U/G Ramp by Ali Aintrazi at SCG Atlanta – 54th
2 Walking Ballista
1 Sphinx of the Final Word
2 Tireless Tracker
1 Lay Claim
1 Metallurgic Summonings
1 Appetite for the Unnatural
2 Commencement of Festivities
1 Kefnet the Mindful
1 Crush of Tentacles
Aetherworks Marvel is generally thought of as the go-to way to force through big creatures on earlier turns in Standard. However, Ali Aintrazi was able to pilot a more traditional ramp strategy to a top 64 finish at SCG Atlanta this weekend, which indicates that the deck could potentially be a viable option in Amonkhet Standard.
This deck plays 7 mana-producing creatures, 4 copies of Naga Vitalist and 3 copies of Ulvenwald Captive. These creatures are the foundation of the deck, and critical to the deck’s ability to churn out value through its mana. Additional ramp sources can be found in Hedron Archive and Nissa’s Renewal, however the latter tends to be used as a way to climb back into the game release all mana restrictions that the deck usually faces, and shouldn’t be considered an effective early-game ramp spell.
There are several meaningful payoffs for having a lot of mana in this deck. Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is the most obvious option, as it can single-handedly pull you back from a losing position and win you the game in two turns. The other big payoffs are Crush of Tentacles and Part the Waterveil. Crush of Tentacles, similarly to Ulamog, can bring you back from a losing position and offer pressure as well. However, Crush is much better at clearing the board (for obvious reasons) and is less of a threat on offense. Part the Waterveil is is usually game over with Ulamog in play (mill opponent for 40). On its own it can be a powerful Time Walk effect that includes a 6/6 creature, but it is generally part of the supporting cast of this deck.
One of the main issues of ramp decks in the past is their inability to protect themselves long enough to cast their payoff cards and not drawing those payoff cards. This deck has several interactive cards that hold the opponent off for as long as possible. Haze of Pollen and Commencement of Festivities are, by all accounts, bad cards, but this deck loves these types of effects, similarly to how 12-Post in Legacy plays similar effects to buy time. To supplement these effects, this deck plays Censor and Commit//Memory to counter spells and interact with the opponent’s board presence respectively.
Here are the changes I would make going forward:
-1 Lay Claim
This is day 123 of Spellsnare.com’s 2017 Deck of the Day column, where each day we’ll feature a different Standard, Modern, or Legacy deck that caught our eye. You can read day 122 here, where we featured a Standard burn deck that’s looking to bring an old favorite back into the spotlight.
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