Three Cards Deep: The Good, The Bad, and the EDH Ugly

Three cards:

  • One is Rad: Surprisingly awesome card you’d be just as happy to see an opponent slam down as you would to rip it off the top.
  • One is Bad: It’s a bogeyman. Take a trip to frown town with these fun suckers, whether you’re casting or being tortured by them.
  • One is Sad: Often popular inclusions, these cards tend to let you down.

In honor of all the players looking to upgrade their new Commander precons (and because I already delved into green ramp), this week it’s mana rocks. And a bit of a format change just for this week so I can cover most of the important bases and get away with some obvious inclusions without sacrificing the spice.

The Rad – Mind Stone (and the Signets, the Cluestones, and Chromatic Lantern)

If you’re playing green you have to restrict yourself to only the very best rocks if any, unless you have an explicit reason. But if you’re playing a non-green combination, your options are rocks, Armillary Sphere and it’s walking cousin, and drawing cards. Bearing this in mind (stone), remember that any ramp spell is an increasingly poor draw every turn after the turn in which you could cast it. Rampant Growth with cycling would be an absolute beast. And boom. We understand it’s awesomeness.


What do you see when you look at Mindstone and the Cluestones? I see a colorless, cycling Rampant Growth. Many people understand why the signets and Chromatic Lantern are good. They ramp and fix your mana. But the advantage of a ramp spell that’s never a dead draw is more subtle. And you can recur them with Sun Titan so that’s a win.

As an aside, the signets are especially awesome with three-color, four-CMC generals because they make it MUCH easier to slam your commander n turn three. An early Kaalia may be terrifying, but an early Jeleva is pretty sweet too. Turn four Time Stretch anyone?

Verdict: I never leave home without a sleeved Mind Stone. It slices, it dices, and it’s nigh unbeatable for Grixis decks that want to get out fast.

The BadGilded Lotus (and Basalt Monolith and a turn-one Sol Ring)

OK cards on the table, this category is mild BS. I just can’t get mad about mana rocks. However, the first two are easy parts infinite combos while still being good on their own, and the latter is just annoying enough that I felt justified using it to offer a third for symmetry. Not much to say here except if you’re going to partake, do so responsibly. (And cut Deadeye Navigator from all your decks. Kthxbai)

Verdict: Sheldon Menery reminds us, “Gentlemen don’t play Sol Ring on turn one.”

The Sad – Obelisk of Jund (really all of them as well as the Borderposts and the Keyrunes)

All of these three-mana artifacts fix for two or three colors. The keyrunes feature the very minimal upside of turning into teeny creatures when you want, while the borderposts have the odd ability to play them like a terrible Rupture Spire. Seriously, imagine if Gruul Guildgate required a tax of one that you bounce a land when you played it. Gutpunch.

The Obelisks don’t see much play, thankfully, but these fragile, expensive rocks are included in the Precons so I couldn’t not mention them. I see the keyrunes far more frequently than I would like. I could get behind Azorius Keyrune in a bird deck, and I would love to see someone surprise me by activating Golgari Keyrune to deathtouch my awesome beater, but that’s really it.

Verdict: Ugh. You just want functionality anyway and there’s no flavor. Why cut off your own feet?

Weekly Lesson: The dominance of second best. I just keep relearning this. Playing on MTGO with a legit budget deck, I’ve been doing very well simply by playing just enough (unpredictable) stuff to not die first or second. A full grip and some dudes on the table plus a bunch of lands can get the job done against way better decks if they have already expended their resources.