Last updated on November 3, 2023

Sol Ring (Commander Collection Green) - Illustration by Joseph Meehan

Sol Ring (Commander Collection: Green) | Illustration by Joseph Meehan

I love ramping. It’s my second favorite thing to do in Magic, with the first being drawing cards. Across the formats, ramping comes in all shapes and sizes. From the unassuming Llanowar Elves to bombs like Nyxbloom Ancient, Mirari's Wake, and Gilded Lotus, ramping lets us enjoy the Kokomo approach to Magic: Get there fast and then we’ll take it slow.

We’re going to look at Standard, Pioneer, Modern, and, of course, Commander and talk about the usage of mana rocks. They're some of the absolute best artifacts in any format. Which ones are the best?

Let’s talk about that.

Table of Contents show

What Is a Mana Rock?

A mana rock is MTG slang for any artifact that generates mana. A typical mana rock taps to add colorless or colored mana. There are lots of different ways to make mana and to make this list, but the best mana rocks need to be either fast, permanent, or flexible.

Prismatic Lens

Talisman of Conviction | Illustration by Lindsey Look

Why Play Mana Rocks?

Mana rocks matter in each format, whether as fixing in Limited, or part of a combo in Constructed. However, Commander is the format for mana rocks. Mana rocks matter more in Commander due to the life total, when you’ve got to burn through 120 points of your opponents' health instead of 20 to win a game. Hence, ramp and big-person spells have a much bigger place in EDH. The diversity of the Commander format means we can go all-in on 0-drop artifacts with a Jhoira, Weatherlight CaptainCheerios” deck.

Alternatively, we can keep it simple by playing the holy trinity of Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, and Arcane Signet. But if you start with the staples, how many should you actually include in your deck? More on this later.

The Best Mana Rocks

Let's take a look at our mana rocks, shall we? I've compiled these lists from a range of data sources and hundreds of games. Hold on to your hats.

Quick note from your friendly neighborhood editor from the future. If you visited this list 2-3 years ago and you have an amazing memory, you’ll probably notice that the current list looks much different. Let’s face it: Commander is faster and more efficient than ever, which changes the role of a mana rock. The good Constructed rocks will still be just as good as ever, but Commander’s emphasis on early, efficient plays means that many playable rocks of old are now way behind the times. RIP to some of the classics like Darksteel Ingot and Vessel of Endless Rest. We need our mana rocks to do more these days.

Honorable Mentions: Black Lotus and the Moxes

Not the last lotus you'll see today, Black Lotus is a mana rock that is so rare, restricted in Vintage, and illegal in all other formats, that you simply don't see it very often. Same goes for Mox Pearl and co., which are among the best mana rocks ever printed but banned in most formats and expensive in the one format they’re legal in.

Honorable Mention: Powerstone Tokens

Quick shoutout to the Powerstone tokens from The Brothers’ War. These are technically mana rocks, but since they only come in token form they shouldn’t take up a slot on the list. Treasure similarly falls into this category. I mean, Lotus Petal is here and that’s functionally a Treasure token in disguise.

#70. Manalith


You might call this the Core set rock, Manalith, makes a good benchmark to compare mana rocks. If you’re going to consider a 3-mana accelerant, it needs to at least meet the bar of being better than this.

#69. Fractured Powerstone

Fractured Powerstone

Quick mention for Fractured Powerstone, which transforms from a run-of-the-mill unexciting rock into the mana rock of choice for Planechase games.

#68. Pristine Talisman

Pristine Talisman

Are you a lifegain deck? Then Pristine Talisman is your trinket of choice! If not, move along and find something better suited to your deck.

#67. Gatewatch Beacon

Gatewatch Beacon

Narrow, but useful in Superfriends decks. It’s funny to see loyalty counters sitting around on a mana rock, but you’ll absolutely run this any time your commander is a planeswalker, or if that’s a central theme of your deck. I wonder Gatewatch Beacon sees more play in Oathbreaker, where any ‘walker can be your commander…

#66. Decanter of Endless Water

Decanter of Endless Water

Oh boy, here’s a controversial one. People seem to love Decanter of Endless Water even though it’s Manalith with “upside” that rarely matters. Look, people value the infinite handsize text too much. Unless your deck is built to draw tons of cards and store them in hand, you don’t need that effect on your cards. Sorry Reliquary Tower, you’re also horribly overplayed. “Um, but you have Thought Vessel way up the list and that only makes colorless mana!” First off, quit peeking, and second, that’s a 2-mana rock. That makes a world of difference.

#65. Chromatic Lantern

Chromatic Lantern

Chromatic Lantern is an amazing card when you’ve got three plus colors, but over-costed if you’re not taking advantage of the fixing regularly. This card loses a lot of its value if you’re playing a 3-color deck with a solid or less risky mana bases, so you may want to include it less in these decks.

Might as well get the pitchforks ready. Chromatic Lantern is a fine mana rock that people mistakenly think is great. It is not. In almost every game it’ll have the same effect as a normal Manalith. How often is a single 5-color fixing rock not enough on its own to get you the mana you need? Yes, Chromatic Lantern makes things more convenient, but it’s not actually doing anything in most games that a Commander's Sphere wouldn’t do while having additional upside.

If you’re a 4-5 color deck or you’re just lazy about tapping lands, you can still play this. But I think it’s about time people admit it’s a feel thing, not a power-level thing.

#64. Coveted Jewel

Coveted Jewel

I see a lot of praise for Coveted Jewel online, and to be fair it’s a super fun card! Almost like a Super-Monarch effect that makes you play hot potato with a Gilded Lotus. Exciting for sure, but good? Passable, I’d say. You really don’t want to be the one responsible for giving a triple mana ramp and card draw effect to someone who was able to steal and effectively guard it.

#63. The Dragon Mana Rocks

There are a handful of dragon-specific rocks that only fit in typal decks, but deserve mention for being great in those decks. Dragon's Hoard, Orb of Dragonkind, and Carnelion Orb of Dragonkind are standouts.

#62. Firemind Vessel

Firemind Vessel

Firemind Vessel is a fun one, even if it can be clunky to play. The bigger spells beyond four mana value often have more than one color to pay, making this a great fit in almost any multicolor deck.

#61. Wand of the Worldsoul

Wand of the Worldsoul

What a cool design! Wand of the Worldsoul can give any spell convoke, which makes it act like a Cryptolith Rite when you need it to. Restricted to token decks mostly, but definitely worth consideration there.

#60. Prismatic Geoscope & Timeless Lotus

Prismatic Geoscope Timeless Lotus

Ah yes, Timeless Lotus, the most overhyped mana rock of all time. I get it, it says “Lotus.” But let’s think critically about this for a moment. It’s restricted to 5-color decks, the ones that already have access to all the best fixing and ramp. It can’t be used right away without an untap effect, so it paints a target on your back while being arguably worse than an untapped Gilded Lotus. And it’s still over $10, when Prismatic Geoscope is less than a dollar and does pretty much the same thing in the decks that want effects like this.

Timeless Lotus taps for , which looks cool and certainly is when you can use it, I just want to temper expectations here. I also want to do Geoscope justice. It can tap for five mana in any combination of colors, and you could put it in a 4-color deck whereas Lotus is locked to 5-color piles.

#59. Bonder’s Ornament

Bonder's Ornament

I don’t know much about why Bonder's Ornament is banned in Pauper, but if it was good enough to get the hammer there it certainly feels like it deserves a mention. Here’s to hoping I someday convince everyone to put a copy of this in their Commander decks so we can all live the dream of drawing extra cards.

#58. Manascape Refractor

Manascape Refractor

High highs and medium lows. At worst, Manascape Refractor is a slow mana rock that likely taps for any color you need it to. At best it’s copying the mana abilities of Cabal Coffers and Gaea's Cradle, or piggy-backing off an opposing Maze of Ith.

#57. Astral Cornucopia

Astral Cornucopia

Yes, Astral Cornucopia could be just another Manalith, but it has a much higher ceiling. Being able to play it later, or manipulate the charge counters makes this card exciting.

#56. Glistening Sphere

Glistening Sphere

Speaking of manipulating counters, how about a Manalith that proliferates on ETB? You can mostly ignore the corrupted text on Glistening Sphere, though poison decks will snap this up too.

#55. The 3-Color Crystals Cycle

I love these cards for their cycling. They cost more but are flexible enough to never be dead in your hand if you draw them on turn 9 when you need to be playing your eldrazi commander or X=50 Villainous Wealth.

#54. All 10 Guild Lockets

Whereas the Ikoria Crystals give you a choice between cycling or casting them, the guild lockets (Simic Locket et al) give you mana, then turn into cards down the road. They’re perfectly reasonable budget-friendly 2-color rocks.

#53. Laser Screwdriver

Laser Screwdriver

Doctor Who released two mirrored mana rocks in the form of Laser Screwdriver and Sonic Screwdriver. This one’s the more reactive and sneaky of the two, interacting with your opponents’ permanents in various ways. Goading on demand in particular is a nice ability to tack onto a Manalith.

#52. Sonic Screwdriver

Sonic Screwdriver

Sonic Screwdriver is the more proactive screwdriver in the toolbox. That means you probably have a plan for it in your deck instead of hoping your opponents give you something worth interacting with. Scry is worse than surveil, but making creatures unblockable is usually going to be more useful than goading if you’re putting this card in your deck for that effect.

#51. Lotus Bloom

Lotus Bloom

While strictly worse than Black Lotus, the Lotus Bloom is more fair and a burst of mana that your opponent has a chance of playing around.

#50. Heraldic Banner

Heraldic Banner

Ramp for aggro decks. What’s not to love? If you’re not going wide in a mono- or 2-color deck, though, this card is far from the best choice. The Heraldic Banner is a favorite for just skipping right to the anthem effect. This card is either champagne or razor blades.

#49. Crowded Crypt

Crowded Crypt

I love these 3-mana single-color rocks that have late-game utility tacked on. Cashing in Crowded Crypt for a bunch of decayed zombies is something without being an extravagant upside, but remember what we said: The goal is to at minimum be better than Manalith, and this usually gets there.

#48. Skyclave Relic

Skyclave Relic

Darksteel Ingot used to have a spot on this list, but Skyclave Relic made it obsolete. At under a dollar, it’s easy to get a copy and play an improved Ingot with pretty massive upside.

#47. Everflowing Chalice

Everflowing Chalice

One of the best multikicker cards, Everflowing Chalice scales well with your game state, giving you as much ramp as you can afford.

#46. Lion's Eye Diamond

Lion's Eye Diamond

You could call the Lion's Eye Diamond a Black Lotus variant, and despite significant drawback, this card does powerful things for .

#45. Lotus Petal

Lotus Petal

Great for some combos Lotus Petal is like a nerfed Black Lotus, and as a source of free mana is still really good.

#44. Basalt Monolith

Basalt Monolith

With the untap ability built in, Basalt Monolith is part of several two-card infinite combos that result in you declaring 1 billion colorless mana.

#43. Chromatic Orrery

Chromatic Orrery

Chromatic Orrery does high-end stuff for a high cost, and it makes my brain hurt just thinking of all the cards you can draw into and play thanks to the chunks of five rainbow mana.

#42. Relic of Sauron

Relic of Sauron

Relic of Sauron might’ve slipped under some Grixis players’ radar since it released during a wave of seemingly endless Commander precons. It’s a sweet piece of tech for a specific color combination that more players should be aware of.

#41. Sceptre of Eternal Glory

Sceptre of Eternal Glory

Sceptre of Eternal Glory straddles the line between overpriced Manalith (not good) and strictly better Thran Dynamo (excellent). You have to sculpt your mana base to turn this on regularly, which mostly makes it a tool for mono-colored decks.

#40. Throne of Eldraine

Throne of Eldraine

The card, not the set. I suppose we’re in mono-colored territory right now, with Throne of Eldraine being a deliberate payoff for playing a deck of a single color. Being strictly better than Gilded Lotus in some decks is still something to be proud of, even if it fits in fewer builds.

#39. Nyx Lotus

Nyx Lotus

The devotion mechanic is a fun one to build upon and Nyx Lotus is quite a payoff for staying true to one color. Being able to produce multiple colored mana is super strong, it's no wonder this lotus is legendary.

#38. Honor-Worn Shaku

Honor-Worn Shaku

Honor-Worn Shaku has always been a sleeper hit and still is, but what really upped the ante was the rules update that changed all planeswalkers into legendary permanents. A tapped walker’s as good as any other, which means you can get extra mana out of them with your Honor-Worn Shaku. It’s a rock that only gets better with time given the sheer number of legends printed in modern sets, though Relic of Legends is giving it a run for its money.

#37. 1-Color Diamond Cycle

This simple 5-card cycle would rank better if it entered the battlefield untapped. Which deck needs ramp the most? Marble Diamond is an MVP for white, whereas Moss Diamond in a green deck is easily outclassed.

#36. Staff of Compleation

Staff of Compleation

It’s funny to include Staff of Compleation on this list because if all it had was the mana rock mode, it’d be embarrassing, worse than Manalith even. However, there are two things keeping this card out of bulk boxes: One, sick artwork. Two, a bevy of other utility abilities, chief among them being proliferation on demand. The lifeloss adds up, but the Staff gives you enough flexibility to make it worthwhile.

#35. Inspiring Statuary

Inspiring Statuary

If you only looked at rocks that literally tap for mana you’d probably gloss over Inspiring Statuary. However, it’s a phenomenal artifact payoff that essentially turns all your artifacts, including itself, into mana rocks. The catch: You can only use them to cast nonartifacts, which makes it an ideal include for artifact decks with X-spells or nonartifact top-end.

#34. Mox Tantalite

Mox Tantalite

Mox Tantalite is a Manalith that you pay for with a couple turns. Great for bursting into your bonkers turn-four play in Modern. You gotta love that you don't pay for it on the turn you can tap it.

#33. Patriar’s Seal

Patriar's Seal

Patriar's Seal follows the Pristine Talisman test, just with tap abilities instead of lifegain. If your deck, or commander especially, cares about or has activated abilities that require tapping, the appeal of the Seal skyrockets.

#32. Hedron Archive

Hedron Archive

I sometimes favor this over Commander's Sphere in many decks, despite it looking a little clunkier. The reality is that the 3-drop ramp slot has a lot higher competition than the 4-drop slot does, and quite a few key cards skip the need for a 3-drop ramp that isn’t premium value.

A turn 1 Sol Ring or Mana Crypt means that you can drop Hedron Archive on turn two and be more efficient, and drawing two cards vs. one card is definitely valuable after you’ve enjoyed the ramp in the early part of the game.

#31. Stonespeaker Crystal

Stonespeaker Crystal

My colleague originally wrote about Hedron Archive above at a time when it was the undisputed king of 4-mana acceleration. The Two-Mind Stones-in-one approach still works, but Stonespeaker Crystal gives it a run for its money. It gives up one of the cards to exile a graveyard, which means it’s no longer card advantage, but rather a disruptive cantrip, all while providing the same mana advantage as Archive. These two are somewhat interchangeable, with personal preference being the deciding factor.

#30. Sarevok’s Tome

Sarevok's Tome
The Initiative Rules Card

Whether you’re #teamArchive or #teamCrystal above, Sarevok's Tome has them both beat. The initiative is just so good that you’ll give up the extra mana for a bit to get that going. And since the first room of Undercity always finds a land, you get some of your card advantage up front. If you’re able to complete the dungeon, you get to start Chaos Wanding yourself for free cards without losing the Tome. Incredible, I say, though you run the obvious risk of having the initiative sniped out from underneath you.

#29. Mox Opal

Mox Opal

Mox Opal is like a free Manalith for affinity and metalcraft. Remember you only need an artifact land and one other artifact like a clue, food, or treasure token to turn this on.

#28. Cursed Mirror

Cursed Mirror

Much like Crowded Crypt or Midnight Clock, I love these color-specific rocks with high upside. Cursed Mirror is a red rock that usually copies a good ETB or gets a nice swing in before reverting back to a normal, ordinary source of red mana.

#27. Chrome Mox

Chrome Mox

Chrome Mox costs you a card, but not any mana, and that speed helps this rank highly. As with Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox isn’t an inherently powerful card, it just turbos out some of the more broken starts you can have in unfair decks.

#26. Mox Diamond

Mox Diamond

Discarding a land is a benefit in several graveyard-related decks, so instead of holding Mox Diamond back, this free rainbow mana becomes absurd. If this were solely a Constructed evaluation of mana rocks, this card would take a top slot, but as a Commander card, you’re only interested if you’re trying to combo off early.

#25. The Mightstone and Weakstone

The Mightstone and Weakstone

Sorry Honorable Mentions, looks like we’ve got a real powerstone to talk about. Neither half of The Mightstone and Weakstone is mana-efficient, but it’s fine as a clunky piece of removal for fully colorless decks that sometimes turns into extra cards instead. And from there it provides extra, albeit restricted mana. Not to mention it’s a mandatory inclusion if you ever want to live the dream of melding Urza, Planeswalker or Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia.

#24. Worn Powerstone

Worn Powerstone

Though strictly worse than Sol Ring, the Worn Powerstone does great work with minimal drawback.

#23. Gilded Lotus

Gilded Lotus

Flowers never looked so juicy, Gilded Lotus invites you to splash your big powerful spells since it is extremely rare that a card will have more than three pips of one color.

To follow up my colleague’s original comments on Gilded Lotus, it’s worth noting that its time as a Commander staple has come to an end. It’s still playable and even fuels combos that many other mana rocks can’t, but gone are the days where you’d slot this in as one of the first 10 cards in any new Commander deck. Rather, you need a deliberate reason to play it now, whether that’s just being a big mana or artifact deck, or one with a bunch of untap effects.

#22. Thran Dynamo

Thran Dynamo

Thran Dynamo provides such a great rate immediately, you must be ramping into something huge. It's practically explosive.

#21. The Celestus

The Celestus

The Celestus blows Manalith and most variants out of the water. It’s got your ramp and fixing covered, but in a 4-player game it’ll just periodically loot and gain life, even if you’re not investing anything extra into it. You can force the action with the activated ability, or simply pass the turn with instants to trigger it. Huge downside: Night/Day is an absolute nuisance to track in paper, which is enough reason on its own for some players to avoid it.

#20. Coalition Relic

Coalition Relic

It blows my mind that Coalition Relic doesn’t make it into more decks, but Chromatic Lantern is still on peoples’ radar. It’s just better, folks. Granted, a Manalith and a half-chewed Skittle is better than Chromatic Lantern. I get that Relic used to be an expensive card 10+ years ago, but it’s literally less than a dollar now, which is a steal for a Manalith variant that double ramps/fixes you when you need it to.

#19. Mox Amber

Mox Amber

The free mana Mox Amber provides makes this excellent. While your Commander or planeswalker may already be a target, this adds fuel to the fire for your opponents looking to make you pay for relying on both cards. It misses the top tiers of this list by being a little narrow in the types of decks that want it, and occasionally being a Cheerio that’s sometimes about as effective as a lifesaver on land.

#18. Machine God’s Effigy

Machine God's Effigy

Machine God's Effigy is a build-your-own mana rock. It always taps for but it gets to copy the relevant abilities of any creature on the battlefield. As noted by the reminder text, the Effigy itself won’t be a creature, which is either boon or bane depending on the circumstances.

#17. Coldsteel Heart

Coldsteel Heart

Coldsteel Heart is coming in at the bottom of the 2-mana accelerants. It’s better than Star Compass, Prismatic Lens, and a few others that don’t quite get there, but it’s also not doing anything extra beyond ramping and fixing. It is a snow permanent, which is certainly cool.

#16. Liquimetal Torque

Liquimetal Torque

I don’t care for Prismatic Lens because the bonus ability doesn’t do anything in most games, which means it’s clearly behind all the other 2-mana rocks with useful secondary abilities. Case and point: Liquimetal Torque. This accelerates and gives you a nerfed version of the Liquimetal Coating ability, which is an excellent option to have if you’re playing artifact disruption, or if you just want to up your artifact count for affinity spells and similar effects.

#15. Mind Stone

Mind Stone

The handy Mind Stone is solidly useful in Modern decks and more. It’s one of the baseline best utility mana rocks in Commander, cashing itself in for a card when the time’s right.

#14. Thought Vessel

Thought Vessel

Thought Vessel is looking out for you and your card draw. Be mindful of signaling to your opponents that you plan to draw a ton of cards. It might seem strange to pan Decanter of Endless Water and then rank Thought Vessel so high, but the mana difference is significant. I’ve already stated that I believe the Reliquary Tower effect to be highly overvalued, but Vessel gives you that as a bonus on top of an already highly-playable effect that every deck wants.

#13. Commander’s Sphere

Commander's Sphere

Great card and if Commander were anything other than the most popular format, Commander's Sphere would rank much worse on this list. This is what you want Manalith+ to look like, though there are some mono-colored decks where you might leave this out.

#12. Midnight Clock

Midnight Clock

Blue doesn’t have a lot of dedicated ramp options, so Midnight Clock’s already unique in that sense. Also, a rock that has the chance to turn into a new hand of seven cards is phenomenal, especially given the fact that you don’t have to invest any extra mana into it beyond what you spend to get it into play. You can speed up the clock, pun fully intended, but with this triggering on every upkeep, you’re looking at payday three turns from when this initially hits play.

#11. All 10 2-Color Talismans

So, while these cards are #prettydece, their use requires consideration before you jam em’ in. The Talismans are my third-best cycle of rocks, but there are also a number of other cycles to choose from for when you’re either building to a tight budget or have some very specific requirements.

The Talismans and Signets go hand-in-hand. You could find all sorts of cornercases where one is better than the other, but for the most part they’re interchangeable and integral to 2-color decks and beyond. I’ll give the nod to Signets since Talismans have a life payment tied to their colored mana generation, but if you’re in a deck that wants either, especially a 2-color deck, you probably want your respective Signet and Talisman side-by-side.

#10. All 10 Guild Signets

Not quite as strong as their Arcane all-star, the 2-color signets still have a great home in any 2-color deck, providing fast ramp in the early stages of the game. I often run all copies I’m able to in any 3-color deck.

#9. The 5 Medallion Cycle

The Tempest Medallions provide cost reduction instead of pure ramp, but there’s enough overlap between the two. In fact, cost reduction is often preferable, since it can apply to multiple spells per turn. If you cast two black spells with a Jet Medallion on board, you generated 2 virtual mana from your rock, whereas a Charcoal Diamond is only ever giving you 1 mana per turn. Of course, they don’t provide colored mana in any capacity, and they won’t assist with casting spells of a different color, which makes them more suitable for mono-colored decks.

#8. Relic of Legends

Relic of Legends

Ditto most of what I said about Honor-Worn Shaku, except now you can produce colored mana. This is a mainstay in any multicolored “legends matter” deck, and it’s possible to generate 3+ mana a turn off this single rock each turn.

#7. Fellwar Stone

Fellwar Stone

Though not quite an Arcane Signet, the Fellwar Stone does a darn close impersonation and should be valued highly. It’ll tap for every color you need it to most of the time.

#6. Arcane Signet

Arcane Signet

I remember first showing this to my pod late last year, being the newest to Magic, and playing with people who remember when the original signets were in Standard. “Pushed card to sell product.” #bigcry

I love Arcane Signet, and find it so universally useable, even in mono-colored decks. It’s got one simple upside over the other signets: no filtering required. This lets us use the mana the turn it comes down, which shouldn’t be undervalued.

#5. The Great Henge

The Great Henge

I did say that ramp and drawing cards are my two favorite things to do in Magic. The Great Henge is either amazing or useless in decks, hence it’s position. This card would have a hard time not being the MVP in mono green or Gruul stompy decks, but outside of those it’s practically useless if you can’t severely reduce its mana cost. It is super cool when it works, but don’t forget that there’s plenty of 1-mana artifact removal.

Don’t be fooled by the mana value in the upper right corner; The Great Henge never costs 9 mana. In decks with any reasonable number of creatures, it’ll cost something like 4-5 mana most games, and very often just . It’s trivially easy to get this down for cheap, after which it does all the things. Like, all of them. Ramp, +1/+1 counters, card draw, life gain for some reason? It has huge Throne of Eldraine “Everything needs to do more!” syndrome, and it’s on the shortlist of best green cards in EDH.

#4. Grim Monolith

Grim Monolith

Grim Monolith is mana-positive the turn you play it, which is already enough to push it high up on the list. It doesn’t untap too often and it’s far from affordable ($250!), but you’ll see it in big-mana decks from time to time.

#3. Mana Vault

Mana Vault

Powerful enough to be restricted in Vintage, and asking for trouble. Mana Vault is one of the more sought-after reprints since it brings Cube closer to a Turbo Draft, and puts you turns ahead of others. It has a greater ritual-like effect and harsher untap restriction than Grim Monolith, but the two often come up in conversation together. It’s roughly five times cheaper and still fairly expensive.

#2. Sol Ring

Sol Ring

Is there a card that better represents Commander? I made the mistake of buying a whole bunch of Sol Rings when I first got into the format, not realizing that if you stick with the format you’ll end up with loads if you buy the occasional pre-con. It’s the card that keeps on giving: mana positive the turn you play it, brings your turn 4 to turn 2, and it’s great at recommending which pizza you should order for dinner.

#1. Mana Crypt

Mana Crypt

The most obvious reasons for not playing Mana Crypt are that it’s too expensive to buy and it makes any deck too powerful. There’s also an argument that too much premium ramp homogenizes the Commander experience and the number of cards that create a “slot tax” by being this good removes some of the flavor of the format. Obviously, players are entitled to not play it if they want to avoid a spikey reputation. Personally, my Mana Crypt only goes into my artifact or cEDH decks, because it makes sense in both scenarios. It’s had a bunch of reprints, so maybe you’ll get lucky and pull one in Double Masters.

Mana Rocks in 60-Card Constructed

From a design standpoint, mana rocks straight up don’t see much love. Their place in contemporary Magic is somewhat problematic, as they sit on a razor thin line between useless and broken thanks to the abundance of other reliable sources of ramp. Think cards like Explore, Growth Spiral, Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, and the Tron lands (Urza's Mine, Urza's Power Plant, and Urza's Tower), all of which see abundant play in every format where they’re legal.

In Standard, most archetypes and color combos rely on consistently playing lands rather than ramping into them. It is usually the decks outside of green, that reach for mana rocks out of necessity. #whyplayanyothercolors

Pioneer sees mana rocks being used in combo decks or experiments, but few are making a huge impact. The mana rocks in Modern tend to be used as mana fixers and not necessarily as ramp.

The recursion and lack of summoning sickness give mana rocks a great place in combo decks, but when they’re deemed too powerful, they suffer the ban hammer. Take the Vintage and Legacy ban lists as proof against mana rocks. Basically, they’re too niche, too good, or too bad for broad play in Constructed formats.

Best Mana Rock Payoffs

These mainly stem from having an expendable or early artifact. You can reap huge benefits for playing mana rocks with metalcraft and affinity. There are dozens of cards like Shimmer Dragon that repurpose untapped artifacts for better use once you no longer need to ramp. Treasure Nabber is an honorable mention, for stealing your opponent's rocks, and don't forget, your used mana rocks are great for sacrificing to effects like bargain or Trash for Treasure.

How Many Mana Rocks Should You Play?

It depends, in a Commander deck, including 5-7 mana rocks might be just right, but when you want an exact number of mana rocks, I highly recommend you take into account your number of mana dorks, lands, cost reducers, and many factors that go into the mana sources for your deck.

What’s The Difference Between Mana Rock And Mana Dork? 

The difference is the card type; mana rocks are artifacts and mana dorks are creatures, both generally tap to add mana, and both are primarily used for ramp. Rocks tend to be colorless and flexible. Aside from myr and eldrazi spawn, mana dorks are more restrictive to use but have a chance at being relevant in combat.

Do Mana Rocks Count As Ramp?

Mind Stone Sol Ring

Absolutely, mana rocks are ramp. Not the same as popping lands into play, and certainly easier to get removed by opponents, but mana rocks help you cast your spells faster than if you had just played one land per turn. Rocks are sometimes faster because they usually come into play untapped and can be tapped immediately, which is why some would say Mind Stone has a net cost of and Sol Ring is better than free.

Wrap Up and Rock On

Paradise Mantle

Urza, Powerstone Prodigy – Illustration by Donato Giancola

Ramping is a huge part of Magic and especially Commander at all power levels. No one enjoys Land-Go when there are three more turns before you untap. When you’re thinking about your deck building and the inclusion of mana rocks over other forms of ramp, focus on what turns are most critical for you to have mana jumps. The best way to start with that kind of thinking is to work out how to get to your deck's mana requirements the fastest and fill in the gaps from land drops to get you there as fast as possible.

Do you have a favorite mana rock? Are there mana rocks you used to play that you don’t find competitive anymore? Let me know in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.

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  • Avatar
    SETH August 8, 2020 11:27 am

    How did Coalition Relic only make it just barely into one of your lists? It’s better than many of the rocks in your Tier 1 list.

    • Matthew
      Matthew August 8, 2020 3:43 pm

      Hi Seth,

      I must admit I dont have a huge amount of experience with Coalition Relic in Commander, but the fact that the mana store option is only available to you for your first main phase and isn’t a “may” ability, means that you’ve got to plan your usage of this ahead of time. I think it works well enough in linear or midrange creature decks where you can be sure of your next 3 turns ahead of time – regardless of what your opponents are doing, but at least in the meta’s I’ve played in, I can think of plenty of 3-mana rocks I would prefer to play. If you’re playing some kind of proliferate deck where the charge counters are relevant however, this is obviously good. The key example where this shines more broadly is if you are playing it on turn 3 with no other ramp spells in hand, so that you’ve got 6 mana available on turn 4. At all other times though, this rock doesn’t do much for me.

      • Avatar
        AbsintheNova August 31, 2022 2:37 am

        This is because you aren’t using it correctly. It’s almost strictly better than command sphere. When tapping your mana you tap this last. Leave it open up until the endstep right before your turn. Always one mana, in a pinch 2 mana. Make it busted with seedborn.

  • Avatar
    Zakaarus October 24, 2020 9:19 pm

    Actually a recent T1 mana rock I noticed would be Skyclave Relic. It’s up there with Gilded Lotus in my opinion, maybe a bit better or worse. It’s an average card rather than a dead draw pre 5 mana, and after 5 mana it’s actually a good card. Definitely pick it up if your deck can’t afford to have a Gild lotus in hand, but still appreciates 3CMC and 5CMC ramp

  • Avatar
    Theodore MacAulay February 19, 2021 3:09 pm

    chrome mox is in every single cEDH deck I’ve ever seen and somehow y’all posted it as tier 2
    a card that let’s you start with one extra mana from the start of the game
    only tier 2
    you have to see how wrong you are

    • Avatar
      Dan Troha February 19, 2021 3:49 pm

      Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Spyridox May 19, 2021 4:22 am

    How are the talismans worse than the signets? I can see it could be tighter in formats starting with 20 life, but even there they’re objectively superior to signets.

    Signets NEED another mana to work at all. Talismans give you colorless for free, and any of the two colors for a mere life point. And no mana activation cost.

    • Avatar
      Aaron February 8, 2022 12:23 pm

      Agreed! And you can tap a Talisman the turn it comes out… if you land>sol ring>Talisman, first turn, you have an extra mana to use. If you land>sol ring>Signet(not Arcane), then your turn is over.

  • Avatar
    David June 14, 2021 2:22 pm

    Wayfarer’s Bauble? Anyone?

    • Avatar
      Varian June 24, 2021 7:15 pm

      Wayfarer’s isn’t a mana rock. Tutoring lands onto the battlefield isn’t consistent with the definition of what a mana rock is (which is to say an artifact that taps to create mana). If this article was solely about ramp, it’d definitely see a place somewhere (probably not very high) on this list.

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