by Hendrik S.
Ramp is unfair, Channel is even more unfair
I love playing Ramp. Casting big (green) spells and creatures that nobody else is looking at because of cmc >4 is a great enjoyment for me. Or in other words, I like to play unfair cards that simply overstrain the opponent. And to my mind, playing something unfair is a very good way to be successful in Highlander (Academy, Scapeshift). That’s why I used to play Channel in all my Ramp lists, simply because it’s something unfair on top and with cards like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon or Emrakul, the Promised End (or a Tutor) on Turn 2 it’s mostly GG. This is no real Magic and happens rarely, but it’s still fun (for me) and once your opponent got channeled on Turn 2 it also provides some constant fear on your opponents side. And what can I say, it happens from time to time and this silly “combo” was winning whole rounds for me without great thinking needed.
After MGM #15 which I finished 3rd I was pretty satisfied with my List:
MGM 15 3rd - Gwb Ramp CradleHo of the Reliquary
Farewell Emrakul and Ugin
Soon after MGM #15 the Mulligan was changed to London Mulligan only and oh my god, this greedy build up there suffered a lot from this fundamental change. During my weekly kitchen table sessions with Cédric Z. I noticed that the Deck needed way to many Mulligans and that going to 6 or even 5 isn’t something the deck can handle very good because the requirements for a keepable hand is higher than in most other decks I guess. Going down to 6 just because of Emrakul, the Promised End without Channel or Tutor is just awful.
Fighting the Mulligan Problem
So what to do now? Give up this beautiful archetype? Is it too clunky for London Mulligan Meta? Sure it’s not, so better try change some cards and evolve. My target was to get as many keepable first 7 cards. So first step: get rid of Channel, Imperial Seal, Karn, Ugin, Emrakul and add an additional land. But what to play instead? The main strength of the deck, its explosiveness with all the cheap Mana dorks that spam the board and generating a Mana advantage, was still very powerful. And besides some new cards like Gilded Goose (which I added last second before the tournament) there wasn’t a lot of stuff coming for Ramp to improve this part of the plan. Maybe Once Upon a Time which I added to have more opportunities to find a Land or cmc1 Dork on Turn 1 (and it’s not bad in the late game either). Quite the reverse, I even felt that I had to get rid of Lotus Cobra just because I don’t want my cmc2 Dorks to get killed by new op Planeswalker Wrenn and Six which is a real nightmare for this deck.
So if I can’t improve the Ramp part and don’t want to add further high cmc spells to get as many keepable hands, the solution was to go more into the midrange plan. And it was Nils R. who convinced me that I have to try Stoneforge Mystic. Although it took me some time I’m now very satisfied with this inclusion and don’t want to miss her. It’s a good (cheap) tutor target and adds something to the deck that can help a lot in problematic matchups (control). Furthermore, it improves all the Dorks as possible sword-bearers. Other cards that I added were Questing Beast (a true beast against Planeswalker and Jailer) , Eternal Witness (how could I ever cut this beauty?) , Voracious Hydra (very versatile) and Weathered Wayfarer (very good on the draw, finding all the busted lands). Another card worth mentioning but isn’t really midrange is Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. And oh my god, this card is busted as fuck and the perfect partner in crime to the deckname giving Craterhoof Behemoth. And again, it were Nils and Cédric that convinced me to play this card and Cédric had to beat me hard with this Preator before I gave up my resistance agianst this monster as I don’t wanted a WW spell in my deck. But yeah, Elesh Norn is totally worth it!
The night(mare) before CC2019
The weeks before CC2019 the deck was working quite well, although I’m still feeling that I have to take a lot of Mulligans but I guess that’s the price for a still greedy Deck like this.
I arrived at Halle already on Thursday with my good friend Schorsch and on Friday, also Nils and Cédric joined our “Halle of Fame” boot camp. We were testing and tuning decks and until then I had a very good feeling about the tournament if there would not have been the Scapeshift deck of Nils. Oh boy… He totally wrecked me and my Ramp Deck 13-4 in games. As I expected Scapeshift to be on of the decks to beat I was very upset and the guys had to stop me not to throw over the whole deck tuning and play Channel again. The only change I did last second was removing Nissa, Voice of Zendikar because it just felt hilarious to play a walker for 3 mana that builds 0/1 and ticks to for rather than this stupid Elkinator beast Oko, Thief of Crowns (It was a stupid cut because Nissa works pretty well with my Dorks and ironically I think that it couldn’t be that bad against Oko as well). Finally I registered the list bellow and – You probably know already – it worked pretty well for me.
(Tournament report coming soon)
CC2019 Gwb Ramp CradleHo of the Reliquary