The number of lands that go into a deck varies depending on several significant factors such as type primary color of the deck, the type of cards in it, and what type of mana sources are available aside from basic lands, such as dual lands, utility lands, and other permanents that produce extra mana.
Read on below and discover exactly how land lands go in a 40 card deck, and why!
What Are Lands in MTG?
The popular trading card game Magic the Gathering is loaded with all sorts of different card types, including lands. Land cards in MTG are the only cards that have one purpose, and one purpose only: to pay for the mana required as a casting cost to bring other cards onto the battlefield.
Unlike all other card types, lands do not deal damage, block damage, or affect other cards of players directly. Further, in the same way, they don’t even count as spells. But, even so, they are incredibly important.
Without lands in your deck, you most likely have no mana source. To say the least, you can’t pay the casting cost of non-land cards(which make up the vast majority of cards in the game) without having lands in your deck.
What is an MTG 40 Card Deck?
Forty cards are legally the smallest Magic the Gathering deck size you can play official games with. That said, the most common reason players use 40 cards only is for draft and limited play.
Most of the time, players get together and build 40 card decks out of unopened booster packs or other sealed products. That way, every player has an equally fair chance to build a solid deck that stands a chance against the opponents.
Putting together a 40 card MTG deck may sound easy, especially when compared to compiling a 60, 80, or 100+ card deck. But, the truth of the matter is, the smaller the deck size, the larger the importance of each and every card in it, including lands.
What Goes in 40 Card MTG Decks?
Forty-card deck’s mana curve is a bit of an issue for the inexperienced deck-builder. There isn’t much room in a 40 card Magic deck when you have so many card types and colors to choose from.
The three key elements to include in a 40 card MTG deck includes:
Land cards are the primary source of mana for any deck, regardless of its size. In smaller decks, like the ones with 40 cards, adding just the right number of lands is more important than ever.
In larger decks, Artifacts, Equipment, and other permanents, including creatures, may be tapped and used as additional mana sources. However, with little decks, you need to draw and cast as many creatures and other spells as possible… leaving little room for extra land drops.
If you aren’t able to have more than three mana out on the battlefield by turn three, four, or five… the game may already be lost.
The creature cards in a deck are often considered the core of the collection. The amount of land chosen for a deck is usually directly related to the mana cost of the highest and lowest mana costs of these creature cards.
Without proper basic mana or permanents that produce mana, your creatures are useless as you won’t be able to cast time.
For these reasons, while choosing creatures for your 40 card Magic the Gathering deck, keep in mind the specific colored mana requirements of the creatures you include.
Sure, a 40 card Magic deck doesn’t leave you a whole lot of breathing room to many cards besides creatures and the lands to pay for them. But, if you want to stand a chance against the strongest players and best players, you need at least a handful of other spells you can count on.
Artifacts, Equipment, Auras, and Enchantments, are good choices, as they may actually double as a mana source and help out with the overall mana cost each turn. Instants and Sorceries are also as good as a land drop sometimes, especially when they create a mana flood.
How Many Lands Go in Each Deck?
All Magic the Gathering decks have different types, rules, purposes, and ways to be built. Below, we discuss the most commonly used sorts of decks that contain 40 cards, as well as touching on other popular formats and how many land drops they should be capable of.
Sealed decks are the most popular 40 card Magic decks in use. Forty cards go into each sealed deck.
These cards are chosen on the spot, from booster packs, in front of all the other players who’ll compete in the same game or tournament.
The average number of lands in these decks is 16 or 17. Anything more is risky, and anything less is practically suicidal(figuratively speaking, of course).
Likewise, the most common number of land cards in each one is 16 to 17.
Every so often a brave deck builder uses 14 or 15 cards(most likely regretting it later), or even worse, 18 or 19 cards(also no doubt regretting it later).
The draft decks are just another name for sealed decks. So, yes, they too max out at 40 cards only.
There is no hard and fast rule as to how many land drops theme decks should have to produce mana.
That said, most players add approximately 23 land cards into their theme decks(somewhere between 22 lands and 24 lands).
Sixty cards come in standard theme decks, though it is unclear if they always come with land cards or not.
At any rate, these types of decks are the most common with new players as well as long-time Magic the Gathering fans.
As with official Magic the Gathering theme decks, most 60 card decks should have at least 22 lands in them.
However, adding at the very least 23 to 24 mana sources(be they lands or otherwise) may be a better decision.
In the end, whether your decks have fewer lands and several cheap spells to equal out the low mana reserve with a mana flood, or low-cost cards like mana creatures to double as mana, is up to you.
The 80 card MTG deck may sound huge, especially if you’re not a big-time Magic player.
The truth is though, many players do indeed play with 80 and even 90 card decks. Unsanctioned, unofficial, “just for fun” type games often involve decks of 80-plus cards.
Decks that exceed 60 to 80 cards require a bit more mana, and the cards within obviously have a high mana curve in comparison to smaller decks.
Most players include 33 to 35 or more lands in these scenarios.
A 100+ card deck typically includes between 35 and 45 to 50 lands. The largest factoring is the amount of five mana cards, six mana cards, and cards with even higher costs.
The biggest issue with using 100 cards is choosing a mana base. If you are playing with mono-black mana, for example, you may get away with 40 lands or less.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of diehard Magic players out there who play with libraries or more than 100 cards.
It’s actually not at all uncommon. I myself have several 120+ card decks that I play with – and win with!.
However, if you’re playing with cards costing wildly different colored mana requirements, all bets are off with a card collection this large.
Color Requirements to Consider
Unfortunately, you can’t simply choose a number of land cards to add to your deck without first considering several other factors, most of which we already touched upon above.
Perhaps the most crucial consideration to keep in mind while constructing your 40 cards is the colored mana requirements of the collection.
Below, let’s have a look at all of the main colored mana requirements of the main colored cards, as well as their colorless and multi-colored counterparts.
The color white typically requires a medium to low mana reserve, compared to other colors.
The main reason is that white cards have many one land and two mana cards, including creatures and spells.
That means you can get away with one or two mana less than when playing with other colors. White decks should have 14 to 17 lands.
Next to white, green is the best color when it comes to requiring fewer land drops or worrying about mana sinks.
Powerful green spells cost three mana, four mana, and even higher on average, but the catch is that many of the non-land cards are better than a basic land drop anyway.
Green cards not only allow you extra land drops, potentially every turn, they also have the most creatures and Enchantments that tap for a one-mana addition to your mana base.
So, as little as 13 to 16 lands are needed in a 40 card sealed build.
A draft deck, or another type of MTG card collection of just 40 cards, that consists of mono-blue cards often requires a few more land drops than other colors.
Blue creatures aren’t as powerful as, say green or red creatures, but they have awesome and typically costly mana-activated abilities.
Because blue is such a spell-heavy color, the proper number of land drops per 40 cards is roughly 15 to 20.
A fan favorite for horror and MTG fans alike, black mana decks are well-balanced destruction and power.
Black is full of flying creatures with Deathtouch and Lifelink, as well as “Destroy target creature” spells.
That said, if you’re missing land drops in the early game, you’ll have only a few cards to play and may not make it to the late game.
For that reason, add between 15 and 17 lands to your draft build just to be on the safe side!
Last but not least of the mono-colors is red, and it is one color you don’t want to waste time combating the mana curve.
Red cards, whether spells or creatures are centered around speed and power.
For example, many red decks are able to attack every round for the first four land drops, while most other decks can barely pull off a single attack by the fourth land drop.
Make sure you add plenty of mana into your sealed build so there are no mana sinks to deal with. It’s best to add 16 to 18 lands into red collections, as they require excellent mana acceleration to be as potent as possible.
What is red good at in MTG?
Red’s advantage is speed — its cards are often designed for high immediate impact. This means a red player can fire off an entire hand of spells in just the first few turns of a game, overwhelming opponents before they get off the starting blocks.
Playing with multi-colored cards in your draft build is rather tricky. It’s not impossible, but you must have more than one type of basic land.
Multi-colored cards have more colored mana requirements than any other type of MTG deck.
For that reason, you should consider adding an Artifact, Equipment, or some other permanent that either produces extra mana or works against potential mana screw abilities.
Attempting a colorless draft or sealed build is also a pretty hard feat to accomplish. First, you must find enough colorless cards to begin with, which isn’t always easy.
But, even if you do manage to do so, there are two extremes to be aware of with colorless builds: an extremely low mana curve, and quite possibly ridiculously high mana curves.
FAQs About Lands in 40 Card Decks
In case you’ve still got questions about how much land you should add to your draft, sealed, or limited deck with 40 cards, we’ve added a few more answers to help clarify things:
How many lands go in a 40 card deck?
Between 15 to 20 lands go into 40 card draft and sealed builds. The best number varies depending on the exact mixture of the other cards included in the collection.
How many creatures are in a 40 card deck?
Depending on your playing style, a 40 card sealed or draft build requires between 8 and 15 creatures. If you want an army, go with 12 to 15. If your relying on other types of spells, 5 to 10 creatures is enough.
How much land should be in a draft deck?
No less than 14 to 15 lands should be in your draft build. That said, most players find it difficult to pull off a win with less than at least 17 or 18 lands.
Why are there 17 lands?
The main reason people use 17 lands in their draft builds is due to the basic rule of thumb for putting together these limited format fast decks. If you want to win, you must have the lands to play all of your cards, and on average, 17 is the right number regardless of color or style.
A Final Word
Playing Magic the Gathering in sealed and/or draft format requires putting together the right 40 cards, including lands.
Without enough land, your limited deck may have a mana curve lower than expected.
Likewise, if your limited decks include too many lands and not enough other spells, the outcome is equally disappointing; too much mana, not enough creatures and spells to cast.
The bottom line? Add at least 17 land drops to your limited decks and squash that negative mana curve before it ever occurs.