Saturday, July 12, 2014

How I Would "Fix" Mana Issues in MTG

I have the worst luck when it comes to Lands...

My biggest gripe and frustration with Magic the Gathering is the mana system. Now, that's not to say that it's broken. In fact, there are solid arguments for why the shortcomings of the mana system are actually a design feature of the game. But let's set all that aside.

I often complain that I just want to play a game of Magic. I don't want one player or the other to win because the other player drew too many lands, or too few lands, or couldn't cast most of his or her spells, despite a reasonable mana base.

So if you wanted to "fix" this problem, what would be the simplest way to do so? I've heard a lot of different suggestions. Here's my favorite:

I would add a simple rule, broken down into two parts: At any time, you can play a non-land spell as a land. Play it face down and add a color counter that corresponds to each mana type it can tap for. Until the card leaves play, it remains a land, but not as a Basic-type land. So how do you determine which mana types it taps for?
  • If the spell has only a single color in its mana cost, it taps for that color. As such, it comes into play untapped just like any other land.
  • If the spell has multiple colors in its mana cost, it taps for any of those colors (but only one at a time). To compensate, it comes into play tapped.
This not only solves the mana issues, it also adds a new layer of complexity to deck-building. While there would be much less incentive to play Basic lands or come-into-play-tapped duals, cards like Fetch lands or spells like Rampant Growth would still require you to do so.

For Magic Online, Wizards could even add a new Vanguard avatar that "turns on" this rule. I personally would love to see this.

So what do you think of that solution? How would it change the fundamentals of Magic? And would that change be positive or negative, and why? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. That sounds like a solution that could work as an actual mechanic we could see someday. Seems very similar to Morph. Could be great as part of a Return to Zendikar block. I think it changes the game and deckbuilding too radically as a general rule, though.

  2. Kaijudo does this, but I'm not convinced it leads to more interesting games. MaRo says that getting mana-hosed is a (positive) *feature* of Magic, as it leads to more dramatic games involving topdecking the final land you need, or whatnot.