Rant of Valakut: I Got a Rock – Part 1 Ben Iverach-Brereton March 21, 2017 Rants of Valakut The second commander deck I ever made was an artifact based deck led by Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer. Over the years it has gone through a lot of changes, but its most recent iteration has been an equipment based deck with some token generation on the side. While I’m pretty happy with how the deck performs now, I’m still fine tuning it: Commander1 x Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer Creature1 x Blade Splicer1 x Brass Squire1 x Burnished Hart1 x Darksteel Juggernaut1 x Darksteel Sentinel1 x Duplicant1 x Emeria Angel1 x Etched Champion1 x Foundry Inspector1 x Frontline Medic1 x Hangarback Walker1 x Indomitable Archangel1 x Knight of the White Orchid1 x Leonin Abunas1 x Myr Battlesphere1 x Myrsmith1 x Pilgrim’s Eye1 x Platinum Angel1 x Precursor Golem1 x Puresteel Paladin1 x Quicksmith Rebel1 x Reckless Fireweaver1 x Relic Seeker1 x Salvage Scout1 x Sanctum Gargoyle1 x Sandstone Oracle1 x Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer1 x Solemn Simulacrum1 x Steel Hellkite1 x Steelshaper Apprentice1 x Stone Haven Outfitter1 x Stoneforge Mystic1 x Stonehewer Giant1 x Sun Titan1 x Thopter Engineer1 x Weapons Trainer Sorcery1 x Blasphemous Act1 x Martial Coup1 x Rout1 x Wrath of God Enchantment1 x Assemble the Legion1 x Ghirapur Aether Grid Artifact1 x Argentum Armor1 x Boros Signet1 x Darksteel Plate1 x Fireshrieker1 x Godsend1 x Hedron Archive1 x Lightning Greaves1 x Loreseeker’s Stone1 x Loxodon Warhammer1 x Mask of Memory1 x Nevinyrral’s Disk1 x Sculpting Steel1 x Sol Ring1 x Staff of Nin1 x Swiftfoot Boots1 x Sword of the Animist1 x Sword of Vengeance1 x Temple Bell1 x Whispersilk Cloak Land1 x Ancient Amphitheater1 x Ancient Den1 x Battlefield Forge1 x Boros Garrison1 x Buried Ruin1 x Clifftop Retreat1 x Command Tower1 x Darksteel Citadel1 x Great Furnace1 x Inventors’ Fair1 x Kher Keep6 x Mountain (343)1 x Myriad Landscape1 x Needle Spires1 x Opal Palace12 x Plains (331)1 x Rogue’s Passage1 x Sacred Foundry1 x Slayers’ Stronghold1 x Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion1 x Temple of Triumph1 x Wind-Scarred Crag Buy This List My most recent adjustment was to add a copy of Hedron Archive to the deck. This added a third “mana rock” (a noncreature artifact that produces mana). The deck already had copies of Sol Ring and Boros Signet, but I felt the deck needed one more mana source. Which rock to include was not an easy decision; there are a lot of good options, so how did I come to my decision? Mana rocks are some of the most commonly used cards in commander; they are an easy and reliable way to accelerate your game plan, whatever that may be. Being non-creature permanents, they survive a lot of the mass removal spells that get used in the format, unlike the mana creatures that you might consider using. Being colourless cards, they can be cast in any deck, and there are even ones for each colour identity! One of the other reasons you see a lot of mana rocks in commander is just how many have been printed over the years. Most blocks have at least one such artifact, so most players have one in their collection. With so many options, you might ask: are these artifacts really that different from one another? Does it really matter if you use one instead of another? Just because they all make mana doesn’t mean that they are all the same. Here are some factors you might want to consider when choosing which mana rock to use: COLOUR FIXING: One of the big reasons to use a mana rock is to help produce several different colours easily. Three, four, and five colour decks in particular can have trouble drawing the right lands to cast everything in their hand. A card like Manalith, the most basic of mana rocks, could be what you need to produce that one missing colour, salvaging your entire game. Most mana rocks will help fix your mana, so there are plenty to choose from. That said, some of the better options for colour fixing include Chromatic Lantern, Coalition Relic, and Gilded Lotus. Depending on your deck, cards like the old Fieldmist Borderpost, Troll-Horn Cameo or Obelisk of Bant could also work, even though they only produce a few colours. It is useful to note that sometimes it’s good have access to all five colours, not just the ones in your deck: when facing down cards like Norn’s Annex or Chain Lightning, having a mana rock that can produce any colour of mana could be handy. MANA ACCELERATION: If you’re less concerned about colour fixing, either because your deck already has enough from its lands, or because it only has one (or no) colour, there are many mana rocks that produce more than one colourless mana. The ubiquitous Sol Ring is the obvious example, producing two mana for the cost of only one. (I could write an entire article about Sol Ring, but suffice it to say it’s the most commonly used mana rock in commander for a reason….) Other examples of these faster mana rocks include Thran Dynamo, Worn Powerstone, Everflowing Chalice, and Sisay’s Ring. They are not as efficient as Sol Ring by any stretch, but for some decks they might be worth including to supplement the Ring. MANA COST: Most mana rocks cost 3 mana. Manalith, Darksteel Ingot, and the cycle of Eye of Ramos are a few at this cost, and there are many more (71, others, at last count). 3 mana is not insignificant, and not all decks can justify spending an entire turn to increase their mana generation. Most decks can afford that small delay, especially if they are planning on casting big spells as soon as possible. For decks that don’t include green spells like Rampant Growth, even a card like Manalith is a reasonable inclusion, despite its cost. There are a few mana rocks that only cost 2 mana to cast, like the cycles of Diamonds, Talismans and Signets. These cheaper cards are worth considering for a deck on the basis of their 1 mana discount alone. By costing less it makes it easier to play it while still having enough mana to cast something else on the same turn. This is especially true if the mana rock can be used right away, like the Talismans, since it can refund half of its cost right away. This makes a Talisman effectively cost 1 mana to play! By allowing you to both accelerate your mana and develop your board with another spell, these 2 cost artifacts are significantly more appealing than their more expensive counterparts in most decks. By constrast, the mana rocks that cost 4 or more mana need to provide enough additional value to merit their use in a deck. They can still be good to include, but you’ll want a really good reason to use a 4 cost mana rock when there are so many cheaper options. Perhaps you want to store mana between turns with the Mana Batteries? Maybe you want to generate more than one mana with a single card like Gilded Lotus or Dreamstone Hedron? These effects can be big, like jumping you straight from 6 mana to 9, but the higher the casting cost of the mana rock, the more skeptical you should be about its inclusion in your deck. If it’s not amazing for you, you should at least consider replacing it with a mana rock with a lower casting cost. There’s still a lot more to talk about here, including what drawbacks certain mana rocks have, and the utility of their non-mana abilities. I’ve run out of time this week, so we’ll have to delve into all of that next time. Until then, I’ll be tending to my rock garden! Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName Email Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.