A Deckbuilder Explains How To Balance Your Lands In Magic: The Gathering

If you’re a Magic: The Gathering player, you know that lands are the way that you generate mana, the resource that allows you to play cards. In a new video, YouTuber SaffronOlive explains how to get that balance of lands correct.


Titled “You’re Probably Playing Too Many Shocklands In Modern,” the video is ostensibly about playing the Magic format Modern, which is an “non-rotating” format that allows you to use cards stretching back to 2003's Eighth Edition set.

Shocklands are lands that can either come into play “tapped,” and thus unusable that turn, or untapped, and thus usable immediately. To make them come into play untapped, a player has to “shock” themselves by taking two damage.

In the video, SaffronOlive goes into a long list of benefits and drawbacks to these cards, but what’s valuable for a newer player of the game is how he walks through the logic of what your lands should be doing in your deck. He patiently talks through weighing your options, the difference between a Standard (the format made of the most recent cards) approach and a Modern one, and then how one should think through the actual needs of a deck instead of just jamming these situationally good cards in.


It’s a solid video that forces deckbuilders to ask themselves some questions about what they want their deck to be doing and how they want to go about it, and that’s always solid advice, whether you’re an expert of a brand new player of Magic.

Update 2:08 PM: A previous version of this article stated that Modern is an “eternal” format when it is actually a non-rotating one. Vintage, Legacy, and Commander are examples of eternal formats.

I've played all of the Baldur's Gate games.

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I never understood all the “modes” in magic, so I can’t just make a deck with the cards I like if they are too old?

I have a mixture of old and new cards, well I say new but the last time I bought cards was years ago, I think they were from the guild of ravnica expansion, or something like that, don’t remember the exact name. But the old ones go back as far as the first edition of the game.

Of course I'm guessing this only applies to tournaments, but given that old card tend to be severely underpowered compared to the new ones, why restrict them? Do they break the game in some way?