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The Best and Most Unique Alternative Mana Rocks in Commander

Updated: Jun 28, 2022


Card: Rimrock Knight | Art: Chris Rallis

Introduction

Building a ramp package in Commander is too easy. There is an abundance of two mana value (MV) rocks.


These powerful artifacts have become so efficient in Commander that the format has a unique identity and every color has a way to ramp. Even red decks can play enough rocks to rival green's ability to get ahead on mana.



With that said, this article isn't about the most efficient rocks. Today, we are going to look at some more fringe mana rocks. Some of them have restrictions and some of them even cost more than two mana! But stay with me.


Give some of these unique rocks a chance and you might find something that makes your next Commander deck sing.


One-Mana Rocks

Even at the highest power, one mana rocks are very rare. Sol Ring is often the only card worth its salt. However today we have two rocks to highlight that can really punch above their weight!


Springleaf Drum

First off we have Springleaf Drum. This one is very unassuming. Tap the Drum and tap an untapped creature for one mana. This serves two great functions.


Firstly, it turns anything into a mana dork.


Think of all the creatures you never actually attack with. Often people treat their commander like an enchantment. "Why would I swing with my commander? I don't want them to die!" Springleaf Drum lets you put your commander to good use by tapping it for extra mana.



The second thing that makes this card such a surprise hit is that it gets around summoning sickness. The "Tap an untapped creature" part of the Drum is built into the cost. As such, you can tap a creature with summoning sickness to activate this ability.


I would definitely recommend this rock in decks that either have creatures you don't find yourself attacking with or in token decks that can afford to hold one back to use the Drum.


For example, casting Dragon Fodder, making two tokens, then using one of those tokens to activate the Drum and cast even more spells.



Moonsnare Prototype

Moonsnare Prototype offers similar functionality to Springleaf Drum, except it can tap an artifact or a creature to activate the ability. The devil is in the detail here as this card has a couple of edge cases that help it shine.


For the staxy players among us, this card can tap down your own Winter Orb, allowing you to deny your opponents resources while keeping your side of the field up and running. Given Moonsnare Prototype is a blue artifact, it fits naturally into decks such as Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain and Urza, Lord High Artificer.


Lastly, the Channel ability is pure upside. Yes, five mana to put a card on top of its owner's library is a hefty price, but it gives this card legs in the late game when you no longer care about it as a mana rock. Not to mention giving your opponent a dead draw on their next turn can be back-breaking.


Two-Mana Rocks

While I spent the opening of this article slandering two-mana rocks for being "the easy way" of building a mana base, I've got two cards that stretch the definition of "mana rock" (okay they aren't really mana rocks at all) that I really want to discuss.


Both came from Ixalan and are artifacts that transform into lands. Yes, these are definitely not traditional mana rocks.


But let's give them a look anyway.



Treasure Map

This little two-mana artifact lets you scry for one mana and put a counter on it. Once it has three counters it transforms and creates three treasure tokens. It transforms into a land that taps for colorless, or taps and sacrifices a treasure to draw a card.



This is an awesome use of mana and gives you some extra utility out of those treasures. Additionally, turning it into a land makes it a lot harder to deal with.


I don't think this is a slam dunk in every deck. However, if you're generating lots of treasure, value the scry, or if you can proliferate those counters to make this transform quicker I would definitely consider Treasure Map.



Dowsing Dagger

Our second two-mana rock is, in my opinion, a much stronger contender as a rock in the right deck. Giving your opponent blockers is naturally a bad thing. However, in multiplayer that downside is mitigated and it is far easier to get this to transform.


Turning it into a land that gives you three mana of any color is a lot of value for a low cost and an easy transform condition. Try this one out in an aggressive deck that wants to swing early. For example Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh.



Three-Mana Rocks

Getting into three mana, we need to be offering some real value to compete. Ironically, there are a ton of three-mana rocks out there as they are fair and useful in Limited. For constructed play, and especially Commander, the bar is set high.


Arcane Signet is hard to beat.


So, we need to get clean fixing and an awesome effect on top of that to make a three-mana rock worth the include. Most of these rocks are not an auto-include in every deck, but in the right deck, they are great pieces.


The Orbs of Dragonkind

First off, we have a trio of mana rocks in red, green, and blue. Each of these cards cost two generic mana and one of their respective colors. They tap for one mana and offer an effect if the mana is used to cast a dragon.


Red grants haste, blue gives lets you scry two, and green grants temporary hexproof and a +1/+1 counter. These are a no-brainer in a dragon deck. The green and red ones are particularly good as they get around the biggest issue with dragons: having them survive long enough to swing in for damage.



Patriar's Seal

This one is pretty unassuming. Yet, it can do so much work in any deck with a commander that taps. I would frankly consider this an untap enabler first and a mana rock second.


In a deck like Experiment Kraj, being able to activate multiple times per turn can be a death sentence for your opponents. Alternatively, play it in Marwyn, the Nurturer for an absurd amount of mana in one go. Or in the absolute worst-case scenario, treat it as pseudo vigilance for your favorite creature.



Vexing Puzzlebox

Now we get into something a bit flashier. Vexing Puzzlebox lets you roll a D20 every time it taps so you don't even need to play it in a dedicated die-rolling deck. The payoff for the whopping one hundred counters is well worth it. Cheating out a massive artifact just for using your mana rock feels too good to be true. I expect this to find a home in artifact decks for years to come.



Glittering Stockckpile

Glittering Stockpile wonderfully addresses the problem most often associated with mana storage cards. Cards like Coalition Relic rely on you taking one turn off to have an explosive turn later on.



Stockpile, however, lets you tap for red while also amassing counters. Then when you're ready for a big turn you can get a massive payoff. As with many cards mentioned today, this only gets sillier with the ability to proliferate. Additionally, it is a Treasure and can synergize with effects that care about the number of treasures you control.



Cursed Mirror

Red seems to have a trend of awesome utility mana rocks. Cursed Mirror taps for a red while also being a hasty clone effect for one turn. Use it to copy a big beater, a utility creature, or to be a surprise source of extra damage. The ceiling is incredibly high for what is, at its worst, a three-mana rock.



Crowded Crypt

Crowded Crypt is a great example of a mana rock that can be a great finisher later in the game. It gets a counter whenever a creature you control dies making it an great include for aristocrats strategies. Its pay off for all those counters is for six mana you get a 2/2 with decayed for each counter. Whether you want a zombie army to swing in, or just more fodder for your Ashnod's Altar this card stands to earn you a lot of value over the course of a game.



Midnight Clock

For the plucky blue mage that cannot get enough Timetwister effects in their deck, this is for you. This card gets a counter on each player's upkeep. I often treat this as a Timetwister with suspend, but the fact that the clock sticks around as a mana rock really gives you some fantastic value. The card is well worth it for any deck that likes to keep their hand full and slow down the game.



Honor-Worn Shaku

Our last rock to discuss is arguably the most powerful in the right deck. I can say from first-hand experience this can more than pay for itself in the right deck. The Shaku taps for a colorless, but it can be untapped by tapping a legendary permanent you control.


We already saw how Springleaf Drum can turn one creature into a mana source, but with the Shaku we can turn every single legend into a mana source.



Honor-Worn Shaku doesn't just care about legendary creatures, but planeswalkers too. This makes it an awesome include in a Superfriends deck as it adds so much extra utility to your planeswalkers. I have seen this card generate tons of mana out of nowhere.


Conclusion

Hopefully I've shown you some of the more interesting and exciting mana rocks out there today. Mana rocks are so much more than the optimized two-mana, tap for mana artifacts that most people think of.


Try out some of the rocks we've looked at and let us know how you got on!


If you want a selection of rocks to fit any deck, then you can check out this package I made on Moxfield. Just add your on-color Signets and Talismans and you're good to go!



 

What mana rocks do you play in your deck that offer surprise extra utility? Got a favorite from this list? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!

 

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