Too-Specific Top 10 - Mana Positive

(Dark Ritual | Art by Clint Langley)

Plus One!

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 Eladamri's Vineyard does the exact same thing as Magus of the Vineyard, and is typically harder to remove?)

One of the most powerful things you can do in the game of Magic is play a card that makes you end up with more mana than you started with. From the simple basic land to Black Lotus itself, this basic "you now have more than you did" mechanic feeds all decks, from tabletop jank to Vintage.

So why not take a look at which (nonland) cards give you more immediate mana than what you had?

Top 10 Mana-Positive Cards

  1. Sol Ring
  2. Mana Crypt
  3. [REDACTED] (On actual list)
  4. Chrome Mox
  5. Mana Vault
  6. Jeweled Lotus
  7. Lotus Petal
  8. Mox Diamond
  9. Mox Opal
  10. Mox Amber

Well, here's one reason: we've already done this list.

So, we're gonna need to get just a tad more specific.

Top 10 Mana-Positive Cards Under $1.00

There we are! Anyone can throw fast mana in a deck and be off to the races, but what can you do on a budget?

Criteria: Nonland cards that cost under a dollar which, by themselves, add more mana to your mana pool in a single turn than they cost. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.

Before we get to the main list, we do have some corner cases in our criteria.

Things like Mana Drain and Jeska's Will wouldn't have made the cut this week based on their cost, but that would still leave things like my new favorite Izzet ritual, Inner Fire. In all likelihood, any of those spells will let you leave with more mana than you put in, but it's not a guarantee. Ever drawn a Jeska's Will against a discard deck that already went off? It's fairly depressing.

A tougher line to draw was with Replicating Ring, which, if given enough time, can result in you having a lot more than the three mana you initially invested. The problem is, it doesn't technically do it all as one card, instead making eight more copies. Lastly, there's no doubt that Soulbright Flamekin was designed exclusively with 'mana positive' in mind, but it does so with an activated ability, and that would technically make things like Izzet Signet qualify as well, so it had to be eliminated to avoid that whole kerfuffle.

That just leaves us with our actual list!

10. Geosurge

(1,846 Inclusions, 0% of 669,087 Decks)

Well now, that sure is a mana cost. Which, of course, immediately gets me on a tangent: there's no doubt that the reason this card isn't more popular is because of the quadruple red pips, and that's precisely how we know just how effective this kind of high-pip mana cost can be. If this cost three and a red, it would see play in a ton of Gruul and artifact decks. Since it costs four red pips, it's essentially only there for mono-red artifact decks.

This kind of costing should be done more often, especially when it comes to great white cards. Imagine Smothering Tithe with this type of mana cost. It would still be amazing, and it would only see play in mono-white decks (and as a result, would probably cost $3.00 instead of $30.00).

9. Thran Turbine

(1,932 Inclusions, 0% of 1,390,941 Decks)

Someday, I hope Thran Turbine will get reprinted in a Commander precon focused around either instants or upkeep effects. This is sort of a colorless Braid of Fire, a Sol Ring just for your upkeep, and is absolutely monstrous in any deck with a consistent instant-speed mana sink. Or, of course, you could use it for its original purpose and just untap your Monolith.

8. Irencrag Feat

(4,331 Inclusions, 1% of 664,986 Decks)

Our second 'four mana to make seven mana with a caveat' card of the list, Irencrag Feat goes from all-star to niche with its 'you can cast only one more spell this turn' rider. With that said, there's a specific EDH niche that I feel is underutilizing this card: X decks.

Whether it be the straightforward Rosheen Meanderer or the strange offshoot of non-spellslinger Izzet, there are a ton of commanders that will happily put all their resources into one big effect, rather than a ton of little ones.

7. Glittering Stockpile

(5,931 Inclusions, 3% of 214,361 Decks)

And here it is, the reason I'm kind of sad to see such a lack of play for niche rituals and an upkeep-only Sol Ring. Don't get me wrong, Glittering Stockpile is a fun card, and I'm happy it's seeing play. It's exactly the kind of three-mana rock I was hoping to see more of as design (hopefully) leans away from two-mana rocks.

It's also not very good. I get if folks are playing it in a lower-powered Treasure deck, or maybe in a weird counter tribal build, but those are niches inside of niches, where Geosurge, Irencrag Feat, and Thran Turbine all have solid reasons for inclusions across a swathe of decks and strategies.

But hey, who am I to pick favorites?

6. Empowered Autogenerator

(7,239 Inclusions, 1% of 1,390,941 Decks)

With that whole diatribe against Glittering Stockpile, you might be expecting me to just go for round two when it comes to Empowered Autogenerator. While both cards represent a slower, more casual mindset that I do personally believe should be cultivated more in the Commander community, I actually think that Empowered Autogenerator is a lot better. Not only is it colorless, and therefore available in every color combination, but it also doesn't sacrifice itself after you've put tons of counters on it. While both would love to show up in a slow Proliferate build, I ultimately only think one is worth it.

5. Tinder Wall

(7,693 Inclusions, 3% of 297,062 Decks)

If you are looking to go a little faster, then Tinder Wall is for you. I would even go so far as to say that this probably warrants inclusion in some of the cEDH or near-cEDH decks looking to lean away from mana rocks and lean into mana dorks. While it obviously can't attack, it can be a Lotus Petal for red mana if all you need is to quickly shave a turn or two off. After all, if you're looking to go fast, isn't that what it's all about?

4. Selvala, Explorer Returned

(Helms 1,395 Decks, Rank #294; 9,705 Inclusions, 3% of 290,097 Decks)

As a friend of mine who attempted to build a 'friendly' Selvala deck likes to say, "They don't make bad Selvalas." While most who hear that statement would think back to the old cEDH deck helmed by Selvala, Heart of the Wilds, it is no less true of Selvala, Explorer Returned. Making mana and drawing cards on a single commander is always a recipe for destruction, and its no different in this innocent-looking Selesnya Scout. If she sticks to one activation a turn, she's just okay, but if there are any sort of untap shenanigans going on, she's going to get out of hand, and quickly.

Where Selvala really gets out of hand, however, is in decks that build from the same mindset as Anje Falkenrath. Put simply, there are a lot of untap effects available in Selesnya. There are enough that, if you put your mind to it, you could essentially make a deck of nothing but lands, a few win conditions, and untap effects. With Selvala drawing a card and making two to three mana on every tap, you can very possibly pull out a win the first time anyone lets you untap with her.

3. Sol Talisman

(14,831 Inclusions, 1% of 1,129,703 Decks)

I've only ever personally put Sol Talisman in an odd mono-green Suspend-Storm build that was made under deckbuilding restrictions, so I'm a tad shocked to see it show up here with so many inclusions. As usual, when I don't understand what's going on with a card's popularity, I headed to the EDHREC page for it.

What I'd totally forgotten about were the effects that let you cast spells without paying their mana cost. Whether it be Cascade or just your average spellslinger nonsense, Sol Talisman represents a way to come out of a free cast with more mana than you came in with, which makes it a second copy of Sol Ring. As I previously established with Thran Turbine, that can more or less be called a good thing!

2. Seething Song

(38,751 Inclusions, 6% of 669,087 Decks)

A more typical inclusion in spellslinger builds is the straightforward ritual effect of Seething Song. Getting five mana for three mana at instant speed is everything you could want when trying to turn a lot of little spells into a game-winning time. The only thing that could be better is if you have a cost reduction making your initial investment a little easier.

1. Dark Ritual

(124,876 Inclusions, 17% of 714,202 Decks)

Or you could just play a card that only costs one mana to begin with! From the Alpha days of "Swamp, Ritual, Hypnotic Specter" to more of the same in the 'Suicide Black' era with Phyrexian Negator, Dark Ritual has been a mainstay of any black deck whose format allows its use. That is no different when it comes to Commander, as three mana for the cost of one will always be a two-turn leap that any strategy welcomes. If anything, the numbers here seem a little light, most likely due to newer players being unaware of Dark Ritual's existence, while older ones may just be hitting the brakes a little for the sake of slowing down to smell the taplands.

Honorable Mentions

Believe it or not, I had every intention of doing the simpler "Mana Positive" version of this list without the monetary restriction, only realizing after the fact that it was going to be all Moxen. To come up with the 'under a dollar' figure, I actually had to keep going with the list in order to see what versions looked the most interesting. So, why let all that work go to waste?

Top 30 Mana-Positive Cards

  1. Sol Ring
  2. Mana Crypt
  3. Dark Ritual
  4. Chrome Mox
  5. Mana Vault
  6. Jeweled Lotus
  7. Lotus Petal
  8. Mox Diamond
  9. Mox Opal
  10. Mox Amber
  11. Seething Song
  12. Cabal Ritual
  13. Grim Monolith
  14. Lion's Eye Diamond
  15. Rite of Flame
  16. Desperate Ritual
  17. Pyretic Ritual
  18. Sol Talisman
  19. Selvala, Explorer Returned
  20. Lotus Bloom
  21. Tinder Wall
  22. Mox Tantalite
  23. Empowered Autogenerator
  24. Braid of Fire
  25. Glittering Stockpile
  26. Irencrag Feat
  27. Magus of the Vineyard
  28. Eladamri's Vineyard
  29. Thran Turbine
  30. Geosurge

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?

My theories on why the play numbers for Dark Ritual seem a little low are all well and good, but I'd be silly not to recognize that I have a prime opportunity to get to the bottom of it right here!

Finally, what is your favorite mana-positive card? Are there any of the cheaper versions you saw here today that got you thinking, or are you still gonna save up for a Mox?

Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the table with an expandable leaf hidden inside it.

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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