Singleton Shmingleton - Evolving Wilds

Aftermath Analyst | Art by Danny Schwartz

Go Fetch!

Hello, and welcome back to Singleton Shmingleton, where I bend the singleton rules of Commander by building decks with as many functional reprints of a certain card as possible. This week's card is one of the most flexible lands out there, fixing mana in many past Draft and Standard formats and finding a permanent home in Commander. I'm talking about Evolving Wilds, the best color fixing land for under ten cents. It may not be as flashy as Steam Vents or Luxury Suite, but it promises the right colors to cast your spells. Along with Command Tower and the lifegain lands, it has democratized the serviceable mana base.

But that's not all Evolving Wilds can do. Lands and Landfall decks in all shapes and sizes use the land to fuel all of their effects that care about lands moving through different zones. Mono-colored decks like Titania, Protector of Argoth run Evolving Wilds despite it only fetching Forests, because that's quite the deal if it comes with a free 5/3. And recently, in Standard, brewers have used the variants on Evolving Wilds from New Capenna alongside Aftermath Analyst and Spelunking to find every land in their deck and fuel a huge Worldsoul's Rage for the win. That's when I started to wonder if such a deck could work in Commander. And with a new cycle of variants printed in Modern Horizons III, I knew this was the time to try.

There are a ton of cards similar to Evolving Wilds, including one that is exactly the same and two that are strictly better, but many cost additional mana to sacrifice. There are thirty-three lands that can sacrifice themselves at no cost and search for a land. Here they are:

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The most played of these cards is, in fact, Evolving Wilds, in 884,015 decks. And the next most played card is its twin (who is technically several years older) in Terramorphic Expanse, which sees play in 652,258 decks. After that come all ten of the Fetchlands all of which are sitting at just over 400,000 decks each. These are staples of Commander mana bases. And the rest aren't too far off. The Landscapes from MH3 are seeing play in thousands of decks already despite being less than a month old, and Escape Tunnel is well on its way to joining the pantheon of budget fetchlands.

What a Fetching Land You've Got There

The next piece of the puzzle is how to make use of the fact that these lands all go to the graveyard, and turning to the Standard deck for answers, we find Aftermath Analyst. This little creature offers a second use at all of the fetching lands, accelerating mana in huge chunks. In Commander, there are several versions of this effect, from the no-frills Splendid Reclamation to the more finnicky Faith's Reward to the crazy-mana-cost Eerie Ultimatum. We don't have quite the density of these effects that one can achieve in sixty-card formats, so this deck will be less of a combo deck, but they will still give us tremendous ramp.

There are two surmountable deckbuilding wrinkles that come with porting this deck over from a sixty-card format. First, it's difficult to play both enough Evolving Wilds variants and enough basics to fetch with them to be able to build the huge piles of mana the deck wants. Some versions of the Standard deck circumvent this problem by playing additional cards, going as high as sixty-eight, but that is not a solution in Commander. We'll have to run well over fifty lands for this engine to really pop off. Second, while some of the Evolving Wilds variants can be played in any deck, the new Landscape cycle comes with color-identity restrictions, and while technically any deck can play Arid Mesa, not every deck can play a Mountain for it to fetch. In order to give us the highest density of fetchlands, we need to play all five colors. The upside is that we'll be sporting the most unconventional five-color mana base in the format, with almost thirty Basic lands and no other lands that can tap for colored mana. Seriously, we could be playing Back to Basics if it weren't for Grasslands and its ilk. I chose to play Kenrith, the Returned King, since he gives us a lot of options for mana sinks if we ever end up with too much mana and nothing to do with it.

...And the Spells Too!

I won't try to keep it secret that the mana base was the most fun aspect of this deck to build, but the spells were also a blast to pick. With all five colors to choose from, we get to play some of the best Lands all-stars from across the format. Finally, The Gitrog Monster and Omnath, Locus of Creation can fight alongside each other. With so many flexible fetchlands, our mana is actually good enough to support some wild casting costs. But in addition to these haymaker, we'll also need to play cheap ways to dig for our lands and put them in the right zones. Mulch and Winding Way are perfect, as are Satyr Wayfinder and Circle of the Land Druid. Deeproot Wayfinder and Erinis, Gloom Stalker can re-use our Evolving Wildses for early ramp, and Six can do a little bit of everything.

Higher up on the curve, some payoffs really find a home in this deck. All three versions of Titania are tailor-made for a deck like this, where everything revolves around our lands changing zones. Worm Harvest is the perfect token-maker, fueling itself with Retrace and benefiting from everything we want to do. And Field of the Dead works even better than normal when all the lands we are trying to play over and over each search for other lands. Finally, I have to shout out Primal Order. Why didn't anyone tell me that Price of Progress and Sulfuric Vortex had a baby, and that it was in green?! This card fits perfectly into our mana base of only basics and basic-finders, and will put a very quick clock on our opponents.

Finally, Life from the Loam and its slimy reboot Slogurk, the Overslime offer a grindier version of land recursion. Returning lands to hand isn't as powerful as bringing them back to play with Splendid Reclamation and friends, but these cards are too cool to pass up, letting us loop lands and themselves in the most satisfying ways. Slogurk, the Overslime can even become a sizeable threat if we leave it on the board for a few turns, and comes with built-in protection. If so many of the Evolving Wilds variants didn't require a deck with lots of colors, Slogurk, the Overslime would be my number one choice for a commander.

The Decklist

King Kenrith and his Lands

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Commander (1)
Creatures (20)
Sorceries (9)
Lands (57)
Enchantments (4)
Instants (6)
Artifacts (2)
Planeswalkers (1)

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This deck is a blast to play. The mana base is surprisingly consistent, as there are very few cards that cost double of any color except green, and you have the flexibility to fetch what you need for any given hand. The deck also feels remarkably consistent without being repetitive. There are enough lands-matter haymakers that we're sure to draw a couple every game, but they all interact with our Evolving Wildses in different ways. Sometimes it's a Titania, Protector of Argoth game, and we get to be the beatdown, and sometimes it's a Tatyova, Benthic Druid game, and we're better served by letting the game go long. Even the glue pieces, like Deeproot Wayfinder or Lotus Cobra, can change how a game plays out. We get to have all of the fun of Lands strategies, where the lands are the star of the show, without having to play many fancy lands at all. Terramorphic Expanse can fill the main role of this deck just as well as Glacial Chasm can in another deck.

Until Next Time

It's time to tackle "impulse draw." This is one of the spaces within which we've seen a lot of growth in red, and it's really opened the color up to be better at digging through cards. Reckless Impulse and Wrenn's Resolve have become the backbone of red decks in Pauper, and have broken into Modern recently in Ruby Medallion storm, but all of these designs owe their existence to Act on Impulse. How much of our deck can we exile? Find out next time on Singleton Shmingleton!

Read More

Modern Horizons 3 Set Review - Artifacts & Lands

Jesse Barker Plotkin started playing Magic with Innistrad. He was disqualified from his first Commander game after he played his second copy of Goblins of the Flarg, and it's all been uphill from there. Outside of Magic, he enjoys writing and running.

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