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I'm building some EDH decks and I keep running into a problem - lots of mana, no spells to cast. Now, this is moderately acceptable, but only because my opponents are often in the same state.

It seems if I could do something with this mana, I would have the edge. But there seem to be very few mechanics that exist on enough cards to create a theme, but are efficient enough to be worth while. In fact, the only one I've really found is firebreathing. But that's not viable for any non-mono-red deck.

What mechanics are mana dumps that are plentiful enough to bake into an EDH theme? Do the effects even need to synergize, or should I just take random efficient mana dumps as they come?

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This question has way to many possible answers. In Constructed, there is no such thing as too much late-game mana - each color has plenty of ways to utilize extra mana. When seriously out of ideas, just take a commander that can be sacrificed easily for a strong effect and re-cast it over and over again. –  Hackworth Sep 3 '12 at 8:00
    
The constraints I have on it mean it doesn't have "way to ma ny possible answers". I'm looking for a couple mechanics (preferably one per color, although that's not explicitly stated nor entirely necessary) that exists on a decent number of different cards such that they can be put into a theme. Having ten cards with a mechanic would not be sufficient - it would take more like 50 cards with a particular mechanic (in order to get 20-30 cards out of it for baking into the theme). –  corsiKa Sep 3 '12 at 15:08
    
As for the followup to it, that's actually a simple yes or no, provided it has a logical backing to it. For what it's worth, the three commanders I'm building around right now are Lyzolda, Uril, and Lovisa. I can utilize firebreathing a lot with Lovisa, and Lyzolda has a lot of zombie token generation and I can sac those for card draw. But for Uril, I'm just out of ideas. And for future decks, I want strategy, not necessarily one bona fide solution. –  corsiKa Sep 3 '12 at 15:11
    
I suggest to restrict your question a bit to tell us which is your commander and what kind of card you are already playing. The answer really depends on the colors you are playing and your existing mana curve. –  Michel Daviot Sep 4 '12 at 6:44
    
Buyback can be pretty powerful when you have too much mana. Capsize wins you the game pretty quickly as soon as you can cast it twice a turn. –  Nick Sep 4 '12 at 15:56

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I agree with the other answers, when the problem is "lots of mana, no spells to cast" the most obvious answer is "draw more spells somehow".

But I thought I'd take a look at the problem from a slightly different angle: if your deck consistently has more mana than spells to cast, maybe the problem is the deck's mana curve.

An ideal mana curve means you constantly have spells to cast, and the spells your draw and have in hand get more and more powerful as your mana base builds. Maybe your deck has too many cheap spells but not enough expensive threats?

But if you go too far, early in the game you don't have enough mana to play the spells in hand. However, there are many keywords in magic that help you "cheat" on your mana curve by increasing the power of your spells or increasing your card advantage when you spend a little extra.

Keywords that help:

  • Cycling: Cast a big spell later, or ramp/replace the card early if you don't yet have the mana base.
  • Kicker/Multikicker, Replicate, Echo: Spend extra mana for a bigger effect.
  • Buyback: Easy way to get more spells? Don't put the cast spell in the graveyard. :)
  • Flashback, Retrace, Unearth: Another way to get more spells? After they hit your graveyard, cast them again.
  • Evoke: You can play something big later, or gain advantage early.
  • Forecast: You can play something big later, and gain advantage early.
  • Miracle: You can play something big later — or if you're lucky, sooner.
  • Suspend: You can play something big later or… uh… later.
  • Cumulative upkeep: Arctic Nishoba or Magmatic Core might be nice.
  • Level up: Make your board stronger.

I'm sure there are more… but that's a start.

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It's important (in my opinion) to build your deck engine around your commander. If I were designing a deck around the commanders you've mentioned, here's what I'd do. I know this isn't specifically what you asked, but drawing more cards is a key part of Commander strategy.

Lyzolda

Well, she has card draw built in to her. Look for cards that will give you black or red creature tokens (and ideally both, but there's only a couple of those). Also look for ones that are either permanent token generators or can be re-cast from the graveyard. Some examples:

As supporting cards, black has many instants and sorceries for drawing cards and for searching for specific cards. There's no need to have all of your non-land cards have the same mechanic (in fact, that would be a poorly balanced deck).

Uril

Obviously, it's key to get Auras onto Uril. Thankfully, White and Green have cards that help you if are playing something Aura-heavy.

There's also a bunch of creatures with the word "aura" in their description that do cool stuff. Pick all your favorites and your favorite auras and have fun.

Lovisa

Mono-colored commander decks are a little trickier. Every color has some way of drawing more cards, so you generally have to rely on that. In red's case, you are usually (but not always) "looting", i.e. discarding either before or after you draw. As another poster mentions, artifact draw can also help.

Hope this helps.

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is worm harvest legal for lyzolda? it has green in its signature –  corsiKa Sep 5 '12 at 3:34

Card Draw is the solution you are looking for. If you have lots of mana, and no spells to cast, and your opponents are in the same boat then you guys aren't using your cards efficiently.

As for specific cards for your decks:

Lyzolda, the Blood Witch Commander

Uril, the Miststalker Commander

Lovisa Coldeyes Commander

Red doesn't have good card draw, so you are going to have to resort to the best artifact card draw.

and many more.

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Card Draw might just be the solution you are looking for... of course that can be harder in some colors than others, but if you can find ways to spend mana on card advantage, you end up solving both problems you're having. And it's not like decking is frequently a problem in EDH. The down side is of course that an efficient card draw engine is an obvious threat to other players. Get too good at and you'll paint a big old bullseye on yourself.

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