Last updated on April 10, 2024

Midnight Clock - Illustration by Alexander Forssberg

Midnight Clock | Illustration by Alexander Forssberg

Is ramp good? It used to be kind of MTG gospel, but Sam Black got a bit of attention for being unsure.

If ramp only might be good, what counts as good? And what counts as good ramp in blue? The answer is, unsurprisingly, it depends.

What Is Blue Ramp in MTG?

Grand Architect (Scars of Mirrodin) - Illustration by Steven Belledin

Grand Architect (Scars of Mirrodin) | Illustration by Steven Belledin

Ramp in MTG is the creation of additional reusable mana resources. This usually involves creatures or artifacts that tap for mana (mana dorks and mana rocks), or spells and abilities that allow players to play more than one land per turn, often by searching up another land.

In terms of the color pie, green does this the best. Blue is steady in the middle in terms of number of ramp spells, but quite a lot of them synergize with only certain kinds of decks. Since we’re setting it aside today the all-time, one-time use blue mana card, High Tide, won’t be on this list.

Blue often has cards that make certain spells cost less, like Haughty Djinn, or free, like Omniscience. Although those can feel like ramp because they provide mana advantage, those cards are generally considered different than “ramp.”

Honorary Ramp

I'll count The Everflowing Well, Search for Azcanta and Ojer Pakpatiq, Deepest Epoch as honorary blue ramp. When you get to The Myriad Pools, Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin and the Temple of Cyclical Time, it can set you ahead on mana, though ramp is not the primary reason you play these cards. Look to these instead for their spell copying, card advantage, and rebounding ability, which are mana advantages in another way.

Got it? Let’s dive in and examine all blue ramp spells, from the truly abysmal to the terrific.

#30. Snowfall


Before we get to the good stuff, let’s take a minute to discuss Snowfall, the “cumulative upkeep lord,” according to LSV.

This card is horrendous. The ramp only pays for cumulative upkeep, which is only useful maybe if you have Mystic Remora out. There isn’t a single ramp card in any color whose restrictions on the use of the mana is as depressingly limited as this one.

Before you ask, yes, I have one of these from an Ice Age pack I cracked in 1995. And no, even back then I knew better than to play it.

#29. Qarsi Deceiver

Qarsi Deceiver

Morph tribal lord Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer doesn’t even really play Qarsi Deceiver, so, you know, that’s gotta make this terrible, right?

#28. Benthic Explorers

Benthic Explorers

Benthic Explorers was never good, but it felt good back in the ‘90s. You could block with Benthic Explorers and then tap it to cast something.

Of course, you gave your opponent mana and their stuff was likely the wrong color, but we were dreamers back then. Optimists. Plus “Benthic Explorer” was the name of the ship in The Abyss, so, you know, insider knowledge and all that.

#27. Curious Homunculus / Voracious Reader

Flipping Curious Homunculus into the prowess creature Voracious Reader is cool, but that flip loses your ramp. Ramp isn’t often useful in a spellslinger deck because cheap spells like Consider need a higher volume of colored mana when cast in bursts than a colorless source can provide.

#26. Aminatou’s Augury

Aminatou's Augury

Aside from the raft of free spells here, there’s one land drop worth of traditional ramp. Which you totally don’t need if you’re casting an 8-drop like Aminatou's Augury!

This card is a banger in certain decks, but this low ranking is for it as a ramp spell.

#25. Unblinking Observer + Karfell Harbinger

Unblinking Observer and Karfell Harbinger do work if you’re heavy enough blue. They're both probably underplayed. Foretell seems more relevant for EDH than disturb though.

#24. Volshe Tideturner

Volshe Tideturner

Kicker seems more relevant for EDH than foretell. Volshe Tideturner works if you’re heavy enough blue and is also probably underplayed.

#23. Soldevi Machinist

Soldevi Machinist

The artifacts only limit is generally fine given that Soldevi Machinist is contributing its two colorless mana to artifact decks. Not as good as the next card, but this seems a lost treasure when you’re trying to power out Portal to Phyrexia!

#22. Vodalian Arcanist

Vodalian Arcanist

A strict upgrade to the previous card, Vodalian Arcanist has more toughness.

#21. Renowned Weaponsmith

Renowned Weaponsmith

Other than losing the potentially relevant wizard creature type, Renowned Weaponsmith is a clear upgrade to the previous card and can find some cards for you. They aren’t great, but they’re 2-drop artifacts that can synergize and get you an incidental shuffle.

Vial of Dragonfire isn’t great, but you’ll be glad to have this if you’re stalled with “copy artifact” effects on the table.

#20. James, Wandering Dad

James, Wandering Dad

Sorry James, Wandering Dad but comparing you to a Sol Ring, might be a unfair. James provides decent ramp, and thankfully, activating a clue is one of the things this scientist can do. The reasons this guy does not rank better are that James, Wandering Dad isn't available as early as other ramp, and sometimes you won't have colorless activated ability costs.

#19. Jetfire, Ingenious Scientist / Jetfire, Air Guardian

Barely qualifies as ramp, but it goes in the command zone, I guess? You aren’t thrilled about converting to Jetfire, Air Guardian, but you get an every other turn burst of three mana. Maybe more if you’re sucking counters off things like Liberator, Urza's Battlethopter.

Color me unimpressed.

#18. Osgood, Operation Double

Osgood, Operation Double Osgood, Operation Double

You get four power and toughness with Osgood, Operation Double, as well as . If you're rocking an artifact deck Osgood is like Ur-Golem's Eye with a real upside of potentially a pair of triggers when you cast a non-hand spell.

#17. Lavinia, Foil to Conspiracy

Lavinia, Foil to Conspiracy

A mana rock that cost three, and provides would be good, so a creature that has vigilant and can activate for your instants and flash spells with card advantage, seems pretty good too, right? Lavinia, Foil to Conspiracy fills some great roles in decks and an exciting detective to discover from Ravnica: Clue Edition.

#16. Five Hundred Year Diary

Five Hundred Year Diary

The Five Hundred Year Diary takes a bit of investigating to really make it worth it. As long as you are not cracking too many Clues and leave yourself two or more, you have a great colored mana source from this Doctor Who card.

#15. Oaken Siren

Oaken Siren

I find it a little odd that Oaken Siren fits well in artifact decks, but is likely made of wood. I do like me some vigilant and flying mana dorks. Great things here, but blue-artifact decks tend to have good ramp options as it is, otherwise this siren may rank better.

#14. Dreamscape Artist

Dreamscape Artist

We’ve got to give leeway to the inefficiency of Dreamscape Artist as the only Burnished Hart-style land search creature in blue. For three mana you can lose two pieces of cardboard and pull up two basic lands. They come into play untapped, but that’s still mana neutral on the turn you do this. If Cultivate asked you to discard and sac a land to put both onto the battlefield, would you do it? That’s really the question here.

This seems like a flood alleviator more than proper ramp from that perspective. Although if you wanna stock the graveyard with lands, you could do worse.

#13. Lapis Orb of Dragonkind

Lapis Orb of Dragonkind

Three mana rocks are kind of passé, but Lapis Orb of Dragonkind can really do work in a dragons deck. Scry 2 feels a bit like drawing a card. Almost.

This isn’t really playable outside of dragons, so I guess that translates to a decent ranking since dragons keep on getting printed?

#12. Nardole, Resourceful Cyborg

Nardole, Resourceful Cyborg

I love playing with counters and adding them in unexpected ways. Nardole, Resourceful Cyborg has one of the best built in ways to get a counter in undying, and blue has plenty of counter strategies like +1/+1  and shield counters. And since many blue decks have a decent percentage of noncreature spells, the potential ramp is considerable.

#11. The Enigma Jewel

The Enigma Jewel Locus of Enlightenment

Like a mana dork with summoning sickness, so does The Enigma Jewel require an upkeep before it can be used. A Sol Ring for activated abilities, the Locus of Enlightenment represents significant card and mana advantages when you bring it online.

#10. Misleading Signpost

Misleading Signpost

How the Misleading Signpost has flash and was not white is an interesting design question for WotC, but a mana rock it is, and the effect is pretty neat, and semi-removal, so I have no problem featuring this Wilds of Eldraine Commander card in this ranking!

#9. Apprentice Wizard

Apprentice Wizard

You can use the three colorless for anything, which makes this classic card still occasionally worth it. Apprentice Wizard works on spells or artifacts and even creatures, which is rare for blue ramp.

#8. Sea Scryer

Sea Scryer

Maybe I just remember playing this too often back in the day, but blue ramp cards that can also get blue mana that can be used for anything are worth it in blue decks that want to do various things. Maybe no one runs flexible blue decks anymore which is why Sea Scryer is in danger of being left behind.

#7. Vhal, Candlekeep Researcher

Vhal, Candlekeep Researcher

Don’t get confused by this, Vhal, Candlekeep Researcher is close to three Powerstone tokens of value. The mana, which can be buffed by buffing Vhal, can be used to power activated abilities of things like infinite combo partner Staff of Domination.

This may be the line where the ramp cards finally are good enough that you might want to include them on top of your two mana rocks in the right decks instead of cutting them because you have colorless ramp like Arcane Signet.

#6. Omen Hawker

Omen Hawker

It is so cool to see two mana pips from a mana dork. Omen Hawker makes a good splash as a 1-drop and yes, only applying to activated abilities is very relevant. For the decks that want this advisor, the return on investment is incredible.

#5. Deranged Assistant

Deranged Assistant

Deranged Assistant‘s mill is a bonus in decks like Araumi of the Dead Tide or Grolnok, the Omnivore, and being able to use the mana on anything is a step up from other blue dorks.

#4. Grand Architect

Grand Architect

Turning other artifact creatures into functional Vodalian Arcanists is pretty good, even if Grand Architect is a bit durdly. It's a classic infinite mana combo with Pili-Pala since it nets a mana for each colorless creature you get ramping.

#3. Moonsnare Prototype

Moonsnare Prototype

A Springleaf Drum that can also tap artifacts for mana is good in an environment with cheap artifacts. The channel ability on Moonsnare Prototype can really provide a repeatable late game annoyance when you topdeck it and no longer need its ramp in some kind of Tameshi, Reality Architect or other artifact recursion deck.

#2. Midnight Clock

Midnight Clock

You’re usually ready to pitch a mana rock for seven cards when time’s up on the Midnight Clock. In a four-player game you get three turns with it before it sacs unless you make it go faster.

Arguably the best 3-cost mana rock in the game. #shotsfired

#1. Urza, Lord High Artificer

Urza, Lord High Artificer

The best artificer in the game, occasional Modern player Urza, Lord High Artificer turns all your artifacts into mana rocks. It also does a lot of other great things, but that ability alone would make this worth it as a 4-drop.

Best Blue Ramp Payoffs

These cards generally have very specific homes.

Spells Decks

Spellslinger decks often have other ways to reduce costs of spells, like Baral, Chief of Compliance. That means that any ramp you use in the deck needs to provide colored pips since cost reducers often make colorless mana ramp unnecessary.

Do you want something like Volshe Tideturner in your deck? If you’re casting spells with higher costs like Self-Reflection or Sublime Epiphany, maybe. If your deck is full of cards like Ponder, you can’t spare the cardboard slot for ramp.

These ramp dorks are generally designed around things like kicker or activated abilities that you’d likely welcome some ramp for. In those cases, have at it.

Artifact Decks

Blue ramp is often limited to artifact costs, and that’s really the sweet spot for blue. The tension point is in the affinity realm.

Cityscape Leveler

If your deck wants lots of cheap artifacts for sacrifice, you’d rather have a higher proportion of artifact mana or treasure token generators than nonartifact creatures. There are only so many mana rocks for two mana if you want to ramp into Cityscape Leveler as fast as you can, and some of these cards can really help that plan.

Wrap Up

Urza, Lord High Artificer - Illustration by Grzegorz Rutkowski

Urza, Lord High Artificer | Illustration by Grzegorz Rutkowski

I had my Fourth Edition Apprentice Wizard in storage for a long time, but I’ve found myself sleeving it up again with the high-powered artifacts synergies released in The Brothers’ War and the BRO Commander decks.

None of these blue ramp spells are exactly Llanowar Elves or Rampant Growth, but as EDH speeds up it gets harder and harder to cast your big mana spells before the game is lost. The answers to that are interaction or ramp. Ramping a bit harder might fit your plan better, especially in mono-blue where bounce and counterspells are your typical interactive tools.

How about you, blue mages? Are Arcane Signet and friends enough for you, or do you dip your toes into these rampy waters? Let me know in the comments below or over on Draftsim's Twitter.

Catch you next time!

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  • Avatar
    PGaither84 March 5, 2023 9:37 am

    Concerning #10 Dreamscape Artist:
    1. It isn’t good, but it has to be somewhere on the list.
    2. It was fun in Time Spiral draft/sealed constructed because there were cards with madness and Flashback. You thin your Limited deck, filter colors, and can even fuel those madness/flashback cards for value.
    3. In Commander it is still to slow for even casual games. Three mana to activate and it has summoning sickness? Yuck. Just give me 2mv mana rocks.
    4. I still keep a dreamscape artist in my collection binder for nostalgia and that fantastic art.

  • Avatar
    Frederik Forger March 6, 2023 2:38 am

    Running Mitotic Manipulation in a mono blue deck is ramp. Might even be worth it in a two colour deck depending on your basic lands and what your opponents have in play.
    On occasion you might even hit a manarock.

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