Good Stuff

Ramos, Dragon Engine
If you thought I was dragging my feet on Mairsil waiting for people to figure out what we should be caging, you’re going to really think I dragged my feet waiting to build a Ramos deck. I still don’t really know what I want to go in the deck and the fact that basically any card could be included makes the whole enterprise seem incredibly daunting. I want to make sure I have ways to get a lot of mana, something to do with the mana and ways to stop them from stopping me. I also have to make sure the things I want to do are going to work the way I want them to work (last week I held up a Second Sunrise, waiting for my gullible opponent to play his Merciless Eviction right into my trap. Trap didn’t work, Eviction exiles, not destroys and I lost 11 enchantments and the game. Remember to RTFC, readers.) There are a lot of cards I want to add and the fact that I could just resort to a goodstuff deck should excite me but instead it fills me with dread knowing I’ll have an impossible time paring down to a “mere” 100 cards.

To help manage this problem, we’re going to pick some things we want to do and use our 75% techniques to narrow our potential cardpool for us, not for power level restrictions but rather for our sanity. If you’ve been reading this column for a while you know that I like to win the game with Helix Pinnacle and I think that’s one of the win conditions we want to explore here. The issue is that cards like Thrasios, Triton Hero just turn into more copies (effectively) of Helix Pinnacle. Do I want to be all-in on one card or do I want to try and find more things I can do with an infinite amount of mana? Do I even want an infinite amount of mana? (I probably do, right? Otherwise I build The Ur-Dragon) With a 5 color mana-base, I have a lot of slots already pre-devoted to mana fixing and ramp which means that I actually don’t have too many slots in the deck to monkey with once I get the “essentials” nailed down. I think an infinite couldn’t hurt, so the combo between Nim Deathmantle and Composite Golem should be fine. Without tutors, we’ll still need a way to win or not lose long enough to execute our plans and having the “steal their stuff and win with it” backup plan should be present in most 75% decks as much as that’s going to cut into our few “freebie” slots. Cards like Desertion that can swipe something good or counter a blowout spell will be leaned upon heavily.

If you’re like me, you use EDHREC a lot when you build and you may have noticed the new “themes” menu at the top of a commander’s page. Looking at different Ramos subthemes can help us see which cards people with similar builds are playing and help our signal:noise ratio a bit in building. If we’re going for a subtheme or just looking to filter our all of the Planeswalkers or +1/+1 counters builds, these filters can help us select more of the cards we’ll actually play. I recommend spending some time tinkering with them if that’s a resource you use when you build.

Maze's End
I like “You win the game” cards in a deck like this so I’m going to play one that I’ve never attempted before — Maze’s End. Maze’s End is sort of a bad card as far as “you win!” cards are concerned because it seems like it takes a lot more work than most. However, if you include a card like Scapeshift, you can pull a sneaky win out of nowhere. Scapeshift is hardly an auto-win, however, so you still need to be able to put a win together with other cards most of the time. We have a few different ways to win instantly that require some setup but which aren’t so disparate that we spread ourselves thin trying to do one or the other. We want to be able to pivot or do anything else well if need be. I’m confident that we’ll win some games with this deck, the ideal amount being 1/x games where x is the number of players in our pod. A lands subtheme will help us accomplish a lot of our goals from fixing to additional utility from landfall triggers to that rare Scapeshift into Maze’s End win. I’ve been looking for more decks to jam Ramunap Excavator so this seems like the perfect time. It’s not like we can have too much land when we’re trying to win with Helix Pinnacle, right? With our subtheme selected and our cardpool effectively narrowed, the decision made to run both infinite combos and “Oops, I win” cards but no tutors made, and a few cards picked out, let’s see how the deck shapes up, shall we?

Ramosnap Excavating — Commander | Jason Alt

Commander (1)
Creatures (20)
Instants (6)
Sorceries (13)
Enchantments (7)
Artifacts (8)
Lands (40)
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Knight of the Reliquary
It’s a good thing I usually consider my builds’ “skeletons” and think about different directions they could go in because this seems pretty awkward to me. I think this probably plays a lot better than it looks on paper and I might take a few practice games with this as-is before we try to address issues with it, but here are a few things I can see right now.

Knight of the Reliquary needs more targets. I don’t really have enough basics for it to do a ton of work right now and my decision to omit shocklands is something you could reverse to give yourself a few more forests and plains for your knight. I was trying to keep the cost of the deck down a little and make spells that fetched basics a little bit better. Plains are good with Emeria Shepherd and Knight of the Reliquary and a lot of the early plays we want to make require Green so it made sense to load up on Forests a bit. If you like shocks better and you have them, you’re probably good to throw them in. After all, 7 of the shocks are either a Plains or Forest so you don’t sacrifice much knight utility.

I wanted to add Eldrazi Displacer to back up Deadeye Navigator because we have cards like Coiling Oracle, Mystic Snake, Solemn Simulacrum and Eternal Witness that are very good with Navigator. However, we don’t have too many ways to make colorless mana with this mana base so I opted to cut it. This mana base is one that you’ll have to heavily customize yourself, I think. If you have to omit Displacer because of too few sources of colorless, not run Knight because of too few Forests and Plains (Emeria Shepherd is still perfectly fine with few Plains) or make some other crazy mods, go for it.

Transguild Courier
We don’t make use of Ramos in this build as much as some other builds I have seen, but being able to turn a Transguild Courier into a Door to Nothingness activation is still fine, and getting 10% of the way to a Helix Pinnacle win per turn is nothing to sneeze at, either. If you manage to generate infinite mana, Thrasios is a way to make sure you find Pinnacle or your other win conditions like Door or Scapeshift (sometimes, provided you have enough land left in the deck when you find Maze’s End).

There are other potential ways to build this deck, and a +1/+1 counter subtheme was appealing also. If you want to go that route, you’ll want to build very differently but it will still be a fun deck. This subtheme makes sure you’ve always got access to the 10 mana from Ramos, or you make him big enough to just smash someone for 21 when you attack. Cards like Corpsejack Menace and Doubling Season will do a ton of work. You can even run Pinnacle in that build if you want.

I’ve seen some people who are running Conflux to get 5 spells that you can use right away to combo off. I think those builds are fine but I went a little more utilitarian with my build. My favorite thing to do in Commander is get a Mystic Snake bound with a Deadeye Navigator or put a Solemn Simulacrum in a Mimic Vat as opposed to getting a pile of weird creatures with a Conflux. If you are looking for that kind of build, think about cards like Angel’s Grace and Ad Nauseam for your Conflux piles, or look up some builds online. I’m not saying those are 75% at all, I’m just saying I like how the build I suggested shaped up.

Did I make some assumption about how the cards work that’s wrong? Did I exclude something you like to run in your Ramos deck? Got a list for me to look at? Leave it in the comments section. Thanks for reading and we’ll be back next week to talk about something new and exciting like the new Ixalan cards or the killer 75% reprints in Iconic Masters. Until next time!

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