It’s taken me a while to cobble together a G/R Ramp list that’s able to combat public enemy number 1 while still maintaining its matchup against the rest of the field. I’m going to spend some time below going over detailed reasons behind card choices and numbers. Before we get to that, here’s where I’m at:
G/R Ramp by Josh Dickerson
Jaddi Offshoot continues to get the nod in the maindeck over something more aggressive like Gnarlwood Dryad as the format continues to be filled with more aggressive decks than not. Against Bant Company it’s great at both stalling the board and padding your life total while it propels you later into the game. It’s also even more crucial to have that life buffer now that Bant has Spell Queller. If the multicolored spirit comes down at the right time, say by countering an early ramp spell, it could spell certain doom for you without that extra life. With Offshoot, lands drops can potentially give you the extra turn that you need to stay in it and take over the game.
Against another deck that’s heavily on the rise, U/R Thermo-Thing, Jaddi is likewise great. Opponents either have to waste a burn spell on it or devote more burn to your life total because you’re buffering it with land drops. Either way, you gain more time that you need to get to Emrakul/Ulamog territory.
Emrakul, the Promised End over World Breaker? World Breaker is unfortunately pretty useless in the current metagame. Before Eldritch Moon, World Breaker was there to bridge the gap to Ulamog, but unless you were chaining them together with Sanctums, it wasn’t going to take over a game by itself.
Emrakul on the other hand can come down on the same turn and essentially take over the game. The big daddy Eldrazi’s effect is so potent by itself that it is often the only threat you will need. If you have a Kozilek’s Return in the graveyard when casting it, taking over your opponent’s next turn and clearing the board is extremely hard for any opponent to come back from.
I’m continuing to play 3 of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger even though a majority of lists have dropped to one or even zero. There are times when you won’t have a Kozilek’s Return and you’re unable to just cast Emrakul and take over because the extra turn they get after the one you take will be a lethal attack. This can happen against Bant Company frequently, especially if they have a Selfless Spirit or Avacyn to counter your Kozilek’s Return. As potent as Emrakul’s effect is, sometimes you’ll need an additional threat to pave the way or follow up. Ulamog fits the bill perfectly.
Vessel of Nascency/Grapple with the Past. These cards in tandem make up the engine that allows you to fuel your graveyard for an early Emrakul while also enabling you to reuse key cards to propel yourself to the late game. They’re great because one is an enchantment and the other is instant so being different card types themselves is great, especially sincethey curve naturally into each other. The added consistency that these allow is another reason I’m not playing a playset of either Eldrazi threat; you’ll be able to see them much more often digging through so many cards.
I’m only playing one Traverse the Ulvenwald. I’m not playing more copies because I think Vessel/Grapple do a fine job of this effect already, but there are definitely games where you might need an extra way to find a threat or a red mana source. Traverse fits well as a one-of because, while it’s fine to draw at any stage in the game, you don’t really want to see multiples in your opener.
I’m only playing one Ishkanah for similar reasons. The first one is great, especially if you have Delirum, and if it dies you can recycle it with Grapple to abuse its enter-the-battlefield effect. We’re sideboarding two additional copies for decks with tons of fliers like Spirits and hyper aggressive decks like Humans.
Hedron Archive. I’m continuing to play 4 of this for a few reasons. Not only is it an artifact, a hard to find card type for Emrakul, it also accelerates you into an Emrakul with both mana and additional cards. It’s also great because many of the deck’s best sideboard choices right now require colorless mana, (Warping Wail, Thought-Knot Seer) so having additional colorless mana sources is never a bad thing.
Gettings to the sideboard, we’re starting with Gnarlwood Dryad. We’re often able to achieve Delerium early due to Vessel and Grapple, and having one of these as a 3/3 blocker early against Humans or Company can go a long way towards stabilizing. Even if it’s not a 3/3, you can always trade it up because of Deathtouch.
U/R Thermo is rising in popularity due to the axis it plays on being so different from the rest of the format which makes it a hard strategy to combat. Warping Wail is absolutely fantastic against them as their best spells are all sorceries: Incendiary Flow/Collective Defiance/Exquisite Firecraft (without Spell Mastery). It also is able to exile Thermo-Alchemist from the game entirely which is huge as Ramp has very few ways to actually interact with it early otherwise. Without a card like Warping Wail, the 0/3 would be able to run rampant on your life total.
You may have noticed that Chandra, Flamecaller is completely absent in the 75. That’s not by accident. I do not think she is well positioned in Ramp at all at the moment because of the presence of Selfless Spirit. Kozilek’s Return does a fine job because its front half can be used to at least kill the Selfless Spirit but gone are they days where you ramp to 6 to sweep a Bant player’s board with Chandra. Between Collected Company to find it, Avacyn, and just playing it naturally, it’s so hard to find an opportune time to cast K-Return without getting blown out by a 2-mana 2/1. Chandra’s just not worth it anymore.
And that’s it! Thanks for joining me again this week, I look forward to seeing how my build of Ramp does against the field. Let me know if it works for you!