Thursday, July 7, 2011

Land Battle: Dragonskull Summit vs. Blackcleave Cliffs

Which 2-color land is better for Commander?

The lands from M11 (and M12)…

or the lands from recent exansion block Scars of Mirrodin…

The local gaming store is clear on which rare land is superior. The Scars lands cost $3 while the M11 lands are only $2. The sticker says it all. Case closed? Of course, they have to take into account all the different formats the players who frequent the store might partake in. For our purposes, we know what format I am mostly concerned with.

In a way, the lands are exact opposites of each other. The M11 lands come into play untapped as long as you control one of the 2 relevant land types. The Scars lands come into play untapped as long as you have 2 or less lands.

With the M11 lands the longer you go in the game the better chance you will have either of the 2 land types. Hopefully even by turn 2 unless you have a crazy 3, 4 or 5 color mana base.

For constructed, say Standard, on the very first turn when you laydown the Blackcleave Cliffs you will benefit from an untapped land. But come turn 3, any more Blackcleave Cliffs are suddenly transformed into Urborg Volcanos. Not as good!

For Commander, we run into a few more variables. There are more wildly multicolor decks, and more crazy land that taps for colored mana but not technically a basic land type (like Barbarian Ring).

And sometimes you just care less about your land coming into play tapped. Momentum is normally down, and at least at the beginning of the game waiting an extra turn for your mana isn't too bad.

Heck, maybe the best land should be the uncommon "refuge" cycle from way back in Zendikar. The land always comes into play tapped, but you get a nice shiny life out of the deal.


The M11 rare land cycle is much more interesting, and I'll give you an example of why.

Picture this: you are deep in a Commander game. You have about 7 lands out on the field, and all the players are looking for a good card to go crazy with and start taking over the battlefield. You already have what you need in your hand, but you're just waiting for one more mana. You'll take anything. Heck, a Strip Mine you can just tap for 1 colorless would be good enough.

What you do NOT want to draw in this situation is Blackcleave Cliffs. Instead, you want to draw into the awesomeness of Dragonskull Summit. This is where an untapped mana really matters, towards the end of the game when waiting another turn for 1 more mana can feel like ETERNITY while your friends drop all their crazy stuff onto the board.

So if you are sitting there looking at all the cards under the glass, you know which land I would pick. Don't let the extra money fool you, with the new core set coming the Dragonskull Summit cycle is definitely going to stay nice and cheap.

Still working on my mana base, look to further posts for elaboration!

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