In this Article I will be ranking the land cycles in Gladiator. This particular article will be focusing on color-fixing lands. There will be future articles focusing on other types of lands like the MDFC Lands from Zendikar Rising, and utility lands like the ones from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. These rankings are subjective, and my main hope in writing this is to teach you how to better evaluate lands by giving you an outline you can use to analyze them.
Before I actually rank the different land cycles, we need to define the criteria by which I am evaluating them. There are multiple factors that need to be considered when trying to determine the effectiveness of a fixing land, but for the purposes of this article, I will be using these standards:
- Mana production, meaning the colors of mana a land can produce.
- Whether the land enters the battlefield tapped or untapped.
- Provides an effect besides mana production. (manasink, card advantage, etc.)
- Good in multiple stages of the game. (Early, Middle, and Late)
Once I analyzed each cycle of lands, I sorted them into the following tier list:
- S Tier: These lands accomplish their functions better than all alternatives.
- A Tier: Meet most of the criteria to be an S tier land, but have slight imperfections.
- B Tier: Meet some criteria but have more consistent downsides than an A tier land.
- C Tier: Played for redundancy or for budget, and have significant downsides.
The Shocklands are a cycle of lands that have very obvious power. They are one of the best land cycles Wizards has ever printed. Their flexibility to enter untapped at the low cost of two life when you need the mana that turn, or just entering tapped when you don’t need the mana is great. Not only that, but they also have two basic land types, which help other lands like the Check lands and Eldraine Castles enter untapped. The Shocklands are the best land cycle available to you in Gladiator.
Triomes are the only lands that unconditionally produce three colors of mana all by themselves, making them rank highly in mana production. Having Cycling on the Triomes helps mitigate flooding, as by activating Cycling they replace themselves with a new (hopefully nonland) card. It may not look like much, but when it’s turn 12 and you need that action, drawing a Triome is infinitely better than drawing a basic. Overall I would say the Triomes are amazing in multicolor midrange and Control decks. Even in two color decks that can’t use the third color, they’re still a great option. Not to mention they have three basic land types on them, making other lands like the Check Lands and Castles better. Even though they always enter the battlefield tapped, they’re still in S Tier because the upsides vastly outweigh the downsides. The Triomes are one of the better dual land cycles available in Gladiator.
This one gets its own category. Fabled Passage is one of the better lands in Gladiator. On turn four being able to find any basic land you need and having it enter untapped is amazing. However, the fact it enters tapped during the first three turns hurts, particularly in two color Aggro decks. At its worst it’s Evolving Wilds, which is a passable card, but by no means an ideal one. Fabled Passage still takes S Tier because of all its subtle synergies. One of its best interactions is its synergy with Brainstorm, where its shuffle ability allows you to negate the downside of Brainstorm and fully power it up. Not to mention the sacrifice synergies with cards like Mayhem Devil and Korvold, Fae-Cursed King as well as the Landfall synergies with cards like Lotus Cobra help make this card more than the sum of its parts.
The Pathway lands are some of the best lands that Wizards has printed in recent years. Their ability to enter the battlefield untapped 100% of the time cannot be understated. One large downside to these lands is their lack of ability to produce multiple colors of mana. This makes the Pathways less ideal for decks that have more than three colors. Despite this, the Pathways are still great lands to have in your collection and can be used in almost every deck you create.
Click Card to Flip
AKR Cycling Lands
The AKR cycling lands are awesome, and if the Triomes didn’t exist I probably would’ve put them in S Tier. But since the Triomes do exist, the AKR cycling lands to me are now slightly lesser versions of the Triomes. I would pay one mana extra for the Cycling in exchange for having an extra color and basic land type on my land. The only exception to this would be in strictly two color decks, where paying one less for the cycling is always better. This isn’t an indictment on the AKR Cycling lands, but more of a testament to how good the Triomes are. One thing I will say about both the Triomes and the AKR cycling lands is that neither of them have all 10 color combinations on Arena. The Triomes are only in wedge colors, and the AKR cycling lands are ally-colored. The AKR Cycling lands are still great lands, particularly in slower Midrange and Control decks where the tapped part of the land isn’t as big of an issue. These lands are great options for any gladiator deck.
The Fast Lands are interesting. They are great in the first three turns of the game, especially if your deck has heavy color requirements early in the game (i.e. double blue on turn two for Counterspell). They become less ideal in slower Midrange and Control decks. Those decks tend to have a higher land count, which makes it more likely that you will have three other lands in play by the time you draw a Fast Land. They’re at their best in aggressive decks and tempo decks that have a low land count and cheap spells that really take advantage of having the Fast Lands enter untapped in the early game.
The Check Lands are weird for me. They have the reverse problem that Fast Lands do. In the first three turns of the game they tend to be less than ideal, requiring another land with a basic land type to enter untapped. Their downsides of not having basic land types and being subpar in the early game are very real. But after turn three, most decks are able to have Check Lands enter untapped at over 90%. And that upside of always entering untapped in the mid-late game outweighs the downsides I mentioned earlier, and for that they are in A Tier.
The new Slow Lands from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt are interesting. They are very similar to the Check Lands in that they are subpar in the early game, but excellent starting on turn three. They’re even better than the Check Lands because they always enter untapped, as opposed to most of the time. As of right of right now we only have the ally-colored cycle, which does hurt their ranking slightly. They also lack basic land types which doesn’t help either. But the Slow Lands are so solid in midrange and control decks that they deserve a high ranking.
Tapped Snow Duals
The reason why the Tapped Snow Duals are ranked so highly is because they have two basic land types on them. This is highly advantageous, as they allow the Check Lands, Eldraine Castles, and Snarls to all enter untapped. The other reason why they’re ranked this high is because there are plenty of good snow payoffs. Whether it’s Into The North, Frost Bite, or Search For Glory, there are multiple reasons why you should play the Tapped Snow Duals in your deck. However, they always enter tapped and this can hurt in the early-mid game when you’re trying to curve out. They also don’t offer much value in the late game either. Regardless, I’m still willing to put them in B tier because of all the positive qualities.
The Snarls are another land cycle that I don’t really like, and I find them to have a very awkward design in terms of gameplay. They’re like the Check lands in the sense that you need another land with a basic land type to have them come into play untapped, but with the Snarls you need the land in your hand instead of on the battlefield. In most cases the Snarls come in untapped early and tapped late. But to make them enter untapped early you usually have to hold a tap land in your hand for a later turn. This creates negative tempo and disrupts your gameplan by not having lands enter untapped. With that being said, Snarls are very good in two-color decks that are able to run more basic lands, and are a solid option for Gladiator.
Temple Scry Lands
This might be a little low for the Scry Lands, and I might be injecting a bit of my own personal bias against them into this ranking, but let me explain why I think they’re mediocre. The main gripe I have with the Scry Lands is their lack of basic types. They synergize very poorly with the Check Lands and Eldraine Castles, and this tension between lands can create awkward hands that you can’t keep. One situation where Scry Lands are good is when you are mana screwed or flooded, that way you can try to find either a land or a good spell. This impacts your mulligan decisions in a way that other lands don’t, and can allow you to keep hands you normally wouldn’t. Other than that, they operate as taplands most of the time. They are run in most decks because there aren’t that many options on Arena, as well as value targets for Golos, Tireless Pilgrim. In my opinion the Scry Lands aren’t the ideal land to run in your deck.
Tier lists are interesting because they are very subjective and open to discussion. I’m sure after reading this you have opinions on where I ranked each land cycle. Let me know with your comments what you think of my list and where you would rank these lands!
A Magic: The Gathering Player Since Original Theros. Plays all types of formats, from gladiator to historic to edh. Writer for the Gladiator Blog