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When looking through recent results of Pauper daily events in Magic Online, I noticed that some of the Infect decks are using Land Grant.

Land Grant

For the life of me, I can't figure out what this card is doing in the deck.

  • It doesn't accelerate your mana
  • It doesn't find lands other than Forests
  • You have to reveal your hand to use it (or pay 1G, but I'm pretty sure that no one ever does that)

In other words, it's functionally identical to just having another Forest in your deck, except with additional downside. So why are they playing it? Pauper is a very competitive format on MTGO, so I don't expect people to put cards in their deck for no good reason... but I can't figure out what the reason is.

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3 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The card has a lot of uses, similarly to fetch lands and cantrip spells. Generally:

  1. It lets you play less actual lands (like in 1-land Belcher Decks).
  2. It lets you find the right land (when you are using dual lands).
  3. It's a free way to shuffle your deck.
  4. It's a free way to increase storm count.
  5. It filters your deck making it slightly smaller. By using free cantrips like Land Grant and Gitaxian Probe you make your deck virtually smaller, thus increasing the chances of all the other cards showing up during a match.

In this particular case, knowing how infect decks work in Pauper, I would say it's basically reason #5 (deck thinning).

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I don't see how #1 and #2 apply in this case, since the card can only ever fetch Forests and is therefore functionally equivalent to just drawing a Forest. #5 much more relevant. –  JSBձոգչ May 2 '12 at 14:20
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@JSBᾶngs A Taiga is a forest. But, yes, in Pauper, it's just deck-thinning. Similar to Gitaxian Probe. –  Alex P May 2 '12 at 14:21
    
@JSBᾶngs They don't apply here at all. I just wanted to leave a more complete answer so that anyone who reads this can extrapolate for other cases. I will highlight the answer to be clearer. –  rahzark May 2 '12 at 14:26
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@JSBᾶngs Notice the difference between a "Forest" and a "Basic Forest". –  Hackworth May 2 '12 at 15:30
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@JSBᾶngs Don't forget that Belcher can also work like a storm deck when it's going off on Empty the Warrens. I have played a lot of Land Grants with nothing to fetch just to increase storm count. –  rahzark May 2 '12 at 18:14
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The deck thinning+tutoring alone would be considered by many to be a useful effect. A card with an even more useless effect, Gather Your Mind was once a very popular thinner in YGO TCG. I don't think the revealing effect is surprising. It's par for the course in Magic (in any card game, in fact, now that I think of it) when something relies on presence or absence of something in the hand.

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I don't know how to read YGO cards. Does it cost anything to play or is it purely a freebie? –  Alex P May 2 '12 at 15:30
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@Alex P Unlike with Magic and its progeny, Yu-Gi-Oh! has no "basic cost" system (except for some monsters). –  Circeus May 2 '12 at 19:50
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There's nothing "functionally identical" about a card which puts a forest into play and a card which puts a forest into play and removes a card from your deck. q.v. Street Wraith, Urza's Bauble, Mishra's Bauble, Gitaxian Probe; all cards which have a very minor upside (if any!) but which allow you to play a deck that's functionally less than 60 cards big.

If you don't feel a 56-card deck has a significant competitive advantage over a 60-card deck then, no, you probably won't understand why anyone would play Land Grant over a basic forest. But let's notice that the 40- and 60-card minimum deck sizes in various Magic formats are not just arbitrary! They exist to make deck construction suitably challenging. But almost every rule in Magic can be broken somehow, and Land Grant and friends effectively break the minimum deck size rule.

Yes, there's only a small competitive advantage in drawing from a library that contains 9 lands instead of 10. But every little helps, especially in a deck like Infect that basically only wants to draw one or two lands at most, and then as much aggressive business as possible.

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@AlexP, good point, wasn't meant to sound snotty, but I've toned it down a bit. –  thesunneversets May 2 '12 at 15:23
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