Fighting ramp while still being fun

Lets face it, land ramping is one of the most dominant and easy strategies in Commander. It is very easy to do, and most of the cards themselves are pretty inexpensive ([card]Kodama’s reach[/card], [card]Cultivate[/card], [card]Explosive Vegetation[/card], [card]Reap and Sow[/card], etc.). The most expensive ramping card is big [card]Primeval Titan[/card] aka Prime-time aka P-tits, and for any seasoned commander player, you have probably seen this card fought over like frat boys at an open keg.

I have played many ramp decks in all different formats, and the goal of a ramp deck is to amass more resources than your opponents first, and then capitlize on that advantage by using big haymaker effects that threaten the board state to an uncomfortable level ([card]Blightsteel Collosus[/card],  [card]Woodfall Primus[/card], Eldrazi, etc.) or refill their hand with more threatening effects ([card]Soul’s Majesty[/card], [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card], [card]Recurring Insight[/card], etc.).  Ramp decks use their first few turns to jump them straight into the end game, and while everyone else who is playing fairly normal cards that cost 5, maybe 6 mana on turn 5, ramp decks are playing cards that cost 9 or 10 mana, on that same turn, and are basically way ahead than everyone else. Even with a table full of people attacking the ramp player and utilizing all their resources against him/her, it can be very difficult to really fight against the raw and stable resources that land ramp strategies produce.

Land Disruption, especially mass land disruption is the conventional answer to this, but it is so socially stigmatized, because the land disruption is either inefficient, or really good against ramp, and all other decks too.

Also, another issue with Commander is that it can be difficult for players who are new to Commander to enter Commander and play a fun game with somebody who has been playing Commander for awhile. Even if they have been playing magic for awhile, staples from legacy don’t always translate well into staples in Commander. I feel that the ownus does partially rely on older players to have decks that can interact with these newer players, and while it can be fun to build a silly thematic deck, even thematic decks run into power creep problems, and figuring out what cards are too-strong and too-powerful.


So to combat these issues, my two favorite cards that I run in every deck with green are the following:



Either one of these two cards can basically do the work of 3 to 5 regular ramp cards. In ramp decks that care so much about positive tempo against everyone else on the board, these two cards mitigate that tempo completely. The big ramp player still has more lands than the other players, but the difference between 5-9 lands is very different than 9-13.  Since everyone can play big haymaker spells, the ones that the ramp player is pooping out don’t feel nearly as scary when everyone is down resources.

These two cards are especially good at balancing a table of newer players to older players. I have had a collective voyage for 12 before, and had everyone but the “best” player find 12 basic lands, because the “best” player had too many duals and special utility lands that all he could find was 6 more basics.

I am also always happy to draw these cards no matter what point of the game I’m in, because I engineer my deck with these cards in mind. Lands are always a good thing to have early, mid, or late game. One of the worst feelings  in playing magic is that, “if I only had one more mana, I’d be fine feeling”, and these cards help curb that feeling away. You can also think of them as a more efficient [card]Explosive Vegetation[/card] or [card]Cultivate[/card].

Also, I like playing games where everyone can cast spells, and hate boring one-sided games. These cards help make sure that nobody gets that “if I only had one more mana” feeling. Everyone can play their cool spells, and that makes the most enjoyable, fun and memorable games.

I’m always happy to have them in my deck whether it is against experienced players (its karma/political points), inexperienced players (it can make them happy to cast their spells), and mixed tables (balancing the power levels so everyone is having a good time).

Other players can’t be too mad at you for playing these cards too.  You are still letting the ramp player play his spells (you are actually encouraging him to play more fun spells), you are just taking away their unfun-advantage of dominating the board by themselves. Also, players with expensive mana bases could always just run more basic lands.


Keep Smiling-



p.s.: On a side note, [card]Oath of Lieges[/card] also does a similar effect, and is outside green. It isn’t as explosive, but still quite good for all the reasons mentioned.

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2 responses to “Fighting ramp while still being fun”

  1. Ramp not only provide strong mana boost, it also thin the deck. dealing with high amount of cards, with spells or effects that search lands out of library is very valuable. having a thinner deck in the late game will result better draws. better draws as in drawing more effective cards like creatures, spells etc etc

    • I totally agree. Furthermore, dedicated ramp strategies tend to offer higher amounts of card selection because you are constantly shuffling your library. This is really important with cards that have you manipulating the top of your library like Scroll Rock, Top, or Brainstorms/Overpowered Jace, etc. Ramp strategies are also good with decks that have future sight effects not limited to just future sight, but also oracle of mul daya or garruk’s horde