It’s been a little since we’ve had any new and interesting lands to review. Amonkhet has brought a few tasty gems that have even me salivating. As always, if you would like to refer to the previous installments, please find them here: REB 1 & 2. As Amonkhet is now available, I am sure everyone has had a chance to check out the goodies.

Sadly, we still have not seen the enemy Tango (Battle) lands; however we have a tantalizing look into something almost as good – Cycling fetchable dual lands. Seriously, those need a cooler name, maybe “Yoyo” lands or “Boomerang” lands cos you can throw them away and fetch them as well. Apparently the moniker is “Bicycle Lands.”

What Comes Before Five?

Before we launch into my assessment, I want to highlight one new type of mana base. The 2016 commander decks created the option to play four-colour decks, with their requisite mana bases. I’ve previously established that five-colour bases are a different animal to what can be found in a two or three colour list. These five-colour bases require much higher efficiency in their mana base to be able to develop at a speed that can compete with their quicker and looser two and three-colour cousins. They require support to allow the development of their colour resources, all of which must compete for the same number of land slots available to other mana base designs.

The question that we then need to ask is, “Is the four-colour base closer to the five-colour base, the three-colour base, or is it a creature requiring unique assessment?” I would argue that the four-colour design is most closely related to a five-colour mana base in many respects. I have found that in my five-colour designs, while I aim to utilise the best tools for the jobs at hand, due to the competition for spots, I frequently end up with space for only a few critical cards of a given colour in the final design. I would argue that doing four-colour design is naturally equivalent to designing a five-colour list, in that you only have a few cards of a given colour because those less effective cousins of an effect get trimmed. Hence, I will be assessing the four-colour mana base in the same way as a five-colour for playability value.

1, 2, 3 o’clock something, something ROCK

What are these new hunks of terrain that the smiths in the Wizards R&D labs have put together? Let’s take a look at their components. We have a cycle of five, allied-colour dual lands. These lands have basic land typing, which means they are fetchable. They are cycleable for the cost of two generic mana. They come into play tapped. Yes, they come into play tapped, period. No built in work around clause, just tapped.

Straight up, the question I most want to ask is, “to which existing types of land are they most closely related?”

Cycling Lands: These lands all give you the ability to pay mana, then to discard them to draw a card. Inherently, this means that no matter when you draw these cards, they are never truly dead. You can always dispose of them to get a new card. You can even abuse this to great effect through use of top-deck tutors.

These lands all also come into play tapped. This is without condition; there is no inbuilt way around it. So what makes these new lands special in comparison to cycling lands? Of all the cycling lands that produce colour, the “Bicycle” lands are the only ones that have land typing to allow synergy with fetch lands. They are also dual lands that can produce one mana of your choice of two (ally) colours.

Fetchable Duals: These lands all possess two qualities: they possess basic land types allowing them to be tinkered into play; and they produce two types of mana. Aside from the unsurpassed ABUR Duals, all other fetchable duals possess a tap on entry clause. The new Bicycle lands are no exception. However, unlike all other fetchable duals, they have no inbuilt facility to enter play untapped. While this hard tapped entry is a brutal drawback, these lands possess one thing that even the original duals do not. They can be cycled.

The Analysis

How do our new tools stack up with the ever-increasing arsenal available to us? As I stated in my analysis of the Tango/Battle lands in the original Real Estate Blues, the value of fetchable dual lands is unparalleled. They improve the stability and flexibility of the mana base by allowing a functional increase in density of coloured mana sources—an increase in available colour without an increase in the actual quantity of land. They dramatically improve the speed of the deck through allowing the mana curve to develop more rapidly, able to pay more complex mana costs than are available when fetching individual, mono-coloured mana sources.

Unlike all the other fetchable duals, Bicycle lands do not possess the speed of standard fetchable duals. However, as we discussed with the Tango lands, you have some degree of control for when fetchable lands enter play. To a degree, a sufficient density of fetch lands can allow enough control to tinker in the Bicycle lands in the first few turns – the few turns where speed is not as critical in our format. While not a great primary choice for dual lands in your mana base, they are a great budget choice to complement and increase the colour density in your design.

The point of pain with lands like these that can only enter play tapped is that in the later game when one wants to play and use lands immediately, these you cannot. At this stage in the game I would be targeting into play lands that can enter play untapped. Without any further elements or deck-specific functions on which to assess them, it is difficult to imagine sliding the Bicycle lands into a one or two-of colour density booster slot. Because these lands possess the cycling ability, even in the late game they are able to be relevant. They can be pitched most easily as a blind re-draw. However, they can also be paired with a top-deck tutor to create a functional and sometimes instant speed Demonic Tutor. While cycling is a great value offset against a hard tap entry, just like too much fuel in an engine, it can choke a deck if present in too great a volume.

My revised order of lands would be as follows:

5/4 Colour Mana bases:
Pain Fetches
Revised Duals
Rainbow Lands
Specific Job Corner Case Scenarios
Utility Lands
Shock Lands
Check Lands
Filters
Bicycle Lands
Tangos
Basics
Shadow Lands
General Rubbish

2 Colour Mana bases:
Pain Fetches
Revised Duals
Drawbackless Rainbow lands (e.g. Command Tower)
Shock Lands
Check Lands
Shadow Lands
Specific Job Corner Case Scenarios
Basics
Tango Lands
Filter Lands
Bicycle Lands
Utility Lands
General Rubbish

3 Colour Mana bases:
Pain Fetches
Revised Duals
Drawbackless Rainbow lands (e.g. Command Tower)
Shock Lands
Check Lands
Specific Job Corner Case Scenarios
Basics
Filter Lands
Tango Lands
Utility Lands
Bicycle Lands
Shadow Lands
General Rubbish

I feel that the potential value that Bicycle lands offer to four and five-colour mana bases is greater than what they do to two and three-color decks. The increase in the density of fetchable lands is what makes or breaks the ability of a complex mana base to enable the casting of difficult costs like UUU or UUUU. This is most valuable in trick decks that are specifically trying to play obscure and hard to cast cards, as opposed to two or three-colour bases that can more readily generate a more focused density of available mana symbols.

Until next time,
Love and Velociraptors
Kaka