While many players consider the cool card effects and combos they want to show off in their Commander deck, it can be easy to forget about what is, debatably, one of the most essential parts of building your Commander deck: mana bases. Between some lands that have utility options that make them strong when drawn in any situation, and some lands that guarantee you get the colors you need, there are a lot of things to think about when building your mana base. This includes the land cycles you may want to use.
This list will be a bit different than our other lists. Instead of each pick being a particular card, the choices will instead be a cycle of land cards. This means that many powerful Commander lands like Ancient Tomb and Field of the Dead that are not part of a cycle are out of contention. Here are some of the MTG best land cycles to consider when building your mana bases!
Honorable Mention: Dual Lands (Too Expensive)
It’s pretty difficult to argue with these not taking the number one slot, but it’s also not very good information for a majority of the playerbase. These are undoubtedly the best land cards that money can buy in the Commander format. The only issue is that you need a lot of money to buy these.
The Dual Lands are a cycle of lands from Alpha, MTG’s first set ever, containing two colors and two Basic Land types with no downsides. This means the lands come in untapped without a downside, immediately tap for two mana, and can be found with Fetch Land effects.
These are on the Reserved List, which means it’s very likely that we will never see a reprinting or a printing of a card that functions on a more powerful level than these lands ever again. As a result, Dual Lands range from about $200 to $800 in their cheaper variants. At the end of the day, while these lands will give your mana base a marginal advantage over decks that do not have them, those advantages may only truly matter at the cEDH level. We have listed these as an honorable mention because the sheer paywall these cards have put it out of many MTG players’ budgets.
#5 Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Channel Lands
According to EDHREC, the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Channel Lands are amongst the most commonly played utility lands in EDH. The more popular cards in this cycle even boast a high price tag because of their rampant play in constructed formats, making their high rate of play in Commander even more impressive.
The Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Channel Lands include five mono-colored Legendary land cards that all have activatable Channel abilities. These require you to discard the Channel Land and pay a mana cost from your hand to use. These abilities all feature mana costs that can have their generic mana reduced by the amount of Legendary Creatures you have in play. Not every Channel Land sees a ton of play (Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance is pretty subpar), but the stronger ones are extremely prevalent.
The most powerful among the Channel Lands, Boseiju, Who Endures. Not only is Boseiju’s activation cost the cheapest among the Channel Lands, but it’s also the most powerful – allowing you to destroy an opponent’s artifact, enchantment, or nonbasic land. In exchange, that permanent’s controller may find a land that includes a basic type. Otawara, Soaring City is largely considered the second most popular among these, allowing players to bounce a nonland permanent to its owner’s hand.
Either way, having these influential abilities on Channel lands sort of allows them to function similarly to double-sided cards because they can be used for a land or as a pseudo-spell. Unlike other double-sided cards, these Legendary Lands come into play untapped with no downsides – besides being Legendary. If you do decide to play multiples of these cards outside of EDH, make sure your mana base can support the occasional instance of you drawing multiples of these without other lands.
#4 Triome Lands
The MTG community has waited quite a long time for the cycle of Triome Lands to be completed and Streets of New Capenna finally delivered! Tri-Lands all enter the battlefield tapped but can tap for three different colors. There are a lot of other land cycles that share these characteristics, but there are two elements that allow Triome Lands to rise above the rest.
Firstly, these Triome Lands have their respective Basic Land Types, which makes them fetchable with Fetch Lands. This means that if you have a Triome that taps for Sultai colors (Zagoth Triome), the card will also be a Swamp, Island, and a Forest. This can also help decks that are interested in utilizing the Domain mechanic that returned in Dominaria United.
The other significant upside that Triome Lands have over other fixing lands is the ability to cycle them away for three mana. This allows players an opportunity to make the most out of an unfortunate flood. The cost is not cheap to do so, but it’s better than getting stuck with a useless card in a top-deck scenario.
#3 Battlebond Lands
Battlebond Lands are almost as powerful as Dual Lands in Commander. Some of these recently saw a reprint in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate, making them even more accessible. The reason for these lands’ prevalence in the format is not because they are inherently warping every competitive format ever, unlike the Channel Lands, but instead, that Commander players can ignore the card’s downsides.
These lands tap for two colors and only enter the battlefield untapped if you have more than one opponent. While these lands were originally created for the Two-Headed Giant format, the implications for Commander are… obvious. Since these do not have Basic Land types, they aren’t fetchable, but they are still incredibly powerful lands with next to no downside that could be picked for better prices than some of the other cards on this list.
#2 Fetch Lands
Fetch Lands are some of the strongest color-fixing lands in the Commander format. Unfortunately, these lands also have a knack for making your mana base incredibly expensive. Fetch Lands allow you to sacrifice them to search for a land with the Basic Land types indicated on the card. The lands themselves, however, do not need to be Basic. This allows for an incredible amount of coverage in colors when used alongside Triomes and Shock Lands, essentially allowing you to find any color of mana you want as long as your deck is built properly.
Fetch Lands also have a lot of hidden benefits that can make them incredibly powerful. These allow for multiple land drops, which are quite powerful when used alongside Landfall effects. They can, in the same way, also create instant speed land drops to catch your opponents off guard.
If you have graveyard synergies, Fetch Lands excel in that category too. Effects that care about playing lands from your graveyard, like the new Conduit of Worlds, when combined with a Fetch Land, ensure that you will never miss a land drop… at least as long as you have searchable targets. This cycle of lands also does exceedingly well to help pay costs involving your graveyard. Delve and Escape mechanics work very well alongside these cards.
Unfortunately, because Fetch Lands are also very commonly played in the Modern format, they have a high price tag. Additionally, any strong searchable option with these cards will also have a price tag, which quickly adds up to your expenditure when creating a Commander deck. That said, enemy-colored Fetch Lands are cheaper than usual because of their recent(ish) reprint in Modern Horizons Two.
#1 Shock Lands (?)
While Shock Land’s status as the best land cycle in Commander is definitely up for contention, according to EDHREC, it is undeniably the most popular land cycle used when creating EDH decks. These are strictly worse versions of the Reserved Dual Land cards discussed at the beginning of the article. They have all the same characteristics of a Dual Land with one catch: if you want the land to enter untapped, you have to pay two life.
The upsides to Shock Lands may not seem like much, but having lands that tap for two colors, are Fetchable, and can consistently enter untapped are a difficult thing to find in any format. As such, Shock Lands also has a price tag attached due to their play in Competitive formats. Some of the other lands have different upsides – this cannot cycle out of your hand like Triomes can, for example. As such, there is a very strong argument that Shock Lands aren’t the best land type in the format. The upsides can debatably take this slot, depending on what you value. Ultimately, we gave this the number one spot due to their overwhelming popularity.