Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Archetype Breakdown: Green Ramp

Rampant GrowthEach new one of these breakdowns that I do seems to have a deeper pool of potential cards than the last one. The very first one I did wasn't exactly a short article either... As I haven't even really got off the mono coloured decks yet I feel I am going to need to be a bit more ruthless on which cards get discussed and which I lump into bulk groups so to speak. I am sure there will be viable green ramp cards that I fail to discuss in this. The hope is that you can infer the relevant info about any skipped card based on what has been said for comparable cards.

Green ramp is a potent cube archetype. Your ramp is more redundant than artifact ramp and you can diversify it over lands and creatures so as to be hard to shut down. Green ramp decks are so consistent in cube they tend to output a serious thing about as quickly as your average sort of Reanimate deck manages! Along with white weenie I class green ramp as a great beginner deck that is one of the easier ones to play in cube. Doubly so as it is a lot of fun for that Timmy inside us all. The strategy is fairly linear, you cast on curve ramp and then your big stuff! Being a beginner deck shouldn't put off people who fancy themselves as proficient wizards. There is always more to be learned, none of us play a perfect game every time and there is incredible depth and subtlety in even the simplest of cube decks.

HurricaneThere are two types of ramp deck however they are basically interchangeable. The synergies that can exist don't need to be fully maximised to be good and going a little from column A and a little from column B tends to give a more robust build. You can go full creature ramp and this will push certain cards in the archetype really hard. It is the quicker of the two options by far but it is shutdown by mass removal and even things like Forked Bolt pretty hard. The more you go in that direction the more your deck would be classed as a tribal elf deck. The other option is to go full land ramp which can be vulnerable to Winter Orb, Armageddon and effects like that. In general ramping lands is safer and slower.

Green Ramp decks are a little more dynamic in their makeup and have a wider range on the % of ramp cards, the % of threats, the % of lands, the curve and anything else than the aggressive decks I have looked at like this so far. While green ramp is linear in strategy it is not at all linear in game progression. The RDW and white weenie decks are laying one land a turn until the last few and aiming to win by turns 5 or 6 respectively. This means that they have a very linear and steady progression in game (which is different from a linear strategy which all three of these archetypes have!). You can fairly well predict what the RDW and white weenie decks will be doing and as such their curves are much more predetermined. With a green deck your curve is dictated by the amount of ramp that you have. Extreme ramp decks can toss in the odd Eldrazi and expect to hard cast it. Decks thinner on ramp shouldn't be daring to go to such high CMCs and should aim for a shortened curve. As less ramp means you needs lower CMC threats and top end you need to compensate by having more threats total otherwise you simply won't have enough gas to actually win a game. As a super super rough guide I would want upto 50% ramp effects, 25% mid level threats and value and  up to 25% heavy threats contingent on the amount of ramp you have. I would be aiming for an average CMC (with that rough 50% ramp count, of which the majority should be one or two mana to use) of about 2 mana per card and therefore  your total CMC for the whole deck wants to be around 80.

Woodfall Primus
There are two directions you can lean towards with your ramp deck beyond the kinds of ramp you use. You can have a more aggressive list or a more control list. The aggressive list prefers creatures and ideally those than can attack. They like to win out of nowhere with Overrun effects. Alternatively you can go for a more control direction with more walls and land ramp which have more defensive and more value cards. These have more planeswalkers at the top end.

Green ramp is the kind of deck you want to be adaptive with. Having good cards is the most important thing and so you try and take the best of the suitable stuff as you see it. In doing this you are then trying to house these top quality cards as best you can. You build around things and to accommodate them in green ramp than you do in a lot of other archetypes. When you get one good card the value of all the things that go well with that increase in value more than they do in a lot of other arcehtpyes. A flat rating for cards in this archetype is much harder than it is for the less dynamic RDW and white weenie. I imagine most of the cards I rate will have a significant swing on their rating, likely +/-1 at least based on what you do and don't have.

You can splash anything in green ramp but the only thing I ever really want to splash is red. Blue has some lovely things but they are either all double blue and hard to include or only the kind of thing you play when you are already in those colours rather than being worth splashing for themselves. The only real times I would want to splash other non-red colours is when I didn't get enough playables in green and needed to make up numbers.

Creature Ramp

Llanowar ElvesLlanowar Elf / Elvish Mystic / Fyndhorn Elf / Birds of Paradise / Arbor Elf / Noble Hierarch 9/10

These cards are all about as good as each other when push comes to shove. BoP is the best and Arbor the worst but situationally that can be completely reversed. Arbor can fix a double off colour for you and it is an elf with power. Just being a one drop that taps for a green mana is a what it is all about. I almost always play all of these that I get. They are the base of almost all good green ramp deck. Ramping on turn one means you get off the blocks significantly quicker than when you start out with a two drop ramp effect. This is stating the obvious a bit much as you are continually accelerating mana that initial extra boost is a lot more significant than it might seem. It is easy to replace two and three drop mana dorks with land ramp but very hard to do for the one drops. Even in a land focused ramp deck a bunch of one drop mana dorks are more than welcome.

Boreal DruidBoreal Druid / Avacyn's Pilgrim / Elves of Deep Shadow 8

Not tapping for green does reduce the value of these one drop ramp options but they are still usually a fine fill in for being light on ramp or on one drops. You have to reduce your colourless land count in order to house these effectively but otherwise you shouldn't get burned by having one or two of these in your deck. You will still have green because you cast them, so if you don't have loads of GG three drops then these are even less likely to hurt you.

Joraga Treespeaker 9

A bit of a heavier card than the other one drops but none the less it is a very good one drop. You don't get called a Sol Ring lightly. Rather than give you three mana on turn two like the rest it gives you five on turn three. Basically you miss one turns ramp to have double ramp there after. Joraga is a more powerful card than the other one drop ramp dorks but it does come with a risk. You get it killed on turn two in response to the level up and you are very far behind as a result. If I suspect such a play  from my opponent and have others of my own I will often do those instead despite almost certainly being less powerful.

Lotus CobraVeteran Explorer 2

You need a lot of ways to quickly and easily get this in the bin if it is to be useful ramp. Ideally you also need your opponent not to get any ramp out of it too! This can be very powerful but it is extremely narrow.

Lotus Cobra 8

Ramp and fixing and a body you can put to work in combat at the same time. Lotus Cobra is one of the premium two drop ramp cards and this is no exception even in a mono green deck. There are loads of things that put lands into play and as such even without sac lands you can expect to be getting more than one mana a turn from your snake as well as the option to get involved in combat.

Wall of Roots
Wall of Roots 7

A nice rounded two drop ramp card. It staves off attacks well and lets you curve really nicely as you can use it for mana right away. It is even a double ramp card if you can usefully use mana in your turn and your opponents. It is good for keeping a high creature count and boosting devotion without being overly vulnerable to red. The main downside of Wall of Roots and indeed any other wall is that they don't help out much or at all with your typical Overrun win conditions. Not a big deal but worth noting when you have several of either.

Overgrown BattlementOvergrown Battlement 5

Vine Trellis is fine filler but it isn't great. Vine Trellis that taps for two or more is pretty great however. Play this if you lack low drops, perhaps play it to compensate for being weak to ping effects or if you have a polar deck. The only time you actively want to play this rather than having to is when you have at least two other walls in your deck. With such a high wall count you will likely be trying to win without using Overrun effects but this is a thing you can do. A four toughness two drop that taps for two mana is worth a bit of compromise.

Sylvan Caryatid 5.5

Fine filler if you lack low drops. Also pretty good if you are splashing. Defensively the Caryatid is more effective and reliable than the 0/4 walls without hexproof. The issue with Caryatid is that is it eaither ramp or defense on any given turn, it is rarely both. Unless it is offering you a bunch of utility I would generally rather a Farseek / Rampant Growth style card in my deck.

Rofellos, Llanowar EmissaryRoffellos, Llanowar Emissary 9

The big swinger. If your opponent has removal you can be assured they will use it on this before you can tap it for mana. Roffellos is a huge signal card and a great pick to send you into a heavy green ramp deck. Rarely does Rofellos tap for less than 2, frequently he taps for like 5, even on turn three he can be tapping for 5! A surviving turn two Roffellos is like getting a Time Walk and a Black Lotus! The latter every turn there after. If you have Rofellos he does reduce the value of a heavy splash as well as utility lands. You can still happily run Rofellos with only half your lands as forests and he is still a top rate ramp card but when you are mostly forests the card will outright win a lot of games for you.

Selvala, Heart of the WildsSelvala, Heart of the Wilds 6

Decent enough on theme filler. This is a body, a source of ramp and potentially some extra gas. It is quite a high value target and may well bait removal too. She has performed pretty well in cube thus far. The main reason she isn't a hug deal is that she is a three drop. Three drop ramp is either pretty slow or needs cheaper ramp to get to it appropriately quickly. With green ramp decks the momentum gain from having them out earlier is very significant. Ramping on turn three might speed you up a turn but ramping on turn one or two will do a lot more overall. Selvala will not plug a hole in your deck left by too little ramp.

Rishkar, Peema Renegade 6.5

Early days thus far but a pretty impressive card even if it isn't optimized in this list. For the most part the things you will counter up will already tap for mana. This is more of a tempo play than a ramp card but the overall utility and flexibility it brings make it well worth including. While weaker than most other good cube ramp creatures at ramping in the early game Rishkar has some outstanding late game scaling and synergy as a ramp card. Being one of green best tempo three drops is what makes her good early.

Awakening Zone
Awkening Zone 5.5

A bit on the slow side but this does have a lot of other utility going for it beyond just ramp. As ramp this is a three mana investment to get one colourless back per turn, it is basically a Boreal Elf at three times the price! Where Zone starts to get some more value is when you have Wraths to contend with, when you have Cradle to power up, when you have prot green creatures to block and when you have things that pump up all your dorks. Just having an ongoing supply of sacrificial Lotus Petals on 0/1 legs keeps your deck topped up with all the things it will need. Play this to support your synergies, if this doesn't then really don't play it.

Priest of TitaniaPriest of Titania 7

The other Rofellos! Most cubes don't bother with this as it is a tribal card and requires support to perform. The thing is most of the good cheap support and ramp cards for green are elves already. Without having to resort to any narrow cards or other tribal elves you can have a very potent Priest of Titania indeed. Any card that ramps for two and costs two is a big deal and with little effort Priest is about that. In a more dedicated tribal elf deck she is utterly nuts!

Orcish Lumberjack 4

Quite the all in card but mostly this is rated down because it is hard to have red on turn one when this is at its best. Making a turn two five drop is pretty broken and Lumberjack does that ever so easily. If you have the red fixing as well as a nice high forest count and a pile of good five drops then this is a good inclusion. Being one of those old cards it is rather polar. Either do nothing or be insane! As such I tend to avoid it when I have a good solid deck and run it when I am worried my list is a bit too far off optimal.

Devoted DruidDevoted Druid 8

Another two drop that taps for two. Although this only does that once (under normal circumstances) it still taps for one mana the rest of the time which makes it fine. The extra toughness over Priest of Titania, Lotus Cobra and Roffelles is a good boost too. One double ramp is usually enough of an extra tempo boost you need to put the game out of reach. This guy is actually pretty stand out in a lot of ways. The very last game of magic I played I used this to make a turn 3 Verdurous Gearhulk and grew my Devoted Druid back up. I then used those counters the following turn to attack for 19 with a Craterhoof Behemoth. Three cards, a two drop, a five drop and an eight drop and four lands! That sort of thing shouldn't be possible with modern legal cards. That sort of hand should be a mulligan... The Devoted Druid basically out performed a Rofellos in that situation. It has great utility as well as being an outstanding card in the deck. I also recently used it to stop a Jitte from getting counter which is always a relief.

Land Ramp

Sakura-Tribe ElderSakura Tribe Elder 7.5

One of the more versatile land ramp spells. Often this is kept as a dork late game to fog an attack or boost an Overrun. It is also one of your better tempo ramp cards along with the various walls simply because it fogs some damage while doing its primary objective of getting land. If you want it to fix you have to play non-forest basics which can hurt but that is a fine trade off for all the subtle perks this little snake brings.

Search for Tomorrow 8.5

Search for TomorrowThis is the only card neutral one drop land ramp card that there is. This gives it high value. It lets you increase your one drop count without extending your vulnerability to wraths and split damage cards. It is less burst ramp than an Elf as it takes a turn longer to come on line but that extra safety and diversification is worth it.

Nature's Lore / Three Visits / Farseek / Rampant Growth   7

These are the staple two drop land ramp cards. I am a big fan of the Lore (and the Three Kingdoms equivalent version) as they can find a selection of the premium non-basics as well as providing the land untapped. Overall paying two mana to have an extra land in play is a decent deal and will safely and steadily ramp you towards your end game.

Nature's Lore

Edge of Autumn 1

Lovely design but not letting you ramp higher on lands makes it pretty useless for this kind of deck.

Font of Fertility / Wayfarer's Bauble / Diligent Farmhand 4

Paying an extra mana for your Rampant Growth isn't a great deal. Unless you want the mild synergy these kinds might offer your deck there is very little reason to be playing them. Not the worst, better than not having enough ramp and low end but not the premium stuff.

Wood ElvesFont of Fertility

Wood Elves / Farhaven Elf / Yavimaya Dryad  5.5

These are almost more on the side of value cards than they are ramp cards. Three drop ramp is not really where you want to be. It is great if you ramp into it but if it is your first ramp effect then you are not doing great. These cards are nice because they are doing several things to power you up at once. They are ramping a little, thinning your deck, giving you some board presence which might be useful for Overrun effects or mana production effects. Being creatures you are able to get extra value out of them with other cards too. They might just be another Tribe Elder style effects, a bit of damage mitigation. Woold Elves is the slightly better ramp effect but the Dryad offers way more utility and power.
Kodama's Reach

Kodama's Reach / Cultivate 5

While these seem like they would be good in the archetype I have found them to be fairly sub par. The one nice thing about them is the ability to play a little lighter on lands and still consistently make land drops. With the huge amount of thinning the archetype already has I have not found it to be a problem at all playing seemingly heavy land counts in green ramp decks. I find I generally would much rather the tempo of a 1/1 Wood Elf in play than the better value of another basic in my hand. Green ramp decks want value cards and they want ramp but these are weak at both and as such you are better off playing the more powerful and dedicated options for such things.

HarrowHarrow 2

This isn't the deck for Harrow. Instant is no big deal and so it is just a high risk 3 drop single ramp spell. Harrow is good when you can abuse having two land back immediately such as with a Mana Flare effect but that is really a storm cmobo sort of thing. Ramp decks are not about giving your opponent a load of mana too.

Solemn Simulacrum 3

OK filler but really on the pricey end. I have complained a lot about 3 mana ramp and so 4 mana ramp is really not at all exciting. The card draw is more interesting but it is annoyingly slow to occur, if at all. The decks you need the draw against most are the ones who don't have to attack into the Crum nor overly worry about killing it. I significantly prefer Yavimaya Elder to Simulacrum. They ultimately do much the same thing in this archetype but Elder does it more conveniently, appropriately and better.

Exploration 3

Very powerful but unfortunately not well placed. The problem with the card is that you really need to build around it to make it work for you however there is not enough redundancy in the effect to make that reliable enough. You need a lot of card draw and if you don't have your Exploration you will just end up with too much stuff you can't cast or lay. If you just play it alongside more conventional ramp effects you will really struggle to get much value from it, you will run out of lands in hand to make. You need 3 cards for this to ramp you twice. You can do that with one card pretty easily and so for Exploration to be worth it you need to really take advantage of the mana or two you save and the slightly earlier ramp it can bring.

ExploreExplore 8

Explore is great because it is self contained. It is usually a card neutral two drop ramp spell that can make untapped lands and non-basics and therefore the best of the Rampant Growth cards. It also scales best into the late game where card draw is much better than getting more lands into play. A super safe ramp card I am always happy to play.

Oracle of Mul Daya 7.5

Oracle of Mul DayaThe big Explore! Oracle gets away with not only being a 4 drop ramp effect but also a weak Exploration because she is self contained and a source of ongoing card advantage. Unanswered Oracle can spiral a game wildly out of control. With extra land drops and knowledge of the top of your library you are not only making a lot of extra land each turn but almost always drawing action each turn as well. Oracle has great scaling with library manipulation effects and is one of relatively few desirable four drop cards. Both of these factors make her increasingly more playable. The 2/2 body isn't worthless either.

Gaea's Cradle 9.5

One of the most broken cards the archetype has access to. Also one of the most polarising. When you play with Cradle you want creatures, cheap ones and lots of them. All the one drop elves become more valuable and all the Rampant Growth things become less valuable. Cradle is the only real source of instant mana boost the deck has, everything else typically has summoning sickness. This makes it harder to play around Cradle than other cards. The main issue with Cradle is that it accentuates your vulnerabilities. Eating a Wrath when you have a Cradle is pretty much the same as also being Stone Rained. The more you build to empower the Cradle the more this is the case. It is still so much power that it is always worth playing but depending on my decks potentcy and the kinds of things I will be up against I will not always warp my deck that much around it. I am happy enough with a land that taps for 2, I don't need it to tap for 4 or more to be good enough. Always play Cradle but do be vary wary of the potential drawbacks it has.

Nykthos, Shrine to NyxGaea's Cradle

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx 6.5

This is the fair Cradle. As it requires 2 to activate it offers none of the explosive early burst of Cradle but it does still generate vast quantities of mana in the mid and late game like Cradle, often more than. It is also a much safer land than Cradle as it taps for mana itself and can be of use with zero devotion. Additionally it can derive a lot of devotion from non-creature sources and as such be a lot more secure against removal. Nykthos does favour the creature ramp cards to the land ramp cards but it is also a lot more flexible in how you can build with it. Unlike Cradle it is a colourless source early and does mean you might not be able to play all the other colourless land you might want. Two can be fine, one is pretty safe but three is a bit dodgy.

Myriad LandscapeMyriad Landscape 6.5

Ramp and value in a very safe and reliable form. The main issue with Myriad Landscape is that it is slow and another early colourless source. There are more powerful ramp lands, much more powerful ramp effects, more powerful late game value lands and again, much more powerful value effects on offer. The card is nice, it fits in well but there often just isn't the space for it.

Ancient Tomb 4

You can play this but it hurts, you want to use your mana every turn and you don't win super quick. It eats into your few allowable colourless lands too. I would avoid this if possible but if I was light on ramp it is a good way to make up for that. Don't play City of Traitors, pain migh hurt but having to sac the land somewhat defeats the point of a ramp deck.

Temple of the False God 4.5

Much worse burst and a little less consistent than Ancient Tomb but you can run the Temple in green ramp decks. It can at least be tapped as much as you like without killing you. Much better in land ramp heavy lists for turning it on sooner.

Artifact Ramp

Talisman of ImpulseTalisman of (Impulse) 7.5

For some reason I have a bias against these! It seems somehow impure or greedy to use artifact ramp when you have the green ramp effects at your disposal! Despite this foolish bias these are fine ramp cards. They have some perks and some cons over say a Rampant Growth. One of the main cons used to be that you might enable some artifact removal that otherwise was dead. That isn't really a thing anymore. Removal tends to be more broad in scope and you will generally have some other targets anyway. Artifact ramp may not power up Gaea's Cradle or Avenger of Zendikar but equally it doesn't get hit my Wrath of God or Armageddon. You are a lot better off post Balance or Cataclysm. It is seeming as if mostly artifact ramp is the thing against white! Death Cloud, Wildfire! We did it, we names some non-white things it might help against!

Chrome MoxGruul Signet 7

Signets are just worse than Talismen. There are several uses for colourless mana in green ramp too and Signets fail to help there too. Still totally fine ramp cards you can play on offer in most cubes.

Chrome Mox Diamond 0

Don't play  these. You cannot easily afford the card disadvantage and you don't need that early boost like the other colours do as you have plenty of one mana ramp.

Grim Monolith

Mana Vault / Grim Monolith 7

Sadly these are pretty good in this kind of deck as I hate myself and feel cheap wherever I play them. They are burst ramp and not sustain ramp and so they go a lot better with some types of cards than others. Wolf Run for example gains very little from this kind of ramp while a Primeval Titan is super keen on it. Vault is a little better but it is a pretty small difference as you have so much flexibility in your ordering of ramp.

Thran Dynamo / Gilded Lotus 0

I've not ever seen these be good in green ramp. Typically you play a lot of consistent ramp rather than some heavy ramp. When you are powered off the back of Ancient Tomb and Mana Vault style cards than you really want to be able to power into things like this to keep you going. For green ramp decks you don't need these heavy ongoing mana sources. They come too late in the day to be useful, you would rather spend the mana on some action. A lot of the extra mana they might produce will go to waste.

Cultivator's CaravanCultivator's Caravan 5.5

Three mana ramp is a little more acceptable in green ramp than most other archetypes as you can play it turn two off the back of an elf. The ramp from this will help towards your general theme but it is not good ramp. It is not even a particularly good fixer (Should you also need that) compared to your other options. What makes this good is the utility it brings. A 5/5 you can have attacking on turn three is a big deal. Even if you want to just tap it for mana your opponent will have to respect the fact that you could smack them and will have to play accordingly. This can be equally as good defending against the aggro player as it can on the offense against a slower deck. Being a threat that is resiliant to removal effects is always nice too.

Mid Level Threats and Value

Primeval TitanPrimeval Titan 9.5

Prime Time is one of your very best cards. It is so well placed, unique and powerful that you always 100% play it. I am struggling to construct situations where I don't pick it either. Some of the premium cheap ramp cards might seem more important but they are more replaceable. Green has very few six drops that it wants to play and so if nothing else Prime Time is an important curve smoothing card! He is a significant threat just from the body. He is great value right away and ongoing value to an extent. With the lands in the cube he is typically quite powerful utility as well. What is actually the most significant thing about Prime Time is that once he has resolved you are there so to speak. You have two extra lands for your next turn so either 8 or 9 mana if undisrupted or still at least 5 even if you eat a brutal Wrath. This is highly important, there are loads of decks that can only really hope to compete with green ramp if they keep the game relatively low economy. If they let the green ramp player cast whatever they want or use all their mana sinks as they please then they have no hope. Prime Time ensures green ramp has the resources to play the big game. You want to ramp into it more than any other card not just because of its awesome offensive power, ramp and value assuming all goes well but because it keeps you in the game when all goes tits up.

Nissa, WorldwakerNissa, Worldwaker 8

I love this card so much. It has consistently performed incredibly well in cube. In green ramp it is at its best as well. Having four forests to untap the turn you make her is a very real possibility and that means she can be an impressive tempo play. She is a little bit like Prime Time in that she is a threat herself but also can boost you into playing your absolute top end stuff the turn after. Nissa can make turn four or five Eldrazi happen, and not just the turdy cheap ones, things like Ulamog and Kozilek! She can do this off the back of basically just Rampant Growth effects too. Mid level cards that are decent threats or let you go big in relative safety are really nice additions. Worldwaker is a fiendishly tenacious threat as well. I did a card spotlight on her detailing this so will skip that explanation here. She would be rated higher if it were not for the high number of other good fives drops and othe good "Nissa" cards.

Nissa, Vital ForceNissa, Vital Force 6.5

Very good planeswalker that is more rounded than Worldwaker but rather less impactful. Vital Force is an OK threat while Worldwaker is an outstanding threat. It is the potential value and slightly better defensive capabilities that make Vital Force good but different. With no other Nissa planeswakers I would play this almost always however as a second Nissa I would have to be reaching for playables.

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar 7

Oddly this card is not really something you are looking for in the deck. It is simply a very high power card that you can fit in and so often will. Three mana planeswalkers are pretty oppressive. Those you can make consistently on turn two even more so. Voice of Zendikar is one of the safest three mana walkers you can make and so while her effects are often quite low value they will still often dominate a game. She has insane synergy with the new legend Rishkar, Peema Renegade now at least! Nissa can win games on her own, she can absorb so much tempo she basically wins a game or she can go ultimate and find you the things you need to win. She can also make an army of plants and kill you that way - the very slow Avenger of Zendikar! I have seen more Voice of Zendikar ultimates occur recently than any other multi turn investment ultimate. This is largely down to how hard it is to deal with early walkers.

Nissa, Vastwood SeerNissa, Vastwood Seer 7

Although technically a Nissa planeswalker I count these flip walkers more like half planeswalkers. You have a little bit more control and warning over any conflicts they might have with same name walkers. Trading your 2/2 with something of theirs and having a free land at the end of it is decent enough. Over all Vastwood Seer is top range filler. She greatly helps you get where you need to be, she is a fine early play and she scales very well into the late game. It is hard not to play her when you have her.

Garruk Wildspeaker 8.5

The original Worldwaker! Garruk is the complete package for ramp green. He is a terrifying threat able to Overrun at a mere 4 loyalty, or the turn after making him. He is typically just a two mana investment although he often generates mana in playing him through use of Cradle or other obscene land. He has a decent self protect and value ability in making 3/3s to clog up the board too. Not as potent as Worldwaker nor as good a stand alone card however Garruk Wildspeaker is the best support card for the deck and scales very well with loads of things you want. He is the best four drop for the deck and the best of the many Garruk options.

Garruk Wildspeaker
Garruk, Primal Hunter 6

This Garruk is much more powerful than his rating suggests. The ratign is more a product of there being so many great five drops in addition to there also being other better Garruks on offer. This is a very powerful card draw tool but a little unreliable as one. As a threat it is on the slow side and doesn't have as much reach as a lot of other walkers.

Garruk Relentless 6.5

The least powerful of the cheaper Garruk options but this dude does a lot of what you want while being at a nice reasonable four mana price tag. Defensively this is better than the other green planeswalkers with the fight mechanic and the token generation combined. He is a tutor effect, a removal effect and a potential Overrun too. I will always play this if I don't have Wildspeaker and if I am short of four drops I am happy enough with both.

Freyalise, Llanowar's FuryGarruk, Caller of Beasts 4

Potent card draw and some mild bonus ramp potential too. My issue with this is that it isn't in anyway a threat itself. For six mana I want more than some ongoing draw or the ability to dump in actual threats. A powerful card that works in the deck but not for the deck if that makes sense.

Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury  5.5

This is another quite interesting one. While yet another five drop this is at least a unique planeswalker sub type the won't make your other walkers weaker. It is a bit slower than Primal Hunter but offers much the same utility and a little bit more. You can make dorks and draw cards. You can also Naturalize stuff and do a bit of ramping! The ramp is slow and minor and the 1/1 bodies are not overly substantial but it all adds up. Gaining +2 loyalty each time is a big deal too. I typically prefer Freyalise to a 2nd Garruk or Nissa but she is rarely better than the first.

Tireless Tracker
Tireless Tracker 7.5

Great card and great filler. Mostly you play this as a source of ongoing card advantage but it is nice that it is also a pretty substantial threat as well. It can administer a massive beating or just stack up some clues and become a chump. Tracker is just a powerful card you play for that reason, it is not something you overly need in the deck.

Courser of Krupix 7.5

Fantastic card again. Somewhere between Oracle of Mul Daya and Tireless Tracker. The best thing about Courser is that it is one of the best defensive cards in the deck. It is really hard to attack into and the life gain adds up quickly. Courser is somewhat better in the land ramp heavy decks as the extra shuffle lets you abuse the value and the information most. Generally it is just best against cheap aggressive decks!

Yavimaya ElderYaimaya Elder 5.5

This has been a go to value card in green for what feels like eons. A body for as long as you need, two lands almost guarenteed and a bonus card for two mana should that be the thing. This is the card advantage Tribe Elder as opposed to a ramp card. It is poor tempo play nominally but better tempo card than a lot of more pure card draw effects. There are now much more powerful value dorks in this price range for green and so this sees less play than it used to but it is still absolutely playable. It is able to get a card advantage return quicker than most of the higher powered value dorks too.

Harmonize 5

Not an exciting or overly powerful card but it is the cheapest and most direct way to reliably draw a bunch of cards in green. Harmonize is leagues better than Concentrate despite being the same card because green can happily spend four mana at sorcery speed with no expectation of tempo returns. I feel green has plenty enough high power dual purpose value cards like Tireless Tracker that it doesn't need this kind of thing. Despite this I have rarely seen this be any thing other than decent.

Xenagos, God of Revels
Xenagos, God of Revels 4.5

A pretty terrifying card in the deck. It represents a huge amount of inevitability and takes away your opponents ability to respond to your plays in their turn. The one things I dislike about this card is that it is a very heavy card that does nothing by itself. You need to have dorks to buff or the devotion to make him a threat. In formats where power is king then this is one of the most powerful five drops you can play. In formats where consistency is king then you can do a lot better than this. There is a huge depth to the five drops green ramp can play.

Xenagos, the RevelerXenagos,  the Reveler 4

On paper this looks like another Wildspeaker but in parctice it is much worse. Being gold makes it less playable. Relying on having dorks in play makes it narrower, less good early and more situational. Lack of any Overrun utility greatly reduces its value. He makes slightly better dorks in a more sustainable way at least... Even then you generally waste the haste to use them defensively.

Eternal Witness 4

Pretty weak all told. If you want to get back big heavy cards play more top end. Green ramp decks don't typically put that much in the bin themselves and so this is frequently useless early and limited in the midgame. Witness was never a good tempo card and it isn't a great value card in green ramp either. The more instants, sorcerys, discard and sac effects you have the better Witness is but I mostly consider it filler. The more you deck moves towards a control deck the better Witness gets as well.

Seasons Past
Season's Past 2

Two is a pretty unfair rating for this card, it is mostly there as a warning. In the right deck this is fantastic but in a deck without the appropriate support it is dead weight. This can easily be draw nine cards! It can also be a do nothing. Your value stuff is what helps you against control but this is pretty weak to counter magic. If you went to the effort of setting it up at all that can be extremely brutal. Play this with lots of graveyard support cards and knowing the risks. Mostly just don't bother trying to do that though is better advice. I think that the new Rishkar's Expertise is a much better fit for the role of heavy card draw. It needs less setup and is far less of a tempo cost. Not properly tested as yet but a lot more interesting and exciting than Harmonize!

Walking BallistaWalking Ballista 7

Perhaps not a strong enough card to be in drafting cubes but the green ramp deck is great home for the Ballista. It is a great mana sink, quite a scary top end threat and a fine mid level filler card that can deal with some pesky little dorks. This is the perfect antidote to pesky little buggers like Mother of Runes or Grim Lavamancer. It can pick off annoying fliers or well defended planeswalkers. It has good synergy with a selection of counter giving cards and it can just win games all by itself when your mana gets truely out of hand. Make this for 16 as an 8/8. Untap, dump another 16 mana into it and attack as a 12/12 then finish them off with that 12 points of ping! This was very much the thing this did in its first cube showing!

Den Protector 5

Den Protector can be played early without wasting its effect and it has a more relevant body than the Witness. Den Protector is fine to good filler depending on your deck. Important to consider this 5 CMC of card for your total and average CMC considerations despite being something you can play as a 3 drop.
Polukranos, World Eater

Polukranos 6.5

 A big fat green dork. This is a great lump that threatens to hit hard or block well. What makes this good in the deck is that it is a rare example of a green card that is effective at killing creatures. Green is not renown for its ability to kill dorks and although very mana intense to do so with Polukranos the green ramp deck has the ability to produce the manas! While a relatively poor removal tool the 5/5 body is good enough that the card is good. It commands the board in the midgame and has a lot of threat potential moving into the late game. It is great card for lowering your various CMC measures yet not losing out too much in your overall power.

Surrak, the Hunt CallerSurrak, the Hunt Caller 5

While a little on the aggressive side for your typical green ramp deck the threat of haste is massive. A big part of what makes Xenagod good is the ability to haste up your top end dorks and Surruk does that while being a mana less, a colour less and being relevant on his own. A filler card for sure but a pretty good one.

Sky Sovereign Consul Flagship 6

Two things that green ramp decks struggle with are fliers and removing annoying creatures. This card covers you really well in both those areas while also being a pretty decent threat that doesn't over extend your board. This card (in combination with the previous card, Surrak) was my only out to a Sphinx of the Steel Wind in a fairly recent game. There are a number of playable vehicles you can run in green ramp decks. They are best in the more creature focused ones for the obvious crew reasons! It is also more important to reduce your risk to mass removal in such decks. Do avoid playing too much in the way of vehicles as with any other deck. They are of no use if you cannot crew them. Also don't forgot to discount your dorks with 0 power when looking at your creatures for crewing, green ramp has more of those than any other archetype.

ThragtuskThragtusk 5

Great card but a little overrated in green ramp. It is only against red decks that this is really good and then it is only for the five life. You clog up the ground pretty effectively as a green player and so the extra disposable bodies are not that exciting. As Wrath protection you are better off with any planeswalker, they are substantially better value than a 3/3 dork. If you need life gain, play better life gain cards. Fine filler but like so many of these good 3-5 drop cards, they are just smoothing out the curve and making up the numbers.

Kitchen Finks 5

This is a better anti red card than the Tusk although also being a filler card the lower overall power it offers makes it pretty comparable overall. Finks is more playable as there are less good three drops than five drops that you want in most cubes.

Whisperwood ElementalWisperwood Elemental 5.5

More filler but at least this card offers two things you a somewhat looking for. This is a source of ongoing value which is pleasant enough. It is also some mild Wrath protection.

Duplicant 4.5

One of the more classic removal solutions that green ramp players resort to. The card is generally pretty awful but every now and again it is the best Control Magic you could hope for. A great sideboard card to have. Like Xenagod, in a power focused cube the Duplicant gains a lot of value. In a consistency driven cube you are going to want something like Polukranos instead.

Huntmaster of the FellsHuntsmaster of the Fells 5

Pretty good filler card let down more for being red than anything else. It does a bit of everything and can get out of hand if unanswered and will still be 2 life and a 2/2 worth of extra value when it is.

Master of the Wild Hunt 2

Far too slow to be effective removal or value.

Wurmcoil Engine 5

Just a good heavy card. Lacking any evasion this is actually more of a defensive tool than an aggressive one in this archetype. If green had a higher depth of good six drops this would likely see a lot less play in the deck! It is pretty much just another Thragtusk style card for the deck.

Obstinate BalothObstinate Baloth 5

Yet another Thragtusk style card. Good hedge card not just against red but also a lot of black decks. As a four drop this is rather more playable than Tusk or Wurmcoil in the filler/defensive role.

Acidic Slime 6

Some value, some removal security and an annoying body to boot. One of the great things about this card is that you can be playing it turn three pretty easily. Wiping out a land that early in the game is brutal. The main issue for this card is that it competes with the five drops and the many five drops open to the green ramp deck are all incredibly powerful.

Treetop VillageTreetop Village 6.5

Some wrath protection, some exrta bodies when you need to power up effects or threaten planeswalkers. A great card to be able to find with a Titan. With a lot of one drop ramp cards you don't want many lands that come in tapped or that produce colourless. That is really the only thing holding Village back. With so much flexibility on how you curve out in a green ramp deck actually fitting in lands than come in tapped is pretty easy beyond the first turn.

Rampaging Ravine 6

A more potent threat than Village and some nice fixing too but being nearly twice as much to turn on the utility the Ravine brings is noticeably less than that of Village. I always want this when I am in red. I often want this if I have a Primeval Titan and another suitable red source. A nice a relatively painless inclusion that helps a lot in the control matchups and against mass removal. You can't take these cards too early however. The ramp cards and actual threats are more important.

Scavenging OozeScavenging Ooze 6

Nice multipurpose filler. Mid to late game this becomes a pretty scary threat. It is a source of lifegain and good disruption against any graveyard goings on. Much like Voice of Zendiakr however this card isn't doing anything you really need for your deck to function. It is just a playable card of very high power level. Play it to pad out your curve, bring up your numbers or hedge against bad matchups. Don't pick it over cards you might actually want just because it is the better card in isolation.

Vurdurous Gearhulk 7.5

This is a bit of an odd one. Due to its cost it is in the midrange threats and filler department. As a midrange threat it is a bit one dimensional to be that exciting however it is so powerful that it does a pretty good impression of the seven mana threats. If you can just win off the back of some five drops then great! If you can maintain a nice curve and total CMC count yet ram in a huge amount of power level and threat potential then great. Good card, very scary. Much more utility, value and threat than a Wolfir Silverheart. So much so I suspect we will sea lot less Silverheart in cube going forwards. That said the Wolfir is still a fine enough card in the deck. Not that you are ever really short on five drops but I would happily play it if I were.

CreeperhulkCreeperhulk 7.5

This has slipped a little in value as more Overrun options become available. This was the backup Craterhoof but there are so many of those that this is just some fine utility filler. Lay it with a board, untap an win. Lay it super late game with a board and win on the spot. Or just lay it as a 5/5 and have some board presence in the mid game. Very solid threat, much less tempo than Gearhulk but much more reach potential.

Deranged Hermit 3

CloudthresherThis geriatric card still holds its own in this kind of deck, just. It is a lot of stats for the mana as well as the most bodies per mana on offer. Attacking into this on the ground is rarely at all efficient while the Hermit lives. This will power up a lot of your other cards, keep your relatively safe and it is a fine enough threat. The issue is in the echo. If you don't pay it you have over halved you stat value and offensive capabilities. If you do pay it unless it is late game or you have a Cradle you are somewhat skipping your turn. Because of the high value Etb effect and the ease with which the Hermit finds himself in the bin he works very well with recursion effects.

Cloudthresher 4

This is fat, versatile and covers two of your weaker spots. Lack of proactive six drops and weakness to fliers. Sadly it is a bit linear and defensive. It is a weak threat with no evasion, reliable value or resilience to removal. Top end is mostly valued on its ability to win games and this doesn't perform well there. Quiet powerful, great situationally but not exactly what you want.

Top End Threats

Craterhoof BehemothCraterhood Behemoth 9.5

This is your "I win" card. You get to eight mana, you have this, you win. When you get this you do wind up with a heavier focus on creatures that can attack, or should aim to at least. All the other top end stuff is really good but they don't say win the game in the way that this does. They invariably give a turns reaction time at the very least unless you have other thing to offer haste. Craterhoof is the best Overrun effect by a mile. It scales up the most effectively ensuring you can setup kills for 100s of damage if needs be. It is on a threat itself which is easily tutorable or recurrable.

Hornet Queen 8

Hornet QueenHornet Queen is probably my second choice top end card after Craterhoof. It is somewhat the opposite of effects however. As a win condition Hornet Queen is pretty damn slow as seven drops go. What it is is incredibly hard to beat. An army of flying death touch dorks is just not something you can attack into and come out the other end better off. Hornet Queen wins any board stalemate, or at least slowly breaks it in your favour. It does this while very safely and reliably stopping you dying in combat.

Avenger of Zendikar 7.5

Avenger of ZendikarA very potent card indeed but significantly better in decks with more of a land focus. Ideally you want at least 4 plants with more being that much better. In the pure creature ramp decks you can often have 7 mana and not even see a 4th land for some time. Not only do you want a high land count when you make this you also want to follow it up with land drops so that your plants are relevant. Avenger dominates the board, much more so than Hornet Queen does, at least on the ground. Avenger puts out a lot of stats out and continues to get more out of hand if not dealt with while a Hornet Queen can get whittled away. While Avenger is immensely potent it is let down a little by being no good defensively against fliers, occasionally being a pseudo 8 drop as you really want to ensure you get at least one pump trigger off on the plants. Also by being more polar in which kind of ramp deck it performs best in.

World Breaker 5

The big Acidic Slime! This is a good defensive card but as such it is a little late in the day. This blocks most stuff, deals with a lot of awkward problem cards and usually has some recursion options. Recursion is a little less relevant as this is not that easy to get into the bin repeatedly even if you might have the mana to be casting it easily. The fact that the effect is harder to stop and exiles is a pretty big deal against some things but again, the seven mana price tag means you probably run Degalmour or Krosan Grip if you really need that kind of security in your answers. World Breaker doesn't really end games that quickly or effectively and that is the issue for it compared with other top end options. Good card but awkwardly placed.

World Breaker
Chancellor of the Tangle 4

This is less of a threat and more of an Elvish Spirit Guide that affords you some late game bonus value. When you get this turn one and can usefully use that mana to ramp you gain a huge amount of momentum. It is really quite unfair given how free it feels to have done. Sure, a 6/7 vigilance reach dork is a pretty limp threat but if you view it as a free card then bring it on! You can only really expect 15% or so hits for a good turn one Chancellor which is why it isn't quite so great overall. Despite not being something you would play just for the body it does turn out to be quite a good one. It stops almost everything attacking and it can do while attacking itself. You also don't care as much when they kill it! A very underrated card for sure but I would avoid playing it these days without card filter or discard outlets. I also typically most want to play it when I am light on one drops, heavy on two drops and a little threat light. Chancellor is a way to up the heaviness of your deck while also offering something to the all important low end.

Ugin, the Spirit DragonUgin the Spirit Dragon 7

Very powerful top end threat that solves a lot of problems general as well as some more specific ones to green. Ugin is no where near as game winning as the other premium 7+ mana cards you can run but it will still win a bunch of games. What it does it give you excellent control and ensure you don't lose to a load of awkward stuff. Best in the land ramping decks as it kills less of your own stuff. It is also better suited to the more control game play style.

Karn Liberated 7.5

Karn is even worse at closing a game than Ugin and isn't great at recovering a game where you have fallen massively behind on the board. Green ramp usually doesn't fall massively behind on the board however, instead it is typically struggling with one annoying thing it can't easily deal with. Karn deals with everything! He does so without blowing up any of your stuff. He is great against control, one of your best cards in that matchup. Like Ugin, Karn is typically a little better suited to the more controlling ramp decks as it takes so long to get loads of value from them. Still fine in any ramp deck but I do prefer a more aggressive top end card in my creature based proactive ramp decks.
Dragonlord Atarka

Dragonlord Atarka 9

This bad boy is one of the main reasons red is such a good splash. Atarka does all the things you need most from top end. An 8/8 flying trample gets a lot of work done in the game ending department. It is a must kill threat and pretty hard to do so. Short of Emrakul there is nothing to challenge this thing in the skies. Although vulnerable to good spot and mass removal the EtB effect of Atarka means you are still pretty ahead if they do remove it. Atarka sorts out a lot of the annoying littler utility dorks and planeswalkers than green can struggle with. Direct, safe and reliable as well as huge power!

Ulamog, the Ceaseless HungerUlamog, the Ceaseless Hunger 3.5

Typically I like my ramp decks to have about 5 cards in the 6-8 region representing my top end. In some decks getting to six is as good as getting to ten but in others the difference is very real. Knowing which kind of deck you have is important. I find the most consistent decks are ones that are aiming to get to the six to eight region on turns four or five. You have enough power in your top end to easily win and you have enough reliability in your ramp to get there. Sure, you can get more power from the bigger cards but if you can't get there as easily it isn't worth it when you are winning with the cheaper stuff. As such I mostly end up running these kinds of super to end when I don't have the required depth in cards. I will take bigger risks so that I might cast them. It is really hard to lose if you cast Ceaseless Hunger and very easy to win quickly. That isn't the point. Ceaseless Hunger is probably the best card you can play for double digit mana for in green ramp at least.

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre 3
Emrakul, the Promised End
Not as good a safety play as Ceaseless Hunger nor as easy to cast so mostly weaker on that front. Offensively it is very much the same level of game over when you start to get your attack on.

Kozilek, the Butcher of Truth 2.5

A refuel on cards is nice but Kozilek is quite a vulnerable threat. You kind of want to win off your ten mana investment and not lean on the follow up from four more cards. You have better threat options and better card draw options. When you mix things together you want them to be midrange filler not top end. Certainly super powerful but not even really up there with the other double digit mana cost cards for power. Regal Force doesn't even cut it any more and that is usually more draw and on a mere seven drop!

Emrakul, the Promised End 6

As to how good this Emrakul is in your deck entirely depends on what your expected cost reduction will be by turn five or six. If you get get this to a six or seven mana card then it is bonkers, likely better than Craterhoof. This is something you can do in green ramp but it requires some work in the build and may not be supported well in the cube you are playing. If is it 10 or 11 mana card then it is still the best of the Eldrazi but it is in the same sort of ballpark for being too powerful and slightly too hard to cast. Eons Torn is too much mana for all bar the most extreme green ramp decks. It is usually only played when it can be cast off the back of a Channel or you are splashing for other ways to cheat it in.

Darksteel ColossusDarksteel Collosus 2.5

Not nearly as unstoppable as once it was. The price tag is also a very tall order to get to. Getting to 8 is hard enough with mostly single and the odd double ramp card. To be considering playing this you need several cards than can be expected to give a vast return on mana like Cradle and Rofellos and Channel. I don't like the inconsistency of relying on big ramp and I don't think the payoff is worth it with these kinds of cards. Blightsteel is a much better threat but equally answerable and even more reliant on big mana effects. If I was capable of casting this sort of thing I would be much more interested in the big Eldrazi.

Decimator of Provinces 7

Decimator of the ProvincesThe backup Craterhoof Behemoth. In most ways this is the weaker card to Craterhoof but it does have some unique things to offer in addition to being a good threat that comes with an Overrun. Craterhoof simply has more kill potential and so is the better win condition. As for Decimator, uncounterable on your Overrun is very nice against the blue decks. A somewhat sac outlet can be nice, as is the option on variable costs. The body is also much better on its own than Craterhoof and so you can just play it as more of a standalone threat. Perhaps just take out a planeswalker and be left with a 7/7 trample!

Myr Battlesphere 7

The half way house between Avenger of Zendikar and Hornet Queen. This is a little more stand alone than the Avenger and a little more aggressive than the Hornet Queen. It is basically just a good value one man army card that floods the board giving you good control defensively as well as offensive options. Unless I am overdone with synergy for green creatures specifically I am more than happy to be running this well rounded card.

Sundering Titan
Sundering Titan 3

This has fallen off a lot in value over recent years. The body just doesn't get the work done without any evasion. The land destruction aspect isn't reliable enough either. sometimes it is just game over but equally it can be a complete do nothing. The 8 mana price tag is a pretty big deal on such a low impact card. Additionally you want to be running this in a mono green ramp deck and not one with any splashes which makes it narrower. Green does have access to other good mana denial cards and with a little more themed focus the Titan can still be worth it.

Woodfall Primus 4

For an eight drop this lacks the immediate impact it needs to perform. Removal is more useful earlier, not something you want on a threat. This is very easy to attack around or through and reasonably easy just to take in the face for a few turns. Persist is lovely too but a 5/5 trample really isn't closing out a game. If your midgame cards didn't do it why would an 8 drop of about the same threat level. Primus is a great value card but value is not the thing when you pass the six mana point!

TerastodonTerastodon 4.5

Versatile and interesting card. You can flop 18 power and toughness onto the board for a mere 8 mana if you have three things you are happy to blow up. New cards that make clues or that are basically spells randomly tagged onto permanents that stick about make this option much easier. It used to be the case that you were blowing up lands and that could lead to disaster if they dealt with your massive army. Three instances of Bramblecrush is significantly more swingy than the one Primus offers and so offensively or defensively the Terastodon is a lot more immediately impactful. The big failing of this card is lack of trample. A 9/9 body is pretty useless most of the time. It might as well be a 50/9 or a 1/9 deathtouch, it isn't connecting with what you want it to.

Worldspine WurmWorldspine Wurm 4

This is up there with the Eldrazi for cost and as such is not something you just play in your ramp deck. You have to be pretty sure you can make those extra mana at the top of the curve, that or you have a selection of effective cheat in mechanisms. Against conventional removal this is one of the best threats going. It hits about as hard as you can hit. With 15 power and trample it might as well be unblockable. Two attacks is pretty reliably game with this and that is as good as any threat does. This also leaves a mighty armada of stuff should it die making most Wrath and non-white spot removal pretty futile against it. Sadly blue is full of bounce and thievery while white is full of exile which make this rather under perform. Powerful but hard to get the desired value from.

Kessig Wolf RunKessig Wolf Run 9.5

Another one of your best cards and the actually best reason to be in red. Not only is this the best use of red mana in the ramp deck it is a card that doesn't hurt you much at all should you not be able to fix your red. This is the best mana sink in the game. It turns all your creatures that can attack into game winning threats. Simple as that. Once you have access to 7+ kinds of mana they have to race you or answer every single dork in the deck. You can't counter Wolf Run, it is very hard to destroy and very easy to get back. It gives incredible inevitability to the deck, particularly against the slower more controlling lists. It makes Primeval Titan a card that will win the game just by resolving! This card adds enough to the list that I would always try and play it. Unless I somehow dodged any good fixing at all I am sure I would find a way to get it in my list. Simply because this exists I will rate cards that can fix for it a little higher and may even take some RG duals in preparation for the Wolf Run potential.

Inferno TitanInferno Titan 6.5

I have avoided talking about double red cards thus far. While it is incredibly easy to splash for a single red it is a much bigger jump to housing double red cards. You can do it but you need fantastic fixing or to just accept a significant consistency hit. A lot of the other great double red cards for ramp decks are 4 and 5 drops which makes them significantly more uncomfortable than this six drop closer. Typically you play red cards that do the things green doesn't do. The RR four mana Chandra's, Siege-Gang Commander and Pia and Kiran Nalaar for their ability to control smaller things. Inferno Titan does this too, and it is likely the best at it. It does the most right away and then does even more in subsequent turns. Not only does it control their board effectively it wins quickly at the same time! The card is bonkers, it doesn't get as much play as Grave or Primeval and so doesn't get quite the same adoration but it is every bit as over powered. If I am playing a double red card in my deck this is the one I want it to be


Sylvan LibrarySylvan Library 7

Great card quality and potentially a card advantage tool. It goes very well with cards like Courser of Kruphix and Oracle of Mul Daya. It also goes very well with a lot of shuffle effects from land fetch cards and any excess life gain tools you might have. It is hard not to play a Library, the card is so lovely! It also increases the value of Domri Rade to the point of being one of the better card draw effects you can play assuming you are both reasonbly well sorted for red fixing and are playing a decent creature count.

Vessel of Nascency 5

Pricey but potent and multi purpose card quality. For those lovers of Emrakul, the Promised End this is one of the best enablers. These cards cost a little tempo but the risks you can take with them and the improvement to your synergies that they offer is well worth it. They don't typically hurt your good draws at all and they can rescue many of the bad ones.

Grapple with the PastGrapple with the Past 6

This is another one of your best new Emrakul enablers. It fills up the yard a little less and gets a smaller range of things but being an instant itself is a big deal. Instant is actually the hardest card type to include in your green ramp lists. Usually this will find a land or useful cheap dork early. Late game it will get back something of high value. Much better recursion tool than Eternal Witness despite its limitations.

Traverse the Ulvenwald 5

Land Grant come (near) Demonic Tutor. This is an interesting one. It is a superb card if you reliably get Delirum. It is a poor card if you don't. The thing is that most lists are not obviously one way or the other. You want to use these cards to get gas. When you need it to get gas and it can't it is a bugger. Tutor effects are very powerful but green has a lot of them for creatures. There is significant dimishing returns on tutor effects. The other ones are typically more exotic than this too. I think this is the most powerful of the various one off green card quality effects but it doesn't have any particular additional synergy within green ramp. It is good filler and good for fine tuning ratios. The issue is you neither want to replace action nor lands with it. While this might also be true for some other card quality effects their offering of more synergy goes a long way. This is only land early which limits what it helps with while other card quality can get action or lands.

Land GrantLand Grant 5

A nice way of thinning your deck and scrimping on lands. You can get bitten with colourless lands and things like Cradle when playing this but otherwise it is pretty much a direct replacement for a land. Giving up free information isn't ideal either! Play this if you are light on playables or if you really know what you are doing and know you can milk some extra consistency out of your list with it. Pretty marginal and low impact card otherwise.

Oath of Nissa 6

Cheap and convenient low cost card quality. Better in the creature heavy ramp decks as too many rampant growths and your options on the Oath are limited. In a creature heavy ramp list this is hitting the vast majority of your cards. It is a lot more obvious when to use Oath than Traverse and a lot easier to play with which makes it quite a lot better in the archetype. It is more useful and less painful to play early game too. This is the top end of the filler cards you can play.

Umezawa's JitteUmezawa's Jitte 6.5

Pretty dependent on you having things to equip and attack with. If you are all Rampant Growth and Wall of Roots then Jitte isn't great at all but if it all Lotus Cobra and Llanowar Elf then Jitte is pretty solid. It does a lot of what you get from red - the ability to easily kill off small annoying critters. As such the mono green ramp decks prefer Jitte to the Gr ones. The thing with Jitte is that it isn't really inline with what green ramp is trying to do. Jitte is a slow midrange grindy card. Green ramp usually want to skip past the midgame stuff and go right into dominating the game with top end juice. You don't need a Jitte to help Dragonlord Atarka or Avenger of Zendikar win a game. Jitte may be quite high power and solve some problems for you but it is an off theme card that won't enhance your consistency or synergies.

SkullclampSword of Fire and Ice 3

This is worse than Jitte in most ways in the deck. It is bad for you in all the same ways Jitte is bad and doesn't really solve the problems that Jitte does solve. You have Overrun effects to make your mana elves useful late game and they massively outshine this kind of thing. This is fine filler if you have enough cheap attackers but only because it is a powerful card. Perhaps worth bringing in against exclusively U and/or R decks but only perhaps...

Skullclamp 7

This is a very tidy little way to turn small filler dorks and no longer needed mana dorks into gas. Clamp is not always suitable to play as you not only need the creature count but specifically the disposable creature count. You cannot clamp away your mana elves if they are the only thing giving you extra mana (unless you have gone so late game you also naturally have like 7 manas worth of lands. The kinds of games where you make an early Primeval Titan off the back of a couple of mana dorks and then clamp those the following turn into at least 4 more cards then you struggle to lose. In a lot of other situations you have to be very careful with what you clamp, shaving off just one creature every couple of turns so as not to lose momentum.

Tangle Wire
Tanglewire 3

Only worth it in either heavily aggressive decks or those focusing on mana denial. This is a great disruption effect and is does work well against the things you are weak against and very well with your other cards. The issue with it is that it is a do nothing card. Technically ramp decks are threat light if you consider all ramp effects to be entirely non-threats. Having to play a non-threat in the slot of a threat leads to some inconsistencies. More card advantage and quality effects offsets this quite well.

Bow of NyleaBow of Nylea 4

An oddly good card in the slower incarnations of ramp. This is a steady flow of life, some control over the skies, utility with counters or just and endless supply of gas. Against most control decks this card represents too much inevitability. Against some aggressive strategies relying on small fliers or direct burn it can be a good counter too. It is a good tool for delirium and devotion too! Hard to find the space for it and an incredibly slow card but none the less, a highly versatile and useful one.

Smugglers Copter 8

Yup, this card is just clearly never bad... I am going to do one of these things for a creatureless deck soon and this will somehow still get at least an 8/10 rating. Copter just does things every deck wants in an overly efficient way. Every deck wants card quality and every deck wants the ability to smack things for 3 in the air or stop themselves getting smacked in the air. A lot of your cards will be able to crew this and so yeah, it is just an overly good card that fits neatly into this archetype. It is not super on theme but it is a lot more so than Jitte. Just the card quality aspect will greatly increase your consistency overall.

Reclamation SageReclamation Sage 3.5

The mini Acidic Slime. The body from this is so low value that unless I have a lot of uses for dorks (which I may well) I am not too excited about this. Acidic Slime is usually cheap enough to answer the things I really need cards like this to do and the body is substantially more relevant. The advantage of Sage is cost but if that is what you are after then Nature's Claim, Degalmor or Naturalize should offer more utility. These are all pretty much sideboard tools and not things you want main. I would almost rather a Viridian Zealot main as it is at least more proactive than this. Wickerbough Elder I think is worth the extra cost over this too.

Borderland ExplorerBorderland Explorer 5

An OK filler card. Helps you consistently lay land and can offer some graveyard utility. Also a nice sacrificial body for Clamps and things. A bit risky in that it often helps your opponent and isn't a great early play as it isn't a ramp card.

Sylvan Advocate / Tarmogof 4.5

I actually think I rate the Advocate higher than the Goyf in this list. It is hard to empower your own Goyf and so you rely a little too much on your opponent. It is just a fatty and you have plenty of fat in the list. Mostly you use cards like this to draw attention away from your other cards in a cost effective and tempo effective manner. They greatly help you maintain pace with the cheap aggressive decks and can be very helpful to apply some ongoing early pressure against the slower decks. Advocate is more consistently the sizes you need it to be at the times you need and offers a surprising amount of value in the land pumping department.

Wall of BlossomsSatyr Wayfinder / Wall of Blossoms / Elvish Visionary 6

Cycling style cards that come with a free body! These are great for upping your consistency. They give you some free early bodies to either power up your other effects or that you can chump/sac without harming your ramp potential. You are very happy to put one of these infront of a planeswalker while it can be painful to have to chump with a mana source. These each have their perks. Wayfinder is the best for fixing and has good graveyard synergies. It scales a lot worse into the late game where you stop needing lands and can even risk decking. The others are both low impact but scale very nicely. They are happy enough in your opening hand and never a dead draw going forward. Visionary is the much better proactive card while Bloss is the slower decks preference rather obviously!

Primal CommandPrimal Command 3

This is like the one shot Bow of Nylea! It offers the same kind of life and reshuffle capabilities and also has some mild removal and tutoring capacity. Usually you want one effect and a second is just quite nice. For one effect the card is wildly over priced even with its good utility. It has ended a lot of burn players games with the old seven life and find a recursion dork into repeat seven life casts! It is a good control card but I would avoid this in all but the most control of ramp decks.

Hurricane 4

Another card people seem to disregard or underrate. This thing is really rather good in the list. Earthquake is a little weak because most dorks now have more than enough toughness to survive on curve casts. This is doubly not the case for Hurricane both with greens ramp and flying creatures lower stats. Hurricane typically kills all the things you care about on your opponents side of the board and nothing on yours. It can kill planeswalkers and in can just be used as a Fireball to outright kill people! It is versatile removal in green, a place it should be rare! The situational nature of this card makes it harder to include but I have typically been impressed with it when I do see it.

Evolutionary Leap
Evolutionary Leap 5.5

The other Skullclamp! Assuming you don't want more lands at the point you are actively wanting to turn your small dorks into more gas this thing is actually better than Clamp. It "protects" all your things at once and can be used to cash in any size of dork. It will always hit a dork too meaning you will find a threat or something cheap to cash in again. A nice card that needs a fairly high creature count to be worth it. It also takes up one of those few precious slots you can afford to have a non ramp, non threat card in.

Beast Within 3.5

The best removal spell green has. This kills anything and it does so cheaply and instantly. In a meta where you need a versatile and reliable removal spell this is the thing to play. Things like Splinter Twin are hard for green decks to disrupt and this can be a nice thing against that as well as other things you might face too. In a more generic draft meta this isn't needed enough to be worth the drawback. Green ramp players want to be proactive not reactive so this card can sit dead in hand a lot of the time. Usually you don't care about a vanilla 3/3 but if you are getting beat up then this is pretty weak early removal. Some wall will be far more use defensively than this.

Song of the DryadsSong of the Dryads 2.5

This is a little less uncomfortable to use as removal than Beast Within as forests don't smack you for 3 but this is a sorcery and something that can later be removed. It is a very poor removal effect and doesn't help disrupt a lot of the things you might want all round removal to deal with.

Rude Awakening 4

This is somewhat of a Craterhoof Behemoth for a very land focused ramp deck. It can be a potent ramp spell if you have significantly more than five manas worth of lands in play. Without things like Cradle this usually just means you can kill people. Ten lands is fatal with no other attackers, blockers or damage dealt. That is quite a tall order indeed. The kill potential of Rude Awakening is substantially lower than a Craterhoof. It can sit in hand a long time waiting to be something useful. It can be very brutal in combination with an Overrun effect, perhaps they left a Wildspeaker in play with 4 loyalty because they were able to kill all your creatures! Sylvan Advocate is a big boost for the Rude Awakening too. I like a threat than can be used defensively and so I tend not to play this much at all.

Rude Awakening
Wasteland / Stripmine 4

As you are trying to ramp these are generally only good when you have a land heavy hand or you have already ramped to your upper CMC cap. It is nice to have some utility lands to tutor with a Titan but I feel these are far too costly early game to be worth playing as lands. Playing them as spells is OK but hurts your threat density. I would only want to play these cards if I already had some other mana denial cards in my deck.

Rishadan Port 6

This is the better mana denial land for green ramp decks. It is useful early due to your ramp and due to not hurting your mana production for your top end. One of the more interesting colourless lands you can toss into a ramp deck.

Library of AlexandriaLibrary of Alexandria 6

Library is a very good turn one play in green ramp as you can regain the lost momentum easily. The issue with the card is that it is hard to turn back on in the late game. Once inactive it is just a Wastes. I would play this with no other colourless lands but I would be a lot less inclined to as the second colourless land. It is improved with cards like Skullclamp than can give some expectation of getting back to seven cards in hand.

Colourless Man Lands 4.5

Fairly useful little cards to have hanging around. Their impact is low compared even to Treetop Village and the cost of playing them is certainly not negligible. Like so many colourless and EtB tapped lands I am happy enough playing one of these without other colourless and tapped lands. These are fine but there are many more powerful, useful or synergic lands taking up those few available slots for such things.

Natural OrderNatural Order 5

I think this is vastly overrated. Certainly it can free win some games. When you flop it out turns three or four and get something worth seven or more mana that they can't deal with and you just win. That doesn't happen that often. It is a beating to run this into countermagic and so you end up using it cautiously when that could be a thing. Other times your ramp is so good you can just cast the seven drop in your hand rather than Order something up. Natural Order is worse than drawing a threat in the late game and not overly consistent early. It doesn't work with a number of the better top end cards that you can run either. Ultimately playing Natural Order will make your deck less threat dense, perhaps you cut a Polukranos for it or something.

Chord of CallingChord of Calling 3.5

Given a lot of your guys already tap for mana this is not really a card you can usefully reduce the cost on early in the game where such utility would be most welcome. As such the best thing this does is make a dork at instant speed and mess with control players. Mostly I prefer more threats to late game tutors but I would much much rather play this than a weak or off theme card. If you don't have the threat to play instead of this then this is one of your best replacements.

Tooth and Nail 3

This is a much worse offender than Natural Order. As it costs at least seven mana you have to replace top end with it rather than mid level cards and that makes your deck significantly less threat dense. Give me four top end cards rather than this and three actual threats. I would only really consider this in a deck where all my top end threats cost 10 or more mana and I also had things like Channel.

Green Sun's ZenithGreen Sun's Zenith 7

This is the best of the tutor into play effects to my mind. It gives a lot of very useful early game. A three mana Rofellos is still a very good and scary play. It is the scaling of Zenith that makes it where the others fail basically. You can flop out game winners late game or you can just curve out more consistently. You significantly improve the value of the Zenith if you can get a Dryad Arbor but most cubes won't run narrow support cards like that.

Survival of the Fittest 6

A good way to turn low end top deck dorks into gas or unplayable top end into playables in the early game. Also a pretty nice tutor effect and graveyard enabler while we are about it! The card is very powerful but you have to have good reason to play it. Specific win conditions or creature based answers or a lot of synergy are the reasons I would look to this. I typically find I get more value from a Sylvan Library in a deck without good reasons for a Survival.

Arc TrailRegrowth 0

Don't play this. Add two mana to any card in your deck and suddenly you want it a whole lot less! This does very little early, it is a useless proactive tool as well. You should have sufficient redundancy in your things that this 1 for 1 tempo loss card is not something you want.

Arc Trail 6

The best thing about having this is that it won't be used against you! A smattering of burn in a deck with a decent ability to fix red is great. It is a far better tempo and more versatile way of dealing with annoying stuff than anything else. It is a real bugger having to wait till seven mana to kill a Goblin Welder with a Dragonlord Atarka. It is all sorts of slow doing it with a Siege Gang Commander too. Umezawa's Jitte, Walking Ballista, Consul Flagship and the various colourless options are hardly cheap or mana efficient ways of doing what Arc Trail does. It isn't great in every matchup but it is one of your best cards when it is good and not that painful an inclusion when it isn't. Arc Trail is the best but I am happy with any good cheap burn or other flavour of splittable burn. I also don't imagine I would want more than one copy of a cheap burn spell main.

Bonfire of the DamnedBonfire of the Damned 6

Lots of mana, some library manipulation and relatively little in the way of draw effects that won't also trigger miracles all make this a very effective splash into a Rg ramp deck. Generally a one sided Wrath complete with either a massive kick in the face or a dead planeswalker. This cripples aggro decks and ends midrange decks alike. It is not out of the question for this to do so in hardcast mode too! This is not a consistent nor proactive card but it is very very powerful indeed.

Devil's Play 5

It turns out X spells scale well with ramp! Who knew?! One of the best, if not only places, that you can play a Fireball in cube is in a Gr ramp deck. It is usable as OK spot removal and it turns into powerful reach late game. If you can expect triple red at any point then Devil's Play is likely the best of the bunch although there is a surprising amount of merit to the uncounterable Banefire/Demonfire options.

Plow UnderPlow Under 6

A very brutal card that can either be a double stone rain early or a double time walk late. The issues with the card are that it is rather a win more spell. If you are just getting your head kicked in it doesn't do a lot to save you. It is also a relatively heavy for a card that isn't a threat. Great with other mana denial, great against control and midrange but fairly do nothing against aggro and combo. Stunted Growth is the other card in this group. It hits harder in the potential value but it more inconsistent by a long way and has far less disruptive capabilities. I would only use Stunted Growth as a SB option.

Birthing Pod 4

I find the effort in sorting your curve out to accommodate Pod makes it not worth it overall. You are ramping stuff out so you don't need to cheat stuff out as well. For most lists every time Pod gets a good tempo play there will be a time it can get nothing.

Crop RotationCrop Rotation 3

If you are up against a lot of non-interactive combo decks where it will be a straight race AND you have a Gaea's Cradle complete with enough dorks to power it up then this is great way to improve your speed and consistency. It is card disadvantage which hurts a lot more in the slower midrange and drafting cubes.

Channel 4/10

I have pretty exclusively bad experiences with this card in that it seems to just never work. The dream of turn two Emrakul just never happens. You just end up with a deck with an extra dead card and an extra unplayable card. Late game this becomes hard to use to much effect and you have little way to ensure you draw this early with something to use it on. If for some reason you are playing primarily super top end with a lot of entirely colourless cards among them then Channel is a good support card to help you improve your odds on getting some of those things into play. Having Channel is not a reason to then go and play these big stupid things.

Example Lists

Joraga TreespeakerMono Green Creature Based

24 Spells

Llanowar Elves
Fyndhorn Elves
Elvish Mystic
Joraga Treespeaker

Noble Hierarch

Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
Lotus Cobra
Devoted Druid

Sylvan AdvocateSylvan Advocate
Satyr Wayfinder

Tireless Tracker
Rishkar, Peema Renegade
Yavimaya Dryad

Oracle of Mul Daya
Garruk Wildspeaker

Nissa, Worldwaker
Verdurous Gearhulk

Primeval Titan
Walking Ballista

Hornet Queen
Satyr Wayfinder
Crafterhoof Behemoth

Decimator of Provinces

16 Lands

Gaea's Cradle
Treetop Village
Rishadan Port
13 Forests

Gr Ramp

23 Spells

Search for Tomorrow
Oath of NissaBirds of Paradise
Oath of Nissa
Joraga Tree Speaker

Arbor Elf

Sakura Tribe Elder
Nature's Lore
Sylvan Library

Sylvan Caryatid

Yavimaya Dryad
Nissa, the Vastwood Seer
Courser of Kruphix
Den Protector

Courser of KruphixOracle of Mul Daya
Polukranos, World Eater
Garruk Relentless

Nissa, Vital Force

Primeval Titan

Dragonlord Atarka
Avenger of Zendikar

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

17 Lands

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Myriad Landscape
Kessig Wolf Run
Wooded Foothills
Stomping Ground
Raging Ravine
Temple of Abandon
9 Forests

These are just two fairly standard example lists. With so much mana and fixing potential you can do a lot more exotic and interesting stuff with this kind of deck than a lot of others. I have no discussed a number of those more exotic options as it would lead to talking about the support cards that might go with those and ultimately lead to double the cards needing mention. These sorts of lists are much easier to get than the more exotic ones as they have significantly more redundancy. I have talked about most of the cards you might see or want for these styles of decks but very little outside of them. Odds on if I haven'r mention a card I think it isn't something you want in the deck or it is clearly similar and worse than something I have discussed.

A quick example of such cards are Strangelroot Giest, Vengevine, Experiment One. They are all good quality cards, they might even plug a good hole in your deck but they are very much off theme cards. It might be better to play such cards over making a clumsy splash but they are not things you want. They are too much in the aggressive area, the other aggressive looking cards you might play are for tempo defense or value. Giest is OK at this but you rarely make use of the haste.

When you feel comfortable drafting and building these kinds of ramp decks then you can more profitably start experimenting with other colours and themes. Smokestack is a direction you can go, Opposition is another. I am sure there are plenty more. I briefly mentioned a graveyard themed Emrakul build but at least you don't need to go outside the main colours for that. Eureka is a nice silly way to have a lot of fun and pack a really high number of the biggest cards in the game! Happy ramping. Have I missed any staples from the deck? If so please let me know in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. Great and useful article, as usual. I love the "Archetype Breakdown" series!