Hello and welcome to an article of which the topic can and has been debated quite thoroughly over the years. In the wake of Commander Legends and Jeweled Lotus I believe this was an article that was a long time coming. A variation of this ranking list can and has been discussed on multiple forums formed by various opinions and metas. With that said I’d like to prelude this by reminding everyone this is just one opinion of many, and the rankings are really arbitrary and perhaps biased. This is listed as insight into general deck building choices and ranking several frequently seen mana rocks and justify their constant appearance within deck lists. As a core part of the Commander format mana rocks are something to keep in mind, whether they are in your deck or your opponent. Some decks and strategies may utilize some more effectively than others which could greatly adjust their ranking. For now, let’s begin.
10 – Mind Stone
Starting off with something that is low cost in many ways keeping things simple but effective. This two cost mana rock is a great follow up to a turn one Sol Ring. While it is not able to generate coloured mana it can still follow up into a nice Sensei’s Divining Top. In some aspects it is superior to other two cost mana rocks especially within the late game. When you have enough mana and you’re digging for an answer or a way to win, drawing a signet for more mana is not what you want to top deck. Being able to sacrifice this for draw a card for one mana or cycling it by casting and sacrificing it for three mana can be just what you need. That doesn’t even go over the situations it can assist with such as any top deck tutor effects and things like the Miracle spell mechanics. If you’re looking to increase the number of mana rocks in your deck and haven’t considered it Mind Stone is worth a look.
9 – Gilded Lotus
The highest converted mana cost rock on this list but with the best coloured mana generation to mana cost ratio possible in the game. This five cost mana rock that generates three mana is effectively a two mana investment for the turn, assuming it makes it into play of course. While it can only generate one colour of mana at a time sometimes that is exactly what you need for those colour intensive spells.
It is very possible to bring this out as early as turn one if you’re looking to accelerate, but that requires quite the starting hand. You can certainly run this out turn two or three on average if you have play other rocks first like Sol Ring and Mana Crypt but the most explosive way to ramp it out requires Mana Vault. A turn one Mana Vault into turn two Gilded Lotus is a great feeling for an early game though paints you as quite the threat. It’s especially fun when you can follow up with another spell like Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach. My favorite play with it include copying it further with Phyrexian Metamorph will remain a favorite mana rock choice
Commander’s Sphere doesn’t come out as early as Mind Stone, but it is definitely the superior of the two. Being able to tap for coloured mana is a boon for multi-coloured decks. As a three cost mana rock Commander’s Sphere comes out at in the same tempo of spells like Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach, keeping you in pace with some staple green ramp spells.
It’s superiority over Mind Stone besides the colour fixing is due to the ability to sacrifice itself to draw a card without further cost or needing to tap. Using this you can both tap it for mana and sacrifice it to draw, an indispensable ability to have when needing to dig for answers or recoup value in case of artifact removal. As stated being able to ramp in the early game and draw a card late game can be absolutely invaluable.
7 – Coalition Relic
Coalition Relic is an interesting and mana rock, being able to ‘store’ mana with a charge counter. This ability can be used quite flexibly as acceleration or colour fixing while holding up mana in case you need to react. Perhaps it’ll give you the two different coloured mana you require in the next turn or that extra mana to win the game. The charge counter storage and removal ability can be complicated to some players and that tends to leave them using this as nothing more than a Manalith. The abilities have much in terms of tempo and synergy potential though.
First the charge counter, if you are able to untap Coalition Relic with an effect like Seedborn Muse you’ll be able to acquire even more mana next turn. It’s also something that can be accomplished through the proliferate mechanic. Next is the difficult part of ability, getting the mana during your turn. It happens during your precombat main phase, meaning you have your upkeep and draw step should you have other charge counter tricks to play. It also means you will see the card you draw for the turn and perhaps a chance to cast any other draw spells to know what colour mana you will want from Coalition Relic. Whether you use any other effects or just use it as is Coalition Relic can accelerate you by two turns jumping from three mana to six with a proper curve, storage, and land drop.
Colour fixing is important of the game and Chromatic Lantern fixes your lands to generate any colour you may need. This artifact can slot into any deck and even mono-coloured decks included if you’d like. With this your colourless mana generating lands or lands that don’t usually tap for mana such as Maze of Ith or even fetch lands can be tapped for mana.
Since the Oath of the Gatewatch set and the defining rule of colourless versus generic mana the previous rule of being able to generate mana only of your Commanders colours was abolished. This benefits activating abilities of stolen creatures or mechanics that would require mana beyond your colour identity. I mention this because of course that brings the effectiveness of Chromatic Lantern up even further. Out of all the three cost mana rocks available I would pick this one over all options in most cases. This is by far the best of them because the most frustrating parts of the game are being screwed for mana and colours.
5 – Arcane Signet
When Arcane Signet was printed in the Throne of Eldraine Brawl decks is an instant staple for Commander. Although it’s called a Signet in line with the Ravnica guild Signets (i.e Simic Signet), it feels more akin to the Talisman series from Mirrodin and Modern Horizons (i.e Talisman of Dominance and Talisman of Resilience respectively) as it can generate mana on it’s own rather than filtering generic mana into coloured mana.
While the Signets were made in a way to encompass the Odyssey Filter lands (i.e Mossfire Valley) and the Talismans seem the same for the Pain lands (i.e Shivan Reef). Arcane Signet feels like it outclasses both as a mana rock choice because it is the embodiment of Command Tower. It’s not to say you can’t run all of them but it will depend on your strategy and needs for filtering mana and creating colourless mana. In most decks of three or more colours I have replaced all other options with Arcane Signet which allows for a more consistency in colour fixing and room for more fun pieces. All of these two drop mana rocks are an important and are a commonly seen part of the Commander format though. The accelerations from a turn one Sol Ring into a mana rock can quickly turn a player into an instant threat.
4 – Grim Monolith
The only reserved list mana rock on this list but it is existence is well justified. While there is Basalt Monolith as a cheaper to play and cheaper to untap alternative that combos with Rings of Brighthearth (though both go infinite with Nyxbloom Ancient and mana doubling effects) it didn’t make the list while Grim Monolith did for a simple reason, Grim Monolith only costs two mana. It may not seem like much of a difference but from here on the list will be going over just how important the low mana cost rocks are is.
Compared to Basalt Monolith, Grim Monolith will allow you to keep the significantly riskier hands such as two land hands compared to the need for three lands that you would want if it was Basalt Monolith. A Grim Monolith played on turn two will give you access to five mana on turn three before you’ve even played a land. With a turn one Sol Ring or Mana Crypt it can allow you to cast your late game spells incredibly early. The advantages and scenarios are numerous but the main struggle for most players will be the cost due to it being on the reserve list. Regardless this is a good mana rock that deserves to be mentioned on this list.
3 – Mana Vault
One mana for three colourless mana, a very quick bit of ramp that can be used and reused at any part of the game. The mana rock that gives you more mana than Sol Ring and incredibly effective on turn one. As one of the key ways to cast high cost spells early game or follow up with a ton of additional mana rocks immediately I highly recommend this choice should you not have one. The one large downside is that doesn’t untap unless you pay 4 mana during your upkeep, or it deals 1 damage to you. In commander the 1 damage doesn’t hurt that much and can be considered pretty irrelevant, but needing to invest 4 mana to untap it is definitely a big negative point to it. Unless you happen to run things such as Voltaic Key or Seedborn Muse, which can keep your Mana Vault untapped and the mana ready to use. For that reason alone, this mana rock has a high ceiling for its ramp and can vault you ahead by several turns. While leading into a turn two Gilded Lotus is a favourite play the second to mention is the incredible synergy with Tezzeret, the Seeker. Though that can be said about most of the mana rocks on this list a turn two Tezzeret is a lovely and fairly common sight thanks to this.
2 – Mana Crypt
As the only 0 CMC mana rock that generates two mana and has no negative impact on your hand Mana Crypt is pretty much a free to cast Sol Ring. It’s a staple in competitive level decks and does not have the same does not untap downside as some of the previously stated options. The upkeep cost can either give you a Lightning Bolt of damage to the face or have no downside at all. Each turn is a bit of luck but unless you’re playing Chance Encounter this effect on your life total can be negligible. That is not to say that cases where it can be the cause that you lose the game because the damage does stack up. Mana Crypt in conjunction with other mana rocks can allow you to empty your hand and possibly even win the game as early as turn one. While it does require certain strategies and very particular starting hands the possibility alone is a huge amount of value. In recent years there have been more reprints but it still commands a considerable price tag and while it is for good reason it makes it a bit more difficult for newer players.
1 – Sol Ring
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To no big surprise that Sol Ring comes in at the number one place. It’s a low cost, simple, and iconic mana rock for the format with no drawback. Mentioned in multiple parts of this article one of the best turn one play possible leading into a two cost play with no downside. Cheap, simple, and effective. Used in pretty much every Commander deck ever made. As a staple reprint, they conveniently come in each pre-made commander deck. This mana rock has stood the test of time since the beginning of the format even though it’s been reprinted so much. I have literal dozens extra myself and many players enjoy having just as many decks together which leads me to the biggest point. The main reasons why it takes the number one spot besides its iconic place in the format and the effectiveness is it’s availability to players. Not only can newer players obtain them easily, allowing access to this powerful staple mana rock immediately with a reasonable price tag. Compared to the previous few choices on the list which at the can cost five to fifty times more there is a clear accessibility bar. There is no real drawback to playing this within a deck as it accelerates you significantly, a turn one play can lead to a turn four or five play next turn for instance. I doubt there will ever be a more effective choice with no drawback and even if there was it could never replace Sol Ring.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into choices in artifact accelerators and the reasoning behind their choices. While it may not have been shocking that Sol Ring took first place it’s quite clear the reasoning and it wouldn’t be incorrect to say it’s a higher staple than even Command Tower (thanks mono-coloured decks). With all the different printings you have a plethora of choices on how to add that bit of flair to your deck. Are you the type to like original printings or special editions such as Masterpiece Inventions or From the Vault? Sol Ring has the most options with originals, white borders, promo versions, and even more coming out. If you want a bit more heart to customizing your deck, check out some of the Alter Sleeves recommendations as they can clearly add a bit of spice and heart to your next deck. Til next time good luck, have fun and keep shuffling.