It’s Petr again and today I am going to talk about a deck that I tested last week and I was highly considering it to play it at GP Turin 2017 – taken down by Robin Dolar with U/B Scarab God. In the end I didn’t end up going to the GP, because I got sick, but I would still like to share what I’ve found about the ramp archetype.
Red/Green or White/Green?
I will be talking about R/G ramp, but it’s very possible that the white version is better – it really depends on the metagame you expect – I think that white one is better against Control, Temur Energy and BG constrictor, because your 《Fumigate》 actually kills even the biggest creatures – I had issues with the red version that if they somehow end up having a creature with 6 toughness, then it can be really tough if you don’t draw or don’t have enough lands for 《Ulamog》.
On the other hand the red one is better against small creature decks, 《God-Pharaoh's Gift》 because of 《Abrade》 and I think that you have an edge in the Mirror – the Mirror is all about who plays the first 《World Breaker》 and 《Chandra》 out of the board is insane at doing that.
What I Learned
Initially when I started with the deck it looked a lot different – to me the whole idea of playing an expensive three mana ramp spells into 《World Breaker》 sounded awful so I played bunch of cheap removal spells, 《Chandras》 main and less big guys.
As I quickly realized that was a really bad approach – yes you might have a shot of beating red game 1 but your deck just becomes this awful midrange deck – you can’t play fair with ramp and cards like 《Chandra》 are awful main deck – against a huge portion of the decks, all you need to do is to do your own thing – ramp couple times, potentionally sweep a board (play 《Hour of Devastation》 if you’re lucky) and play a big guy that wins – it is little stupid, but I really think that it’s the best approach.
The new ramp deck these days are much much slower than the old ones, but this doesn’t really happen to them because your ramp spells draw cards.
This is the deck list:
4 《Sheltered Thicket》
2 《Game Trail》
4 《Hashep Oasis》
3 《Ramunap Ruins》
1 《Desert of the Indomitable》
3 《Shrine of the Forsaken Gods》
2 《Sanctum of Ugin》
4 《World Breaker》
3 《Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger》
1 《Cut // Ribbons》
4 《Kozilek's Return》
2 《Beneath the Sands》
2 《Spring // Mind》
4 《Hour of Promise》
3 《Hour of Devastation》
4 《Weirding Wood》
4 《Gift of Paradise》
4 《Thought-Knot Seer》|
4 《Chandra, Torch of Defiance》
2 《Magma Spray》
2 《Chandra's Defeat》
1 《Kozilek, the Great Distortion》
1 《Cut // Ribbons》
1 《Nissa, Vital Force》
Card Selection: Mainboard
The mix of the ramp spells: I think that the enchantment ones are the best ones and you should play 4 of those before adding other ones – 《Gift of Paradise》 might seem poor in matchups where the lifegain is irrelevant and it doesn’t actually find you a land so it doesn’t really combo well with 《Shrine》, but I still think you have to play it because of Ramunap Red – you can actually easily win some games on the play when you play a 《Gift》 into 《Hour》.
As for the remaining ones – I really like drawing one 《Spring // Mind》 during the game, because it’s kind of an antiflood insurence, but it’s slow and you usually end up doing that later in the game and it only matters if you don’t draw one of your big guys and there are games where you need to draw a third landdrop and the Cycling on 《Beneath》 is very important there so I think I like the split.
I play 1 《Cut // Ribbons》 because I felt like I wanted one more cheap play and I wasn’t really satisfied with another removal spells. Also you don’t have enough cards to bring in post board in Mirror and against UR Control and it kills 《Thought-Knot Seer》 and 《Thing in the Ice》.
Some people play only 2 and I also did at the beginning, but this is the reason you are playing your deck – your big reward card and even though you can potentionally search for it with 《Sanctum》, you still want to draw it often.
The deck has a lot of ramp and it’s actually not that hard to cast it, especially with 《Hour of Promise》. I usually try to Cycle 《Beneath》 and the Cycle Lands (it still obviously depends) in the hands without 《Ulamog》, but when I have it I just play those things – you might lose some value there, but 《Ulamog》 is so powerfull and it ends the game so often when you cast it that the fact that you could otherwise have more other resources doesn’t really matter – this is different in matchups where the 《Ulamog》 isn’t a game over like Control – you just want to get the maximum value out of your cards – you are going to draw the lands needed for 《Ulamog》 eventually anyway.
Card Selection: Sideboard
Talking about sideboard, I don’t think that there is a huge room for innovation as I think that you are forced to play most of these cards – 《Chandra》 is insane in the matchups where it’s good – you can’t play it main deck, because it’s just too bad in a lot of scenarios (you would most likely still play some if you knew you will get lucky with the die rolls), but there are deck’s with not that many creatures and 《Chandra》 is ridiculous against those + you don’t really want a removal spell in your deck against those archetypes, but they still often have some problematic creatures post board and 《Chandra》 serves as double duty against those – it just does everything and I think you have to play 4.
《Thought-Knot Seer》 is similar in that it comes in similar matchups and it’s also one of your best cards against the unfair strategies of the format – they aren’t that popular but if you count them alltogether then they make a very relevant part of the field – decks like 《New Perspectives》 etc. – not saying that the matchup becomes good because of it, but it gives you a chance and it’s also good against many other decks – Mirror, Control, Midrange decks…
It is a little random, but I wanted something impactful that can put a clock on them or serves as a cheap threat, that can punish them in some spots – other people play 《Tireless Tracker》 because of 《Negate》 (I think), but I think that 《Tracker》 doesn’t really have high enough impact.
2 《Magma Spray》 and 2 《Chandra's Defeat》
At the beginning I played 4 《Defeat》 and 2 《Magma Spray》, because I though that it would be really good against Ramunap Red, but it turnes out that if you do that you have to start cutting cards that are actually good and are a key part of your core strategy and the deck wasn’t really improving and I’ve decided to use those slots better.
I have the mix because 《Magma Spray》 is also great to fight Zombies, but I think that 2 is a sufficient number against them (the matchup is already good) and having a 《Defeat》 over 《Magma Spray》 in your deck is sometimes crucial against 《Chandra》. That being said the fact that 《Magma Spray》 removes 《Earthshaker Khenra》 and can kill 《Bomat Courier》 comes up often so I just recommend the split.
An Additional 《Cut // Ribbons》
There are matchups like B/G and Zombies where killing a big creature is very important so I like another copy – you can very easily die to large 《Diregraf Colossus》 if you overload on small burn spells.
There are matchups like Control, where having 《Kozilek》 in your deck is just insane – the game sometimes get’s into a spot where they just play a lot of lands and 《Glimmer》/《Illumination》/《Gearhulk》 several times and exiling two lands with 《Ulamog》 isn’t really enough to beat them (they just counter the actuall 10/10), but it’s really hard for them to overpower the card advantage that 《Kozilek》 provides so I think it deserves the spot – you can also board it in random slower matchups just as another powerfull lategame card.
Some tips for playing the deck. I think that most of these things are relatively easy after playing a couple of games with the deck, but I definitely messed up several times before I learned:
1) Collecting Red Mana
It’s usually best to have as many red sources as possible – important when choosing what to target with the enchantment ramp spells – there is some weird turns in the deep lategame (the deck sometimes gets to these spots, because you sweep them couple times and you have a lot of mana in play, but you haven’t draw the big guy yet or it wasn’t enough) where you might want to play 《Hour of Devastation》 + 《Abrade》 and then potentionally play 《Kozilek's Return》 on their turn – or you want to play a red spell precombat and postcombat etc.
2) Playing Deserts Early
It is usually right to play your Deserts as soon as possible, because if you draw 《Hour of Promise》 (or you draw another Desert on the turn you want to cast 《the hour》) you already want to have them in play, so that you can search for different lands (《Sanctum》, 《Shrine》, Dual Lands).
3) To Play Around 《Game Trail》
4) Prioritizing Sorcery Ramp Spells Over Enchantments
Even if it might allow you to play an 《Ulamog》 next turn, it is not always right to go for 2 《Shrines》 with 《Hour of Promise》 – you know that you have the time and they might have an answer. Yes that spot is likely still good, but it’s not worth risking it and it’s much safer to just find 《Sanctum》 and play the 《Ulamog》 turn later.
6) Do Not Run Into 《Confiscation Coup》
I am still not sure what to choose for nationals, but I think that ramp is certainly a real contender!
Thanks for reading.
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