Badlands – Alpha
Date Reviewed: November 4, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.67
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I’ve been higher than the High Sierra,
Lower than Death Valley must be.
I’ve been right, mostly wrong;
Wrong about you, right about me . . .
As you may recall, I alluded to the original dual lands on Monday. The argument about what dual lands Standard formats “need” may seem odd to some people when they realize that Alpha had a full cycle of ten, one for each color combination. The dual lands are among the cards that Richard Garfield originally thought might be balanced by rarity, and so their power level has never been equalled in all the sets that followed. There are a few cycles that come surprisingly close, but if you want to make the most optimal plays in the biggest formats, the original dual lands are the ones you need.
Of course, one of Magic’s dirty little secrets is that you don’t need to make the most optimal plays to play functional Magic; you don’t need to do that to have fun, either. But if you do want to try these lands out and don’t own any (or have the money required), I’ll point you again to Geocities of Brass, who provide free-to-use playtest cards with art that evokes the old-school aesthetic.
Limited: 3/5 (Alpha doesn’t have much in the way of what we now mean when we refer to color-spanning archetypes, but plenty of people have constructed cube environments where they’re important)
All of the dual lands printed in Magic‘s history lie in the shadow of the original 10 dual lands, drawback-less lands that have both basic types and come into play untapped all the time. While Badlands is one of the color combinations that sees the least play in Legacy inherently, this is still a phenomenal land for any deck in its colors, and there’s a reason they’re sought after to this day. No downside for both basic land types on one card is massive, and it gets more vicious in formats with fetch lands (which, conveniently, counts Legacy). It’s simple, but straightforward: play this if you’re able to and have it.
Limited: 3.5 (excellent color fixing, but rare means you’re giving up a bit to take them)
The OG dual land, the best of the best as far as R/B duals are concerned. There’s no deck that wouldn’t benefit from this card in any format that it’s allowed in. The only drawback for this card, and it has nothing to do with what is printed on it, is the price. $350+ is a lot of money for cardboard, there’s no chance that it’ll be reprinted as long as the reserved list exists. In commander it’s a bit more justified because you only need one copy but in the other formats where four copies are required is where we’re going to hit a road block. With that said, this is the best R/B land ever printed and if you can afford a copy without any issues then absolutely include it in the deck of your choice!
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