As is tradition with the week leading up to a new set release, especially one as impactful as a rotating set, the gears in my head are hard at work brewing up whatever it can. This week I’m taking a shot at something that I noticed hasn’t been great in Standard in a while: ramp.
Some would argue that Simic Nexus was a ramp deck that was very good, though I disagree with this argument. Simic Nexus had acceleration in Growth Spiral, but that does not make it a ramp deck. In my experience, ramp plays a lot of acceleration, followed by bomb-like threats for the rest of the game. Little interaction, few ways to win unfairly. Behold, my iteration of Standard ramp.
It has been a long time since you could play a ramp spell on curve for every turn up to four in Standard. In fact, the last time you could was when Explosive Vegetation was Standard legal. Back then they had Nissa’s Pilgrimage (now we have Beanstalk Giant) as well as a six mana Chandra to top the curve off (it was good then, it’s good now).
I’ll be honest, when I started brewing this deck I thought it would not stand a chance, but looking at it now it feels extremely solid. Let’s get to the breakdown.
The core of this deck is just ramp. And a lot of it. I’m just going to move up the curve of ramp spells, starting with Arboreal Grazer and Gilded Goose. These guys accelerate us as well as provide a body on the ground to block against the aggressive decks, or protect our planeswalkers once we get them going. The Goose comes at a draw back at requiring food to accelerate, but being able to generate food is actually absurd. If I’m playing against an aggressive deck, we can just generate food to eat for the life gain, whereas if it’s any other match ups I can use the food to accelerate as needed.
Moving up the curve we have a play set of both Growth Spiral and Beanstalk Giant (for the Fertile Footsteps adventure). These are both solid as if I have the turn one acceleration, I can have a Fertile Footsteps on turn two, and if I don’t have the turn one acceleration I can move into a Growth Spiral. Either way, any combination of these will set us up for a third turn Circuitous Route, which gives us an option of any of our bombs on turn four.
Starting out with our support cards is a card that I didn’t think was going to make the cut, but ended up being one of the more solid cards in the build in Once Upon a Time. OUaT allows us to ensure having a land in hand to ramp with Arboreal Grazer and Growth Spiral. Passed that, it can find us an additional ramp spell if we hit Beanstalk Giant, can find us a win condition if we hit a Feasting Troll King or Hydroid Krasis, or it can find one of the better cards in the deck in Field of the Dead.
Field of the Dead is what keeps this deck producing threats every turn after turn four. I’m sad that Scapeshift has rotated, but it doesn’t make this card any less good. It’s even more absurd when you factor in that Fabled Passage gives us two landfall triggers in the same turn, as well as fix our mana perfectly.
The last support cards to talk about are Oko, Thief of Crowns, and Nissa, Who Shakes the World. Oko provides additional food tokens to fuel our Gilded Goose and Feasting Troll Kings, as well as making our Arboreal grazers and Gooses larger threats if needed (not to mention shrinking our opponents threats if needed). Nissa does a little of everything, she accelerates us, provides bodies to protect us, and threatens to win the game if she ultimates. A nice synergy as well is when she animates the lands, they become elementals, so they dodge the sweep effect on Chandra, Awakened Inferno.
This is the real reason to play the deck. To kick it off, I would like to name Beanstalk Giant as an honorary finisher, and a good one at that. It may be just a vanilla creature with a big body, but it comes at the cost of no card, assuming it’s gone on an adventure. It just happens to be tacked onto a ramp spell, which makes the card as playable as it is.
For our real finishers in the creature slot, we have Feasting Troll King and Hydroid Krasis. Need I say why these cards are so great? The Troll King is a threatening body that can gain us life if needed from the food he produces, and threatens recursion if we don’t need the life gain. Vigilance and Trample allows us to attack while also keeping up a blocker. Hydroid Krasis is big, has evasion, provides card advantage, and pads our life total all in one. It would be a disgrace to the deck not to include it.
The last, and definitely not least of the finishers is Chandra, Awakened Inferno. Chandra is absurd. She can come down as early as turn four, from there she can either wipe the board, spot check any one creature I may be having troubles with, or immediately start ticking up to move towards ending the game. She no doubt provides enough threat to warrant immediate answers, which is why I’m running the full play set. Chandra is the only reason we play red, and believe me, she’s worth it.
This is absolutely the deck I’m going to be playing week one of Standard. The power potential in this deck is through the roof, the only thing I’m worried about is the go wide and recursive strategies going around in standard. This is why the sideboard is so removal heavy in Lava Coil, Fry, and Flame Sweep. Between these and the play set of Chandras in the main, I believe this deck can stand up to the format.