The Core Set 2021 metagame has shaped up to be all about Green/blue based decks. The Tier 1 decks in the format feature green and blue cards prominently in their game plans. Currently, Temur Reclamation, Bant Ramp, and Sultai Ramp are considered Tier 1. These decks made up over 38% of the field and 15 of the top 24 decks for the Red Bull Untapped International Qualifier #2. The other major event this past weekend was the SCG Tour Online Championship Qualifier #3. In this tournament, these decks made up over 45% of the field and 6 of the top 8 decks.

The top priority of these decks is to ramp into as much mana as possible by turn five. The key card to accomplish this plan is Growth Spiral. Growth Spiral does two things that help promote these decks game plan. First it lets you play an additional land and second is draws a card.

The second key card in Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath.

Uro is the best card from Theros Beyond Death. For three mana you get to draw a card, play an additional land, and gain three life. This can occur as soon as turn two with the right ramping. While you don’t get a creature on the turn that it comes into play, escaping Uro typically comes only a turn or two after it was originally played. Then this ability to draw a card, play a land, and gain three life is activated again when Uro attacks. Any deck that cannot deal with Uro, has a difficult time winning games.

The third card in the ramping triumvirate is Nissa, Who Shakes the World.

Her static ability allows forests to produce two mana when tapped for mana. This ability continues to ramp the deck. Then you can plus Nissa to turn one of your lands into a 3/3 creature. These elemental creatures are not affected by Ugin’s exile ability which makes Nissa the perfect partner for him.

The final ramp card seeing play is Core Set 2021 reprint Cultivate. It does not have a home in all the ramp decks, but it does quickly advance the game plan of the decks that use it.

This card allows you to get two basic lands from your deck for only three mana. One of the lands goes into play tapped and the other into the players hand. When paired with Uro or Growth Spiral, you can easily have six or more mana in play by turn four and sometimes more if Arboreal Grazer is part of the deck.

These four cards make playing the payoffs for these deck by turn five well within reach. What else is used to continue ramping depends on the version of the deck. Below I have included examples of the most commonly played version of these decks.

In Temur Reclamation decks, Wilderness Reclamation allows you to double your mana, so you can play a large Shark Typhoon or Expansion//Explosion. This mana can be increased even more by Nissa, Who Shakes the World. Therefore, Temur Reclamation is the clear top deck in standard.

Temur Reclamation | Nicolas King - SCG Tour Online Championship Qualifier | Standard

CREATURES (5)
Brazen Borrower
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

INSTANTS (19)
Aether Gust
Expansion // Explosion
Growth Spiral
Mystical Dispute
Negate
Opt

ENCHANTMENTS (8)
Shark Typhoon
Wilderness Reclamation

LANDS (28)
Blast Zone
Breeding Pool
Castle Vantress
Fabled Passage
Forest
Island
Ketria Triome
Mountain
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground

SIDEBOARD (15)
Aether Gust
Brazen Borrower
Negate
Nightpack Ambusher
Spectral Sailor
Storm’s Wrath

Bant Ramp employees Teferi, Time Raveler, Teferi, Master of Time, Shatter the Sky, and Elpeth Conquers Death to control the game. Then it relies on Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Hydroid Krasis to finish off an opponent. Teferi, Master of Time and Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse have added additional power to the deck that brings its power level closer to Temur Reclamation’s.

Bant Ramp | Noam Zimet - SCG Tour Online Championship Qualifier | Standard

CREATURES (8)
Brazen Borrower
Hydroid Krasis
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

PLANESWALKERS (8)
Nissa, Who Shakes the World
Teferi, Time Raveler

INSTANTS (8)
Aether Gust
Growth Spiral
Mystical Dispute

SORCERIES (2)
Shatter the Sky

ENCHANTMENTS (5)
Elspeth Conquers Death
Shark Typhoon

LANDS (29)
Breeding Pool
Fabled Passage
Forest
Hallowed Fountain
Island
Ketria Triome
Plain
Temple Garden
Temple of Enlightenment
Temple of Mystery
Temple of Plenty

SIDEBOARD (15)
Aether Gust
Brazen Borrower
Dovin’s Veto
Dream Trawler
Glass Casket
Mystical Dispute
Shatter the Sky

Sultai Ramp relies on Casualties of War to keep the deck in games then turns to Nissa, Who Shakes the World, Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, and Hydroid Krasis to finish them.

Sultai Ramp | Christopher Iaali - SCG Tour Online Championship Qualifier | Standard

CREATURES (12)
Arboreal Grazer
Hydroid Krasis
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

PLANESWALKERS (7)
Nissa, Who Shakes the World
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

INSTANTS (6)
Growth Spiral
Heartless Act

SORCERIES (7)
Casualties of War
Cultivate

LANDS (28)
Breeding Pool
Fabled Passage
Forest
Island
Overgrown Tomb
Swamp
Watery Grave
Zagoth Triome

SIDEBOARD (15)
Cry of the Carnarium
Heartless Act
Lovestruck Beast
Mystical Dispute
Negate
Thought Distortion

As a result of these decks consistent ability to ramp, aggro decks and true control decks have a difficult time keeping up with them. The only aggro deck that has seen success against the ramp decks is Mono-Green Aggro because it can grow its small creatures and has many large creatures that can punish decks that don’t have a board presence early in the game. Yet, even Mono-Green Aggro can’t keep up with a turn four or five Ugin.

Typical control decks don’t ramp into enough mana to keep up with the ramping of these decks. That is why the number of Azorius Control decks have significantly declined in popularity since the banning of Fires of Invention and the change in companion rules.

With two months until rotation, expect to continue to see green/blue ramp decks continue to dominate the format. In Monday’s ban and restricted announcement, the problematic nature of Growth Spiral was discussed. It will be interesting to see if the percentage of decks relying on green/blue ramp increases, if Wizards will move to ban Growth Spiral to improve the overall health of standard.

Standard had been in bad place overall since the release of War of the Spark. Hopefully, there will not be a ramp card from Zendikar Rising that adds to the power of green/blue ramp. Black, white, and red could use more help from Zendikar Rising. Particularly in need of support is red. Over the last two sets, red has not gotten a usable card while black and white have seen a few usable cards that should help them become more competitive once rotation occurs.

Next time I will look at the state of aggro decks in a world of green/blue ramp. Until then, good luck finding your win condition!