Card: Castle Ardenvale | Art: Volkan Baga

EDH101: Best Utility Lands for Commander

EDH101: Best Utility Lands for Commander

Most EDH decks run somewhere from 30 to 40 or so lands. While many folks will simply include a smattering of basics, a handful of dual lands, and maybe some fetches if they have them, there is another facet to lands in EDH. Utility lands are another place where you can bring individuality and spice to your decks.

Today, we’re looking at some of the best utility lands for Commander!

What Is a Utility Land in Commander?

For the purposes of this article, I will define a utility land as “a land that provides functionality outside of producing mana and mana fixing.” This basically excludes fetch lands, or things like Cabal Coffers, and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth.

The goal here is to do something unique.

These can be incredibly powerful lands that are hard to interact with. Many players don’t run removal for lands at all. At low power levels, utility lands let us get away with murder!

How Many Utility Lands Should I Play in My Commander Deck?

I would argue most 35-40 land decks have around five to ten slots where they can get creative and include utility lands. This number may vary, however. You may have room to run more utility lands if:

  • You are playing a one or two-color deck
  • Your deck is a “lands matter” strategy
  • Your deck does not care about colored mana as much
  • You are a deck that uses Rampant Growth style effects to reliably enable your color fixing
  • Your utility lands of choice can produce colored mana

Conversely, if your deck relies on getting all your colors as soon as possible with little room for compromise you may want to run fewer utility lands. This is of particular relevance to four and five-color decks which may not want their hands clogged with colorless lands. In these decks consider focusing on utility lands that produce colored mana, or running five or fewer utility lands. In general, I would stick to five regardless of your deck and see how comfortable you are at that point.

Classic EDH Utility Lands

Some utility lands have earned their stripes and become staples in Commander. These cards are solid, and will likely be familiar to you. The first in this category is Reliquary Tower. It enters untapped and has a passive effect. The passive can be relevant in multiple strategies at any point in the game. This card really shines in decks that have explosive turns where you draw lots of cards. It’s simple, it’s clean, not much else to say.

Rogues Passage also comes to mind as a classic utility land. The ability to let a creature get in for damage repeatedly is invaluable. Additionally, this ability on a land makes it very hard to stop. This is a classic for anyone who likes swinging in for big damage.

Finally Bojuka Bog, many folks will be familiar with this. It is a cheap way to exile a graveyard. Graveyard strategies are huge in Commander. So a cheap low opportunity cost effect like this is ideal to have in your deck just in case. Tapping for black is a great upside too.

Eldraine Lands

Throne of Eldraine blessed us with a cycle of rare and common lands. All of these lands are mono-colored. The rare cycle enters tapped unless you control their respective land types. The commons enter tapped unless you control three of their respective land types. Additionally, the common lands all have a basic land type. This means you can search for these lands using a fetch land.

Of particular note, these lands do not specifically require basics. These cards all play really well with Shock lands and Alpha dual lands. You can view the whole land cycle with this Scryfall search, however, I am going to focus on my favorites here.

Mystic Sanctuary is the blue common of the cycle. It enters the battlefield and allows you to return an instant or sorcery from your grave to the top of your deck. I love this effect in almost any blue deck. Worst case scenario it is a value piece, at its ceiling, this card gives you access to a powerful spell again. I really like the line of play around this where you can crack a fetch land in the opponent’s end step to set up your next turn. I enjoy Witch’s Cottage, the black member of the cycle for the same reason except you get a creature. Both of these cards leaning into the graveyard is very Dimir. It’s no surprise these cards crop up so often in Commander.

In the rare cycle, I’d like to shout out Castle Embereth. It enters tapped unless you control a Mountain. For three mana and tapping it, creatures you control get +1/+0 until the end of the turn. All things considered, I like this. A deck like Krenko, Mod Boss would love this as a way to get in for extra damage on a slower turn when your hand is empty. Embereth can also be used during combat in a pinch to make things difficult for the opponent.

The white castle is also a powerful contender. Four mana to make a creature token is expensive however there is some relevance to being able to make tokens every turn and at instant speed. The token is a human, this gives it some real legs in the right deck. Castle Ardenvale has great potential. Often in Commander, you just need that one blocker so you can survive another turn. Give this one a try in your white decks. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Utility Lands as Draw Spells

Using your lands to draw cards can be an effective strategy, especially in colors that may struggle to do so. War Room and Bonders’ Enclave are excellent ways to do so in any color. Both come with their own cost. Life, or a creature with four power in play. For a once-off cheap draw effect, Cryptic Caves may be what you’re after. This one pairs well if you can recur it!

If you want a cheaper draw effect on an EDH utility land then you are going to need to share. Geier Reach Sanitarium and Mikokoro, Center of the Sea let each player draw a card (and discard with Sanitarium) for two mana. These two are staples in group hug decks. They can also work double duty if your opponent is playing a Thassa’s Oracle deck. With an empty deck and an Oracle trigger on the stack, you can force them to draw from an empty deck before the Oracle resolves. This can cheat you a win from the draws of defeat!

Hasty Utility Lands

One of the most powerful abilities on lands is granting haste. There is only a small number of examples. Hanweir Battlements is the example I find included in most of my decks. It enters untapped and taps for colorless mana. It grants haste for a single red mana and tapping the Battlements itself. It also Melds with the “Hanweir Garrison” to form a big Eldrazi. Funnily enough, the Garrison is a fine card on its own making this Meld combo surprisingly possible in the right deck.

Hall of the Bandit Lord has the most universal appeal as it can be played in any deck. Additionally, as haste is granted as part of a mana ability it is incredibly difficult for anyone to come up with an answer. Entering tapped is a real downside. However, once this land is in play and untapped it is a constant threat.

Flamekin Village has the unusual clause of entering tapped unless you reveal an Elemental from your hand. Besides that, it enables haste in the same way as Hanweir Battlements. Flamekin Village also taps for a red itself making it less of a liability to your colors. Naturally, this card is awesome in an elemental deck however the low cost to enable haste makes this a worthwhile choice in any red deck.

NEO Channel Lands

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty brought with it a fantastic cycle of lands. All of them are playable in their own right. Each one is a legendary that enters untapped. They have an activated ability where you discard it from your hand for a powerful effect. The effect also costs one less for each legendary creature you control. These cards would all be playable even without the cost reduction. As these are abilities, not spells, they are incredibly hard to counter. Keep in mind as we go through that these are all essentially uncounterable abilities.

Boseiju, Who Endures is the most powerful of the bunch in most people’s eyes. For two mana You can destroy an artifact, enchantment, or nonbasic land. The opponent then may search for a card with a basic land type and put it into play. While the opponent can search for a dual land here I still think the upside is amazing. This card can shine in any deck with green. As with all of the Channel lands there is such a low cost to playing it that it is well worth the include.

The blue member of the cycle is similar in nature. Instead of destroying it can bounce an artifact, creature, enchantment or planeswalker. This card has been seeing play in cEDH along with Boseiju and it’s clear to see why!

The remaining three are powerful but have been seeing less play than their blue and green counterparts. White can deal four damage to an attacking or blocking creature. Black can mill three cards and return a creature or planeswalker to your hand. Finally, red can create two 1/1 spirits with haste.

All of these effects are incredibly powerful and versatile. The blue and green members of the cycle are the most expensive of the bunch. The other three are quite affordable, and I would encourage you to give them a try!

Utility Land, Meet Land Destruction

Land destruction is a boogieman to some in EDH. I believe it is essential, and not something to be feared. As you have seen through some of our previous examples there are powerful lands in Commander. Some of these lands are so powerful because we know our opponents cannot deal with them. That is where land destruction comes in. We cannot let our opponents get away with these powerful effects for nothing. Strip Mine and Wasteland are the two best in class for this effect.

In a more budget-conscious realm, Tectonic Edge, Ghost Quarter, and Demolition Field are fantastic options. These effects are great for EDH. Tectonic Edge prevents you from steamrolling your opponents thanks to the four or more lands clause. Meanwhile, Demolition Field and Ghost Quarter allow the opponent to search their deck for a basic as compensation. This makes these lands ideal for cutting people off from a powerful effect rather than cutting them off mana. These are a very fair rendition of land destruction. I would highly encourage playing some of these effects, especially if you notice your opponents are playing powerful lands.

Modal Double Faced Cards (MDFC) As Utility Lands

As of this article, MDFCs are still in their infancy having only seen print in a small handful of sets. The greatest variety comes from Zendikar Rising. These cards are essentially two cards in one. You can play them for their front or back side by paying their respective mana costs.

Many MDFCs are non-lands on one side, and lands on the other. All of these cards are mono-colored, with the same color identity on both sides. The rares and lower cards all feature lands that enter tapped. The mythic rarity cards enter tapped unless you pay three life when they enter.

These cards are incredibly versatile, acting as a land drop when you need it or a spell most other times. MDFCs are arguably their own category of land. Regardless, I’ll still use this as a chance to shout out some favorites.

Blue has great offerings here. Glasspool Mimic is a simple clone effect at a good rate. This is a solid option. It is one mana less than the original Clone. The only discrepancy is Clone can target any creature while Glasspool Mimic can only target creatures you control. I think this is a worthy downside for the flexibility the land offers.

Malakir Rebirth is a solid offering in black. For one mana the next time a target creature would die that turn, it is returned to the battlefield. At one mana, this is a steal for this kind of effect. As before the land side is just gravy on top.

One more MDFC to call out is Valakut Awakening. For three mana at instant speed, you put any number of cards from your hand onto the bottom of your library then draw that many cards plus one. This card treads the line of a wheel effect very well. On the downside, you are not discarding the cards. However, that’s where the downsides end. You can choose how many cards you lose from your hand. You can pitch six cards and keep one card. Maybe you’re digging for a combo piece, or holding onto that valuable removal spell. I love this card in any red deck that wants a wheel but doesn’t really care where the cards go.

In general MDFCs are a great include. Their versatility is fantastic and in some cases, the flexibility doesn’t come at much of a cost. You can find MDFCs on Scryfall by searching “is:MDFC” or check out this link.


I am not sure where exactly these cards fit in. Broadly speaking these are lands that have such bonkers effects they could be considered unfair. These are lands that are in some cases unstoppable if your opponent does not have land destruction. These cards are (in)famous in some circles for their power.

First up is Tabernacle. When I saw this card I was in a daze. While this land does not tap for mana, it has a cruel effect. Every turn, pay one mana for every creature you control or that creature dies. In many decks, this is a board wipe on a land. This card is about $4,000 in paper, but on Magic Online it can be picked up for around $2-$5. If you would like to witness the absolute misery this card can cause I highly suggest trying it out there. Just don’t be too surprised if people drop from your game the second it’s played.

Bazaar of Bagdad also comes from a bygone era of really weird lands. This is a classic card that was widely regarded as awful back in the day. This land produces no mana, and taps to let you draw two cards and then discard three cards. Those of you familiar with dredge are aware of the power of Bazaar. The key here is that discard. It is incredibly powerful to discard some key pieces especially spells with dredge and Hollow One strategy in Vintage. This card is a house in Commander too especially in self-mill and reanimator decks. Once again the cost is somewhat prohibitive in paper, but in Magic Online you can get a whole playset of Bazaar for $2! This card is powerful and hopefully won’t draw the same ire as the aforementioned Tabernacle.

This card has been seeing a lot of play in 60-card formats and for good reason. This is a land, enchantment with the subtypes “Urza’s” and “Saga.” Turn one, this is a land that taps for a colorless. Turn two you can pay two and tap it to create a 0/0 that gets +1/+1 for each artifact you control. Finally, turn three you can search your deck for a zero or one-cost artifact and put it in play. Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, Jeweled Lotus, take your pick. Commander is full of powerful low-cost artifacts. This is a bizarre card with some powerful effects. It has shown its stripes in 60 cards, and if you have a spare, it deserves a shot in Commander too!

To round out this list let me show you one more cycle of lands. These are not good cards. I would challenge anyone to find an effective use for these cards. From all the way back in Legends these cards do not tap for mana. They all grant your legendary creatures of their respective color bands with other legends. I don’t know what to say about these. I simply adore their existence, as horrible as it is. Please by all means give these a try in your legendary tribal decks, I guess? And hey, because why not, let’s also throw in Tolaria so you can counterplay play against any other maniac who plays with banding!


That was a lot of lands! The best part is we aren’t even done. There are so many lands with weird and wonderful unique effects it would be impossible to cover it all in one piece. Below I have links to some of the Scryfall searches I used throughout this article. Feel free to take them and make changes to find some awesome lands for your next deck!

We definitely missed some great lands so let us know in the comments what lands we should look at in more depth next time!

References & Searches

In writing this article I looked at a lot of lands. It would be unreasonable to cover all of them in detail here. Below are the Scryfall searches and links for those with too much time on their hands.

Search for something that is not a dual land: type:land -oracle:/{t}: add .* or .*/ format:edh. This will return all lands legal in Commander that do not have the text “tap for something or something.” This is a very broad search. It will also miss out on some cards like the Strixhaven dual lands that can scry one. However, I have found very few dual lands have meaningfully interesting abilities that I wanted to discuss. Usually, they are bland mana sinks designed for Limited.

Search by oracle tag: oracletag:utility-land. This will return all cards that have been tagged with “utility-land” by Scryfall users. This may be imperfect as it is a community effort.

If you want to make your own searches I’d suggest taking one of the above queries and adding oracle:’YOUR SEARCH HERE’ to find lands that fill your niche. For instance, type:land -oracle:/{t}: add .* or .*/ format:edh oracle:”lifelink” finds all lands that have the word lifelink

If you want to know more, check out our in-depth look at Scryfall searches and how to use them.

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