Mana Crypt | Illustration by Matt Stewart
There are all kinds of ramps for all kinds of purposes. There are wheelchair ramps, inclined ramps to board a train, and ones for moving trucks to transport heavy items. But we aren’t talking about those types of ramp today!
In Magic, having ramp spells accelerates how fast you build your board state. These spells come in the form of creatures, artifacts, and extra lands that increase how many mana resources that you have in your deck.
Are you ready to ramp up your deck by learning about the best types of ramp today? Buckle up because it’s going to be a fun and bumpy ride!
Thought Vessel | Illustration by RK Post
The best type of ramp is a mana source that sticks with you on the battlefield. Mana rocks, mana dorks, and additional lands are a few examples of the best ramp that acts as a recurring mana source for you on each of your turns.
While cards like Lotus Cobra can be considered a form of ramp, it’s best for landfall decks, but not for decks with other themes. The mana you add from casting lands with this snake on the battlefield only stays with you for the remainder of the turn rather than throughout all your turns like other forms of ramp.
How you incorporate ramp into your Commander deck is based on your overall deck-building preference and theme. Let’s consider the three popular types of ramp to see which one(s) will fit your upcoming Commander deck build more synergistically.
The 5 Crystals from Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths tap for one of three mana colors. The 10 Signets allow you to turn 1 colorless mana into 2 mana of different colors. If you’re running 2, 3, or higher colored decks, mana rocks are just as essential for ramp as they are for mana fixing.
Mana dorks are creature cards that can tap for mana or have abilities that let you search for lands or earn temporary mana in your mana pool. Some mana dorks have better abilities that set them apart from other mana dorks.
While Llanowar Elves lets you tap for only a single green mana, Apprentice Wizard allows you to tap a blue, tap the wizard, and generate 3 colorless mana. An even better example is how Circle of Dreams Druid taps for green mana equal to how many creatures you control, which is great for token decks.
Every deck should have a mana dork or two of some kind. Their multi-purposed usage as blockers and as mana resources helps you to be ready for any situation that could happen when duking it out with your opponent.
Ramp can also be as simple as adding additional lands. There are so many lands that can give additional value to your deck build besides just utilizing basic lands. While a mono-colored deck can get away with running all basic lands if you really wanted to, that won’t fly in a 2, 3, 4, or 5-colored Commander deck.
Triomes like Raugrin Triome and Zagoth Triome enter the battlefield tapped. They tap for one of three colors listed on the card. If you find you don’t need to play the Triome as a land, you can cycle it by paying 3 mana to discard it into your graveyard and draw a card.
Every deck is different in its theme and how many creatures, lands, instants, and sorceries it should run, as well as ramp cards and other card types. There are multiple factors that can affect how much ramp you need.
The overall theme is a huge factor in how much ramp you need. An Omnath landfall deck needs additional lands as ramp while decks with other themes may benefit from other types of ramp.
While any deck can benefit from utilizing mana rocks, artifact-themed decks get more value from having them in the deck build to take advantage of artifact-related ETB triggers. Think how Alela, Artful Provocateur and Sai, Master Thopterist give a creature token when you cast an artifact spell.
If you’re running a sacrifice-themed Commander deck like Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, you benefit more from mana dorks rather than mana rocks. Mana dorks like Ignoble Hierarch and Palladium Myr are perfect additions to this build because they can be cast early in the game, act as your mana source to get Korvold on the field, and then be sacrificed during its ETB or attack abilities to make it stronger with +1/+1 counters.
Decks with a lower mana curve can get away with the average land base of 37 to 38 lands, a few mana dorks, and three to five mana rocks. A deck with a low mana curve can get away with having 6-8 forms of ramp while builds with higher mana curves should run at least 10 to 12 ramp sources.
Having access to enough ramp and card draw is definitely a balancing act as a Commander player. However, there’s a formula for finding that sweet spot so you can come out on top.
If your deck has more ramp resources because of a higher mana curve, you need access to additional card draw for faster ramping. Incorporating creatures with ETB effects that draw cards can build your army while giving you access to needed resources to build your board state. Examples include Ice-Fang Coatl, Carven Caryatid, and Plundering Predator.
Creatures with recurring card draw effects give you the most value. Think Yawgmoth, Thran Physician for sacrifice decks, Bennie Bracks, Zoologist for token decks, Vedalken Archmage for artifact-themed decks, Beast Whisperer for creature heavy decks, and Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait for landfall decks.
Ramp means adding additional mana sources in your Commander deck for you to play your spells quicker. On top of your average land base, you also have enough mana rocks and/or mana dorks to expedite building your board state.
Fixing means adding lands, mana rocks, or mana dorks that let you tap for a specific color of mana. It’s an especially essential practice when running a Commander deck with four or five colors so you aren’t drawing the same color mana one too many turns.
Run about 43 to 50 mana sources in your deck. Having more mana at your disposal is better than being mana screwed.
Have an average of 37 to 38 lands in your deck at all times. Include additional lands if you’re running a landfall deck or just prefer them for utility. Decks with lower mana curves (1- to 3-drop spells) should have at minimum 6 extra mana resources on top of their lands. Builds with higher mana curves benefit from an additional 10 to 12 ramp sources, bringing the total mana sources to about 48 to 50.
Sol Ring (Commander Collection Green) | Illustration by Joseph Meehan
I hope you enjoyed learning more about ramp spells in MTG. They enhance your access to mana whether it’s by creatures’ abilities, adding in extra lands, or utilizing mana rocks. No matter how you incorporate ramp into your Commander deck, be sure it makes sense to your overall theme and desired win condition.
But the fun doesn’t have to stop here. Join the Draftsim Discord to jump into the conversation with other like-minded MTG players. When you want to dabble with more MTG content, check back on the Draftsim blog for the latest MTG news, rules reviews, and best ranked articles.