Barely Budget Brews: Mana Rocks

Greetings Travelers! Welcome to another edition of Barely Budget Brews, a series that takes on the challenge of brewing up the best possible Commander deck under $100. Commander is a passion of mine but unfortunately my wallet has a hard time keeping up with my passion. Let’s search far and wide for the biggest bang for our buck while still being competitive.

This week we will be discussing one of the most important aspects of any Commander deck: mana rocks. A loose definition of a mana rock is a colorless artifact that provides consistent mana. While there are a host of artifacts that provide mana at the cost of sacrificing them, I am focusing on those which do not need to be sacrificed. It is very rare you will find a Commander deck without any mana rocks.

Mana rocks like Chrome Mox and Mox Diamond act as huge accelerants to pull ahead in the early game while also providing our colors early on. Other rocks like Mana Crypt, Mana Vault, Sol Ring, and Grim Monolith are looking to push our mana ahead 2-3 turns. All of these cards are way out of our price range, with the lone exception of Sol Ring. We want to be as competitive as possible, while still retaining some of the raw power level of the non-budget options. This will usually take some concessions such as increases in mana cost, slightly decreased effects, or sometimes even a creature that mimics a mana rock. Let’s take a look see what kind of options we can come up with to trim the cost off some of our favorite non budget options.

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Here is a list of the rocks that I spend most of my time using in my budget decks.

Storage (9)
Astral Cornucopia
Jeweled Amulet
Kyren Toy
Black Mana Battery
Blue Mana Battery
Green Mana Battery
Red Mana Battery
White Mana Battery
Gemstone Array

Colorless (19)
Everflowing Chalice
Sol Ring
Guardian Idol
Hedron Crawler
Mind Stone
Prismatic Lens
Manakin
Alloy Myr
Basalt Monolith
Palladium Myr
Pristine Talisman
Honor-Worn Shaku
Seer’s Lantern
Unstable Obelisk
Victory Chimes
Worn Powerstone
Hedron Archive
Thran Dynamo
Dreamstone Hedron

Conditional Color (8)
Mana Cylix
Springleaf Drum
Coldsteel Heart
Corrupted Grafstone
Fellwar Stone
Star Compass
Pillar of Origins
Prismatic Geoscope

Any Color (13)
Chromatic Lantern
Coalition Relic
Commander’s Sphere
Cultivator’s Caravan
Darksteel Ingot
Cryptolith Fragment
Manalith
Opaline Unicorn
Scuttlemutt
Spectral Searchlight
Vessel of Endless Rest
Mana Geode
Firemind Vessel

Single Color (18)
Charcoal Diamond
Fire Diamond
Moss Diamond
Sky Diamond
Marble Diamond
Leaden Myr
Iron Myr
Gold Myr
Copper Myr
Silver Myr
Khalni Gem
Gilded Lotus
Coveted Jewel
Eye of Ramos
Heart of Ramos
Horn of Ramos
Skull of Ramos
Tooth of Ramos

Azorius (7)
Azorius Signet
Azorius Cluestone
Azorius Keyrune
Azorius Locket
Seashell Cameo
Talisman of Progress
Fieldmist Borderpost
Sideboard (0)

Boros (4)
Boros Signet
Boros Cluestone
Boros Keyrune
Boros Locket

Dimir (7)
Dimir Signet
Dimir Cluestone
Dimir Keyrune
Dimir Locket
Talisman of Dominance
Drake-Skull Cameo
Mistvein Borderpost

Golgari (4)
Golgari Signet
Golgari Cluestone
Golgari Keyrune
Golgari Locket

Gruul (7)
Gruul Signet
Gruul Cluestone
Gruul Keyrune
Gruul Locket
Talisman of Impulse
Troll-Horn Cameo
Firewild Borderpost

Izzet (4)
Izzet Signet
Izzet Cluestone
Izzet Keyrune
Izzet Locket

Orzhov (4)
Orzhov Signet
Orzhov Cluestone
Orzhov Keyrune
Orzhov Locket

Rakdos (7)
Rakdos Signet
Rakdos Cluestone
Rakdos Keyrune
Rakdos Locket
Talisman of Indulgence
Bloodstone Cameo
Veinfire Borderpost

Selesnya (7)
Selesnya Signet
Selesnya Cluestone
Selesnya Keyrune
Selesnya Locket
Talisman of Unity
Tigereye Cameo
Wildfield Borderpost

Simic (4)
Simic Signet
Simic Cluestone
Simic Keyrune
Simic Locket

Three Color (10)
Abzan Banner
Sultai Banner
Temur Banner
Jeskai Banner
Mardu Banner
Obelisk of Bant
Obelisk of Esper
Obelisk of Grixis
Obelisk of Jund
Obelisk of Naya

Storage

These are not your typical mana rocks. They are not designed to accelerate your mana through the turns. They are designed to do something with your mana when you are not playing on curve. You can find yourself playing a 3 drop on turn 5 and investing mana into one of these rocks to enable an explosive turn later on.

Colorless

Mana rocks that do not provide color are a risky but sometimes very rewarding inclusion to your deck. These rocks tend to either have an additional ability tacked on like Mind Stone or give you more mana at a discounted rate like Thran Dynamo. Hedron Archive and Dreamstone Hedron give card draw to any colored deck. Including these in your 3-color deck is not advised due to the need for specific colors. 2-color decks can usually get by with these, but beware as you sculpt your deck. If you find yourself with lots of difficult mana in your early drops then drawing one of these could mean being behind.

Standouts: Sol Ring, Mind Stone, Basalt Monolith, Hedron Archive, Thran Dynamo

Conditional Color

Conditional mana rocks are usually aggressively costed, at but with some kind of stipulation attached. Pillar of Origins of an all-star in a tribal deck but a liability in most other decks. Star Compass is an all-star at fixing the most difficult mana bases provided you are running basics. Prismatic Geoscope is a staple for 4-5 color decks but hitting all those colors is difficult for budget builds.

Standouts: Coldsteel Heart, Fellwar Stone, Star Compass

Any Color

Mana rocks that give you access to any color are invaluable to 3+ color decks. One of the biggest drawbacks to deck building on a budget is that mana bases tend to built on either slow or single colored lands. Getting all 3 colors in an opening hard can be difficult, so packing your deck full of these rocks is a must. Chromatic Lantern is the king of Any Color rocks. Giving you the luxury of not worrying about how to tap your mana makes your turns infinitely easier to navigate. Coalition Relic‘s recent print in Masters 25 bumped this once-expensive rock into more budget territory. It doubles as a storage rock and an any colored mana producer.

Standouts: Chromatic Lantern, Coalition Relic, Commander’s Sphere, Darksteel Ingot

Single Color

Not much to say when talking about single color rocks. Oftentimes these rocks are paired with Paradox Engine combos in order to provide floating colored mana without paying some kind of life loss. Khalni Gem can be an interesting include if you have some valuable lands with enter the battlefield effects that you don’t mind picking up for a later turn. The Myr cycle can give a huge boost to mana pools when paired with abilities that un-tap creatures. More mana for the storage rocks mentioned earlier!

Standouts: Diamond cycle, Gilded Lotus

Guild Colors / Wedges / Shards

These are the rocks that I start with a majority of the time when I am building my 2-3 color decks. I can not even think of the last time I did not include one of the signets in my decks. Most of these rocks do something besides provide mana at the price of being slightly over-costed. Using the ramp in the early turn and cashing it in for a card later on is exactly what you want to be doing once you are deep in the late game.

Standouts: Signet cycle, Locket cycle, Talisman cycle

Wrapping Up

Even though we can not use the best of the best, we can still smooth out our mana with the best of them. Did I miss any of your favorite mana rocks? Sharing ideas and giving advice is the spirit of EDH and why Magic: the Gathering is such a wonderful community to be a part of. Until next time!

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