Last updated on June 19, 2021
Ketria Triome | Illustration by Robbie Trevino
The key to building a great Magic deck is good mana fixing. There have been plenty of decks in Magic’s history that have had all of the pieces they need but failed because of inadequate ways to fix their mana.
There have been dozens of dual land cycles printed in the last 28 years, but ways of fixing for three colors at the same time are few and far between. It’s time to show you every single tri-land that has ever been printed in Magic. You’ll probably be familiar with some of them while others won’t be so familiar, and for good reason.
What are Tri-Lands?
If dual lands are lands that can produce two colors of mana, then tri-lands are lands that can produce three colors of mana. It can sometimes be difficult to fix your colors in a three-color deck with only dual lands at your disposal. Tri-lands can make that a lot easier. They also come in handy for fixing four and five-color mana bases, as dual lands do even less work for you in those.
Honorable Mention: The Fetch Lands
Ok, so the fetch lands are not technically tri-lands, but I don’t think it would be fair for them to not get at least a mention. Flooded Strand and co’s ability to fetch for dual lands that have basic land types has provided the backbone of competitive three-color mana bases across multiple formats for almost two decades.
The List: All of MTG’s Tri-Lands
For those who don’t know, Homelands is widely regarded as the worst Magic set of all time. It fell flat in many ways which we won’t get into right now, but these “lands” might give you a hint as to why that might be.
Can you imagine having to tap three of your lands just to be able to produce one of your three mana colors? Neither can I. These were bad in 1995 and they’re even worse now. Even Unknown Shores does a better job than these.
Fast forward five years to 2000, we have Invasion: Magic’s first ever multicolor-matters set. The Invasion block is well remembered as a fun and powerful Limited format, but the mana fixing left a little to be desired. The lack of quality dual and tri-lands is something that made Harrow one of the best commons in the format.
But it’s not all bad for these lands, as their rarity ended up becoming their greatest asset. Pauper storm decks were looking for ways to fix multiple colors while providing as much mana in just a few turns as possible. These lands were staples in Pauper mana bases until every storm spell ended up getting hit with the ban hammer.
Planeshift: The Lairs
Invasion had three triple-colored legendary dragons, so the next set in the block contained tri-lands with the “lair” subtype, which would tap for mana of each of their dragon owners’ colors. We’re still yet to see a great improvement in the quality of these lands. Presumably WotC were a little scared of printing tri-lands of a similar quality to the duals they were regularly printing.
Morningtide: Murmuring Bosk
The Magic world had to wait a whole eight years before seeing another tri-land. Lorwyn was a tribal set with each focused tribe receiving their very own tribal land. They only entered the battlefield untapped if you revealed a card of that tribe as you played it. Treefolk were spread across white, black, and green so it was only natural that their tribal land had to be, too.
In addition, the Treefolk in this block had a common theme of caring about forests, so Murmuring Bosk might as well have been a Forest too. Bosk has seen a bunch of competitive play over the years, like in the Abzan midrange deck that took both Brian Kibler and Brad Nelson to the top 8 of Pro Tour Amsterdam in 2010. Its ability to be fetched by Verdant Catacombs and Misty Rainforest made it a mainstay of the Extended format for a couple of years until it was replaced by Modern in 2011.
Shards of Alara: The First Proper Tri-lands and the Panoramas
- Arcane Sanctum
- Crumbling Necropolis
- Jungle Shrine
- Savage Lands
- Seaside Citadel
- Bant Panorama
- Esper Panorama
- Grixis Panorama
- Jund Panorama
- Naya Panorama
In the next block, WotC graced us with Shards of Alara, Magic’s third multicolor-matters block and the first to be heavily focused on three-color sets rather than the dual pairs. Having learned from the lack of mana fixing in Invasion and the abundant fixing in Ravnica: City of Guilds, WotC finally pulled the trigger on printing full tri-lands.
Arcane Sanctum and the rest of the cycle all enter the battlefield tapped but have no other downsides, unlike all of WotC’s previous attempts. These lands proved to be extremely good, being both high picks in draft and key pieces of Standard and Extended mana bases for years. The cycle of panorama lands were also added to give the shards some additional fixing for Limited at the common level.
Conspiracy: Paliano, the High City
Conspiracy was an interesting experiment: a set designed to be drafted and played in multiplayer games that had cards that altered how the draft itself worked. The set was great fun and I’d recommend picking up some of the conspiracies and other cards to add to your cube and experience them if you never got to.
Paliano, the High City is a great land with no in-game downsides other than you having little control over the colors it makes. If you’d like to try out other cards like this in your cube, I recommend Worldknit, Backup Plan, and Lore Seeker for a bit of extra spice.
Khans of Tarkir: The Other Proper Tri-lands
Shards of Alara gave us names and support for five of the ten possible 3-color combos. The remaining five had very little support by the time Khans of Tarkir rolled around in 2014. We’d had a set of Commander decks featuring format favorites like Kaalia of the Vast and The Mimeoplasm, a cycle of legendary dragons in Planar Chaos, and a few cool bits from Apocalypse.
But at this point, there’d been very little focus placed on the “wedges” as they’re affectionately known. Since Khans changed that by supporting them fully for the first time in Magic’s history, one of the first ideas locked in was finishing the tri-lands cycle that was started in Shards of Alara. These lands were also mainstays in Standard and have even continued popping up a tiny bit recently in Pioneer. They were exceptionally high picks in booster drafts and are still great choices for any Commander decks that can play them.
Hour of Devastation and Throne of Eldraine: A Couple of Outliers
Here we have a couple of strange outliers where a couple of new tri-lands were printed to help bolster some Limited archetypes. Crypt of the Eternals was printed to support the Grixis eternalize theme of Hour of Devastation. This set’s lore was based around Nicol Bolas ruling the plane of Amonkhet as a tyrannical god. You’d naturally expect a little bit of Grixis support.
However, Crypt fails to do this on so many levels. It’s straight up worse than Unknown Shores and Shimmering Grotto, cards that you’d only begrudgingly play if they were also in the set. For being worse, the upside you get is… one life when it enters the battlefield. Ok, moving on.
Tournament Grounds fairs a little better. Throne of Eldraine’s Arthurian knights theme was centered in white, black, and red, so you’d imagine Tournament Grounds would be a great land to help that theme. Unfortunately, this one also fell flat.
Although all three colors supported knight tribal, the set’s mono-color focus made it a lot easier to play knights as a 2-color deck using any two of those three colors. You often wanted about 10 or 11 Plains out of the 17 lands in your deck and this meant that it was usually too difficult to support three colors.
On top of that, the fact that your deck often played plenty of color-intensive cards that weren’t knights or equipment meant that Tournament Grounds proved to be a liability from time to time. All this being said, the 3-color decks weren’t completely unheard of and Grounds did help them out a bit.
I’d also never think of cutting Grounds if I was building a Mardu knights tribal deck in Commander, so it’s nowhere near as terrible as Crypt of the Eternals, a card barely even better than the unplayable Castle Sengir.
Ikoria: The Triomes
Finally! The Triomes are just incredible; the magnum opus of tri-lands. There’s not really much that needs to be said on this.
Tri-lands that have all three basic land types that can also be cycled in the late game is like a dream come true for greedy players like myself. They enter tapped, which is to be expected, but they do so much that it’s definitely worth it. Having basic land types makes them searchable with the fetch lands in Modern and Legacy and also makes them a great pairing with the check lands in Pioneer and Historic. It even helps you play the Eldraine Castles in Standard.
They’re powerhouses in Standard since slow fixing is perfectly acceptable anyway. They’ve also been used for fixing in a plethora of Pioneer and Modern decks including Jeskai control, Niv-to-Light, and 4-color Omnath decks. And on top of all of these great points, you also get to play with gorgeous borderless versions if you so wish.
Getting Your Hands on Tri-lands
Grixis Panorama | Illustration by Nils Hamm
Unlike many of the good dual land cycles out there, tri-lands are incredibly cheap and easy to get your hands on. First of all, the only ones that are likely worth getting if you’re building a Commander deck are the Shards/Khans cycle, which are uncommons and therefore pretty easy to get. If you’re in a wedge combination then you also get access to a Triome which might set you back $10 to $15, but this is the only tri-land that’ll cost that much.
As good as tri-lands can be, the truth is that most of them just aren’t great. Of all the ones we’ve talked about here, only the Triomes, the Shards/Khans cycle, and [/card]Murmuring Bosk[/card] are actually any good. You’re spoiled for choice and have a wide variety to choose from when it comes to duals. You can even pick ones that’ll suit your budget.
But tri-lands haven’t had much love from WotC, so you really don’t have that many options. I recently built a Naya dinosaurs Commander deck and the only tri-land that was useful was Jungle Shrine. In the end, the deck had a fairly high budget and didn’t even make the cut because we wanted the lands to enter untapped whenever possible.
At this point the Triomes are the only good tri-lands that’ll set you back a significant amount of money, and they’ve only existed for little over a year. They’ll most likely see reprints in the future but they’re still too new for that at the moment.
I for one can’t wait for WotC to finish this cycle so I can get my Jund-color Triome for Modern!
The Future of Tri-lands
Magic is 28 years old this year. Good tri-lands were only printed for the first time about 13 years ago, and their quality has greatly improved in these last few years. The Triomes in particular mark a big change in design philosophy for WotC.
It’s been clear from previous tri-lands that they believed their printing at the same quality as dual lands would be bad for Magic. This is true in some ways. The Triomes have seen a lot more play than their dual counterparts, the cycling dual lands from Amonkhet.
WotC has generally been printing a lot more dual lands in recent years. The Triomes clearly send a message that we’ll probably see more of these in the future to bolster our land bases. I’d expect to see the Triome cycle completed in the near future as well as some new variants on popular dual cycles.
Either way, the future is bright for tri-lands.
A Final Word
Arcane Sanctum | Illustration by Anthony Francisco
I’m a Magic player who absolutely loves my multicolored decks. If it’s possible to play all five in Limited, I try to find a way to make it happen. Mana fixing is an extremely important element in doing that, so I love my tri-lands. Are you excited to see more of these in the future, or do you reckon Magic has enough of them already?
I work at a local game store here in the UK and we’ve just started to open up spaces for people to play Magic again. As I say to my customers every day, let’s try to stay safe as we see Covid restrictions lifting. Take care of yourselves and I’ll see you next time!