EDH is a format full of flashy spells and big plays. But, how do you get there? Ramp! Today we are going to discuss the role of ramp spells in EDH. How does each color tackle it? And finally, what are some of the best spells out there?
Ramp vs Rituals vs Fixing
In broad terms, ramp spells are anything that accelerates your mana production. This could be anything from a Sol Ring to a Rampant Growth. A subset of ramp spells, and rituals these are effects that put you ahead on mana once off. Dark Ritual is a prime example. You might also argue cards that generate treasure tokens count as a ritual too.
Finally, there’s fixing. These are cards that let you generate the correct colors of mana. Some fixing is a ramp but not all fixing is a ramp. For example, Arcane Signet fixes your mana and ramps you. Meanwhile, Land Tax only fixes your mana it does not ramp. Each color tackles ramp in different ways we will keep these terms in mind.
White Ramp in Commander
White specializes in “catch-up” ramp. These effects will help you get land as long as someone has more land than you. Knight of the White Orchid and Loyal Warhound are prime examples. Knight is noteworthy as it gets any Plains, not just basics. For a continuous version of these effects, you can look to Keeper of the Accord. At four mana he is less of a strict ramp spell. Typically you would want to ramp earlier than turn four. However, his creature generation makes for a nice include.
White also has mana-fixing variants on the prior effects. Classics such as Land Tax, Archeomancer’s Map, and Weathered Wayfarer can help thin your deck of lands. Wayfarer getting any land is especially powerful. Again, don’t underestimate the deck thinning offered by these cards! Even when you have ample lands being able to smooth draws late-game helps a lot.
Deep Gnome Terramancer has impressed me a lot. Flashing Gnome out in response to an opponent’s Evolving Wilds is a great feeling. I find the Gnome often sits on the table and does not get removed. If this card nets you one land it’s awesome, and if it goes unchecked you can run away with the game. This card premiered at a high price back in Baldur’s Gate. It has since fallen to a $2.58 average.
Blue Commander Ramp Options
Blue does not have a lot of ramp spells. This is offset by being the color that cares the most about artifacts. We will focus on artifact ramp later on. Focusing on blue ramp is much more specific. Cards like Baral, Chief of Compliance, and Etherium Sculptor. These provide cost reductions. Pseudo-ramp if you want to think of it that way.
Another strange “ramp” spell is Search for Azcanta. It’s two mana and eventually turns into a land. Calling it ramp might be a stretch. Many blue decks can meet that seven cards in grave criteria fast enough to make it happen.
Blue also has access to High Tide. This card often plays more like a combo piece. Despite its home in combo, it can also be cast for a tempo swing early in the game. Of particular note, High Tide affects all Islands. Underground Sea and Watery Grave will benefit too! Your opponent’s Islands will also double. Always keep an eye out for other pesky blue players!
Blue’s best source of fast mana is Mana Drain and to a lesser extent Spell Swindle. Mana Drain offers a massive tempo swing by acting as a removal and ramp. Spell Swindle is a cute budget alternative. But at five mana it is more appropriate at slower tables.
Black Ramp in Commander
Black has very potent lands that get you ahead on mana! Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is a classic pairing. If Coffers’ price tag is a bit too much to stomach Cabal Stronghold can do a decent impersonation.
Black in its early years played around with rituals to generate mana. Culling the Weak, Dark Ritual, and Cabal Ritual are great options. While they are once-off effects the efficiency is worth it! This design has fallen out of favor in recent years. Black more so tends to get other ways to cheat on mana. Reanimation effects are a good example of this.
Black also has some more combo-orientated rituals. Bubbling Muck and Rain of Filth can provide massive mana for a single turn. Rain of Filth is particularly powerful as it affects all your lands. Songs of the Damned is also a popular ramp piece for combo decks. Self-mill strategies can generate obscene mana with this spell.
Finally, black has access to mana doublers. These are more expensive than typical ramp spells, but the lead they give you is often worth it. Crypt Ghast, Nirikana Revenant, and Magus of the Coffers can all provide plenty of mana. Despite the higher mana costs these cards can run away with games. Even a single turn with any of these cards is enough to pull yourself, leagues, ahead.
Red Commander Ramp Options
Red has become the home for rituals. Jeska’s Will is a phenomenal example of this while also being a source of card advantage. Red also has some very specific rituals. Battle Hymn and Brightstone Ritual grant a huge mana advantage in the right deck.
Red has access to effects that create treasures and mana too. Storm-Kiln Artist and Birgi, God of Storytelling can provide a one mana rebate on every spell you cast. For an aggressive early game, you can look to Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer. However, given the price tag, I can understand why you don’t see many monkeys in Commander. Magda, Brazen Outlaw can be budget alternatives.
Green Ramp in Commander
Finally, we come to green. This color is the most well-respected color for its ramp. Firstly, it has access to creatures that produce mana. Llanowar Elves, Birds of Paradise, and Priest of Titania all produce mana for a low cost. The downside here is they are all susceptible to removal. While there are colorless mana dorks most of those are at two mana. Green is the only color with powerful one-man dorks.
If you prefer your ramp harder to interact you can look toward and-based ramp. Green has plenty of spells that can search your deck for lands. Rampant Growth, Cultivate, and Harrow can all fix your colors, and get extra lands in play.
Additionally, this form of ramp removes lands from your deck. This means your odds of drawing your threats go up. While one land might not make a difference it’s a little edge that can put you ahead throughout a game. This edge only grows if you remove more and more lands from your deck!
Lastly, green can play more than one land per turn! This effect can be seen on Exploration, Azuza, Lost but Seeking, and Burgeoning. Playing multiple lands per turn is powerful. However, it is limited by the number of lands in your hand. These cards can be awesome in the early game but fall off in the late game.
Colorless Ramp in Commander
While we spent this article discussing colored ramp, many decks opt for mana rocks. It is easy to see why. Classics of the format include the talisman and signet cycle. These are awesome in multi-color decks. They can fix for multiple colors and at two mana they are a great choice at any power level and any budget.
Additionally, there are some staples of the format. These are worth considering in any deck. Arcane Signet, Ravnica Signets, and the Talisman Cycle. With so many excellent colorless options it is easy to devote all your ramp package to artifacts. If you would like a quick reference for mana rocks check out this Moxfield package!
Lastly, we have fast mana artifacts. These produce more mana than it costs to cast them. These are incredibly powerful. These cards have great power to raise the power level and consistency of your deck. Notable inclusions are Mana Crypt and Jeweled Lotus. I would be cautious about including these cards in your deck. Environments, where only one player has fast mana, can lead to a lot of non-games. One player runs away with the game. No fun for anyone involved.
The colorless space is full of powerful artifacts. I hope some of the colored options prior inspire you too! There are plenty of ramp options out there. Some of them might even enhance your deck beyond ramping you. Let us know about your favorite ramp pieces in the comments!