Wallet Warriors: 5 Color Budget Mana Base
Welcome back Wallet Warriors! Today we’re going somewhere over the rainbow because we’re building a 5 color mana base on a budget!
Needing all 5 colors always feels like a big ask since traditionally the best mana bases consist of the Onslaught and Zendikar fetch lands such as Scalding Tarn combined with either the Ravnica shocklands such as Steam Vents or the original dual lands such as Volcanic Island.
These lands carry some pretty hefty price tags since they’re used in basically every format they are legal in but don’t worry, we won’t need any of them where we’re going. The mana base I’ve built here will cost you less than $40 right now!
In this article I will be going over my land choices as well as going over some lands that I feel are a bit overrated. Before I dive in I want to remind you all that this list is not designed for a competitive playgroup. This is a mana base primarily for the players among you who may be starting out in the format or have a bit of experience under your belt but not a huge collection. This list will allow you to cast your spells but to do this we have to sacrifice some speed.
By speed I’m talking about lands that come into play tapped. Let’s talk a bit about those.
How Many Tapped Lands is Too Many?
This is the perpetual fight when building mana bases on a budget, how many lands can you afford to enter the battlefield tapped? The more tapped lands you have, the more consistent your mana will be, however this comes at the cost of occasionally not getting to cast your spells as early as you’d like.
The answer generally depends on the power level of your meta but if you are looking to build mana bases without fetches, shocks or original duals then your meta is probably slow enough to allow for a steady trot out of the gate rather than a full on gallop.
For the average playgroup using decks somewhere between casual level and competitive you can get by with 8-10 tapped lands. Obviously the fewer you have, the better, but in my opinion it’s better to get all your colors of mana and sometimes cast a few spells a turn late than not at all.
Now I’m going to move onto a land cycle that is often overlooked but can be very useful in the right mana base, the Mirage Fetchlands.
Mirage Fetchlands and Why They Didn’t Make the Cut
These are great budget alternatives to the previously mentioned fetchlands but they come with a few issues which is why I do not have them in my 5 color mana base. I want to go over their strengths and weaknesses so you can decide whether to include them or not.
The first issue is that they enter the battlefield tapped, that’s why they are referred to as “Slow Fetches” and it is the reason they see infinitely less play than the other fetches but as I mentioned earlier if you keep an eye on how many of your lands enter tapped you can work these in.
The second problem is that the cycle does not expand beyond the allied color pairs. This is more of an inconvenience than a problem since the strength of fetchlands is that they can find more colors than are written in their text box when used with dual lands that have basic land types.
The third hurdle is the reason I did not include these lands in my 5 color mana base. There are no cheap fetchable dual lands in the enemy color pairs. To allow all the slow fetches to be able to find any color of mana you need at least three enemy color fetchable lands. The only ones are the shocklands and original dual lands (and technically Murmuring Bosk although it will also come into play tapped unless you have a lot of treefolk). This means if you already own a few shocklands with the right types but don’t want to splurge on untapped fetches, the slow fetches can do some work.
Now let’s look at the lands that made it onto the list and then I will give my reasoning for them.
The Mana Base
Here is the link to the list on Tappedout:
Untapped 5 Color Lands
Command Tower is obviously the best land in our deck and the rest of the cards here are simply trying their best to reach that high bar.
Exotic Orchard gets the closest to Command Tower since in a typical four player game it will tap for 4 to 5 colors.
Forbidden Orchard will always tap for all 5 colors but requires us to give an opponent a small creature in exchange. This is almost always a downside however keep in mind that people love receiving gifts and even small showings of good faith can foster alliances.
Aether Hub typically only taps for colored mana once but even that can be very useful. There are plenty of situations where you are able to cast most of the spells in your hand save for one or two. Aether Hub gives you that one shot of colored mana to throw down the hardest spell to cast in your hand.
Mirrodin’s Core is similar to a tapped land in that if you are leaning on it for your colored mana it will take it’s time however the ability to tap for colorless mana as soon as it comes in gives it enough utility to warrant a spot.
Tapped 5 Color Lands
We have a total of ten lands that enter tapped in this list so the five vivid lands take up half of those slots. The vivid lands act similarly to Aether Hub in that they provide any color of mana for a limited amount of time. The vivids have the benefit of coming with two charge counters each and can tap for a single color once the counters are used up. With that much utility we’re not that upset that they enter tapped.
Path of Ancestry is a new land that is essentially a Command Tower that enters tapped and provides a bit of extra value when you cast your commander or a lot of value if you happen to be following a tribal theme.
Then we have Evolving Wilds and the functional equivalent Terramorphic Expanse. These are great mana fixers that also get basic lands which will be relevant for the next section.
Battle Lands and Fetching for Basics
The set of dual lands we’ve got here are leftovers from my original build with the slow fetchlands. The Battle for Zendikar lands enter tapped unless you control at least two basics and they also have basic land types. We can’t use the fact that these have basic land types to their full potential but even ignoring that fact they are just solid dual lands that are very inexpensive.
To accompany the battle lands we have a series of lands that search up basics. A cycle of lands that are great on a budget are the Shards of Alara Panoramas. We are running all five since they enter untapped and can tap for colorless mana then just need a small mana investment to find a basic aligned with their respective shard. Ash Barrens is a singleton card that is similar to the panoramas but rather than cracking it once it's in play you have to discard it to get the basic.
The Other Lands
Krosan Verge is the only land we have that can fetch out the battle lands. Krosan Verge is great since it ramps you while also fixing your mana. With just the battle lands Krosan Verge can get you green, white, blue or red mana. This is why we have Murmuring Bosk in the deck. It gives the verge a way to find black mana and by itself is essentially a land that enters tapped (unless you happen to be playing Treefolk) and taps for three colors of mana which is not embarrassing.
Lastly we’ve got Reflecting Pool. This is a land i’ve gone back and forth on since it doesn’t get you colors you don’t already have. This means it only helps when you want two or more of one color in a turn. I included it here because this can be very useful. Often in commander your powerful spells will have double or triple color requirements and when you have the pool next to a vivid land you will be happy about it.
Look at that, we’re out of time already. I could probably write about mana base construction forever. In a singleton format it can be really tough to find the perfect non-basics you want to include but it’s always a matter of fine tuning.
I hope this helped show that you don’t need a million bucks to build a 5 color mana base!
See you all next time! Cheers!