Too-Specific Top 10 - Everything in the Kitchen Sink

(Staff of Dominance | Art by Zezhou Chen)

Yes, the Kitchen Finks, Too!

Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Eight-and-a-Half-Tails is the only mana sink that allows you to change the color of another permanent?)

Okay, so you managed to sneak a Basalt Monolith and a Rings of Brighthearth through a couple Counterspells, and you have infinite mana.

...What now?

Mana sinks, that's what!

Top 10 Colorless Mana Sinks

All the mana in the world does you no good if you've got nothing to spend it on, so today, we're going to go straight into what the most popular mana sinks in Commander are!

...After we nail down our criteria, of course.

So, What Makes for a Good Mana Sink?

First off, there are a lot of cards that require a lot of mana, and I don't know that I'd consider all of them mana sinks, necessarily. For instance, a popular way to win with a lot of mana is an Exsanguinate, Torment of Hailfire, or Jaya's Immolating Inferno for ten million or so.

Are X spells really mana sinks, though? You have to have them in hand at the time you get infinite mana, they can be easily countered, most of them that actually finish a game are sorcery-speed, and most importantly, your infinite colorless mana won't pay for the full casting cost, so you'll have to have some regular lands or mana rocks sitting about to truly finish the job. No, what you'd rather have is an activated ability that is more difficult to counter, doesn't require colored mana, and can be used over and over again, even in response to pesky things like spot removal.

Even with activated abilities, however, there can be a lot of abilities that are really only useable once, or don't actually do anything once you already have infinite mana. Take our original infinite mana engine, Basalt Monolith. It and Grim Monolith are absolutely amazing when it comes to obtaining infinite mana, but once you have it all they do is make... more mana. Sure, you can untap a Grim Monolith a couple thousand times, but failing a card that triggers on artifacts tapping or untapping, that doesn't really do anything. In similar fashion, you can try to activate Molten-Tail Masticore 30 times to take out the whole table, but its damage ability can actually only be activated once for each creature card in your graveyard due to its additional exile cost, and its Regenerate ability doesn't really do anything extra after the first time you've activated it.

Sure, in theory that Drownyard Temple is a mana sink, in that you can activate it four-million times while it's in your graveyard... but you still only get it back onto the battlefield once, no matter how many times you activate the ability. In other words, there are a lot of cards here that need to be eliminated from our criteria that are technically mana sinks by the letter of the law, but not by the spirit of it. After all, you can always just move a Lightning Greaves from one creature to another until the end of time, but it's not really doing anything for you, is it?

Criteria: Non-Equipment, non-"Mana Rocks" with an activated ability that is useful if activated more than once and requires ONLY colorless mana to activate (no tapping, no sacrificing, no milling, etc). As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.

10. Slimefoot, the Stowaway

(Helms 1,369 Decks, Rank #95, In 2,120 Decks, 2% of 118,834 Decks)

This fun guy (heh) is equal parts adorable and terrifying. With infinite mana, he'll go from stowaway to captain of the entire ship, with a crew of Saprolings doing his dirty work. Like Ghave, Guru of Spores, Slimefoot has a particular fondness for things like Ashnod's Altars and Parallel Lives. Probably the most fun piece of this little guy's toolkit, though, is that he deals damage, rather than causing life loss. If you throw a Snake Umbra on him, he'll draw you cards! Just make sure you don't deck out when he infinitely pings the table.

9. Xantcha, Sleeper Agent

(Helms 912 Decks, Rank #143; 3,787 Inclusions, 3% of 114,035 Decks)

On the other hand, Xantcha, Sleeper Agent has no problem finishing a player off and netting you a bunch of cards in the process. What's most interesting to me, however, is that it used to do it even better. Originally, due to player death rules that I have never and will never understand, Xantcha actually returned to your side of the board after killing a player. This allowed her to helm a Competitive EDH deck alongside the Animate Dead Worldgorger Dragon combo.

For those not familiar, allow me to introduce you to Commander Spellbook's excellent run-down of this combo (along with every other combo in Magic)! As for how it relates to Xantcha, the basics of it are that you exile your entire board after you tap all of your lands, then your entire board comes back, you tap all your lands and activate Xantcha with all of your mana, then exile your entire board and activate Xantcha with all of your mana, and keep on doing this until everyone's dead as Xantcha moves from each player to you and then to another player when it exiles and re-enters. This strategy, however, no longer works, as Xantcha now goes to exile after you've killed a player with her, meaning that you don't have a way to cast her in between all of this instant-speed nonsense.

Still, as combos go, you could do worse than killing a player and drawing half your deck at the same time.

8. Havengul Lich

(5,156 Inclusions, 4% of 129,766 Decks)

Havengul Lich is not as likely to win you a game of Competitive EDH, but it is more like I like my infinite mana payoffs to go. It's not as simple as "I played three cards, and now I win", instead it's "all right, now let's see what kind of ridiculousness I can get up to". Does that sometimes result in a longer turn than I would like? Sure. But just as often I end up with a straightforward but unplanned loop of Phyrexian Plaguelord and Perilous Myr or Priest of Gix and Altar of Dementia, and I don't have to deal with the problem of a deck getting stale because it always wins the exact same way until someone forces some ingenuity with a Jester's Cap.

7. Staff of Domination

(6,572 Inclusions, 1% of 470,216 Decks)

If you'd rather be a bit more straightforward while still maintaining some flexibility, however, then you'd be hard-pressed to find a better infinite mana sink than Staff of Domination. Got a Laboratory Maniac somewhere in the deck? Then just draw the whole deck! Got a foil Endbringer you've always been meaning to find a spot for? Then draw down to it and ping the whole table to your heart's content! Got a whole bunch of tokens but no way for them to punch through? Fear not, you can just tap down everyone else's creatures every turn while you also gain arbitrarily large amounts of life! The possibilities are endless, and the different avenues can keep things fresh and workable at the same time.

6. Dark Depths

(6,680 Inclusions, 1% of 470,216 Decks)

If you want a way to really play fair with your infinite mana that gives the table a chance, however, then Dark Depths has fair written all over it. Sure, it also has "indestructible" and "20/20" written on it, but that's hardly an insurmountable obstacle, is it? Heck, it doesn't even have Annihilator triggers!

In all seriousness, Dark Depths has any number of ways to get to being a 20/20 indestructible creature quickly, but it never hurts to have it as a backup plan in your deck that goes infinite/a lot. You never know when that Exsanguinate or Crypt Rats might get countered, and you might be left in a rough spot. And as "plan B"s go, dedicating a single land slot to them is about as low an opportunity cost as you're going to get.

5. Urza, Lord High Artificer

(Helms 2,632 Decks, Rank #25; 4,583 Inclusions, 2% of 227,229 Decks)

Some of you probably imagined we'd get into the weeds a bit with Competitive EDH when you saw this top ten list's topic, and you weren't wrong. That said, there are lots of less-regimented builds out there also using Urza, Lord High Artificer for their own specific brand of high-powered nonsense, and... he makes that pretty easy. At his most basic play, he comes with a total of two bodies with a minimum of a colletctive 2 power and 7 toughness, one of which is also a mana dork, and then if you get to untap with him he can immediately flip a card off the top of your library straight onto the stack. Still, if you came to win, then... it's hard to do better?

4. Thrasios, Triton Hero

(Partners 4,734 Decks, Rank #70 w/ Tymna; 5,375 Inclusions, 4% of 125,075 Decks)

Oh, right. Except there is a better option. Sure, Thrasios doesn't look quite as splashy upfront as Urza, but he still brings a mana sink that allows for you to look through your entire deck with infinite mana, along with access to up to four colors as opposed to just blue. That may not sound like much, but if your plan is to go infinite, then there are a heck of a lot more ways to do that in four colors than there is in just blue, even if blue still has a fair amount all on its own.

3. Mirage Mirror

(13,322 Inclusions, 3% of 470,216 Decks)

One of the things I dislike about having to do more subjective criteria like the "single-use" rider we used this week is that it seems to always create at least one controversial choice that comes down to nothing but my decision. That's exactly where you want to be in more typical top ten lists, but when you're trying to base choices on nothing but the data, it's a really awkward feeling. Well, this week it was even more awkward, as there were actually two different choices I had to make that felt controversial. The first was kicking Mirror Entity off the list for being "single-use", and the second was keeping Mirage Mirror on the list despite being arguably the same.

The difference, in my mind, was that while it was possible that you could get multiple uses out of Mirror Entity in the same turn that would make a meaningful difference in gameplay, it was highly unlikely. Mirage Mirror, on the other hand, routinely goes through three or four transformations on the stack with just a lot of mana, to say nothing of the possibilities if you're sitting on infinite mana. Having the resources of the entire board at instant speed may not outright win you the game, but it should at the very least lead to some interesting puzzle solving while putting you way, way ahead, and that's the exact kind of thing Johnnies and Jennies live for, right?

2. Walking Ballista

(17,339 Inclusions, 4% of 470,216 Decks)

If you're looking for a way to just straight-up win the game with your infinite mana, however, then Walking Ballista is here for you. All on its own, it can ping every player to zero easily and at instant speed. What's really great about this little Construct, however, is how good it is even if your plan to go infinite goes awry. From activating enter-the-battlefield and death triggers for a mere zero mana to being a crazy windmill of destruction with +1/+1 counter cards like Arcbound Ravager and The Ozolith, Walking Ballista is an absolute house in normal play that is also always a threat to end the game immediately if you should suddenly find yourself with obscene amounts of mana, making it a fine number two inclusion on this list.

1. Steel Hellkite

(17,554 Inclusions, 4% of 470,216 Decks)

Although, in my opinion, Walking Ballista should actually be number one. Because as much as I have an old-school EDH love for Steel Hellkite, I've also cut it from more decks than I currently own (and it's not in any of those at the moment, either). Six mana for a 5/5 flier that could swing for lethal with infinite or just blow up a few problem permanents in colors that normally couldn't do that is still good, mind you... but it's maybe not good enough? Space in Commander decks is at more of a premium today than it ever has been, and no matter your power level, Steel Hellkite is neither good enough nor interesting enough to be the staple it once was. With that said, the data as it currently stands doesn't agree with me on this one, although I'll be interested to revisit this list someday and see if I'm proven correct in the long run and this can join other used-to-be six-mana staples like Duplicant that just can't cut the mustard anymore.

Honorable Mentions

As I said, I've always disliked entering subjective nitpicks into my criteria, so when I do I like to also show you the list as it would have been without said nitpicks:

Top 10 Colorless Mana Sinks, Full Stop
(As in, including mana rocks and cards that are mostly only useful for a single activation)

  1. Sensei's Divining Top
  2. Basalt Monolith
  3. Steel Hellkite
  4. Walking Ballista
  5. Shadowspear
  6. Grim Monolith
  7. Mirage Mirror
  8. Mirror Entity
  9. Thrasios, Triton Hero
  10. Soul of New Phyrexia

I also went through a couple of "gee-whiz" lists, most of which proved uninteresting, however there were a couple that I really liked:

Top 10 Colorless Mana Sinks (On Cards With A Color)

  1. Mirror Entity
  2. Thrasios, Triton Hero
  3. Urza, Lord High Artificer
  4. Havengul Lich
  5. Xantcha, Sleeper Agent
  6. Pemmin's Aura
  7. Slimefoot, the Stowaway
  8. Higure, the Still Wind
  9. Helix Pinnacle
  10. Scion of the Ur-Dragon

Top Commander Colorless Mana Sinks

  1. Thrasios, Triton Hero: "Helms" 4734 Decks
  2. Urza, Lord High Artificer: Helms 2632 Decks
  3. Sliver Overlord: 1534
  4. Slimefoot, the Stowaway: 1361
  5. Grenzo, Dungeon Warden: 1001
  6. Xantcha, Sleeper Agent: 912
  7. Volrath, the Shapestealer: 847
  8. Scion of the Ur-Dragon: 728
  9. Lazav, the Multifarious: 719
  10. Eight-and-a-Half-Tails: 348
  11. Karn, Silver Golem: 321
  12. Sliver Queen: 238
  13. Emiel, the Blessed: 224
  14. Patron of the Moon: 217
  15. Charix, the Raging Isle: 206
  16. Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner: 181
  17. Evra, Halcyon Witness: 153
  18. Valki, God of Lies: 152
  19. Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero: 130
  20. Ambassador Laquatus: 61
  21. Isao, Enlightened Bushi: 36
  22. Higure, the Still Wind: 6
  23. Arni Brokenbrow: 4

It should also be noted that while we don't have data for them, Johnny, Combo Player and Timmy, Power Gamer are also available on this list. Probably just above Ambassador Laquatus, if I had to guess.

Nuts and Bolts

There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.

What Do You Think?

As those of you who may follow me on Twitter (or just read these articles) are probably aware, I tend to avoid high-power games, particularly if win conditions start to feel a bit samey. Infinite mana and the cards we sink them into can sometimes be part of those same 'samey' strategies, but they don't always have to be.

So, with that in mind:

Finally, what is your favorite mana sink? Do you play enough infinite mana that Valakut Invoker is a card you know off the top of your head, or is it something you only use sparingly in your higher-powered decks or with enough pieces that you could never conceivably put them all together?

Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the 3-D Puzzle table your LGS got for a local wealthy enthusiast that then stiffed them on the deal because they didn't like the color. (C'mon, Tim, it's 18 different colors! I mean, of course it is, what did you think you were getting in a weird puzzle table you had to put together out of foam blocks?)

Doug has been an avid Magic player since Fallen Empires, when his older brother traded him some epic blue Homarids for all of his Islands. As for Commander, he's been playing since 2010, when he started off by making a two-player oriented G/R Land Destruction deck. Nailed it. In his spare time when he's not playing Magic, writing about Magic or doing his day job, he runs a YouTube channel or two, keeps up a College Football Computer Poll, and is attempting to gif every scene of the Star Wars prequels.

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