Ranking Every Mana Rock with EDHREC – Part 10: Of Mana and Moxen
(Mana Crypt | Art by Matt Stewart)
The Final Article Before the Final Article
We have arrived at the penultimate edition of the series where we rank every mana rock based on how many decks they have on EDHREC. I know, it wasn't quite as long as our previous journey, but I rather enjoyed doing something slightly shorter. I think next round, I'll aim for something longer, but this was a bit of a calmer experience, data-wise, as opposed to doing something like ranking all 2,541 enchantments.
Side note: Please do not ask me to rank all 2,541 enchantments.
20: Mox Diamond: 17,646 Decks
If you had asked me to rank where I thought all 115 mana rocks would be on this list, (which honestly sounds less insane the more I do this, send help), I would not have put Mox Diamond in the top 50, let alone the top 20. I can count on one hand the number of games I've played against Mox Diamond, and do I even need to say why? Even most "non-budget" decks aren't going to splurge on a $400 card. I think this card is more expensive than entire decks I own.
So yeah, you can tell that I'm wandering into unfamiliar territory. From the data, it looks like this is, at the very least, a card for high-power decks. I struggle to see why a more casual deck would want Mox Diamond. Sure, it's a Mox, so it's obviously powerful, and it works well with 2-CMC commanders like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, but when games go long, you can probably just play all those lands instead of discarding them to Diamond. Plus, drawing it later than turn three is really awkward, especially when you're light on lands.
For high-power decks, though, it's probably much better. When games end on turn 3-4, every bit of mana that you have in the early game matters, and the data seems to show that it's hanging out with cards like Abrupt Decay and other cheap interaction that doesn't scale as well into the late game, so I would presume that those decks are why it's up here.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I can't speak for the high-power decks, but it seems like you can probably do better in casual games.
19: Lotus Petal: 19,147 Decks
Lotus Petal is not a good card in casual decks. Sure, it's pretty cute if you can cast it over and over again with something like Silas Renn, Seeker Adept, and it's another way to cast a two-mana general faster, but for most decks, it's absolutely not worth the card. In value-based games, you're throwing away a card for one mana. It's not worth the disadvantage; don't play it.
These are all the things I tell myself before I play Lotus Petal anyway. Hey! Sometimes I just really wanna go all in on Rakdos the Defiler, or I wanna slam Mindmoil on turn two in Magical Christmas Land! I know Petal is bad, but sometimes I wanna do something stupid, and Petal can do that.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: In practical application, it again seems to be more of a high-power card. For everyone else, do as I say, not as I do.
18: Chrome Mox: 24,875 Decks
Last Mox on the list, and last card that's mainly seeing play with other high-power stuff, although I'd say that Chrome Mox is more transferable to casual EDH. I can think of a lot of expensive or situational cards that I'd trade early on for mana. Of the three rocks that we just talked about, Chrome Mox is probably the best to throw into a random deck. That said, it's still major card disadvantage, and drawing it late game is still garbage, so I still don't think it's worth it for longer games.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Someone more versed in the cEDH format might say that these Moxen are overplayed, or underplayed. It's really not my forte, so I can only work with the data I got.
17: Everflowing Chalice: 25,301 Decks
If I don't have a huge need for colored mana, Everflowing Chalice is almost always one of the first rocks I'll play. I mentioned being able to identify what type of ramp you're deck needs, but Chalice literally does it all. It's Fractured Powerstone when you need it, but also Sisay's Ring when you need that, and also Dreamstone Hedron and beyond. It's a good piece of ramp at any point, and it can go both in decks that play low to the ground and in decks that want to cast It That Betrays. I haven't even mentioned any synergy with counters like Roalesk, Apex Hybrid. When people are running two-mana ramp, I always check to see if they're playing this first, because it's almost always better than most generic ramp they’re using.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: And with the reprint in Double Masters, now’s a perfect time to go get them
16: The Ally-Color Signets: 32,266 Decks
(Dimir Signet: 45,176; Rakdos Signet: 38,102; Azorius Signet: 36,924; Selesnya Signet: 21,355; Gruul Signet: 19,771)
I was surprised to see the Signets are so cheap. I remember most Signets being $2-4, and always having to decide if I really needed them badly enough to pay that price, but now, the only one over $3 is Dimir Signet. Most are about $1.50. Some are much less.
Which is great! Chalice is my first choice for colorless early game ramp, but for fixing purposes, Signets are the go-to. They're untapped sources of two-mana ramp that technically tap for two colors of mana at the same time! I don't think that every deck needs to play them. Green decks are still probably better off with land-based ramp, and some decks can get along just fine with Manalith variants if they need to, but there's very little reason not to play a Signet.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: If you want two-mana ramp, start here!
15: Worn Powerstone: 32,755 Decks
Before this series, I didn’t really have a favorite mana rock. It was really only while writing this series and looking at Worn Powerstone for a while that I just kinda went "Yeah. Yeah, Powerstone is my favorite."
It's certainly not the most flashy or broken mana rock, but it's just such an excellent workhorse. Turn three Powerstone is excellent, but if you play it on turn six, it’s still pretty good. It‘s colorless, so it can go in a variety of decks, but it works best in big mana decks where generally stupid things are happening. It's the type of card that lets me cast Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer on turn four, or Master of Waves into Cackling Counterpart, but it's also not broken enough to make me the archenemy. I wouldn't call it super budget, but it's cheap enough that I can justify it as an easy upgrade to decks that need it. When I think of what I want a mana rock to do, this card checks a lot of those boxes. I think that's enough to say, it's probably my favorite rock.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Respect the things that make the Eternal Dominion possible.
14: Hedron Archive: 33,538 Decks
I think that Archive has a similar problem as two-mana ramp: it’s seeing play in decks that it really doesn’t fit in. The decks that want to be mana-efficient, or have only a handful of cards that cost more than six, do not want to tap out for this. If your commander costs four or five, playing Archive, instead, is super clunky. Basically, I'd ask decks playing Archive if they'd also play Sisay's Ring, which is generally seen as more niche. The card draw text can distract from how, functionally, Archive is just that card with upside that doesn’t matter until late game.
Which is not to say that Sisay's Ring with some upside is not something some decks want. In fact, I think that a lot of decks want it. A turn four archive is seven mana on turn five. When you can take advantage of that, you're getting an amazing deal. For six- or seven-mana commanders, Archive is what you want, no question. For slower decks, this is also where I want to be because my commander probably doesn't need to be out right away. When you can take time off for Archive, that’s when it really shines, but some decks can’t do that.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Like most things, there's a happy medium for Hedron Archive, but it's probably lower than where it currently is.
13: The Enemy-Color Signets: 35,796 Decks
(Izzet Signet: 43,213; Orzhov Signet: 40,877; Boros Signet: 35,695; Simic Signet: 31,478; Golgari Signet: 27,708)
I bet some of your were curious why I only talked about half of the Signets before. Unfortunately, the Signets were the last victim of that renumbering from a few parts ago. It was either split them up, or talk about Krark Clan-Ironworks.
On the bright side, this does give me a chance to talk about something that’s been in the background of this series for a while: why some mana rocks see more play than others. You may have noticed that Green mana rocks tend to show pretty lackluster numbers in cycles like this, which makes sense. Land ramp like Rampant Growth tends to be a huge draw for Green, so mana rocks have less of a void to fill. I don't know if they're quite as bad as the numbers suggest, but I see why they’re so low.
That's also why colors combinations like Orzhov or Boros rocks tend to be much higher on the list: because they lean harder on rocks to help. In fact, I think that's a big reason why the enemy-colored Signets and Talismans rank higher than the ally-colored ones. Ally-color pairs have better lands to fix them. Enemy-color pairs resort to mana rocks.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Playability wise, you can basically copy & paste what I said above.
12: Mana Vault: 35,970 Decks
The first of the three "auto-play" rocks of the format: the three rocks that most people say any deck should play, although I think that you could argue Mana Vault doesn't quite fit that mold. For most decks, it's not really "ramp", it's much closer to Dark Ritual. Without shenanigans like Manifold Key, Vault lets you can cast one stupid spell way earlier than you're supposed to, and that's about all you get. For some decks, that's just not enough. They wanna durdle around and cast a bunch of game-winning spells, and Vault doesn't do that. It's also kinda awkward in decks with lots of colors. Tough to cheat out Jodah, Archmage Eternal things with a bunch of colorless mana. I think I can say that Mana Vault isn't a staple in every deck.
Just most mono-color decks, or decks that can untap it, or decks that can cheat out expensive commander like Thantis, the Warweaver, or decks with lots of game-winning enchantments like Mirari's Wake, or-
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I don't think you have to spend $50 on one, but if you own one, you better have a good reason not to run it.
11: Mana Crypt: 40,781 Decks
From one “must-play” card to another, although, unlike Vault, there's basically no argument I can make why you shouldn't run Mana Crypt from a power level perspective. It's a Worn Powerstone that enters untapped and costs zero mana! Technically, the damage could matter. I've had games where I hoped that Crypt would kill someone, but I knew in my heart that it wasn't gonna happen. Commander often has people going from 40 to 0 life, so losing six probably isn't gonna matter a ton. It's really only due to the $120 price tag that people don't complain about Crypt more than they already do.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Like, it's kinda anticlimactic to end the article like this. Crypt is good. I guess we can go home now, except I never left my house, so... I'm gonna go make a sandwich.
And Thus We March Ever Closer...
Only ten rocks remain! Next week, we finish this series off! Before we get there, though, let me know what you think about these rocks in the comments. What do you think of all the Moxen? Can you come with an argument against Mana Crypt? Let me know in the comments! Until next week!