Old School Brawl – 93/94 Commander: Mana Dorks, Mana Rocks, and Other Mana Acceleration

Having set forth which Legendary Creatures are eligible to Command your Old School Brawl deck, we turn our attention to the little dudes that make big things happen: Mana Dorks.  Mana Dorks, and Mana Rocks, are great early-game plays in Brawl and/or Commander, because they aren’t threatening by themselves.  In Commander, diplomacy is key!  You shouldn’t draw too much attention from the other players just by amassing a bunch of mana.  It’s only once you start to use it do you start to step on toes!

FOREWORD

As a disclaimer/foreword, I don’t play a whole lot of Brawl or EDH.  However, the more games I play, and the more of these articles that I write, the more interested I become.  Moreover, Mana Dorks and Mana Rocks are not concepts unique to Elder Dragon Highlander (“EDH”).  Decks with 20x Sol Rings were a thing as early as 1993, a year before Legends and the EDs themselves even existed.  Obviously, the original Magic designers, playtesters, and earliest players realized how strong mana acceleration was.  Therefore, I feel qualified to at least make a list and offer some input on which Dorks and Rocks have some playability to them.

Additionally, this article is about mana production, not mana fixing.  Definitely don’t expect any deep discussion about Standing Stones.  Although, Initiates of the Ebon Hand (and to a lesser extent, Farrelite Priest) are great cards.  The initiates can help set up a big Drain Life.  As an added bonus, initiates are a combo with Evil Eye of Orms-by-Gore.  What’s the combo, you ask?  The giant eye art synergy, of course!  Okay, that’s enough digression, let’s look at some Dorks.

To find Mana Dorks and Rocks, I used this Gatherer link to filter only the 93/94 cards that had the word “add” in the text box (as in, T: “add” X).  Similarly, the cards that let you “tutor” for lands (found by searching for the word “land”) can be found at this Gatherer link.  Regardless of which link you use, you’ll have to sift through some irrelevant cards that Gatherer picked up based upon my lazy search criteria.

 

MANA DORKS

Green

The first color that comes to mind is obviously Green.  Green actually has most of the Mana Dorks of 93/94 (as well as 95-present).  Perhaps the two most ubiquitous are Llanowar Elves and Birds of Paradise (colloquially known as the delightful onomatopoeia: “BoP”).  Back in the day, with the help of these two Dorks in an Erhnamgeddon Deck, you could reasonably expect to resolve a backbreaking Armageddon on turn three.  This left you with a boardful of Mana Dorks while your opponent stared at their handful of uncastable cards.  Personally, I was never a fan of Anson Maddocks’s fanged, brain… tattoo?, goggles?, ponytail, Goro-looking elves. But, I have always been a fan of the beautiful, colorful birds drawn by Mark Poole.  Aesthetics aside, if you are playing Green in Brawl, you are playing Llanowar Elves.

Birds of Paradise is a bit trickier.  Originally, pursuant to Commander Rule 4, you could not generate mana outside of your Commander’s color identity.  For example, BoP could not generate Red mana if it was in an Arcades Sabboth deck.  Instead, if it tried to produce Red, it produced colorless mana instead.  However, on January 18, 2016, Rule 4 was abolished.  Birds of Paradise, even the errata’d version, does not contain any mana symbols on it but Green (the casting cost).  Therefore, it’s color identity is Green.  But it is still allowed to produce mana of any color, not just its Commander’s colors and cannot produce colorless (Sorry, Eldrazi!).  Keep that in mind if you happen to Animate Dead your opponent’s Phantasmal Forces or some shit.

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In our last article, we also discussed Elves of Deep Shadow.  This one is also a bit tricky, but the trickiness pertains to deck construction rules, not mana production rules.  Elves of Deep Shadow have a color identity of both Green and Black, due to the Black mana symbol in their text box.  Therefore, Elves of Deep Shadow can only be included in a Jund (G/B/R) deck because there are no Golgari (G/B), Sultai (G/B/U), or Abzan (G/B/W) Commanders.  Long story short, this Dork is great if you are using Vaevictis Asmadi, Bartel Runeaxe, Xira Airen, or Adun Oakenshield as your Commanders.

 

Blue

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Next up is Blue!  I know, right?  Blue actually has one of the best Mana Dorks in 93/94: Apprentice Wizard!  He may look unassuming, but an unexpectedly high Power Sink or Spell Blast can really ruin an opponent’s day.  Even better, Mind Twist and Braingeyser are not totally banned just yet!  If those cards do get the banhammer: fear not.  You still have access to Fireball, Disintegrate, and Howl from Beyond!

One could argue that he isn’t a Dork because he “filters” (thins? stretches? IDK) your Blue mana into colorless mana, but he nets you two additional mana, so it still counts.  However, unlike the Green Dorks, he himself costs three mana, so he probably won’t accelerate you until turn four, where you’ll then have access to six mana.

 

Red

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Our third Mana Dork from The Dark are Sisters of the Flame.  No frills here.  Just good ol’ fashioned mana.

 

Black

Black’s mana acceleration is typically sudden, one-shot, temporary acceleration.  Black arguably gets the short end of the stick as far as Mana Dorks go, but don’t feel too badly.  Black’s Mana Dork, Basal Thrull, has a relevant creature type and Black also has access to Dark Ritual.

Which art is your favorite?  Personally, I like yoga witch and Thrull kabobs over tongue guy and Glowing, Existential-Crisis Thrull.

 

Multicolored/Commanders

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All of the multicolored 93/94 Mana Dorks are also eligible as Commanders.  Most are terrible (looking at you, Princess Lucrezia, Riven Turnbull, and Sunastian Falconer!), but Rasputin Dreamweaver is sweet.  Without any other acceleration, on turn seven, you can have fourteen mana!

 

MANA ROCKS

Mana Rocks are simply artifacts that produce mana.

 

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The Power 9 are banned in Commander, but half of the reason we play 93/94 is to play with Power, so that’s not the case in Old School Brawl.  Just be aware that you can’t include off-color Moxen in your deck.  At most, you can have three Moxen in your deck, because there are no four or five colored Commanders.

 

1cc

Sol Ring and Mana Vault are no brainers.  The best Mana Rocks produce more mana than they cost, so they can chain into other spells.  For example, on my first turn, I am able to play a land, a Sol Ring, and then a Fellwar Stone in that order.  On turn two, after untapping, I’ll have four mana available to me without even dropping my second land of the game.  Put them both in every Brawl deck you ever make without hesitation!

 

2cc

2cc is where the Mana Rocks get a bit more debateable.  As discussed earlier, Fellwar Stone can create mana outside of your Commander’s color identity, but you’re really including it to use it as a Ravnica Signet.  My spicy tech of the week is Copy Artifact.  I’m going to go out on a limb and declare Copy Artifact a Mana Rock at its worst and a total bomb at its best.  Feel free to disagree with me as I copy your Mana Vault and proceed to have six mana on turn three.  In my opinion, Copy Artifact belongs in every Blue Brawl deck.  Lastly, following the precedent set by Apprentice Wizard and Basal Thrull, Implements of Sacrifice technically accelerates you by one mana.  Noteworthy, but not notable.

 

3cc

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The last Mana Rock is Basalt Monolith.  Its usefulness should be obvious, because three colorless man goes a long way in undoing the Commander “tax” if your Commander happens to die once or twice over the course of a game.  After tapping into its awesome power, this Rock just kinda stays tapped until you have nothing better to do.  There are also combos and other ways to untap permanents.  I’ll leave that up to you to figure out.

At 4cc, there is, of course, also the batteries: Red Mana Battery, Blue Mana Battery, White Mana Battery, Green Mana Battery, and Black Mana Battery*dry heave noise*

 

OTHER METHODS OF MANA ACCELERATION

Besides Dorks and Rocks, there are ways to exchange other game aspects into mana.  For example:

There are also ways to “tutor” lands, play extra lands, or to make your lands generate additional mana: High Tide, Gauntlet of Might, Mana Flare, Wild Growth, Fastbond, Land Tax, Untamed Wilds, and Gaea’s Touch.  Gaea’s Touch is especially sweet, because when you are done playing all of your lands you can chuck it for the amount of mana that it originally cost!  It’s like a mix of Fastbond and Basal Thrull.

Finally, there are ways to steal your opponent’s mana: Mana Drain and Drain Power.

 

WRAP UP

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Every Sunday, Andrew continues to climb up to the rank of Grandmaster over at twitch.tv/ready_to_role

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