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Why I hate Fetch Lands November 3, 2009

Posted by James in : all, random, reviews, design , trackback

When Revised was around, I decided that I should sell my dual lands for $5 each. They were worth too much money. Then when Ravnica came out the shock duals were worth around $20. That was pure insanity, and we had little choice but get them to play Magic because Ravnica was all about multicolor decks!

I didn’t always hate fetch lands. When Odyssey had fetch lands I thought they were great and I decided to buy some on Ebay for $7 each. That was the “buy it now” price. It didn’t take long before Affinity was the best deck, and it didn’t require any dual lands. I liked not being force to play dual lands.

Now the fetch lands are worth around $15. Why? Because we are absolutely forced to play them. Want to play a Shards of Alara deck, like Jund? Great, but you better get the fetch lands for it. Want to play Vampires? Bloodghast and Vampire Nocturnus demand fetch lands. Want to play mono red? Great, but the landfall cards are only ten times better with fetch lands! (Plated Geopede and Zektar Shrine Expedition comes to mind.)

marsh flatsI don’t like being forced into playing fetch lands. I like an option of playing a deck that doesn’t require fetch lands. Vampires would have been the perfect deck to not require fetch lands. After all, mono black shouldn’t need “dual lands,” right? Unfortunately, Wizards of the Coast even found a place for fetch lands in mono black.

Again and again Wizards of the Coast makes the same mistake: They try to force us to do what we don’t want to do. Mark Rosewater talks about how he made this mistake in the past, but never plans on making it again. He apparently doesn’t see that it’s still happening. Mark Rosewater realizes that madness decks required us to discard cards, which is something we don’t want to do. Then he thinks we want to play lands, so he can force us to play them with landfall. Everything sounds great so far until it spirals out of control and no other options are available.

We want to have options when playing Magic. We want to be able to play mono colored decks so we don’t have to play dual lands. Shards of Alara forced everyone into playing multicolored decks. Lorwyn forced everyone into playing a tribal deck. Real options means that we shouldn’t be forced into any one thing. To be forced into doing something means that we will be forced into doing something we don’t want to do.


1. 神の一手 - November 3, 2009

Lorwyn made people play 5 color control cause of Reflecting Pool and Vivid Lands and Cryptic Command.

Enemy fetches just happen to fit in the set because of landfall. You can always use Terramorphic Expanse as a replacement. It is not quite as good since the basic land comes into play tapped, but it does work for landfall.

Even without landfall, people would play the fetchlands just to thin the deck out to draw more gas and fewer lands. Anything less is, to quote you and me, “poor deck construction” when you end up losing to mana screw/flood then you extend the hand with a nice “GG”.

2. James - November 3, 2009

I don’t think Lorwyn made us play 5 colors. It was one good deck, but Kithkin, black/white tokens, and so on, were also good decks. I wouldn’t have to play fetch lands “just cuz.” A control deck might rather draw too many lands than to kill themselves with pain fetch lands. However, fetch lands could be a good idea to thin the deck, as you said. It may or may not be worth it.

3. 神の一手 - November 4, 2009

Lorwyn encouraged 2 decks…Faeries and 5 color control. That is what Lorwyn will most likely be remembered for. But that is what Wizards wants from a block. They want to make a linear theme and a non-linear theme for each block. They want to please everyone. This can backfire with Faeries being so hard to beat for so long cause it had too much support.

It is an open debate as to whether a control deck would want to use a fetch land or something like Ponder for deck thinning. The problem with enemy fetch lands is that since ravnica dual lands are in extended and extended season is going on, people spend more time shuffling during a game than actually playing…

4. James - November 4, 2009

I’m not convinced wizards only wants two viable decks in constructed at any given time. I think they were pretty happy that Ravnica and Timespiral had a healthy number of decks around.Two choices doesn’t necessarily make everyone happy. People like to have options and they like to be able to think of new viable deck ideas.

5. 神の一手 - November 6, 2009

Wizards likes a lot of decks, but if you were to ask someone what decks they remember from Lorwyn, they will answer faeries and 5cc control. I am sure there were other deck choices, but those are the decks that were played the most, or at least talked about the most.

6. James - November 6, 2009

I agree that those were the most viable decks at the time. I just don’t think that Wizard’s ideal is to only have two decks.

7. Ryan - November 21, 2009

The prices of the Fetchlands is strictly based on the demand for them. Wizards prints them with the same chance of finding them as you have of finding Rite of Replication or Seagate Loremaster.

The reason they’re expensive is because so many people want them.

The reason they’re printed is because multicolor cards are time and time again the most popular theme (MaRo says this a lot!), and mana screw (and additionally color screw) is one of the least popular situations in magic.

Whether it’s fetchlands, Ravnica duals, or something else, a rare land that can produce 2 colors of mana is going to be expensive due to the popularity of multicolor magic.

So why not print them at common? Well, the rare/uncommon/common method has proven to be pretty successful in the past, as well as fun for players (excitement of opening booster packs is worth something…)

Just my 2 cents. I do like the discussion of expensive cards though =).

8. James - November 21, 2009


I would have been OK if fetchlands were just about multcolor decks, but my point was that even mono color decks need them (now more than ever). I’ve always liked having an option to play mono color decks so that I don’t have to get duals, but that’s no longer a good option.

9. Luke - November 22, 2009

Fetch lands aren’t necessary in Vamps or Red Deck wins. I have been testing this a lot. I am tired of explaining to people why. Just take my word for it, and work around the landfall abilities. You can make a deck that’s just as good without fetch/landfall. In fact, if you reverse the “deck thinning” equation with regards to landfall, it actually reduces your chance of triggering landfall abilities as the game goes on. Nobody realizes that yet!

10. James - November 22, 2009


I have played Vampires without fetch lands, but I found that 4 fetch lands were pretty helpful. (Nocturnus in particular doesn’t want you to draw lands, but reshuffling is helpful.) How can you make red deck wins without fetch lands? I have tried, but it’s not as good as I would like. Making Plated Geopede a 5/5 early game sounds like a great way to win. I guess Zektar Shrine Expedition wouldn’t be in the deck considering you want to attack with the 7/1 by turn 4.

11. Deuce - December 20, 2009

Vamps, RDW, WW, Eldrazi Green. All popular, mono-colored decks that don’t require expensive fetch lands. Sure, you might WANT some fetch for landfall or deck thinning, but that can be accomplished using tfe much cheaper Panoramas or Terramorphic Expanse. Heck, in cases of wanting to avoid the damage from fetching or keep a fetch un-cracked on the table against future need, the non-rare fetches can sometimes be more valuable than the rares.

Honestly, anyone could complain about how thier deck options are limited to thier pocketbook. It’s just a fact of life in any collectible-format game. All-in-all, dual and/or fetch lands are probably the easiest to work around the price of. Maybe you should try complaining that Baneslayers weren’t printed as commons.

12. James - December 20, 2009


Did you read the article or comments? I have tried Vampires and Red Deck Wins without fetch lands and it didn’t seem like a wise decision overall. Terramorphic expanse and Panoramas are horrible in mono-colored decks. Not a wise decision if you actually want to win.

And I disagree that “It’s just a fact of life in any collectible-format game” that our options are THIS limited to our pocket book. Why? Because dual lands are just about the most expensive part of the game, but I didn’t always have to get them. In fact, I never felt like I had to get them until now.

You might have a point about Eldrazi Green, but I’ve never seen it in action, so I don’t know how viable it is. Right now Jund is the main deck that matters.

13. Cody - February 3, 2010

I play a pretty mean Vamp deck without any fetchlands in it, but then again I only have one Nocturnus…