Three-Mana Rocks You Should Run in Commander

Scott CullenCommander

There are many aspects of Commander that form its identity: the multiplayer format, the singleton rule, and the commanders themselves. Commander is also known for the emphasis it puts on mana acceleration; in order to play your big spells and reach your late game sometime this year, you’ll need more mana than a single land drop per turn can provide. I’ve covered a lot of the basics in my piece on the best ramp spells in the format, but today, I want to talk about mana rocks. Specifically, I want to do a deep-dive on rocks with a mana value of three.

As the card pool and the Commander player base both continue to grow, many people are leaning towards the efficiency of two-mana rocks. Arcane Signet, Fellwar Stone, and Mind Stone may be some of the most aggressively-costed and popular options, but they lack any real flexibility. If you draw these later in the game, they effectively do nothing. At higher power levels, you need to make concessions for the sake of efficiency, but that needn’t be the case for many decks. In fact, I’d even say that you could make your casual decks better by running more expensive mana rocks!

The folks over at Wizards may have even noticed this trend, too. Over the past couple years, they’ve started releasing rocks with additional upside, all of which cost three mana. Is this their way of enticing players to explore their options, rather than just going for the most efficient card? Who knows – but I believe we’ve reached a point where the allure of these three-mana rocks is becoming hard to ignore.

New and Improved Rocks

My love for three-mana rocks started with Midnight Clock. Essentially, it’s a personal Timetwister with suspend 3, and it also gives you extra mana in the meantime. Sure, opponents can see it coming, but they won’t want to waste a removal spell on a mana rock that’s going to disappear, anyway. It can be removed before it gains its twelfth hour counter, though, so be prepared in case anything goes wrong.

Cursed Mirror is arguably one of the best three-mana rocks. Its ability to copy any creature on the board is incredibly versatile; whether you copy a simple Mulldrifter for value, a Dockside Extortionist for acceleration, or even a Craterhoof Behemoth for the win, this will give you more than its mana cost worth of advantage almost every time.

Crowded Crypt is one of the latest additions to the artifact ramp family, and it’s a good one. There are many decks that sacrifice their own creatures for their benefit, and creature-heavy decks could easily take advantage of this whenever they’re hit by a sweeper. It’s an incredibly low opportunity cost, and in the right decks, it will pay you off simply for playing the game.

Manalith may not be quite up to snuff anymore, but when you staple a Crook of Condemnation to it, you’d be surprised how useful it becomes. As I mentioned in my article about graveyards in Commander, most decks can make good use of their graveyards in some way, and packing some way to keep them honest is a shrewd decision.

While it’s not technically a mana rock, Manascape Refractor is right up there with Cursed Mirror as one of the most powerful and flexible options available. This can be a Cabal Coffers, Wasteland, or Maze of Ith, all at the same time! It may enter tapped, but that’s a small price to pay for such incredible utility.

Having an alternate win condition among the 99 can be extremely powerful, especially when it doesn’t take up a dedicated card slot! Strixhaven Stadium is one such win condition that works exceptionally well in go-wide decks. This is a phenomenal boost for aggressive decks that might struggle to take out the entire table. While you focus on whittling down the life totals of one or two players, Stadium will build up enough point counters to take out the rest.

More Mana

If you’re looking for your rocks to tap for more than one mana, then these are the ones for you. If you cast Skyclave Relic on curve, it’s a Darksteel Ingot; if you play it later and for its kicker cost, it copies itself twice. This is best for decks that need all the mana they can get, especially if you fear losing them to a Vandalblast!

Coalition Relic may not see as much play as it used to, but I believe it deserves more love. Most of the time, when you play a mana rock on curve, you rarely tap it immediately to play anything else; this means that mana is wasted on nothing, but not with Coalition Relic! You can store the mana as a charge counter, then get an extra boost on the following turn. You can also proliferate the charge counters if your deck is set up for it, like with Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice.

Honor-Worn Shaku is a mana rock that I’m honestly surprised we don’t see more often. As we all play with legendary permanents in every single Commander deck, this effectively reads as a cheaper Sisay’s Ring. Sure, not every deck will want colorless mana rocks or to tap their commander, but it’s definitely beneficial.

Bringing A Rock To A Gunfight

Creature rocks are exceptional in Commander, thanks to the number of board wipes that we see in the format. These can be used in conjunction with creature lands to keep the pressure on, even after losing your board. 

Cultivator’s Caravan has great stats for a three-drop, with the downside that it needs to be crewed to attack or block. It’s great for applying pressure early, too, and your smaller value creatures will make good pilots.

Fountain of Ichor can fit into any deck, and it has a relatively reasonable activation cost. It’s at its best in Dinosaur decks like Gishath, Sun’s Avatar, but it will suit any deck that wants to increase its threat density.

Keyrunes have mostly fallen by the wayside, but they can be used to great effect in the right decks. I use Azorius Keyrune in my Esior and Ardenn deck as a threat I can attach Equipment to after a board wipe, to keep up the pressure.

Miscellaneous Effects

If you’d like to try and make friends at the table, Victory Chimes and Spectral Searchlight are excellent choices for ramp. If you’re not using the mana, you can use it as leverage in a deal. In the case of Victory Chimes, you can also use it to reduce the mana burden involved with casting several spells in a turn cycle, by casting some of them on opponents’ turns where possible.

Basalt Monolith isn’t usually seen as “just” a mana rock, and that’s exactly why I’ve added to the list. It’s most (in)famous for going infinite with Rings of Brighthearth, and it can be easily added to decks as a way to win the game. The power of the combo is that the pieces are useful by themselves, as Basalt Monolith can give you a hefty bump of mana for a splashy spell.

Bonder’s Ornament is so powerful it had to be banned… in Pauper. Okay, so it’s not the most powerful card in Commander, but it’s an underappreciated mana rock. It rarely sees play outside of Ikoria preconstructed decks, which is exactly why I think more players should try it! It’s great for drawing you into gas later in the game, but because so few players run it, the likelihood of another player benefitting from it is very low.

Useful Enablers

Before we wrap up, I thought it’d be worth mentioning two cards that are particularly useful with these mana rocks. Trophy Mage can find any card in this list, as well as other artifacts like Loxodon Warhammer or Rings of Brighthearth. Moonsilver Key can find the same mana rocks (with the exception of Manascape Refractor), but can also get you a Sol Ring or basic land if needed. These can turn your mana acceleration package into a potent and flexible tutor package!

There are many powerful and flexible options at three mana, and you’re guaranteed to find something that can benefit your game plan here. You don’t always need the fastest option, but rather the one that suits your needs best.

Do you have any useful mana rocks that you like to run? Are there any sweet choices I missed? I’d love to hear about them; feel free to share your spice with me on Twitter!