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Standard Week 1: Ramp

Instead of just brewing, I’ve decided instead to focus on two archetypes: Black Eldrazi and Gr Ramp. The problem with building the first of the two is how difficult it is to pin down a coherent base. There were just too many directions to go and too little time to put a good build together. I feel it’s likely someone can and will do it once they wrap their brain around how to treat colorless as a 6th color and work it into a traditional mono- or dual-colored deck.

So instead this week I’m going to look at a much simpler way to design it, GR Eldrazi Ramp.

GR Eldrazi Ramp

Card Choices

Let’s start with Ruin in Their Wake doing its best Rampant Growth impression. The biggest reason I like this deck is because when you do hit the turn-2 Ruin into turn-3 Explosive Vegetation you’re on easy street. Best case you turn-4 World Breaker and the game is effectively over. Even jamming turn-2 ramp spell, turn-3 ramp spell, and turn-4 six-drop like Oblivion Sower makes for some good times. Ruin combined with your normal ramp suite lets you take full advantage of Kozilek’s Return instead of worrying about the tension between Rattleclaw Mystic and your sweepers.

Playing Ruin also gives you the advantage of 4-drops on turn 3, which wasn’t previously an option with many builds. We also just have a far better reason to do so with Thought-Knot Seer setting you up with maximum information and taking out a removal spell or their on-curve play. There are other options, but Thought-Knot makes by far the biggest difference. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised to see a smaller build of this focusing more on the 4-7 range with perhaps the big Eldrazis in the board.

There is a cost to going with Wastes and Evolving Wilds which is a given when upping the colorless land count so much. It does increase the chances of all colorless keeps and I’ve considered adding another Forest or a Wooded Foothills to help balance it out. What’s nice is that if you have Hangarback Walker and a colorless hand, keeping it isn’t really outrageous. Considering how little you typically do on the first two turns this type of mana risk can be somewhat mitigated. Every deck except Red gives you a fair bit of time, and just casting a turn-3 ramp spell is typically good enough for you to get the engine going and slam Eldrazi.

Return buys a lot of time against red players and gives you some room to bluff against the Become Immense kill. Normally it would be a metagame call since Pyroclasm isn’t exactly ideal against every deck, but it kills Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, and there are enough early drops around to make it respectable. Plus buying it back down the line will clear out just about every commonly played creature in the metagame which makes it at least passable in—well every matchup.

Why not 4? Because drawing 2 isn’t necessary except against red decks. One trigger will wipe out the Siege Rhino crash, and then you’ll have a World Breaker or Ulamog in play so you don’t need a second. If you want to maximize your chances of drawing one then go for it, but I’d worry more about drawing dead cards with ramp.

World Breaker has been amazing in my testing so far. It bridges the constant gap in the old build of ramp, ramp, ramp into Ugin/Ulamog. Chaining World Breakers is basically unbeatable for midrange strategies and is the best plan in the mirror until 10-drops get involved. It gives you a reasonable body that triggers Sanctum/Return and has some value as a buyback threat versus control. Triggering Sanctum of Ugin is likely the best aspect of Breaker, but it does so many small things right that I’d be surprised if it wasn’t good enough for most GR Ramp decks.

Play Kozilek and you can lock certain decks completely out of the game. Jamming one against Dark Jeskai and drawing more than two spells is typically game over as you can stop any of their removal. It also just lines up well against most of the spells you actually care about. Ulamog does a better job of catching up when you’re behind, but as a standalone threat Kozilek locks up the game from a neutral or favorable board position.

Why This Build Over Other GR Ramp Decks?

This build is configured to win mirrors and beat other midrange decks, since that’s what I suspect are the best choices in week one. This is what I did with Dark Jeskai against Abzan when BFZ first hit and since I think Eldrazi will come out swinging this weekend, I chose the same route with my ramp deck. Thought-Knot Seer, Oblivion Sower, and World Breaker are all solid at disrupting ramp decks and double as excellent options against decks trying to play a late-game against you.

You give up some game against swarm strategies and Atarka Red in particular, but Kozilek’s Return alone makes that matchup far better. I doubt this deck will have a consistently good matchup against red, but it gives them serious pause before flooding the board.

Meanwhile all those poor souls trying to do things like cast tri-color spells and jam 5-drops are in for a sad surprise when they find their lands constantly being haumphed. They might shrug off the first Acidic Slime, but the second one is typically a death knell. You double down if they have the audacity to kill one with say, a Crackling Doom. It isn’t difficult to find the time to buy a Breaker back for another go-round.

Quad 10-drops sound good and chaining them feels great, but it leaves a window for the opponent to slide underneath. Previously you absolutely needed an Ugin, Atarka, or early Ulamog to stabilize against most strategies, and World Breaker forces Abzan or Jeskai to spend an answer.

I’m not going to try and sell you on GR Ramp over every other deck in the field simply because I don’t have enough games in yet to tell you it’s the best choice. What I can tell you is that the deck is very straightforward so you won’t have to adjust much to new cards and you’ll be punishing people with untuned mana bases, which is typically a given any time new cards are added. Rally gained a number of cards, all of which are multicolored—it’d be a shame if something happened to a key dual.

Notes

• Oblivion Sower nabs you all lands from your opponent’s exile, which means jamming World Breaker and then Sower guarantees you at least one extra land. This is very important in the mirror where stealing a Sanctum of Ugin can lead to a chain of Eldrazi.

• World Breaker has reach. This is really easy to forget when you primarily play it as a giant Acidic Slime that you can buyback. Enjoy the free Bird or Mantis that happens to come your way every so often.

• Kozilek’s Return’s graveyard mode is a may, so you don’t have to fire it off the first time you cast an Eldrazi.

Evolving Wilds, Map the Wastes, and Explosive Vegetation all can fetch Wastes. Pilgrimage and Wooded Foothills do not. Seems obvious, but I’ve been asked about it enough to add this note. You have a limited number of Forests as well so it often makes sense to fetch out infinite colorless unless you have a very good reason not to (chaining Den Protectors).

• While I’d like to be battling this weekend, Magic Online isn’t updated yet and everyone in our area picked Sealed PPTQs for the first weekend of the new set. So I’m out of luck—I’ll be looking forward to how the fresh format plays out this weekend though!

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