KTK: Manafixing

Khans of Tarkir has more multicolor lands than most Limited environments. In a recent draft, I was in Sultai (U/G/B) and was taking manafixing relatively high once I’d determined my colors. By the end of the second pack, I had 7 multicolor lands that were in color (Polluted Delta, 2 Dismal Backwater, 2 Thornwood Falls, Opulent Palace, Sandsteppe Citadel) as well as 2 more that were not useful, so in the final pack I passed a few in-color dual lands for creatures and sideboard cards. (Admittedly, this was a very casual draft and it might have been more difficult to get quite as many multicolor lands in a more competitive draft.)

One thing that people sometimes miss is that the format has 10 dual lands and 5 tricolor Banners at common. Let’s enumerate the manafixing available in the format, by rarity:

  • Common (17): 5 allied color duals, 5 enemy color duals, 5 wedge Banners, Embodiment of Spring (U/G), Scout the Borders (green). I’m not going to count Mardu Warshrieker (red) since that only fixes your mana once and so is only useful for manafixing if you have a very light splash.
  • Uncommon (6): 5 wedge tri-lands, Seek the Horizon (green)
  • Rare (7): 5 allied color fetchlands, Rattleclaw Mystic (colorless/green), Trail of Mystery (green)

Using the expected number of cards at each rarity, we can determine that there are an average of 49 manafixing effects in an 8-person draft, or about 6 per player, so there’re plenty of manafixing effects and the difficulty is ensuring that you end up with ones that are useful for your deck.

Many of these manafixing effects are not useful unless you’re in a color combination that uses 2+ of the colors provided by the effect. Let’s take a look at how many effects are useful if you’re in a given color combination. (Dual lands are also counted in each of the wedges where they would be useful. Wedge lands are also counted in each of the 3 color pairs in which they would be useful, but wedge Banners are only counted for their wedge since they’re much less appealing if you can’t crack them for a card in the late game.)

Color combination Commons Uncommons Rares Expected number of
manafixing effects
W/U 2 1 1 6.1
U/B 2 1 1 6.1
B/R 2 1 1 6.1
R/G 3 2 2 9.8
G/W 3 2 1 9.4
W/B 3 2 0 9.0
U/R 4 2 1 11.8
B/G 3 3 0 9.9
R/W 3 2 0 9.0
G/U 5 3 1 15.1
W/R/U 4 3 2 13.1
U/G/B 6 4 2 18.8
B/W/R 4 3 1 12.7
R/U/G 6 4 2 18.8
G/B/W 5 4 1 16.0

Unsurprisingly, wedge decks have access to the most amount of manafixing (an average of 16 effects), since wedge C/E/D can make use of the dual lands for C/D, C/E, and D/E as well as the Banners, all of which are commons. Enemy color decks have access to the next most amount of manafixing (an average of 11 effects) since each can make use 2 of the wedge trilands whereas allied color decks (which have access to an average of 7.5 manafixing effects) only have access to 1 triland each.

Compare that to the number of multicolor cards in Khans of Tarkir. There are fewer than you might expect in a typical draft, since most of the multicolor cards in the set are uncommmon or rare. Of the 56 multicolor cards in the set, 6 are mythic, 25 are rare, 20 are uncommon, and only 5 are common, so an 8-person draft will only have an average of 41 multicolor cards, just 12% of the 336 cards in the draft. Note that this does not count cards with activated abilities in other colors and, of course, manafixing can be useful even when you only have monocolored cards from 2+ colors.

From this, it appears that it is relatively easy to draft enough manafixing in this format regardless of the colors we’re running, and so perhaps we don’t need to prioritize it as much as in previous multicolor formats. If you wait until later in the draft to pick up manafixing, you’re less likely to waste picks on off-color manafixing. However, other drafters are also more likely to be looking for manafixing at that point, so you may need to pick manafixing more highly. One possible compromise is to pick the wedge tri-lands early since each of them is useful for 3 of the wedges, 2 of the enemy color pairs, and 1 allied color pair.

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