(Spectral Searchlight | Art by Martina Pilcerova)
Perfectly Equal, As All Things Should Be
Ah, back to perfect numbers. No more 12- or 13-card articles, we’re back to a nice even 10 here in this series where we rank every mana rock based on how many decks they have on EDHREC. It’s like putting on your favorite pair of slippers and sitting by the fire with your cup of tea, reading your preferred detective novel as you take a few deep breaths of the calming air around you. Ahhhhhhhh.
Hmm? You’re waiting for an actual point to the intro? That’s nice. I’m basking in the joy of my inner thoughts. Feel free to start reading whenever you wish. I might be here a while. Oh, chamomile. mmmmmmmmmmmm…….
70: Magnifying Glass: 1,861 Decks
Magnifying Glass looks like another subpar common mana rock, but I think it does enough incidental stuff that it’s worth keeping in mind. There’re some random aggressive decks or token decks running Glass as a way to pay six mana (technically seven, because you have to tap the Glass itself) to draw a single card. That alone is not great. However, we also have artifact decks running it as some flood protection, but also because artifact tokens have additional synergy. That’s certainly better, but I don’t think that, alone, is good enough. Artifact decks can pay the high activation cost, but it’s still a mediocre ability, so I still don’t think it’s quite enough yet.
But then you have decks like Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient, which have artifact synergy and can specifically synergize with the Investigate ability itself, and suddenly I’m on board. Sure, no one thing about the card is spectacular, but when there‘re so many little things, it suddenly makes Magnifying Glass a card that’s pretty efficient. Think of all the colorless decks. Colorless sucks at card draw, but they can make a billion mana, so doing it multiple times a game isn’t unlikely, and they do have synergy with artifacts. I’m usually wary about cards that are a bunch of bad effects stapled together, but I think there is a threshold where Glass is a mana rock that punches above its weight. Keep it in mind, you might have a deck for it.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I didn’t even mention the dedicated Clue decks.
69 (tie): Coveted Jewel: 1,861 Decks
There’re kinda two cards here. One is how they expected Coveted Jewel to be played, as a fair mana rock that gains you value immediately but gets traded around the whole table over time. The other is as it’s most often played, where you never let your opponent have it, and it’s just a way to draw three cards over and over again. Blink it with Yorion, Sky Nomad, or sacrifice it with Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer, and you basically have a colorless Harmonize that gives you back three mana, and can be reused very easily. Ah, Commander! Taking a nice friendly card and using it for degenerate nonsense!
Jokes aside, I kinda like fair Coveted Jewel. Which struggle most with card draw? Aggressive creature decks like Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer, Darien, King of Kjeldor, or Lyra Dawnbringer. These decks can easily get this back if someone takes it, and sometimes it’s beneficial for them to let them take it so that they can steal it back. I know it’s bad to give opponents value, but if you can reliably get Coveted Jewel back, and you need card draw, I think this card is worth considering.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: It’s been nice to review these last two cards. We’ll see if that keeps up.
68: Prismatic Geoscope: 1,908 Decks
I remember when this card was spoiled. I thought this was just the bee’s knees! It was the next great mana rock, and it was going to be crazy expensive. I thought any deck with 4+ colors would have to run it, and I didn’t feel alone in that sentiment. Maybe I colored other’s opinions with my expectations, but I got the sense that this was a new five-color staple.
Now that I’m looking at it in hindsight, I’m honestly trying to remember why I thought that that was the case. It’s fine. When it taps for five, it’s pretty good, but I don’t think it’s worth trying to assemble Domain. It’s kind of a catch-22, where you probably want land-based ramp to hit Domain early on, but then that land-based ramp is probably better than anything this card is doing. Five mana gets you stuff like Mirari’s Wake, or Traverse the Outlands. I’d even play Skyshroud Claim over this, because that card consistently ramps for whatever color you need. Why would you mess with this when the best-case scenario for this is good, but not spectacular?
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Other ramp just fills this spot better.
67: Victory Chimes: 2,017 Decks
Have you ever wanted 1/10th of a Seedborn Muse? Here’s Victory Chimes to save the day! A lot of people probably read this card, assumed it’s just for group hug or political decks, and moved on, but this three-mana rock essentially gives you four mana per turn cycle. Obviously, you need something to do with that mana, but that rate alone is absurd. Any instant-based deck, or a deck with activated abilities like Grenzo, Dungeon Warden or Xantcha, Sleeper Agent can’t go wrong with adding this. Tapping for colorless hurts, but the upside here is amazing.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I know I didn’t talk much about the group hug aspect, but we’ll get back to it later.
66: The Cluestones: 2,066 Decks
(Izzet Cluestone: 3,227; Boros Cluestone: 2,794; Orzhov Cluestone: 2,712; Dimir Cluestone: 2,794; Azorius Cluestone: 2,561; Rakdos Cluestone: 2,218; Golgari Cluestone; 1,313; Simic Cluestone: 1,127; Selesnya Cluestone: 1,090; Gruul Cluestone: 977)
Two-color versions of the Banners that we talked about last week, but unlike those, I don’t consider these very playable. The Banners were partly playable because three-color fixing is harder to achieve. Two-color fixing is much easier, so mana rocks don’t have the same weight, and so the Cluestones just do less work on average. Mainly, though, two-color just has way more options. The Lockets, in particular, just seem better than these for the same monetary and mana cost. It’s not that the Cluestones are bad, they just are more mediocre than most other cards you could run.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: At least they’re better than the Cameos. That’s something.
65: Spectral Searchlight: 2,212 Decks
I was honestly kinda surprised that Spectral Searchlight was seeing so much play. It’s another card in the archetype of “Manalith with upside”, in this case, being able to give opponents mana. That’s a nifty idea, but it’s rarely gonna come up. Early game, you’re almost always going to tap it for your own mana, and then late game people are already going to have a ton of mana, so the mana someone might gain from this doesn’t really matter. The political portion of this card is pretty pointless.
And yet, I really like the idea of a political mana rock. Being able to choose when an opponent gets mana and when they don’t is super cool. It introduces a ton of politics and deals to the early game. Plus, there’re a ton of weird cards that could benefit from this,like Deadly Designs. They obviously tried this concept again with Victory Chimes, and while it’s much closer, it still doesn’t quite hit the mark. Untapping on opponents’ turns kinda solves the issue of picking between using it on your turn or your opponents’, but you’re still more incentivized to use the mana from Chimes yourself to cast instants or the like. Plus, it doesn’t tap for colored mana, so that eliminates some of the cute stuff that you could do, like Assault Suit. I think some hypothetical future card that functions as aa cross between Spectral Searchlight and Victory Chimes, but that had a restriction like, “The player who’s turn it is adds one mana of any color,” would hit that perfect sweet spot for a political mana rock.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: As is, Searchlight is about as good as it gets for its effect, but I do hope we get this card right someday.
64:Jeweled Amulet: 2,391 Decks
I’d like to award Jeweled Amulet with the prize of “Worst Card That Sees a Lot of Play in High-Power Decks”. This card is bad. Really bad. It’s a terrible way to store one mana that you can only use once. It’s absolutely not worth the card.
So why the heck does it see play? Well, it’s a zero-mana way to technically “produce” mana. Some high-power decks will straight-up win the game when their commander is cast, like the infinite combo of Godo, Bandit Warlord finding Helm of the Host. Playing this on turn one and charging it gives these decks a Lotus Petal. A really bad one that costs a mana before it does anything, but a Lotus Petal nonetheless. Basically, if you see this card, assume the opponent is about to do something incredibly unfair.
63: Empowered Autogenerator: 2,462 Decks
I’ve seen this card in action a couple times, and I’ve never been impressed with it. It’s just soooooooooooooooooo slooooooooooow. It take three turns for this to be on par with Hedron Archive. I see a lot of Proliferate decks running this, but they have tons of cheaper, faster, better mana rocks like Astral Cornucopia that they could be playing instead. Every time I’ve seen and played this, I couldn’t help thinking of the many other rocks it could be.
Yet, every time I look at it, it feels like it should be good. Gilded Lotus is, like, $7, so here’s a card that could fill that roll. If this gets to three counters, I’m pretty happy with it, and that’s not even the best case. In more controlling decks, it’s very easy to imagine having this super mana rock that taps for 6+ mana. Maybe the issue is that those decks have other ways to make a million mana, but I can’t think of ones that are as budget and vanilla as this. I don’t know. It feels like there is potential here, but every time I try, I’m just disappointed by how slow it is.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Maybe you’ll have the game where this card is completely busted, but I don’t think it’s worth all of the other games you’ll have with this.
62: Pyramid of the Pantheon: 2,477 Decks
When I was asking for budget Gilded Lotus, this isn’t what I had in mind. I think what puts my off about Pyramid of the Pantheon is that it’s so terrible anywhere but the early game. One of the advantages of Lotus is that you can play it in the mid game, and then cast something else off of it immediately. Pantheon has no such luxury. In fact, Pantheon eats three mana the turn you play. Sure, when you draw it turn one and have it working on turn five, it’s excellent, but it doesn’t ramp you until then, and that eliminates most of the usefulness of a mana rock.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: And don’t think Proliferate saves it. You have better things to do with Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice.
61: Sisay’s Ring: 2,484 Decks
Ah, yes, four mana Sol Ring. The colorless staple.
I’m not kidding. Sure, Sisay’s Ring is Hedron Archive without the draw cards ability. It’s Worn Powerstone that costs one more. It’s Prismatic Geoscope on a bad day, but you know what else it is? It’s a card that makes Kozilek, the Great Distortion easier to cast for less than a dollar. Colorless decks have a single trick: they make stupid amounts of mana. That’s the thing you lean into above all else, so yes, this card is worse than other options, but you run almost any card that makes two colorless mana in colorless decks. I could maybe be convinced of slotting it in decks that have access to top-tier rocks, like Mana Vault, but budget decks can’t afford this. It fits the gameplan to a T.
Well, I’m going back in my mind palace. If you must bother me, let me know what you think about these mana rocks! Did you find a place for Empowered Autogenerator? What do you think of political mana rocks? Post them somewhere, and I’ll read them when I get the chance. Until next week!