Too-Specific Top 10 - It's Quite the Saga!

(Urza Vanguard Artwork by Mark Tedin)

Urza's Saga, That Is

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 Claws of Gix is the only zero-cost card that allows you to sacrifice any permanent?)

Okay, let's cut to the chase. We got some sweet previews of several different sets last week on MTG Weekly's stream, and aside from a confirmation that we would see fetch lands reprinted in Modern Horizons 2 in both new and old border, the only card people were talking about was Urza's Saga.

This enchantment-land-Saga has captured the imagination of just about everyone, myself included, and as such we might as well do a Top Ten on what it can fetch, right?

Top 10 (Non-Mana Rock) Urza's Saga Targets

"Wait, why non-mana rock, Doug?" Excellent question, astute reader! Here's why:

Top 10 Mana Rock Urza's Saga Targets

  1. Sol Ring
  2. Mana Crypt
  3. Wayfarer's Bauble
  4. Mana Vault
  5. Chrome Mox
  6. Lotus Petal
  7. Everflowing Chalice
  8. Expedition Map
  9. Mox Diamond
  10. Mox Opal

Not only is the above list extremely predictable, it's also not very good as far as what will be good with Urza's Saga. Don't get me wrong, Sol Ring is and should be the number one target for this "free" tutor, but going to fetch a Mox, a Everflowing Chalice with zero counters, or an artifact that goes to search for a land is just straight inefficient. Mana Crypt and Mana Vault aren't a bad choice comparatively, but they're also not very exciting. Which describes the whole list, really. Unexciting, mostly not actually good with the card, and as predictable as the day is long.

So instead, why don't we look at what we can find with this three-turn land that doesn't make mana?

Criteria: Artifacts with exactly and precisely the mana cost "0" or "1" that neither make mana nor fetch lands. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.

If that "exactly 0 or 1" thing took you by surprise, you're not alone. For those still confused, Urza's Saga references "mana cost", not "mana value" or the now-defunct "converted mana cost". It's not what I'd call intuitive, but this minor difference in wording means that rather than looking for anything that adds up to zero or one (such as Darksteel Citadel, Lotus Bloom or Stonecoil Serpent), Urza's Saga instead looks for the exact referenced mana cost in the same fashion as we saw on Embodiment of Agonies back in Magic 2020.

10. Spellbook

(8,865 Inclusions, 2% of 536,791 Decks)

When I saw how high the inclusion numbers for our major Urza's Saga targets were, I thought we would have essentially zero obscure cards on it. Instead, here lies Spellbook at the bottom of the list! Okay, maybe "obscure" isn't the word, as I've definitely heard of Spellbook, but if you'd asked me how many people I thought were actually playing it, I think my guess would have been in the hundreds, not closing in on the 10K mark.

Looking through the decks playing it, however, I think that the reason I haven't seen it more is due to me generally avoiding the boredom of decks looking for a Laboratory Maniac-type win. My guess as to why folks like it over some of the more popular choices for ensuring you don't have a maximum hand size is that they can utilize all of their resources trying to win the game on the turn that they draw all or most of their deck, and if it doesn't work out they can always play out their zero-cost artifact to keep their whole hand and win the next turn instead. Seems like a pretty specific reason to run this over a Thought Vessel, Reliquary Tower, or Folio of Fancies, but me thinking that is probably exactly why I'm not a combo player.

9. Altar of the Brood

(10,539 Inclusions, 2% of 536,791 Decks)

I've seen some doubts as far as how good people think Urza's Saga will be, but my response thus far has been explaining my complete inability to think of a specific commander or theme that doesn't want this card. Sure, at first glance it reads as a card for artifact decks, and it certainly fits there, but there is a great target for literally any deck out there in the wild. As a case in point, Altar of the Brood is a "you win the game" card in both blink and mill decks, not to mention the odd Yarok, the Desecrated build. Being able to tutor up a crucial win condition with a LAND? Absolutely unheard of. And if you get to make a blocker along the way? So much the better.

8. Ornithopter

(10,750 Inclusions, 2% of 536,791 Decks)

At first glance, Ornithopter doesn't seem like a powerhouse that warrants inclusion in 2% of all decks. For those that think so, might I introduce you to the Commander Spellbook combo page for this zero-cost flier? 50 different combos involving this "innocent" little artifact creature speaks volumes for how playable Urza's Saga will be in the high-power market, which doesn't even get into the decks that might want other zero-cost artifact creatures for various non-combo needs.

7. Basilisk Collar

(11,097 Inclusions, 2% of 536,791 Decks)

If you're less about combos and more about general value, however, then you might just want to search up the odd Basilisk Collar in your average Pingers, Lure, or Equipment deck. Or... just in general? Giving a creature both deathtouch and lifelink for only three total mana is already very good. Doing it and only having to worry about the Equip cost is even better.

6. Tormod's Crypt

(11,406 Inclusions, 2% of 536,791 Decks)

If you're looking to combo out for the game, you're probably not looking to wait three turns to tutor up a Tormod's Crypt. It is, however, a decent choice from a toolbox approach, allowing you to hose a non-Syr Konrad graveyard deck that's getting a little bit out of control. Speaking of, Syr Konrad would probably also love to search this thing up as a finisher, not to mention all the new Lorehold cards that care about cards leaving the graveyard and Tormod himself!

5. The Ozolith

(11,414 Inclusions, 3% of 333,149 Decks)

It doesn't matter what version of counters that brewers care about, if they've found a deck that cares about counters, then they've found The Ozolith. From the brand new "weird counter tribal" commanders, like Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, Tayam, Luminous Enigma, Nikara, Lair Scavenger, and Volrath, the Shapestealer, to the tried-and-true +1/+1 counter commanders of old, The Ozolith is a must-get. Giving all of your creatures Modular is an absolute gamechanger, allowing you to maintain your "tall" through board wipes, targeted removal, or even a huge value train that involves a sacrifice effect.

4. Elixir of Immortality

(17,374 Inclusions, 3% of 536,791 Decks)

Upon initial evaluation, Elixir of Immortality seems like a card only Group Hug decks that are trying to draw everyone out might be interested in, but the bigger reason that folks are looking to shuffle turns out to be that the crucial game piece they're looking to search for might be in their graveyard rather than their deck. And after all, what's an extra turn to a Maralen of the Mornsong player who's locked down the table and is looking to combo out? Besides the combo take, however, this little Elixir is also an excellent safety net for decks that are in real danger of drawing or milling themselves to death. Lookin' at you, Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign!

3. Shadowspear

(20,161 Inclusions, 5% of 404,656 Decks)

If I'm honest, I've never "gotten" Shadowspear. Don't get me wrong, it's efficient, and both trample and lifelink are good, as is having the option to kill unkillable creatures on occasion. But that's the kind of thing that usually lands a card as being ubiquitous in Standard, not Commander. 5% of all decks running this Equipment just seems patently wrong to me. With that said, I can certainly see more than a few decks that would be interested in Shadowspear as an on-theme boon, and for those searching it up and avoiding the extra mana seems like a no-brainer.

2. Sensei's Divining Top

(50,430 Inclusions, 9% of 536,791 Decks)

Being an old-timer, one card I definitely understand the allure of is Sensei's Divining Top. I'm sure you newer players are tired of us old folk talking about how we used to have 30 of these sitting in our draft chaff box that got lost along the way, but I'm here to say: the stories are true!

What could have been aside, however, Top is the epitome of an efficient option: one mana to cast, one mana to look, no mana to trade for a card off the top. Even better, it's essentially impossible to get rid of a Top once it's hit the battlefield, so searching it up is an option that just keeps on giving!

That said, please try to remember what you just looked at. There is a real and deserved stigma that comes with this card as a time-waster, and you don't want to be known as that person in your playgroup.

1. Skullclamp

(82,870 Inclusions, 15% of 536,791 Decks)

Do you like to draw cards? It turns out you're not alone, as Skullclamp is now seeing play in 15% of all decks! Whether you make tokens or just have a lot of efficient one-drops, Skullclamp is willing to make any of them into two new cards, which turns out to be a pretty stellar deal. If all else fails, though, after you search this up you can just drop it on your commander and get a consolation prize when someone decides it's kill-on-sight. It's not quite as good as a full-on Lightning Greaves, but it ain't nothing, either!

Honorable Mentions

Given that this list started on the cusp of 10,000 inclusions, it's not hard to imagine that there are a lot of playable cards that didn't make the list. With that said, let's take a look at the full Top 25:

11. Manifold Key
12. Grafdigger's Cage
13. Nihil Spellbomb
14. Voltaic Key
15. Codex Shredder
16. Soul-Guide Lantern
17. Colossus Hammer
18. Mishra's Bauble
19. Library of Leng
20. Hope of Ghirapur
21. Bag of Holding
22. Aether Spellbomb
23. Amulet of Vigor
24. Memnite
25. Universal Automaton

A lot of these fall more under the toolbox description than the "win the game" one, but all in all there are still some great targets here. Given that I've decided to die on the hill of "there is a relevant Urza's Saga target for every deck in Commander", however, I do feel that I have to defend myself somewhat, so let's dig a little deeper.

Treasure it is not, but Bloodforged Battle-Axe can still end up with enough copies to win off of a Hellkite Tyrant or Mechanized Production fairly easily. Although, it must also be said that if you end up with that many copies and a fair amount of mana, it's pretty easy to just win the game off of combat damage, too.

Meekstone has historically been all about the weenie decks in 60-card formats, but that doesn't mean it's not highly useful in Commander as well. Superfriends, Prison, Group Hug, and token decks could all easily find a place for this semi-Stax card, and the fact that you can search it up with just a land drop could very well save your bacon several times over several games.

Voltron has never been the most powerful archetype, but it's gotten a significant boon with Commander's Plate as an Equipment option. Evasion, protection, and a decent power bump all in one is relevant, no matter how you look at it.

Whether you're a token deck, a tribal deck, or a tribal token deck, Stoneforge Masterwork can be just what you need for a sudden swing-through for lethal, or even the odd Fling!

As if lands decks weren't already excited to be repeatedly recurring Urza's Saga, they can now search for one of their main sac outlets and Fogs, Zuran Orb, all at once!

Not only is Tel-Jilad Stylus an absolute staple in Grenzo, Dungeon Warden decks, but it's also another option for decks looking to search for their win conditions that might have ended up in their graveyard in the same vein as Elixir of Immortality.

Suffice it to say, there are zero- and one-cost artifacts the world over that decks of every type would love to have on the battlefield right now. Not all of them are generally worth giving up a land for after three turns, but I would venture that most of them are, especially if among those options you always have the option of just grabbing a Sol Ring for a net increase of one mana.

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?

And finally, what are your favorite cheap artifacts? Are you looking forward to searching them up with Urza's Saga, or are you more of the #PlayLessTutors kind of brewer? What specific zero or one cost artifact fits in your deck that you don't feel like you generally see at the average EDH table?

Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the cheapest table they make at Ikea!

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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