Whether you love them or hate them, rare land is a staple within almost every MTG set. In fact, these lands are so common, that it can be big news when a set doesn’t have them! This was certainly the case for March of the Machine, which broke a decade-long streak! Following on from the break in tradition, Wilds of Eldraine is a spectacular return to form, with not just one, but five rare land cards!
Considering Wilds of Eldraine is the first set following the shift to a three-year Standard rotation, there was a lot of concern about the set’s land. After all, what if they provide too much powerful fixing and turn the format into a midrange soup? Well… Even more of a midrange soup, at least. Thankfully, Wilds of Eldraine shouldn’t exacerbate this preexisting problem, as rather than all-out fixing, the set boasts “Creature Lands.” These are often also known as “Manland.”
Each spotting a unique transformational effect, these lands are certainly an interesting and well-received concept. The question remains, however, whether or not these lands are actually any good. Now that each of the five lands has been spoiled, or rather leaked, we can finally start to answer that question.
As a note, before we dive into all the land, two of the cards we’ll be talking about today haven’t been spoiled yet. Instead, these cards have merely been leaked, so technically, they could be fakes. That being said, however, it’s believed these leaks are 100% real since other leaked cards have since been spoiled. Subsequently, we’ll be talking about the leaked cards as if they’re real in this article.
Debuted during MagicCon: Barcelona’s preview panel, Restless Fortress was the first Wilds of Eldraine creature land to be revealed. While this got plenty of players excited for the return of Manlands, expectations weren’t set high for the entire cycle. To put it simply, Restless Fortress is kind of meh, especially compared to past Manlands.
Coming into play tapped, like many Manlands, Restless Fortress’ playability is entirely dependent on what creature it becomes. As we alluded to before, however, unfortunately, this isn’t Restless Fortress’s strong suit. After all, this land can only transform into a 1/4 Nightmare creature until the end of the turn.
Thankfully, as with all past and present manlands, Restless Fortress doesn’t stop there as it does have another ability. This ability has both its upside and downside but, for the most part, having an ability like this is better than having a high power stat. After all, this life-draining damage is really difficult to avoid and can help you stabilize your position at lower life totals.
Compared to the old Orzhov Shambling Vent, besides damage from this attacking land being unblockable, Restless Fortress really only has one advantage. This is the fact it turns into a Nightmare creature, rather than just a boring ol’ land creature. Thanks to this distinction, Restless Fortress could find a home in Nightmare-Typal Commander decks, which provide Typal buffs. Outside of this limited use case, however, Restless Fortress is likely to see very limited amounts of play.
Thankfully, while Restless Fortress got the new cycle off to a bad start, Restless Cottage proved it’s not all doom and gloom. Similarly clocking in at four mana to become a creature, Restless Cottage offers a much more substantial body. Not only is this body reasonable for the mana cost, but it’s also worthwhile to attack with.
Should you pay the cost and attack with Restless Cottage then you’ll once again get a nice added benefit. Specifically, a food token, and the chance to exile a card from a graveyard. While this added ability isn’t utterly incredible, Food Tokens are always nice to have, especially in Wilds of Eldraine Limited.
Whether you’re looking to pay the new Bargain cost, or trigger Celebration, token generation is undeniably useful. Unfortunately, however, it remains to be seen whether or not Food Tokens will become part of a breakout deck. If they do, Restless Cottage should be an obvious auto-include. Even if this deck doesn’t emerge, however, Restless Cottage still has a beefy body that could have it see play.
On the opposite end of the power and toughness spectrum, we have Restless Spire. Able to become a creature for only two mana, this Manland is definitely the most accessible in the new cycle. Whether or not you’d actually want to transform it, however, is another story.
As a 2/1 attacker, with First Strike, Restless Spire could do some decent damage. Capable of keeping up the pressure or providing a sneaky block, there are definitely use cases for this Izzet Elemental. That being said, however, it is only a 2/1, which has alarm bells ringing since it’s incredibly easily removed.
While this is a weakness, the potential upside is massive. Not only can yous sneak in with some potentially game-winning damage, but you can also fix your draws with the Scry ability. Since the card requires so little cost to animate, even if it does get removed, this seems like a great option for aggressive Izzet decks that can easily flood in the mid or late-game.
Regardless, if you still need it as a land, you’d need to be more careful with Restless Spire compared to the other new Manlands. Ultimately, however, Restless Spire can fill a lot of roles. It can do a Mutavault impression in aggressive decks that can help fix your draw. It can also be a defensive threat thanks to its First Strike capability. Just be careful animating this land if you really need it since it’s so easy to remove.
At long last, we’re finally up to the new Manland that everyone is excited about. Supposedly leaked thanks to early deliveries, it won’t be too long before we see this card for real. Despite the potential for a short wait, however, we can’t resist talking about this card already.
Clocking in as a staggering 5/5, with Trample no less, Restless Vinestalk is the third largest Manland ever printed. As if that wasn’t enticing enough already, it’s also surprisingly well costed, only requiring five mana for the transformation. While these stats already make Restless Vinestalk a potent threat, they get even better with their added ability.
Similarly to the beloved Oko, Thief of Crowns, Restless Vinestalk can essentially Elk-ify a creature. Sure, it doesn’t actually become an elk, but it does become a 3/3! Regardless of whether this is used on your own creature or on an enemy, this ability is incredibly useful.
Out of all the Manlands that exist within Wilds of Eldarine, don’t be surprised if you see this one the most.
Since the new cycle of rare Wilds of Eldraine land each care about attacking, it’s no surprise that they’re all rather aggressive. Out of the bunch, however, Restless Bivouac is certainly the most aggressive thanks to its Boros sensibilities. Providing a +1/+1 counter whenever it attacks, you’ll want to be swinging in with Restless Bivouac as often as possible.
Initially, transforming and attacking with Restless Bivouac isn’t the greatest value proposition, since you’re only getting a basic 2/2. Thankfully, however, the +1/+1 counter fixes this imbalance, as it can turn Restless Bivouac into a 3/3 and beyond. Over time, this can turn this land into a substantial threat, especially in Wilds of Eldraine Limited!
These Lands Could Get Even Better
Just like the Manlands of yesteryear, it’s highly likely that each of these cards will see some play in Standard, perhaps even in Pioneer too. Well, maybe all of them apart from Restless Fortress, perhaps. While strong, however, it’s inadvisable to keep turning all these lands into creatures turn after turn. For better or worse, they’re far too expensive for that.
Thankfully, there are ways to counteract this major downside. Jolrael, Voice of Zhalfir, for instance, allows you to turn a land into a creature each turn. While this does override the stats of each creature, it nevertheless provides a means to activate their attacking abilities.
Should you want to keep the stats of Restless Vinestalk, thankfully, you’re not out of luck. This is thanks to Blossoming Tortoise which provides an effective source of cost reduction. Additionally providing +1/+1 to all land creatures, this mythic turtle could be the linchpin of a land-based MTG deck!
If you’re not already enticed enough by the new rare land in Wilds of Eldraine, they could potentially get even better. This is thanks to a possible, but rather unlikely rule change, which many players believe to be in the works. Seen recently during an MTG Arena event, Wizards tested the first players first land entering tapped, no matter what.
For land which already enters tapped, such as the new Wilds of Eldraine Manlands, this is obviously a marginal boon. For better or worse, however, there’s no indication Wizards will actually implement this rule. Speaking about the possibility online, MTG’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater recently downplayed the chances of anything happening.
“We’ll get the data from Magic Arena. We’ve changed the mulligan before, but we do it very cautiously.”Mark Rosewater