Last updated on May 23, 2023
Mystic Sanctuary | Illustration by Randy Vargas
I’ve spent most of my time in Magic playing blue, and I’ve gotten a really good grip of the color and its main strategies over the years. While lands are almost never a focal point of any of those tactics, blue still has some incredible utility and power in its nonbasic lands.
Today I’ll be discussing what exactly counts as a blue land, what the best blue lands are, and the best way to make use of them. Ready? Let’s go!
What Are Blue Lands in MTG?
Faerie Conclave | Illustration by Stephan Martiniere
While most lands are technically colorless with only a handful of actual blue lands (MDFCs), I’m going to count any land with a color identity of blue for today’s list. This means we can include otherwise “colorless” lands like Blighted Cataract.
#30. Coral Atoll
First off is Coral Atoll. It’s a land that taps for and requires you sacrifice it when it enters the battlefield unless you bounce an untapped Island to your hand. That’s a pretty bad drawback.
You’re losing mana playing this instead of some other untapped land since it doesn’t enter untapped and also requires the bounced land be untapped.
#29. Vivid Creek
Next up is Vivid Creek, which comes in tapped but with two charge counters on it. You can either tap it for a single blue mana like most normal blue lands, or remove a charge counter on top of tapping it to add one of any color.
This is nice fixing in a format like Limited, but there are certainly better options in Constructed formats.
#28. Skyline Cascade
Skyline Cascade comes in tapped and has a target creature not untap during its controller’s next untap step when it enters the battlefield. That’s a classic blue ability, but it’s not really pulling much weight here since it doesn’t tap the creature to begin with, nor does it come in untapped.
Tolaria unfortunately doesn’t live up to its name (unlike Tolarian Academy). This iteration simply taps for and can remove banding or existing bands from a creature until end of turn.
This is your go-to if you’re going up against banding tribal or just want a legendary land. Otherwise it’s just not good.
#26. Thriving Isle
Thriving Isle is a gold card, but it consistently taps for blue. It comes in untapped but has you choose a color when it enters, which it can then tap for as opposed to blue.
I generally like these kinds of dual lands. On top of being decent Limited fixing, they also play an important role being playable in budget Commander decks, especially those that go over two colors.
#25. Sea Gate
Sea Gate is the blue gate land from Battle for Baldur’s Gate. It does basically everything that Thriving Isle does, but with the slight bonus that it has the “gate” subtype. That matters for gate tribal decks and a few specific cards, but nothing else.
It works the exact same as the Isle if you’re not playing gates.
#24. Shelldock Isle
While it’s one of my favorite cards to play in just about any Cube deck, Shelldock Isle seriously underperforms in Constructed and is all but unplayable in formats like Commander. Its requirement to have 20 cards is just too restrictive.
This loses a lot of rank because of the limited playability even though it has a tremendous upside.
#23. Faerie Conclave
Faerie Conclave is a tapped land that can generate a single blue mana and become a 2/1 flier for . It’s a decent addition to some aggressive mono-blue decks that want to be a bit more consistent in having a small flier, but it doesn’t have much upside beyond that.
There’s still a lot better than this, even just in terms of creature lands.
#22. Blighted Cataract
Next up is Blighted Cataract, which doesn’t come in untapped but also only taps for one colorless. Its ability, which costs and requires it to tap and be sacrificed, will draw you two cards.
All things considered, this isn’t too terrible. I could see this in as a nice way to get some extra card advantage if you’re playing some kind of lower-power mono-blue Commander deck. But there are still plenty of cheap and effective ways to draw cards in blue that this starts to look less appealing the more you research for the deck.
#21. Beyeen Veil / Beyeen Coast
Beyeen Coast is the land side of Beyeen Veil. The land is just a regular land that taps for blue, and the spell side cuts down your opponent’s creatures’ power until end of turn for .
This is a very lightweight MDFC, and it doesn’t do a whole lot. It certainly has some merit if you’re up against decks that go particularly wide, which isn’t uncommon in Commander.
#20. Svyelunite Temple
Svyelunite Temple enters tapped (surprise!) and can tap for either or if you sacrifice it. While this general design is much more akin to red’s color and theme, it’s still fairly strong.
This is certainly worth playing if you’re running it in some kind of lands-matter deck and can then deal with being sacrificed.
#19. The Surgical Bay
The Surgical Bay is a sphere land that comes into play tapped, can generate a single blue mana, and can sacrifice itself if you pay the cost to draw a card. I like this more than some of the other sacrifice lands to draw cards, not just because it taps for blue but you’re getting a better rate for the single card.
#18. Remote Isle
Up next is Remote Isle, which is a slightly worse version of Lonely Sandbar. That one additional mana to cycle really adds up, but I think this card still outranks everything before it in a vacuum.
#17. Moonring Island
Despite having fantastic art, Moonring Island is held back by the tapped ETB and lackluster ability. But it actually has the Island type, meaning it can be fetched and interact with other cards. That’s a pretty big bonus, especially as far as mono-blue lands go.
#16. Glaspool Mimic / Glasspool Shore
Glasspool Shore is the land side of Glasspool Mimic and doesn’t do anything unique. The front side is actually a pretty strong alternative to playing the tapped land.
I wish it wasn’t limited to just being a copy of one of your other creatures, but that helps balance it out.
#15. Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds doesn’t bring too much to the table other than being a legendary land that can tap for blue mana on the turn it comes in. Its activated ability has some potential in combo decks where you can play unlimited lands and net mana in some way, but other than that it’s a just a situationally better Island.
#14. Castle Vantress
Castle Vantress is one of the better utility lands in blue, mostly because it can enter untapped and provides a decent amount of card advantage for the price. It’s far from being the best, but its simple and efficient design make it an optimal choice for most blue Commander decks.
#13. Cephalid Coliseum
Cephalid Coliseum has started to see much more play in recent years, particularly in Commander and Legacy, as a way to get untapped blue mana and have access to some level of card advantage later on down the line.
While the Coliseum doesn’t do either of things particularly well it does them for very little downside, which makes it a relatively efficient card.
#12. Jwari Disruption / Jwari Ruins
Jwari Disruption is one of the best front sides in blue’s MDFCs. It’s a cheap counterspell, has no targeting limitations, and can easily catch your opponents off guard.
#11. Halimar Depths
Up next is Halimar Depths, another tapped land that allows you to look at the top three cards of your library and put them back in any order you’d like when it enters. This land is straight to the point and performs its intended purpose well.
#10. Sea Gate Restoration / Sea Gate, Reborn
Unlike the backs of many other MDFCs, Sea Gate, Reborn can come into play untapped for three life. That’s a great bonus, especially since you’re only typically playing the backside of MDFCs when you have no other choice.
On the front, Sea Gate Restoration provides powerful card draw that also gives you the permanent benefit of having no maximum hand size. Believe me, there are no two better benefits than those to a blue player!
#9. Lonely Sandbar
Lonely Sandbar comes into play tapped, taps for a blue, and can be cycled for just one blue. Cycling for one mana is always a great deal since drawing cards is one of the best things you can possibly do.
#8. Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
Minamo, School at Water's Edge is one of the best legendary blue lands out there. Its ability to untap a target legendary permanent is particularly useful in the right decks and strategies, and it sees major play in Commander for that exact reason.
#7. Hall of Storm Giants
Hall of Storm Giants is the blue manland from Forgotten Realms, and it’s been a major player in Commander, Standard, and Pioneer since its release. It can come into play untapped early, which is critical in slower formats, and its creature version is as powerful as it is hard to kill.
This is a great card all around, and very deserving of this rank.
#6. Tolaria West
Tolaria West’s entire foundation and usage is based on the transmute ability. You’re almost never actually playing this card as a land, although you could, and that’s a plus.
Transmuting allows you to tutor up the exact card and not be open to countermagic from your opponents, which is a unique and desirable trait to have in this color.
#5. Seat of the Synod
If there’s been anything close to a trend so far, it’s that blue works well with artifacts. Seat of the Synod plays a very unique role in being an untapped land that counts as an artifact and can also tap for one blue mana.
Counting as an artifact plays a big role in cards that have affinity for artifacts or that depend on the number you have in play for some other bonus. This has virtually no downside other than not being fetchable as an Island, but it more than makes up for it.
#4. Academy Ruins
Academy Ruins is a land that taps for one colorless mana and can return artifacts from the graveyard to your hand for just . This card has seen decent play since its original printing and is mostly included as a one-of in artifact decks that can make use of its activated ability.
#3. Mystic Sanctuary
Mystic Sanctuary is often a blue player’s best friend. It counts as an Island so it can be fetched, can enter untapped under reasonable conditions, and gives you some card advantage in the form of recursion.
It checks all the boxes, has great art, and is widely played enough to be called one of the best.
#2. Otawara, Soaring City
The runner-up is Otawara, Soaring City. It has provided tremendous value and functionality to decks across virtually all formats since its release. Not only is it a legendary land that doesn’t enter tapped, but it also bounces permanents like it’s nobody’s business.
The discount from having legendary creatures is also quite relevant and makes it one of the most efficient and versatile blue lands out there.
#1. Tolarian Academy
In first place is none other than Tolarian Academy. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to play an efficient and powerful mono-blue artifacts deck, you know firsthand just how much mana and power this land can crank out. The fact that it doesn’t tap for mana without artifacts isn’t even a factor here.
It’s only legal as a restricted card in Vintage, but it’s one of the most dominating and powerful non-power cards in the format.
Best Blue Land Payoffs and Synergies
Make no mistake, blue isn’t the most effective color at taking advantage of having powerful utility lands. But it does pair exceptionally well with green to form Simic () landfall decks.
These decks in Commander typically revolve around commanders like Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait and Tatyova, Benthic Druid. Green has so much land recursion and support that even the most mediocre of blue utility lands become much more worthwhile in these strategies.
If you’re looking to work with red, then Temur () commanders like Omnath, Locus of the Roil set you up for a great land-based strategy that blue can be a prominent player in.
Seat of the Synod (The Brothers’ War Commander) | Illustration by Donato Giancola
That wraps up everything I’ve got for you when it comes to blue lands! In fact that’s just about every blue land out there, with a few exceptions. While a lot of them aren’t typically that much better than a basic Island, blue’s most powerful lands are also some of the best in the game.
What do you think of the blue lands and where I’ve ranked them? Do you mostly agree with my assessments, or do you maybe have some disagreements? Did I miss any? Let me know your thoughts and opinions below in the comments or over in the official Draftsim Discord.
Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy!
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