Many of my friends have begun to play Magic recently, and learning the rules to play with my own decks is only half the battle. Once these players graduate to wanting their own unique deck to use, they are usually calling me back confused about the basics for land count and mana curve. Although these will be mentioned in this article, I also wanted to show a way to help these players not fear the multi-colored deck by showing a few easy tricks to balance a mana base.
The fear in making a deck with more than one color is, obviously, being stuck with the wrong lands. There is nothing more frustrating than playing a W/G deck with all white spells in your hand and a board of only Forests. The most reliable solution to this is to spend tens or hundreds of dollars on shock, fetch, pain and other nonbasic lands to ensure a proper mana base every game. However, there is an easier solution that works for casual or draft play very well in using a few basic steps to determine a proper
mana base using only basic lands.
1) Determine the number of lands in your deck. In a standard, 60 card deck, this will often be between 20-25 total lands. A good place to start with many decks is 23 lands. If your mana curve is low or you have a lot of creatures/spells that help produce mana or find lands than go for 20-21. If you have a mana intensive deck or a control deck, it may help to have closer to 25 lands.
2) Count the number of mana symbols in all spells in your deck. This means for every Suntail Hawk
you would have
and for every Black Knight
you would count
3) Determine a ratio between the number of each different mana symbol. You may count 30
, this would be about a 1:1 ratio. In another instance you may total 45
and only 17
, which would be about a 3:1 ratio.
4) Have your lands for each color equal the ratio for mana symbols. Do not go below 7-8 of any one land type. In the first example above, 30
, a 1:1 ratio with 23 lands, you would use 12 plains and 11 swamps. In the next example with 45
, a ratio of 3:1, you would use 16 plains and 7 swamps. Going below about 7 of one land type makes it very difficult to draw any of this land so you want to make sure to keep at least 7-8 of each land if possible.
5) PLAYTEST YOUR DECK! This is the most important step. Shuffle your deck well, draw some test hands, and play a few games to make sure your land base is working well. If you find you need more or less of one of the lands, then make the change.
I hope everyone can use this guide with some basic ratios to help their friends learn how to construct a balanced and fun deck on a budget. Many decks can work well with only basic lands in casual games, even 3-color decks, if the land is balanced well.