With Modern boasting such an expansive card pool, it's tricky to find a starting point when building your manabase. Finding the balance between consistency and affordability is hard, but not impossible if you understand your strategy and your curve. If you're new to Modern, there are a couple of pointers to keep in mind when building your deck.
Continuing from last week, there's a swathe of budget options available to curate your manabase in Modern.
Preferred archetype: Aggro, Combo, or Midrange
Introduced in Modern Horizons, this cycle sees extensive play. It's not too surprising given how much play Horizon Canopy saw before this, but this cycle is now a staple feature of Modern. Not only do these lands come in untapped, but they turn into spells in the late game, which mitigates mana flood.
Aggressive strategies are the biggest winners from this cycle, in particular Burn. Often, you find yourself a couple of points of damage short by turn four or five with no more cards in hand. These lands let you dig a little deeper for that final Lightning Bolt. This extends to Mono-Red Prowess too, as you can run an on-color land such as Fiery Islet or Sunbaked Canyon to provide additional draw even though you aren't splashing for white or blue. Combo archetypes such as Izzet Storm utilize Fiery Islet for the same reason: they need to see as many cards as possible, and they don't care about their life totals.
If you are playing a slower archetype such as Golgari Rock, you can run a couple of Nurturing Peatland to support the longer game plan. Eventually, you'll want to upgrade from pain lands into these, with Silent Clearing being the cheapest option right now. There is hope the cycle will become complete in Modern Horizons 2 with Azorius, Rakdos, Dimir, and Gruul pairings.
Lastly, if you are in the market for Horizon Canopy then the Zendikar Rising version is an affordable option. Before, the land had a steep price due to how good it was in aggressive shells. With the oversaturation of Zendikar Rising singles, now's an ideal opportunity to pick them up while the price is low.
Preferred archetype: Midrange or Control
Filter lands have a hard time in Modern as they're not searchable off fetch lands, but they're powerful in the correct archetype. They're best in strategies that are trying to cast mana-intensive cards such as Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker or Cryptic Command. Even then, you'll never want to run a full set due to how bad these are in multiples. However, running a couple helps ensure you can cast those demanding spells while reducing the chance you'll draw them in the early turns. Even though they are technically duals, they can only generate colorless without another mana source, so it's worth keeping an eye on how many you run. Typically you see these featured in Golgari Rock, Living End, and sometimes Azorius Control.
This cycle saw a reprint in Double Masters with the complete cycle legal in Modern. They were already affordable, but Double Masters ensures you can acquire these easily.
Preferred archetype: Aggro and Midrange
Fast lands are a regular feature of the Modern landscape due to the low converted mana cost of most Modern staples. Often you'll see these in strategies such as Bogles, Infect, and Rakdos Midrange to apply pressure in the early turns. As a result, these are best suited for midrange and aggressive archetypes because of their low mana curve and high threat density.
You don't want to run both fast and check lands within the same deck, as serve different purposes. Check lands work best if the curve is higher to reduce the chance of coming in tapped, whereas fast lands operate better with a low curve.
Since Zendikar Rising's release, the Expedition fast lands have become affordable since circulation is so high. The Scars of Mirrodin cycle—Blackcleave Cliffs, Seachrome Coast, Copperline Gorge, Darkslick Shores and Razorverge Thicket—was especially tricky to acquire beforehand. Instead, you can pick these up in non-foil for a reasonable price if you are indifferent on the border. If not, there is potential these will see a reprint in a future Standard set to complete the cycle for Pioneer usage. The Kaladesh cycle remains an excellent option to collect as you can use these in Pioneer and get more mileage from your cards.
Preferred archetype: Midrange or Control
You usually see Celestial Colonnade as the premier creature land despite its high activation cost, as it's outside of Lightning Bolt range. Still, Creeping Tar Pit sees play in Delver builds as it's another way to push through damage and offers evasion. Since the printing of Fatal Push, creature lands have fallen out of favor, but they remain a viable way to present a clock. Sometimes, pushing through the last points of damage is all you need, and having that insurance in your mana is a solid approach.
In midrange or control archetypes, running a couple of on-color creature lands will ensure you can always do something with your mana. You'll want to avoid these in hyper-aggressive and combo archetypes as they are often slow, and don't impact the board or the library immediately. In addition, the mono-color variants such as Treetop Village are excellent in Mono-Green Stompy, and Crawling Barrens is a suitable colorless option from Zendikar Rising. Again, you'll only run a couple, as these usually enter the battlefield tapped.
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Cultivating a viable manabase in Modern can be challenging, but it's far from impossible. An important takeaway is to understand what style of strategy you are playing, your curve, and your color requirements. Admittedly it takes a lot of practice to get this down, but deckbuilding is about trial and error, which helps you develop your skills as a Magic player.
Lands will always feature in Magic, which means there will be more options available in the future. It's unlikely there will be anything like the fetch and shock land combination for Modern, but you don't need these to play one of Magic's most diverse formats. With the number of sets released every year, new cards and reprints could lower the price of a Modern manabase even further. Every strategy needs a manabase, and investing in these will give you options in other formats such as Pioneer.