Last updated on December 1, 2021

Bloodghast - Illustration by Daarken

Bloodghast | Illustration by Daarken

Zendikar is one of those planes that Magic just keeps coming back to. From the original Zendikar to the more recent Zendikar Rising, landfall shows up on new cards every time we visit the plane.

Whether you want to learn how landfall works or you’re interested in knowing what the best landfall cards are, I’ve got you covered! Let’s take a look at this mechanic in detail and the ins and outs of how it works.

Ready? Let’s get started!

How Does Landfall Work?

Scute Swarm - Illustration by Alex Konstad

Scute Swarm | Illustration by Alex Konstad

Landfall is a special ability that triggers whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control. Each card’s triggered ability is different but landfall is always triggered the same way.

Which Sets Have Landfall?

Only sets within the Zendikarblocks have landfall. This includes Zendikar, Worldwake, Battle for Zendikar, Oath of the Gatewatch, and Zendikar Rising.

History of Landfall

Landfall was first introduced with Zendikar in October 2009. Functionally identical abilities were printed all the way back in 2005 with Ravnica: City of Guilds. Cards like Vinelasher Kudzu had abilities that triggered whenever a land entered the battlefield under their owner’s control but didn’t include the landfall keyword.

Other cards have since been printed with similar abilities like Field of the Dead, but the landfall keyword only appears in Zendikar-related sets.

Is Landfall an Activated Ability?

Lotus Cobra (Zendikar) - Illustration by Chippy

Lotus Cobra (Zendikar) | Illustration by Chippy

No, landfall is a triggered ability. You have to pay an activation cost like mana, life, or sacrificing a creature for activated abilities. Triggered abilities, on the other hand, don’t need to be activated. They’re automatically put on the stack after a certain action happens, in this case a land entering the battlefield.

Is Landfall an ETB?

Yes, landfall is an ETB. An “enter the battlefield” (ETB) trigger happens when a certain type of permanent enters the battlefield. Since landfall triggers whenever a land enters the battlefield under a player’s control, it counts as an ETB.

Can You Respond to Landfall?

Yes, you can respond to landfall. Whenever a landfall ability triggers, that ability is put on the stack. Like with all other abilities, each player will have the chance to respond to it before the ability resolves.

How Can You Stop Landfall?

Ruin Crab - Illustration by Simon Dominic

Ruin Crab | Illustration by Simon Dominic

Stopping abilities both activated and triggered after they’re put on the stack is tricky. It’s a bit easier to stop a spell when it’s put on the stack because there are plenty of counterspells in pretty much every format.

One way to stop a landfall ability is to make sure that the ability has no targets. If a land enters the battlefield under your opponent’s control while they control Phylath, World Sculptor, you can remove all their plants with something like Radiating Lightning meaning Phylath’s landfall ability has no targets. The landfall ability resolves but nothing happens.

Another (simpler) way to stop this is by using a special counterspell that counters triggered abilities like Stifle or Disallow.

Does Torpor Orb Stop Landfall?

Torpor Orb

Yes and no. The simple answer is no, Torpor Orb doesn’t stop landfall abilities from triggering. But there is an exception to this.

If a land is also a creature as it enters the battlefield (Dryad Arbor is a weird card), then Torpor Orb will stop that landfall ability from triggering.

How Many Lands Should a Landfall Deck Have?

My advice is to not drastically change the number of lands in your deck, even if that deck is heavily reliant on landfall abilities. I’d add one or two extra lands to a landfall deck at most, but even that’s pushing it. Let me explain.

In Commander and other constructed formats, the best way to trigger landfall abilities isn’t to play lots of lands in your deck. Instead of increasing the number of lands in your deck, you should focus on running a lot of fetch lands. Fetch lands trigger landfall once when you play them and when you crack them to find a land from your deck. Not to mention that most constructed decks want to run fetch lands anyway, so running a lot of them won’t really hurt your deck’s performance.

The same rule applies if you’re playing Limited. Cards like Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse are probably available if fetch lands aren’t. Straying too far away from the standard 17 lands in Limited is might do more harm than good, but if you are very heavy into it, you can play an extra one or two.

Best Landfall Cards

Honorable Mention: Retreat to Coralhelm (with Knight of the Reliquary)

I admit that Retreat to Coralhelm looks pretty underwhelming on its own for . But I had to mention this enchantment because it works so well with Knight of the Reliquary. You can continuously use Knight’s ability and then untap it with Coralhelm’s landfall ability with both cards in play at the same time.

If you have enough fetch lands in your deck you can search for them with your Knight’s ability and then crack them for a Forest or Plains, giving you two landfall triggers per activation. You can use Coralhelm to tap your opponent’s board and attack with your giant Knight for the win with these extra triggers.

Unfortunately, Retreat to Coralhelm just sucks if you don’t have Knight of the Reliquary on the battlefield, so it doesn’t make the main list.

#5: Hedron Crab & Ruin Crab

This is another underwhelming card at first sight, but anyone who’s ever played against a mill deck knows that Hedron Crab is a force to be reckoned with. It’s a lot better in a deck that runs fetch lands since they allow you to mill six of your opponent’s cards in a single turn. Add a bunch more mill cards and you have yourself a deck that’s capable of outpacing some of the fastest aggro decks!

Oh, and did I mention that you can play eight copies of it? That’s right, Ruin Crab basically does the same thing as its Hedron counterpart, only a bit better.

#4: Scute Swarm

Scute Swarm

This is one of those cards I wish I didn’t have to include, but it’s just too strong to not mention. Scute Swarm teaches you the true power of exponential growth.

I’ve been on the receiving end of several attacks consisting of an embarrassingly large number of Swarms and let me tell you, that’s not an experience I’d like to repeat. I guess facing it isn’t too bad if you have a board wipe at the ready, but otherwise you’d better run.

#3: Bloodghast

Bloodghast

Every now and then an eternal format goes through a phase where graveyard strategies become so powerful that they’re an unstoppable force in the meta. I still see Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis in my nightmares to this day.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that Bloodghast is one of those cards that lets graveyard strategies to flourish. If your opponent tries to kill Bloodghast the old-fashioned way, it won’t be long until they have to deal with it again.

#2: Lotus Cobra

Lotus Cobra

Lotus Cobra really needs you to play fetch lands if you want it to outperform most other sources of mana ramp. Yes, I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record with fetch lands and how much better landfall cards are with them, but they’re really that good. With this Cobra in play on turn two, the difference between playing a fetch land and a regular land on turn 3 can be the difference between having four or five mana to spend.

#1: Omnath, Locus of Creation

Omnath, Locus of Creation

You know a card is good when it shows up on the banned list. Deemed too powerful for Standard, Omnath, Locus of Creation is the kind of meta-warping card that leaves your opponent in tears. The real benefits for this creature’s landfall ability come into play when you can trigger it multiple times per turn.

Omnath’s ability is probably most powerful the second time it triggers. Oh, and do you know what cards are good at triggering landfall multiple times in a single turn? You guessed it: fetch lands.

Bant Knightfall Deck in Modern

Retreat to Coralhelm - Illustration by Kieran Yanner

Retreat to Coralhelm | Illustration by Kieran Yanner

This deck is known as Bant Knightfall. It’s a Modern midrange/combo deck that uses the Retreat to Coralhelm plus Knight of the Reliquary combo and the sheer power of Collected Company.

Wrap Up

Omnath, Locus of Creation - Illustration by Chris Rahn

Omnath, Locus of Creation | Illustration by Chris Rahn

I think landfall is a really well-designed mechanic. Being empty-handed and drawing lands can be a frustrating experience, and landfall at least gives you something to do with all those extra lands you draw. WotC sometimes goes overboard with cards like Omnath, Locus of Creation, but hey, blame the card, not the mechanic.

So, do you like landfall? Whatever your opinion, feel free to start up a conversation with us on any of our social media. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit.

As always, stay safe, and good luck with your landfall deck!

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