In my last article I talked about the new Standard mana base after rotation—the departure of Temples and the arrival of battle lands.
Just a few days after that article, Wizards previewed the enemy-colored manlands. This means that the mana base gets a huge boost, and also the power level increases: having access to a land that fixes your mana and becomes a threat is a huge deal.
UG hasn’t been the best combination in Standard recently. Temur never got as hot as Abzan, but now we have a new tool to work with for this combination: Kiora, Master of the Depths. They are certainly trying to power up this color combination, and perhaps this manland will push it over the top.
Hexproof means that this is perfect for a control deck. In the late game, this will be immune to any removal spells that have been sitting in the opponent’s hand, which has caused problems for Celestial Colonnade in Modern UWR Control. It won’t shine in a ramp strategy like Temur Ramp, but it’s still a nice toy to work with.
Now we’re talking! Now Abzan has another land to make use of. Shambling Vent is optimal for the deck, providing some of the fixing and flood protection it lost with rotation.
A 2/3 lifelink is not the best threat—certainly worse than Raging Ravine or Lavaclaw Reaches—but still can be helpful in a race or just provide another body when you’re heavy on lands. It will be a 4-of in any Abzan Deck, possibly even in Esper Dragons, but that’s what I’d guess.
Let’s take a look at how the 5 allied-color combinations—UW, UB, GW, RB, and RG—will arrange their mana base after rotation.
Taking Kibler’s green/white aggro shell without focusing too on the spells, we’ll have:
This will give you 18 sources for each color. I don’t want to play more fetchlands because 1 point of damage is still important, and I wouldn’t play Blossoming Sands because curving out is usually more important, and this deck’s fixing is solid as is.
Let’s take a look now at the other 5 color combinations and see how the painlands help the fixing there.
Here’s a white/black Warriors deck, once again without focusing on the spells and just looking at the 24 lands:
Since these decks have a cycle of painlands the mana base gets better, with 21 sources for each color, which is basically like being a mono-colored deck—that’s huge!
Being able to fetch any of the two colors without enemy fetchlands is great, and so is having 4 manlands to work with.
It’s clear that if you want to be build a two-color deck, enemy color combinations will have a better mana base.
But now let’s get into the tri-color combinations. We’ll take a look at Abzan as an example for Khans of Tarkir wedges, and Esper for Shards of Alara.
26 lands is the right amount even without Temples. Having 4 manlands will help with flood—Simon Goertzen won PT San Diego with 28 lands in his 8-manland Jund deck.
I decided to run a copy of Evolving Wilds no matter what because the fixing isn’t perfect yet and because Canopy Vista needs basics to work. With this configuration of 26 lands we have 18 green and white sources and 17 black sources, which is very balanced.
Llanowar Wastes becomes important with the return of Rakshasa Deathdealer, and Plains now looks like a pretty bad but still necessary evil when playing 4 Windswept Heath and Evolving Wilds. With so many Forests I can see playing a copy of Nissa, Vastwood Seer, a good card in general that can provide extra advantage for longer games.
Esper Dragons will get a huge boost from the new battle lands and gains Shambling Vent, which is going to be more useful here than in Abzan because the lifelink is invaluable to avoid losing to a topdecked Exquisite Firecraft.
The problem is that the deck already has 2 Haven of the Spirit Dragon, which get in the way of casting Ruinous Path, Languish, Silumgar’s Scorn, or Scatter to the Winds easily. Maybe with manlands, Haven, and Blight Cataract, you can run 28 and call it a day.
You have access to 19 sources blue and black sources and 11 white sources, and you can consider Haven of the Spirit Dragon a white source to get up to 13, which is more than enough according to Frank Karsten’s article about the mana base you need to cast Dragonlord Ojutai on turn 5.
New Standard formats are always great to explore—if you have any ideas or suggestions of your own just leave them in the comments and I will be happy to respond!