Evidence for Actual Dual Lands in Return to Ravnica

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I hate speculation. It’s a waste of time.

So of course, I’m kinda doing it here. Why? Because we all wanted the Ravnica Dual Lands to be reprinted in M13. They weren’t. I argued last year why that was ok, and I’m still sticking to those points. With, sigh, a “Return to Ravnica” around the corner, we know it’s going to be a multi-colored set (Zac Hill even said as much today). It wasn’t a surprise, that’s the plane; it’s like going back to Mirrodin and having us care about the Graveyard. Flavor just doesn’t work that way.

Back to speculation. Sometimes you have no facts to back it up, but just a “gut feeling.” Everywhere people were talking about how Noble Hierarch was “Absolutely” going to be in M13 since they brought back Exalted. “Why not? It fit the name/number crunch and Exalted was in the set.” That was all the evidence that people needed. The evidence against was A) Exalted was only seen in White and Black (The other returning mechanics had splashes), and B) no three colors were ever seen on a card, unless they dealt with Nicol Bolas (Blue/Black/Red). Obviously pushing a Bant card in a set with no “Bant” wasn’t going to happen.

We have evidence though for Dual Lands with Basic Land types for Return to Ravnica. Evidence in this Core Set, M13. We know this because Wizards puts cards in the Core Set that work with the Block printed before, and after (though mostly after). That’s another post in itself, but you get things like Index (helps Miracles) and Disciple of Bolas (Undying and Morbid) that help out the previous block. What “evidence” do we have this time? What could possibly happen that would make me believe that Dual Lands are going to happen in Return to Ravnica.

Because of the increase use of the Basic Land type in M13.

Only two cards in M13 reference “Basic” lands: Boundless Realms (Where WotC learned that issue with Primeval Titan), and the reprint Evolving Wilds. Only two cards in a Core Set isn’t exactly new. Here’s how many cards in each Core Set from 7th Edition to now refer to “Basic Lands”.

  • 7th – 4
  • 8th – 3
  • 9th – 3
  • 10th – 3
  • M10 – 4
  • M11 – 3
  • M12 – 2
  • M13 – 2
As you see, there’s n0thing new about this stat. However, if we take a look at the number of cards that reference Basic Land types (such as Forest, or Swampwalk), you can see a different story brewing:
  • 7th – 25
  • 8th – 20
  • 9th – 22
  • 10th – 12
  • M10 – 13
  • M11 – 16
  • M12 – 8
  • M13 – 22
Each of the ones from M10 include 5 of the rare dual lands in there. M13 has another set of uncommons that care about basic land types, something that no other Core Set has. There was a huge dip after 9th Edition to refer to the Basic Land type. Philosophies about what should be in the Core Sets change, and how often they are printed, but that’s a huge shift in numbers.
Oh, the other thing that I should point out here is the size of the sets:
  • 7th – 350
  • 8th – 350
  • 9th – 350
  • 10th – 383
  • M10 – 249
  • M11 – 249
  • M12 – 249
  • M13 – 249
Which gives us these percentages of the set that mention Basic Land types:
  • 7th – 7.1%
  • 8th – 5.7%
  • 9th – 6.3%
  • 10th – 3.3%
  • M10 – 5.2%
  • M11 – 6.4%
  • M12 – 3.2%
  • M13 – 8.8%
This is the largest percent of the Core Set that has to deal with Basic Land types. Not only that, 3 of the top 4 percentages of cards that reference Basic Land types coincide with multi-color blocks: 7th was released inside the Invasion Block, 9th was right before Ravnica, and M13 is right before Return to Ravnica.
The other time where the Basic Land type shows up on cards is when it deals with evasion such as Islandwalk. In modern Core Sets (M10 and later), there is a focus more on the limited format than just introducing new players and helping shape Standard. Evasion helps break up ground stalls, which is why you see them sometimes on “bad” creatures. Not every evasion card is for limited or Standard (Such as Master of the Pearl Trident), but if we eliminate them from the numbers, we can focus those that “matter” even further:
  • 7th – 11 (14 non *Walk)
  • 8th – 6 (14 non *Walk)
  • 9th – 9 (13 non *Walk)
  • 10th – 7 (5 non *Walk)
  • M10 – 2 (11 non *Walk)
  • M11 – 6 (10 non *Walk)
  • M12 – 2 (6 non *Walk)
  • M13 – 4 (18 non *Walk)

Eleven of the 18 cards that are non *Walk are new (or 6 of the 13 non uncommon cycle ones if you want to think of it that way. Five of non *Walk cards search for Basic Land types including Rampant Growth’s “replacement” Farseek, which was in Ravnica the last time it was printed. Gem of Becoming might have said “Basic” on it if it was printed in another Core Set. Even a new Planeswalker, Liliana, references Swamps in all of her abilities even though she previously never had an ability to connect her to Swamps. Her common “helper” card, Liliana’s Shade, goes get any Swamp as well.

Now, here’s the trick with speculation: in three months, this post could turn out all wrong. There were never any Dual Lands in Return to Ravnica only more cards that helped push basic lands. I’m just presenting one piece of evidence, backed up by data. And WotC is known to throw curveballs from time to time (See: Nicol Bolas as the only Multi-colored card in the Core Set).

In fact, we may get Dual Lands with basic land types but not the ones we’ve seen before. It’s possible, and even likely, that we could get new lands besides the Ravnica Shocklands. They might be pushed to help out in Legacy (this would be the perfect time for them) and to go along side the ones in Modern. For that, I have no idea; there’s no proof of any other type of land (but there wouldn’t be). All I can say is that I’m looking at the numbers for some sort of Dual Lands with basic land types, and they point towards yes.

But what do I know?

This is all speculation.

For those that don’t like Bullet Points, here’s a chart of the relevant info.

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3 thoughts on “Evidence for Actual Dual Lands in Return to Ravnica

  1. Interesting post. I think all the hints that aren’t really hints, so to speak, from Wizards of the Coast are a little frustrating, but it definitely makes it look like they have something – of some kind – planned for Return to Ravnica. Personally, I find some of the constant speculation people have a little annoying – they’ve been predicted to be returning in nearly every set since Ravnica, and often in not as nuanced a way as you’ve done (“the definitely maybe is good enough for me!”). As you said, all we can do is wait and see.

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