Please note before we start that today's article is aimed towards new players, casual players, and anyone who wants to check out some basic rules for how to construct a manabase. This one is NOT aimed towards experienced players, so if you're looking for something like that then look elsewhere!
One aspect of Magic that is very difficult for new players to get a grasp on in how to setup their manabase. There are a few reasons for this. First off, it's very common for players to run too few lands. Why run boring lands when you can run some sweet Craw Wurms or something? Secondly, it's not exactly easy to figure out the exact right mix of lands to use. Both of these problems are addressed in the following article:
Every once in a while I point new players to that JMS article, which is required reading for this one you're scanning now. So if you haven't read it, then please do - I'm sure you'll get something out of it. It's one of my personal favorite article of all time. Read it now. Do it. Please?
Ok? Alright, today's article is a bit unconventional - it's more of a supplement to the linked article than anything else. As you just read In that JMS article, he discusses a way to figure out the rough balance of lands you should be running based on the casting cost of spells in your deck. I make a lot of decks, and I've found this method to be a fantastic starting point for the lists that I work on. I used this method many times, so a while back I put together a simple app that lets me quickly and easy perform these calculations - and I figured that it would be something that lots of people could use.
So I spent the evening learning Silverlight (something I wanted to do anyways) and then put together a basic online app to help with these calculations. Here's the link if you can't wait to try it out:
... but I highly recommend checking out an example. Here's a quick video where I show how to use SimpleLandCalc on an example deck, Manuel Bucher's Naya Planeswalker deck for Alara Block. I suggest watching this one in HD, and hopefully you can make out enough of the interface. Watching it full screen will probably also help.
Finally, there are a few caveats:
As mentioned above, you need Silverlight to run SimpleLandCalc. You probably have Silverlight anyways, it is taking over the internet.
SimpleLandCalc only supports single and double mana symbols. RR works fine, but RRR isn't supported. Maybe in a future version, although working out the interface is a pain. Until then, just add another tick to the single mana column.
JMS's article was written before the days of things like hybrid mana. I usually add one into the one-column of each hybrid color for every two symbols. If we're running a deck with four copies of Figure of Destiny, then add two into the one-column for red and white.
Please let me know if you have any questions, find any bugs, or have any good ideas. Thanks for reading, even though there weren't very many words this time around.