Last updated on September 2, 2022
Archaeomancer’s Map | Illustration by Ovidio Cartagena
Whether you’re trying to draw your entire library, cast 10-mana wincons, or attack your way to victory, your Commander game plan always relies on how many lands you have and how much mana can you make. Lands are Magic’s lifeblood, so pulling ahead is easier the more lands you have.
Unfortunately, there’s a limit on how many lands you can play each turn. One land per turn seems unfair when you’re holding a grip of flashy 7- or 8-mana spells, but you can get around it. There are ways to search for extra lands from the library, which can be a great way to ramp ahead of the competition.
What are they? So glad you asked. Let’s find out!
What Are Land Search Cards in MTG?
Scapeshift | Illustration by Daniel Ljunggren
Land search cards, or land tutors or ramp effects, are cards that let you search your library for lands and either put them into your hand or onto the battlefield. Lots of these types of ramp effects only get you one land, but some more expensive ones get you more.
Some tutors are limited to only searching for land, and some can search for different card types. Creatures with land search effects are easier to recur than instants and sorceries so they can often benefit you more than a stronger one-time effect.
Best White Land Searchers
#9. Oreskos Explorer
White has a theme of playing “catch-up” type ramp spells. They’re often tied to how many lands your opponents have.
#8. Boreas Charger
Boreas Charger stands out among white ramp spells for its ability to put you ahead on mana. But it’s a “leaves the battlefield” effect, so it might be a bit more difficult to trigger than something like Cartographer’s Hawk or Aerial Surveyor.
#7. Weathered Wayfarer
Weathered Wayfarer is a classic creature that can repeatably fetch up lands. You’re still gated by the number of lands under your opponents’ control, but you aren’t limited by land type.
#6. Keeper of the Accord
Keeper of the Accord was hyped up on its release but is now criminally underrated. You can let your opponents do the heavy lifting of getting extra lands into play while you piggyback off their work, and you sometimes walk away with a small army of soldiers too.
#5. Knight of the White Orchid
If you can afford the mana cost you can fetch any Plains while putting a scrappy first striker on board.
#4. Deep Gnome Terramancer
Next time you play a game of Commander, take note of how many times an opponent puts a land into play without actually playing it. Then add Deep Gnome Terramancer to your deck and see how good it feels to get in on the action.
#3. The Restoration of Eiganjo / Architect of Restoration
The Restoration of Eiganjo wouldn’t be as useful if it stopped at chapter I. Once you’ve fetched that initial Plains, chapter II lets you cheat a cheap permanent into play and chapter III gives you Architect of Restoration to spit out tokens on offense or defense.
#2. Land Tax
Land Tax is the blueprint for a white catch-up ramp, and it’s often responsible for drawing players six, nine, or even twelve extra cards in a game. You can only draw basics, but you’ll never miss a land drop.
#1. Archaeomancer’s Map
Archaeomancer’s Map is a bombshell artifact that all but guarantees you get the mana you need. It searches up a few extra lands even if it gets answered right away, and you’ll have a slightly more restricted version of Burgeoning in play if it sticks around.
Best Blue and Black Land Searchers
#2. Dreamscape Artist
Neither blue nor black specializes in searching for lands. Dreamscape Artist is a rare exception from Planar Chaos. It’s a powerful effect because it lets you turn the cards in your hand into repeatable Harrows.
#1. Initiative Cards
Blue and black have a few “take the initiative” cards you might consider if you’re hard-pressed to find lands. The first room ability on Undercity always lets you search for a basic land, so any initiative card can be a land searcher.
Best Red Land Searchers
#2. Cleansing Wildfire + Geomancer’s Gambit
Red’s better at blowing up lands than it is at searching for them, but there are still a few options. Aside from the mana values, the only difference between Cleansing Wildfire and Geomancer’s Gambit is whether the lands they search for entering are tapped or untapped.
The trick to “breaking” these cards is to target your own indestructible lands.
#1. Alpine Guide
Alpine Guide fits red’s mold of getting extra mana, but only temporarily. You can play it in a deck with only a few Mountains, snag one with the ETB ability, then make sure you have no Mountains when Alpine Guide leaves play.
Best Green Land Searchers
#21. Traverse the Outlands
Green is the primary ramp color in Magic, so it has the most and best land tutors in the game. Ramp effects start to taper off the later the game goes, but cards like Traverse the Outlands earn their keep by putting an explosive number of lands into play all at once.
#20. Boundless Realms
You’ll sometimes cast Boundless Realms and find yourself with every basic in your deck on the battlefield. It’s less useful because it asks you to have access to 7+ mana, but this helps a quest toward big, big plays.
#19. Circuitous Route + Migration Path + Vastwood Surge
Explosive Vegetation used to be a Commander staple, but modern Magic has iterated on it enough to make it virtually obsolete. If you’re in the market for the classic 4-mana double ramp effect, Circuitous Route, Migration Path, and Vastwood Surge each have their own tweaks to the formula.
#18. Skyshroud Claim
Skyshroud Claim hasn’t quite fallen into obscurity the same way Explosive Vegetation does. It has the unique distinction of putting the lands you search for into play untapped, refunding some of the cost to cast it.
This is also more flexible because it lets you search for any lands with the Forest subtype.
#17. Crop Rotation + Elvish Reclaimer
Crop Rotation and Elvish Reclaimer share the same effect of converting one of your lands into any land from your library. There are some obvious differences between the two, but if you want one you likely want the other.
#16. Explore the Underdark
Your land tutors need to pull extra weight once you reach five mana. Explore the Underdark justifies its cost by giving you the same acceleration as Circuitous Route while also giving you the initiative.
All in all you’re up two lands in play, you’ve searched up another land from the Undercity, and you’ve got the initiative ball rolling for extra value.
#15. Yavimaya Elder
Yavimaya Elder is perhaps past its prime, but it’s not down and out yet. Elder’s land searching ability is tied to a death trigger, but it can also sacrifice itself to draw a card. It’s noticeably worse than most creatures that fetch lands on ETB, but it’s a delayed 3-for-1 when everything comes together.
#14. Farhaven Elf + Wood Elves
#13. Harrow + Roiling Regrowth
There’s a trend of modern ramp cards being modeled after old classics, like how Roiling Regrowth mimics Harrow. Roiling Regrowth has the weaker effect since the lands come into play tapped, but it’s less risky.
Harrow requires a land sacrifice as part of its casting cost, so you can be down on lands if the spell gets countered. The same type of effect is present on Springbloom Druid if you want it stapled to a body.
#12. Kodama of the West Tree
Whether you’re modifying your creatures with counters, auras, or equipment, Kodama of the West Tree rewards your modifications with repeatable land searching. You’re spotted a free Rampant Growth every time a modified creature connects, which Kodama facilitates by giving them trample.
#11. Nissa, Vastwood Seer / Nissa, Sage Animist
Nissa, Vastwood Seer is a land searcher worthy of its mythic rare symbol. Its front side finds you a basic Forest to inch toward the seven-land threshold. Nissa, Sage Animist draws you extra cards, threatens an army of 6/6 lands, and maybe even invites Ashaya to the party once transformed.
#10. Perilous Forays
#9. Rampant Rejuvenator
One risk of investing a bunch of +1/+1 counters into a single creature is they all go out the window when your opponent answers it. Rampant Rejuvenator solves that problem by turning all those counters into lands. It starts with two +1/+1 counters from its own ability, and it’s easy to pump up for profit.
Scapeshift is well-known in Constructed formats for its ability to combo with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle or Field of the Dead. Those same combos work surprisingly well in Commander, but you’ll also see Scapeshift paired with powerful landfall creatures like Omnath, Locus of Rage and Avenger of Zendikar.
#7. Tempt with Discovery
It’s generally a bad idea for your opponents to take the extra land offered by Tempt with Discovery unless they desperately need it. You’ll net your four best lands while everyone else gets one if every player in a 4-person pod takes the offer.
This card can be mediocre against savvy opponents just as it can be absurdly powerful against people who’ve never encountered it. Don’t be tempted.
#6. Verdant Confluence
Verdant Confluence is costly but flexible. At worst you can use it to find three extra lands. You can also forgo a few lands drops to grow your creatures or get back permanents from your graveyard instead.
#5. Ulvenwald Hydra
Ulvenwald Hydra is both an enabler and payoff for land-based decks because it searches up your best land and puts it directly into play. It pulls double duty by getting you ahead on mana and stabilizing against attackers thanks to reach.
#4. Pir’s Whim
Pir’s Whim is one of the Battlebond friend-or-foe cards, and it plays out beautifully in Commander. You get to tutor up your best land into play while interacting with your opponents’ artifacts and enchantments, but the next level is to use it as a political tool.
There are times when you strike a deal and name someone else a friend in good old EDH fashion.
#3. Cultivate + Kodama’s Reach
You just can’t go wrong casting Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach. These two staples shore up any weaknesses in your mana base, but they also guarantee you find the right colors of mana and you hit at least your next land drop or two.
Multicolor decks with greedy mana bases should prefer these over 4+ mana variants.
#2. 2-Mana Accelerants
There are so many good 2-mana Rampant Growth variants. Nature’s Lore and Three Visits are functionally the same while Farseek shines in decks with dual lands and Triomes. Into the North rewards your snow mana bases, and Rampant Growth itself still gets the job done.
Land tutors at 2-mana top-tier and give you the velocity you’re looking for earlier in the game.
#1. Sakura-Tribe Elder
Affectionately known as Steve by Magic players, Sakura-Tribe Elder does exactly what you’re looking for in your 2-mana ramper in creature form. You get the functionality of Rampant Growth attached to a creature that’s easier to recycle from the graveyard.
Unlike a creature that simply taps for mana, Steve nets you a permanent land. It can even attack or jump in front of an attacker to soak up some damage on its way out.
Best Multicolored Land Searchers
#4. Knight of the Reliquary
Knight of the Reliquary works exactly as advertised on the card. You’re sac-ing lands to tutor lands, but usually upgrading them in the process. Be sure to have a healthy stock of Forests in your deck list and to be on the lookout for combo potential with Retreat to Coralhelm.
#3. Yasharn, Implacable Earth
Yasharn, Implacable Earth has two effects on the game: searching up a few lands to keep developing your mana and shutting down your opponents’ sacrifice effects and life payments. The passive ability is often more annoying for your opponents than it seems because it shuts down all sorts of things from Treasure tokens to a fully-loaded Aetherflux Reservoir.
#2. Binding the Old Gods
The land searching ability on Binding the Old Gods is delayed until chapter II, but it’s mostly a bonus to the top of chapter I’s ability to snipe a nonland permanent. Chapter III is usually a throwaway, but a combined removal spell plus a ramp spell is nice.
#1. Karametra, God of Harvests
Karametra, God of Harvests is one of those cards that can triple your lands only three turns after entering the battlefield. Karametra rewards you with extra lands for every creature you cast and is a pesky indestructible permanent.
Best Colorless Land Searchers
#11. Thawing Glaciers
The aptly named Thawing Glaciers is as slow as watching ice melt, but it’s worth it. You get more lands than you might expect over a long game. Maze’s End is a revamped version of Thawing Glaciers specific to Gate decks.
#10. Burnished Hart
Burnished Hart has been steady since its initial printing. As with most colorless land searchers, it’s at its best in non-green decks to give you ramp that you don’t usually have.
#9. Wayfarer’s Bauble
#8. Krosan Verge
Krosan Verge is a one-of-a-kind land that grants you ramp and fixing for a reasonable cost. You can run it in any deck, but you need to grab both a Forest and a Plains before it’s worth considering. You’re not restricted to basics, so Krosan Verge can grab double Triomes and fix your mana perfectly.
#7. Thaumatic Compass
Thaumatic Compass helps search for lands in the early stages of the game and eventually transforms into a Maze of Ith-style land that taps for mana. Picking up Spires of Orazca is just powerful enough to give you an edge without being threatening enough to evoke an immediate response.
#6. Sword of the Animist
You’re going to have a huge mana advantage if you can get Sword of the Animist attached to a creature early on. This is another excellent way to give equipment decks or combat-oriented decks some cheap extra land drops.
#5. Sword of Hearth and Home
Pretty much every Sword in this cycle is good to great by granting two protection abilities at once, so it almost doesn’t matter what the extra abilities are. Sword of Hearth and Home lets you ramp your mana and blink a creature every time you connect with it so it’s repeatable and powerful.
#4. Generic Fetch Lands
The more colors you play the more likely it is that you’ll want some of the generic fetch lands. Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse are functionally the same and give 2+ color decks an affordable way to keep their mana bases consistent.
Fabled Passage is a meaningful upgrade, and Prismatic Vista gives you an untapped land no matter what. They differ in power but all serve the same purpose of setting you up with whatever color of mana you need.
#3. Myriad Landscape
Myriad Landscape is a reliable staple that can turn one land into two down the road. While it’s great in pretty much any deck running basics, it’s at its best in mono-color decks that are light on ramp options, like mono-blue or mono-white.
#2. Solemn Simulacrum
The “Sad Robot” still gets it done in present-day Commander. A 3-for-1 when all is said and done, Solemn Simulacrum searches up whatever basic you need. It can also chump block and draw a card on its way out.
#1. Traditional Fetch Lands
The Onslaught and Zendikar fetch lands are clean ways to tutor up lands, even nonbasics if you match them up right. They’re obviously great additions to the colors of decks they’re designed to play with, but you can technically play these fetch lands in any deck since they have no color identity.
It’s not every day you see Flooded Strand in a Rakdos () deck, but it’s also not against the rules.
Best Land Search Payoffs
Besides the obvious “more mana = good” mantra, you should have a plan for all those extra lands you searched up. Some spells and strategies work especially well with land tutors.
What better way to take advantage of extra lands than an ability that triggers when lands hit the battlefield? Maybe you’re taking extra combat steps with Moraug, Fury of Akoum, getting even more mana with Lotus Cobra, or just building new friendships by stealing everyone’s creatures with Roil Elemental.
Whatever your game plan, landfall thrives off tutors that drop lands directly into play.
Spells or abilities with X in their costs can be some of the biggest plays in EDH. Crackle with Power, Genesis Wave, and Torment of Hailfire are examples of game-ending X-spells that scale to the amount of mana you can make.
Decks with 4+ colors have a lot of options for mana fixing these days, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t occasionally need help. Land tutors help establish the colors in your mana base, and a single Cultivate can take you from missing a color to being completely online.
There are a few mechanics in Magic that key off being able to find the right colors of land or mana, like converge, domain, and sunburst.
Your Search Is Complete
Torment of Hailfire | Illustration by Grzegorz Rutkowski
Hopefully by now all your lands are on the battlefield and your opponents are severely outclassed. Green has long been considered the primary color for ramp and land searching, but there are some great white and colorless cards to help your mana base. No matter what colors you play you have options to search out the lands you need.
Which is your favorite land tutor? Have you had success with a niche effect? Let me know in the comments below or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.
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