Over the last few months, The EPIC Storm has seen a radical shift in many of its card choices. One of the things that remained relatively constant, however, were the lands played in the deck. For the most part, this was not an oversight as likely the most hours went into thinking about the manabase. A few of the things that were noticed early on, such as [[Chrome Mox]] almost never making black mana, created a desire for a very black heavy manabase. Basic [[Swamp]] was an important inclusion to play a turn one [[Wishclaw Talisman]] without having to worry about [[Wasteland]]. Other sets of fetches, duals, and basics were proposed, but discarded for various reasons. As the metagame has shifted and the team’s experience with how the deck wants to play has grown, basic [[Swamp]]’s importance has decreased significantly.

Fetchables and Fetch lands

[[Polluted Delta|]]

The set of 10 fetch lands may be the most powerful cycle of color fixing lands in the history of Magic. People often say that mana in Legacy is “perfect” due to the ability to play fetch lands, dual lands, and basic lands. I would disagree with this statement in that these lands only provide easy access to two and three color strategies. When stretching to four colors, the manabase has to make sacrifices in terms of consistency and weakness to [[Wasteland]]. To bring this into focus, when The EPIC Storm was playing three colors, it was able to play a basic [[Island]] and a basic [[Swamp]] with six fetch lands to find each of them. In the four color version, the basic land determines what all of the dual lands and fetch lands must be. This is a function of playing [[Echo of Eons]] as a secondary engine. [[Echo of Eons]] has so much inbuilt variance that deck building steps were needed to help mitigate that. One of these steps was making sure that all eight fetch lands were functionally identical. This helps with the play pattern of fetching after [[Echo of Eons]] has resoled to make sure that all colors are available.

Having all of the fetch lands in the deck be functionally identical places some pretty severe limitations on the deck building. Assuming that there is one basic land in the deck, this leaves two reasonable manabase: (Basic [[Mountain]] and [[Forest]] are nowhere close to what the deck wants to be doing)

Swamp Manabase
  • 4 [[Polluted Delta]]
  • 4 [[Bloodstained Mire]]
  • 1 [[Underground Sea]]
  • 1 [[Volcanic Island]]
  • 1 [[Badlands]]
  • 1 [[Bayou]]
  • 1 [[Swamp]]
Island Manabase
  • 4 [[Polluted Delta]]
  • 4 [[Scalding Tarn]]
  • 1 [[Underground Sea]]
  • 1 [[Volcanic Island]]
  • 1 [[Badlands]]
  • 1 [[Tropical Island]]
  • 1 [[Island]]

The biggest difference between these two mana bases is the blue and black sources. With basic [[Swamp]], there are four black sources and with basic [[Island]], it becomes four blue sources. The [[Island]] manabase has been something that has been considered since the overhaul, but [[Swamp]] and the quantity of available black sources have always been considered to be the more important.

Play Patterns

[[Veil of Summer|]]

When designing the manabase, the play patterns of the deck are important to consider. In the past, [[Underground Sea]] was considered to be the best land in the deck because of its ability to cast a turn one cantrip and then a turn two discard spell or vice versa, especially with [[Brainstorm]]. Since the removal of the discard spells from the deck, this pattern is non-existent. Currently, ignoring cases where the deck goes off, the available options for turn one plays are a cantrip, [[Wishclaw Talisman]], [[Defense Grid]] or holding up [[Veil of Summer]]. When playing [[Bayou]] having one land available, it can be awkward to cast [[Veil of Summer]] to counter a discard spell while having [[Brainstorm]] in hand. The land that facilitates this pattern is [[Tropical Island]], but that means cutting basic [[Swamp]] for [[Island]].

Given that the most common play on turn one is just [[Ponder]], basic [[Island]] does make some sense despite it having a severe limitation that it does not provide any combo colors. This can slow down the combo turn as against many blue decks, needing black, red, and green mana is not uncommon. In a perfect world, the fetchables would be [[Underground Sea]], [[Volcanic Island]], [[Badlands]], [[Tropical Island]], and [[Swamp]]. The issue is that there are not two fetch lands that each find all of these lands. This would make all of the fetch lands non identical, making [[Echo of Eons]] worse.

A Changing Metagame

[[Hope of Ghirapur|]]
[[Xantid Swarm|]]

One of the decks that has entered the metagame by force since the release of Theros: Beyond Death is the Jeskai Underworld Breach Deck. Playing a combination of counter magic, [[Silence]] effects, and a combo that rivals the speed of The EPIC Storm, it has become one of the worst matchups. [[Silence]] in particular is a very hard card to play around. The only tool that was in the deck to combat it was [[Defense Grid]], but that often meant attempting to play a longer game, something Jeskai Breach did not give time to do. One of the solutions that has been tested to some success is the return of [[Xantid Swarm]]. Note that this is exactly [[Xantid Swarm]] and not [[Hope of Ghirapur]]. While [[Hope of Ghirapur]] can act as a time walk in certain matchups, it does not interact with the card [[Silence]] very well. Combined with Miracles’s widespread adoption of [[Ice-Fang Coatl]], the value of [[Hope of Ghirapur]] has drastically fallen. [[Xantid Swarm]], on the other hand, beats both of those cards handily.

[[Xantid Swarm]] adds an additional reason to want green mana on turn one with the ability to cast blue spells on following turns. With this change in some of the sideboard cards, [[Tropical Island]] and basic [[Island]] have become what the deck wants to play.