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By: jdmedina, Jonathan Medina
Apr 13 2020 12:00pm

Welcome back friends. Last time, I talked about building a 10 ticket Commander deck. If you haven’t had a chance to check that out, feel free to do that. Today, I’m going to use one of those budget decks to talk about building an affordable five-color mana base. 

One of the interesting things about Magic Online (MTGO) is that it has its own pricing structure. If you’re coming from a paper background, you'll notice some differences. One of those differences is that the “budget” threshold on MTGO is much lower. On Magic Online you can build a whole Commander decks for what it would cost to have a Cultivate shipped to your house! I'm not going that low today, but I’ll try to keep my land suggestions at around half a ticket or less. Let’s start with the decklist and then break down the mana base. 

Budget Najeela
This is a Warrior deck

1 Alesha, Who Smiles at Death
1 Blood-Chin Rager
1 Bramblewood Paragon
1 Brutal Hordechief
1 Champion of Lambholt
1 Chief of the Edge
1 Combat Celebrant
1 Decorated Champion
1 Den Protector
1 Devoted Crop-Mate
1 Duskwatch Recruiter
1 Edric, Spymaster of Trest
1 Garna, the Bloodflame
1 Goblin Bushwhacker
1 Goblin Cratermaker
1 Grim Initiate
1 Herald of Dromoka
1 Hero of Precinct One
1 Hidden Dragonslayer
1 Kraul Harpooner
1 Lovisa Coldeyes
1 Mardu Shadowspear
1 Mardu Strike Leader
1 Mardu Woe-Reaper
1 Mindblade Render
1 Mirror Entity
1 Najeela, the Blade-Blossom
1 Narnam Renegade
1 Ogre Battledriver
1 Reassembling Skeleton
1 Reckless Bushwhacker
1 Renegade Rallier
1 Rhys the Redeemed
1 Rushblade Commander
1 Shanna, Sisay's Legacy
1 Sultai Emissary
1 Sunblade Elf
1 Thorn Lieutenant
1 Thrasher Brute
1 Tymaret, the Murder King
1 Vampire Lacerator
1 Viridian Zealot
1 Zealous Conscripts
1 Anguished Unmaking
1 Arcane Denial
1 Chance for Glory
1 Golgari Charm
1 Negate
1 Path to Exile
1 Secure the Wastes
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Wrap in Vigor
1 Patriarch's Bidding
1 Vandalblast
1 Beastmaster Ascension
1 Druids' Repository
1 Raiders' Spoils
1 Shared Animosity
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Obsidian Battle-Axe
1 Skullclamp
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Throne of the God-Pharaoh
1 Aether Hub
1 Arcane Sanctum
1 Canopy Vista
1 Cinder Glade
1 Command Tower
1 Crumbling Necropolis
1 Evolving Wilds
3 Forest
1 Frontier Bivouac
1 Ghitu Encampment
1 Grand Coliseum
2 Island
1 Jungle Shrine
3 Mountain
1 Mystic Monastery
1 Nomad Outpost
1 Opulent Palace
2 Plains
1 Prairie Stream
1 Sandsteppe Citadel
1 Savage Lands
1 Seaside Citadel
1 Smoldering Marsh
1 Sunken Hollow
3 Swamp
1 Tendo Ice Bridge
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Unclaimed Territory
1 Haktos the Unscarred


I picked this deck because Najeela is demanding when it comes to mana requirements. Typically, you want to play a Warrior before playing Najeela so that you can get the ball rolling on creating tokens. The full power version of this deck wants to play a one-drop warrior, into a two-drop warrior, into Najeela- WEEEEEE! For the budget version we’ll skip the one drop and focus on going from a two-drop into Najeela.  We need to spend turn one playing an “enter-the-battlefield-tapped” land. Speaking of which, let’s talk about my choices for ETBT lands. 

Enter the Battlefield Tapped (ETBT)

Some people like to play Vivid Lands in this spot and splurge on a Reflecting Pool. I’ve played enough Cruel Control to know the pain of running out of charge counters. It’s not a pretty sight. I prefer to use a 10 pack of the Shard Tri-Lands as the backbone of my five-color mana bases. They don’t run out of counters and there’s 10 of them so you’re more likely to have one on your first turn. Another ETBT land that I chose to include is Grand Coliseum. It does a great City of Brass impression for a fraction of the price. Not to mention it can tap for colorless without the pain. 

Rainbow Lands

I’ll start with the rainbow lands that I didn't use. 

Ancient Ziggurat is great if you’re running mostly creatures. The problem is that playing the Ziggurat puts you a turn behind for casting spells. The thought of being stuck on five lands with Ziggurat in play and a Patriarch's Bidding stranded in my hand makes me want to vomit! Reflecting Pool is a great option but it’s slightly out of budget. But everyone's threshold is different so you may be able to splurge on a Reflecting Pool. Rainbow Vale; lol. I just put that in there for the memes. 

I am endorsing some counter lands but before you call me a hypocrite, hear me out. The difference between these and Vivid Lands is that these come in play untapped. With a tight curve like Najeela, it’s important to have lands that enter the battlefield untapped. Important enough for me to add these even though you can only squeeze one colored mana out of them. I also added a Command Tower. Even though it’s out of budget, I made an exception because it’s the best power-per-ticket rainbow land. If you can’t afford it in your budget, then you can always go with a cheaper option (see the tribal options later).

These are both ETBT lands and honorary rainbow lands. They give you an option to pick which color to lead with for turn one. They also smooth out your color distribution in the later turns. The power of this pair goes beyond color fixing. They're also great in decks that want cards in the graveyard or that need Landfall triggers. I paired these with thirteen basic lands distributed among all five colors based on the deck’s needs. Thirteen is a lot of basics for a five-color deck, but again untapped lands are very important. Not only that, but they also enable this next set of lands to come into play untapped. 

Battle Lands

When I build budget decks, I avoid the expensive dual lands and look for other options that enter the battlefield untapped. In paper, my go-to has been a combination of the Battlebond lands and the Kaladesh fast lands. On Magic Online even though most of these lands are cheaper than their counterparts they still fall outside of our budget threshold. That where the Battle for Zendikar lands shine. Thirteen basics is enough for them to reliably come into play untapped and the price is right. They also have land types which could have some corner case applications.

Tribal Considerations 

You’ll notice that I included a copy of Unclaimed Territory which is an awesome rainbow land for a Tribal deck. If you’re building other tribes then it may be worth investing in the respective tribal land. Here are some that come to mind. 

Dragons - Haven of the Spirit Dragon
Allies - Ally Encampment
Elementals - Primal Beyond
Slivers - Sliver Hive

I’m still anxiously awaiting the Warrior land! Come on Wizards, print a five-color Warrior land you cowards! 

Wrapping it Up

This article was focused on the five-color manabase for Najeela. My hope is that walking through this process will get you thinking about your own mana bases. I didn’t want to write a generic primer for a five-color mana base because that assumes that one mana base fits all. It doesn’t work like that. When thinking about your mana base you should consider your deck holistically. 

If you’re running a control deck or a lands deck, then ETBT lands are much more reasonable. New options open up. For example, you may want to work the bi-cycle lands into your mana base. Or, if you have Gate synergies, then you can think about the Guildgate package with Plaza of Harmony. There are so many different things to consider. Now it's your turn, tell me how you approach building a five-color mana base. You can hit me up on Twitter or in the comments. Thank you for reading! 

<3 JM