Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Lands in Oath of the Gatewatch

With spoiler season at an end and the full card gallery revealed for Oath of the Gatewatch, it's time once again for me to work on another Standard Pauper set review. At this point I hope to have the first installment ready to go for Monday, but since I am traveling this weekend I can't guarantee that I will make that deadline.

In any case, I thought I would give you a sneak peak at my upcoming review today by taking a look at the brand new Lands in Oath of the Gatewatch. With the emergence of Colorless as a pseudo-sixth color of mana, and in a block that focused on Lands in general, I was hopeful that we'd see some interesting new Lands at Common. And I wasn't disappointed! Let's take a look:

1. On the turn Crumbling Vestige comes into play, it essentially taps for any color of mana, but only taps for colorless mana in subsequent turns. If it turns out that you want access to colorless mana in a reliable way, this card would seem like a solid choice, since it not only provides access to it but also helps early on to cast one of your other colored spells before you find the appropriate lands. However, unless one of your colors is merely a splash, the fact that you only get colored mana out of this once is a pretty substantial drawback. Still, if you need to play colorless mana sources, you could do far worse than this.

2. Holdout Settlement harkens back to Springleaf Drum, a card that at one point was judged too good to be reprinted at Common. This card might even be superior to that artifact, since it's much less vulnerable to removal, taps for colorless mana, and doesn't take up a card slot in your deck. This essentially allows you to turn any creature into a virtual Birds of Paradise, but in doing so ties up one of your Lands. Still, any deck that generates any sort of tokens or a high number of creatures can make very good use of this as a fixer. I'm not certain, but I think this could be pretty good.

3. Unknown Shores technically isn't new, but it now produces true colorless mana (as opposed to merely generic mana). This essentially allows you to tap 2 Lands to produce a single color of mana, which is not the kind of fixing that you want in your deck. Typically though this card has seen play as a singleton in decks that need access to more than two colors of mana, simply because it's a nice stopgap against being mana-screwed and isn't totally useless when you don't need its secondary ability. Once again, this is probably only reasonable if you want access to colorless mana.

4. I typically don't write anything about Basic Lands, but since Wastes is the first brand new Basic we've had since Snow-Covered Lands from Ice Age, I figured it was worth including. Like all basics, you can play as many of them as you want in your deck, and they can also be fetched by an Evolving Wilds, since that card allows you to search your library and pick any basic Land card. This works like another color of mana, with all of the corresponding ramifications for building a mana base. Bottom line - you better have a really good reason to include these in your deck!

So that's it! What do you think of the new Lands? Will Holdout Settlement be as useful as I indicated, or do you think it's not really as good as I think? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I'm not saying this is the final word. I'm saying based on what I'm seeing, I don't think they are worth it. The whole point of a set review is talk about the cards before you actually get a chance to play with them.

      If you think I'm wrong, by all means build some decks and prove me wrong. I'm certainly not infallible. I'm just calling them as I see them.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.