Land Destruction

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Land destruction is an umbrella term for cards or deck strategies that eliminate enemy lands in an effort to deprive them of the resources they need to cast spells. Land destruction may appear on single-target removal effects or on mass removal effects that eliminate all lands simultaneously . Some decks may use land destruction effects as a key part of their strategy, to ensure their enemies never obtain enough mana to disrupt their plans.

Land destruction effects appear most commonly in red and white.

Types of Land Destruction

Pinpoint

Pinpoint land destruction is commonly used to eliminate enemy utility lands (lands that provide benefits other that just tapping for mana, such as Maze of Ith). Because enemy lands can sometimes produce extremely powerful benefits, land destruction effects are a unique method of removing those key pieces while also destabilizing enemy resources.
Examples:

Mass Land Destruction

Mass land destruction effects eliminate all lands at once, severely hampering (and sometimes removing entirely) each player's ability to cast further spells.
Examples:

Mana Denial

Though these do not wholly remove lands, some spells may fit within the canon of land destruction by removing the typical capabilities of those lands. These may restrict the colors of mana those lands produce, limit their timing restrictions, or cause negative downsides to players who attempt to produce mana from those lands.
Examples:

Strategy

Land destruction spells are rarely cast at the earliest opportunity, but instead are reserved for specific moments during gameplay. Those may include the following:

Breaking Parity

Land destruction may apply to all players symmetrically, but their downsides may be avoided with careful planning that allows the caster to avoid their negative downsides, often allowing them to continue casting spells while their opponents are unable to do so.
  • Mana Rocks: Mass land destruction effects that destroy lands but do not destroy artifacts may be leveraged by using a higher number of artifacts that provide mana ramp. This can cause other players to be bereft of mana sources while the land destruction player continues to produce mana from artifacts instead of lands.

Tempo

Land destruction may be used as a 'tempo' play in fast-paced strategies (such as aggro) that establish a powerful board state more quickly than their enemies. In these situations, land destruction preempts each opponents' ability to remove that player form their advantageous position by preventing them from casting spells entirely, often relying upon random draws to locate additional lands. Such scenarios allow the land destruction player to defeat their opponents over the course of the next several turns before those opponents are able to reassemble enough lands to meaningfully stop them.

Attitudes & Perception

Land destruction, particularly mass land destruction, is often considered an unenjoyable experience for the majority of Commander players. Because the format focuses upon social experiences and resonant gameplay, depriving players of the resources required to cast spells or participate in the game can be seen as a violation of the social contract. Players who utilize mass land destruction are encouraged to discuss it with players as part of a pre-game discussion, to ensure it is a strategy that all players will find mutually enjoyable.


References: