A Quick Guide to Ramping in Pauper EDH
When I built my first PDH deck, I put Archetype of Courage at the helm. I standby that choice, as I think his effect is powerful. Skeptics, however, will note that he costs 8 mana before commander tax, making him one of the most expensive commanders in the format. Luckily for me, there’s more than enough ramp to go around.
In this article, I’ll go over some of the best ways to ramp up your mana pool, fix your colors or do a little bit of both. Let’s add a colorless and a green to our mana pool and get going!
There are more than a few commanders that can get your mana base going in PDH. Gnarlroot Trapper is pretty nice for a 1/1, adding to your mana pool and turning dorky elves into removal spells. Similarly, Heritage Druid, the Legacy Elves staple, converts elves into more mana, potentially enabling some combo shenanigans. Overgrown Battlement and Priest of Titania provide some of the most scalable ramp, but both can go into the 99, where they’re likely a better fit. Karametra’s Acolyte, on the other hand, will often be adding “how much?” mana to your mana pool from the command zone. Herald of Kozilek sits nicely at the helm of an Izzet Artifact or Devoid deck, as the cost reduction effect can trigger several times in a turn. Ranging Raptors can do some work, though there may not be enough Enrage enablers. If you’re noticing a lot of Pestilence or Crypt Rats, this effect will leave you up at least 3 lands after the wipe. Warden of Evos Isle can enable a flying man strategy, while Centaur Omenreader offers a more conditional cost reduction. The Warchief cycle are all good tribal considerations, as well.
Ramp That Isn’t Green
I’d love to tell you that each color has enough ramp options that they’re deserving of their own section, but I’d be lying to you. White, for example, has Kinjalli’s Caller and Ballyrush Banerret as tribal cost reduction effects… and nothing else.
Blue, surprisingly, offers some options. Etherium Sculptor and Vedalken Engineer can help you to get some artifacts out there, while Deranged Assistant will trade cards in your library for mana. Reef Shaman effects are technically mana fixing, but I’d be wary of relying on them. We can all thank Planar Chaos for Dreamscape Artist which is one of the better ramp options in the format. High Tide is a classic as well, and can lead to some big turns.
Black offers little but Dark Ritual effects, including Cull the Weak and Cabal Ritual. Bogbrew Witch offers repeatable Dark Rituals, and can help you power something out.
Thermopod is a weird ramp engine for Red, but it is one. Stinkdrinker Daredevil and Dragonlord’s Servant are not only excellently named cards, but nice cost reduction effects for reds big beaters. Brightstone Ritual, Battle Hymn, Inner Fire, and Mana Geyser are scalable rituals that can fill your mana pool in a pinch.
Ramp That Is Green
Yavimaya Elder, Sakura Tribe-Elder, Viridian Emissary, Oasis Ritualist, Werebear, Wall of Roots, Axebane Guardian, Quirion Elves, Devoted Druid, Druid of the Cowl, Druid of the Anima, Llanowar Elves, Elvish Mystic, Fyndhorn Elves, Boreal Druid, Elves of Deep Shadow, and Avacyn’s Pilgrim are the top end of the innumerable list of mana dorks green offers. Generally, a creature that adds mana or puts land into play with CMC 1-3 will be playable.
Green also offers Utopia Sprawl, Wild Growth, Fertile Growth and Elvish Guidance are all land enchantments that saw play during their time. They’re still viable contenders today, and I wouldn’t think twice about jamming one.
If you’re more of a Rampant Growth person, you have options there as well. You can play the traditional sorcery, Cultivate, Kodama’s Reach, Beneath the Sands, or Caravan Vigil. Edge of Autumn is an interesting card. If you are looking for heaps of mana I wouldn’t run it, but a deck that curves out quickly can use it as fuel and the fire. Search for Tomorrow shouldn’t be forgotten, either, though it does get worse if you’re not suspending it early.
Silver and Gold, Silver and Gold
Multicolor cards don’t offer much on their own. However, any deck of two or more colors will want to pack their respective entries from the Signet cycle, and Cluestone cycle. The Borderpost cycle from Alara are another option, but I’d normally rather play the land. Once you delve into three colors, you also have the Obelisk cycle from Alara, and Banner cycle from Tarkir as good fixing and ramp options. The Familiar cycle from Planescape are good in shard or ally color combination decks, as well.
Artifacts offer some very well drawn mana dorks in the Myr cycle (Gold, Silver, Lead, Iron and Copper), with Hedron Crawler or Manakin serving as the colorless version. PDH offers some good mana rocks in general with Manalith, Darksteel Ingot, Fellwar Stone, Thought Vessel, Mana Prism, Pristine Talisman, and Mindstone all available to any deck.
The Ravnica Karoo lands are legal, as well. To clarify for those of you who don’t know what a Karoo is, these are Boros Garrison and the ilk. It’s hard to say why these lands are good. They’re a weird form of ramp and card advantage, but they are playable. I’d rather put them in a ramp slot, than a land slot, though.
PDH offers more mana than you know what to do with, if you’re in the right colors. While you won’t see any turn one Sol Rings, do be wary. Too much mana too early can make you target. A lot of your best ramp will be vulnerable to removal, as well. When it comes down to the final cuts, I’d favor a Rampant Growth above a Druid of the Anima. Whether you’re going to go draw the ire of your play group or not, have fun casting your fatties, and thank you for reading.