THE BATTLE FOR ZENDIKAR: WHAT'S IN A NAME?

The new Magic: The Gathering set, Battle for Zendikar (BFZ), is finally out. The pre-release and release parties have come to an end and I wasn't able to participate in either! I probably would have even worn my party tie! A wedding (to which I did wear Party Tie) and just a lack of spare funds put a crimp on attempting to get my hands on those coveted Expedition Lands as early as possible.

 Some day you will be mine... some day...

Some day you will be mine... some day...

There's still plenty of time and they seem more plentiful (though, are they really?) than originally predicted. At least that's what the world of MTGFinance has been touting, drumming up the panic and (temporary) falling prices. But I seem to recall the estimate being 1-2 per case of booster boxes. Reports seem to show more of a 1-4 Expedition Lands per case ratio. That doesn't seem like a huge increase to me (Okay potentially double...), at least to nosedive values in the long-term, but I'm no where near a MTGFinance pro. Far far far far far from it. I don't pretend to be otherwise.

But this entry isn't about the Expedition Lands, their availability, or current downward trend in value. Those articles seem a dime a dozen, at the moment, and writers way more qualified than myself to cover them. It's about the new dual lands released in BFZ. And not even about their availability (likely to be abundantly plentiful) or projected value over any given span of time.

The focus will be centered around the debated nicknames given to this new cycle of duals.

 I'm sure there are Plains in there... somewhere?

I'm sure there are Plains in there... somewhere?

 If you can't take the heat...

If you can't take the heat...

Give It a Name

Throughout Magic's history, whenever new cycles of dual lands are introduced they are often given a name/title. The nickname given to these cycles, to my knowledge, almost always correlates to how the cards themselves function.

 Nothing beats a hot tub in the Fall!

Nothing beats a hot tub in the Fall!

 This doesn't look as cozy, but at least the text has been cleaned up!

This doesn't look as cozy, but at least the text has been cleaned up!

For example. Allied (the term used for the factions in Magic that work, more or less, together — Enemy for opposing) Pain Lands were originally introduced in the Ice Age block and could be tapped for 1 colorless mana OR tapped for one of two Allied mana sources, but at the cost of taking 1 damage. It's because of the damage that can be incurred when using them that these duals became known as Pain Lands. Eventually the Enemy counterparts were introduced in Apocalypse. Since then, the entire cycle has been present in a majority of Core Sets that Wizards of the Coast (WotC) produced.

 A foil I wish I owned... but now there's the Expedition version!

A foil I wish I owned... but now there's the Expedition version!

Fetch Lands (Allied were released in Onslaught, Enemies in Zendikar) allow you to sacrifice them, losing 1 life, in order to "fetch" another land from your library and place it into play.

 A cycle of lands I still haven't completed playsets of...

A cycle of lands I still haven't completed playsets of...

Shock Lands (the full cycle was released in the first Ravnica block) come into play tapped, unless you take 2 damage (hence the Shock reference).

 Once sporting a 20$ price tag, reduced to just a few bucks...

Once sporting a 20$ price tag, reduced to just a few bucks...

Fast Lands (Allied were released in Scars of Mirrodin) came into play tapped if you controlled 3 or more lands, so you wanted to get them out "fast"... get it?

The point is, the nicknames given to these cycles of lands were derived from how the actual cards themselves functioned. Pain Lands aren't Ice/Ice Age Lands. Fetch Lands aren't Onslaught Lands. Fast Lands aren't Scar Lands. At this point in Magic, this just seems to be common knowledge to me. Something that's a known and accepted practice.

It Takes Two to Tango

 May I have the next dance?

May I have the next dance?

 Fuck off!

Fuck off!

So, when it came to the new dual land cycle in BFZ, lands coming into play tapped unless you control two or more basic lands, it made sense that they would be given a new name based on how they actually function. The Tango Lands were born! I'll be the first to admit, at first I was kind of "meh" with the nickname, but I really warmed up to it. It's witty, makes sense, and simply works. Most people are familiar with the phrase "It takes two to tango," and if not, it's not exactly hard to explain.

 Life can get so lonely without a dance partner...

Life can get so lonely without a dance partner...

Then there's the added bonus (and reference I mentioned adoring) of Tango & Cash. The cards have nothing to do with the movie, of course, but if you've never seen it, I'd recommend it. One of my guilty pleasures. In terms of Magic, "Cash" is in reference to Expedition Lands. Basically, you have the chance of opening a Tango Land, and an Expedition Land (worth a lot of cash...) in a single booster. Thus Tango & Cash! Love it.

 I can't deny my love for Russell! He has such amazing reflexes!

I can't deny my love for Russell! He has such amazing reflexes!

Somewhere along the line, however, some within the community became very adamant against using the term Tango Lands. Currently they are trying to push for an alternative. Some have thrown out Slow Lands (though, that is already a given term for a handful of lands, I believe those coming into play tapped, which technically many of these are a sub-category of) is one I've seen, but the biggest term being pushed for this cycle is Battle Lands. Pushed by some pretty prominent figures within the Magic community, no less.

The Battle Against Battle Lands

Battle Lands. Hated it instantly. Way more than when first hearing Tango Lands. Why? Because the term has absolutely nothing to do with the lands themselves aside from the fact that they are in the Battle for Zendikar set. To my knowledge, that's it. Literally. Uhhhhhhh... Okay? No.

As explained above, these cycles of lands are named based on how they function within the game. The cards themselves. Not the set they're in. You know what would have made for a great cycle named Battle Lands. Man Lands (I believe they were originally), now called Creature Lands, dropping the gender specific descriptor. They are actually lands that can come alive, become creatures, and... You know... Battle... And this new set even has the Enemy versions of the Creature Lands featured in the original Zendikar block!

 A perfect setting for Creature Lands, where the very land itself is attempting to fight off the Eldrazi!

A perfect setting for Creature Lands, where the very land itself is attempting to fight off the Eldrazi!

 Go forward unto battle! Because, you know, you actually can!

Go forward unto battle! Because, you know, you actually can!

Understandably, though, you don't want to go renaming an already established, and embraced, name (not that it hasn't been already...) as it would cause some confusion. On the other hand, so does naming a cycle of lands Battle Lands when it in no way explains or describes the cards and/or how they work. If they somehow had an ability that associated directly with "battle" or "battling" sure. But they don't. The word "battle" is in no way, shape, or form reflected in the cards themselves.

I believe for players, especially newer ones, it's important and more intuitive for there to be a direct connection/correlation between the nickname a cycle of cards is given and how they function within the game. A point I recently made/discussed in a MTG group on Facebook.

In my examples, what if a card like Polluted Delta (a Fetch Land from Onslaught) was simply referenced as an Onslaught Land. Just because that was the set it was released in. What about when the Enemy counterparts were released in the original Zendikar block? Would they be Onslaught Lands or Zendikar Lands? What about when it [Polluted Delta] was reprinted in the Khans Block? Is it referenced as an Onslaught Land? Khan Land? What?!

If the Enemy counterparts of Tango Lands are printed in the next set, will they still be Battle Lands? Why? Oath Lands? Again, why?! What if they don't come out for another year, or three, in a set completely unrelated to BFZ?

Oh wait, if giving the card/cycle a name/term that transcends the set, being universally inclusive, and is based on what the card actually does, none of that is an issue! No matter how many times it's reprinted, in no matter how many different sets! And players will know and understand the cards more, because the terms bestowed upon them will actually reflect how the card functions! Holy shitballs! It's genius!

Growing Disappointment

I'm not really sure how many people follow along with my MTG ramblings, but I know there are a few of you. If you've been paying attention, by now, you understand I've become a bit disenchanted with WotC and some of the more prominent figures within the Magic Community.

This [Tango/Battle Lands] is a very, very small issue with me, compared to others I've discussed, but I still can't wrap my head around what I feel is not only common sense, but common practice within Magic, being lost on others. Something that's been standard issue for years now. And this backwards push is being spearheaded by those higher up in the Magic Community? I think I've seen Patrick Chapin express the term (but you know how I feel about him), announcers, and I'm sure others I've heard of, but haven't researched how they weigh in on the naming game.

 Honestly, I can't dance worth a damn, let alone Tango! Unless we're talking Bedroom Dancing...!

Honestly, I can't dance worth a damn, let alone Tango! Unless we're talking Bedroom Dancing...!

You don't like Tango? Why? The only thing I could think of is an aversion to 1. Dancing or 2. A term associated to something outside the realm of Magic. BUT Fetch isn't a Magic specific term. Fast isn't. They weren't nicknamed Search Lands or Haste Lands. So really, what's the fucken gripe over Tango?

Does the term accurately describe and/or embrace how the cards function? Yep? Does Battle? At all? Nope.

Is it a word you really feel is worth circumventing a tried and true practice in Magic for over a decade? For what? A term that offers nothing but confusion in the long run to players, new (and old), referencing them in the years to come, especially after potential reprints in sets having absolutely nothing to do with Battle for Zendikar? Really? And you are the proverbial mouthpieces championing Magic: The Gathering? The people the community looks up to?

If you don't like Tango, fine. But pick a term that will actually accurately represents how the card functions. "Battle" isn't one of them. I know it and, I think in your heart of hearts, you know it as well.

So just don't. You can do better. We can do better. The future of dual lands yet to come deserve better.

Just say no to Battle Lands.

What do you think about the term Tango Lands? Battle Lands? Which do you prefer and why? Have your own name/term suggestion? Did my explanation make sense or do I come off like a raving lunatic?! GAH! Were you able to participate in either the BFZ pre-release or release weekends? If so, did you end up getting any Expedition Lands? Share your stories!