What are Shock Lands?
Shock lands are a type of ‘dual land’ (lands that can be tapped for two different types of mana) in Magic the Gathering. The ‘shock’ in their name comes from the fact that you can pay two life to have them enter the battlefield untapped.
There are ten different shock lands. Each of the ten has a color combination that aligns with one of the ten various guilds in Magic the Gathering. All shocks count as two basic land types.
- Hallowed Fountain – Plains Island
- Watery Grave – Island Swamp
- Blood Crypt – Swamp Mountain
- Stomping Ground – Mountain Forest
- Temple Garden – Forest Plains
- Godless Shrine – Plains Swamp
- Steam Vents – Island Mountain
- Overgrown Tomb – Swamp Forest
- Sacred Foundry – Mountain Plains
- Breeding Pool – Forest Island
What is so Great About MtG Shock Lands?
Dual lands in and of themselves are pretty rare in the game of Magic. Furthermore, dual lands that can enter the battlefield untapped are even rarer.
For example, Steam Vents counts as an island and a mountain. So you can tap it to add blue or red mana to your mana pool.
So why is this useful?
Having a single land that can add multiple mana types is incredibly powerful. For multi-colored decks, getting the right mana sources is critical.
Suppose I’m playing a Gruul deck (green and red), and I just can’t seem to draw a forest to save my life. I draw mountain after mountain but no forests. The green cards in my hand are unplayable. I’m going to quickly get overrun by a competent opponent.
This happens to all of us from time to time. It’s part of the chance aspect of the game of Magic.
That said, the solution is Mana Fixing. Mana fixing refers to ensuring that the correct lands or sources of mana are played to be used for the cards in one’s hand.
Mana Fixing is great, but there are more benefits to Shock Lands.
Fetch a Shock
Look at the card ‘type line’ text in the middle of the card. Our Steam Vents example says ‘Land – Island Mountain.’
This means that our Shock Land is a non-basic land that counts as an Island and a Mountain (in the case of Steam Vents).
This is very powerful. For example, you can use most Fetch Lands to dig up a Shock Land.
Certain Fetch Lands like Fabled Passage won’t fetch a shock land because Shocks are non-basic. But if the Fetch Land doesn’t specify that the target land is basic, you can grab a Shock Land.
Again, Shock Lands are incredibly useful in dual-colored or multi-colored decks. You no longer have to decide which mana source you need more. Instead, you get two at once!
What about the Life Loss?
The great thing about Shock Lands is that you can choose whether to take the life loss or not. Early in the game, having access to two mana types is worth two life points.
In commander, where you have 40 life, two life is a small price.
If you don’t need the mana right away, you can opt to let it enter the battlefield tapped and not lose any life.
How Powerful are Shock Lands?
Frankly, almost any multi-colored deck would benefit from Shock Lands. However, in certain competitive games, you may be choosing between Shock Lands and something even more critical for a slot in your deck.
Obviously, a Shock Land is not as powerful as an OG Dual Land, for example. The OG Dual Lands have all the benefits of Shock Lands with no downsides.
I’d also argue that Fetch Lands are more powerful as they thin out your deck while letting you Mana Fix. Thinning out your deck is great because it helps you draw useful cards later in the game. You are less likely to end up with a measly basic land off the draw late game when you have all the mana you need.
However, aside from Duals and Fetches, I’d argue that Shock Lands are the next best lands.
Where can I get my Hands on Shock Lands?
These days, shock lands run $10-20 each. They were in the $40 range for a while, but reprints have decreased prices. Prices will probably slowly climb until Wizards of the Coast does another reprint.
In any case, we recommend buying Proxy cards for high-value cards like these. For example, you can buy a set of 10 for $35. Or get them individually for a few bucks each. Below are the links to our product pages.
- Hallowed Fountain
- Watery Grave
- Blood Crypt
- Stomping Ground
- Temple Garden
- Godless Shrine
- Steam Vents
- Overgrown Tomb
- Sacred Foundry
- Breeding Pool
You can crack packs (I don’t recommend it) or buy them directly from a game store or TCGplayer.
I hope that helps illustrate why Shock Lands are so great. I use them in most of my decks and always recommend them to people. There is not much left to say about them. They’ve earned their reputation.
Let us know if you run Shock Lands in your decks. Is there an alternative dual you prefer? Drop a comment.