Preview Review - Three Mana Rocks (Part One)

midnight clock header image
(Midnight Clock | Alexander Forssberg)

Three is the Magic Number

Mana rocks: making it, spending it, and turning it into a ginormous spell. There’s nothing quite like making mana. Mana rocks are a vital part of Commander, they help decks that aren’t green level the playing field in terms of mana ramp. Mana rocks played on curve allow you to outpace your opponents and commit more impactful spells to the game quickly.

Closer to the inception of Commander, the games went a bit longer until someone could throw down one of these splashy spells to win the game. Preconstructed decks follow a similar play pattern even today. As Commander grew more popular, the inevitability of efficacy came with them. Players looked for the most opportune cards to run in their decks to outpace their opponents. Four mana rocks like Hedron Archive were outpaced by three mana rocks like Darksteel Ingot.

For decks where Darksteel Ingot was too slow, Arcane Signet saw it quickly outpaced. (Arcane Signet is a staple in any Commander deck today, but when it released in the brawl decks for Throne of Eldraine back in 2019 (Could you believe it commanded a price tag of nearly $25?). The conversation shifted to the point where two mana rocks were the go-to, anything else was too slow unless you were in a big mana-style deck. Players were even running Fractured Powerstone, a card from Planechase that admittedly was another source of letting you tap for colorless on turn two.

Now Wizards of the Coast is doing something a bit different. The players have been stripping the unessential parts from their decks and running the bare bones needed to get the job done. Wizards in the meantime are injecting flavor and fancy into their more expensive mana rocks. Is this to draw back the player to a more casual game of Commander? Is this simply to offer flavor to certain decks? In this article, I’ll be showing you some mana rocks that rock. I’ll be showing you why after all this time, three might be the Magic number.


Starting off with white, we’re going to take a look at Wand of the Worldsoul a card released this year from March of the Machine Commander. Wand of the Worldsoul enters the battlefield tapped and taps for one white mana, which could at first glance make it a poor option for ramp. However, Wand can really represent some explosive early and late turns in Commander. White is a color that can reliably commit creatures to the board with early-game tokens like Raise the Alarm or Skrelv's Hive.

A lot of strategies in white will be creature strategies too. If you’re able to have played a creature on turn one, created the two tokens on turn two with Raise the Alarm, and then play Wand of the Worldsoul on turn three, then your turn four is looking quite spicy. With three creatures, four lands, and the Wand, you’re able to put a seven drop into play on turn four, which can definitely surprise your opponents. This card shines with vigilant creatures. They attack on your combat step, block on your opponent's combat step and then cast spells on their end step using the Wand. It’s a card that has lots of potential and representing explosive turns and surprise spells definitely makes this card worth the extra mana.


One of our newest cards on the list is Misleading Signpost. This is one of the cards that essentially inspired this article. I run an Orvar, the All-Form Commander deck and this one is top of my list for new upgrades. Misleading Signpost makes a strong argument for the inclusion of three mana rocks in your Commander deck because it reminds us what that extra mana is getting us: versatility.

First and foremost, this unassuming mana rock reminds us that green isn’t the only color that can throw Fog effects our opponents' way. Now with blue, you’re not always likely to have the biggest board. You may have fewer creatures than your opponents in more aggressive colors and strategies. You may also be quaking in your blue mage boots when you hear the Gruul player say "When you don’t have permanent removal, bring player removal." With Misleading Signpost, you don’t disagree with that sentiment, you encourage it.

During the declare attackers step, you can cast Misleading Signpost at flash speed and encourage that Blightsteel Colossus you’ve been staring at all game to swing in a different direction. What I really enjoy about this mana rock is not only that it can save your life (which is more than we can say for a lot of mana rocks, and to me that alone is worth consideration), but that it still comes in untapped, allowing you to hold up another blue mana for further interaction.

In the Orvar deck, this card gets even better allowing you to run it in multiples, essentially. Twiddle targeting your Misleading Signpost allows you to make another and allows you to misdirect that Blightsteel Colossus a second time, potentially knocking out two players and leaving you left standing. How to deal with the final player, you ask? Same way we blue mages always have, Control Magic!

Midnight Clock is an underestimated card in my opinion. It’s ended up getting printed in four preconstructed decks since its initial print in Throne of Eldraine back in 2019. No flash speed shenanigans this time, instead your turn three mana rock is going to provide you with a lot of utility and card advantage. Assuming Midnight Clock isn’t being played with any additional upkeeps then for three turns, you’re getting an artifact that taps for blue, but then once that clock strikes twelve and the twelfth hour counter is placed upon it, it will exile itself allow you to shuffle your hand and graveyard into your library and draw a fresh seven cards.

Now to assess the value of this, we need to think about timing. This effect should come around turn six, or three upkeep cycles after the card is cast. First, we need to look at the downside, we have to exile Midnight Clock as part of this effect, so we will be losing the ability to generate one additional mana a turn. I think that this is okay, however, as one additional mana each turn is more valuable on turns three, four and five as opposed to turn six. You’ll more than likely be interacting with your opponent’s threats during those earlier setup turns, countering that key combo piece or stopping that Smothering Tithe before it gets started. On turn six, however, you can maintain a lot of your interaction and continue to hit your land drops with this second effect of Midnight Clock.

Drawing a fresh seven cards this far into the game is quite valuable. At this point, the more aggressive decks may be running out of steam if their earlier attempts are thwarted (If they weren’t thwarted, you’re probably dead so time to shuffle up again). You may have used up a lot of your interaction, and committed pieces to the table so what better now than to keep the pressure on when the clock strikes twelve for the rest of the table, you’re going to come back to the ball with a fresh grip of blue nonsense.

Now there’s the activated ability to put an hour counter on the clock for three mana. This can be activated at instant speed and can be utilised with any spare mana you might have (After all, you know by now why mana sinks are so good right?). If you don’t like your current hand, there’s no reason not to tick up the clock and hurry up drawing into a new hand.

To address the criticism we hear around Midnight Clock. But what if I like my hand? Well, now we return to redundancy. Commander is a singleton format, and granted while you might like the cards in your hand just fine, I’m pretty sure you like the rest of the cards you put in the deck too. Running redundant effects in Commander is the first step to making your deck more consistent at doing what it does, and shuffling away a hand of four cards you like for seven new cards is never going to be the worst-case scenario in Commander. Midnight Clock might even encourage players who feel a little tentative to commit their threats to the board a little earlier. After all, when you’re going to be backed up with a hand of seven new cards it’s a little easier to protect those threats, follow them up with new ones or just continue to ensure you’re up on card advantage and consistently hitting your land for the turn.

Three of a Kind

Wow! All that from innocuous mana rocks? That’s a lot more than I can say about tiny two-mana rocks like Talisman of Dominance, that’s for sure. Well if you enjoyed this deep dive into mana rocks of the more expensive variety, you’ll enjoy what’s coming next. Our journey continues in the next article where we’ll be talking about some more favorites and some new challengers in the world of three mana rocks.

Which are your favorites? Got some secret tech you’re willing to share? Let us all know in the comments below. Why not have a guess at which mana rocks are coming in part two? See how many you get right! That’s me for now though, you’ll see me again very soon with the next part in this mini-series. In the meantime though, if you want to chat Magic, come find me over on Twitter. I’ll see you in the next one if the time streams are in order... that is.

Read More:

Preview Review - Mana Sinks (Part One)

Preview Review - Exile or Discard?

Joshua is a Medical Researcher from the UK. He's played Magic since Dragons of Tarkir and loves all things Commander, the more colours the better! When not playing Commander, he can be found insisting Jund is still a viable deck in Modern and painting tiny plastic miniatures on Twitter @PrinceofBielTan

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