There comes a point in every Magic player's journey where they want to invest deeper into the game. Whether they're a Commander player who wants to have the tools to build around whatever commander strikes their fancy, or they're a player who got into Modern after reading our Buying Into Modern article and is now looking to expand their horizons to new decks, the best place to start as a player when investing in Magic for the long term is in your mana base.
Personalize Your Basic Lands
While usually not as flashy as their non-basic cousins, basic lands are the soul of Magic, played in every format of the game. Basic lands are more than essential components of the game, they are fundamental to the essence of what is Magic: the Gathering, helping to add identity to each of the five colors. Spending a few dollars to personalize the basic lands in your favorite decks not only adds some flair but also allows you to add an individual stamp to your deck. Whether you're a fan of the classic Alpha lands, or you love the borderless John Avon lands from Unstable, whatever basic lands you choose to personalize your decks with will add value both to the experience of playing and to your collection.
Non-basic Lands: What To Buy, And When
If basic lands are the soul of Magic, non-basic lands are the blood and guts holding the game together and making it run. The non-basic lands we are looking to invest in to grow our mana base will depend on what formats we are looking to play. the two most playable types of non-basic lands across multiple formats are shock lands and fetch lands. Of these two non-basic land cycles, shock lands have the most versatility, being legal in all constructed formats except Standard and Pauper. Multiple printings of the shock lands over the years have helped to keep their prices down, around $20 each for non-foils in most cases, with the most expensive being Breeding Pool, at $28.
Historically speaking, Wizards has reprinted the shock lands every time the story setting of the game has returned to the plane of Ravnica for a standard set. The duration the cards are in standard is usually the ideal time to buy in, when the prices typically hover around $10 each. With the Magic rumor mill making it sound like we will not be returning to Ravnica in 2022, it wouldn't hurt to be picking these up slowly now for specific decks as they will only trend upwards in price until they are reprinted again. You'll want to hold off on buying anything you don't immediately need until these see a Standard reprint in 2023 or later.
While not legal in Standard or Pioneer, fetch lands are mandatory staples of all the formats in which they are legal, including Commander, Vintage, Legacy, and Modern. The recent reprinting of the enemy-color fetch lands in Modern Horizons 2, has brought these cards down to historic low prices not seen since their initial printing in Zendikar more than ten years ago.
If you have not already, now is a fantastic time to be acquiring all the enemy fetch lands you need for your decks and to fill out your playsets. The price is so low, that it's even reasonable to be putting aside a few extra of these for speculation purposes. These will only go up over time as new sets release and Modern Horizons 2 fades from memory. Note that if speculating, the old border variants while approximately twice the price of the regular printings, stand to have the best long-term value because of their uniqueness and desirability, especially among players of eternal formats.
The demand for utility lands varies by format and by deck. Where Reliquary Tower is a staple in numerous decks in Commander, it hardly sees play in any other format. Karakas and Wasteland are Legacy staples, but in Commander, Karakas is banned and Wasteland is seldom played. Of all the utility lands available in Commander, these are the top four of EDHREC's Top 100 Utility Lands for Commander in the past month:
Further down this list is a cycle of utility lands that have seen play in Standard, Pioneer, and Modern as well as Commander: the castle cycle from Throne Of Eldraine.
Ranging from $7 to $0.50 each per card, these are affordable and probably the most useful cycle of utility lands across multiple formats which you could pick up right now. When in-person Pioneer events return these lands could even see an uptick in price depending on what the future of that metagame looks like.
Creature-lands are a versatile addition to any mage's arsenal. The ability of the dual-colored creature lands to fix mana, as well as turn into a late-game threat or a surprise blocker make them useful at all stages of the game. With the exception of Blinkmoth Nexus, the power of creature lands has diminished slightly in Modern in recent years due to the speed of the format. Their ability to close out a long game should not be discounted though, and Creeping Tar Pit, Celestial Colonnade, Raging Ravine, and friends still see play in control and Jund archetypes. Thanks to reprints, versions of many of the creature-lands can be found for around $5, with only Inkmoth Nexus carrying a more hefty price tag.
Since their appearance in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, Triomes have gone on to become an integral part of numerous tri-color decks in several formats. Their prices, especially for the ones that produce blue, have steadily climbed since their release. These are still standard legal for another month or so, and will likely see a slight dip in price when they rotate out of Standard, making rotation an excellent time to pick up a handful.
Revised Dual Lands
We'd be remiss in talking about long-term collecting and investing in mana bases without briefly discussing Revised dual lands. Because of their prices, dual lands are a serious investment for any Magic player. Staples of the Legacy and Vintage formats, dual lands in conjunction with fetch lands are the basis for the majority of mana bases in those formats. dual lands can also power up Commander decks to a more reliable mana base with less drawback, making them highly desirable there as well. 2021 saw Revised duals hit all-time high prices. Those prices have retraced slightly since the early part of the year and there is still a possibility of them declining further over the next year or so, but it's uncertain if they will return to pre-pandemic price levels.
If looking to finish a Legacy deck, or quickly improve the mana of your Commander deck, there isn't a wrong time to buy dual lands if you're going to put them to immediate use. If however, you're trying to time buying into dual lands to get the best price, keep tuned here to Sig's articles, where he has his finger on the pulse of the Reserve List market, and subscribe to QS Insider for access to trade tools and pricing data allowing you to figure out the best time to buy.
What lands do you have on your radar for long-term collecting/investing? Have you picked up all your enemy-color fetch lands yet? When do you think we will see a shock land reprint? Post your answers in the comments.