Battle for Zendikar's "battle lands" offer an unprecedented level of synergy with the incumbent Onslaught / Khans of Tarkir fetchlands...at least with regards to Standard mana base flexibility and consistency.

Upcoming mana bases are going to be aggressively good, capable of producing colors on demand, over and over presenting lands untapped, even with relatively few basic lands involved. Mana bases that start with twelve or even sixteen fetchlands will help you get to your first two basic lands and then really rock and roll thereafter as you search up duals like it's Legacy.

These new and upcoming mana bases will be both enabling and demanding. Enabling in that they will make consistent decks very consistent and ambitious brands possible at all; demanding in that basically anyone running a mana base founded on fetchlands is going to take a Lava Axe worth of damage every game just to cast their spells (this makes for an opportunity best discussed in another article).

Presumably mana bases are going to get much better than the ones that I am proposing in this article... These are just some initial ideas based specifically on the interplay between fetchlands and battle lands, plus some of the tools we already know are on their way. Credit where credit is due, much of what I at least know about battle lands so far comes from my Top Level Podcast partner Patrick Chapin; we talked a bit about this topic here.


One Color

Incumbent Mana Base (Pat Cox from Pro Tour Magic Origins):
20 Mountain

Proposed Mana Base...
20 Mountain

:)

Monored is likely going to be a house in the upcoming Standard. After all, folks are going to start somewhere around 15 just from their own lands! Has there ever been a better time to be Monored in Standard?

20 Mountain might be the default starting point but there is likely to be some incentive to variation:

Makindi Sliderunner (incidentally a card we spoiled on Top Level Podcast earlier this week) is poised to be a solid offensive two-drop for a Red Aggro deck as-is. A 2/1 for two in a color that can get blockers out of the way is "perfectly fine" but adding any land is going to put this card in Plated Geopede position on some turns and do three or more damage most of the time.

But adding a fetchland? Swinging for four with your two drop is not something most green mages can expect... For a red mage, this is the stuff of dreams and shortened games.

What about...

4 Bloodstained Mire
13 Mountain
4 Wooded Foothills

This mana base kicks it up to 21 lands from 20 (after all you are thinning your deck), but all twenty-one of your lands come into play untapped.

If Makindi Sliderunner ends up so super sweet you want to play, say, twelve fetchlands you could try:

4 Bloodstained Mire
5 Mountain
4 Polluted Delta
4 Smoldering Marsh
4 Wooded Foothills

There are more ambitious mana bases that can run, say, sixteen fetchlands instead of just twelve, but not "monored" ones per se.

The above proposed mana base has 21 lands, but manages to feature not only 21 sources of red but 16 sources of black! Each of the 12 fetchlands can find Smoldering Marsh (and the Smoldering Marshes themselves all tap for black). You know what's crazy? We're not even trying yet.

At essentially no cost (you are just running 12 fetchlands to get the landfall triggers) you can easily support a splash for cards like this one:

While I am to a degree a Red Deck purist, I can tell you that many of my Monored compatriots and I would all have been very happy to have a card like Self-Inflicted Wound to Remove Sylvan Caryatid at Pro Tour Magic Origins, especially if the splash came essentially free! I know Sylvan Caryatid is going to rotate before Smoldering Marsh enters Standard, but the point is that an ostensibly one-color deck can splash a second color with great consistency and very little cost.

Of course an actual purist could get close by going with...

4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Looming Spires
9 Mountain
4 Wooded Foothills

Looming Spires is a powerful card -- and quite the combo with Makindi Sliderunner -- but enters the battlefield tapped. I am a bit wary about including it in an actual two-color mana base, but it seems perfectly serviceable in the straight red version.


Two Colors

Incumbent Mana Base (Loren Eakins from Grand Prix San Diego):
4 Windswept Heath
4 Temple of Plenty
1 Mana Confluence
8 Forest
6 Plains
1 Blossoming Sands

This mana base uses 24 lands to give us 18 sources of green and 16 sources of white. Not bad. How about we add a little battle/fetch interaction action?

Proposed Mana Base:
4 Canopy Vista
4 Flooded Strand
4 Forest
4 Plains
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills

My proposed mana base makes 20 white and 20 green! The same total count (24) can make more of either. Further, there is no potentially bedeviling Mana Confluence and not a single land has to come into play tapped (Canopy Vista has plenty of help here). You might want to play a Canopy Vista on the first turn (say you had a new deck that wanted to play both Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit and Avatar of the Resolute) but few mana draws will actually force you into that corner.

I chose the vanilla G/W mana base because it doesn't have any crazy dragon land action or particular functionality built into the lands themselves. I'm sure that you can see how the proposed mana base not only improves both colors without increasing the number of lands played but sets us up nicely if we want to beat down with Scythe Leopard or the like.

Shifting in favor of, say, basic Forest over basic Plains is pretty easy if you need to accommodate Nissa, Vastwood Seer. We saw from the Monored mana bases that splashing is super easy for a one color deck; dedicating to two actual colors is similarly achievable, to the point that maybe we shouldn't even play two-color decks.

Why?

Getting a third color is just too cheap! Consider...


Three Colors (Shards)

Incumbent Mana Base (Craig Wescoe):
1 Island
2 Plains
4 Forest
3 Flooded Strand
2 Mana Confluence
4 Windswept Heath
4 Yavimaya Coast
4 Temple of Plenty

Proposed Mana Base:
4 Canopy Vista
4 Flooded Strand
1 Island
2 Forest
1 Plains
4 Prairie Stream
4 Windswept Heath
4 Yavimaya Coast

Craig's original mana base could access 18 green mana and 15 white mana, but only 10 blue.

Our proposed mana base can still make 18 green, but ups both white and blue to 17 sources (remember, Loren's two color mana base only gave us 18 green and 16 white, and no blue at all). The amazing thing here is that, relative to Craig's mana base, we've improved two-thirds of the color counts without increasing the number of lands in the mana base and did so without playing a single [rotating] Mana Confluence.

...that's just how awesome battle lands plus fetchlands are.

Of course you can substitute Lumbering Falls for Yavimaya Coast, but the advantage of my proposed mana base is that we are planning to have every land enter the battlefield untapped, or at least entertaining that possibility. Lumbering Falls neither sets up our future turns like a basic land does, nor gives us the long term possibility of untapped mana. It is powerful but costly in terms of speed, given what looks to be possible.

Life is more difficult for a Khans wedge, but still pretty good.


Three Colors (Wedges)

Incumbent Mana Base #1 (Fabrizio Anteri from Grand Prix London):
4 Sandsteppe Citadel
4 Temple of Malady
1 Temple of Silence
4 Windswept Heath
3 Llanowar Wastes
3 Caves of Koilos
1 Mana Confluence
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
3 Forest
2 Plains

This 26 land deck can make 19 green, 17 black, and 15 white.

Incumbent Mana Base #2 (Andrew Boswell from the Philly WMCQ):
2 Caves of Koilos
2 Forest
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Mana Confluence
1 Plains
4 Sandsteppe Citadel
1 Temple of Plenty
2 Temple of Silence
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
3 Windswept Heath

Though only twenty-four lands, the Boz's mana base can muster 18 green, 17 black, and 15 white, though it plays two fewer lands than Anteri's mana base, Andy can make the same amount of black and white, and loses only one total green access! That, of course, is because he gets so much work out of playing four Mana Confluences instead of just one.

Well how can we do with zero Mana Confluences?

Proposed Mana Base:
4 Canopy Vista
4 Flooded Strand
1 Forest
1 Plains
4 Polluted Delta
1 Prairie Stream
1 Smoldering Marsh
1 Sunken Hollow
1 Swamp
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills

The insane thing about this mana base is that it plays the actual minimum number of basics but the wide breadth of its sixteen fetchlands can help it set up the first two basics consistently, after which point the Canopy Vistas and other battle lands all enter the battlefield nice and straight...or at least I assume that's how it would work; I've never actually tried it yet.

Flooded Strand, Windswept Heath, and Wooded Foothills all get Canopy Vista.

Flooded Strand and Polluted Delta get both Prairie Stream and Sunken Hollow. The blue is not necessary for the Abzan mana base, but we are playing Flooded Strand for Canopy Vista (and the one Plains) already; and running one Sunken Hollow makes finding black that much easier.

Ditto on Smoldering Marsh; the deck also doesn't want red, but once you play Smoldering Marsh you have an additional target for Polluted Delta... Plus you can now find black with all four Wooded Foothills!

This first pass can find 15 black and 17 green (on par with two of Anteri's three colors), but 22 white! Like I said at the top, these mana bases will invariably improve. To wit: this mana base makes blue and red by accident. In fact, it can assemble a surprising 14 blue and nine red. 14 blue off of two sources...without actually trying to make any blue.

What if we actually tried?


Wedge...With a Twist!

Incumbent Mana Base (Brad Nelson):
2 Forest
3 Mountain
1 Swamp
2 Bloodstained Mire
1 Llanowar Wastes
2 Mana Confluence
2 Nomad Outpost
4 Sandsteppe Citadel
4 Temple of Plenty
4 Wooded Foothills

This mana base is from Brad's four-color deck from last November; a deck that featured both Chained to the Rocks and Siege Rhino; both Butcher of the Horde and Courser of Kruphix. It could source up 17 green, 13 red, and 12 each of black and white mana, none of which is bad for a four-color Standard deck. It just so happens that with battle lands we can do a lot Lot LOT better just by adding a single 26th land.

Proposed Mana Base:
3 Bloodstained Mire
4 Canopy Vista
1 Cinder Glade
4 Flooded Strand
1 Forest
1 Mountain
1 Plains
1 Polluted Delta
1 Smoldering Marsh
1 Sunken Hollow
1 Swamp
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills

To wit:

This mana base can muster 15 black or red -- a substantial improvement to each of those colors -- but ups the white to 18 (more than Brad's base-color green count) and yanks the green sources all the way to 21! How insane is that? Think you can manage the Butcher of the Horde splash on fifteen sources? Remember: My proposed mana base isn't even tuned yet.

This says nothing about if you want to actually play a Shambling Vent. It seems awesome; I'd probably want to try it in some versions of Abzan or Mardu.

Here's the thing about Shambling Vent: With all the fetchlands -- even if they are setting up lands that enter the battlefield untapped -- they are going to cost you five or so life per game. Further, because the mana is going to be so fast (not just powerful and consistent) there is going to be a huge incentive to play cards like Scythe Leopard and other aggressive one-drops. That means that life gain is going to be unusually valuable, especially early on in the format as people go after the obvious incentives and the metagame isn't yet settled.

Here's the other thing about Shambling Vent: given the interplay between fetchlands and battle lands, running it or Lumbering Falls is going to be a kind of sacrifice. This is insane when you consider the alternative was a perfectly playable card like Scoured Barrens. Think about that for a second: The trade-off for gaining one life one time is an actual way to win that gains two life some indefinite number of times...and it's not clear this is a way you would actually want to go.

What kind of mana base world is this?

Think about how many successful decks have won big tournaments with, say, Swiftwater Cliffs or Dismal Backwater!

What kind of crazy mana base world?

How about one where Sunburst becomes trivial?


Five-Color

4 Bloodstained Mire
2 Canopy Vista
2 Cinder Glade
4 Flooded Strand
4 Forest
1 Prairie Stream
1 Smoldering Marsh
1 Sunken Hollow
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills

This proposed mana base can source 24 green (I am assuming a base-green deck here but there is probably no reason this is necessary), but amazingly can make 15 red, 15 white; 14 blue and 14 black!

Why would you want to sunburst? I presume people will want to Bring to Light something or other, and this is one way we can try that. The actual-world mana version might be heavier on blue, or not base-green at all; but regardless, there are plenty of sources for all the colors, and the way I have the fetchlands configured, you will have a hard time ever running out of targets.

On that note, one of the weird things about the new world's mana base order is that the maximum amount of mana you can tap for in a single turn will be dramatically reduced. Fabricio's GP London mana base could potentially tap for 22 mana before considering Urborg cheats; the weird five-color Abzan proposal I posited also for 26 lands can only tap for 10. While that is a restriction to some degree -- and something you will have to build myelin towards as the mental shortcuts for battle/fetch mana bases cement themselves in your Standard-playing mind...think about the last time you were actually happy to have had ten mana-producing lands in play.

Ya grok?

I figured.

LOVE
MIKE