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In Magic: The Gathering, basic lands are lands that possess the supertype "Basic" in their type line and may be tapped to produce mana.[1] Twelve different basic lands have been printed to date, but overwhelmingly prominent are the five originals corresponding to each color of mana, which recur in most sets: Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest. These also provide the names for the five basic land types. Each of the original basics are by far the most commonly printed Magic cards overall, and many copies of one or more of them are included in many decks as the foundation for its mana base.

Description[ | ]

A deck may contain any number of basic land cards. To date, there are two basic lands for each colorPlains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest and their snow-covered versions for white, blue, black, red, and green, respectively — and two for colorlessWastes and its snow-covered version. Each basic land that produces colored mana has the basic land type of the same name; e.g., Plains have the Plains land type, and therefore has the intrinsic ability to produce mana of the appropriate color.

Basic lands are thought of as the cornerstones of Magic design, and no lands should be printed if they are strictly better than basic lands. This rule was born after the dual lands from Alpha/Beta/Unlimited/Revised proved to be an issue in terms of designing others at a similar power. Wastes, the {C} basic land printed two decades into the game, is the other exception to the rule - many nonbasic lands have the ability to tap for colorless mana, do not come in tapped, have extra abilities, and exactly two cards refer to Wastes as a land specifically. Consequently, colored nonbasic lands feature drawbacks, in addition to the fact that no more than four copies of nonbasic lands may be played in a deck.[2] As time went on and good land designs became scarcer, the "strictly better" exception was loosened (such as the Pathway lands), in exchange for an increase in references to the basic supertype and basic land types in other cards.[3] For example, cards like Field of Ruin reward both players for having basic lands; a metagame with enough similar cards introduces a strategic liability for players who don't use basic lands.

The basic land's text box was changed to a giant mana symbol for Portal and Sixth Edition onwards.[4] R&D found that the large mana symbols in place of rules text helped new players to better distinguish lands from spells.[5]

R&D has talked about changing the rules so basic lands can have different names, but the majority of R&D is not in favor.[6][7][8]

Rules[ | ]

From the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

  • 205.4c Any land with the supertype “basic” is a basic land. Any land that doesn’t have this supertype is a nonbasic land, even if it has a basic land type.
    Cards printed in sets prior to the Eighth Edition core set didn’t use the word “basic” to indicate a basic land. Cards from those sets with the following names are basic lands and have received errata in the Oracle card reference accordingly: Forest, Island, Mountain, Plains, Swamp, Snow-Covered Forest, Snow-Covered Island, Snow-Covered Mountain, Snow-Covered Plains, and Snow-Covered Swamp.

When limited is played in tournaments, players may add any number of Plains, Islands, Swamps, Forests, and Mountains. They are not allowed to add Wastes unless they got those in the packs they opened for this tournament (compare Magic tournament rules 7.2).

Basic land types[ | ]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

Basic Land Type
There are five “basic land types”: Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest. Each one has a mana ability associated with it. See rule 305, “Lands.”

From the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

  • 305.6. The basic land types are Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest. If an object uses the words “basic land type,” it’s referring to one of these subtypes. An object with the land card type and a basic land type has the intrinsic ability “{T}: Add [mana symbol],” even if the text box doesn’t actually contain that text or the object has no text box. For Plains, [mana symbol] is {W}; for Islands, {U}; for Swamps, {B}; for Mountains, {R}; and for Forests, {G}. See rule 107.4a. See also rule 605, “Mana Abilities.”

Each basic land subtype implicitly grants the ability to tap for one mana of its corresponding color:

Any land with a basic land type has the appropriate ability. A land with multiple basic land types has each corresponding ability and can tap for any of the appropriate colors. However, a land with a basic land type is only a basic land if it has the Basic supertype.

Wastes is a basic land with no subtypes, so it has no implicit mana abilities. However, its Oracle text reads "{T}: Add {C}". The same is true of its snow counterpart.

Cloud is an additional basic land type that is only used on a test card from the Mystery Booster set (Barry's Land) — {T}: Add {C}.

From the Tournament Rules (May 13, 2024—Outlaws of Thunder Junction)

  • 6.3 Standard Format Deck Construction
    When Snow-Covered Lands are not legal in Standard, they are treated as the equivalent basic lands. Players must replace them when discovered, but no infraction is committed.

References by other objects[ | ]

Any object that refers to one or more of the basic land types refers to any land with that land type, not to the Basic land of the same name. For instance, if a card says "Search your library for a Plains", you can find a Savannah, as it has the Plains basic land type. Effects can be more specific with "a basic Plains card" (which means Plains or Snow-Covered Plains) or, very rarely, "a card named Plains".

Any object that refers to a "Basic land" refers only to the 12 lands with the Basic supertype and not any other land with a basic land type.

Rarity: Land[ | ]

Basic lands technically have their own rarity, but are often marked as common.[9] They can have an "L" instead of a "C" in the information below the text box. This is usually known as the "land slot" - the fifteenth card - in draft boosters. Some nonbasic lands have been given this slot, such as the Gates in the Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance and the life-gain taplands in Khans of Tarkir, and the snow duals in Kaldheim.

When searching for the rarity "land", Gatherer lists:

Strangely, Snow-Covered Wastes is uncommon in Modern Horizons 3, making it the only basic land to break this rule.

Full-art lands[ | ]

Special full-art basic lands were first featured in Unglued (1998). These cards had extended artwork inside an oval frame stretching from the top to bottom of the card.[10] Due to their popularity, full-art basic became a characteristic feature of Un-sets. In Unhinged they had rectangular frames, in Unstable the frames were borderless, and Unsanctioned featured borderless lands with an inner gilded oval holding the name and mana symbol.

The first regular expansion to feature full-art lands was the land-themed Zendikar set in 2009. The lands have a regular name box but the mana symbol of the text box and the type line are conflated into one at the bottom of the card. The box is the normal height of the type-box but dents outwards for the mana symbol in the middle. To the left of the symbol are the words "Basic Land" while on the right is the type of the land and the expansion symbol. These special lands appear in booster packs and fat packs. Intro packs on the other hand have normally styled lands as they have appeared in the majority of large expansions. These have the same collector numbers, but with an added letter "a". There are four individual arts for each land and both sets of lands feature the same artwork.[11] Similar full-art basics were featured in the return set Battle for Zendikar, while the second set of that block, Oath of the Gatewatch, features full-art Wastes.

In August 2014, a cycle of foil full-art basic lands illustrated by Terese Nielsen was announced as Judge Gifts.[12] According to the letter included with them, they were intended to settle a dispute between Wizards of the Coast and the Judge community.

The two sets of the Amonkhet block, Amonkhet[13] and Hour of Devastation[14] also featured full-art basics containing Bolas's horn gate in the art.

Modern Horizons featured full-art snow basics.

Theros: Beyond Death featured full-art "Nyx" basics with a large mana symbol on a starfield background.

Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths was the first set to feature non-basic lands in a full-art treatment, the showcase Triomes. These cards do have a text box containing their abilities, but the art is visible behind the textbox and stretches to the edge of the cards with a borderless treatment.

Secret Lair Drop Series: The Godzilla Lands contained special Godzilla art full-art basics.

Double Masters VIP Editions contain new printings of five Battle for Zendikar full-art basics and five Unhinged full-art basics, both in a slightly modified frame.

Starting with Midnight Hunt, full-art basics have become a regular part of the Booster Fun program of each set.[15]

Full-text lands[ | ]

A set of full-text lands with no artwork was printed as a Secret Lair Drop.

See also[ | ]

References[ | ]

  1. Michael Yichao (October 6, 2015). "Evolution of the Basic Land". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater (March 31, 2003). "This Land Is My Land". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater (October 25, 2020). ""Rule #1 – No Land Can Be 'Strictly Better' Than a Basic Land".". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  4. Mark Rosewater (October 04, 2004). "Change For the Better". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Wizards of the Coast (October, 2002). "Ask Wizards - October, 2002". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater (April 13, 2017). "Will we ever see a plane where the five basics do not have "Plains," "Island," "Swamp," "Mountain," and "Forest" in their names?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  7. Mark Rosewater (April 13, 2017). "Is there any mechanical benefit to having basic land types with different names?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  8. Mark Rosewater (April 13, 2017). "With these hypothetical alternate basic land names ...?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  9. Mark Rosewater (July 20, 2020). "Since the jumpstart basics are one-per-pack, why do they still count as common?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  10. Magic Arcana (May 15, 2003). "Unglued lands". Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Magic Arcana (August 10, 2009). "Zendikar Plains". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Wizards of the Coast (August 4, 2014). "Judge Promo Basic Lands". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Blake Rasmussen (February 20, 2017). "Modern Masters 2017 Edition and Amonkhet Packaging". Wizards of the Coast.
  14. Mark Rosewater (June 19, 2017). "Darkest Hour, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Mark Rosewater (July 29, 2022). "Are full art basics the new norm?". Blogatog. Tumblr.