This entry is part 12 of 23 in the series (Social) Contract form Below

90x90 noleGreetings and welcome to another edition of (Social) Contract from Below. Today I’m gonna do my best (Vexing) Devil’s Advocate impression and talk about something that tends to be fairly polarizing and that I am (surprisingly) OK with (except without Eric’s sense of humor, decent writing, and narrative format). So without further ado, let’s talk about Ramp decks.

(Note: I actually emailed Eric and asked him if he was covering ramp any time soon. While he may do his take on it in the future (and after the writing storm that will follow he may have to) it was not on his docket anytime soon. Yay for not stealing each other’s thunder.)

Most players have seen what a ramp deck looks like. It’s mono-G or G/x, probably has Omnath, Locus of Mana, Azusa, Lost but Seeking, or Kamahl, Fist of Krosa as the general, and wins with some combination of Rude Awakening, Overrun, and/or Triumph of the Hordes. The first time you played against it you lost to it, the second time you played against it the table beat the ramp player to a bloody pulp by turn 6, and now everyone makes a point of pointing the hate cannons in that direction often enough to keep the ramp player “in check.”

This deck tends to be very powerful, but very linear with only a few ways to win. So why is it that this deck is one of the boogeymen of the format?

joker

This, this is why.

One of the most common tenants of the social contract is that you don’t mess with other peoples’ lands. Lands are how we are able to cast our spells and locking someone out via mass land destruction is incredibly unfun. While no one will complain about a few lands being destroyed (I take time to personally thank any player who blows up Cabal Coffers), being “the Land D guy” is a stigma no one wishes to bear.

shun

Shun the land Killer. SHUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So how do we fight a strategy that it is not socially acceptable to flat out kill? First off, we run more answers. I’ve seen too many green players lose to Acidic Soil than I can count and there is a deep satisfaction in resolving Keldon Firebombers after the player casting five or six ramp spells thinks he’s set to go off. The other thing that we do is take a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach. Every color has access to acceleration. Even when you look beyond the “greatest hits” like Sol Ring and the RAV signets,  there are some sweet mana rocks that have effects even in the late game (Attn: Rakdos Players: Test Rakdos Cluestone. Seriously, you can thank me later.) Most Commander decks are mana hungry anyway (it comes from being “Battlecruiser Magic”) so us adding a little ramp makes our deck stronger and gives us game against that come out of the gate faster than most.

I actually don’t have a problem with Ramp as a strategy. To me, it’s beatable and while powerful, it’s not unstoppable and more importantly, doesn’t keep players from having fun as well. Even though I may lose to a herd, gaggle, big flipping group of rudely awakened forests, at least I didn’t have to sit and watch for twenty minutes while combos.dec went off or watched as prison.dec decide they were the only ones who got to do anything.

Which brings us to “This week in Ruric Thar.” I hope that at this point you are not looking to tell me all the sweet land death spells you want me to add. We’ve already added a great number of ways to deal with problem lands. This week I want to rather add some ramp to the deck. I’m looking for cards like Ondu Giant, Sakura-Tribe Elder, and my new personal favorite Fertilid. I also think that, while mana dorks tend to be fairly weak in this format, Gyre Sage has potential to get huge in this deck.

Well that’s going to do it for me this week. Wait, hang on… (pulls out ringing cell phone) “Hello?” (Sounds of angry screaming coming from the other end) “Ok I’ll let you talk to them”

ruric

RURIC IS DISPLEASED WITH DECK FULL OF TINY CREATURES THAT DO STUFF. RURIC DEMANDS THAT YOU ADD MORE BIG DUDES THAT RURIC CAN SMASH FACES WITH!!!!

Me: Ruric, you don’t have to yell.

THAR WILL YELL THEN. THAR ALSO DEMANDS MORE FACE SMASHERS!!!!

Me: OK then I’ll get the guys to add some more “face smashers” to the deck.

GOOD, ADD FACE SMASHERS OR RURIC WILL COME AND SMASH YOUR FACE!!!!

THAR WILL ALSO COME AND SMASH PUNY HUMANS FACE!!!!

Ok guys I get the picture. Can I please go back to writing now? Also, don’t you Gruul have a thing against using technology like a cell-phone to call me?

YOU ARE RIGHT!!! MUST SMASH PHONE!!! (Sound of phone crunching then the disconnect beep.)

Huh. That was weird. I’ve never gotten a phone call from a fictional character before. So apparently we are also going to be adding some fatties to our deck. Here are a few that I had in mind:

Avatar of Slaughter: We are likely to have the biggest dudes on the field and are going to want to attack. Making our opponents’ utility dudes have to swing is gravy.

Rampaging Baloths: A face smasher that brings smaller face smashers to the party, Ruric Thar approves! It also helps the beast count for contested cliffs.

Greater Gargadon: Being able to sac at instant speed at no cost is one of the most overlooked abilities in the game, especially in a format where steal effects are pretty popular. This card is also a beast(as in type, not just that it’s awesome).

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth: This card is bonkers and we all know why. I’m voting Kozilek over Ulamog as a) I have an extra Kozilek and b) I feel like the card draw will be helpful in a color combo that doesn’t have much.

Hopefully these four have got your creative juices flowing. As always you can comment below with suggestions (Remember we are looking for both Ramp and Fatties this week), as well as thoughts on the article above (you know, that thing you read before being interrupted by an Ogre). You can also hit me up at noleclauson@gmail.com or on twitter at @MtGNole. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week.

EDIT: Here is the link to the current (real time) Decklist: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Aq1o-Q4fRLCDdDFPRm84aGUzTUVITm41NUxTc2xnS2c#gid=0

 

Series Navigation<< (Social) Contract from Below 11- Yes, let the hate flow through you (the one where I talk about force teaching a player about the social contract, talk about Sheldon Menery accidently writing an article for me, and write a really long title so I can take back my longest title belt from Brian)(Social) Contract from Below 13- 24 things (aka, welcome to what my brain looks like on the inside) >>