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What is the point in Wizard creating RtR Forests and M13 Forests, for example? It seems like it would be a lot more efficient and cost effective to everyone involved if these basic land types were not specific to a set. Wizard wouldn't have the cost of manufacturing (as many of) them and we wouldn't need to buy new ones just to stay legal.

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Interesting question. In my opinion it's about the flavor of the set it allows to create a setting so you can imagine the world. It's forests, islands, swamps, plains, and mountains. –  wesdfgfgd Mar 20 '13 at 14:32
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This probably has to do with releasing new artwork for lands that are in-line with the set themes, although I don't have any evidence to support this. If you look, lands from Mirrodin are supposed to be metallic looking, as opposed to Ravnica lands, which are more city based. This is just to add a little flavor to the set. –  SocioMatt Mar 20 '13 at 14:33
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The question is a mistaken one. Basic lands ARE block/set agnostic. Though we all love new art on our basic lands, I hope, Magic would get very dreary if we had to look at the same pictures for decades on end. –  thesunneversets Mar 20 '13 at 15:16
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I love my unglued & unhinged basic lands. Best part of my tourney legal decks. –  Colin D Mar 20 '13 at 15:26

3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

You don't need to buy new ones just to stay legal. You can use any card that has been reprinted in a recent set in Standard. All the basic lands are printed in just about every set.

For Instance, it's perfectly legal for you to use your Urza's Saga Rancors or Onslaught Pacifisms.

Secondly, some people like collecting different land arts, so they produce lands with new arts every set, and many people try to collect one or more of each.

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I would include text that mentions that the rules text on an older card might not be correct. –  Colin D Mar 20 '13 at 16:51
    
@ColinD and then there are the cards where they changed the rules text, but then changed it back, like Kismet –  Sam I am Mar 20 '13 at 16:53

As has been said in the comments, the point is largely the art; functionally the basic lands are always the same and always legal. Sets are designed with a coherent theme and world in mind, and the lands should fit with that as much as the other cards should.

You can see a fairly convincing demonstration of this in view of lands in Innistrad and Avacyn Restored. They're all the same locations, but while in Innistrad they were dark, cold, and barren, in Avacyn Restored they're brighter and warmer, often with more life. It's well worth looking at the link for all the full-sized art, but for example, here's one of the mountains:

Innistrad Mountain Avacyn Restored Mountain

Alternatively, you can just go to Gatherer and click through the various sets to see the huge variety in art! Here they are: Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest.

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The flavor involved to use the same picture with a different environment is part of what made that set awesome. –  corsiKa Mar 21 '13 at 15:50

As long as it has the same English name as a legal card, a white or black border[1] and a normal back (including shape and size)[2], you can use the card.

You can even use a Forest from Unhinged or an Island from a Japanese set of Lorwyn if you so desired.

Keep in mind that a card's characteristics is determined by Gatherer, not by what's printed on the card. If you use a card that has received an errata, Gatherer overrides the characteristics printed on the card. For example, despite the print showing otherwise, a Mountain from Arabian Nights is a Basic Land — Mountain with no ability besides the one granted by rules.


  1. Some promotional cards have a Gold border. These aren't legal for play.
  2. Alpha's rounder corners rule them out, and oversized cards are novelties.
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since this answer is more generic than just talking about basic lands, I would recommend adding text that explains that the rules on older prints could be inaccurate due to errata. –  Colin D Mar 20 '13 at 16:49
    
@Colin D, There you go. –  ikegami Mar 20 '13 at 17:05
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Nitpickery: (1) Alpha corners aren't square; they're actually more rounded than 'normal' Magic cards. Square corners were used for the collector's edition (and neither is generally tournament-legal). (2) that Japanese Island is from Return to Ravnica, not Kamigawa. :-) Maybe you want to point to an Arabian Nights Mountain (magic.tcgplayer.com/db/…) instead? –  Steven Stadnicki Mar 20 '13 at 19:15
    
@Steven Stadnicki , Doh! fixed. –  ikegami Mar 20 '13 at 20:03

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