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Pojo's Magic The Gathering
Card of the Day

Daily Since November 2001!

Sacred Foundry
Image from Wizards.com

 Shock Lands
- Ravnica

Reviewed Aug. 27, 2015

Constructed: 4.65
Casual: 4.65
Limited: 4.30
Multiplayer: 4.50
Commander [EDH]: 4.67

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale:
1 - Horrible  3 - Average.  5 - Awesome

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Card of the Day Reviews 

David Fanany

Player since 1995

Ravnica Shock Lands
If Odyssey was when Wizards of the Coast started getting innovative in dual land design, Ravnica was where they took a step back. I don't usually start with such a polarizing statement, but consider the fact that the original dual lands had not been legal in Extended for half a decade, and no homage as close to them as the shock lands had been done yet. The signals were all in the direction of this style of design being out of favor, but then the shock lands came out of left field. In fact, they were used as a surprise preview for Ravnica.
My reaction was pretty much the same as everyone else's: "Imagine the power!" The homage to the original dual lands' design was mind-blowing to players who had not been around for the dawn era, and to players who had but had been on a limited budget or card pool. And their interactions with everything that cared about basic land types felt a little dirty (but in a good way) in rotating formats that hadn't had such things for a long time. That, in turn, was left in the dust by their impact on Extended, where Onslaught's fetch lands were still legal. 
I remember that Extended formatHallowed Fountain quite well - I played it both casually with friends and, in a move that will no doubt confuse those who know me from later in my career, in a Pro Tour Qualifier. It stretched from Invasion to Dissension and is still regarded by many people as the best Extended of all time. I thought I would never see spells like Global Ruin or Holistic Wisdom being cast in a tournament, and yet they regularly won events. It's always been of interest to me that the card pool for that Extended has a lot of overlap with the initial card pool for Modern, yet the latter has turned out to be much more divisive and, to some players, problematic.
I mention this because the quality of that Extended season from so long ago has sometimes been attributed to the shock lands. The impulse to find a single explanation for everything is understandable, but I think this particular one is misplaced - partly because of the aforementioned comparison with Modern, and partly because as surprising and powerful as these lands are, they're still just lands. You still need something to cast with them, and this is where the questions start to arise. You can make a deck that works much like Domain Zoo or Gifts Rock without using shock lands, but the power of the lands themselves obscures that fact.
Seasons that involve shock lands tend to end up revolving around them in the minds of a large portion of Magic players. Back in 2005 and 2006, I met FNM goers who put acquisition of shock lands above the pursuit of every other type of card they might have enjoyed, and more than a few who basically apologized for relying on cards like Arctic Flats or even Caves of Koilos. Even if you accept that their effect on the game is an unalloyed positive (which is actually the question of "How easy do you think it should be to make a three- or four-color deck?" and which I won't get into here), they seem to draw people's attention to design philosophies and, worse, to the economic elements of the game in a way that is not beneficial.
As items, they are undeniably cool - their names are absolutely perfect for the city and for their respective guilds, and with their art, form a pillar of Ravnica's world building. But at the end of the day, they're lands. Expensive collectible lands, perhaps, but they're not something you can't live without, and they're not something you apologize for not having, and they're not something that should prevent you from playing with what cards you have and having fun doing so.
Constructed: 5/5
Casual: 5/5
Limited: 4/5
Multiplayer: 5/5
EDH/Commander: 5/5
Michael "Maikeruu" Pierno

Today's cards of the day are the RavnicaBlood Crypt block shock lands which have the option of paying two life or they enter play tapped. 

These are very strong dual lands that aren't as situational as ones with a requirement or as damaging long term as the pain lands.  The payment is both optional and generally manageable, which alongside the relatively recent reprint of the cycle will keep these as some of the most frequently played dual lands across more recent formats. 
Constructed: 4.0
Casual: 4.0
Limited: 4.0
Multiplayer: 4.0

Many new players ask "I don't see what the big deal is with these cards are." And my friends, the difference is the dual land types printed on the card. Fetchability is something that turns a 2 dollar card into a 15 dollar card. and unless we somehow get /another/ reworking of the old alpha duals, this is probably going to be as good as it gets, in terms of lands with power.
Constructed: 4.9
Limited: 4.9
Casual: 4.9
EDH: 5.0

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