It’s a truth universally acknowledged that as soon as you give lands in Magic: The Gathering any kind of additional function beyond producing mana, those lands have a very real chance of becoming multi-format staples. The opportunity cost to include them in your deck is so low that it often makes no sense not to play them, outside of a few hyper-specific cases.
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Creature Lands are a textbook example of this. Though most of them enter tapped, the fact that they can become creatures later on in a game more than balances this out, giving them value that far outweighs that of your average basic. Nearly all of them are playable, but these are the very best of the bunch.
10 Creeping Tar Pit
A Slow But Inevitable Doom
One of the most-played creature lands in its Standard day, Creeping Tar Pit has a lot going for it. It costs just three mana to animate, an affordable rate in the creature lands world, and it also gets around a major downside of creature lands: the creature being killed in combat, thus losing you the land.
It avoids this scenario by virtue of being unblockable, making it much more likely to stick around and provide mana or damage in subsequent turns. In long matchups, it provides three damage a turn if you can protect it, making it ideal for Control and Aggro decks alike.
9 Den Of The Bugbear
The Gathering Ground of Goblins
All five of the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms creature lands were excellent, thanks to their ability to enter untapped a large portion of the time, but Den of the Bugbear was the clear frontrunner among them. Not only can it become a Goblin, an extremely relevant creature type, but it can also create Goblin tokens as well.
This is a rare example of a creature land leaving something tangible behind once it’s finished being a creature for the turn, making the tempo loss of animating it early on in a game less noticeable than its peers. The fact that the token enters tapped and attacking helps you apply pressure in a Typal deck devoted entirely to doing just that.
The Perfect Polytypal Piece
Typal decks, historically at least, haven’t gotten as much use out of creatures with all creature types as you’d think. The creatures in question tend to be inefficiently costed and not synergistic with the Typal deck in question outside of their type. Mutavault is the exception that proves this rule.
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Built on the bones of Mirrodin, and Argentum before that, the entire Plane is a shrine to suffering.
Not only is it a creature land that enters untapped, but it also transforms into a 2/2 with all creature types for just a single generic mana. This is absurdly efficient, and led to Mutavault seeing play not just in Typal decks, but in many generic Aggro and Midrange decks as well.
7 Shambling Vent
Vent Your Frustrations With Aggro Decks
Creature lands, as you’ll be able to tell from the majority of entries on this list, are at their best when they can assume their creature forms for as little mana as possible. Shambling Vent can do so for a very competitive three mana, which sets it up nicely right out of the gate.
Things only get better when you consider the creature it can become. A 2/3 lifelink is sturdy enough to tangle with Aggro creatures and live to tell the tale, giving you some much-needed life in the process. For any kind of white/black Midrange brew, Shambling Vent is a worthy addition to your mana base.
6 Dryad Arbor
An Awe-Inspiring Design Anomaly
Dryad Arbor may stretch the colloquial definition of ‘Creature Land’ slightly, but it’s such a pure iteration of the concept that it deserves a place on this list regardless. Unlike its peers, Dryad Arbor enters play as a creature and stays that way as long as it lives, with no animation cost required.
Said creature is, admittedly, just a 1/1, but the fact that it comes as a free extra alongside a land makes it worth playing in a number of decks, particularly those that can cheat creatures into play, such as Collected Company. It’s riskier to play than most creature lands, but the potential rewards of doing so are higher as well.
5 Inkmoth Nexus
A Win Condition And Mana Source In One
Infect is an incredibly controversial mechanic that has lent its name to successful decks across many of Magic’s formats, and Inkmoth Nexus lets you enjoy all of its game-ending benefits on a land. Like Mutavault, it enters tapped and can animate for just one mana. Unlike Mutavault, it can end the game in a single turn with minimal support.
Since the Blinkmoth it becomes has both flying and infect, all you need is a few efficient pump spells and you can attack for a fatal ten poison damage as early as turn two or three. This terrifying play pattern is balanced out by the initial fragility of the Blinkmoth, but not enough to stop it being immensely powerful.
4 Lumbering Falls
Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls
An inherent downside of creature lands is that they can be removed while in creature form, essentially turning any of your opponent’s removal spells into a Stone Rain. This risk tends to be worth the reward, but Lumbering Falls gives you the best of both worlds by largely removing the risk aspect.
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They’re More than a piece of the mana pool.
Since it has hexproof while animated, most spells, outside of Edicts and board wipes, won’t be able to touch this slippery land. This more than makes up for the middling stats and high animation cost on the Falls, and cements its place as a solid Control win condition for green/blue decks.
3 Mishra’s Factory
Efficiency At All Costs
Most creature lands are so mana-hungry that having multiple copies of them in play doesn’t further your gameplan much, but Mishra’s Factory is very much the opposite. Not only is it cheap enough to animate that you can easily have multiple copies active at once, but it also actively encourages you to play multiples with its second ability.
This ability lets you tap a Factory to buff an Assembly-Worker, which will more than likely be another copy of Factory. With a board full of these you can go either wide or tall, to say nothing of the additional synergies added by the printing of new Assembly-Worker cards in sets like Brothers’ War and Kaladesh.
2 Treetop Village
A Brazen Beatdown From Above
One of the oldest and most straightforward creature lands, Treetop Village is also one of the most efficient takes on the concept the game has seen. For just two mana, it becomes a 3/3 Ape with trample: a great rate any day of the week.
This allows aggressive decks like Mono-Green Stompy to shore up their off-turns with extra evasive damage, without breaking the mana bank in the process. It’s not particularly flashy or technical, but Treetop Village is a creature land in its purest form, and still competitively costed to this day.
1 Restless Cottage
Not Your Typical Sleepy Village House
Wilds of Eldraine’s Restless lands cycle presented five new creature lands, the animated versions of which all had on-attack triggers for extra value. All of these are great, but Restless Cottage stands out thanks to its solid stats, incidental graveyard hate, and Food synergy.
Becoming a 4/4 for four mana is more than fair, particularly when said 4/4 can also munch key cards in your opponent’s graveyard each time it swings in. The free Food token it grants you each turn is also not negligible, given how many other powerful cards synergise with them.
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