The Best Lands In MTG: A Complete Guide

Lands are the most important part of Magic: the Gathering. Without lands, the rest of your deck can’t function (well, unless you’re playing some weird discard-to-hand-size dredge deck).

Today we’re going to go over the best lands in MTG history. There are countless ways a land can be powerful. It can have a powerful non-mana ability, like being able to transform into a creature. It can produce multiple colors of mana, or multiple mana of the same color.

But regardless of how they do it, every land on this list has one thing in common. They’re all really powerful and have had a big impact on the game of Magic.

Let’s get right into it.

Table of Contents

  1. What Makes a Good Land in MTG?
  2. Best MTG Dual Lands
    1. Shock Lands
    2. Fetch Lands
    3. Original Alpha/Beta Duals
    4. Fast Lands
    5. Pain Lands/Horizon Lands
    6. Filter Lands
    7. Dual-Colored Man-Lands
  3. Best MTG Tri-Lands
  4. Best Utility Lands in MTG
    1. Academy Ruins
    2. Dryad Arbor
    3. Strip Mine
    4. Cabal Coffers
    5. Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
    6. Serra’s-Sanctum
    7. Urza’s Saga
    8. Library of Alexandria
    9. Karakas
    10. Tolarian Academy
    11. Gaea’s Cradle
  5. Honorable Mentions
  6. Best Miscellaneous Lands
    1. City of Brass
    2. Ancient Tomb
    3. Tron Lands
  7. End Step

What Makes a Good Land in MTG?

In short, to be good, a land simply has to do something useful, while also being efficient enough to be included in competitive decks.

The most common way a land can be useful and efficient is by tapping for two different colors of mana, while having a way to enter the battlefield untapped. The latter part of that equation is important. There are very few good lands in MTG that can’t be used on the first turn you play them. Almost all great lands (with a few exceptions) should be able to enter the battlefield untapped.

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While tapping for multiple colors is the most common thing that makes a land useful, it’s definitely not the only one. Lots of lands have useful activated abilities that have nothing to do with mana, such as, turning into a creature until end of turn, or giving boosts to your creatures.

I’ll get into those lands later in the article. For now, however, let’s look at the best lands that tap for two colors of mana.

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Best MTG Dual Lands

Shock Lands

overgrown tomb

Shock lands are a cycle of lands originally printed in the Ravnica block. These lands can each tap for two different colors of mana. And they all have the ability to enter the battlefield untapped. You just have to pay two life. Or, if you don’t need them the first turn, you can let them enter untapped for free.

Shock lands are super powerful since, in non-eternal formats, they’re the most consistent way to get access to two colors of mana at once. Aside from the rare scenario when you don’t have two life to spare, you never have to worry about them coming in tapped when you need them.

Fetch Lands

misty rainforest

Fetch lands don’t actually produce mana themselves. Instead, you can sacrifice fetch lands to search your library for lands that match one of the basic land types of the land you sacrificed.

Fetch lands got their first printing way back in Mirage. Those fetch lands, however, were severely underpowered compared to what would come later.

The most powerful fetch lands debuted in the Onslaught set. These lands, unlike their predecessors, come into play untapped, letting you use them the same turn you play them.

Another less obvious, but very real, advantage of fetch lands, is that they thin your deck. Every time you use a fetch land, you’re removing an extra land from your library. I’ll give you a quick example to help you understand this advantage.

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Let’s say you’re playing a burn deck that uses 20 lands. You’ve drawn three lands so far. If those three lands are regular lands, then you still have 17 lands left in your deck. So at the critical turn-four junction in the game, with regular lands, you have a 66% chance of drawing a useful spell instead of a land.

If those three lands were all fetch lands, however, you would only have 14 lands left in your deck instead of 17. You would now have a 72% of drawing a useful spell.

While a 2% increase per land might not seem crazy, it’ definitely makes a difference.

Fetch lands also have the advantage of giving extra landfall triggers, and giving players an opportunity to shuffle their libraries on the spot.

With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that fetch lands have gone on to shape the modern format. These powerful lands have become staples in almost every single multi-colored (and even some mono-colored) decks.

Original Alpha/Beta Duals

underground sea

This cycle of lands started it all, and are to this day, easily the most powerful lands in all of Magic: the Gathering.

These lands are as simple as it gets. They each provide you with two different colors of mana, they enter the battlefield untapped, and there are zero restrictions or downsides.

Furthermore, these original duals all have their two respective basic land types, meaning they’re fetchable.

The original duals have been a big part of MTG since the very beginning of the game, and remain so to this day. They are the most useful lands in every single format they’re legal in, and are almost obligatory in Legacy, Vintage and cEDH.

Fast Lands

Fast lands, as their name implies, are extremely useful for faster decks that don’t require more than a few lands per game.

They provide you with two colors of mana, and they come into play untapped if you control two or fewer other lands.

While these lands aren’t nearly as powerful as the previous ones on our list, they’re still some of the best lands in the game. When legal, they’re extremely useful in rotating formats like Standard where the land pool is smaller. And even in Modern, they’re still great in the right decks.

Naturally, fast lands are risky in slower decks. If you consistently need more than three lands per game, you probably don’t want to run very many, or any, of these lands.

Pain Lands/Horizon Lands

Pain lands let you tap for multiple colors of mana, but also deal damage to you each time you tap them, hence the “pain”. In most situations, traditional pain lands are inferior to shock lands.

With the latter, you have the potential to let it come into play tapped if you don’t need it, sparing yourself damage. With pain lands, however, the damage is unavoidable, and usually ends up dealing more than two damage to you.

Horizon lands, however, are another story altogether. Horizon Lands are pain lands with a powerful added ability. For just one generic mana, you can tap and sacrifice Horizon lands and you get to draw a card.

This might not seem like a huge deal to some, but it can make the difference between winning and losing late in a game when you star getting mana-flooded. This ability takes an already good land and pushes it over the edge.

Filter Lands

Filter lands, in my opinion, are one of the most underrated dual lands in MTG. They are a bit riskier than shocks and fetches. Since you need other lands to facilitate them, there’s always a chance that you won’t be able to use them when you need to.

With that being said, however, these are the best lands in the game for meeting harsh mana requirements. For example, if your deck needs to produce triple green and triple black, filter lands can be a lifesaver.

Dual-Colored Man Lands

This cycle was first started in Worldwake and completed in Battle For Zendikar. Like all the other lands so far, these lands provide you with two different colors of mana. These, however, always enter the battlefield tapped.

So what makes them good, then?

Well, they all have the ability to transform into creatures each turn. The strength and cost of the creature varies from card to card, with Creeping Tar-pit, Celestial Colonnade and Raging Ravine seeing the most play.

RELATED: MTG Saga: Everything You Need to Know

Best MTG Tri-lands

So we’ve gone over all of the best lands in MTG that tap for two colors. Now let’s talk about the best lands that tap for three different colors of mana.

Triome Lands

xanders lounge borderless

Triome Lands are a cycle of “tri-lands” first introduced in Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths. Now with the release of Streets of New Capenna, the cycle is finally complete, meaning there’s a Triome land for every possible color combination.

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MTG Triome lands can serve as powerful fixtures for the ambitious deck-builder looking to utilize spells of many different colors. However, in MTG, great power never comes free.

Each of these lands must enter the battlefield tapped. This lofty downside means that players should be careful when considering Triomes for inclusion in their decks. 

Naturally, not all strategies can afford to have their resources delayed. If you have the right deck for it however, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Commander is really the format that allows these lands to shine the brightest. The slower pace of Commander naturally lessens the downside of tap-lands. If your Commander deck is in three or more colors, and the Triome lands are within your budget, adding them is a no-brainer.

Below is the full MTG Triome land list, beginning with five lands printed in Ikoria and ending with the final five printed in Streets of New Capenna.

Best Utility Lands in MTG

So now you know all about the best lands that are primarily used for mana-fixing. But now let’s take a look at the best utility lands in Magic: The Gathering.

Utility lands are lands that are used primarily for some other purpose aside from producing mana. That can be powerful activated abilities, static abilities, or something else entirely.

Let’s get right into it!

Academy Ruins

Starting off our list, is Academy Ruins. This is the perfect utility land for artifact decks, letting you bring an artifact from your graveyard to the top of your deck over and over again. Academy Ruins saw lots of play in its Standard format and continues to see play in Modern and Legacy to this day.

Dryad Arbor

Dryad Arbor is a unique hybrid between a land and a creature. It functions both as a basic forest and a 1/1 dryad creature. This is great for aggro decks, or decks that rely on a high creature count, since it’s basically a zero mana 1/1 that can tap for mana.

The downside to Dryad Arbor, however, is that it takes up a land drop, so it doesn’t really ramp you like a traditional mana-dork. And, of course, unlike a normal land, you can’t tap it for mana the first turn you play it.

Strip Mine

Strip Mine is a great piece of land destruction. It taps for one generic mana itself, and comes with “Tap, Sacrifice Strip Mine: Destroy target land.”

Destroying your opponents best land is a devastating effect and can be a huge weapon in decks that can function with very little mana.

Strip Mine becomes even better when paired with cards that can return lands to the battlefield.

Cabal Coffers

Cabal Coffers gives you a ton of mana if you have lots of swamps on the battlefield. This is, of course, easy to pull off naturally in mono-black decks. It also pairs well with cards like Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to create crazy amounts of mana in multicolored decks as well.

Cabal Coffers has been a powerhouse in eternal formats for a while now, but with its printing in Modern Horizons 2, it has started to make an impact on Modern as well.

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is crazy in mono-colored decks. It taps for one colorless mana, and also has an ability which lets you pay two mana, tap it, and add X mana of a certain color, where X is your devotion to that color.

For those who might not be familiar, “devotion” is how many mana symbols of that color there are amongst permanents you control. So for example, if you have Phyrexian Obliterator on the battlefield, he gives you four devotion to black.

It’s not hard to imagine how you can make crazy amounts of mana using Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx in the right deck.

Serra’s Sanctum

Serra’s Sanctum is the least powerful of the legendary land cycle from Urza’s Saga. Don’t think for a second, however, that Serra’s Sanctum isn’t a powerful land. It taps for one white mana no matter what. And it has the ability “Tap: Add one white mana for each enchantment you control.”

This can generate huge amounts of mana in enchantment decks, leading to easy combos.

Serra’s Sanctum is a great land in every format it’s legal in.

Urza’s Saga

Urza’s Saga is an enchantment land that comes with three abilities. The last of these abilities is the most powerful.

On the third turn after it’s played, Urza’s Saga lets you search your library for an artifact card with mana-cost zero or one, and put it directly onto the battlefield. This is huge for a number of decks. It can tutor for combo pieces like Colossus Hammer[c] in Modern, and cards like [c]Sol Ring or Black Lotus in Commander and Vintage.

Library of Alexandria

Library of Alexandria is without a doubt one of the most powerful lands ever printed in Magic.

Pairing it with Karakas

[c]Karakas">Land Tax is one of the oldest combos in Magic’s history, and part of the reason why LoA became restricted all the way back in 1994. It wasn’t just that combo however. Library of Alexandria simply gives too much easy card advantage. And since it has zero color requirements, and it’s a land, it’s an easy include in too many decks.


[c]Karakas is easily one of the best lands ever printed in Magic. Upon first glance, it might not seem crazy powerful, but if you ever play with or against this card, you’ll quickly realize how good it is.

Karakas taps for a white mana just like a basic plains, meaning there’s very little downside to including it in your deck. More importantly, it lets you return any legendary creature to its owners hand. All you have to do is tap Karakas, and any legend disappears. You can use the ability to remove your opponents legends, to protect yours, or to facilitate combos.

Tolarian Academy

Tolarian Academy is, objectively, probably the best utility land ever printed in Magic. It’s so powerful that it had to be banned in Commander and Legacy, and restricted in Vintage.

You can tap it and get one blue mana for every artifact you control. It’s not hard to see how this is way too powerful in Commander where cheap mana-rocks are so widely used.

Although Tolarian Academy isn’t playable in most formats, it still deserves a spot on this list. After all, in terms of sheer power, it’s hard to beat Tolarian Academy.

Gaea’s Cradle

Last but definitely not least, is Gaea’s Cradle. This is the green land from the legendary Urza’s Saga cycle, and one of the most famous and beloved lands in all of MTG.

Gaea’s Cradle gives you one green mana for every creature you control. This land is just so good in so many decks. Really, almost every green Commander deck in existence wants Gaea’s Cradle.

The Cradle is also great in Legacy, where it’s best abused in Elves decks.

Gaea’s Cradle isn’t just one of the best lands of all time, it’s also one of the best cards in all of MTG.

RELATED: What Is cEDH? Your Questions Answered

Honorable Mentions

There are so many great lands in MTG. It’s almost impossible to cover them all in depth. That doesn’t mean they should be left out all together though. Feel free to browse this list any time you’re looking for amazing utility lands to include in your decks.

Best Miscellaneous Lands

City of Brass

city of brass

City of Brass is the ultimate pain land. It deals one damage to you whenever it becomes tapped, but you can tap it for any color of mana! The one downside, of course, is that, unlike other pain lands, you can’t tap it for colorless without taking damage.

Still, City of Brass is an amazing choice for any decks that use three or more colors.

Ancient Tomb

Ancient Tomb is an amazingly simple and effective land. You tap it, you get two colorless mana, and it deals two damage to you. While this might seem costly, it’s well worth it in most situations to get such easy and valuable ramp.

Tron Lands

No list of the best lands in MTG would be complete without tron lands.

These three lands don’t do much individually, but when you get all three of them together, that’s when the magic happens.

Once you assemble the trio, Urza’s Powerplant, and Urza’s Mine both tap for two colorless mana each, and Urza’s Tower taps for three colorless. That gives you a total of seven mana from just three lands!

Tron decks have lots of ways to find all three of these lands, making it pretty easy to assemble the trio by turn three or four.

Dropping a turn three Karn Liberated using tron lands is one of the most loved and hated plays in all of MTG.

Whichever side of the tron fence you’re on, however, you can’t argue that these lands are some of the best lands ever printed.

End Step

There you have it! The best lands in all of Magic: The Gathering’s history. I hope you’ve found this article useful. If you have any questions, be sure to leave a comment below. Or if I forgot to include your favorite land, make sure to comment below as well.

Now, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start putting some of these wonderful lands to use!

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Joe Doak

I started playing Magic in 2015 after impulsively buying a fat-pack of Khans of Tarkir. It didn't take long for me to fall in love with the game, and it's been a big part of my life ever since. Nowadays, I play moslty Modern, Commander, and Limited, but also enjoy keeping up with Standard. Whatever the format, I always find a way to brew up janky decks, convince myself they're great, get proven wrong, and love every second of it.