Top 10 Magic: The Gathering cards to ramp in to post Battle for Zendikar
What do we want? Giant Eldrazi!
When do we want them? As quick as possible!
Ramp was my deck of choice just before rotation. I was powering out Dragonlord Atarkas on turn 4 with some regularity, and on occasion bashing players to death with a couple of elves. Like no other, deck ramp is one of two halfs. Sometimes you can curve out so sweetly into something giant that you feel like the deck could be on autopilot, other more sad times you feel like the Magic gods have forsaken you and and you are left only ever getting the ramp part and none of the pay off.
Well rejoice because now your ramp card is both.
It’s true. You can now cast from beyond to ramp yourself into the late game and, when you need a huge hulking threat, you can cash it in and search up your Titan. It also provides chump blockers or mana to get you safely through the mid-game if you are spending too long there. You see, that is where most ramp decks will lose: in the mid game. You want to rush to the end game as quickly as possible, so when your opponent is casting 5 drops you are dropping huge 7 or 8 drops or, in a world where enormous Eldrazi exist, 8 or 10 drops.
So what does this new deck look like?
Devotion is gone, forget about it, it’s over.
What you guys had was beautiful and you will always remember your time together but Devotion has moved on and so should you. Also your one drop elf has left you too. Don’t keep bringing it up, no one likes it when somebody can’t stop talking about their ex. Don’t compare your new special someone to your ex either. Do you think Rattleclaw Mystic wants to hear about all those times you and Elvish Mystic started out on turn 1 and had won the game by turn 5? No. That stuff is hurtful. Instead think of all the good times you and your new elf squad are going to have.
Who are the mana producers in Standard?
I’m not going to look in depth at what mana dorks you should be playing in Standard. There are quite a few to choose from. I think Rattleclaw Mystic is the best one, even in a mono strategy, and then the rest are pretty much the same. Between 8 and 10 mana producers. The ones I would play cost 2 mana. There are 3 drops but I don’t think that’s what you want to be doing with your mana, unless you’re in a five colour deck and you are desperate for fixing. Under no circumstances whatsoever should you play the Honored Hierarch. It is terrible.
The mid game.
What are we doing with our mid game? 4/4s or 5/5s might be one way to go, but let’s not forget about the enchantments. I want to get my engine going with From Beyond. This is what inspired me to write about ramp so I’m putting four of those in for sure, but what else is on the menu? In its previous iteration we might have played the Green Siege, but that only provides ramp and now that we have From Beyond we can ignore it.
Hedron Archive deserves some thought. Its a mana rock that taps for 2 mana. It costs 4 so it’s not a Sol Ring but that is not a world we live in. It also provides a nice way to refill later on in the game.
I ran Genesis Hydra last Standard but even before rotation I had swapped all of them out for See the Unwritten. This is great value when you have creatures costing 10 mana in your deck. It’s worth noting that you put the creature on to the battlefield so it won’t trigger any casting triggers. Sorry you might just have to settle for a 10/10. It feels good to be getting a creature at a discount, and cheating things into play in Standard is not like it is in non-rotating formats. 6 mana to play a Titan is about as good as it gets.
Well Whisperwood Element does a fine job of keeping you in the game. It’s 6 power and toughness over 2 bodies and if it goes unanswered you might not even need to get to your giant fatties.
Surrak Caller of the Hunt might not be a very fashionable choice but the formidable clause on this card might mean that your brand new Eldrazi gets to rumble straight away. Basically this is another mid/late game crossover card. Worth considering.
If you don’t know the secret to building decks in Tarkir by now, it’s simple. Just add 4 Hangarback Walkers. In that vein, it might be worth looking at Endless One. It’s not as good as Hangarback but it fits the curve nicely and is a threat that needs an answer.
There is another strategy that might be worth looking at with From beyond: going wide and pumping the team. From Beyond is not legendary so you can have more than one out at a time. Putting two 1/1s into play at the start of each turn is strong. There are a few things that buff your entire team. The devoid spell gives all your creatures +2/+0 and if they are colourless they gain first strike. This can be a wrath. It also works with the manifest creature you might have from the Whisperwood Elemental. You could space White to play a Mastery of the Unseen to get even more manifests. If you’re splashing White it’s only a short hope for a Gideon. You can cash him in for his emblem on the turn he comes down and all your creatures get +1/+1.
Brood Butcher is a consideration here: a 3/3 body that brings with it 2 scions and will help you get to the big stuff.
Top 10 Magic: The Gathering cards to ramp in to post Battle for Zendikar:
Get all your elves together and then ask them to help you conjure up a giant Fireball. This strategy has 2 pay off cards in the format. Crater’s Claws, which sometimes deals a little extra thanks to the ferocious ability, or Rolling Thunder, which offers you a decent wrath effect into the bargain. These are strong choices because they have the flexibility that an X spell offers you. I have seen FNM players greedily hold onto sorcery speed X spell for too long instead of firing it off to kill a threat.
Conduit of Ruin would be the card you might be ramping into in a normal set but with the Eldrazi there is normally something bigger right around the corner. 5/5 for 6 mana is about the going rate but with this you now get a discount off the first creature card you cast each turn, like ramp but in reverse. The other ability is less appealing. Now as of writing I have no idea how prevalent ingest is going to be in Standard. There has been a little at my FNM but it’s early days and we might not ever see it widely used, but putting things on the top of my library makes me nervous.
Don’t write off Dragonlord Atarka. Planeswalkers are everywhere. Standard has so many playable walkers these days that the fact the ‘enter the battlefield’ effect hits planeswalker is significant. I get that players want to play with their new toys but old favourites should not be discarded without some consideration.
Well we might as well talk about Omnath whilst we are looking at Green and Red cards. It’s cheap compared to a lot of ramp choices, its double green shouldn’t be a problem and even the double red should be okay. The 5/5 body is a little underwhelming on Zendikar but the landfall trigger is significant. If you power this out through Eldrazi scions and you can hit your land drop in the turn you play it, well your opponent is under quite a bit of pressure. The second ability is also worth noting as the awoken lands are elementals too.
I ran this out of the board in a Sultai control deck a few weeks after dragons was released. It was just okay. At the time the deck was set up to get to the long game rather than race there. Having a wrath attached to a creature has proven to be very handy in the form of Atarka. You are trading in the ability to hit Planeswalkers but you do hit absolutely every other creature.
This is the third card that gives you a wrath and a win con. I always found it hard to get to in a normal Abzan control deck but, if your FNM isn’t wall to wall aggro and the slower Eldrazi decks start to turn up with more regularity, this is definitely a consideration. The destroy wording on these wraths is a problem when it comes to certain indestructible creatures.
The CMC on this is 6. It isn’t a great deal you need to have something to do. Paying the awaken cost for an extra turn and a 6/6 seems pretty cool. I mean it’s cool but I’m not sure how often it wins you the game but I know there are players out there that will consider just doing it as a win regardless of the outcome of the game.
Buy one get one free. This is hard for your opponent to deal with, even against counterspell it’s still a single 10/10. This will be one a lot of players pick for their card to ramp into. I must say I’m not quite as sold as some I’ve talked to but I can see why it might be appealing. As with all the Eldrazi spells they are even better value because you can fetch them up with From Beyond
One part of Magic that goes relatively unnoticed is how it expands our vocabulary. Winnower is a form of sift, something that separates things. Usually wheat from chaff but in this case it is odds from evens. It’s a very cool design. I haven’t quite figured out how good it is.
When you spend 10 mana you want to make sure you get something out of it. So even if this gets countered or killed (exiled) on resolution, you get a double Utter End for your troubles. But that’s worse case scenario. Most of the time your opponent won’t have the exact answer on hand and the giant Eldrazi Titan will make short work of the rest of your opponent.
This isn’t an exhaustive list and I purposefully picked things that you might see at FNM rather than at the Pro Tour. You might even want to ramp into 2 or 3 of the things on the list in a single deck.
Community Question: So what do you think of our list of top 10 spells to ramp in to above? And what top 3 spells do you want to ramp in to the most in Standard right now and why? Let us know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading,
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