Landing Yourself in Trouble
Magic the Gathering, at its core, is all about the lands. You will be hard pushed to work a deck without them, and the same goes for having too many or too few. One of the main problems that come hand in hand with playing Standard is that land sets tend to be very expensive, and focussed on mana correction out of some primal fear of avoiding land death.
Look at any of the top lists currently going around at the big constructed events, and you’ll see a high percentage of dual lands, non-basic correction and effect lands that are, on the surface, great…but, does the everyday gamer need a land set that is often as expensive, if not more so than the rest of the deck?
I like the idea of pauper. I’m not going to lie; the idea of beating other people with a deck or card set that cost virtually nothing when their combo costs a week’s wages is immensely satisfying. That is not to say I don’t like breaking out the big guns! I’m going to be…brave, and try and highlight why investing in lands so heavily detracts from your card pool. Sure, it’s great you’ve invested in a play set of Darkslick Shore , Drowned Catacomb , and Sulfur Falls , but unless you’ve built your deck poorly, are you ever going to need more than 10X one colour, 10X the other, and 4 Evolving Wilds ?
Sure, you can mix and match to suit the mana costs of the cards in your deck, or run 20X and 4 fetch, or just 20 basics because it’s all you need. Pauper choices for non-basic are available, Ghost Quarter can slow your mana ramp down, but give you a more stable colour adjustment in the mid game, and there are plenty of cheap rares (under 50p) that can add a utility to the deck, such as Grim Backwoods and their ilk.
We can talk for hours about what is a good amount of basic land to keep in an opening hand (for me, it’s one of each colour, or two of one colour with a draw card or blocker to stabilise into a third/fourth turn land draw or bust). In an ideal world, you’ll want to drop Evolving turn one, and fetch the opposing land to the one in your hand (or pair up if you have a 2 G card or so on you plan to drop on curve) and then pass cackling maniacally (or is that just me?)
Look at any double colour deck in standard at the moment, and have a think about wherever or not it needs the land base it has. Can Delver R/U work with 10/10/4? Does it need 9/9/4 and two sphere of the suns? Does it need to restructure its side-board to account for potential mana catastrophes, but in the process, open itself up to a wider range of builds, players, and budgets? If you’ve a low enough curve, the downside to Darkslick (coming into play tapped with no out turn 3+) is probably not going to affect you, but losing your tempo because you’re short of mana is no less dangerous than losing it to mana death – the different with the death is that it cost you a small fortune to suffer one and a cheeky insult with the other.
In the long run, no matter how expensive the lands in your hand, if you don't have the right lands, at the right time, and the right cards to go with it, you're going to end up in deep water (or if you're playing U, not enough water) and your efforts are wasted. Focus on the cards and the synergy with the land base you have (I really do advocate 10/10/4, unless the land you run has an effect that compliments the deck, such as Moorland Haunt with dredge or Drogskol Captain ) and stay afloat of the rat race!