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Mtg: Benefits of Fetchlands in Single-Color Decks

I've been playing Magic: The Gathering for some time, and today I want to share my tricks.

With Wooded Foothills I can get Blood Crypt or Raugrin Triome by searching for "Mountain".

With Wooded Foothills I can get Blood Crypt or Raugrin Triome by searching for "Mountain".

As many Magic: The Gathering players will know, Fetchlands are a great way to build multi-coloured mana bases in conjunction with other land cards. For example with the well-known interaction with the ABU duals or with the Shocklands depending on the type of format played.

Another famous advantage of the fetch lands in conjunction with the other cards is that of granting access to multitudes of colour combinations in an attempt to better support any type of strategy.

For example, you can use a Wooded Foothills to take a basic forest or mountain from the deck but you could also take Taiga, Blood Crypt or even Raugrin Triome by mentioning the mountain type.

But far fewer are aware of the advantages of Fetchlands in single-colour decks.

Playing fetch lands in single-colour decks at first glance would seem counterintuitive, as we will not have access to a myriad of interactions with other lands and will only be able to obtain basic lands.

What we need to remember is that there may be additional benefits to playing fetches such as the ability to activate cards with landfall or the ability to shuffle the deck (as Brainstorm players usually do) or the need to fill the graveyard for cards like Tarmogoyf or Grim Lavamancer.

Another extremely important effect is to reshuffle the deck we are playing and "recover" all those cards that we have put at the bottom of our deck, increasing the possibility of picking them up again during the game.

Some cards that take advantage of fetches.

Some cards that take advantage of fetches.

The best effect for mono-coloured decks, especially aggro decks such as monored, is to change the relationship between land and nonland cards in our deck by thinning the deck and slightly increasing the possibility of drawing better cards after each fetch activation.

When we use a fetch, we remove a land card from the deck, slightly increasing the possibility of drawing a nonland card in the next few turns.

This effect is masterfully exploited by aggro monored decks (such as Burn) which only need a few lands to function, so all subsequent lands are drawn dead.

These aggro decks must maximize damage within the first few turns of the game so that the opponent cannot stabilize the game or have access to additional cards or sources of life gain.

To make the most of the deck thinning effect of the Fetches we must first consider the maximum number of lands that we will play in our deck and then the corresponding ratio between the Fetch cards and the lands to search with them.

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The fewer the total number of lands, the greater the effect every single fetch will have on the ratio of land to non-land cards in the deck.

Removing a land card from a total of 18 lands corresponds to approximately 5.5% while removing land from a total of 24 lands corresponds to approximately 4.1%. So we'll use a deck with 18 lands as a test.

In a deck with 18 land cards and 42 nonland cards statistically, we will get a starting hand with about 2.1 land cards and 4.9 nonland cards, for simplicity let's consider them as 2 lands and 5 nonland cards.

That said there will remain 16 land cards and 37 nonland cards in our 53-card deck and the next card we draw will be 30.19% (16/53) a land card and 69.81% (37/53) a nonland card.

Let's imagine that we are on the play and that we activate a fetch on our turn, what are the chances of drawing a land card or a non-land card?

The odds will be about 28.85% (15/52) a land card and 71.15% (37/52) a non-land card with an improvement of about 1.34%.

This advantage, although minimal, will be active for the rest of the game and will affect all subsequent draws and can be further improved by subsequent fetches.

Other cards that take advantage of fetches.

Other cards that take advantage of fetches.

Is it worth it?

This answer depends a lot on how we intend to use this tool.

If we think very small, such as if we want to test a deck for the first time, it is not necessary to put fetches in a single-colour deck. The same is true if we know that we will not be playing this deck intensively at every single tournament in the area or if we will not be participating in high-level competitive tournaments.

That could change if we want to participate in high-level tournaments like a Pro Tour where all the other Pros are aware of this advantage and will use it in turn to maximize their decks.

If we think only of a single match, an advantage of 1.34% may not be important but if we think of a tournament with multiple matches to be won with a score of 2-0 or 2-1 this type of advantage starts to become consistent.

Imagining to play at least 20 single encounters and to draw on average about 4 cards after the first fetch we could consider that at least in one case we have drawn a nonland card that should have been a land card.

The advantage is still minimal and may not guarantee victory but a small advantage in the hands of a Pro Player could make a difference.

I have seen some players go down to around 16 lands to try to increase the advantage further but at that point, other problems such as mana screw may start to appear and so it could be counterproductive.

Another point to consider is the loss of a life point for each activation of a fetch concerning the possibility (and not the certainty) of drawing a higher quality card.

Using this tool slightly worsens all matchups against other aggressive decks as we will lose important life points and therefore it will only be used when the metagame has a greater presence of Control or Combo decks where the disadvantage of a life point may not be decisive for the game.

Therefore, I do not recommend using Fetch in single-colour decks just for this advantage but to integrate it into strategies that would normally make good use of fetches for other features as well, such as for landfall decks or similar.

© 2021 Christian Allasia

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