Desert– Arabian Nights 

Date Reviewed:  May 9, 2024

Constructed: 2.88
Casual: 3.50
Limited: 3.63
Multiplayer: 3.00
Commander [EDH]: 3.63

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below: 


Desert is classic, flavorful, and occasionally powerful – it’s a colorless source of damage as long as you’re willing to let the target deal combat damage first, which can be quite relevant at times. For example, in Time Spiral limited and Block Constructed, it gave you an answer to Soltari Priest while demanding not too much concession in deckbuilding. It still plays that role reasonably well now: even as creatures have gotten more powerful on average, there are plenty of enticing targets for it. If your opponent attacks into it with mana elves or the like, it can net you more than just one removal spell’s worth of value.

There were a few places in Magic’s release schedule, after Time Spiral, where the card would have fit as a reprint. If it hadn’t been in this set, I would have really started asking questions!

Constructed: 3
Casual: 3.5 (it got a big boost from Amonkhet)
Limited: 3.5
Multiplayer: 3
Commander [EDH]: 3.5

 James H. 


b l o w

Let’s start today’s review with a maybe fun fact: while Desert originated in Arabian Nights, the first time another land with the Desert subtype was printed was Amonkhet. The original Desert was the only land of its type for nearly 25 years, and arguably the only reason Desert was a subtype was that two other cards in Arabian Nights cared about Deserts: Camel and Desert Nomads, both of whom have abilities calling out Desert…and because Magic doesn’t allow specifically for things like landwalk for a card name, here we are.

Desert itself is a particularly strange card, all things considered. It’s a colorless land with a particularly strangely timed damage ability. You hit a creature for 1 damage…at the end of combat, after they’ve attacked and after all combat damage has finished counting up. An extra 1 damage may not seem like a lot, but this can thumb the scale against a couple of creatures just out of reach from regular combat, and it also can teach any X/1 creatures to not mess around. These aren’t awful applications, but they are sometimes rather narrow, and though Desert is also a land, colorless lands aren’t exactly hard to come by.

All that said, given that Desert is a type that has blossomed in popularity over the years, the original Desert’s unique ability makes it stand out from the crowd somewhat, and there are a fair few decks (mostly Commander) that can milk this card for all of its strengths. It is hilariously legal in Modern, but it’s not much use there; it can finish off attackers, but there are sometimes better ways to accomplish that.

Constructed: 2.75
Casual: 3.5
Limited: 3.75 (it’s not terrible, and it is technically legal in the current Limited, but unless you have specific synergies, it’s pretty underwhelming)
Multiplayer: 3
Commander [EDH]: 3.75 (not for every deck, but there are several decks keen on this)

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