Last updated on July 22, 2023
Vault of Catlacan | Illustration by Victor Adame Minguez
A lot of legendary lands actually feel legendary. They’re key combo pieces, or they can warp the game around them. Many are very expensive chase cards across the history of the game.
Ranking these cards is tough since a lot of them are important pieces for decks and can even win the game outright. But I’ll do my best to apply my long history of wishing I had more MTG money to the task at hand.
Ready to wish you had more cash lying around?
What Are Legendary Lands in Magic?
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx | Illustration by Jung Park
“Legendary” is a card supertype that can apply to various kinds of permanents. When applied to lands it means that the land is subject to the legend rule, and that it can be targeted or triggered by anything that targets or is triggered by legendary or historic permanents.
The legendary rule means that there can be only one of that card on your side of the battlefield. The rule used to also apply to your opponents, so playing a legendary permanent was a way to destroy an opponent’s legendary permanent. But that rule changed with Magic 2014. The legend rule is an immediate check of state-based effects, so you have to sacrifice one legend before you can play any instants or activate any effects if you play a second legendary land.
That’s a limiting factor to legendary lands in 60-card formats because drawing two copies of Boseiju, Who Endures in your opening hand puts you down a land. Unless you play one for the channel effect, of course. But this isn’t an issue in Commander, as with any other singleton format.
I want to note that there are reskinned Universes Beyond legendary lands with different names, like Glittering Caves of Aglarond, which is just Gemstone Caverns. Those won’t make the list, but otherwise, let’s break down the top 50!
Best White Legendary Lands
Enchantress players, step right up!
#8. Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire
You can really see the power of these legendary lands on Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire. No one’s putting Divine Arrow in their decks, but being able to pitch a land to do that on what would come down untapped as a virtual Plains is pretty sweet.
This legendary land sees play across all formats, often as a 1-of.
#7. Eiganjo Castle
This isn’t that powerful an effect on its own even though Eiganjo Castle is played in legends-matter tribal EDH decks led by generals like Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful and Niambi, Esteemed Speaker, which is why Orim, Samite Healer is hardly ever in a deck.
But to get that ability for free on a card that otherwise mostly acts like a Plains? That’s just good clean living.
#6. Kor Haven
That makes it worth the colorless mana awkwardness, which is also less of a deal if you’re playing it in mono white.
#5. Legion’s Landing / Adanto, the First Fort
#4. Minas Tirith
Minas Tirith will always be drawing cards in a go wide white deck. The downside is that there is a chance it might come into play tapped, which will slow down your aggro roll. Does that mean I hold it back from tokens decks? No. It might be a touch less good if you know you have to wait until turn four to cast your Jetmir, Nexus of Revels, but I think you’ll catch up.
#3. Hall of Heliod’s Generosity
You already know the dozens or so enchantment commanders, from Light-Paws, Emperor's Voice to Sythis, Harvest's Hand, but I forgot about Ertai, the Corrupted. If you’re trying to make that janky deck work, of course you’d want Hall of Heliod's Generosity.
This is a 1-of in certain Modern decks that run the Modern Horizons enchantress package, including Sterling Grove and Sythis, Harvest's Hand along with some of the Neon Dynasty enablers like Jukai Naturalist.
#2. Serra’s Sanctum
Hot take: if Serra's Sanctum had ever been reprinted so that actual people could play it given the enchantments-matter cards printed in the last five years, this would be banned just like Tolarian Academy. I admit that take is a little too hot for accuracy, and maybe it’ll take a few more years of current WotC design philosophy to get there, but this land is pretty broken.
It would be bonkers if Karakas wasn’t banned in Commander. It would easily be the most powerful legendary land in the format in that universe. This tends to show up in high-powered Cubes where it seems like it’s usually not a first pick but often doesn’t wheel.
Best Blue Legendary Lands
I hear you like drawing cards.
#7. Otawara, Soaring City
Otawara, Soaring City sees play in typical Constructed formats as a 1- or 2-of in various Izzet () decks, but it’s better in Commander because it’ll usually be a bit cheaper to cast. This might as well replace an Island in control-oriented blue EDH decks. And if you can get it out of the graveyard with something like Crucible of Worlds, well, then, great!
#6. Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
Retreat to Coralhelm and Tameshi, Reality Architect are big fans of this card. Oboro, Palace in the Clouds is also a weekend getaway for such glitterati like Omnath, Locus of Creation andTatyova, Benthic Druid.
Champagne wishes and caviar dreams!
Rivendell is clearly better than something like Castle Vantress in anything but a mono-blue EDH deck where you can be more sure it comes into play untapped, but even then, I’d still choose the house of Elrond. If both come into play tapped, activating for two mana instead of four is absolutely huge.
But how valuable are these lands overall? In other words, how valuable is scry? It depends on what your deck wants. Combo pieces? Scry 2 is better than drawing a card. Just about any other kind of deck, drawing a card is better.
But scrying goes up in value as games go long, and the number of useful cards in your deck shrinks as the developing game state begins to foreclose the amount of topdecks that matter. That means this is also good for control.
I just know I’m slamming this in my Elminster deck asap.
#4. Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
It’s not a cheap card, but it’s clearly better than an Island if you have it given that you always have access to at least one legend in your command zone.
#3. Academy Ruins
But even played fairly to recur things like Nevinyrral's Disk or even something basic like an Aether Spellbomb, this is a staple in any deck that can run artifacts in blue. Wouldn’t it be nice to recur Bolas's Citadel for another chance to pop off?
And of course you’re going to play at least one of these if you’re playing Affinity in Modern.
#2. Search for Azcanta / Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin
“Every control mage’s dream built into one card” is how Corey Burkhart described Search for Azcanta. And you’re playing one or two copies of this if you’re playing a deck with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria in Pioneer, Historic, Explorer, or Modern.
The automatic filtering in those decks if you get it down early is insane. You’ve accelerated mana if you flip it, and being able to tap Azcanta to grab an answer at instant speed is the thing control mages’ dreams are made of.
Note that you can play a second and never flip it and really start cooking with gas if you’ve flipped one.
#1. Tolarian Academy
Banned everywhere because duh. Tolarian Academy is even restricted in Vintage.
If you didn’t play through this card’s time in the Standard of its time, Type II, it could goldfish its way to a win on turn 2. You’ll want to watch Saffron Olive break it down if you like scary movies.
Best Black Legendary Lands
Pick your black archetype. There’s a land here for that.
I guess you might as well play Urborg if you have one? Blanking first strike is probably decent in some cases, especially because most players will forget about this ability. This is a tap-to-kill effect in Horobi, Death's Wail decks for the few true believers still playing that deck.
#9. Havengul Laboratory / Havengul Mystery
This Magic universe version of Hawkins National Laboratory from the Secret Lair X Stranger Things is thus far rarely played, but Havengul Laboratory seems strong. The best Clues-matter commander is Lonis, Cryptozoologist, and this is the wrong color for that. And the best on-color clues commander for this is likely Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth, who as yet doesn’t get there on power level.
#8. Arguel’s Blood Fast / Temple of Aclazotz
Arguel's Blood Fast is from the cycle of legendary enchantments in Ixalan that flip into legendary lands. This is perfect for decks that want to manipulate life totals going down on the front half and going up on the back, so you’ll find it in Jerren, Corrupted Bishop decks.
But the ability to give up life for card draw has been powerful in black since Necropotence.
Barad-dûr compares with Legion's Landing. Flipped, Adanto, the First Fort asks you for three to make a 1/1 with lifelink. Barad-dûr doesn’t need to flip and makes a 1/1 for three mana. But it can make something larger with more mana, which black has a lot of access to if you are running expensive lands.
It can also just keep stacking counters on the Orc Army (including at instant speed with this!) Both seem useful. But generating a sacrificial body whenever you need to is really nice. Just think of how often someone’s Castle Ardenvale has ruined your plans.
#6. Takenuma, Abandoned Mire
Takenuma, Abandoned Mire sees play across all formats, especially in reanimator or self-mill decks. But this also works in decks that just want to be able to use an inefficient Raise Dead stapled onto a land in an emergency.
#5. Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
Shizo, Death's Storehouse is almost a staple in EDH decks that want to push commander damage. Fear, an old mechanic that got mothballed into intimidate, means it can only be blocked by black or artifact creatures.
In some cases this makes Phage the Untouchable, Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni, and similar commanders really, really effective. At some tables this won’t matter that much, but this land comes in untapped and traps for black, so sure.
#4. The Black Gate
Is The Black Gate an upgraded Shizo? Kind of.
The joke here is Frodo, Sauron's Bane, but there’s all sorts of Vorpal Sword and Voltron shenanigans to accomplish here. From a politics perspective it’s kind of neat because you can just blame the card for making you do it.
It’s a burden having to keep attacking Steve. It’s your burden. Your own. Your precious.
#3. Phyrexian Tower
#2. Volrath’s Stronghold
A card so powerful it’s definitely worth the tap-for-colorless problem. Being able to pull whatever you need from the ‘yard on top of your deck just before your draw phase is awfully good, especially in late game EDH.
#1. Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
If you’re running a lot of black, you’re running Cabal Coffers and Cabal Stronghold (neither of which are legendary, by the way), and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth makes all your utility lands count for Extreme! Mana!! Shenanigans!!!
You can see this in some Modern colorless Tron builds that want the option to cast their Dismember for mana.
Best Red Legendary Lands
Are you surprised that the lands in this section are the most underwhelming?
#6. Shivan Gorge
#5. Vance’s Blasting Cannons / Spitfire Bastion
Vance's Blasting Cannons seems a bit expensive and clunky for EDH decks that want to play red spells on curve. Still, it’s red card draw, at least a bit. It flips as ramp which is nice, and then you’ve got a repeatable Open Fire.
I feel like this’ll get cut a lot. But I wouldn’t blame you for trying.
#4. Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance
Perhaps the weakest of the Neon Dynasty channel lands, Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance still shows up as a 1-of in almost all formats where it’s legal. Sometimes you just really need a few more tokens or surprise blockers.
#3. Mines of Moria
Do I want to make two Treasures for four mana? If I have nothing better to do with my mana, sure, but shouldn’t I have built a better deck so as not to end up in that spot?
We can all think of Treasure-heavy decks that could get value from Mines of Moria, and of course you’d throw this in to artifact sac decks like Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter. If you have enough legendaries for this to come into play untapped reasonably often, it seems worth it for other decks.
The Mines also has an interesting function in red decks that don’t use the graveyard for much (or just for stacking with spells), since you can eat your own stuff before opponents can recur it with any number of black cards or something like Saruman of Many Colors. Even just to avoid the eight cards in a graveyard Dimir () triggers. That seems really niche, but the option is there.
#2. Kher Keep
Kher Keep pumps out tokens, which is nice for decks as disparate as Winota, Joiner of Forces and Zada, Hedron Grinder. But this is pretty much a required play if you’re doing kobold tribal, which kind of isn’t a thing but might be someday if you’re lucky. And that’s exactly the kind of attitude you’d need to get in character for kobold tribal.
There are a lot of Rakdos sac decks in 60-card formats and this rarely shows up in them, which is again testament to the cost of colorless mana, so this isn’t a perfect solution for your sac deck. But it is a solution.
#1. Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Especially in EDH, why not? Being able to toggle first strike makes your commander that much scarier. It also makes attacking and blocking math a lot harder on opponents.
I’ve dropped Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep early before and seen creature decks swing at other players for a few crucial turns.
Best Green Legendary Lands
Welcome to bonkers.
#6. Yavimaya Hollow
Okay, so of course you want access to this effect on a land like Yavimaya Hollow. This is much more efficient if you’re already taking up deck space to keep your commander alive with auras and equipment.
There are downsides to the way your creature is removed from combat, but life is full of choices.
#5. Growing Rites of Itlimoc / Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun
The Growing Rites of Itlimoc side is a fine effect for green. And the fact that any Commander deck that runs green will have an easy time flipping this, where it becomes a strictly better version of Gaea's Cradle (because it can also tap for green after the board is wiped).
Just stop and chew on that for a second.
So this seems pretty good if you’re a rampy green Commander deck. And plenty of elf tribal decks across formats try this card out every once in a while. Probably too slow for most 60-card formats, but I‘ve seen copies in decks, especially elves.
#4. The Shire
What? Okay, yeah you gotta tap a creature for The Shire to make a Food (farming?), which isn’t amazing, but you are green. You have creatures. Food tokens are cardboard. They’re artifacts. They gain life. There are decks new and old that work well with Food tokens.
If those decks are decent this will feel busted.
#3. Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth
#2. Gaea’s Cradle
If only green liked to play a lot of creatures…
Look, I know, this is probably one of the very best legendary lands on raw power. But the ubiquitous flexibility of our next card edges out Gaea's Cradle for me.
The Cradle is a win-more card. The next card can save you when you’re about to lose, and that happens a lot in Commander. 75% of the players at every table lose.
#1. Boseiju, Who Endures
Dom Harvey predicted that this legendary land would warp every format in Magic. I can’t tell you if that’s exactly true, but I can tell you that there’s no reason not to run at least one copy of this in every deck that runs green in every format (aside from cost).
Best Multicolored Legendary Lands
Hot take! One of these Ixalan block flip enchantments is totally awesome and you’re not playing it enough.
#3. Journey to Eternity / Atzal, Cave of Eternity
That’s a decent deal in Golgari () decks like Meren of Clan Nel Toth and Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord. Repeatable reanimation at instant speed can also make it hard for others to get motivated to attack you. So you’re probably not playing this on turn 3.
#2. Mount Doom
Before you ask, there are almost 200 legendary artifacts in MTG, 60ish of them creatures. So if you were tempted by Mount Doom, pack enough of those to toss into the fire as needed. The Shivan Gorge effect is nice, but you’re playing this as a wrath on a land.
On a land.
#1. Storm the Vault / Vault of Catlacan
When Storm the Vault flips it turns into a strictly better Tolarian Academy. And that card is banned everywhere. Obviously the power of the Academy was the explosive start when you dropped it on your battlefield of Moxen. Is it worth it on turn 4?
Well, today, in a Commander meta with Dockside Extortionist and so many Treasures, this may very well flip the turn it comes down every time. And I can likely drop it and flip it immediately if I hit Dockside on turn 2 and have this in hand.
The Vault of Catlacan wants to be found.
Best Colorless Legendary Lands
There are some bricks in here added for completionist purposes. And there are also some lands that cost more than paychecks.
#11. The Grey Havens
So The Grey Havens is a common. With a name that will be hard to reprint later, so if I convince you, pick one up now.
This is a strict upgrade to Crystal Grotto in a legends-matters deck, and that card sees some play. This feels better than a basic in most decks.
#10. Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea is fine in group hug of the Kami of the Crescent Moon variety. Xyris, the Writhing Storm is one of many commanders who tries to weaponize opponent card draw and might enjoy this card, but the colors make this easier to manage in Zurzoth, Chaos Rider decks.
#9. Baldur’s Gate
Any new gate would have been welcome for gates players in Commander, but Baldur's Gate came with eight other gates in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate, and that brings the number up to 20. There are even utility gates now, including Heap Gate, which can make Treasures. New gate tutors Navigation Orb and Explore the Underdark join older tutors Circuitous Route, District Guide, and Open the Gates along with new option for your commander, and is in the right colors for many of the previous gates payoffs.
So are gates playable in Commander for the first time? Perhaps. It’s a lot of tap lands and you need a good 5-color commander to be able to squeeze all 20 gates and Maze's End into a deck. You’d have to dream big to want to try this, but if you lose an EDH game to Gatebreaker Ram some day, you heard it here first.
#8. Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Boseiju, Who Shelters All seemed a lot better 15 years ago at the dawn of EDH. Slower battlecruiser-style games allowed people to play colorless tap lands to eventually frustrate the blue mage’s counterspells. This was a reasonable include in combo decks of that era to help insulate the combo pieces going off.
But then the game got faster and the curves more efficient. And they went and banned Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, which could grab this card for you and plop it on the battlefield with no loss of tempo.
So now this feels like a card that isn’t worth the loss of tempo in most decks. If you’re dead before you find your combo pieces, what does it matter? Maybe you’d rather have this just in case if you only have a few wincons like Torment of Hailfire. And if you’re running a lot of tutors, well, then, sure. Or you could turn this into a Swamp or Forest with some other cards on this list and then just tutor it up?
Here’s your exception. Maralen of the Moonsong commands a deck with mostly Swamps that wants to use Ad Nauseum to power up Exsanguinate by drawing your deck and pitching it to Skirge Familiar as early as turn 3 or 4. Being able to drop Boseiju (which you drew along with, like, your whole deck) before Ad Nauseum is important because if that gets countered, it’s game over. Game over, man!
Never mind. Okay, boomer, you can keep playing this!
#7. Azor’s Gateway / Sanctum of the Sun
The front side does a weird impression of looting, which is always a helpful effect. Hitting the five different mana values is easier than it might seem in a singleton format as long as you build your deck with a functional curve. Remember, one of those exiled cards can be a land for the 0-mana cost slot.
That just wins in a lot of decks.
#6. Geier Reach Sanitarium
Geier Reach Sanitarium has a lot of uses.
It’s clearly great in a discard deck like Tinybones, Trinket Thief that’s usually packing things like Waste Not and Raiders' Wake, which this card helps enable. It’s hard to trigger discard effects when they don’t have any cards.
Reanimator decks like Reya Dawnbringer or Feldon of the Third Path are hoping that this doesn’t help opponents too much while they stock their graveyard. Repeatable looting is key for those decks, so it sometimes makes sense even at this cost.
#5. Inventors’ Fair
Incidental lifegain and a nice tutoring ability are so useful that this sees play in Eldrazi Commander decks as well to grab that Forsaken Monument or Oblivion Stone, depending on what you need at the time.
#4. Gemstone Caverns
If you’re lucky Gemstone Caverns could be game-winning ramp as long as the rest of your opening hand is fast enough. Or if you’re playing cEDH and your deck is tuned to always make your opening hand fast enough. It’s less good in slower, more casual decks, and drawing this late game in decks with three or more colors can be awkward.
There was a time when this worked in Modern. But then the game changed when the Modern Horizons products came along and there were suddenly many better ways to go fast.
#3. Eye of Ugin
I know, right? Eye of Ugin may be the biggest groan-inducer in this list, and that’s saying something!
Banned in Modern, this land says “it’s time to tutor up some giant Eldrazi.” I guess you could use this to tutor up Wandering Archaic or something for special cases, but really you’ll grab colorless ramp cards like Palladium Myr and Conduit of Ruin if this comes down early and then drop a titan whenever you can.
#2. Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is bonkers in devotion decks, of which we see some floating around in Pioneer. There are two flavors of devotion.
One just uses cards with a lot of pips in mono-color beatdown with cards like Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx as the only actual devotion proper payoff. And that style of deck shows up in Commander, as well.
The other relies on the devotion mechanic more heavily, like the Gray Merchant of Asphodel black devotion decks that ruled the original Theros block. They usually come from a commander like Heliod, God of the Sun.
I can’t imagine a mono-color EDH deck that doesn’t want this.
#1. The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
If The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale’s cost wasn’t in four digits, would decks play it more? Absolutely!
This is so punishing against creature-heavy decks. This is pretty great if you’re in combo, control, superfriends, or even some version of sacrifice. You have to be doing Life from the Loam shenanigans or just turn it into a Swamp or Forest and fetch it to make this work, but that’s all doable.
Best Legendary Land Payoffs
The tough part is that a lot of these lands are expensive. And some are insanely expensive Reserved List lands. Do these lands literally pay you back for their expense? It kind of depends on how competitive your format is.
Most decks likely want at least one of these lands if they can afford the cost and if it fits their color needs. These lands are harder to play when you need a lot of dual lands to make your deck work, which is true in both 60-card formats and Commander.
So cards like Boseiju, Who Endures stand out because their utility in multiple situations is so great that it’s often worth it.
Some of these lands fit into a certain archetype so well that it’s hard to imagine not running them if you have them. If you’re running elves with Marwyn, the Nurturer, don’t you want to see if you can afford Gaea's Cradle for that deck? You’re right. You can’t afford that.
Legendary-Matters EDH Decks
Maybe you’re playing a deck like Sisay, Weatherlight Captain and you already have a lot of these cards or you’re interested in spending the money. Maybe after Jodah, the Unifier and all the legendary matters cards in Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, you’re ready to sleeve up The Prismatic Bridge and give it a try.
Can You Have More than One of a Legendary Land in a Deck?
There are diminishing returns to having more than one of a legendary land in your deck, but you can do it. An opening hand with two copies of Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance is not a 2-lander. It’s a 1-lander since you can only play one of them at a time.
How Many Copies of a Legendary Land Should You Play?
How many copies you should include of any particular legendary land depends on how much you need the effect, but the answer is typically one or two. Search for Azcanta tends to show up in twos in big Azorius control decks. There’s usually just one Boseiju, Who Endures, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, and Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth in Golgari Yawgmoth, Thran Physician decks.
Academy Ruins | Illustration by Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai
Powerful lands are a key part to the game. And although some early legendary lands either don’t meet the power level of today or are so powerful they’re still banned, most legendary lands do reasonably powerful things. Making them legendary reduces that power by making it harder to build into 60-card decks.
There are times and places for these as with all utility lands, and that may not be your deck. But there’s something that feels very cool about dropping a land that’s legendary with a cool name. In fact, if you’re like me, you’ve picked up some of these in boosters along the way and you play them in Commander decks whether that’s a good idea or not because they give the game interesting texture. After all, that’s a big part of why I’m still playing this game after all these years.
What’s your favorite legendary land? Do you agree with my rankings for these ones? Let me know in the comments or join the discussion over in Draftsim’s official Discord.
You’re all legendary in my book!
Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: