One of the most important steps of building any Magic deck is choosing which basic lands you play. From the most powerful Vintage deck to the mono-color Standard deck that uses 20 basics, you do need to choose and choose wisely (some very niche decks play zero basics, but 99% of all decks use at least one). Today I will give you a handy guide to making the best decision possible— the objective Basic Lands Power Rankings.
The baseline for basic lands is using any black-bordered expansion with all matching art. If you have sets of Invasion lands, or Ravnica lands, you aren’t losing any points. You aren’t gaining a ton of points, but there is nothing wrong with your selection.
Here we have the lands that are low in the power rankings. They are worse than using anything from the neutral category, and should be avoided if at all possible.
White-bordered lands are eyesores, though I am sympathetic to the logic that they are easier to find with fetches. You get partial credit for using Revised or Unlimited lands, because those at least look like bad versions of Beta lands, and Beta lands are great. Still, why play with washed-out looking lands when you can add strictly better black borders?
4. Land Box Lands
The bare minimum. You showed up without lands, but at least picked through to get all the same picture. It looks fine, but is so low effort that you are docked a few points.
3. Land Box Lands (Mismatched)
You went to the nearest land station, grabbed a handful of lands, and jammed them into your deck. You didn’t even take the time to sort by picture, making it clear you put no effort into the lands you are using. Congrats.
2. Mismatched Lands of Various Types
So you realized that you needed lands in order to play your spells, and you even went out of your way to acquire them before showing up. Still, it takes more effort to get mismatched old lands than current ones, so you chose this. You intentionally paired Revised Swamps, Tempest Swamps, and Origins Mountains. Why?
1. Zendikar and Battle for Zendikar Full-art Lands
Here we have the worst of the worst. All these lands look very similar, and are the most commonly-used by far. While there are some exceptions (the very yellow Plains and the cup Island), most of these lands are nowhere near optimal, and as such they occupy the bottom of the power rankings. It goes back to effort expended—if you are going to go out of your way to get sweet lands, get sweet lands.
5. Unglued Lands
These look classic, are very distinct, and have giant mana symbols indicating what they produce. As such, they beat out Unhinged lands, and claim a spot on the Top 5. Unglued lands are a respectable choice.
4. Original Arena lands
It’s the small details that make original Arena lands so great. All the lands are tied together in a similar visual style, yet look clearly distinct from each other. There’s a sweet little serpent on the Island, and you can see shades of it on the Swamp and Plains as well. Overall these look cool, are subtle, and have the classy look you should strive for in your lands.
3. APAC Lands
The Asia-Pacific promo lands (and similarly, the Euro lands) all represent real-world locations, and as such are a really cool tie-in between Magic and the world we live in. They also all look great, and are both different enough from normal lands and Magic enough that they are recognizably part of the game. These look good, and you should be happy to sleeve them up.
2. Beta Lands
There’s a reason these are one of the most common choices among players with good taste. Beta (and Alpha) lands are simple, understated, and beautiful. There’s a nostalgia factor, for sure, but that history enhances the visible quality of these lands. They are dark and powerful, and are also not incredibly hard to get, which raises the question: why aren’t you using Beta lands?
1. Guru Lands
These are the gold standard of basic lands. They have a fancy little gold filigree stamp, they look incredible, and they are very difficult to find. The sun/moon image each has is an awesome little detail, and each land does a very good job of evoking what each color represents. You can’t get better than Guru lands, and there’s a reason Shota Yasooka is our latest Pro Tour Champion (incredible skill, but the Guru lands can’t hurt).