Feature

Standard is Ramping Up! A Look at Ramp in Magic: The Gathering Arena

The Ramp deck has always been an archetype in any card game meta. It focuses on growing its mana, then using those mana advantages to play big threats and outvalue its opponents. It’s a very straightforward strategy at its core: put lands down, make big dudes, and turn them sidewards. Currently, there are three decks in the Magic: The Gathering Arena Standard meta that could be classified as Ramp decks, and all are running the primary colors Blue and Green to take advantage of powerful tools such as Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, and Hydroid Krasis. Today, we’ll take a look at how Ramp is doing in the meta and why it’s having success. 

Why Ramp?

Ramp is powerful right now because even decks that are good against it struggle. The main threats to Ramp are combo decks and aggro. Combo can only really be found in Temur Reclamation strategies, as mentioned in one of my previous articles. Since that article was published, the deck has really been pushed out of the meta, as players expect it and even Ramp decks have tools such as Knight of Autumn, Casualties of War, and even Aether Gust to combat the strategy.

Aggro is always prevalent, but Ramp has great tools at the moment to combat it. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is a combination of life gain and a great body that can block the small threats Aggro has. All of Ramp’s threats can really answer what Aggro wants to do, and while Ramp usually lacks the ability to remove threats from the board or access to Wrath effects, it can just win by presenting a large threat such as Hydroid Krasis to block Aggro decks, which currently rely quite a bit on their creatures to do the work. It also helps that Ramp decks have an amazing tool in the form of Aether Gust (most decks run 3 or 4 in the sideboard) that can help slow Aggro decks down. That way, Ramp can reach the mid-to-late stages of its game plan and get back on board. The key to Ramp is surviving the early turns of the game, then relying on your ability to land back-to-back large threats later, which is something that popular decks like UW Control and Temur Adventures can’t deal with, especially the longer the game goes on.

The Three Decks

Simic Ramp

Simic Ramp is the most pure Ramp deck of the three. It was popularized by Andrea Mengucci during Throne of Eldraine’s Standard. While the other two decks play a sort of mid-range strategy along with their general Ramp plan, Simic Ramp is looking for a lot of mana fast. Sticking to only two colors limits your options for removal, as neither Blue nor Green provides that tool, but it lets the deck be all-in on Ramp and focus on becoming larger than its opponent. With this more streamlined focus, the deck can run cards like Cavalier of Thorns and various elementals and combine them with Risen Reef, which is aimed at ramping fast and using its payoffs to fuel either Hydroid Krasis, Agent of Treachery, or Finale of Devastation for a game-ending End-Raze Forerunners. While this isn’t my favorite Ramp build, it’s pretty simple in its gameplan. It’s a pure Ramp deck all the way through, and it accomplishes what it wants to do pretty well. 

Bant Ramp

Bant Ramp and Sultai Ramp both use less of the Ramp package and instead give themselves a midrange package that they can use to strengthen some of the weaknesses of going pure Ramp. The big downside to going pure Ramp is the lack of removal, but Bant helps with the inclusion of Elspeth Conquers Death and Shatter the Sky. Adding White gives the deck access to great cards like Teferi, Time Raveler, Knight of Autumn, and Dream Trawler, as well as sideboard options such as Dovin’s Veto. Bant Ramp can play a little more of a control game with its access to Wraths and Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, but it lacks the explosiveness of Simic Ramp and is best for playing a midrange game with some Ramp elements. This allows it to play threats like Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Dream Trawler so early that the opponent doesn’t have a chance to react. 

Sultai Ramp

Towards the end of the Throne of Eldraine meta, I felt like the best thing you could do was cast Casualties of War as fast as possible. Whoever could either cast the most or cast the card first would usually win that match. I stand by that idea when I choose to play Sultai Ramp. The deck is phenomenal when it has 2-3 targets, especially when you’re already ahead. Outside of that, the deck has great midrange and disruption options in the form of Thought Erasure, Vraska, Golgari Queen, Massacre Girl, and even Polukranos, Unchained if you’re feeling spicy.

The deck also receives a plethora of sideboard options from Black such as Duress, Enter the God-Eternals, and Ritual of Soot. I think the main reason to play this deck rather than Bant Ramp is Casualties of War. I cannot stress how good that card can be when you’re ahead or even just level with your opponent. Being able to hit several of their permanents with just one card has a ton of value and is completely worth going into Black, especially with the other tools you have at your disposal. Cards like Casualties of War and Knight of Autumn are very valuable to have in a deck right now, as almost every popular deck is running an artifact or enchantment as a key part of their strategy. 

I’m not surprised Ramp is a go-to for many people right now. With Hydroid Krasis and Nissa, Who Shakes the World still hanging around for two more sets and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath remaining an absolute powerhouse, it’s really no surprise that people want these cards in their decks. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is currently being compared to the overly dominant Oko, Thief of Crowns. While I don’t think he’s quite that good, there are many tools available to get him into your graveyard without even having to hand in Tamiyo, Collector of Tales and Cavalier of Thorns. He’s going to define the format for as long as he’s in Standard, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ramp is in every meta until he leaves Standard or possibly gets banned (although I see that as extremely unlikely). Overall, Ramp is a solid pick, and there are several different play styles and ways to organize the deck within the current meta.

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