Ramp is one of the fundamental aspects of Commander.

This isn’t a revelatory statement. Everybody knows that the best ways to stay competitive in a game of Commander is to keep the mana flowing. More mana means you get to play relevant cards more quickly. It means you can drop those seven-and-nine-drop bombs that actually decide Commander games. And more and more, it means being able to cast multiple things on your turn to gain advantage over the table.

This isn’t a shocking statement. The more mana you have, the better the chance you’ll overcome the rest of your table. This is why Green is generally accepted as the best color in Commander and white is traditionally seen as the worst.

For something as important at ramp, it’s amazing how quickly we fall into the same old patterns – no matter what our decks really need.

Be honest with yourself, how often do your deck lists start out with some combination of the following:

  • Sol Ring
  • Arcane Signet
  • Kodama’s Reach
  • Cultivate
  • Rampant Growth
  • Farseek
  • Sakura-Tribe Elder

These days, you might see more Llanowar Elves than you do Explosive Vegetations, but the idea is the same. You find the obvious 10 green ramp spells and you call it a day.

Now, truthfully, there isn’t anything wrong with this approach. These cards are all generally efficient. They’re workman-like in the fact that they do the job. Some of them are even the best at what they do. But when we build on autopilot, we can fall into a couple traps. 1. Our decks are stale and samey, and we don’t enjoy playing them because they work just like everyone else’s decks; and 2. We miss out on some interesting and potentially optimized choices because we are too narrowly focused on the “staple” cards.

So this week, we’re going to dig a bit deeper than the EDHREC top 10. We’re going to look at 6 different ways to ramp in commander that you might have have given much thought to.

The Green Cards

I wish I was clever enough to come up with a list of all non-green cards. But the truth is, most of the great ramp in the game has at least some green in it’s color identity. So instead of avoiding green, I want to explore some little-known gems that might give you a new angle in your green-based decks.

Silverglade Pathfinder

First up is one of my all-time favorite ramp cards – Silverglade Pathfinder. While she doesn’t ramp you quite as efficiently as a Sakura-Tribe Elder, she more than makes up for it in overall power level and utility.

First off, the ability to repeatedly cast Rampant Growth shouldn’t be laughed at. If you are playing a long-term deck, you’d often be wiling to trade a card in hand for an extra land drop every turn. Yes, the 2-mana investment will slow you down some, and you do have to discard a card. But often that’s not really a downside.

If you are discarding a land to the Pathfinder, it’s actually a little bit better than paying two to get an additional land drop. In this case you are still card neutral, so you haven’t really lost any resources. Even better, if you have access to something like Life from the Loam, you can even end up on cards in the transaction.

The real fun of Silverglade Pathfinder, however, comes when you start discarding creatures. Now you don’t only have ramp on a stick, you have a reanimation outlet too. Partner her with fatties and an Animate Dead, and you can build out your board state while accelerating into a terrible threat before the table has had the chance to set up. Bloodghast also plays well with the Pathfinder. Discard Bloodghast to the spellshaper, and then get him back for free on resolution of the ability.

Broken Bond

The impetus of this article was actually this gem from Dominaria. Broken Bond doesn’t see anywhere near the play it should. I think that’s because people generally only think of one thing when they build out their ramp packages – how will this help me in the early game?

That’s a good question. And often it’s the right one. Having early game ramp means you get to take advantage of that mana early and often. But don’t underestimate the ability of mid-game ramp. Early game ramp gets you to operating mana sooner, but a well-timed mid-game ramp spell can put you in a position to dominate the board out of nowhere. Going 5-to-7 in lands is often where the sweet spot is in regard to relevant end-game threats.

Luckily with Broken Bond, you get the best of both world – with just a slight sacrifice to consistency. Is there anything better than playing a turn 2 Broken Bond, destroying an opponents Sol Ring, and then getting an extra land for your troubles? (Hot Tip: The answer is no).

But think about what happens in the mid game. What happens on turn 6-8? There are definitely times I’d pay 1G to destroy an artifact or enchantment. You want to kill that Mirrari’s Wake or Bosh Iron Golem. You don’t even necessarily care that you do it at sorcery speed. If you get a land from that, you are way up. Sure you lose a little efficiency with Broken Bond, but the flexibility over the course of the game more than makes up for it.

Edge of Autumn

On the other end of the spectrum is a card that is specifically good for ramping in the early game. Edge of Autumn comes with a built-in restriction about having to have fewer than 4 lands. But it’s upside is amazing. I actually think this is better than format-staple Rampant Growth in almost all situations.

As noted above, you often want your ramp on turn 2-3. This gets you to operating mana sooner. Edge of Autumn does this wonderfully. If, by chance, you’ve played a bounce land, you might even get an extra turn of relevancy from the card.

But where Edge of Autumn really shines is in the late game. How many times have you sat at a table, you’ve made it to the late game, and you find yourself sitting on a massive pile of lands. You’re probably down on cards, and maybe top-decking to try and find something relevant to the board. In 90% of these situations, saccing a land doesn’t matter. YOu have more than enough to play anything you draw into.

Now tell me, would you rather draw a Rampant Growth or an Edge of Autumn? Horizon Canopy is a multiformat all-star. Edge of Autumn is basically the same thing.

Peregrination

Now, let’s turn our attention to a much narrower card. So far we’ve looked at green ramp spells that maintain their value throughout most phases of the game. That’s not Peregrination. This is a mid-game ramp bomb that folks just don’t seem to recognize.

Peregrination is not going to replace your Rampant Growths. But in a deck that prioritizes top-deck matters or landfall triggers, I can’t think of many cards I’d rather have. The secret to supercharging Peregrination is making sure you have a way to play lands from the top of your deck. This isn’t a hard ask these days. Your classics like Oracle of Mul-Daya and Courser of Kruphix do the job. My personal favorite is Radha, Heart of Keld.

If you are looking to hit landfall triggers, Peregrination and one of these top-deck cards gives you access to three potential triggers – all in a single card. That’s not to be underestimated when you have an angry Omnath on board.

The Not Green Cards

Would you believe me if I told you that white was secretly the second best ramp color in Commander? This isn’t actually a new thing. You just have to be prepared to think of the ramp a little differently than green asks you to do.

Oath of Lieges

As a white player, what would you pay to get an extra land drop a turn? What if I told you it only cost you two mana? Oath of Lieges is less a Land Tax and more a white Silverglade Pathfinder.

Sure, everyone else has access to these free lands too, but don’t worry about that right now. It’s actually a good thing because it means that no single player can run away with the game. Hopefully it means than your opponents will have the firepower to bang against each other and keep the entire table in check as you set up your game plan.

White decks have no shortage of amazingly powerful cards in Commander. Their issue is they can’t get them online before the accelerating players dominate the board. Oath of Lieges ensures you have operating mana – and it gives you the gas you need to be relevant in the late game.

You just have to make sure that the other cards in your deck are good enough to dominate an equal table.

Scholarship Sponsor

The last card I want to look at today is also the newest. Maybe that’s why he hasn’t seen the play I’d expect of a card this good. Scholarship Sponsor is actually very similar to Oath of Lieges. He makes sure you can keep up with the rest of the table, and often he’ll help you make friends too.

But unlike Oath, Scholarship Sponsor isn’t here to start your engines. You need at least four mana to play him at all. A lot of times this isn’t a problem. If you’re running the standard 36-40 lands you should have four lands on turn four or five pretty regularly. It’s fine if you play your Sponsor on turn five. Even if you’ve hit the rest of your land drops, you can almost always count on him to be a free land – sometimes two or three.

While Sponsor is less powerful in the early game, he is SO much better in the middle and late stages. As a white decks it’s pretty easy to find yourself three, four, six lands behind the ramp player. Sponsor erases that advantage immediately.

The best part though is that he’s a creature. Pair Scholarship Sponsor up with Livio or Eldrazi Displacer and you have an engine. Sure, everybody else is getting lands, but as we mentioned above, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You just have to build your deck to take advantage of it. If everyone else is even, make sure you have ways to go over the top.

Taking the Off Ramp

That’s it for this week folks. Hopefully this opened your eyes to some new options for your decks. I don’t expect everyone to immediately throw out their Cultivates, but I do hope that you will give a little more thought to those last couple of ramp slots. There are a ton of exciting cards that don’t crack the top 10 lists.

What ramp cards do you use? Do you stick to the staples or are there other exciting ramp spells that folks should consider?