Cards that Enable High Mana Value Commanders

Cards that Enable High Mana Value Commanders

Kristen GregoryCommander

Some of the most popular Commanders are below four mana, with some costing as little as two. It’s a big advantage having a low-cost Commander in the zone, but what if you want to run a more expensive one? Kristen has some tips to help you get the most out of casting more expensive Commanders.

Chances are you have some Commanders in your collection that cost five, six or even more mana to cast. You’re drawn to them because they’re splashy and cool, but your playgroup is dominated by lower mana, value Commanders. 

While such creatures can accrue a lot of value, they’re generally lower impact than a more expensive one. Provided you can power yours out, you should fare better.

So, how can you ensure you don’t waste a turn spending six mana? Well, there’s a few tricks of the trade…


While it’s tempting to just jam as many two mana signets into your deck as possible, they have diminishing returns — especially if you want to cast expensive spells. 

You should absolutely be playing more expensive rocks, because they give you a big boost in mana. Nyx Lotus in a mono (or sometimes two) color deck can tap for at least three mana, and should it stick around, it will probably help you keep casting your Commander for the rest of the game. 

The same goes for mana dorks, really. It’s good to roll out a Birds of Paradise or Avacyn’s Pilgrim, but if you’re more mana intensive, you’ll want more return. 

Karametra’s Acolyte is essentially another copy of Nyx Lotus in mono-green, while Selvala can give you a burst of extra mana every turn. She does give opponents cards, but you’ll get to see them, which will help you sequence when to cast your Commander.

Thran Dynamo continues to be one of my favorite rocks for decks without heavy devotion. If you play this right, it’s essentially a ritual that leaves behind a rock that taps for {3}. Cast it and then cast Solemn Simulacrum to go from five mana on turn four to ten mana on turn five!

Of course, not all decks are the same. You should use your specific strategy to figure out where you can eke out more mana. Relic of Legends, for example, is great in a deck that plays a lot of legendary creatures. 

It’s also useful as a way to get extra mana for interaction to protect your Commander once it’s in play. You can tap your Commander for the mana. 


Ramp is great, but it’s burst mana that really enables decks with expensive Commanders. A big contributor to winning games is getting them down early, or with mana to spare, so you’ll want to figure out how to generate mana beyond what you should be able to at early-to-mid stages of the game.

Mana Geyser is a classic for a reason. Once your Commander has tax to pay, it’ll come in handy. But red isn’t the only color that can burst out mana, though. While something like a Dark Ritual will always be better for lower cost Commanders, there are cheap effects worth considering. 

Auras haven’t been bad in Commander for a long time now, and Mark of Sakiko can get you a surprisingly hefty return on your two mana investment. Are they really going to waste mana to kill your midrange beater when there are game-winning threats in the wings? 

Blue has options, too, beyond High Tide. Mana Drain is one I never leave home without when my deck has a high curve. While it might feel spiky, it’s not — not really. It’s just a good tempo swing. 

We can’t talk about burst mana without mentioning treasure. Of course, Dockside Extortionist, Smothering Tithe, The Reaver Cleaver and Cavern-Hoard Dragon are among the better options for a big, bursty turn, but it’s the continual generation of treasures that helps the most. 

Grim Hireling and Professional Face-breaker are what I’m talking about, but more than this, utilizing Deadly Dispute and other incidental treasure creation to stockpile for a big turn. 

Commander players often tap out these days in the early to midgame, so Traverse the Outlands has gotten a lot better. It’s even better if you can protect your strongest creature before casting it. Getting four or five extra lands, at the floor, goes a long way to recasting expensive Commanders.

One card I really want to shout out here is Hellkite Courser. It’s a six mana “Sneak Attack” for your Commander that leaves behind a 6/5 flyer, which is a great statline. 

Getting to cheat your Commander in for a turn can be clutch, especially as it doesn’t increase Commander tax. The Ur-Dragon loves this, but so does Syr Gwyn — who only needs one turn to scoop up an assortment of pointy things and end a player. 


And honestly? It’s not even just for “super high power” gameplay. Mana Crypt is just a rock that helps you cast expensive spells, so if you wanna run it to help you cast your eight mana Commander? Be my guest. 

Every magic card is a tool, and it’s how you use them that dictates the experience of the table. If you’re not dropping a turn one or two Smothering Tithe with this, then I don’t care. 

Mana Crypt is great, but so is Ancient Tomb. While people include Mana Crypt in their land count calculations, Ancient Tomb truly is part of the manabase. 

Again, it’s a tool, and a tool I expect most decks to take advantage of these days. Sol Ring is a legal card, so using Ancient Tomb isn’t really a big deal. If you wanna cast an Etali, then Ancient Tomb is a great help.

Speaking of colorless cards that tap for two: Temple of the False God. It’s good, alright? I don’t care what you say — the math is with me. 

You can mulligan it away, and the likelihood of drawing this early and it hampering you is the same as not drawing a land or drawing a spell you either can’t cast.

Either way, it’s better to be lucky than good, so why not run it? You can rub it in people’s faces when they turn their noses up, too, which feels great. 

Speaking of lands, the expensive ones are indeed expensive for a reason. Making oodles of mana is good in any deck, but if your Commander costs a lot? Well, Cabal Coffers and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx should be on your shortlist.


I don’t need to tell you to play Lightning Greaves or Swiftfoot Boots. The thing is, any opponent worth their salt is gonna respond to the equip ability and ruin your day. What can you do to stop them?

Most expensive Commanders have power 4 or greater, let’s be honest. So run Stubborn Denial and Bolt Bend! One mana interaction can be a trump card.

The only thing better than one mana, of course, is free. So sure, Deflecting Swat and Flawless Maneuver are definitely worth a look, too. 

Like with Mana Crypt and Ancient Tomb, you should feel justified in running free spells to protect your investments. You’re jumping through more hoops than the average player on a two or three mana Commander (or partners). 

It might be that your Commander struggles to enter the battlefield at all, especially if your playgroup plays a lot of blue (and especially if they’ve read my recommendation to run Mana Drain more often). A six mana Commander is a juicy target for Mana Drain, after all. 

It’s pretty easy to slot Cavern of Souls into your mana base, thankfully, but there are more options — from Vexing Shusher to Destiny Spinner. Prevention is better than cure, after all. 

Should the worst happen, however, there are ways to recover. Animate Dead and Reanimate are cheap to cast and will drag your Commander back for round two if it should end up in the yard. 

I like to run effects like these when I run expensive Commanders, especially because they are just solid cards either way. Animate Dead also gets a lot better with Sun Titan — just as Reanimate does with Vilis, Broker of Blood

It’s worth noting that while effects like Tamiyo’s Safekeeping and Blacksmith’s Skill will serve you well, it’s often more mana efficient to run Ephemerate. You potentially get an extra EtB from your Commander and you can get a bonus flicker on upkeep. 

Haste is also super important to getting your mana’s-worth when you cast an expensive Commander. While you have access to haste granting creatures, equipment and such in your deck, you should consider trying to fit it into the mana base, too. If you’re in Red, there’s no reason not to run Hanweir Battlements and Flamekin Village.


I’ve covered a couple of good reasons to run chunky Commanders already, like Traverse the Outlands, but you should take every card that rewards you for committing. Majestic Genesis is the Timmiest of Timmy cards, and is a great reason to run Ghalta, Primal Hunger in the Command Zone. 

You can cast it even when your Commander isn’t in play, after all. Stinging Study is the same, filling your hand more for having a more expensive Commander. 

Tempo is a big part of Commander these days. With FIRE design, cards do more, everything is a must-answer threat and curves have never been lower. So, you should lean into it when building around your high mana-cost Commander. 

Drop a cheeky Brotherhood’s End or Deafening Clarion. Hell, hold back a little and play Hour of Revelation. Punish your opponents for overcommitting. Someone has to

Alternatively, you can dip into some Stax-lite while you build up your own board. Make people play at your speed. Blind Obedience just got a reprint in Wilds of Eldraine’s Enchanting Tales, after all. 

Remember: not everything that slows down an opponent is “stax,” so they can quit whining about a little preemptive interaction. As Kenobi says: Anticipate, don’t react


Playing an expensive Commander doesn’t have to be difficult. There are plenty of tools available to make it easy. 

One of the best tools available is communication: talk to your pod and decide what kind of game you’re going to play. There will always be a table for your deck — you just have to find one.