Ranking Every Mana Rock with EDHREC – Finale: The Top Nine Mana Rocks and Sol Ring
(Sol Ring | Art by Mike Bierek)
Let’s Discuss Some Pretty Rocks, Shall We?
This is it! After ten episodes, we finally reach the top ten mana rocks based on the number of deck inclusions on EDHREC! No sense in prolonging this journey any further. I’m sure you’re all trembling in anticipation to discover #1. What could it be? Ooooooh! The mystery!
Yeah, not really, but hey! There’s still nine other rocks you don’t know, so let’s hop right to it! Number 10!
10: Thran Dynamo: 41,592 Decks
Thran Dynamo is not subtle. It takes you from four mana on one turn to eight mana the next. Does that thought make you start cackling manically while shouting, "Yes, yes... cower before my spells, puny mortals..."? If so, maybe chillax a bit, but definitely play Dynamo.
Otherwise, it's probably not what you're looking for. If you don't want Hedron Archive, you probably don't want this, either. Dynamo doesn’t help with mana fixing at all, and the decks that want two-mana ramp probably don’t want to tap out for this, which is why I was surprised that this card is sitting all the way up here. I definitely wouldn't call it a mana rock staple.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Do keep in mind, this is the top ten. Dynamo is still excellent in a lot of decks, just not “41,000 decks” excellent.
9: Darksteel Ingot: 43,500 Decks
Darksteel Ingot is a relic of the format from a few years ago that time hasn’t quite caught up to yet. It isn't the worst card you could play, but it just doesn't do enough. The indestructible ability does protect it from stuff like Vandalblast, but most of the time, you either don't care about that type of mass removal, or it cripples you. Having Ingot in either of those situations isn't gonna change much.
Most of the time, Ingot is just going to be a Manalith, and five years ago, that was good enough, but in an age when two-mana ramp is played more and more, and when Manaliths are getting more relevant upside to compensate, Ingot is just lackluster. It's not a bad card, it's just not nearly the best card for its slot anymore. You have to do better now.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: The one place I'd still play Ingot is if you're blowing up everyone's mana with cards like Apocalypse. That's a different, much more nefarious ball game.
8: Thought Vessel: 43,863 Decks
When I talked about Reliquary Tower, a few people said that I should have called it overplayed. Having no maximum hand size isn't gonna come up much if you only have a couple draw spells. Plus, when you draw 15 cards, you're probably gonna win whether you have to discard down to seven or not. You could probably make a similar argument against Thought Vessel, and I can't really dispute that argument. You don't really need to have no maximum hand size. However, you also don't really need to cast Sphinx’s Revelation for 35. Casting it for 10 is probably enough. Commander is the format of excess. The whole point is doing stupid stuff, so yeah, you don't need 30 cards in hand, but when it's already attached to a decent card, I see no reason not to let you have your fun.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: If you want to copy Rush of Knowledge six times with Thousand-Year Storm, go for it!
7: Gilded Lotus: 51,866 Decks
I seem to remember a time where people said Gilded Lotus was a card for any deck. I never really understood this. In a lot of decks, five mana is when commanders or protections spells like Mystic Barrier started coming out, and taking the turn off for this card instead felt clunky. I didn't hate this card, but I certainly didn't play it much.
And yet, now that the card is catching a lot of flak from different sources, my contrarian instincts make me want to defend this card. Is it good in every deck? No. Is it overplayed? I'd say that at over 50,000 decks, probably a little, but bad? Certainly not. Gilded Lotus can be excellent! It's got all the upside that Dynamo has of being able to cast Nezahal, Primal Tide faster, but producing colored mana can be a huge deal. It means multicolor decks can play this a lot easier, and there're few cards that you can't cast when Lotus is in play. If you're playing faster and need that turn five to cast Korvold, Fae Cursed King or the like, I wouldn't recommend it, but everyone else should keep it in mind.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I feel like Lotus is a card that we as a community might overcorrect on, so while I'm saying it's overplayed, don't hear me saying it's not a good card.
6: Fellwar Stone: 64,354 Decks
If I’m known for anything in this series, it's probably for ranting about budget cards and reprints, but honestly Fellwar Stone is an example of how reprints can only do so much. Stone has been reprinted nine times, and it’s still out of reach for most budget players! It turns out taking Exotic Orchard, one of the best five-color lands ever printed, and making it into a two-mana untapped rock is really dang good, regardless of budget. Sure, it's been a couple years, and they could afford to reprint it, but because it can't really be in a regular set, a reprint would probably only delay the $6 Fellwar Stone.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I think you can absolutely make do without one, but it is one of the first rocks I put in when upgrading multi-color decks.
5: Arcane Signet: 67,304 Decks
Well. The two-mana rock with absolutely no downside is already in the top five mana rocks less than a year after it was printed. What a surprise.
Yeah, people were not happy when Arcane Signet came out and basically became a Commander staple overnight, and I get why. Commander is the format of creativity, building unique brews and using weird, niche cards. To suddenly have one less choice to make because you have to play Arcane Signet is frustrating, and to have that card slightly raise the power level of everyone's decks is troubling. Sure, you could not play Signet, but if everyone else is, then you're just handicapping yourself.
Much has been said on this subject of power creep and new “Commander staples”, including this excellent video by our own EDHRECast (#Biased). I don't have the time or expertise to truly delve into the subject, but I do want to say that, from my experience, Signet doesn't have to be a card that everyone's forced to play. The playgroups that I'm in have incentives for staying near the general power level of the group, so people don't feel the need to play Signet. I am not saying that you shouldn't let Wizards know that these cards cause problems, because I think that they do, but if Signet or any other card is making the game less fun for you, talk with the people you play with about not playing it. That's hard and awkward, I know, and it may not solve this problem completely, but you may find that your group shares your sentiment and are willing to play without this card.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I expect Signet to see more and more play as they keep reprinting it, but it's only a staple for those that make it one.
4: Chromatic Lantern: 71,662 Decks
If saying that only two-mana ramp is playable leads to you throwing out Chromatic Lantern, I think you've done something wrong. Lantern is still one of the best rocks of the format. Not an auto-play for every deck, but a very, very good card. It's easy to underestimate how good complete mana fixing is. In the early/mid game, how often are you doing things like casting Rafiq of the Many, and leaving up Counterspell in the same turn? Lantern lets you do that, no problem! Clunky basic land draws become smooth as butter with Lantern. Lantern lets mana-intensive commanders like Zedruu, the Greathearted activate their abilities all day long, and there're tons of cute things like Shared Fate that often need Lantern to function. All that on top of being an untapped source of any color! For three colors or more, Lantern is probably the first rock you should be playing.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: You know they just reprinted this in Guilds of Ravnica, and it's still $10. That alone speaks volumes.
3: Mind Stone: 72,947 Decks
2: Commander's Sphere: 87,129 Decks
Mind Stone and Commander's Sphere are both perfectly fine, but not exciting. They both fill their respective rolls well enough (i.e, if you want two-mana ramp or three-mana ramp). They both enter untapped, have no real downside, and can cycle themselves late game, which makes them more relevant than the random Fractured Powerstone, and both are relatively cheap. Sphere is fresh off a reprint, so it's actually lower than normal, but I'm sure they'll find a place to reprint Stone soon. I definitely have both these card sitting in several decks that I own, and I don't feel like I have to get rid of them.
But it's also not like I wouldn’t immediately switch them out if I had something better. Yes, the ability to cycle from play is nice, but utterly vanilla. For most decks, I can usually find a mana rock that suits my needs better, whether because it has more synergy with my deck or because I’m willing to pay more money for a better card. Sphere and Stone are the Ham Sandwiches of mana rocks. When I don't have a preference, I'm totally fine having one, but if I'm even slightly in the mood for something specific, I'm not even giving them a second glance. Also, I don't want Mustard on them.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: And after 115 mana rocks, it comes down to this! The number 1 mana rock in Commander is...
1: Sol Ring: 321,230 Decks
What?!? Sol Ring is number one? What a startling development that no one would have guessed!
Of course number one is Sol Ring! It's the only card on EDHREC to be in more than 300,000 decks. It's a card that slots into any archetype. It's a card printed four or five times every year, and yet still somehow holds a $5 price tag. It's a card that defines a lot of the format as a whole. Everything I've thought about saying concerning Sol Ring is likely covered in many dissertations elsewhere online. For better or worse, it's one of the cornerstones of the format, and while Commander is flexible enough that you can play without Sol Ring, I expect it to hold the title of most-played card for a very, very long time.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: You could maybe make an argument against Ring being in literally any deck, but I've yet to build a deck that hasn't been improved by it.
One Ring to Rule Them All
And that's every mana rock ranked! However as I did last time, I'll leave you with a few lists to highlight some of the things I took away from this series! I'll think I'll do top fives this time, since the series was smaller than the last one. Let's send us off!
Top Five Overplayed Rocks
I actually had a bit of a tough time making this list. A lot of the stuff I said was overplayed was mainly just compared to other options.
HM: Gemstone Array, The Diamonds, Manalith, Coldsteel Heart
- 5: Orazca Relic: 1,470 Decks
- 4: Star Compass: 11,616 Decks
- 3: Fractured Powerstone: 2,803 Decks
- 2: Mox Amber: 11,853 Decks
- 1: Darksteel Ingot: 43,500 Decks
Top Five Underplayed Rocks
On the underplayed side though, I had no problem finding representatives!
HM: Charmed Pendant, The Totems, Guardian Idol, Magnifying Glass
- 5: Fountain of Ichor: 1,122 Decks (Originally I said this was just right, but I think I underestimated it. Give it a shot!)
- 4: The Lockets: 2,936 Decks
- 3: Coveted Jewel: 2,027 Decks
- 2: Midnight Clock: 2,964 Decks
- 1: The Borderposts: 685 Decks
Top Five Big Picture Takeaways
- 5: Mana rocks don't nearly cover all the possible artifact ramp options: Even outside of the questionable mana rocks that I covered like Treasure Map, there's tons of stuff that I didn't touch like Ashnod's Altar, Palladium Myr, Caged Sun, etc.
- 4: Don't worry about what you don't start with: Start with things like the Lockets, Mana Geode, and Prismatic Lens. They may not be the best rocks, but they'll do well enough until you can get the more expensive ones.
- 3: The Manalith scale is full of options: Should you choose to play three-mana ramp, you have a variety of different options that each have pros and cons within a specific deck.
- 2: Two-mana ramp isn't the only game in town: Two-mana ramp is very good, but I think that a lot of decks should experiment with ramp all over the curve, from zero mana to six mana.
- 1: Look for which rocks do what your deck wants to do: Do you want fast rocks, or do you want slower rocks with upside? Do you need colored mana, or are you fine with colorless? Is there a specific synergy that your deck has? You'll always have a more successful deck if you think about the purpose you're trying to accomplish with these rocks.
I Believe We Have Been Thoroughly Rocked.
While not as long of a journey as lands, I did have a lot of fun with this series, and I learned a lot about how ramp functions in different decks! I continue to appreciate anyone reading my ramblings, commenting in support, and even coming up with arguments against me. The fact people keep reading these and have opinions on them continues to amaze me! Thank you all!
But that's in the past, and we must move towards the future, sooooooooooooo:
As always, if you have any thought about these ten rocks, your own overplayed or underplayed rocks, or anything else about this series, post them somewhere on the internet! I'll see you in whatever I end up doing next!