Mana Crypt vs Sol Ring - Which is better?

Commander (EDH) forum

Posted on Jan. 29, 2017, 1:31 p.m. by -Logician

This post is the result of an argument that emerged from one seemingly simple question. "Which is better? Mana Crypt, or Sol Ring?"

Here's some of the points made for each side of the argument.

For the position of Sol Ring being better than Mana Crypt:

  • "I've died to Mana Crypt. Sol Ring has never killed me."
  • "Sol Ring just doesn't have a downside"
  • "The 1.5~ damage per turn cost matters in longer games, despite it being zero mana."
  • "I find myself tutoring for Sol Ring over Mana Crypt when I don't have any immediate action to take with the extra mana it offers, just to avoid the damage, and the decision of choosing Sol Ring over the Mana Crypt in these situations doesn't negatively effect me; whereas choosing Mana Crypt instead could have definitely had negative effects."

For the position of Mana Crypt being better than Sol Ring:

  • "The burst of an additional two mana to what you already have has unparalleled potential. The potential for turn 1 three drops like Wheel of Fortune, Aven Mindcensor, or Yisan, the Wanderer Bard are possible through Mana Crypt, but not through Sol Ring. Sol Ring can only play a four-drop turn 2 if it was cast on turn 1. You can top-deck (or slow-roll) the Mana Crypt turn 2 and it can still cast a four-drop that turn. The surprise it can unveil for commanders that cost 6+ mana is extreme. A Narset, Enlightened Master player who does nothing for three turns except play lands, and then turn 4 plays land, Mana Crypt, cast commander would seem like it came out of nowhere."
  • "The 1.5~ damage per turn cost doesn't weigh as much as the explosive potential."
  • "Mana crypt, being zero mana, dodges Mental Misstep, can be searched with Tezzeret the Seeker without diminishing any loyalty, and can be found with Wargate on X=0, all of which have been very relevant at least for me in my EDH career. There seems to be less of these corner case scenarios to explain Sol Ring as the better card, but a plentiful amount of them for Mana Crypt."
  • "If you lose to your own Mana Crypt, you likely weren't going to win that game anyway. Mana Crypt is supposed to enable early victory. If it didn't work for you, and the game went long enough for your opponents to overcome you, then the problem with how that game went is likely (though not always, but still more likely) not your mana."
  • "The amount of life loss we spend on Sylvan Library and Necropotence only goes to show that life loss for superior quality in terms of power is worthwhile in the setting of commander especially. I've over-dealt myself damage from Sylvan Library several times, which has occasionally lead to my doom, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the top 5 most powerful cards in the format. The number of games I've won because of these kinds of cards and the outrageous advantage they offer supremely outweighs the about of games I've lost because of it. Just like Dark Confidant does a bunch of damage to you and even kills its owner sometimes, yet we still use it instead of the endless supply of alternatives that we are offered."

Personally, I very strongly believe that Mana Crypt is better than Sol Ring. I was shocked to even hear that an opinion existed in opposition of what I mistook as a clear fact, and now I feel I must concede it to be merely a theory, albeit still a very strongly evident one. It was surprising for me to hear from someone who I regarded as an authority on power-level evaluation argue that Sol Ring was better. I have since greatly diminished my respect for his insight and authority, as it seems to lack a degree of logic I thought was there, but now seems to be absent.

Maybe I'm wrong. I'm willing to entertain that idea if the necessary evidence is presented. I'm honestly not completely closed minded on this subject, and I am absolutely willing to admit I'm wrong. I want to hear more opinions.

Here's a question you can feel free to answer in a response this post. Obviously, lots of players will just play both Sol Ring and Mana Crypt. But, if you had to choose between the two, and you were forced to cut one or the other, which would you cut?

Let's open the discussion.

kanokarob says... #2

In a world where I can only have one, it'd be Mana Crypt. Those supporting quotes are right, the damage is negligible because if it's killing you or contributing to killing you, you either aren't playing well or you weren't going to win anyway. 0 mana gives it so many advantageous situations not just in what you can do with it but what can be done to it or to get it. Sol Ring is a powerful, fairly comparable card, and they preferably should be used together, but weighed against each other, Crypt has a far more massive impact.

January 29, 2017 1:43 p.m.

Eiti3 says... #3

If you were forced to cut one? I doubt I'd ever drop that low on mana rocks to be forced to cut either or, but for the sake of this, I guess I'd cut Sol Ring, keeping Mana Crypt.

Reasons:

  • If I ever had to play cEDH, which happens quite often with a few of my playgroups, I need that extra / that I lose from playing Sol Ring on T1 or T2 for ramp, draw, or taxes.
  • Damage from Mana Crypt, as kanokarob said perfectly, is negligible. Either you win using perfect tempo, combo, control, or aggression, or the same happens against you. When playtesting my decks, I always take the 3 damage, I never flip. I test to make certaint that even if I were to lose 3 life per turn, that it won't affect my end goal.
  • In an EDH format, I'd recommend that you should always have at least 1-2 ways to regain life. If not, then you're risking far more in the long run. And usually the life gain has some other advantage tacked onto it as well: Aetherflux Reservoir kills; Venser's Journal allows no max handsize; Alhammarret's Archive doubles extra draw; etc. There is little to no excuse to be concerned over 3 damage per turn.
  • Tezzeret the Seeker : I don't have to lower his loyalty to search for it. I've had countless games were his loyalty was quite literally the winning/losing point for me.
  • January 29, 2017 2:12 p.m.

    TheDevicer says... #4

    Crypt could burn me for 3 every time i tap it and is still run it everywhere. It's really hard to argue against the raw efficiency of the card. I'd only prefer sol ring if i were playing a deck in a casual meta that intended to go long.

    January 29, 2017 2:18 p.m.

    Egann says... #5

    It depends on your meta.

    Mana Crypt is objectively the more powerful card, and the burn isn't a huge deal for the power boost. That said, Crypt doesn't really let you slow your tempo down to play to the table. I don't think I have ever seen the life loss be the direct reason someone lost, but I'm pretty sure I've seen it encourage players to swing.

    There is a flip side, however. If you've got cards like Mana Crypt in your deck and it can't handle people swinging at you, the problem isn't Crypt.

    January 29, 2017 2:41 p.m.

    griffstick says... #6

    Sold ring is better cause it comes in the precons

    January 29, 2017 7:32 p.m.

    MagicalHacker says... #7

    It's very simple: if you're playing in a tier 1-2 environment, then Crypt is a lot better. If you're playing in a tier 3-4 environment, then Ring is a lot better.

    January 29, 2017 9:06 p.m.

    Schuesseled says... #8

    If I don't want to run both, then id just run sol ring as it's cheaper and I have almost ten of them.

    January 29, 2017 9:27 p.m.

    DuTogira says... #9

    MagicalHacker got it. The level of magic you're playing on dramatically influences which is better.
    I'll add that your budget might influence that decision as well. I'm not spending 47 more dollars on a marginal upgrade to a sol ring.

    January 29, 2017 11:58 p.m.

    Ohthenoises says... #10

    Money shouldn't influence judgement of a card's power level.

    I think that we would all agree that Black Lotus is an amazing magic card and strictly better than a lot of things and we would run as many as were legal in any format they were legal in if we were able.

    But Lotus is worth a butt ton of $. Does that make it a bad card? Or worse than Lotus Bloom? Uh... no...

    So as far as crypt v.s. ring. Crypt it always better no matter the meta. Playing T1 3 drops is going to win you the game very quickly. Even if you take a bunch of damage off of you you should be winning regardless.

    This quote in specific stands out the most to me: "If you lose to your own Mana Crypt, you likely weren't going to win that game anyway. Mana Crypt is supposed to enable early victory. If it didn't work for you, and the game went long enough for your opponents to overcome you, then the problem with how that game went is likely (though not always, but still more likely) not your mana."

    January 30, 2017 2:05 a.m.

    MagicalHacker says... #11

    If you're constantly playing a tier 1 deck in a tier 3 meta, one or more of four things will/must happen:

    • Your opponents will be effective in teaming up against you to make sure you lose first.
    • You wont be invited to play anymore.
    • You will be asked to build/play a tier 3 deck to facilitate fun among your friends.
    • Your meta will upgrade their decks to tier 1 to handle your deck.

    To say that these won't happen would be to say that you are in an environment where your opponents won't do anything in response to you constantly winning, and no one wants to invest time, money, and energy into a deck only to have it lose all the time.

    January 30, 2017 2:56 a.m.

    kanokarob says... #12

    Those results of playing a powerful card/deck does not change that said powerful card/deck is strictly better or worse than any comparable card/deck, MagicalHacker. The fact that a single card could influence your local meta to change to accommodate for, or evict, you is only evidence that such a card is better than the alternative your local meta is/was running.

    You can say you'd rather play Sol Ring over Mana Crypt and cite those as your reasoning, but that would only prove that Crypt is objectively too much more effective than Ring for you subjectively to feel comfortable with/enjoy your deck. Which is of course just fine.

    January 30, 2017 10:16 a.m.

    MagicalHacker says... #13

    While I did change all my decks from including both to including only the Ring, it was NOT because the Crypt was too powerful. The reason was because playing a tier 3 deck in a tier 3 environment meant that the Crypt isn't good enough and has too much of a downside in spite of its seemingly obscene level of power (both because my board state would advance so far early in the game that I would be unable to win by being public enemy number one and because the games would go on longer to make me lose more life from the coin flips).

    My point is that not all cards are always better. You've got to remember your meta, and sometimes that means that amazing cards are worse because your meta isn't as cutthroat.

    January 30, 2017 12:19 p.m.

    RedUndead40 says... #14

    In my opinion, the benefits of Mana Crypt over Sol Ring are way too situational to make it a "better" card. Yeah, you might get a 3 drop turn 1, but thats not really that much more powerful than a 4 drop turn 2 in most metas. If youre playing 100% competitive, it might be better.

    However, I generally have a rule. Any explanation that has to use "if" when describimg why a card might be good indicates that the card isn't really that good. "If I have a 3 drop turn 1 that matters that early...", "if you dont deal 12 damage to yourself throughout the game...", etc are all ways of saying Sol Ring is better in most situations.

    January 30, 2017 1:07 p.m.

    kanokarob says... #15

    There is no "if" to this though, RedUndead40, if reasonable logic is applied here. The equation is simply "Mana Crypt gives me more mana for a lesser mana cost, and a negligible drawback in Commander. It is therefore objectively better."

    The only reason to prefer Sol Ring to Mana Crypt is personal inhibition/fear of being targeted (which is reasonable, but give me a moment). If your Mana Crypt is creating too big a target on you, and you can't handle that target, then you may have been better off with a Sol Ring. But that logic uses an "if", so by your rule, should be thrown out.

    There are a lot of factors that determine whether a card should be played in a given game or situation, and not all of them are quantifiable or explainable. But if the question is simply which is better as a card in general, the objective answer must be Mana Crypt. And given the opportunity, if your intention is to make an effective, efficient deck, both should be included, with priority given to the objectively better one.

    January 30, 2017 3:57 p.m.

    RedUndead40 says... #16

    Mana Crypt is only objectively better the turn you play it. The turn after, they are the exact same card except one damages you and the other does not, at which point Sol Ring is objectively better (not to mention slightly harder to eliminate with Steel Hellkite, Pernicious Deed, etc).

    I am of the belief that 1 extra mana, at any point in the game, isn't worth potential life loss to that degree. Especially since Sol Ring becomes a better card the very next turn. If your deck would have won with Mana Crypt but not a Sol Ring on the same turn, mana probably isn't the real problem.

    But that's just my two cents. They both have perks but to me Sol Ring is completely worth it for a measly one mana.

    January 30, 2017 5:09 p.m.

    Ohthenoises says... #17

    RedUndead40

    Out of cutiousity how do you feel about Necropotence and Ad Nauseam in commander? (No Platinum Angel or any Angel's Grace involved, just those cards alone).

    January 30, 2017 5:22 p.m.

    kanokarob says... #18

    RedUndead40, you're using "if"s in your logic again. You can be a hypocrite or you can debate effectively; you cannot possibly do both.

    As further example, Ancient Tomb is a better card than Temple of the False God, because it can be used earlier. The damage, though gaurenteed, is still negligible. As is that following your 5th land drop, Temple does the same thing for no damage. The fact that it can allow for more plays to be made faster - in a vacuum - is what makes it objectively better.

    You can be of the belief that 1 extra mana isn't worth life loss all you like, but understand that by saying "I am of the belief," you concede that this is a subjective argument. Again, it's absolutely reasonable to not want to play Mana Crypt for any number of subjective reasons, but to say it is objectively worse than Sol Ring is biased and demonstrably incorrect.

    January 30, 2017 8:30 p.m.

    RedUndead40 says... #19

    kanokarob, a few things-

    1. I didn't use the "if" to explain why sol ring is a better card. It was actually in reference to a deck as a whole. "If" happens to be a common word that can be used in other contexts besides the one I mentioned earlier.

    Also, if you say something had a drawback, however negligible, you cant then say it is objectively better, in the same sentence no less. Sol ring has no drawbacks so the objective is arguable.

    1. I said sol ring is objectively better the turn after you play it, thats all. Prove to me otherwise.

    Im not here to argue with you though. This topic asked for my opinion and I gave it. Not expecting to convert all the Crypters out there lol

    January 30, 2017 9:33 p.m.

    Ohthenoises says... #20

    I am curious as to the answer to my question red.

    January 30, 2017 9:57 p.m.

    kanokarob says... #21

    Ah, the argumentative skills of the untrained. I see this debate must end, given the lack of attention paid to my primary point and poor attempts to lay upon me the burden of proof. I've nothing to prove, you're altering the situation to create an answer you prefer. That's not how objectivity works, nor how one considers superiority in a vacuum. But you're not going to learn that here, so that will be all.

    January 30, 2017 10:35 p.m.

    iAzire says... #22

    Objectively, Mana Crypt is better. I have yet to see an argument that makes me doubt this. It is night and day different.

    Mana Crypt is a drop. If you aren't going to use it that turn, don't drop it. No unnecessary damage, nobody targeting you, no problems. As Sol Ring does have a cost, you should cast it from hand ASAP. That way it is ready to use and doesn't slow you down. Mana Crypt doesn't have this draw back, play it the turn you need it. The earliest it can damage you is a 50/50 shot your next turn. It is hands down the best mana rock legal in EDH.

    There isn't a draw back to keeping Mana Crypt in hand. If you can't take advantage of it, don't play it. When you do need it, surprise your opponents by ramping out two extra mana. Sol Ring doesn't have this capability as it costs mana to come in.

    January 30, 2017 11:33 p.m.

    MagicalHacker says... #23

    What I know is true:

    1. I used to play Mana Crypt.

    2. I dropped Mana Crypt.

    3. As a result, I lost less often.

    Seems to me like it might be that one is not strictly better than the other in all circumstances.


    This question isn't like "Which is better: Sisay's Ring or Hedron Archive?", because it's undeniable that multiplayer commander self-corrects for when one player has an advantage over the rest of the table and they don't win that turn.

    To everyone, do you believe that the difference between typical competi-casual (tier 3-4, and probably more common) and competitive (tier 1-2) is such that there are certain cards that are good in one environment and bad in the other, and that this goes both ways?

    January 31, 2017 1:23 a.m.

    Ohthenoises says... #24

    MagicalHacker key words: "I"

    To offer a counterpoint of my own, I never had a mana crypt. I lost a lot.

    I now have a mana crypt in every deck I own. I lose less.

    I ALSO know this to be true in a competicasual meta.

    Personal feelings do not apply to judging a card's power level. They never should. Same as the money argument. If I were to go around saying that I hated Liliana of the veil in modern and made sure everyone knew she was crap cause she just dies as soon as she hits the battlefield and she makes ME discard too then I would look like an idiot for bringing my personal feelings into a discussion. The fact of the matter is that LOTV is busted good. (I love lotv btw, just an example)

    It is simply this: mana crypt is sol ring for 1 less mana. The downside is nonexistent in edh due to starting life totals.

    In 20 life formats? Sure, it can be pretty dangerous and 3 damage is a lot. In 40 life formats though..... don't make me laugh.

    January 31, 2017 1:42 a.m.

    iAzire says... #25

    I feel that the best cards are always the best. As we are comparing Mana Crypt and Sol Ring, I say Mana Crypt is better because it allows you to make plays that Sol Ring doesn't. Plain and simple, that makes it better.

    The only time I really find some cards becoming better than others is when you switch formats. Some cards are better in French, while some are better in Multiplayer. These are two different formats that play completely differently though.

    The best cards in Multiplayer are always the best. If those cards draw hate, that helps to show you just how good those cards are.

    I don't really understand the fear of drawing hate from the entire table. Shouldn't every Multiplayer deck be built to take on 3 opponents on average?

    My terrible Commanders, like Daxos the Returned and Ghoulcaller Gisa, play to beat three opponents at once, both of which are Tier 3 or Tier 4. Neither deck would drop Mana Crypt.

    I think the entire debate is just a philosophical thought experiment. Why would this come up in real life? In what scenario would a deck not run both?

    If the question is asked, "What would you Tutor for?" My answer would be that it depends on whether the Artifact is going to the Battlefield or my Hand. If it's going directly onto the battlefield I will search for Sol Ring. If it's going to my hand, I will find Mana Crypt.

    I stick with my assessment that Mana Crypt is better because it allows you to make plays that Sol Ring doesn't. Like I said before as well, if you fear anything from playing Mana Crypt, be it the damage each turn or hate from the table, you don't need to play it until you're ready to use it. On the flip side, you want to get Sol Ring down as soon as possible so that the Mana cost to play it doesn't slow you down.

    January 31, 2017 2:01 a.m.

    DuTogira says... #26

    This discussion is getting more and more toxic with people "deconstructing" others arguments of which card is better.
    You want to know which cards is OBJECTIVELY better? Run a statistical case study using the two cards in place of each other in a tier 1 commander deck, and test this against all the known tier 1 commander decks. Repeat for each known tier one commander deck. Then do it again for all tier twos, and if you really want to be thorough, tier threes.
    Don't have time for that? Then accept that the best data we have is subjective and based on personal experiences and people are allowed to draw their own conclusions based on their experiences.

    For the sake of contribution: the OP's question is which card would you run in your commander decks if you could only choose 1?
    My answer: Sol Ring because I'm not spending 48$ extra dollars for what is at best a marginal improvement over the alternative.

    January 31, 2017 1:46 p.m.

    Schuesseled says... #27

    @ RedUndead40

    "I said sol ring is objectively better the turn after you play it, thats all. Prove to me otherwise."

    Sol ring provides 3 mana over the two turns referenced, mana crypt provides 4 mana. Case and point right there.

    February 3, 2017 5:44 p.m.

    -Logician says... #28

    I'm completely convinced, without a Shadow of Doubt, that after all of the rubbish arguments presented here for Sol Ring's case, that Mana Crypt's superiority is certain.

    February 7, 2017 1:25 a.m.

    MagicalHacker says... #29

    I don't have time for this. Unsubscribed.

    February 7, 2017 1:48 a.m.

    kanokarob says... #30

    The discussion was over anyway, silly MagicalHacker.

    February 7, 2017 12:56 p.m.

    MagicalHacker says... #31

    When it comes to talking to users like you, yes it is.

    February 7, 2017 1:42 p.m.

    DuTogira says... #32

    Friendly reminder that this discussion is "if you had to cut one card, Sol Ring or Mana Crypt, which would you cut and why?"
    There are no wrong answers or wrong reasons to that question.
    We were tasked with providing opinions, not with determining which card is better.

    February 7, 2017 1:56 p.m.

    Ohthenoises says... #33

    I mean, to determine what to cut you've got to consider which is better, once that's established you can make the clear choice.

    Opinions were given as to which was better because that's just step 1 in the cutting process.

    The problem is people brought budget and sentiment into the discussion which isn't helpful. Op is obviously not on a budget since he's CUTTING one and Op is obviously not very attached. You can't make decisions on power level based on sentiment/cost

    February 7, 2017 2:27 p.m.

    DuTogira says... #34

    If we were asked to determine which the OP should cut, yes, we would have to determine which is better since he OP would, by necessity of being able to cut one, own both.
    We weren't asked which the OP should cut though. We were asked which we would cut. Hence why this argument is getting so toxic. Half of us are trying to explain why we would cut one of the two from our own decks, the other half are arguing which is objectively better.

    February 7, 2017 2:46 p.m.

    kanokarob says... #35

    There were actually 2 questions in the OP. The one at the end asks what we would cut, but that's a follow up question to the one at the beginning: "Which is better?"

    If you'd rather walk away than debase my logic or that of anyone else you're naturally more than welcome to, and I don't expect to change anyone's mind. But don't expect to change mine without effective arguments.

    February 8, 2017 7:21 a.m.

    -Logician says... #36

    Let me make something clear real quick. I am not trying to figure out which of the two rocks I should cut from my deck. If I had to choose one, I'd cut the sol ring. But I'm definitely not cutting either from any of my decks. They're both extremely strong. The question was just a hypothetical.

    Mana Crypt, in my opinion btw, is easily the most broken card in the format. My top 5 list for most powerful ramp cards in commander look something like this:

    February 8, 2017 9:51 a.m.

    -Logician says... #37

    Let me make something clear real quick. I am not trying to figure out which of the two rocks I should cut from my deck. If I had to choose one, I'd cut the sol ring. But I'm definitely not cutting either from any of my decks. They're both extremely strong. The question was just a hypothetical.

    Mana Crypt, in my opinion btw, is easily the most broken card in the format. My top 5 list for most powerful ramp cards in commander look something like this:

    February 8, 2017 9:51 a.m.

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