Lands will provide you with one of the most basic resources in the game - mana. Without mana, you cannot pay for any of your spells, so having lands in your deck is almost always necessary in order to play the game. Once you play a land, it becomes a permanent, and it remains on the battlefield to be used once per turn.

In order to get mana, you will tap your lands, which means to turn them sideways. Typically, tapping a land will add one mana to your mana pool, unless the land card specifies otherwise. Once the land is tapped, it cannot be used again until you untap it, usually at the beginning of your next turn.

Some cards have the basic supertype. These are known as basic lands. All other lands are non-basic lands.

Basic lands

Basic lands will always have the word "basic" printed on the type line of the card. They will also have exactly one of the basic land types: Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest (or none, in the case of Wastes).

Basic land types have special rules: they automatically give the card they're printed on the mana ability of the appropriate kind, although that ability is typically not printed out.

  • Plains have "Tap.gif: Add Manaw.gif."
  • Islands have "Tap.gif: Add Manau.gif."
  • Swamps have "Tap.gif: Add Manab.gif."
  • Mountains have "Tap.gif: Add Manar.gif."
  • Forests have "Tap.gif: Add Manag.gif."

When building your deck, there is no limit to the number of basic lands you may include.

Changing the type of a land to a basic land type will remove all abilities from that land, and grant it the appropriate mana ability for the new land type. See type-changing effects for more information about this.

Non-basic lands

Any land that does not have the basic supertype printed on it is a non-basic land. These lands can still have a basic land type, but this does not make them basic lands.

Example. Hallowed Fountain doesn't have the basic supertype, which means it's a non-basic land: you can only have four in your constructed deck, it's affected by Blood Moon and so on. However, it does have two basic land types: it's both a Plains and an Island. Because of this, you can tap it for either Manaw.gif or Manau.gif, you can fetch it with Polluted Delta or Windswept Heath, and is counted by Armored Ascension and Flow of Ideas.

Non-basic lands do not tap for mana unless the text in their text box specifies that they do, or unless they have a basic land type. They may also have other abilities besides mana abilities.

Playing lands

Playing lands is a special action and cannot be responded to. There are further restrictions on playing lands:

  • Normally, you may only play one land per turn. However, continuous effects may increase this number. If an ability allows you to play more than one land per turn, compare the total number of lands you are allowed to play with the total you have already played to determine if you have fulfilled all your land drops for that turn.
  • You may only play a land during a main phase of your own turn, while the stack is empty. If you are somehow able to play lands at a different time,[1] you may be able to play them during other phases of your turn or while the stack is not empty, but you will NOT be allowed to play them during another player's turn.

If an object is both a land and another card type, it can only be played as a land. It cannot be cast as a spell. Lands can never be cast. If a spell or ability allows you to cast a card, you may not play a land card using that ability.

Example. Nightveil Specter and Daxos of Meletis look like they have the same ability, but if we look closer, we'll see that the Specter allows us to play the exiled card (which means we can play it if it's a land card or cast it if it's a non-land card), whereas Daxos instructs us to cast the exiled card, which means that we can only use it to steal spells, not lands.

Spells and abilities that instruct you to "put a land onto the battlefield" do not count towards your total number of land drops per turn, and do not follow the restrictions on "playing" a land.

  1. For example with a combination of Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and Dryad Arbor, or thanks to Djinn of Wishes