Ranking Every Mana Rock with EDHREC – Part 7: Eye of the... Lion?

(Lion’s Eye Diamond | Art by Lindsey Look)

My Spreadsheets Have Failed Me

We're at the big Five-O. More than halfway through our journey where we rank each mana rock based on how many decks they have on EDHREC, but you know, I feel like I'm missing something. Like something needs to happen in order to actually make this a "Ranking Every" series.

Ah, that's right. A data kerfuffle.

I will spare you the long and pretty tedious story, but the gist of it is that my list was counting cards that should not have been on there. The issue is that if I just remove those cards, every mana rock before those cards needs a lower rank, and so we'd actually be on Mana Rock #46 or something. So to fill these slots, I had to chose some cards with... questionable mana rock status. I don't think they're huge leaps, but they aren't exactly common. Basically, you'll see some cards that I wouldn't normally consider traditional mana rocks talked about within the next few weeks. I apologize for the screw-up.

On the bright side, fans of a hugely big, circular watercourse might get their wish pretty soon.

50: Ur-Golem's Eye: 3,864 Decks

Ur-Golem's Eye is another card in the vein of Sisay's Ring that helps colorless decks cast their giant Spaghetti Monsters faster. I think it's seeing more play than Ring is because it's slightly cheaper and has been reprinted more.

I don't want to talk about any of that, though, I want to talk about how Sweet Christmas, this card is terrifying! Why on Earth would anyone look at the eye of a living creature and go "Yeah, I'll take that." The Ur-Golems were some of the oldest creatures on Mirrodin, and they were instrumental in Karn building the plane of Mirrodin. I'm pretty sure that they had consciousness. Think about it. Your eyes, the ones that you're reading this article with, are instrumental in how you interact with the world and the way you... view it. It's probably difficult to imagine life without them, yet Jimmy Jungleson just takes one from your skull, throws it on the table, and squeezes every little bit of life force out to cast their Bronze Horse a turn earlier. That's also assuming the Ur-Golem was actually dead. Very little is know about the Ur-Golems. Maybe they can still see every degenerate, dirty Expropriate that you cast with it!

Over, Under, or Just Right: Just Right: I just wanted to write a fun Magic article, not delve into existential horror.

49: Cultivator's Caravan: 4,062 Decks

Cultivator's Caravan is certainly another card to keep in your matrix of Manaliths, but it's not one that I rate particularly highly. Crew 3 is difficult to turn on, especially with all the mass removal floating around. Even when it is Crewed, a random 5/5 isn't gonna do a ton against the 120-life barrier. I wouldn't run it unless I had specific synergy with the Vehicle subtype, like Sram, Senior Edificer, or synergy with tapping creatures outside of combat. King Macar likes his King Macars and all that.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Overplayed: After reviewing some more of these Manalith with upside, I think I might have underrated Fountain of Ichor. It's a pretty decent upside on a $0.25 card.

48: Lion's Eye Diamond: 4,153 Decks

I often laugh at the fact that Wizards thought that taking Black Lotus and adding the phrase "Discard your hand" would make it balanced. In their defense, by all accounts it really should be. When Lion's Eye Diamond, or LED, was released, I don't think that there was a single spell that you could actually cast with it. You can't use LED to cast a card from your hand, so what were you gonna do with it? Activate Northern Paladin? Maybe somebody would include it in a janky combo, but there was no way that any reasonable deck could overcome the downside.

Since that time, we've had Dredge, Flashback, Storm, Infernal Tutor, Auriok Salvagers, Underworld Breach, probably a bunch of other cards, and, oh yes, a format built around casting a spell from outside of your hand that can win you the game by itself. Besides being absurd in formats like Legacy, LED is in a ton of cEDH decks, like Godo, Bandit Warlord. From my understanding, LED isn't a cEDH staple like Force of Will. Discarding your hand in the more fair decks is just too high a cost, but it's definitely nutty in a lot of combo decks, which is part of the reason for that price tag. Yowch.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Just Right: It's also probably not a card that you need outside of cEDH. Unless you can win with LED right away, it doesn't seem worth including.

47: Pillar of Origins: 4,381 Decks

The Ancient Ziggurat of mana rocks. A lot of people find the card to be abhorrent. It definitely looks appealing as a two-mana piece of ramp for any random tribal deck, but as with Ziggurat, if this isn't used for casting exactly a tribal creature, it is a blank piece of cardboard. That might not sound difficult, but most tribal decks still want to run removal, card draw, other ramp, recursion, or pay for Rhystic Cave, and there are a plethora of other cards that can do these things. Pillar of Origins doesn't do any of that, so it's not great in most tribal decks.

But I feel like it's pretty easy to get stuck here and actually miss the decks where Pillar can be an excellent mana rock. There are Sliver decks or Human decks that want to run 50-65 creatures. Pillar can realistically cast almost every card in this deck, and is probably going to be better than even Fellwar Stone. For budget decks with 5-12 non-creatures, I think Pillar is legitimately one of the best mana rocks they could play.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Overplayed: With that said, it still doesn't belong in most of the decks on its EDHREC page.

46: Pyromancer's Goggles: 4,615 Decks

Welcome to Fork town, home of the fancy spectacles! You might argue that Pyromancer's Goggles is just win-more, copying X spells that would probably win the game without being doubled. I would agree that that is probably its primary purpose, but Goggles can do more than that. It can copy Chaos Warp, or Thrill of Possibility, or Divergent Transformations. It's an inherently flexible card in a spellslinger deck, and it can also fuel the overindulgent fun of Comet Storm for 75. If it wasn't $8, I'd consider it a mono-red staple. Most decks can probably take advantage of it.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Just Right: The price tag is what's holding it back. Give it a reprint, and I think it'd be in way more decks

45: Dragon's Hoard: 4,743 Decks

Dragon decks are awesome! We all know this (and if you don't, build one and it will change your mind), but how good is Dragon's Hoard in a Dragon deck? The answer is kinda tricky. I think it's obviously pretty good in any mono-red, Rakdos, or Gruul deck. Those decks don't have the same raw card quality as other color combinations, and having the ability to draw you cards when you flood out is really critical for those decks.

In anything with more colors like Jund, or five-color decks, it's a more difficult question. With access to more powerful options for ramp and card draw, running a random three-mana rock is a little bit harder. These Dragon decks with more colors also need to ramp like crazy, and so it's easy to cut this decent-but-not-excellent rock to put in cards like Mirari's Wake, Skyshroud Claim, or Sarkhan, Fireblood. It's also surprisingly $3, so budget decks are probably better off investing in more impactful cards. Having the flood insurance that Hoard provides is interesting, but I think it's probably not where decks like The Ur-Dragon wannabe.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Overplayed: I could be wrong, though. There're tons of ways to build these flying dorks, and maybe there're slower versions of these decks that might enjoy this card.

44: Treasure Map: 4,922 Decks

Yeah. I had specifically said that I was not talking about this card, but I needed something to fill the slot, and here we are. I don't think it's actually a huge stretch. It's still technically a two-mana artifact that permanently ramps you by one, and temporarily by four, so it fits most of the boxes on our definition, but I won't deny, flipping into a land makes it feel a little weird having it on here. C’est la vie.

On the bright side, I get to talk about how criminally underplayed it is. For all the talk of certain colors lacking card advantage options, Treasure Map is a way to smooth out draws early on, and then late game, get a personal Howling Mine for three turns, while also being ramp if you need it, yet the only decks running the Map are artifact- or Treasure-based decks. The card does get better when played with other cards that make Treasure, but even with no other card draw options, Treasure Map still does a lot.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Underplayed: It's shame this doesn't see more play in at least colorless and mono-white decks.

43: Nyx Lotus: 5,538 Decks

The new kid on the block. Take Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, make it a mana rock, and you have Nyx Lotus. There was a lot of hype about this card being busted, and then a lot of counter-hype about it not actually being that good, and now we're here where Nyx Lotus is rocking some decent, but not groundbreaking, numbers.

I have not actually seen Nyx Lotus in play much due to... Gestures vaguely at world, but the data seems to show that it ended up being a fairly vanilla mana rock that you can slot into most mono-color decks, but don't need to. I see very little downside to running Lotus. Granted, the floor of Lotus is crazy low. Late game on an empty board it does nothing, but most mana rocks aren't doing much late game on an empty board anyway. However, the ceiling of this card is absurd, and most of the in-between times, it'll probably tap for 2+ mana. I think it's worth the risk, and I'll play it in some of my decks, but I don't think you'd be missing out on that much if you don't own one.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Just Right: I'm always happy for more mono-color payoffs.

42: Firemind Vessel: 5,693 Decks

"Ok, almost done with this deck. I've got the obvious mana ramp in here, like Sol Ring, but I could use a couple more pieces. I'm not heavy in green, so I'm probably looking at a mana rock. Hmmmmmm, my deck is kinda heavy on six-drops, so I'm not sold on another Manalith variant, but I'm in so many colors that a rock like Hedron Archive is gonna hurt my deck. Looks like I'm on Gilded Lotus aga- Wait, that card is how much now? I can't spend $6 on one card in a budget deck. Well, let me see what I happen to own in my bulk car..."

"...Ugh, fine! I guess I'll play Firemind Vessel."

Over, Under, or Just Right: Just Right: Grumble grumble gramble hurble flruble.

41: Heraldic Banner: 5,730 Decks

And we end with another installment of "Manalith with upside." I actually like a lot of what this card does, and what it stands for, even though I don't think it's that good. Token decks playing Glorious Anthem care much more about a power boost than a toughness boost, so Banner is basically another mass pump card that's also mana ramp.

That's really excellent for aggro decks. They already are at a disadvantage because they often have to forgo the card draw and ramp that other decks play in order to make their clock uber-fast. Banner doesn't solve that problem entirely, but it does provide a way to get staple effects that decks need while not compromising on the fast clock these decks need to run on.

Over, Under, or Just Right: Just Right: All that said, a lot of decks couldn't care about combat, or only care about dealing damage in increments of 6,000, so the card is fairly niche.

Build a Banner Workshop

Well, I'm going to go stare at my data and make sure it doesn't change again. In the meantime, let me know what you think about these rocks. Have you had success with Nyx Lotus? Are you into Pillar of Origins? Let me know in the comments. Until next week!

Joseph started playing in Theros Block but decided that the best way to play the game was to learn every single card and hope that would somehow make him good at Magic. It hasn't. He is a college student in Santa Fe, New Mexico and also enjoys reading and other games of all shapes and sizes.

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