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[MTG] Why Bounce Lands Are "Bad"


Lightning Swordsman

Why Ravnica "Bounce" Lands Are "Bad"

I understand that this article is rather late since Ravnica block is about to rotate out of Standard, but this article is aimed at players who are relatively new to the game. I first started playing about 3 weeks after Ravnica came out, with a Selesnya United preconstructed deck, and I made many of the mistakes that I'm telling you not to make in this article.

In Ravnica block, there are three 10-card cycles of lands. The uncommon lands, called "guild halls", each tap for colorless mana and have an ability requiring colored mana according to that of its guild. The rare lands are the coveted "dual lands", pay 2 life or put into play tapped. This article addresses the common cycle of lands, called the "bounce" lands. The original bounce lands, a cycle out of Visions, were nigh unplayable, coming into play tapped and requiring you to return an untapped basic land of a specific color to your hand. The bounce lands from Ravnica are definitely playable, they're just not the best lands you could use.

Reasons to use bounce lands:

1) The lands produce two mana, one of each color. They're much like the "filtration" lands from Odyssey block (1, T: add GW to your mana pool). This allows you to skimp on your land count if you wish, since you can produce more mana with fewer lands.

2) Being commons, they're great for people who are on a budget and don't want to spend over a hundred dollars on a tournament-worthy mana base.

3) Unlike the Visions bounce lands, you can return tapped lands to your hand, and the land you return can be any land. This helps circumvent the drawback of requiring the land to come into play tapped.

Reasons against using bounce lands:

1) The drawback of coming into play tapped and having to pop a land back to your hand means that, in the best case scenario, you only get to play a two-drop on turn three. In the worst case scenario, you have to pick up an untapped land, miss a drop entirely, and not have any mana open on your opponent's turn.

2) They don't count toward lands in your opening hand as far as lands you can play on turn 1. If you wind up with only bounce lands in your hand, or one basic land (or worse, dual land) in your hand and one or two bounce lands, you will probably have to mulligan.

3) If you're on the draw, second-turn bounce land is one of the worst plays you can make since you will have to discard a card unless you had a one-drop.

4) As with all lands that can produce more that one mana, in order to play certain cards, particularly ones that require double-colored mana, you may have to take mana burn. It's only one point of damage, but it adds up quickly, and it can make a difference. For instance, when Craig Jones made possibly the most spectacular topdeck in the history of competitive Magic, his opponent, Olivier Ruel, was playing four copies of Orzhov Basilica. He ran into more of them than he'd liked the last game, causing him to take several points of damage due to mana burn. That made all the difference when Craig topdecked the famous $16,000 Lightning Helix to deliver the final three points of damage and advance to the finals.

5) If someone destroys your bounce land, that's like missing two land drops. The logic behind this is you have to pop a land to your hand when the bounce land, and you don't get to draw mana from that land the turn you play it.

I'm not saying that the bounce lands are completely bad, but the mistake new players make is putting four copies of the appropriate bounce land in all their decks, maybe even more if the player is playing a three-color deck. These can be good lands, but they are not for every deck.

Aggro decks (e.g. Goblins, Boros Deck Wins, Gruul):

These extremely aggressive decks have no need for bounce lands, because the deck should be using all of its mana every turn. Gruul should be dropping a Kird Ape first turn and a Scab-Clan Mauler or Dryad Sophisticate second turn, then Burning-Tree Shaman third turn. It should always have something to do with its mana. This deck should be playing no lands that come into play tapped, just basics, pains, and duals.

Aggro-Control decks (GhaziGlare, Heartbeat)

Personally, I prefer to play Signets over bounce lands in these decks, but one or two won't hurt too badly since these are midrange decks. Just don't play more than two; I'd play one at the most.

Control decks (IzzeTron)

I'd play Signets alongside bounce lands; 3-4 Signets and 2-3 bounce lands. Try to play the bounce lands either very early or very late in the game when holding mana open for counterspells shouldn't be very relevant.

All in all, the use of bounce lands depends on how long it should take your deck to win. The slower your deck is, the more of them you should play.
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if you play right, you still get your three drop turn 3, so that argument against it is gone.

Also, some decks need the discard, its not ALWAYS bad to dump a card.

So yeah. I love these cards, they're wonderful. Get you the other color of mana you need, and no one around me plays land destruction at all (and few people (relative to the different decks played) anywhere do really), so yeah. You will encounter it somewhere I'm sure, but, most times you'll be safe from that particular threat.


Man with Many Faces
I wasnt a Fan much of the Ravnica Block at all so I didnt deal with Bounce lands because I didnt buy alot of Guildpact, Dissension, or Ravnica packs. That being said I use single color decks so I dont need one of these fancy lands. But what I dont understand and its probably from my lack of experience with them how they cause mana burn?


Lightning Swordsman
what I dont understand and its probably from my lack of experience with them how they cause mana burn?
Okay, let's say you have a Mortify in your hand that you absolutely must cast, but you only have two Orzhov Basilicas untapped. You have to tap them both, putting WWBB in your mana pool. You spend 1WB of that to cast the Mortify, leaving W or B in your mana pool. Unless you have a way to spend that mana, you're going to take a burn, and that can make a world of difference. That's one thing Sensei's Divining Top was good for; you could just look at the top three cards whenever you wanted to in order to evade mana burn.

Another example is if, say, you need to play a card that costs UU, but you only have one open Island. You'll have to tap the Island and a bounce land, taking a point of burn to play it.


Regardless, they're amazing cards. They're painless manafixing, card advantage, and incredibly versatile, at a small tempo loss, which can be either evaded or outplayed. Redudant curving (Which is by no means bad, depending on the deck), and only needing a certain amount of mana (Say, only needing 2 up for counters) easily negate the small drawback. Two examples of this, with Angelfire, the deck where bounces are most important, in my opinion, are turn 4 Wrath into turn 5 Lightning Angel, with a bounce, and turn 2 Signet into turn 3 bounceland, holding back 2 mana for Lightning Helix or Remand. Neither of these are plays I'd be unhappy to make, and neither is wholly uncommon. And both of them net me a free card. With Pickles and Solar Flare, it lets both decks reach a new level of consistency, since both of them allow of 2 lands (technically) for a single card, which lets them cut down from the otherwise 25-26 land counts by running about 3. While they do slow you down, slightly, playing them in decks which can afford it and timing them correctly go a long way to remedying that. While they still have their deficiencies even with that, the singular card quality and advantage can override that without too many problems.