The mega-popular fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering is played around the world and printed in 11 languages, from its native English to cards made in French, Korean, Russian, and more. These cards are creatures like knights or dragons, arcane spells, mystic artifacts, and more. But don't forget the land cards, which produce the mana to make all spells possible. With very few exceptions, all decks have land cards in them.
Lands go beyond the basic Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest, though. Since the start, all kinds of nonbasic lands have been printed to grant bonus abilities or add a variety of mana to your mana pool. Some of them can even turn into creatures, or allow you to search your deck. Everyone loves the fetch lands, Alpha dual lands, and the shock lands. But over the years, Wizards of the Coast has also printed some total clunkers. Which land cards prove to be a total waste of real estate?
10 Seraph Sanctuary
Most of the land cards in this list are rather old, coming from a time when Wizards was still figuring out the game's power levels and balance. But Seraph Sanctuary is as recent as 2012's Avacyn Restored, a set all about angels. Lots of cards in this set are angels or support them, including this land.
But forget it. Seraph Sanctuary only adds colorless mana, and its modest abilities are only relevant to angels. That's cool for AVR limited, but otherwise, it's a dud. If you want to gain some life, let Archangel of Thune lead the charge in your angel deck.
9 Forsaken City
We're guessing that this city was forsaken for a reason! It looks like a total ruin, and this card's performance does not impress. It is among several lands in the game that can tap for one mana of any color, such as City of Brass of Mana Confluence. Great!
What's not great is the hurdle standing between you and that mana. This lousy City doesn't even untap unless you exile cards from your hand! What a steep price to pay, and it doesn't even enable graveyard strategies. And it only works on your upkeep. Don't even try to tap this for one mana, then exile a bunch of cards to tap the City over and over in one turn.
8 Rainbow Vale
Here's another old land which thinks it's funny to require a massive cost for its mana ability. Rainbow Vale can tap for one mana of any color, but then, an opponent gets control of it!
This is vaguely similar to Contested War Zone from Mirrodin Besieged but much worse. The War Zone can boost all of your attacking creatures, and your opponent only gets it if they can deal some combat damage to you. This rainbow treasure, meanwhile, is not worth fighting over.
7 Tomb of Urami
Two cards from the ill-fated Champions of Kamigawa block will appear on this list, starting with a land card with demon and ogre overtones. This block features an ogre tribe that worships the demons or Oni, and Tomb of Urami embodies that. It even makes a 5/5 flying beater!
For a heck of a cost, that is. You can't easily tap for black mana without taking damage, so you'd better have an ogre around to save the day. Worse yet, you have to sacrifice all of your lands (and pay mana) to make that 5/5 token! You'd better win with that token right away, or you just handed the game to your opponent. Yes, the demons in Magic: the Gathering often come at a cost; it's the flavor of that creature type. But this is just silly.
6 Wintermoon Mesa
To be fair, this card has a pretty cool name and a decent illustration. But both are wasted on this lousy land. It just taps for one colorless mana, and it enters the battlefield tapped. So far, so bad.
This Mesa does come with a bonus: it can tap two lands, and in so doing, disrupt your opponent's strategy for a turn. Granted, of course, that you're ready to pay 2 and sacrifice the Mesa to do it! Most likely not.
5 Unholy Citadel
Another land with a cool name wasted on a pitiful effect. And in the hands of modern MtG artists, a land called Unholy Citadel would probably have an awesome illustration. The art standard of modern Magic is very high, with many frame-worthy illustrations out there.
Back to the card. This land, like the rest in its cycle, doesn't even tap for mana at all! Instead, Unholy Citadel strictly a utility land, if you can call banding "utility". If you're running black legendary creatures, congrats! You've got a merry band of adventurers. Then you remember that this isn't 1994, so you're almost definitely not playing with banding.
This card is really showing its age, isn't it? How so? Early in the game, Wizards was still figuring out which effects are powerful, and which are not. We can't blame them for figuring things out as they went, and early on, Magic's cards overestimated banding, damage prevention, and landwalk. Now we know better.
Oasis, fresh from 1993's Arabian Nights, is a utility land that can't be bothered to make any mana. Instead, you can tap it to... prevent 1 damage to a creature? That's all? This is absolutely not worth a land slot in any deck whatsoever. If your opponent just cast Gut Shot on your Dark Confidant, Oasis is ready to help! Just kidding. This card will likely never see play again.
3 Nomad Stadium
This land is part of a cycle, and arguably, it's the worst of the five. Nomad Stadium, like the other four, can tap for a color of mana, and deal 1 damage to you. Ouch.
What do you get in return? The chance to pay one white mana, tap and sacrifice the Stadium when you have threshold active... and gain 4 life. Big deal. Gaining life is okay, but it's not worth an entire card by itself. That's what lifelink is for. Novice players often overestimate lifegain, and they might play with card that only grant life. Then they discover the likes of Archangel of Thune!
2 Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper
That name is a bit of a tongue twister, isn't it? Now we meet the second and last card from the Champions of Kamigawa block to appear on this list. The flavor text alludes to a very powerful and important piece of Kamigawa's geography, but the card falls far short.
It enters the battlefield tapped, it's legendary, and its mana can only be spent on legendary spells! That's too many hurdles to tap for 2 mana. Mishra's Workshop is notoriously overpowered, yes, and we can't blame Wizards for nerfing future lands to avoid making another unfair card like it. But this card is impossible to justify.
1 Sorrow's Path
Many players of the game have heard of this card from The Dark. Maybe they even saw players use it in games back in the mid-1990s or so. Yet again, we get a utility land that has no mana ability, so we can only judge the card by its effects.
And what a horrendous effect it is! You can tap Sorrow's Path to swap two of your opponent's blocking creatures, so long as you don't create illegal blocks. That doesn't sound so bad. Kind of cool, actually. Then we get that triggered ability: whenever Sorrow's Path becomes tapped for any reason, it deals 2 damage to you and all your creatures! It's a one-sided Pyroclasm, and it makes no sense. Was Wizards really so afraid of the power of blocker-switching that they put in that monstrous downside? Many of your creatures may die to that, and the survivors won't be in any shape to survive combat. Hey, maybe you could use this to enable Enrage on all of your Ixalan dinosaurs! That's a real stretch, though.