Ondu Inversion | Illustration by James Paick
How many basics should you be running? Tough question.
It gets even tougher in a monocolor deck. We should think extra hard if a tapland is worth it, but there are a few specialty lands that always or might come into play tapped that might be worth it.
But in a white deck, where catch-up ramp like Land Tax often will look for basic lands in your deck, even if the nonbasic lands comes into play untapped, it might still be all right. And if you’re running a white weenie strategy, lands that tap for colorless can get you stuck when most of your creatures just cost white pips.
So, what makes the cut for brewers using white in multicolor decks, and what makes the cut for monocolor? Let’s explore the best white lands in MTG. We’ll follow that with a few quick lists of lands that tap for colorless that synergize with typical monowhite strategies for the monocolor brewers out there.
What Are White Lands in MTG?
Memorial to Glory | Illustration by James Paick
Lands don’t really have a color in traditional MTG. But in Commander, a card’s color identity is determined by the colors of pips on the cards, which restricts lands to the color identity of the deck’s commander. So “white” lands are just lands with colored pips.
We’re going to include double-faced land cards in this list, as they’re such flexible value, especially in a 99-card format. Even though Goblin Charbelcher doesn’t see them as lands, most EDH deckbuilders put these in land slots.
Before we get to the list, a quick shoutout to Karakas, a land that’s so busted in a format with legendary commanders that it’s been banned in the format since 2008.
And another shoutout to the fetch lands like Flooded Strand, which can pull up two of the lands on this list, Idyllic Grange and Mistveil Plains, in addition to shocks and Triomes.
#27. Forbidding Watchtower
Forbidding Watchtower is mostly nonsense. This is what a tapland not being worth it looks like. However, if you’re running a butts deck like Baldin, Century Herdmaster, maybe this is what you’re looking for?
#26. Kabira Crossroads
Another tapland I hate to run, but sometimes you just have to have as many sweet lifegain triggers as you can get, so if that’s you, meet up at Kabira Crossroads.
#25. Memorial to Glory
Yet another tapland I hate to run! Memorial to Glory has a home in some tokens builds. But without a clear synergy, do not use.
#24. Daru Encampment
As soldiers get more support and folks run them in Azorius () and even Bant () colors, Daru Encampment tapping for colorless becomes more of a burden. And its buff is pretty low impact. But it’s at instant speed and can make combat math ever tricky for opponents. So this could be worth it.
#23. Flagstones of Trokair
Flagstones of Trokair is another “why not?” kind of land. If you’re doing land sac loops with Yomiji, Who Bars the Way or Life from the Loam, you kind of need this. Some legendary-matters decks like Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful also like this card. Otherwise, it’ll be pretty low impact.
#22. Desert of the True + Drifting Meadow + Secluded Steppe
I used to obsess about flooding in EDH and ran cycling lands in any deck I could. But as my Commander games get more tense and end earlier, and as white has gotten better card draw, I rarely play these now. I still run Drifting Meadow and Secluded Steppe in my cycling decks, and Desert of the True is a must-have in Hazezon, Shaper of Sand.
Otherwise, I think cycling lands for flood mitigation are so 2013. And this is why The Fair Basilica doesn’t make the cut. It comes into play tapped and only then can you cycle it away for two mana. No thanks.
#21. Makindi Stampede / Makindi Mesas
The least-played Zendikar Rising MDFC, Makindi Mesas coming into play tapped doesn’t seem worth the value of Makindi Stampede. But in a white deck that goes wide, this is a good card. You’ll sometimes cry on turn 6 when you topdeck this, but it will also win you the game here and there.
#20. Idyllic Grange
In a Plains-heavy monowhite deck, Idyllic Grange will almost always come into play untapped, so it’ll be upside over a basic Plains. In multicolor decks, stay away!
#19. Eiganjo Castle
Eiganjo Castle has a pretty low-impact ability. But if you’ve got one lying around, there isn’t much downside to include one.
#18. Kor Haven
How good is stopping voltron commander damage? Amazing when Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh is coming in for lethal on turn four. Otherwise, I can imagine the colorless mana Kor Haven provides to be too burdensome for a fast deck. You know your play groups. Pack this as needed.
#17. Cave of the Frost Dragon
One of the least efficient of the D&D: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms creature lands, Cave of the Frost Dragon is still a welcome presence because of the flying. And tapping for white makes it a lot cleaners than classic creature lands like Mishra's Factory.
#16. Blighted Steppe
Blighted Steppe has a really powerful effect in a lifegain deck, and lifegain is one of the most popular things to do with white in Commander.
#15. Cathedral of Serra
Banding is broken. It’s confusing, which is the primary reason we don’t see it anymore, but it’s also just busted, speaking as someone who played with it a lot back in the day. When you band creatures together in combat, you get to decide how your opponent’s damage is allocated, which usually means, worst-case scenario, you only lose one creature in the band. Cathedral of Serra gives your white legends banding. That’s amazing in a deck with legends, a subtheme which usually includes a lot of white, and even in monowhite so many legends are being printed these days that you can veritably stuff your deck with them.
The downside? This land doesn’t tap for mana. So be careful!
#14. Mistveil Plains
A tapland, yes, but Mistveil Plains is a combo/synergy piece with all sorts of commanders, including Quintorius, Field Historian and Djeru, With Eyes Open among others.
#13. Windbrisk Heights
If you build your deck correctly, Windbrisk Heights can really slam. But if you don’t have a lot of expensive stuff to find with it in your huge Commander deck, then coming into play tapped is just not worth it to find your Spirited Companion or whatever.
#12. Kabira Takedown / Kabira Plateau
Removal that’s also a land is great. We can forgive Kabira Takedown // Kabira Plateau for coming in tapped because of that.
#11. Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire
All the channel lands from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty are excellent. Channeled effects can only be countered by Stifle effects, which really helps. And Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire has saved many people many times across formats.
#10. Ancient Den
Artifact lands like Ancient Den are worth the risk of a Vandalblast in most artifact-centric decks, regardless of color, but in the monowhite Oswald Fiddlebender decks, this starts the Birthing Pod-style chain.
#9. Castle Ardenvale
A classic for control decks across formats slow enough to get it going, making a token to block an attack on a planeswalker is the key function of Castle Ardenvale. In Commander, this is a less useful tool, as superfriends decks don’t often operate heavily at instant speed. But it’s good in tokens decks. So, if you’re brewing around Mondrak, Glory Dominus, of course you want this.
#8. Kjeldoran Outpost
Having to sac a land stinks, but dropping a token for half of the Outpost’s cost is huge. Plus, Kjeldoran Outpost makes soldiers, which is usually a more relevant creature type. If you want tokens in a low-curve deck that doesn’t care so much about the anti-ramp, this kind of expensive card does work.
#7. Legion’s Landing / Adanto, the First Fort
This is a wicked turn one play, sure, but Legion's Landing is still a nice topdeck in many decks and can often just slip into Adanto, the First Fort the turn it comes down. Lots of value here.
#6. Sejiri Shelter / Sejiri Glacier
Sejiri Shelter can save something, sure. But in a deck like voltron or poison, where you really need a creature turned sideways to connect, being able to have the protection is really valuable. Valuable enough to be okay when Sejiri Shelter has to come out tapped.
#5. Emeria, the Sky Ruin
This is how you know when a tapland is worth it. Enough basic Plains in your deck and Emeria, the Sky Ruin is just a reanimation station!
#4. Hall of Heliod’s Generosity
Totally cracked, especially with the number of enchantress decks running around. Hall of Heliod's Generosity isn’t exactly cheap, though.
#3. Serra’s Sanctum
Total nonsense in those same enchantress decks. There’s a reason Serra's Sanctum costs almost $300! Maybe the best card on the list, but not as useful for all decks the way our next cards are.
#2. Emeria’s Call / Emeria, Shattered Skyclave
Emeria's Call is kind of perfect for Commander. You can probably afford the three life if you really need Emeria, Shattered Skyclave to go down untapped. Like all MDFCs it provides anti-flood value late game, and it’s a big spell for decks that recur spells from the graveyard.
#1. Ondu Inversion / Ondu Skyruins
This is a must-include in every white deck, and perhaps every two-color deck with white, in my opinion. The cost of Ondu Skyruins coming in tapped is real, sure. But being able to wrath everything, including the planeswalkers that Farewell misses, is huge. Ondu Inversion takes care of the lot. And sometimes you’re going wide and you don’t want it. But when you need it, you need it.
Best White Land Payoffs and Synergies
These are really the typical things white or primarily white decks want to do. In each of these payoffs, we’re going to list as few key totally colorless lands that might fit the theme if you can afford a few lands without pips.
Most of these kinds of decks in EDH are Selesnya (), and that makes some of these taplands harder on the manabase, but more folks are building out monowhite tokens decks with commanders like Adeline, Resplendent Cathar and Mondrak, Glory Dominus, which can dip a bit deeper into these wells. Cards on our list that make tokens, drop counters or buffs, or offer protection are key here.
A few colorless lands that help are Karn's Bastion, Nesting Grounds, and Urza's Saga.
Classic Azorius control wants to make some tokens at instant speed from lands for defense when a counterspell doesn’t pop and to help recover from your plentiful board wipes. And we’ve got quite a few lands here that do that. There’s also colorless options in:
- Blinkmoth Nexus
- Crawling Barrens
- Faceless Haven
- Inkmoth Nexus
- Mishra's Factory
- Mishra's Foundry
- Mobilized District
Whether Sram, Senior Edificer or a more focused aura or equipment commander, plenty of these cards are good includes. A few colorless options to consider:
- Bonders' Enclave
- Buried Ruin
- Inventors' Fair
- Nesting Grounds
- Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
- Plaza of Heroes
- Tyrite Sanctum
With angels or without, this is a classic. It feels like letting the kids from the 90s who first wanted to play Healing Salve and Stream of Life go off with their synergies. In addition to some of the cards we’ve already noted, a few colorless options are:
Sejiri Glacier | Illustration by Darek Zabrocki
One more shoutout before we conclude, to colorless lands that can draw cards, which is always good in white: Arch of Orazca and War Room.
A lot of these cards are pretty reasonably priced because they only fit in a few decks. And you also may not have heard of some of these until today, which shows how obscure a few of them are for that reason. So if you’ve got a pet deck that runs a lot of white looking for some flexible upgrades, consider some of the cards we’ve discussed here.
What do you think? What are your favorite white nonbasic lands? Let us know in the comments below, or over in the Draftsim Discord.
That’s all from me for now. Stay safe, stay healthy, and wash your hands!
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