Mana acceleration is Magic: The Gathering jargon for the concept of accelerating one's mana base, thereby enabling one to gain as much mana as quickly as possible, often in order to play high impact cards. By using mana acceleration, players tend to exchange card advantage and tempo in exchange for the ability to play more high impact cards than the opponent.
The term is used interchangeably with ramp.
Forms of mana acceleration
Mana acceleration can work in several different ways:
- Mana accelerators may be non-land permanents that produce mana by tapping. Llanowar Elves is perhaps the archetypal mana accelerator: Playing a Forest and Llanowar Elves on your first turn and another forest on your second allows you to play a more expensive card on your second turn than you would have without the elf. The Moxen are the most powerful example of this type. Mana Stones are a particularly common form of this type of mana acceleration.
- Some cards enact mana acceleration by producing a one-off effect that adds a quick rush of mana to your mana pool. Black Lotus is the best-known example.
- Mana acceleration also covers cards that reduce casting costs, such as Stone Calendar or the Affinity mechanic.
- Cards that fetch lands from your deck, such as Rampant Growth, or Land Tax and put them into your hand or play also speed up mana production, or at the very least make certain that you aren't short on mana; they also thin your deck, making a player slightly less likely to draw a land later in the game when they are no longer needed and can be considered dead cards. Increasing the lands playable a turn (i.e. Explore, Summer Bloom) has a similar function, capped by the number of lands drawn.
- Some mana accelerators increase the amount of mana your lands could produce, such as Utopia Sprawl. Most land auras are functionally the same as single-card accelerators, but cards such as Mirari's Wake or Gauntlet of Power can potentially double the next turn's mana and scale with the number of lands.
The different colors approach mana acceleration in different ways:
- White usually has little need for mana acceleration since it relies on quick, effective creatures with low casting costs to begin with. White occasionally employs land-fetching cards like Land Tax and Flagstones of Trokair, but in those cases there is usually no acceleration, but rather card advantage.
- Blue makes little use of mana acceleration, though the blue-heavy Affinity mechanic was a huge boon in the Mirrodin block. Some exceptions from the game's early days exist, including High Tide as well a number of cards that produce colorless mana (such as Apprentice Wizard and Energy Tap), justified with blue's association with artifacts.
- Black started out as the color for one-off mana effects like Dark Ritual and Sacrifice, but slowly drifted away from that strategy. It infrequently features permanents that can produce mana turn after turn to help it ramp up quickly and cast large spells. Usually a form of payment is required.
- Red originally had little in the way of mana acceleration (with the exception of Sisters of the Flame), but over time it appropriated black's production of one-off mana effects ("Ritual)" with cards like Skirk Prospector, Seething Song, Braid of Fire and Rite of Flame.
- Green is the undisputed master of mana acceleration, with varied cards like Llanowar Elves, Birds of Paradise, Rampant Growth, and Wild Growth. Besides being the land-fetching color, green is also the color with permanents that can produce mana turn after turn to help it ramp up quickly and cast large spells. See Green: Mana.
- Artifacts can be extremely useful mana accelerators since they can fit into a deck of any color. Cards like Mind Stone and Fieldmist Borderpost help decks to accelerate as well as fix their mana colors. In vintage, Black Lotus, Sol Ring, and the Moxen are sought-after artifact mana accelerators.