands, either old or new. Let's assume that you have one extra of the fetch lands for kicks. On the other hand, I make no such assumption about the duals.
This is a deck that can use painlands well. I think two of each painland is pretty good. After that, we need to simply toss in basics.
That means we need 20 Forests, 12 Mountains, no Swamps, 2 Islands, and 12 Plains. That's too many cards by six. We need just a few more lands to take on multiple colors. I'm going to roll with Gemstone Mine. You hope that you no longer need it after it goes because you will have already won or lost the game.
Since those are every color lands, they drop our requirements by four in each section, to needing just 8 Mountains, 8 Plains and 16 Forests. That leaves me with four extra cards. I toss in two each of Swamps and Islands to round out the deck.
We have added to the deck:
Total: 79 cards, 75 of which are lands, all of which tap for mana.
Since we have no cards that retrieve mana, this next section that I would normally do is relatively moot. At the end of the article, I will post the complete deck.
Invincible Counter Troll 250: Adding the Mana
Again, we'll head straight into the analysis. This deck was designed to maximize the elements of the original ICT deck. Let's take a look.
Total Cards in Deck: 160
Total Colored Mana Costs: 184
Percentages of total land:
Number of mana producing lands to be used (a guess): 80
This deck has room for about 10 non-land cards. I'd start by tossing in a Land Tax. They are amazing. Weathered Wayfarer is equally great. Then there are some other amazing cards, but for now, I'm sticking with Sylvan Scrying.
This deck needs some land search, and the aforementioned Sakura-Tribe Elder is a perfect fit. I'm also tossing in a full complement of Fellwar Stones. That brings us to 79 lands.
Using the percentages, we need 10 Swamps, 26 Islands, 14 Plains, 10 Mountains, and 19 Forests. That's the plan if we go all basic lands. Remember, I like to double this, making our target numbers 20, 52, 28, 20, and 38 respectively.
This deck can use Tolaria West much better than the previous deck, so I'm throwing it in as well. 78 spots to fill.
This deck can have a little slowdown in the first turn, maybe two if necessary to fit the manabase. I don't want to go crazy with Karoo lands and tap duals, but a few might be necessary. I'm capping myself at 12 tap lands – one each of Coastal Tower, Salt Marsh, and one of each Karoo combination from the Ravnica Block commons.
This deck cries out for the right mana and quickly, not for lots of poor mana. The emphasis on having out Swamps or Plains for the trolls is an important one, and so I want to err on the side of caution right now.
Before heading into the land of the non-basics, I want to form my basic land foundation right now. I believe that I need at least five of each basic land. That gives me targets for search and the ability to use creature pump abilities. That's 49 cards used, leaving me 31. I may come back later to add to these land totals, but I wanted a foundation to work off immediately.
Pain lands aren't the end of the world here, either. I toss in two of each painland again, bringing us to within 11 lands. If I wanted to add just basics from here on out, what would I need? Zero Swamps and Mountains, 6 Plains, 16 Forests and 30 Islands. Here we see a limitation of the plan. With a balanced mana base, we need way too many Islands to have any real chance at playing enough to satisfy. I agree that all remaining 11 lands should be Blue, but we can also get the other colors in here as well.
Four Treva's Ruins will get us all three remaining colors. Four City of Brass is great at doing the same and will pump up our Red and Black numbers as well. Finally, I can play three more of the Blue/Green Karoo land, Simic Growth Chamber. There are our 79 lands and 90 cards.
Here is what I want to add:
1 Land Tax
1 Weathered Wayfarer
1 Sylvan Scrying
4 Fellwar Stone
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Tolaria West
4 Simic Growth Chamber
9 Other Karoo lands
1 Salt Marsh
1 Coastal Tower
4 Treva's Ruins
4 City of Brass
I am not super happy with the manabase. It cries for dual lands or fetches. This deck could use Terramorphic Expanse or the Onslaught Fetches. Play with it for a few games, and get a feel for what it needs and doesn't need. I don't want to strip out too many lands from a control deck, and too many fetches means no enough lands for the rest of the deck.
That brings us to the close of another article series. I hope that you enjoyed this revamp of an old tale. If you have any comments, for good or ill, I'd love to hear about it in the forums!
Appendix A – The Complete Temporal 250 Decklist
4 Savannah Lions
4 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
4 Jungle Lion
4 Skyshroud Elite
4 Jackal Pup
4 Kird Ape
4 Winter Orb
4 Skyshroud War Beast
4 River Boa
4 Dryad Sophisticate
4 Dauthi Horror
4 Blade of the Sixth Pride
4 Soltari Trooper
4 Mistral Charger
4 Mire Boa
4 Serendib Efreet
4 Troll Ascetic
4 Lavacore Elemental
4 Kami of Ancient Law
4 Artifact Mutation
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Umezawa's Jitte
4 Tangle Wire
1 Strip Mine
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Diminishing Returns
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Enlightened Tutor
4 Price of Progress
1 Mind Twist
4 Grafted Wargear
4 Trinket Mage
4 Psionic Blast
2 Dark Confidant
4 Orim's Thunder
4 Fellwar Stone
4 City of Brass
2 Treva's Ruins
2 Rith's Lair
2 Darigaaz's Caldera
5 Onslaught rare fetch lands
20 painlands (2 of each)
4 Gemstone Mine
Appendix B – The Complete ICT 250 Decklist
4 Sedge Troll
4 Sedge Sliver
4 Nevinyrral's Disk
4 Ohran Viper
4 Shadowmage Infiltrator
4 Hedge Troll
4 Troll Ascetic
4 Albino Troll
4 Hunted Troll
4 Etched Oracle
4 Magus of the Disk
4 Oblivion Stone
4 Akroma's Vengeance
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Dismantling Blow
4 Hull Breach
4 Arcane Denial
4 Mana Leak
4 Fact or Fiction
4 Deep Analysis
4 Flametongue Kavu
4 Thornscape Battlemage
4 Radiant's Dragoons
1 Mind Twist
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Nostalgic Dreams
1 All Suns' Dawn
1 Eternal Witness
1 Living Wish
1 Cunning Wish
1 Burning Wish
1 Drift of Phantasms
1 Shred Memory
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Merchant Scroll
3 Lightning Bolt
4 Steel Wall
1 Land Tax
1 Weathered Wayfarer
1 Sylvan Scrying
4 Fellwar Stone
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Tolaria West
4 Simic Growth Chamber
9 Other Karoo lands
1 Salt Marsh
1 Coastal Tower
4 Treva's Ruins
4 City of Brass