Sponsored.  Ultra PRO is celebrating the core of what makes Magic: The Gathering so magical with brand new Mana 8 accessories, featuring sleek and vibrant artwork on an array of premium products!  Dip your toe into the mana pool with brand new tabletop accessories, each focusing on those iconic mana icons that are so integral to gameplay.  For those outside the hobby or who have recently become interested in the world's most popular tabletop game, let's honor this iconic cornerstone of Magic by returning to the absolute basics, and explore what Mana actually is.

What is Mana?
Virtually every game starts the same way: someone plays a land.  As one of the foundational resources of Magic: The Gathering, it's just not possible to play the game without mana.  Mana is also a key element of deck building, so it comes into play before that first land card even hits the table.  You can't do much if your deck doesn't support you with adequate ways to make mana, so the way you construct your deck, and the creatures and spells you put into it, have to be considered first.  This is called building a mana base, and it's how good (or at the very least usable) decks are made.

Your Mana Base-ics
A mana base is made up of the land cards in your deck as well as any other supplemental ways to make mana, like artifacts, creatures or spells.  There are simple mana bases, like just throwing 17 Swamps into your mono-black deck, and there are complex ones featuring multiple mana colors, lands with unique abilities, and other indirect ways of creating mana.  If you're just starting out, a good rule of thumb is that your lands should make up about 40% of your deck.  That comes out to about 17 or 18 lands in a 40-card deck (or 24-25 for a 60-card deck.)  This guideline is hard to beat, but it's just as important to remember the cost of things, like spells, that you want to use.  If your spells only cost four or fewer mana to cast, you won't need as many lands in your deck as someone who might have a lot of expensive eight mana cards.

Show Your True Colors
There are five basic colors of mana, which correspond with the five basic lands: Plans, Swamp, Mountain, Island, and Forest.  The more colors you want to play with, the wider your range of card choices will become, but the more likely you are to become stuck with too little (or too much!) mana for the cards you want to play (Those scenarios are what players refer to as mana hosed or mana flooded, respectively).  Building your deck then becomes a balancing act between power and consistency.  This is why a two-color deck is generally regarded as the best way to strike that perfect balance between choice of cards (power), and the ability to actually play them when you want (consistency).  As soon as you add a third (or fourth, or fifth) color to your deck, things might start running off the rails rather quickly, leading to frustration, so it's usually not recommended unless you already feel really comfortable playing with a two-color deck.

Staying Ahead of the Mana Curve
The cost of mana that all your cards collectively use in a deck is referred to as its mana curve.  If a deck's mana curve is high, it contains a lot more 'expensive' (aka higher mana cost) cards, and vice versa.  Trying to keep your mana curve in the middle, with cards that all cost five mana, wouldn't work well either, because you wouldn’t have anything to play in the first four turns of your game.  Again, whether you want to hit the ground running with a stream of one mana creatures attacking right off the bat, or wait to play something stronger after turn four, it’s always a good strategy to strive for balance.

If you think holistically about your deck, how you want to use it, and the possible scenarios it holds for your play, you will no doubt be able to strike up that perfect balance of power and consistency.  Don't forget: a strong mana base and well-rounded mana curve makes for a much more satisfying play experience, without any of that unsavory mana hosing or flooding that can discourage early players from really diving into deck building.

Mana 8
If you feel like you appreciate one of Magic's cornerstones a little more now, why not get back to basics with our newest Mana 8 release, honoring this foundational system with a wide assortment of premium accessories like Stitched Playmats and 9- and 12- pocket PRO-Binders?  It's easy to pay homage to the mana system with the newest Mythical Edition Alcove Edge Deck Box®: each premium, leatherette Alcove Edge features bright and vivid artwork of those iconic mana icons you know and love best (plus a Mythic Orange Lotus edition too, of course!).

And don't forget to grab the latest release of our best-selling APEX™ Deck Protector Sleeves, engineered to be long-lasting with a smooth shuffle that can withstand all your drawing, casting and tapping.  Plus, APEX's gloss clear front lets your foil cards shine, no matter your play style!  Whether you grab your favorite color mana or collect them all, there's a premium Mana 8 accessory here for every Magic: The Gathering fan!  Tap away!

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