By Mark Mahler

mahler, mark - headshot

 

 

 

 

Whether you call it ramp or acceleration, getting ahead of the game’s normal mana base progression (having 3 mana available on turn 3, 4 on turn 4, etc.) is a pretty sweet thing. Unfortunately, your opponents tend to notice things little things like the fact that you just farted out four or five lands on your last turn by chaining your Azusa, Lost but Seeking and Oracle of Mul Daya off of your turn one Exploration into your green sorcery du jour.

 

All of the sudden, people around you are getting salty just because you have more lands on your side of the board than they, collectively, have permanents on the table. Just because you have a tendency to cast Genesis Wave for 30 on turn eight or nine doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person, but it does ensure that your playgroup will put a virtual hit out on you faster than a side character in a mob movie that just broke the omerta.

 

No matter how many fevered pleas of, “Hate the game, not the player,” that you may espouse as your so-called friends unleash their combined wrath upon you, it’s hard to argue that your obvious pig-out session wasn’t going direct some serious pain your way (and probably deservedly so, too).

 

Oh man, have you guys tried this mana stuff yet? It’s awesome!

Oh man, have you guys tried this mana stuff yet? It’s awesome!

 

So what’s an honest mono-green player to do? Stop ramping into big fatties? Hell, no! You’ve just got to be a bit sneakier and whole lot less in-your-face about generating absurd amounts of mana–until the time comes when you can crush your enemies and see them driven before you. You know, what’s best in life.

 

My philosophy in Commander has always been that you can do whatever you want so long as you don’t rub it in other people’s faces. Big green ramp isn’t the epitome of rubbing it in (that’s extra turn.deck for my money), but it’s close.

 

Because I have a nearly OCD-level need to sort things, I’ve compiled my picks into some basic strategies that are both less efficient than your standard green ramp package and also less likely to induce homicidal fantasies in the minds of your opponents.   If you’re a Timmy at heart–like I am–and you really enjoy landing those big spells and you need big mana in order to do so, but you don’t feel like fending off three other players at the same time, try giving Boundless Realms a week off and let some of these benchwarmers get some time in the game.

 

Combat Ramp

 

Conan the Barbarian stapled onto a horse meets the aftermath of mixing Miracle Grow with Pantene, plus an obviously unhealthy level of radioactive glow on both scalp and soon-to-be murder weapon. What’s not to like?

 

If Centaur Rootcaster isn’t the best common in Judgment, he’s undoubtedly my favorite.  Granted, we’re talking about a pretty shallow pool of candidates here, but let’s give credit where credit’s due.  A 2/2 for four isn’t what we ought to doing in Commander, but in my opinion the upside in ramp can balance out the downside in efficiency, particularly with any sort of evasion, or if you just send him swingin’ against the guy who believes that Commander games start on turn five.  The two damage shouldn’t incur much hate against you from any but the prickliest of egos and he’s unlikely to catch a Doom Blade from anyone, period; the most negative aspect here is his likelihood to meet a flashy creature/token here and there or simply trade with a chump blocker.

 

He’s also pretty sweet in any Seton, Krosan Protector deck.

 

 

See above, but with slightly less awesome art.  The same downsides apply, but this druid lets you grab any land, not just basics, and he feeds your graveyard while he’s at it.

 

 

If you run any sort of evasive or trample creatures, you really ought to give this aura a go in your deck.  It’s not mono-green, but my favorite move with this card is to stick it onto an Invisible Stalker in my Rafiq deck while Rafiq is in play and pull two extra lands per turn, but that is neither subtle nor likely to go unanswered for long.  It is, however, totally excellent, in the Bill & Ted sense of the word.

 

 

You’re in green, so you’re going to be attacking with somebody at some point. Why not get some extra mana while you’re at it?  Notice that you get the counters just for declaring the attack, too, so this little enchantment already has one up on my previous two picks.  This is practically an auto-include for me in any token deck that has green in it (so, that’s about 50% or better of all token decks).

 

Honorable Mention: Sakiko, Mother of Summer

 

Not as versatile as the Repository, but still an effective mana source.  Besides, you ought to be playing spells on your second main phase anyway, right?

 

Mana-dork ramp

 

 

I’ve always thought that Spellshapers don’t get enough love and these two are high on that list for me.  These aren’t auto-includes in any deck, but there are plenty of times when I’ve stared at my hand on turn 4 or 5 and thought that I would gladly pitch any of my cards in exchange for an extra land in play or a Llanowar Elves on the field.

 

 

You’ll be able to get away with this guy’s capacity to make stupid amounts of mana exactly once before your playgroup catches on, but it’ll be a pretty awesome one-time fling. His capacity for inspiring double-takes from your opponents (along with exclamations like, “They actually printed a card like this?”) is pretty sweet, too.

 

Honorable Mentions: Budoka Gardener & Sakura-Tribe Scout

 

Lands belong on the battlefield not in your hand.  These little guys live by that philosophy. The Gardener’s ability to flip and then churn out at least a 10/10 token every turn isn’t anything to sneeze at, either.

 

Mana-doubling Ramp

 

Apparently cards from The Dark are so powerful they sometimes even defy the site’s ability to display them properly. Who knew?

 

These are solid roleplayers in the 99 of any mono-green deck I build.  Yes, the Bloom’s symmetrical effect isn’t ideal, but I rarely see much of a downside unless I’m facing off against another mono-green deck.  The Touch also provides a nice bit of cheap acceleration when you really need that last two mana for a fatty or a finisher. It also provides your playgroup with the all-to-rare opportunity to belt out lines like, “You’ve got the touch!” at an unnecessarily loud volume while performing extravagant air guitar solos.

 

Untap Ramp

 

 

Even in my mono-green snake tribal deck, I have never used the Snake Offering ability on this card, but it doesn’t matter because I would pay the eight mana for this effect without blinking an eye.  The 7/7 body doesn’t hurt, either, despite the fact that he’s never going to be used for anything but untapping other lands and creatures. Remember that playing this with Citanul Hierophants on the board is like unto Frodo slipping on the One Ring when the Ringwraiths were drawing near on Weathertop.  You’re probably just as likely to get stabbed, too.

 

Someone just untapped all their mana-dorks...again...

Someone just untapped all their mana-dorks…again…

 

 

Two personal faves whose virtues have been extolled by smarter Magic players than I on this very website before, so I’ll spare you my two-cents except to add that riding in a magical, illusory green bear is something that I totally see Green Lantern doing if the JLA was really bored one night and sat around getting stoned. You know, crime is at historically low levels and more and more states are decriminalizing, or outright legalizing, marijuana everyday.

 

Just sayin’.

 

I know drug addiction is nothing to laugh at, but, seriously, who didn’t see that coming from a kid named “Speedy”?

 

Well, folks, I think that last tasteless attempt to parlay real-life struggles with addiction into a cheap gag has officially stuck a fork in this article.  I hope that some of these cards have given you some viable alternatives to your standard green ramp package.  There’s nothing wrong with Cultivate or Rampant Growth, but if they’re getting pretty stale for you then maybe some of these will non-sorceries will liven up your mono-green build.

 

Until next time, remember that efficiency is for motels and Legacy players. Thanks for taking the time read my article. If you’ve got any comments, suggestions, or other not-quite-ready-for-prime-time picks for mono-green ramp, feel free to drop me a line in the comments section below.