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April 3, 2017

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Daily Dose of Amonkhet – Bicycle lands and the new Standard Mana Base

Welcome to your Daily Dose of Amonkhet as we kick off official preview week by talking about some of my favorite preview cards from each set, the lands. When I get new cards from a just released set to use in the upcoming Standard season, the first cards that I get are a playset of each of the new lands.

I’m someone who likes to have multiple decks on the go and can switch decks around if I need to. The key to doing that is making sure that you have all the mana base possible offered in Standard so that you aren’t limited to having cards for a specific colour set. Amonkhet brings us something we haven’t seen in almost three years – we get to have seven sets in Standard at the same time. What this does is allow us to have one of the richest mana bases we have seen in some time.

Now it’s time to see what Amonkhet has to offer in its rare land cycle, with emphasis on the cycle. Here are the new, already nicknamed “Bicycle” lands.

canyonslough
shelteredthicket
scatteredgroves
irrigatedfarmland
fetidpools

That’s right folks, the lands that players have been asking for are here. Cycling dual lands have been on players’ radars for a while, and with the return of Cycling as a mechanic it’s a good time to bring them into reality. Also, look closely and you will see that each of these lands has two land subtypes. This makes more lands that are searchable with Fetchlands.

Currently there are no lands in Standard that will allow you to search for the cycling lands. Could this mean that sometime soon we could see Fetchlands return to Standard, like when Khans Fetchlands and the Battle for Zendikar Battle Lands were in Standard at the same time? If you want alternative ways to search for the lands, Sylvan Scrying, a Delirium enabled Traverse the Ulvenwald and Ulvenwald Hydra are available.

The next attributes of these lands are that they come into play tapped and can be cycled for two mana. If you look at just the fact they come into play tapped, this makes them similar to cards like Azorius Guildgate. The wild card in all of this is the ability to cycle the lands in the mid-to-late game when you don’t need a land in play and would rather have a usable spell.

A recent comparison to the Bicycle lands are the scry lands from Theros, such as Temple of Abandon. They both come into play tapped, provide you with two types of mana, and both provide you with better card selection. Scry lands are better in the early game as they can filter your draws, while Bicycle lands are better in the mid-to-late game as they can simply replace the card and allow you to use it in the same turn that you cycle the land.

Now that we have this amazing new cycle of dual lands in the format, how will these affect the Standard mana base in a seven-set format? Here are some of the different archetypes that can be played and an example of what lands are available to them in Standard.

Two colours (Ally colours, i.e. Green/White)

Scattered Groves
Canopy Vista
Fortified Village
Tranquil Expanse
Forest
Plains
Aether Hub
Spire of Industry
Evolving Wilds

Example Mana Base for 24 Lands

4 Scattered Groves
4 Fortified Village
4 Canopy Vista
4 Aether Hub
4 Forest
4 Plains

Fortified Village becomes significantly better when 16 of your 24 lands can be revealed to allow it to come onto the battlefield untapped. Scattered Groves can replace either some basic lands or a Tranquil Expanse from the mana base. This allows you to hit both colours more often and play more colour intensive cards as well. Bicycle lands in two colour ally decks provide a boost for a more solid and secure mana base.

Two colours (Enemy colours, i.e. Black/Green)

Blooming Marsh
Hissing Quagmire
Foul Orchard
Swamp
Forest
Aether Hub
Spire of Industry
Evolving Wilds

Example Mana Base for 24 lands

4 Blooming Marsh
4 Hissing Quagmire
4 Aether Hub
4 Evolving Wilds
5 Swamp
3 Forest

There are no changes to the mana base for this archetype, with no new enemy colours duals printed in the set. The Fastlands from Aether Revolt provided the best lands for this archetype which allow them to play their early drops with success. Evolving Wilds is a better fit in Enemy colour two-colour decks that in Ally two-colour decks.

Three colours (Shards, i.e. Grixis, Blue/Black/Red)

Fetid Pools
Canyon Slough
Smoldering Marsh
Sunken Hollow
Choked Estuary
Foreboding Ruins
Spirebluff Canal
Wandering Fumarole
Cinder Barrens
Highland Lake
Submerged Boneyard
Island
Swamp
Mountain
Aether Hub
Spire of Industry
Evolving Wilds

Example Mana Base for 24 Lands

4 Spirebluff Canal
3 Foreboding Ruins
3 Choked Estuary
3 Fetid Pools
3 Canyon Slough
2 Wandering Fumarole
1 Island
1 Mountain
4 Swamp

I believe that Bicycle lands will have the biggest impact in three-colour Shard decks, making its mana base that much better, while allowing for better card selection in the late game. Thanks to the Bicycle Lands, Choked Estuary and Foreboding Ruins have a better chance of coming into play untapped early in the game allowing you not to fall behind early on mana. This gives you 17 lands that can come into play untapped in the early game meaning you will be able to cast your spells instead of playing tapped lands and passing the turn.

Three colours (Wedges, i.e. Mardu, Red/White/Black)

Canyon Slough
Concealed Courtyard
Inspiring Vantage
Shambling Vent
Needle Spires
Smoldering Marsh
Foreboding Ruins
Forsaken Sanctuary
Stone Quarry
Cinder Barrens
Mountain
Plains
Swamp
Aether Hub
Spire of Industry
Evolving Wilds

Example Mana Base for 24 lands

4 Concealed Courtyard
4 Inspiring Vantage
2 Needle Spires
2 Shambling Vent
2 Canyon Slough
4 Spire of Industry
2 Aether Hub
2 Mountain
2 Plains

With so many enemy coloured lands already available for three-colour Wedge decks to use, I don’t see Bicycle lands such as Canyon Slough making as big of an impact that they do in three-colour Shard decks. I do see them as an upgrade to replace Foreboding Ruins, and they will help card selection later in the game, especially if you are looking to play a longer game.

As you can see, these new Bicycle lands are going to have an impact on the Standard mana base in the months to come. They will allow for greater mana bases and provide greater card selection in the mid-to-late game of matches as well. What do you think of the new lands? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading the Daily Dose of Amonkhet and I look forward to this jam-packed week of Amonkhet previews. See you again tomorrow!