Aquablad said something at the end of his last stream about how balancing by land requirements doesn’t work because lands don’t really have a cost.
I’ve been thinking about this for a bit, and I think that’s more or less true, but it’s a bit more nuanced. I think 3 wishes used to be a balanced card and it used to be balanced by its land requirements, not anymore (or rather, it needed a nerf after oversky was released). So lets take a look at why:
If you try to value the card based on what it does it
1 makes you draw 3 - that should be worth 3f, except it’s from opponent’s deck and some could be unplayable duds, so lets make that 2f
2 gain 3 life, lets be generous and say 1f
3 discounts 3 cards by 3 each - 9f
So in total, it costs 3f and gives you about 12f worth of value so 9f net value.
Now if you’re playing a desert just to play that wishes it is going to cost you some tempo, faeria, and/or cards. If you’d ordinarily need 3 special lands and now you need 8, that’s 5f that you paid up front to get that 9f value. That’s no small matter, and it does a lot to balance it. Each extra land is a 1f investment that yields about 2f return for each wish played (so if you play them all, you’ve invested 5f and neted 9*3=27f). That’s a huge return and well worth it, but you can’t always count on it, so it was balanced before oversky.
The same logic applies to frog tosser, 4/4 fight is probably worth about 5f. Add a 2/2 and it’s probably worth 7-8f. But you need all those lands! So if it’s your only card that needs more than 2 forests, you are spending 4f to be able to play it, and sure you should get value from it. In the end, those 4f return 12f in value which seems fair. But if you’re already spending that 4f to get a super good deal on 3 wishes, then the lands required for frog tosser and wishes are actually yielding 27f+12f in value and they still only cost you 5f.
And if those lands are also required for octopus, then that’s more extra value thrown in there, and if they’re required for whale, well, more extra value added onto that. Each faeria you spend on land now has a ridiculous return on investment, which makes elementals and any land-ramp card incredibly powerful, since they let you cash in on that investment early and not have to pay any cost in tempo.
So the thing is, the reasoning behind balancing 3 wishes and the old dual land cards was spot on and it worked - because those were the only cards of their kind. The problem is that value from such cards scales as a function of the number of similar cards that generate value from multiple lands. with the addition of oversky, the entire equation for scaling has to be rewritten, and will have to be rewritten every time new cards are added that fit those requirements. Meaning if balancing continues in this fashion, then there will need to be nerfs with each expansion, or just massive power creep. with mono-cards getting edged out in favor of land ramp and the best dual-colored cards. And these nerfs will be like the three wishes or wild-growth nerf. They will be to existing cards that either have high land requirements or offer land ramp, as ramp will continue to grow in power, and land requirements will become increasingly trivial.