How They Brew It - The Off-Ramp
Elvish Reclaimer by Victor Adame Minguez
When you first saw them, you didn't bat an eye. They were as innocuous as any other cards. Rampant Growth. Cultivate. Kodama's Reach. But then you noticed that they always appeared, again and again, in deck after deck. You began to question yourself. Were they always here? Were they always watching? Or were you just seeing things?
Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, months to years, and years back to days again. Where once you'd see them only at the commander tables, they began following you. Was that Skyshroud Claim in front of you at the cafeteria? Was Search for Tomorrow telling you "have a nice day" at 7-11? Is that Sakura-Tribe Elder in bed with your wife?
What a harrowing experience.
A Dose of Weed Killer
Boo! My name is Michael Celani, and I'm full of Spirit Halloween. No, I don't mean Halloween spirit. Please, call an ambulance.
Nothing is scarier than seeing your opponents ramp in Commander, except for clowns and the fact that even now, the Sun inexorably marches through its stellar lifecycle toward its expansion into a helium-filled red giant that will engulf Earth. But you don't have to be scared anymore! There's a way you can fight both ramp and the Sun, and his name is Kethis, the Hidden Hand.
The Power to Land Hack
But Michael, you ask. Can Kethis help fight ramp? Are we going to be recurring Hokori, Dust Drinker? What really caused the Bronze Age Collapse? In order, yes, no, and 5G. No, we're going to use our legendary cards to turn those extra lands into assets.
With Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth at our disposal, we can turn all lands into swamps and forests, respectively. With correct deckbuilding choices, each extra land your opponents put into play makes our plan stronger!
The Time Before Land
If we want to hack lands, we'll have to find either Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth or Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth in our deck. Luckily, our combination of colors makes it fairly easy to tutor them to our hand or even directly into play. Here's how we can make like an explorer and find new worlds that everyone already knows about:
- Give your basics a legendary upgrade with Crop Rotation, Elvish Reclaimer, or even Knight of the Reliquary. Since these are instant speed, surprise your enemies when you already have a payoff!
- If you've rolled the short stick in the turn order or you're fighting someone ramping, a Weathered Wayfarer can find you any land in your deck for just a single white mana.
- Tutoring for tutors might not seem great, but Yisan, the Wanderer Bard and his Instrument of the Bards are each capable of building up to bigger threats as the game goes on.
- Captain Sisay, Thalia's Lancers, and Search for Glory all look for legendary cards, which our two targets happen to be.
- Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire acts like a Vampiric Tutor when he attacks, and his deathtouch will likely take a creature down with him.
- Nylea's Intervention grounds pesky fliers in a pinch, but you'll mostly be using it to tutor a bunch of cards to your hand.
- Expedition Map is much cheaper, but it'll only get you one card instead.
- Both Pir's Whim and Tempt with Discovery tutor arbitrary lands to the battlefield, and you can even make your opponents play right into your hand with their group-hug effects!
- And if you've saved room for desert, Hour of Promise is a no-frills ramp spell that promises you two of any land in your deck.
Get Out of My Swamp
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth won't be only Yawgmoth's tomb when we're done with it. Swamps are the most polarized basic land type in all of Magic, and there's a number of cards that love when you play 'em and hate when your opponents do.
- Want to send your opponents to Commander jail? Stern Judge is the perfect barrister. His long arm of the law thwacks everyone (including you!) for one life per land.
- Angry Mob and Crusading Knight both become swole on swamps if Urborg is on the field. They're regularly as big as 15/15 when it's your turn, and if Filth is in the yard, they're guaranteed to connect.
- Now I'm personally not a Nightcreep (the charges were dropped), but that card would be the perfect combat trick if these two are on the field. If not, treat it like Silence for opponents that aren't in black.
- Korlash, Heir to Blackblade gets stronger with the number of swamps you have, and his regeneration makes him much less fragile than something like Nightmare.
- Speaking of nightmares, Nightmare Lash and Lashwrithe act similarly to Blackblade Reforged without the equip tax. You can even extend the effect to everybody by activating Dragon Throne of Tarkir!
- Now I'm personally not a Dread Presence (the charges were dropped), but since it turns all of your lands into shocks or draws, it's a great all-around inclusion.
- Pick swamps and you'll be able to drink up all the health you can get through your Roots of Life.
- On the opposite end, Karma and Royal Decree whittles down your opponents quite quickly.
- Note that since it's symmetrical, you'll have to find a way to deactivate Urborg, Tomb of Yavimaya when it's your turn. Luckily, Unstable Frontier can do just that! Turn Urborg into a forest, and it will lose all its other abilities, keeping you safe and sound.
- For cheap removal alongside Path to Exile and Winds of Abandon, consider Defile. It's even able to negate indestructibility!
Play the Minuet of Forest!
Don't worry, though; I'm capable of seeing the forest for the trees. While making all lands swamps is a great offensive play, you're afforded an incredible amount of recursion and control when they're forests.
- Wishing for a quick burst of life? You'll be happy when your dreams come to Fruition! It counts not just your own forests, but everyone's, and it'll get you out of a jam caused by an eager Torbran, Thane of Red Fell player.
- Quirion Ranger and Scryb Ranger are great for turning off or rescuing your legendary lands in a pinch.
- You can even rescue creatures if Ashaya, Soul of the Wild is on the field or they've been resurrected thanks to Yedora, Grave Gardener.
- Baru, Fist of Krosa gives your creatures a slight power bump and trample. Your Nightmare Lash carrier just became a whole lot scarier!
- Nissa, Who Shakes The World will work on all of your lands now, adding an additional green even if you tap them for some other color.
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Now that we've hacked the land's subtypes, let's hack their supertypes, too. If all lands are forests and swamps, why not make them creatures as well?
With Kormus Bell, Life and Limb, and Living Lands, everyone's lands are animated, and you're the only one prepared to command them!
- With Yedora, Grave Gardener on the field, you won't have to worry too much about them dying, since they'll just come back as land creatures again.
- Dragon Throne of Tarkir and Baru, Fist of Krosa each pump them into actual threats.
- If attacking isn't your game, you could just tap them and watch Throne of the God-Pharaoh do all the work.
- Worried about your opponents cracking back? Don't be! Nobody will waste their precious mana fighting you when Unstable Frontier can turn off all their attackers, or you could pick up all the lands with Quirion Ranger, Scryb Ranger, or Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar!
- If you really want to end the game, just throw out The Meathook Massacre. Blowing up everyone's lands and creatures on top of a massive life difference should be enough to squeeze out the win or enough concessions to get you there.
I hope that my deck tech has rendered you sufficiently unscared for the kickass Halloween party I'm about to throw. My research has concluded that the less frightened you are going into a haunted house, the more liable you are to forget to properly secure your valuables as our employees pick your pocket when they get in your face. Whoops, did I type that out loud? Please forget this entire article, then. Thanks!
The Off-Ramp (Kethis, the Hidden Hand EDH)
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