Card Spotlight: Secrets of the Golden City

It might not seem like it, but it is a gamechanger. In Commander.

Okay, probably not really, but I do like it.

One of the things I often strive to do with my decks in Commander is to make sure I can hit land drops throughout the game. Since the decks in Commander have more cards in them, variance can hit them harder, especially if your shuffling is subpar. Also, if you want to find enough mana to play your seven-drops, you need to have a lot of lands in your deck as well as a lot of ways to dig to them.

So, I usually play 40+ lands. Even with that many lands, I can’t actually expect to hit more than maybe five land drops on average before missing one. Therefore I need to do various things to make sure I can find them. The problem is that when I look at my opening hand, I can’t really tell how many I’m going to find.

Suppose I have a very reasonable start of three lands, which I’ll probably never mulligan, unless there’s a serious chance of color screw or I need a kind of card in my opening hand, because I know what someone else is playing and need an answer to them. So, after seeing those three initial lands, I’m hoping I’ll find two more in the next five cards. That shouldn’t be too hard, but that’s just the average (with my 40 lands). Of course, I’ll miss the average quite often. So, I want to do something to help me out.

Since I’m sort of counting on the three lands here, I can use various ways to help me out. For three mana, we have, for example…

CultivateRead the BonesPilgrim’s EyeMulldrifter

These will help you out quite nicely. You can either find lands automatically or you can at least dig towards them. But of course, making land drops is nice, but it’s not the only thing you are doing in the game. You want to find action as well. For that reason, Read the Bones is an excellent card. You can choose which ones you are looking for for the low, low price of two life (I’m comparing it to Divination).

If you have 40 lands in your deck and you exchange one card for two, you are (on average) drawing 0.8 lands and 1.2 spells. That’s not a very good rate, if you are looking for spells only. However, Secrets of the Golden City fixes this somewhat. Early, when you are just looking for lands, it smoothes out your draw. Later, when you are done with lands (as if that’s ever going to happen in Commander), exchanging a card for three cards isn’t that bad for three mana.

Flexibility is nice and it works so nicely here. There is a cost to using it early, but if it’s what you need, than why not? One card for three isn’t an amazing rate in Commander, but the ability to use it early as well is just great. It’s exactly what most blue decks need. Stronger versions of Divination, as funny as it seems.

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