Stop Playing Rampant Growth in Commander

Michael Celani • July 2, 2024

Rampant Growth by Steven Belledin

Taking the Off-Ramp

Hi, I'm Michael Celani. You might know me as the man who wrote that enchantress deck that has no enchantments, or as a co-host on Am I the Bolcast?, the podcast where my editors have told me to stop including the trailing question mark that's a part of the official title because it makes sentences very difficult to parse grammatically. As someone who has built literally hundreds of Commander decks over the past five or so years, I can confidently say the following: stop playing Rampant Growth in your Commander decks.

Hear Me Out

Rampant Growth is a veritable Magic: The Gathering Commander format icon, but unlike the subject of my jab here, it actually has the stats to back it up. Out of all the cards played in the entire game, it's ranked 24th, which means that Rampant Growth sees more play than Negate, Demonic Tutor, Chaos Warp, Generous Gift, and even Cyclonic Rift. The difference between the cards I just mentioned and Rampant Growth is that those cards are actually capable of affecting the game in a meaningful way.

I'm not saying Rampant Growth is completely useless or outclassed, but it's not good enough to deserve its top twenty-five slot. I'm not just inciting controversy for clicks: the burden of proof is on the prosecution, and I'm willing to state my case. If I want to knock down a literal 0.0009%-er, I'm going to have to come up with evidence that it's not worth the card slot, or at the very least that there are better options available to you. With that in mind, here are real reasons people gave to me why they're running Rampant Growth in their deck, and why I'm not buying it.

It's Two-Mana Ramp

The argument: Rampant Growth is unconditional two-mana ramp! When you cast it, you get an extra land for the rest of the game. Because it's so cheap, you're able to use it faster than most ramp, which means you'll have more mana than your opponents for a longer stretch of the game!

There's Better Two-Mana Ramp

I'll concede that two-mana ramp is the gold standard; it'd be foolish to argue otherwise. If you play a commander that costs four or more mana to cast, taking your second turn off to cast a ramp spell will give your gameplan a substantial boost. It's true that Rampant Growth is capable of doing this, and it would be a huge point in the card's favor... if there weren't other spells that do it better.

There's a category of two-mana artifact spells that ramp you the same amount as Rampant Growth with fewer downsides. These artifacts enter untapped, are easier to cast, and (most importantly) you don't have to spend an eternity shuffling your mammoth of a double-sleeved deck afterwards. They often have secondary effects that make them superior to a basic land, as well; for example, Mind Stone can sacrifice itself to draw you a card when you no longer need the extra mana, while Thought Vessel gets rid of your hand size.

Let's say you need the extra lands specifically, though. Don't worry, the two-mana slot has you covered there, too. Three Visits and Nature's Lore both find a Forest and put it onto the battlefield untapped, meaning that you can use your shiny new resources immediately instead of needing to wait a turn. Farseek can find a Plains, Island, Swamp, or Mountain and put it onto the battlefield tapped, which means it can seek out dual lands that Rampant Growth could never dream of getting.

Let's not forget the creature-based ramp, either. Two mana gets you a creature that can tap for any color of mana. It's worth noting that creatures are often better than basics from a utility standpoint. If you're running an aristocrats strategy, they'll die just the same as any of the tokens you're spitting out; if you've got an Equipment deck, it sure is nice to be able to suit up your evasive Ornithopter of Paradise to go for a lethal blow. Some spells at this price point, like Priest of Titania or Bloom Tender, can even tap for far more than one mana. Finally, if you're staring down a big creature, remember that basic lands can't chump block!

One-Mana Ramp Exists

If speed is truly a priority, though, then we can zoom right past two-mana ramp and enter the wonderful world of one-mana ramp. Sol Ring and other fast mana aside, green has access to a plethora of cheap dorks that go mana-positive.

Let's start with the Auras that enchant lands, a criminally underused facet of green's ramp repertoire. Seriously, I'm stunned I don't see Wild Growth and Utopia Sprawl more often than "when there's an Enchantress deck in the pod." Put these on any land they can enchant, and they'll immediately start making more mana when you tap them, with no need to wait until your next turn. They work especially well if your deck likes to untap permanents, since they're now twice as effective a target as a standard land.

One-mana Elves have always been a huge staple of early game ramp, too. They have all the benefits that being a creature confers, with a useful type to match, but don't think that just because your deck doesn't care about Elves specifically that it can't include these powerful staples.

Maybe You Don't Even Need Two-Mana Ramp

The last thing to consider here is that a lot of decks don't even really need two-mana ramp. Does your commander cost two mana? You should probably be playing your commander on turn two if that's the case. Does your commander cost three mana? Spend your turn two doing something a bit more impactful, like playing a two-mana value permanent:

Remember, if you're taking time off to ramp, you're not spending that time putting things on the battlefield that will draw you cards, protect your permanents, or advance your gameplan. Those early turns are critical, and if your can get away with casting your commander on turn three or four anyway, it might not even really be worth it to focus too hard on ramping. In fact, if your commander is cheap enough, you'll really want to draw cards to ensure you hit your land drops instead, because missing a land drop is like giving everyone else at the table a Rampant Growth for free.

It Fixes My Mana

The argument: I play a deck that's a lot of colors! Rampant Growth lets me find a basic land that matches the colors I'm missing. That way, I'll never get stuck without the type of mana I need!

Counterpoint: No It Doesn't

You do all realize that Rampant Growth requires green mana, right? It's right there in the cost.

It doesn't really fix your color problems as much as reduces them to one specific color. If you draw a Rampant Growth and have no way to make green, you're just as screwed as before. I know it's not wise to make perfect be the enemy of good, but I'm going to, because there literally are perfect solutions here:

None of these spells require you to have access to a particular type of mana at all, and they all can reach every color of the pentachromtic rainbow.

Even lands do a better job of fixing your mana than Rampant Growth. If you're willing to use a tapped land (remember: Rampant Growth's land comes in tapped), then the Thriving cycle and the Baldur's Gates can each tap for one color of mana while letting you choose the second. The Vivid lands can tap for all five colors a limited number of times, generally just long enough to let you find a more renewable source of that mana you need. That's saying nothing of Command Tower, Exotic Orchard, Path of Ancestry, Grand Coliseum, and City of Brass. And what about all the fetch lands? Speaking of which...

It Lets You Play an Extra Land

The argument: I'm in a Landfall deck! I need to have as many lands come into play as possible to make my deck work. Rampant Growth lets me get an extra land drop during my turn!

So Does Any Fetch Land

This is counterintuitive, but ramp is not necessarily the goal of a Landfall deck. Yes, it happens, and the fact that it happens is why they can be so powerful and so resilient to things like commander removal, but the actual, explicit goal of a Landfall deck is to get Landfall triggers. Remember: you are literally passing up free value if you miss your land drop. You should trend towards more land cards, not more sorcery spells that happen to find you a single basic.

With that in mind, it's worth noting that literally any fetch land lets you double your land drops, for free. You get the first trigger from playing the land itself, and the second from using its ability to find another land in your deck. Believe me, I get that some of them are pricey, but you don't even have to play the expensive ones: Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse are just as good as Polluted Delta for a Landfall deck's purpose.

If you dig a little deeper, you can put in some more specific cards like the Shards of Alara panoramas, the Modern Horizons 3 landscapes, the Streets of New Capenna moblands, and any number of the how-can-we-reprint- Terminal Moraine story that's currently being written by Wizards. Any of these cards are better for a Landfall deck than Rampant Growth, full stop. Especially because...

It's Nowhere Near As Impactful As Other Options

At two mana, if you actually want to beef up your Landfall deck, a single-shot sorcery is not the way to go. Landfall decks want to do the following things:

A proper Landfall deck is capable of working even when all the basic lands in the deck are exhausted. If you run out of basics, Rampant Growth will not work; it becomes a dead card. You could get around this by running an ungodly number of basics, but being able to consistently loop something like Glacial Chasm or Roadside Reliquary is substantially more deadly and a much more fun goal to work towards.

Even Still, It's Only One Land

Okay, but maybe you actually do want some one-shot ramp in your Landfall deck. That's understandable, and a fair reason why you'd want to include Rampant Growth over something like Simic Signet.

So, if your commander would be substantially rushed out by two-mana ramp, and you've already included the better land-based ramp from up above, and you've dedicated enough slots to your recursion and fetch package that you can comfortably win the long game, and you have enough card draw in the deck that you can avoid the feels-bad from top-decking Rampant Growth in a pinch, then congratulations: you're playing Tatyova, Benthic Druid, and basically every ramp spell is just a way to load more cards into your hand the way that French fries exist to shovel ketchup into my oversized gullet.

If that's not you, instead consider cards that put multiple lands onto the battlefield with one spell so that you get multiple Landfall triggers. Alongside cards like Explosive Vegetation or Harrow, which search for two basics directly, spells that can find arbitrary (nonbasic) lands are always a plus because you can find any utility land you need in specific scenarios while in the average case getting a fetch land.

There are more specific spells which can find multiple lands if your deck meets a certain condition. For example, if your commander is beefy, consider Entish Restoration and Traverse the Outlands, or if you like to go wide, try sacrificing a token to Primal Growth or getting tons of value out of a Harvest Season.

Finally, consider running X spells that can search out more lands if you sink more mana into them. Sure, they'll often require you to spend three mana to get a single land instead of Rampant Growth's two, but they scale far more as the game goes on.

These spells all have much higher ceilings than Rampant Growth. Your cards should be useful throughout the entire game, and Rampant Growth does not meet that metric in tons of circumstances. You can do better!

People Don't Blow Up Lands

The argument: Well, I want to ramp, and I could include two-mana artifacts like Simic Signet, but if I do that, they'll just get blown up! People don't blow up lands. I want my ramp to be permanent!

Counterpoint: People Don't Blow Up Rocks, Either

When's the last time you've seen anybody blow up a mana rock with single target removal? Even Sol Ring doesn't get sniped as often as it probably should. Do you really think people are willing to waste their Abrade on a Simic Signet when it could potentially stop an Orcish Bowmasters or a Portal to Phyrexia?

"But you still could blow up a mana rock! People really should bolt the bird--"

You know how I know that people don't care about blowing up mana rocks? Because if they did, Sinkhole would be overwhelmingly more popular than it is. Every (practical) deck requires lands to function, so in theory running Sinkhole should ensure that you can deny your opponents the same amount of resources that a rock brings for the same cost as any bog-standard Disenchant effect. Well, Sinkhole has fifteen hundred decks to its name.

There is one caveat to this, and that's the board wipes. If a board wipe is going to destroy all artifacts or enchantments or creatures, then yes, your mana rocks and dorks will be caught up in it. However, this can be sidestepped by running a proper amount of protection or recursion, which you should be doing anyway to ensure your gameplan doesn't get shut down by anyone looking at you funny.

The Art is Great

The argument: I really like the art on Rampant Growth! It's so pretty!

What Are You Actually Talking About, Though

Maybe I'm looking at the wrong printing, but this is ugly as sin.

Growth Spiral

I hope I've convinced you to consider your ramp slots a little bit more closely than not at all. Don't shove a Rampant Growth or even Cultivate into every green deck; make sure you carefully consider the pros and cons of each card you include so that you can maximize the potential of your deck. I'm sure there are decks out there where Rampant Growth makes sense, but it's nowhere near all of them like we've been lead to believe.

With that, I've thoroughly evaporated my credibility. Tune in next week, when I discuss whether or not you should be playing Phyrexian Arena now that Ripples of Undeath exists.

Newly appointed member of the FDIC and insured up to $150,000 per account, Michael Celani is the member of your playgroup that makes you go "oh no, it's that guy again." He's made a Twitter account @GamesfreakSA as well as other mistakes, and his decks have been featured on places like MTGMuddstah. You can join his Discord at and vote on which decks you want to see next. In addition to writing, he has a job, other hobbies, and friends.