How They Brew It – The Off-Ramp

Michael Celani • October 25, 2021

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:

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.
  • 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.

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!

Land’s End

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)

Commander (1)
Planeswalkers (2)
Creatures (23)
Sorceries (9)
Instants (8)
Artifacts (11)
Enchantments (8)
Lands (38)

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