Sunday, August 18, 2013

From the Vaults: 20

The set drops on the 23rd, I'll be at GP Oakland and if I could get it at MSRP I'd be in, but the presence of a certain planeswalker makes it so that speculators and collectors alike won't get it near to the listed price.

(By the way, if you have to have this for the sweet shiny goodness, you're not just a player, you're a collector too.  I know the pain.)

But let's hit these twenty cards in order, and see their EDH relevance.  I also want to add what it could have been, according to the official posting by Gavin Verhey.

Dark Ritual: This is card disadvantage. Don't play this in EDH. Add another land, or a Fellwar Stone, anything but this. 
   Could have been: Hypnotic Specter. Sees more casual play than Ritual, certainly. 

Swords to Plowshares: For me, I like Condemn slightly more but I've no objection to both of these and even Path to Exile if you want pinpoint answers. 
   Could have been: Stasis?  Vesuvan is on the Reserved List, or that would be the card. StP is a solid choice though, considering how rare foils of it are and how commonly the card gets played.  In a better world, we would get a full-art of Douglas Shuler's Que Serra Serra that MaRo referred to recently.  I can see all sorts of collectors losing their mind to get this in full-art foil.

Hymn to Tourach: Nope, don't do it. Your Nath of the Gilt-Leaf deck will have better discard spells and effects.
   Could have been: I would have liked to see some crazy foil version of Royal Assassin, but I can respect the desire to foil a card that hasn't been in foil before.  Plus, Cubers are going to go nuts for this.

Fyndhorn Elves: Elf deck? Don't mind if I do. Everyone else? Move along. 
   Could have been: I love the singleton Gorilla Shaman, and that would be a foil I enjoyed having.  Also, a shoutout to Orcish Cannoneers! This and Goblin Artillery ask the skill-testing question: How much is direct damage worth?

Impulse: For two mana, at instant speed, this is serious digging through your deck for a combo piece or an answer to a problem. It's hard to argue against what this does for its cost. 
   Could have been: Vampiric Tutor! If you're going to feature the ProsBloom deck and not give us the Pros or the Bloom, give us the tutor!

Wall of Blossoms: Yawn. Useful in some decks, unworthy in most. 
   Could have been: Nekrataal or Tradewind Rider. Recurring Nightmare and Survival of the Fittest are both on the Reserved List. 

Thran Dynamo: Artifact decks rejoice! Expensive decks cheer! It's undercosted acceleration for all!
   Could have been: Wildfire. I don't know if Akroma's Vengance counts as the sweeper of this set, but Wildfire would be fun to have as a foil. 

Tangle Wire: I've seen this used in EDH games and the moment the player with this messes up, the table pounces on them. It's a powerful effect, but just be aware there's nothing multiplayer games hate more than a slowdown.
   Could have been: Another foil Brainstorm? Sure, why not.

Fact or Fiction: Enormously powerful card. I enjoy seeing the politics of who decides the split: it'll either be the worst player at the table or a friend you trust to 4-1 split you favorably.
   Could have been: Absorb.  There's several versions of FoF going around.

Chainer's Edict: I am a fan of this card. It gets around a lot of things.  If you know someone who's big into Voltron decks, just this in the graveyard can deter their silliness to someone else.
   Could have been: Psychatog!  I really don't care that there's a Player Rewards version around, Dr. Teeth needs to torment a new generation of players.

Akroma's Vengeance: Awesome choice. The sweeper of choice for decks with lots of planeswalkers.
   Could have been: Either Astral Slide or Lightning Rift, since this was a cycling deck.  But I'm happy with Vengeance.

Gilded Lotus: If this hadn't been in M13, I'd call this a sneaky great choice. As it is, it is merely solid, even with new, actually-gilded art.
   Could have been: Goblin Welder.  Hasn't been printed since the original and it's a card in all sorts of formats.I know I would love to have more Welders.

Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni: Since she was left out of the Ninja Planechase deck, people need more Ninja action!
   Could have been: Sensei's Divining Top!  But the Ninja is a fun choice too.

Char: You can do better with your burn spells, but if you want to, I give you permission to say it like Charmander does in the Pokemon cartoons. I give others permission to be confused.
   Could have been: Burning-Tree Shaman.  Have you ever played this in an EDH game?  It's outstanding.  Abilities are all over the place and this is just punishing.

Venser, Shaper Savant: Love this choice. His foil is a pain to acquire and his effect is awesome. I never played with him in Standard but in EDH his utility is undeniable.
   Could have been:  Polluted Delta.  Just kidding.  Umezawa's Jitte, perhaps?  It amuses me to no end that Gavin references the utility of Riptide Laboratory but that card isn't in the decklist.  High comedy.  Riptide Lab would have been a fun choice too.

Chameleon Colossus: solid but unexciting. Great place to dump Omnath's mana.
   Could have been: Imperious Perfect.  It's a staple in all sorts of decks and this would be a sought-after version.

Cruel Ultimatum: I played with this in my Garza Zol deck for a long while and found that seven mana to mess with one player was just not enough.
   Could have been: Volcanic Fallout.  A red sweeper of choice.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor: The flagship card of this set. His nonfoil is $150 right now and I've no idea at all what this price will settle at. This is the Planeswalker that has warped that card type. The low cost, the game-locking +2 and the game-over ultimate, the coining of the phrase "the Jace test" and this card is even responsible for the Titan cycle being so overwhelming--a card needed to do something immediately, else Jace would just bounce the creature. This being in the set is going to push the set price high, but might lower the prices of the individual singles as people try to recoup value.
   Could have been: Who cares?  He profiled an early Jace deck, before Caw-blade was invented. 

Green Sun's Zenith:  When this came out I couldn't trade for enough of them.  This was a card that was far too good in every format.  And I was right.  I had about 20 before I stopped, and that was when it got the ban in Modern.  Curses.  It's a fantastic EDH card, though, and a card that is very difficult to cut because of its utility.
   Could have been: I feel that Solemn Simulacrum would have been a good choice too.

Kessig Wolf Run:  A very powerful land, and something to do once you have gotten lots of mana, turn something harmless into a player-killer.
   Could have been:  I feel they missed out on a chance to give us a double-sided foil in FTV, Huntmaster was a more defining card in my opinion.  I imagine that DFC's were off the table, since they require a different print technique. 

I'd like to point out that Grim Monolith shows up in several of the decks profiled, but the Reserve List strikes again! 

Also, it's curious that the deck choices, from a range of formats, somehow manage to skip Force of Will.  Hmmmm....

Monday, August 5, 2013

What's been going on?

Yes, dear reader, it's been months.  I'm not totally back, but I'm going to try to post something here a little more frequently than once every three months.

There's been a few announcements while I've been on hiatus.

 - The Legend rule change is a big deal for a lot of players, but I've used this rule when two people sat down with the same general and this is not a significant change, except for every Clone effect getting less utility.  I think that you'll see an uptick in Hexproof commanders, especially Uril, the Miststalker.  Poor guy would have three Auras on and then someone would cast Phantasmal Image and ruin the plan.

 - Magic 2014 came out and has some really fun cards.  I want to say Primeval Bounty isn't good, but I suspect it's better than I think it is.  My viewpoint is skewed, since my Adun Oakenshield deck has three six-mana do-nothing cards in it already (Lurking Predators, Guild Feud, Deadbridge Chant) and I can't bear to add a fourth.  I'm looking forward to seeing Strionic Resonator combos, except that too many of them will be infinite combos.

 - I traded Kaalia's perfect manabase for an iPad.  Gives me a quest to complete all over again.  Now if I could just find someone to trade a Roomba to me...

 - San Diego Comic-Con gave us something to cry about.  I like what I see of the black-on-foil planeswalkers, and I admit that the Liliana of the Dark Realms would look sweet in my Zombie deck, but once you start chasing specific, less-available versions, you're not a player, you're a collector.  Which many of us are.  I certainly am, I just finished foiling out Garza Zol, Plague Queen and I specifically needed a foil Future Sight edition of Graven Cairns.  (It has a vampire in the art, come on!)

 - Modern Masters was released, and newer EDH players got a chance to nab some really sweet cards.  I'm all for increasing the availability of cards to newer players, and everyone should have a chance to get Doubling Season, Vedalken Shackles, etc.  Bonus is that this was a ridiculously sweet set to draft, especially when there's a foil in each pack!

 - The big fall set, Theros, is Greek-themed, and has an enchantment-heavy feel to it.  I approve of the enchantment theme being in play AFTER Rancor leaves the Standard format.  I have my fingers crossed that Krond, the Dawn-Clad is in this set, but I realize that's a heavily restrictive mana cost, especially after the nearly-perfect mana rotates in September.  I do expect some incredibly sweet legends, though.

 - I've started writing short pieces weekly for, with a focus on the budget.  I've got an infant daughter, and we just moved to a new place, so funds are tight.  I hardly ever spend money on single Magic cards, I like trading and I have some strategies I've been sharing.  Their price tools and alerts are pretty sweet too.  Go check me out.

 - The doozy announcement for EDH players, though, is the landing of the new Commander preconstructed decks.  I've mentioned here and Twitter how much I expect the four-color legends to finally be printed, usually with every new set, but even C13 isn't going to have that.  So who the heck knows.  What's relevant is that C13 will have shard-colored decks, three allied colors.  It's funny to think that Shards of Alara was printed in 2008, rotated from Standard three years ago, and we still use the shard names (Esper, Jund, Naya, Bant, Grixis).  C13 will feature a mechanic that I really like: the spoiled legends have triggered abilities that scale up depending on how much mana was used to cast them.  This rewards you for playing your general for the fifth time, and like Landfall, takes something you'd do anyway and turns it into a bonus.  I'm already saving to buy a set of these in November.

I'd suggest you start saving too, because the Commander precons were an incredibly successful product for Wizards in 2011, and they were stuffed with valuable reprints and awesome EDH cards.  I don't think Star City Games will run the same promotion this year (Buy four, get the fifth free) but if they do, or someone else does, I'm all over that.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Where the heck are the new posts?

Between my infant daughter and my impending move, there's still no chance of new content.

We are closing in on the anniversary of me starting this blog, and hopefully, I'll have some spare time in the near future.

I want to write, and I know I will, but I'm just not sure when.

Thanks for checking, though!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Pimping out decks

This is a topic of great interest to some, and zero interest to others.

I enjoy having unusual cards in my deck, whether altered, signed, textless, foil, or foreign.  Plus, I make my own generals!  Not everyone likes having these types of cards, and I understand that.  It's annoying when someone plays a card and there's no text, or altered to cover the text, or in a different language.

I have had the experience of needing to look up my own card and finding out that it doesn't do what I thought it did. Egg on the face and all.

So let's go over the things you are going to find.


This is the most common form of pimping out. I'm in the process of foiling out my Vampire deck, and it's a slow and surprisingly expensive process. Well, maybe not too surprising considering how some prices have gone crazy lately.

There's a lot of factors that contribute to the rarity of foils, and one of the main ones is Legacy playability. If it gets played in Legacy, a several-thousand-dollar format, then those players will always chase the rarest versions of cards.

Case in point: Brainstorm. There's only one version of this in foil, and the prices for that Mercadian Masques foil are astounding.

The age of the set and the foil is another major factor in the price. Urza's Legacy was the first set to have foils, and the rares, commons and uncommons can have some impressively high prices.

For EDH players, since we have need for only one of a card, we tend to chase the original set foil, often referred to as a pack foil. The M13 foil of Rancor is one quarter the price of the Urza's Legacy foil.

As someone who was playing when they introduced foils, we thought it was a Pokémon flash in the pan and kind of a joke. I remember discussions that focused on how the foils were a different color, they looked worse, and were actually LESS valuable.

We were not aware of what would be happening in twelve years.

Another kind of foil that's worth knowing about is the assorted promotional foils. We have:
Arena League
Junior Super Series
Prerelease Events
Release Events
Game Day full-art foils and older textured foils
Magic Player Rewards Textless foils
Friday Night Magic
Judge Foils
Buy-a-Box cards
Resale promos
Pro Tour foils
Grand Prix foils
Special Event foils, such as the Wizards Holiday cards, e.g. Snow Mercy

Duels of the Planeswalkers promos
Foil-only editions, like Commander's Arsenal or From the Vaults
Duel Decks foils
And the rarest of all, the Exodus test foils.  More info here.

Generally speaking, people want original set foils for their pimped-out decks.  After all, when you're spending $50 on a card, why not spend some more and get the oldest one?

There can be different art on a promo foil, and that's sometimes a factor.  Mostly, though, we want the rarest, and that's usually the pack foil.

Judge foils are something that you can enjoy or not, and mostly it'll be because of the art.  Wizards doesn't pay judges directly for being judges at large tournaments, except perhaps for the highest-level Head Judges.  Instead, judges are given promotional foils that can be worth significant money.  The beginning of a season is when these cards go for the most money, and being patient can result in these cards being lots cheaper.

When we went to the World Championships in November 2011, a friend of mine laid down $100 for a judge foil Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed.  Now that's about $25.  He's enjoyed it, and that's what is important, but keep the finances in mind.

Some of the early judge foils are of cards which weren't available in foil before, and are often prized by those who want to foil out their cube or deck.  The judge foil Gaea's Cradle or Swords to Plowshares are big money indeed.  But they look awesome, especially if you recognize what they are worth.

Early Editions

Since Alpha cards have a more rounded corner, they aren't always allowed in tournaments, since even in sleeves, a difference can be noted.  Each Head Judge has to make that determination.  What this means for EDH players is that sometimes, there's a difference in price for the editions that we can't explain, and that we might be able to get an Alpha cheaper than a Beta.  Because of collectors, though, Alpha prices are starting to go wild and this difference is disappearing.

Beta cards, if you want early set cards in your EDH deck, are the ones to chase.  Wrath of God, Swords to Plowshares, Demonic Tutor...these look amazing as aged Beta cards.  The original dual lands look great too, and while Beta isn't the only way to get black-bordered dual lands, I can tell you that having a Badlands, a Plateau, and a Scrubland be the only white-bordered cards in my Kaalia deck grates at me a little.

I know a gentleman who has a set of 100 Beta lands for when he drafts.  I'm very jealous.  Even when his draft deck loses, it's still pimp.

Foreign Printings

Magic has been printed in a couple of dozen different languages.  It's a lot of fun to have foreign-language cards, as long as you know what they do.  For me and my friends, foreign cards are fun to say out loud, too.  A German Lightning Bolt is a Blitzschlag or my Italian foil Kokusho is Kokusho, la Stella della Sera and it's just a good time!

Depending on where you are, some languages are more common.  It's been my experience that here on the West Coast, Japanese packs are more common, whereas on my trips to the East Coast, European languages were easier to find in packs.

The first major translations were during Revised, and that's where dual lands were last seen.  So you can find foreign-language, black-bordered dual lands (often called FBB duals) and they have the same nesting-rectangle look as the originals.

Wizards doesn't do many special editions in foreign languages.  Judge foils and event promos are only in English, neither are the From the Vaults cards, at least not yet.  Duel Decks have been in other languages, as have Planechase and the preconstructed Commander decks.  As Magic's popularity grows in other countries, the editions of foreign printings will probably increase too.

Foreign Foils

This is hot and spicy.  Magic is still predominantly printed in English, and the print runs are smaller in other languages.  Korean wasn't a printing for a while, but it's back now.  Depending on the set, different languages were the smallest printings and it's tough to nail down specifics.

What is known for sure that when there are less cards, the foils and foil rares/mythics are correspondingly harder to find.  So when you get a chance to pick up a foreign foil rare, you should at least think about it.

I love foreign foils and trade for them pretty hard when the opportunity comes up.  Be warned that price data is not always consistent, since retailers may not have any foil French Akroma, Angel of Fury for sale.

Artist Signings

I'm in favor of this, but opinions vary widely.  For a more in-depth explanation, I refer you to my earlier article.


It happens far less these days, but there's a lot of glorious screwups in Magic's history.  Missing mana costs, incorrect mana costs, the wrong power/toughness, the wrong text, the wrong color, the wrong card back...yeah, all of these have happened.  (Thanks to the SQUT page!)

It's also happened where the cards are cut out of the sheet and are out of alignment.  Mostly, this results in cards being off-center and no big deal.  But there are occasions where you see bits of the card that was nest to it.  Eternal-Central has some good stuff on this topic, covered here.

People collect these for the rarity, and the 'wow' aspect.  I've never been a big fan myself, but I can see the appeal of having something so unusual.

Custom Alters

What I do with my custom generals can be called an alter, though I usually don't call them that. I don't use the original card. Plus, my method makes for noticeably thicker and stiffer cards, definitely not tournament-legal.

Most alterations are done with markers or paint. I've got more than a few cards that an artist drew something extra on, like my Lurking Predators. Lots of artists, but not all, are willing to draw something on your cards for a nominal fee. This is usually done with a marker, and mostly is a convention/big event happening. If you email an artist, they may take a commission for something when they have more time.

It's not unheard-of for an artist to have a stack of cards they take to the hotel room overnight, to be delivered the next day of the event. Be polite and inquisitive, and take no for an answer. I've seen Terese Nielsen at a couple of events and she doesn't have time for any alters.

The most common alteration done with paint is to paint over the black border of a card. This isn't hard to do, I'm told, because you're just extending what is already present. This sets your colors, shapes, and tone. Some artists will do this fairly cheaply.

More full-scale work will cost progressively more money, culminating in cards where only the name and mana cost are visible. That's one of the keys to keeping a card tournament-legal. (Always ask the head judge of an event if your altered card is legal to use in your deck, and have an unaltered one in case they say no.)

If you have an altered card, get your general done first so you can show it off more. I really like my Lurking Predators, and I find myself being super-impatient about drawing it so that others can see it and have that moment of 'That's pretty awesome!'

I can imagine it would be hard to have something like this Serra Angel by cardkitty and have it as one of the 99. I'd want to hang it on the wall, or cheat it into play every game!


Any of the above are awesome. Combining them is a real thing--foreign foils or foreign alters can look outstanding and are truly unique works of art. Again, be sure you can explain the card! I've seen some amazing alters to a Japanese Sensei's Divining Top but the card takes a lot of familiarity.

There are other things you can do to pimp out your deck, like custom sleeves or an amazing deck box, but I've prattled on enough.

If you follow me on Twitter (and if you aren't, you should be!), you know my wife and I just had a baby girl. So while you may be looking forward to a review of the ten guild champions in Dragon's Maze, or the always-too-wordy set review, understand that my updates are about to get sporadic-to-nonexistent for a little while.

I urge you to join up and follow me on Twitter if you want occasional bite-size commentary, especially since we are in the throes of a new set.

Thanks again for reading!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Enchantment, not Land!

I was an eager participant in the first You Make The Card, which came up with Forgotten Ancient, who was affectionately known as Mr. Babycakes.

He's also a star in Animar and Experiment Kraj.

Crucible of Worlds is a real powerhouse in the wrong hands. It's never just used to reuse fetchlands, it always ends up holding hands with Wasteland or Strip Mine.

Vanish Into Memory is the funniest thing you can do to a Marit Lage token.

Those are the results of the previous You Make The Card contests, and they represent a range of effects for EDH players. The Standard and other formats crowd aren't as relevant to me, though I remember trying to make Mr. Babycakes good.

We as an Internet got to vote on what the card type should be for the new card, and I voted Land because I'm still riding the high from Thespian's Stage--the first card that I absolutely say should go into every deck.

The vote was so close, though, that Wizards is having a runoff between Land and Enchantment.

So now that I've read some arguments and counter-arguments about what to vote for, I'm changing my mind.

Vote Enchantment.

The reason why I have changed my mind is more negative than positive. I tend to be an optimist, but if I have to choose between two difficult-to-deal-with permanent types, there's a few more answers for enchantments than lands.

Plus, as a community-designed card, it's likely to be a really, really good and/or powerful land. I just finished going over the utility lands and it occurred to me that we really have too many as it is. Or it'll have to be watered down, because if it's too good, it'll be WAY too good and we can't have nice things, because we break them.

Whatever the enchantment does, I'm sure it'll be awesome.  And we will be able to deal with it in our decks.  (Even R/B decks have Spine of Ish Sah, Oblivion Stone, and Nevinyrral's Disk.)

And because it's easier to deal with, Wizards will be able to make it far more powerful.  Yay!

So vote your conscience.  Vote Enchantment.

Friday, March 15, 2013

What makes a card good in EDH?

Seems like a simple question, right?

There's a lot of factors that go into this evaluation, questions we have to ask about the card in order to determine if it goes into 'most' EDH decks.

Before we go into those questions, I'd like to take a moment and salute those of you who deliberately build around terrible cards.  Overpriced Equipment, rampantly underpowered creatures, or sorceries that might as well say "Target player asks, 'Why bother?'"  If you have found a home for a bad card, that's a story and a triumph all in one.

Eric Levine, in his recent article, talked about submissions revolving around Zedruu the Greathearted.  He used my wife Elizabeth's Bronze Bombshell trick, which is fun, but not nearly as amusing as when she gives away Darksteel Relic.  We had a 30-minute discussion on which sexually transmitted disease the card should be altered to portray, since once you get it, it's very difficult to get rid of.  A guaranteed source of life and cards for Zedruu is not to be trifled with.

So, what makes a card worthy of an EDH deck?  I think that if it can yes to at least one, and preferably more, of these questions, you can at least consider adding it to your 99.  These questions are roughly in order of importance, but it doesn't have to pass the first two in order to still be useful.

Question #1: Is it fun? Does it fit your theme? Is it shiny?!

      Perhaps the most relevant question of all is three little words: Is it fun?  I fully realize that fun is not measurable, or defined the same by all players.  This format is the one where we are encouraged to do things that are enjoyable to us, even if it's not the most effective use of a card.  To those who pick a theme, or a tribe, or an artist, or whatever build-around you're going with, this is the primary consideration.  If the card fits, it might stay.  Sometimes there's more choices than there are slots (Zombie decks!) and sometimes there aren't quite enough (Noggles!) but you will choose what cards you can to make the best deck possible while retaining the theme.  We also get soft spots for foil/foreign/signed/altered versions of cards that might be strictly inferior to other cards, but it's OUR special card and it stays.  I'm not immune to this, and you probably aren't either.
     Example: Telepathy.  The card does nothing but expose the nefarious plans other players are holding.  I view this card as a lot of fun, even though it doesn't do anything about the cards.  It's also amusing logistically, because if someone has 30 cards in hand you're going to need a bigger table. 

Question #2: Is it ridiculous in combination with my general?

     The choice of your Commander is literally defining the deck.  It will be the creature who gives a bonus, an effect, an ability, or just represents what the deck is about.  Once you have that choice, then it's time to see what cards put a smile on the face and a song in the heart.  Some decks use the general sparingly, as a figurehead.  Some decks save the general until later, or some play it turn 2 and attack repeatedly.  Whatever your strategy is, you'll need some cards that combine very well--maybe even infinitely well--with the Commander and then you can really go to town.
     Whichever strategy you choose, there's probably cards that make your general amazing.  Some of those will be universally useful yet still sneaky-good, like Lightning Greaves in a Bruna, Light of Alabaster deck.  If your general is there for late-game tricks, make sure you're playing cards that get you to that late game.  Turn 6 Damnation followed by turn 7 Thraximundar can be pretty backbreaking.
     Example: Corpsejack Menace in a Skullbriar, the Walking Grave deck.  You can talk about Curiosity and Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind, but that's obvious.  Adding some +1/+1 counter tricks to a Skullbriar deck is super-tasty frosting on an aggressive, face-beating deck.

Question #3: Is it an effect I want? Is there synergy with the rest of the deck, not just the general?

     We have no shortage of cool things to do in EDH, even after allowing for different definitions of 'cool'.  But we want cards that play well together, to have a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Sometimes this leads to insane six-card combos, sometimes it is a small yet consistently powerful effect.  The dazzling plays in EDH sometimes come about because there are synergies we don't expect.  There are cards that literally beg to be played with other specific cards (Konda's Hatamoto, or the Sword of Kaldra, Shield of Kaldra, and Helm of Kaldra) but it comes down to your deck and your playstyle.
     A word of caution about synergies: Don't be that player who takes 20 minutes a turn because you have a Reveillark loop going.  Especially don't be that person who doesn't see the way to turn that into death for the other players.  There is little that irritates a table more than sitting around, waiting, waiting, waiting, and finally we are dead.  Guess whose head is now wearing The Target Hat in the following game?
     Example: Quicksilver Amulet and Sneak Attack in a Kaalia of the Vast deck.  Kaalia provides a way to cheat on mana costs, and your deck will therefore play huge, overcosted creatures.  Kaalia rightfully draws a lot of hate, so you need backup ways to drop your 8-cost Angels, Dragons, and Demons into play.

Question #4: Is it a threat that is difficult to answer?

     This is separate from your general being hard to kill, such as Avacyn, Angel of Hope or Lazav, Dimir Mastermind.  (Though, in the right colors, those are awesome cards to have in the 99!)
     Threats can be any number of things, from big, hexproof creatures, or something sneaky, like Chalice of Life flipped and making a player lose five life a turn.  Perhaps you're playing an Enchantment deck, and your Honden of Infinite Rage is pinging away twice a turn because of Paradox Haze.  Or your threat can be a Blightsteel Colossus, promising to send you packing if it gets in once.
     Whatever threats you choose to run, creatures without trample, flying, or other evasion aren't high on EDH players' boards, unless the deck is built to take advantage of such with Brion Stoutarm or other such effects.  I once had a Multani, Maro-Sorcerer deck that contained every way I could find of giving a shroud creature trample, because Multani was big and had shroud, but he'd get chump-blocked on almost every attack.
     Sometimes, your threats are things that make all of your creatures terrifying, like Collective Blessing.  Perhaps your threat is a Planeswalker building up to an ultimate.  If you have an offensive card that isn't easy to get rid of, then you have a card worthy of being in your EDH deck.
     Example: Assemble the Legion.  Sure, it's an enchantment and can be dealt with that way, but it dodges mass removal of creatures and has no mana cost to keep generating more and more hasty soldiers.  If you haven't had the fun of ticking this card up, I strongly urge you to do so.

Question #5: Does it answer another player's threats?

     I have lost the following EDH game: He plays his general (Ashling the Pilgrim) on turn 2, turn 3 it gets one counter, turn four Umezawa's Jitte, equip, attack.  I could never keep a creature in play.  I had answers, but I never drew them.  This told me that perhaps I needed more answers in the deck.
     There is a fine line regarding how many answers you need to be running, versus having a deck with a plan of its own.  I once had a deck based around Mangara of Corondor, dedicated to stopping other people from doing what they wanted.  It was a frightfully boring deck to play, because 90% of the cards were reactive, needing other players to do something before it would have a target.
     We toe this line by having flexibility and repeatability, points I'm about to cover.  It also helps to have tutors that can find answers.  Sometimes, a card can be both an answer and a threat at the same time, such as Phyrexian Rebirth.  We clear the token player's board AND get a huge creature.  My answer is now a threat--sweet!
     Example: Condemn.  Or use Swords to Plowshares.  For one white mana, it's great to have an answer to most problematic creatures.  I'm a bigger fan of these two than Path to Exile, because ramping them a mana is a real bonus for that player.

Question #6: Can I use in this multiple ways?

     This question spawns a lot of "It's so good!" responses.  We have maximum flexibility on one card: Vindicate, but even 'Destroy target permanent' as the text isn't good enough sometimes.  There are very few cards which only have one use, and since we have the entire history of Magic to choose from, we get the best spells, the best creatures, and the best creatures that act like spells.  We have split cards, we have modal spells like Cryptic Command, we have kicker spells like Illuminate.  Giving multiple options on a card is how we make sure that every card is useful in the deck.  We don't need to use restrictive cards, unless that's a personal preference/deck theme.
     Tutors fall under this category, because as long as we planned ahead, searching for the right card is easy for the game state. Sunforger in a Zedruu deck can fetch, at instant speed, Counterflux, Congregate, Boros Charm, or any number of useful spells.  With or without tutoring, the ability to have one card give us threats and answers is remarkably poweful.
     Example: Merciless Eviction.  This is insanely good for EDH.  The different modes ensure that you will always have something relevant to do.  If there's a game where you need to exile different types all at once, then it sounds like your game got appropriately out of hand.  I love that I can really mess with the five-color, thirty-planeswalker deck.

Question #7: Is it repeatable?

     If answering yes to these questions is good, being able to say yes turn after turn is truly remarkable.  That's part of what makes the Titan cycle so amazing: you get the effect when it comes into play, and then again when it attacks!  Visara the Dreadful or Avatar of Woe are similar, and have the additional effect of "If you love the creature in your hand, better not play it yet!" which can lead to so many fun games.
     The repeatable effect is half of why Equipment is so popular in EDH: It can go on any creature you control.  (The other half is that most of it is colorless and therefore can go into any deck)  Rancor is good because you can use it over and over, making any creature into a trampling, significant threat.
     Repeatable effects are rarely spells, though.  Sprout Swarm and other Buyback spells like Capsize are the exception, not the rule.  Mostly, you'll find these effects on creatures, artifacts, and enchantments--permanents that can be dealt with more easily than a Buyback spell.
     Example: Elder of Laurels.  An all-star in my token deck, he messes up combat math something fierce.  With eight mana, the Elder + six other creatures, one big attack and no interference, your opponent is going to take at least 14 damage unless every creature is blocked.  Up the creature count to ten (flashbacked Increasing Devotion?) and it's 22 guaranteed damage, at least!

Question #8: Is the cost appropriate?

     This is not only asking if a card has a high or low mana cost, but to the other effects associated with a spell.  Some spells like a Fling require a sacrifice of a creature, or Scorched Ruins can put you up by two mana as long as you're willing to lose two lands, etc.  This cost can also be an untap cost, a cumulative upkeep cost, an activation cost.
     Mostly, we don't mind huge investments of mana to cast our spells.  Tooth and Nail often ends games, as does Omniscience.  We are all aboard the big-spender plan.  Other costs have to be weighed in that context, especially when something costs us more mana to use after we cast it.  EDH decks want to use all of their mana, and don't often want to tie up our mana. 
     Example: Lord of Tresserhorn.  Four mana gets you TEN POWER, and regenerating power at that!  The life loss is no big deal, the opponent drawing two mana is a bit painful, but his two-creature snack means that you'll have to stock your deck with cheap creatures if you want him out on turn four. His cost is significant, but somewhat manageable.

Question #9: Does it scale up to multiple players/targets?

     We tend to play EDH in multiplayer mode.  The French 1v1 is not a format I enjoy, because your deck requires such specific tailoring.  Wizards did not care much about multiplayer until fairly recently, Syphon Soul notwithstanding.  But in these last few years, we've seen cards and mechanics that were designed for or tweaked for multiplayer experiences.  The new Primordial cycle is an excellent example, as is Extort.  These cards are explicitly better when there are more opponents!
     Would you play Terastodon over Sylvan Primordial?  Would you play both?  Neither?  They offer different types of scaling.  The new Overload mechanic scales very well and is pretty brutal in EDH, especially Cyclonic Rift. I am not looking forward to seeing Vandalblast played when Mycosynth Lattice is out.
     Example: Comet Storm. Perhaps the ultimate in scaling, this card requires that you know how to count. It's less math than Fireball, and more of a powerhouse than Rolling Thunder. If you have lots of targets, and the mana to do it, then it's pretty straightforward. I like that for the same 22 mana, it'll hit one player for 20, or two for 19, three for 18, and so on.

Question #10: Will it eliminate a player quickly if not dealt with?

     Really, the key is that word 'quickly'.  I don't want to hear about your Invisible Stalker deck with no enchantments or equipment.  As players, we don't get frustrated when we die to 40 1/1's attacking us in one turn, but if you manage to kill us with the same 1/1 attacking 40 times, now we are ready to flip a table and set a deck on fire.
     Some decks are all about big creature after big creature, with nothing to buff or boost them, and that's fine--there's an elegance to saying "Can you deal with my 9/9 turn after turn?"  There's room in most EDH decks for big creatures, but they have to be BIG to be good enough.  Is your six-mana Craw Wurm any good in comparison to Silvos, Rogue Elemental?  This is often where the word 'durdle' comes up, because something huge like a Krosan Cloudscraper is just going to walk over and stop at the first little creature unless he has help.  It's just durdling around, hoping for a chance to get in for damage.
     Example: Lord of Extinction.  I did a spit-take when I saw how expensive this card has become, and it's all due to EDH players.  For five mana, you get something that's not only enormous late-game, it can keep getting bigger!  It has no way on its own to get past Saprolings, though, so that's why he's huge but needing help.

     This time, I think I covered all the bases.  Ten questions to decide if a card is good for Commander games.  It's not too hard to say "That would be good in EDH" but the real trick is "What card(s) are worse than this card in my deck as it is?"
     Editing and updating your Commander deck is a much more difficult prospect.  I'll take that on soon, though.  See you soon!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Utility Lands and You

I didn't notice it until recently, but Wizards has not only given us a lot of options when it comes to fixing colors, we've got a real preponderance of very playable colorless-producing lands.  This is intriguing to me.

If you're one color, then you can play almost as many colorless lands as you want.  Two colors, and I'd have to start thinking hard about what's needed vs. what is useful, and probably no more than seven or eight such lands.  Three colors, I'm maxing at five colorless lands, and at five colors (we don't have the four-color legends yet, but they are coming!) a colorless-producing land needs to be amazing or exactly on the deck's theme.  (for reference, my Kaalia list has four of these lands and a Maze of Ith.)

I find that there are so many choices for multi-color lands, especially in three-color decks, that I could play all nonbasics if I wished.  This is dangerous--Ruination is a card to be respected, as is Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon. I make it a point to keep in as many basics as I need for the color requirements.  For example, if I have Visara the Dreadful, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, and Woodfall Primus in my Adun Oakenshield deck, I don't go below three Swamps, three Mountains, and three Forests.

Before we get into the 'taps for only colorless by itself' crowd, let's take a moment and look at lands that actually don't tap for mana.  This may surprise you, but for a while, this was a real thing and it seems silly in retrospect.

The non-mana-producing lands:
   Fetchlands from Onslaught (Polluted Delta), Zendikar (Arid Mesa), and Mirage (Rocky Tar Pit)
Yeah, yeah.  They don't actually tap for mana, but they find things that do.
  Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
It ends up tapping for black, but it needs to be mentioned anyway.
   Dark Depths
Since it is best friends with Urborg (above) and Vampire Hexmage, it bears mentioning.   The funny bit is that the token is a hard thing to find.
   The 'bands with legends' lands (Adventurers' Guildhouse)
I will bet a dollar that many people reading this don't even know what banding is.  And that's fine.  Those who know can tell you it's not worth the time to explain.
Now we are talking.  Fight!  Only downside is that they get to pick what fights after you do.
   Bazaar of Baghdad
This doesn't see much EDH play, but for a Karador or other graveyard-based deck, this sort of says 'draw five cards.'
   City of Shadows
Usually, this pops up in token decks as a cute trick.  Because it's an exile effect, you can't even get good loops going in recursive decks.  Sure, if you have lots of token creatures to spare, you can work this up to a good size. Wouldn't you rather be doing something good with those creatures, like attacking?  
   Diamond Valley
Read it again.  It's exactly as good as you think it is, plus some.  No mana, no restrictions, just tap and sacrifice to gain some life.  Useful to prevent theft or to gain lots of life.
   Eye of Ugin
Colorless creatures include not only Eldrazi, but artifact creatures too.  Amusingly, Ghostflame Sliver isn't colorless until it's in play.
   Glacial Chasm
Yeah, it's a standoff of a card.  Almost nothing can hurt you for a few turns, as long as you pay the life.
   Halls of Mist
This and Glacial Chasm in the same set.  Imagine what fun Limited games were!
   Ice Floe
Oh yeah, this too, but this isn't that terrible. It's not pretty, but it can keep something from hitting you twice.
   Island of Wak-Wak
I never understood the art.  It's like Aladdin wanted to launch some ICBMs or something.
   Maze of Ith
Important: Do not count this as a land.  It's a spell slot in your deck, and a very useful one at that.
   Safe Haven
People try so hard to make this work.  But you shouldn't, because of the timing restriction on when you can bring things back.
   Sorrow's Path
If you want to Donate this to someone and then tap it with an Icy Manipulator or some other effect, that is amazing.  Otherwise, it's terrible.
   Thawing Glaciers
I play this whenever I can.  It's slow, but it's effective.  
   The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
This card is both amazing and godawful.  The key is that it never shows up alone--they usually have Stasis or Winter Orb or a card that impedes your mana to make you get rid of your creatures.  If someone is managing to return it to hand before they have to pay the tax themselves, then you should learn from their example and indulge in evil.

Now, let's talk about utility lands.  I'm leaving out lands that tap for colorless or can be tapped for some other color effect, like Mogg Hollows, Twilight MireDarkwater Catacombs, things like that.  But leave a comment if I forgot something.

   Academy Ruins
This is a card that makes up a Mindslaver lock in Modern.  It's less likely to end up a lock until the end of the game, but using Mindslaver twice in a row against one person will draw you their ire for a good month afterwards.
   Alchemist's Refuge
This is good enough to be an auto-include if you're in the right colors.  Winding Canyons is good for creature-based decks, but this is flash for anything! The downside is that there are more than a few Riku decks that can really abuse this effect.
   Balduvian Trading Post
Sure, it's extra mana, except it isn't.  Avoid.
   Blasted Landscape
The cycling lands, for colorless and for colored costs, are something I often start with.  I find that I want to be playing with them, until they are my late-drawn, fifth land drop and I have to wait too long.  They are worse than two-color lands, and slightly better than basics. 
   Blinkmoth Nexus
There's a lot of 'manlands', the term for lands which turn into creatures, several of which are on this list.  Having this turn into a flyer, and then equipping it with something, can be a useful backup condition in many decks. 
   Buried Ruin
If you're artifact-heavy, this can help.  We are getting more and more options for exiling artifacts, though.
   Blinkmoth Well
Once upon a time, artifacts could be 'turned off' by becoming tapped.  Reprintings and rewordings have removed this clause, except for a few specific cards, like Howling Mine.  Basically, this is useless now.
   Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Uncounterability is good, and can be very annoying.
   Cathedral of War
There are some Exalted decks running around, mostly with Rafiq.  Toss this in and go to work.
   Cabal Coffers 
I wasn't sure if this should be here, or in the earlier section.  it doesn't actually make mana until you have Swamps in play.  It is a very weak card in multicolor decks unless its BFF Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth shows up.   
   Contested Cliffs
Our first of the Onslaught tribal creature lands!  This is a fight effect, but unlike Arena, you get to pick which of their creatures fights.  As long as you have big creatures, you can tap this and two other lands and kill something every turn.  Not to be overlooked if you have a good number of Beasts in your deck.
   Contested War Zone
I love this card.  I love the fights that pop up over controlling this card.  Interestingly, it needs to stay with one person for a whole turn to get untapped, and in EDH games, the damage can go back and forth enough to make this into a game of Hot Potato.
   Crystal Vein
Some decks really want that burst of mana.  I usually don't.
   Darksteel Citadel
Indestructible and an artifact.  Combine with Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas and start attacking for 5.
   Daru Encampment
A fun card for the Soldier-themed decks, but the single point is rarely amazing.
Sure, it's a free damage.  That's about all it is, though, and it applies after combat damage has been dealt. 
   Deserted Temple
This card looks so darn innocent.  It is not.  It is a sneaky, evil, amazing way to double up on the advantages you built into your deck.  Play it accordingly, especially when Gaea's Cradle is involved.
   Desolate Lighthouse
Normally, I feel this sort of looting (draw, then discard) effect isn't very good in EDH, when there's so many ways to just draw a card.  Also, this is the format with super-expensive spells, so you don't start tossing away lands until you have 11 or 20 on the field.  But if you need to dig for an answer, it'll do. 
   Dread Statuary
This is a pretty reasonable cost to get a manland, especially with this high a power, but no evasion or trample makes it a bit limited. 
   Duskmantle, House of Shadow
Only good if people like to play 'top of the library' tutors like Mystical Tutor.  Rather small corner case, otherwise, only in the most dedicated of milling decks. 
   Dust Bowl
This card is fair as fair can be.  You need answers to nonbasics, and this is not as good as Dwarven Miner, (or as sexy!) but still effective in any color of deck. 
   Elephant Graveyard
There aren't many Elephants who are worth regenerating over and over, but when Frankie Peanuts is involved, anything can happen!
   Gargoyle Castle
I don't like sacrificing my lands, but a flyer is pretty good value for that cost.
   Gavony Township
This can be pretty amazing in token-themed decks, or +1/+1 themes.  People do like to get rid of your Beastmaster Ascension and other swarm-enablers.
   Ghost Quarter
You're putting yourself at a land disadvantage if you use this, unless they are playing with no basic lands (Possible, but unlikely) or you do something sneaky like play Leonin Arbiter or Stranglehold first.
   Ghost Town
Yes, this was printed as a response to Armageddon/Balance decks.   
   Goblin Burrows
At its best with Spikeshot Goblin or Spikeshot Elder
   Gods' Eye, Gate to the Reikai
If you need a token this badly, go for it. 
   Griffin Canyon
Free pumping for Zuberi, Golden Feather!  As someone who plays Castle Sengir in his Garza Zol Vampire deck, I can't fault anyone who plays silly but on theme lands. 
   Grim Backwoods
It's not cheap to use, but it is card draw.  And if you're using this with Savra, Queen of the Golgari, then bonus! 
   Grove of the Burnwillows 
Sure, the classic combo is Punishing Fire, but why not go for Kavu Predator instead? 
   Grove of the Guardian
The biggest token you can get from a land, unless we're talking Dark Depths. I really hate sacrificing lands, but getting an 8/8 with vigilance isn't a bad deal.
   Hall of the Bandit Lord
This appears to be the newest card to get the "Someone's buying this up, the run is on!" hysteria, because while haste is a pretty amazing ability to grant a creature, this is so highly costed and restrictive that it just doesn't see a lot of use.
   Haunted Fengraf
Don't do it, not for a random creature.  There are better options!
   Hellion Crucible
I approve of this card, because even though it takes turns to build up, you can get that hasty damage in when you need it, but without needing much else.
   Henge of Ramos
I have played this card, and not been unhappy about it.  Sometimes, expensive is worth it.
   High Market
It's always useful to have a sacrifice outlet, as I've mentioned.  This isn't as big an effect as Diamond Valley, but this is free and good.
   Homeward Path
I try, very hard, to make room for this in every deck of mine, since I tend to be creature-based.  I'm not always successful.
   Inkmoth Nexus
A must-have for decks that are heavy on the Equipment.  Manlands are good for those decks anyway, but Infect is silly with just a little power boost.
   Keldon Necropolis
Another sacrifice outlet, only it is overcosted to the point of being laughable.
   Kessig Wolf Run
A home run of a card.  Possibly too good, but when you have mana to spare, you can make a humble Saproling into a terrifying threat.  Play accordingly--in almost every R/G deck.
   Kher Keep
It's only a 0/1, but lots of decks could use token creatures effectively.
   Kor Haven
A 'fixed' Maze of Ith, it's both better and worse.  It's two extra mana to use, true, but you get the option of tapping for colorless AND it's not 'removed from combat' but instead, it's 'prevent all combat damage dealt by that creature' which is an important distinction.  The creature isn't untapped as Maze does, and you can throw everything into a group block and prevent the damage that their attacker would deal.  Maze can never allow for the chance of killing that problem creature.
   Krosan Verge
Land finding, on lands!  This is similar to the Esper Panorama cycle, but the Verge allows you to find shocklands/dual lands.
   Library of Alexandria
This taps for mana?  Oh yeah, it does.  It's hard to take advantage of this in EDH, since it's banned.
   Maze of Shadows
Shadow is not an ability you see much, outside of the amazingly undercosted Dauthi Embrace.   
   Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
Everyone loves you if you have this and activate it.  Unless you have Consecrated Sphinx and Psychosis Crawler out.  Then you're Public Enemy #1.
   Miren, the Moaning Well
Sure, it costs a little more mana than the Diamond Valley, but it's still super effective.
   Mishra's Factory
The original manland.  You can block as a 3/3, or equip up and attack.  I think Prime Speaker Zegana decks want to max out on manlands, so that her ability always has the chance to be effective. 
   Mouth of Ronom
This is one of the reasons to play Snow-Covered lands, 4 colorless damage when needed.
Why is this price so high, you ask?  Legacy/Modern Merfolk and Goblins.  
   Mystifying Maze
Oh, the trickiness of this card.  It does so much for your investment.  Thievery decks, enchantment decks, token decks, +1/+1 counter decks, they all hate this card. 
   Nantuko Monastery
Threshold is not a tough condition to meet in most EDH games, unless Rest in Peace is out. 
   Nephalia Drownyard
If you mill someone out with this, congratulations, but you're never getting that four hours of your life back. 
   Nivix, Aerie of the Firemind
Five mana, and then you're allowed to pay the full price of that instant or sorcery.  Yawn. 
   Novijen, Heart of Progress
Does this fit perfectly into the Evolve mechanic? Yes it does! 
   Orzhova, the Church of Deals
It's six mana to have a two-point life swing.  If you have nothing else to be it. 
   Petrified Field
An often-overlooked card, this gets back Gaea's Cradle so often it's ridiculous.   
   Phyrexia's Core
Super-combo with Spine of Ish Sah, and a useful way for some mono-colored decks to have at least one out to Iona, Shield of Emeria.
   Phyrexian Tower
I have no idea why this is a $10+ card.  It's one extra mana, and needs a creature.  Another one of Savra's best friends, though.
   Prahv, Spires of Order
This is expensive to use, and it's in play for everyone to see.  But it will stop some spells from ever being cast as long as you have the mana open.
I have played this in Standard and Limited, but I wouldn't touch it in EDH. 
   Rath's Edge
You thought Keldon Necropolis was bad?  Here you go.
   Reliquary Tower
Simple and effective.  Pick up as many of the FNM versions of this as you can.
   Riptide Laboratory
I have a confession to make: While I could use this for defensive purposes only, 99% of the time, I'm resetting either Venser, Shaper Savant or Willbender.
   Rishadan Port
This is much less of an annoyance in EDH than it is in Legacy. Most often, it's used before combat to tap down a Maze.
   Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace
I could see decks needing this, but I haven't built one yet.
   Rogue's Passage
This has the potential to make people cry.  Put Runes of the Deus on Uril, the Miststalker, then make him unblockable.  Ouch and ouch.  The mana cost, though, means that you're unlikely to do something amazing, and then activate unblockability.  For breaking a stalled board, this is top-notch.
   School of the Unseen
As I said with its identical cousin the Henge of Ramos, sometimes you need it.
   Scrying Sheets
This land is one of the main reasons to play Snow lands.  Hit it once and you feel good.  Twice and it's paid for itself.  Everything else is just delicious gravy. 
   Seaside Haven
Have you heard?
   Seraph Sanctuary
It's free life, and in the right deck, or Entreat the Angels, it's a lot of life.
   Sheltered Valley
Why anyone would want more than one of these is a mystery to me.
   Shimmering Grotto
It's the loss of a mana, but it does the job.
   Shivan Gorge
With Rakdos, Lord of Riots, this might not be truly awful...but it's still fairly awful.
   Skarrg, the Rage Pits
This will still be good enough, even in the age of Kessig Wolf Run.
   Slayers' Stronghold
An outstanding card.  An auto-include in R/W decks, because haste is really worth whatever cost you have to pay.
   Springjack Pasture
Goat-flavored goodness!  Use as needed or desired--you're rarely playing this for mana acceleration.  I would guess you just need goats.
   Stalking Stones
This effect doesn't end at the end of the turn, like most of these cards.  Now, they just sacrifice and you get a token, to make understanding the board state easier.
   Starlit Sanctum
Mmmm this was a real winner in my Cleric deck.  Still a useful infinite-life trick with Shaman en-Kor and Daru Spiritualist.
   Stensia Bloodhall
Six mana to deal two damage to a player.  Not very appealing at all.
   Strip Mine
Classic, simple, useful.  Play with Crucible of Worlds and Azusa, Lost but Seeking at your own risk.
   Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
Another easy inclusion in most R/W decks, as double strike can end games very quickly.
   Svogthos, the Restless Tomb
This is only good if you can get it to decent size.  I know that seems self-evident, but hear me out.  If you're using five other mana, you want to get at least 6 power.  It doesn't have trample or anything special for evasion either, so use accordingly.
Several fun tribes want this land.  If you're playing them, use this.
   Tectonic Edge
A much less costly Wasteland, and with a restriction I can live with.
   Terminal Moraine
Land finding on a land?  Best in three or more colors.
   Terrain Generator
I only have this in my Azami deck, but just like Scrying Sheets above, once you can get it going, it's remarkable.
   Thespian's Stage
You are going to have to work very hard to convince me that this shouldn't be in every deck.  EVERY DECK.  There are some lands you can't copy because they are Legendary (Gaea's Cradle being the most notable) but the flexibility this offers is incredible.
   Tower of the Magistrate
Want to mess with someone?  Use this to make their equipment fall off of a creature.  Hilarity!
   Unholy Grotto
First of all, super-fun name. Second, it's an uncounterable source of recursion for a tribe that doesn't need much help in this regard.
   Unstable Frontier
It's another form of costly mana-fixing, but if you're into Pauper or playing cheap, this will work.
   Urza's Factory
Since lands are the hardest permanents to kill, naturally, giving them abilities means those abilities will be overcosted.  This is eight mana for a single 2/2, which is as pricey as it gets.
   Urza's Mine
   Urza's Power Plant
   Urza's Tower
Known as the 'Urzatron', these three lands are hard to get together in EDH without serious searching.
   Vault of the Archangel
Giving just lifelink or just deathtouch would have been good.  Giving both is pretty darn amazing.
   Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree
Perfectly costed. Five mana for a Saproling, and almost nothing counters the ability or kills the permanent.
   Volrath's Stronghold
If you can play black, play this.  It makes people so despondent when you do.  Keep in mind that you can use this in response to Bojuka Bog or other targeted graveyard removal. 
Not as evil as Strip Mine, but in this format, killing one land can be exactly what you need.  It's when Crucible of Worlds gets involved that we have a problem.
   Winding Canyons
This card is overdue for a reprint.  We love our creatures in EDH, and getting to play them at instant speed is among the best things you could hope for.  If you have more than 40 creatures, at least think seriously about picking one of these up.
   Wirewood Lodge
Tap my Priest of Titania for 6 mana, untap it, tap for six more, use Deserted Temple, get 6 more mana, do something gross.  Well done!
   Yavimaya Hollow
This is not hard to make work well for you.  Regeneration is an ability that doesn't get the love in EDH, mainly because so many spells have 'can't be regenerated' on them, like the original Wrath of God.  That being said, tapping two lands to regenerate will frequently be useful to you.
   Zoetic Cavern
Fun for the surprise factor, as well as the 'A creature is a land?" silliness that makes up this card.

Special add-on section! (aka Yes, I didn't put these down at first)

   Temple of the False God
As one of your first four land, it's pretty rough, but after that, it's pretty handy.
   Scorched Ruins
This is a stiff price to pay for two extra mana.  If your lands don't get blown up often, then it's good (and amazing with the Deserted Temple) but one piece of nonbasic land hate and you are extremely sad.
   Mishra's Workshop
Impressively, this isn't banned in EDH yet.  Fast mana is one of the main no-nos, but these are fairly rare.  I can see it being out-of-hand good, but you can't activate artifact abilities (like pay to untap Mana Vault) only cast those artifacts.
This card is causing a lively debate among my pals and some people I know online.  On one hand, it's a free copy of a land.  So at worst, you're getting a basic land.  I think that Thespian's Stage is strictly better, for the flexibility that the Stage offers and the immediate use of a colorless mana.  To me, there is nothing Vesuva can do that Stage can't, and there's a lot that Stage can do which Vesuva cannot.  Your mileage, and opinions, may vary, though.

It is possible I missed one or more of your favorite lands.  I'll edit as needed, just tell me via Twitter (@WordOfCommander), email (WordOfCommander at, or just leave a comment.