Last updated on July 12, 2021
Island (D&D: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms) | Illustration by Piotr Dura
Basic lands are practically free. You can grab them out of a land box at your local game store or Grand Prix. They’re very cheap in their most basic form.
But people love to bling out their decks, so it makes sense that even the simplest thing can be everything but that. Let’s take a look at the most expensive of the most basic.
5. Secret Lair Lands
The Secret Lairs are a bit of a mixed bag. My personal favorite were the full text lands, but they’re all the same when it comes to the price. A 50-pack, 10-of-each basic land for $240. That comes down to about $4.80 per card.
That seems a bit steep until you realize that it could be a jab at the guys over at HardDrive who complained that the cards they previously revealed were a bit too wordy. Wizards most likely had these planned previously and getting them to reveal the cards was a happy accident, but I prefer the slightly-petty-but-still-lighthearted joke as my headcanon.
4. Judge Foil Full Art Lands
Judge Promos always tend to always cause the prices to go up. These ones alone can cost you from $300 to $400. I’ve talked about Judge Promos before, and I still see them as a great idea and a way to show appreciation to people who go out of their way to help at these events. In 2014, the Judge Promo was a pack of five, one of each land type, with some Zendikar full art foil lands.
3. Arabian Nights Mountain
Much like Summer Magic, this basic is also based on print scarcity. That scarcity means you’ll be paying between $200 to $400 for this Mountain.
Back in the day, Wizards planned for Arabian Nights to be a standalone set with a different back on the cards. Later in development, just before printing, they decided to make it a Standard set with the normal back instead. The basic lands were removed because Wizards originally only printed basic lands with the Core sets. They were replaced with other cards from the set for printing.
Except… WotC forgot to remove the Mountains from one sheet. With print numbers and the number of times that it would appear on the sheet, only about 30,000 or so were printed. If you’re remembering that these used to be about $40 eight to ten years ago, you aren’t going crazy. As more people bought them, the amount that were freely available in the market dropped, so the price has kind of skyrocketed.
2. Summer Magic 1994 Forest
Forests are normally as common as any other basic land in a set, except when it comes to Summer Magic. These Forests will run you anywhere from $350 to $450.
After Revised’s print run, Wizards realized that there were… problems. Some cards were washed out, there was a fair amount of satanic imagery going on, Hurricane was famously printed as green instead of blue, and Serendib Efreet had the completely wrong art. To fix this, WotC decided that they’d do an additional run that summer, code named “Edgar.”
The cards weren’t physically called “Summer Magic,” but instead would replace the problem cards in Revised boosters. However, as with everything print-wise around this time, there were still problems. Serendib Efreet’s art was fixed, but the artist credit wasn’t, nor was the artist on Plateau. Because of this and other flaws, Wizards did a recall and destroyed all the cards they could. This made Revised, an already low-print-run set, even more scarce.
But about 40 booster cases slipped through. All in all, there are about 6000 to 8000 basic lands out there, with the Forest having the least in the print runs. You can get a Summer Magic Island for about $1 for some reason, though.
1. Guru Basic Lands
I’m not going to build up suspense this time around. These cards go from $250 to over $1,300 depending on the type of land you want and the card quality. Swamps are cheapest, Islands are most expensive.
Not only are these basic lands rare, but they also have special art depicting the landmass in question under a double eclipse (the moon passing in front of the sun and the reverse superimposed on one another), which showed a different phase of the process on each different basic land, splitting the image in twain for light and dark. They definitely bring the wow factor.
These basics are a product of the Guru Program which started in the summer of 1999 as a marketing tool by Wizards. Those in the program were given a kit which included a guidebook about the program (individualized Guru labels), new player referral postcards, and demo packs of boosters to have new players open as a way to introduce them to the game.
Each new player postcard was filled out by that player and set in with the Guru’s label attached. The Guru was given one Guru point, and both players would be entered into a sweepstakes for a $100 gift card. The Guru could also refer others to the program in order to get five Guru points.
Once a Guru accumulated 10 points, they’d be sent a Guru land card along with a booster pack of the newest set, and this would repeat for each subsequent 10 points. So, if you wanted a full set, you’d need to refer 50 new players to the game or get 10 people to join the program. Although no physical money really changed hands (for the program itself) and the prizes were tangible, it almost sounds like a pyramid scheme.
Anyway, there aren’t a ton of these floating around, hence the price tag to pimp your deck.
Plains (Jumpstart) | Illustration by Yeong Hao Han
Spending this much on basic lands may seem silly from a budget point of view, but I’ve also seen people spent several thousand dollars on a single commander, so… maybe I’m the one who’s wrong. It’s the last bit of bling that you can add to a deck before calling something perfect. At the very least I hope to have given those who have cash burning holes in your pockets something to dream about.
If you want to share any thoughts on this list or any cards you think we’ve missed, we welcome them in our Discord or in the comments below.
Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to make a purchase, you’ll help Draftsim continue to provide awesome free articles and apps.