Channeling Land and Champions of Kamigawa

It’s almost that time again: time for the group I play with to spin up a mini league of Magic.

We could have gone with the new set, Scars of Mirrodin, but for various reasons chose Champions of Kamigawa instead. And we’re still planning to make use of the Channeling Land variant; in this post I’ll cover an area where Champions is not immediately compatible with Channeling Land, and explore ways the handful of exceptional cards can be adapted for the variant.

The Problem

Champions of Kamigawa includes a cycle of commons with abilities which reveal the top card of your library, and do something useful if that card is a land. Brutal Deceiver, for example.

Playing without lands in your deck obviously poses something of a problem for these abilities. And since they’re prevalent in the set it’s an issue in need of being addressed if channeling land is to work with Champions.

Brainstorming Solutions

Here’s a few quick ideas for ways to handle the problem:

  1. Look at the card and choose whether to channel it before revealing the card: Whenever you would reveal the top card of your library instead look at that card. You may choose to channel it for a land and place the land on top of your library. Then reveal the top card of your library.
  2. Choose whether you will channel it before you look at the card: Whenever you would reveal the top card of your library instead do not reveal the card but you may choose to channel it for a land and place the land on top of your library. Then reveal the top card of your library.
  3. Randomly determine whether to channel the card for a land: Whenever you would reveal the top card of your library instead roll a six-sided die. On a 1 or 2 channel that card for a land and place the land on top of your library. Then reveal the top card of your library.
  4. Or… skip the channeling land variant and build decks with lands in them.

Just in case the cards arrive sooner than later I thought I’d get this posted and see what my group thinks, with an update later once we reach some kind of consensus.

Guys: let me know what you think!

  1.  
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    mike Says:

    Honestly, I miss the randomness of official Magic decks with land. I do sometimes I feel like we’re dumbing down the art of deck creation with land-channeling, especially knowing that players can produce land every turn, and are assured access to 6-8 cost cards in 6-8 turns if they want.

    Also, last night with Josh’s deck, he was able to place 10 land cards into a pile with 4 (or more) being special, which means he has 40% chance of getting what he wants every turn he channels for land. But in an official deck, he has a 1 in 60 chance of getting that same card. So certain artifact lands in this set maybe be much more powerful than intended.

    Something to think about at least?

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    mike Says:

    Edit: I meant 4 out of 60, not 1 out of 60. Oops.

  3.  

    Hmm.

    First I feel I should point out a flaw in your comparison. Sure he might have had a four in ten chance when he channeled land. But not every card drawn is going to be channeled (unless he’s really, really boring).

    Also, the decks we were playing with this weekend were from Mirrodin, but don’t confuse the new Scars of Mirrodin set with the box of starters we’ll be opening from Champions of Kamigawa. Special lands in Kamigawa aren’t as amazing really.

    I don’t know whether it’s worth giving up channeling land entirely for what is essentially a cycle of five commons that are not fully compatible… which is where the above suggestions come in. Still I think it’s worth discussing, I don’t want to be the only one voicing an opinion here, and if the group likes we can try it without channeling and see how it goes.

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    mike Says:

    I’m pretty sure my comparison wasn’t as flawed as you seem to believe. From my experiences with our system, and outside of rare circumstances, a card (any card) will be channeled for land each consecutive turn during all players’ first 4-5 turns. That gives the odds of getting special lands a significantly higher chance of being drawn than intended by the designers. Of course, whether or not the special lands are powerful does matter somewhat, but that doesn’t change the fact that it does change the balance in some way.

  5.  

    Sorry Mike, my mistake, you’re right.

    The probabilities could be shifted if we chose to enforce a minimum land pool size or required a certain ratio of basic to non-basic lands. Though in most cases I don’t really see it being a problem.

    Regarding Mirrodin’s artifact lands, they are more powerful in comparison to most non-basic lands. I can’t recall but they may have been banned in Type II tournaments. Which isn’t to say they’re unsuitable for casual play, tournaments are a rather different environment. In our case at least half the decks in that box make use of artifact lands.

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    mike Says:

    Fair enough. 🙂

    Back to the main topic…I would say either option 3 or 4. If everyone is dead set against official Magic decks with land, then option 3 is as close to the original intent that the developers had for the card in a channeling system.

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    Joe Says:

    I got a card with two abilities:
    First, pay 1 colorless to look at the top card of the deck.
    Second, pay two colorless to reveal and if it is a land to put it into my hand.
    So how does this card play?
    I can pay 1 to look at the card, and then if I want, pay 2 to roll a die and then only get a land on a 1 or 2? It doesn’t make sense, because why would I pay 2 if I know its not a land…?

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    Joe Says:

    Ok, wait, I may be wrong. The card I am referring to may be Brutal Deceiver.
    But my question remains… How does it play?
    It still would not make sense to pay 2 if I only have a chance at it being a land….

  9.  

    Good question Joe.

    What I was thinking previously is that you could look for 1 and see whether it was a card you had no interest in channeling. If not, or if you didn’t want to pay an extra 1, pay 2 to have a chance at channeling the card.

    Now, we could instead allow you to choose to try and channel the card anytime you look for 1, which would make the ability for 2 a known success (or not) afterward.

    While that may be closer to the intent of the card, it kind of leaves the loophole that you could pay 1 several times until you roll the result needed to channel (the ability for 2 is only usable once a turn). This loophole could be closed, but we’d quickly get into a longer set of rules, just to fix this set of five cards, than I feel is worthwhile.

    Which leads me to think that option 3 may be a simple compromise. Which means you can pay 1 to look and see if it’s a card you absolutely do not want to risk channeling. Whether or not you look first, you can pay 2 to roll and see if the card’s channeled, then reveal it.

    It’s not perfect, but prevents the cards from being useless and does so with a simple, fairly succinct rule.