February 27, 2018

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10 Budget Versions for Commander: Ramp

Don’t you hate it when you’re trying to come in under the budget you’ve set for yourself in deck building, but the key ramp cards for your deck are all busting your cash limits?

This article will give you the original, out of budget card for Commander and then provide you with one or more examples of some cheaper options that will still provide much (if not all) of the functionality of the original for a fraction of the cost. You’ll likely only sacrifice some tempo or colour flexibility while still getting what you’re looking for. Let’s take a look!

Original: Solemn Simulacrum

Solemn is an EDH staple for a reason, it’s a ramp card that goes in any colour of deck and also replaces itself by drawing a card when it dies. What doesn’t this lonely old robot do?

Budget: Burnished Hart

This may seem like a bit of a weird comparison, but it gets less weird the more you look at it. For one, Burnished Hart (herein knows as Bernie) costs less, but as an activation fee, still goes in any colour of deck, gets you a tapped basic but doesn’t draw you a card… or does it?

Bernie gets you two lands, which is kind of like drawing the extra card except it also puts it directly on the battlefield, so it’s more like you also cast explore for a turn. That’s how all this works right? But for real, Bernie is a great ramp card especially in colours that don’t ramp easily and can easily take the place of Solemn while providing much of the same functionality.

Original: Myriad Landscape

I know Myriad Landscape isn’t an expensive card, but once you’ve shelled out for the nonland cards in your deck, the lands can be a bit of an afterthought. So while you could spend the $3 or so for Myriad, in green decks you could always just run…

Budget: Blighted Woodland

Again, you sacrifice some tempo and mana cost here for a slightly better effect. Two basic lands come into play tapped with this, but two of any type instead of the one type Myriad provides. It’s a bummer this one only applies to Green decks, but if you’re in these colours definitely consider the Blighted Woodland. Bonus if you’re playing a deck that cares about Landfall.

Original: Primeval Titan

Look, I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is that Primeval Titan is banned in EDH and if you’re trying to brew a deck with him in it, you’re going to be disappointed when you try to cast it against your friends. But the good news is there is a much worse version of Primetime available that does sort of what you were probably looking for.

Budget: Ulvenwald Hydra

If you cared about Primetime’s power and toughness, then you’ll be happy wiith Ulvenwald Hydra‘s star P/T rates, but if you’re thinking about mimicing Primetime’s attack trigger land-grab you’ll be sad. BUT the difference gets split on UH’s ETB trigger, because while you do get to search for ANY land, it is only the one. But still, you’re emulating half of a BANNED CARD, not a bad deal.

Original: Gaea’s Cradle & Tolarian Academy

When you’re talking about a banned land and another that costs upwards of $300 I’m happy to just get anything even resembling an effect that these cards can produce. But luckily when it comes to these two lands we actually end up with the most function of this entire list.

Budget: Growing Rites of Itlimoc & Storm the Vault

These two get grouped together because they’re not just budget replacements, they’re the same card,  just reprinted in a new and weird way: via transform enchantments. I actually sort of view these cards as actual upgrades to the originals in most ways. They kind of ramp you in that you’ll often play these enchantments plus a land, and then have them transform into a land on your end step. Obviously if you get one of these spells countered it feels pretty bad, but hey, we budget players like to live life dangerously.

Original: Exploration

The best Exploration is definitely on turn one, but in a lot of decks Exploration really pays off later in the game with abusing the replaying of lands. And in that scenario another card that reproduces that effect is…

Budget: Wayward Swordtooth

Two turns later isn’t too bad for Wayward Swordtooth when compared to Exploration, plus later in the game three mana isn’t that much and can often be played alongside another spell to mess with land drops. It’s obviously weaker to board wipes and kill spells, but it can be reanimated easier as well. The cons are there, but the pros help a lot, and biggest of them all is the price difference.

Original: Crucible of Worlds

At its simples, playing lands from your graveyard means you can reuse Evolving Wilds and fetch lands. While it’s not technically ramp, it can be used that way in certain decks.

Budget: Ramunap Excavator

I’m aware of the downside of taking a card like Crucible, which can go in any deck, and saying that a Green card like Ramunap Excavator is a suitable replacement. Obviously this is true only for decks that run green. But, in this specific case, Crucible really sees most of its EDH play in green based decks in the first place so I do feel like most of the deckbuilding potential is actually here with Ramunap Excavator. Same classic creature downsides but in green/black it’s almost better in the graveyard.

Original: Ancient Tomb

A land that ramps you one all by itself simply by being played seems too good to be true. And if you’re a budget player in Commander, that may as well be true.

Budget: Temple of the False God

However a card that we budget players are very familiar with is TotFG, and the debate about running it rages on throughout the internet.

In my opinion, this card is great and only becomes a liability in decks with four or more colours. Others argue the fact that you need five lands to turn it on makes it terrible, but if you’re on a budget and tempo isn’t your number one concern, even having an opening hand with TotFG isn’t the worst. Hey it doesn’t even hurt you to tap it!

Original: Gilded Lotus

While more and more people are beginning to deride the “auto-include” status of Gilded Lotus in EDH, it’s still a great mana rock for decks in colours with trouble ramping and fixing their mana. However, that price tag is definitely a reason to leave it out of whatever you’re building at the moment. Unless you’ve been playing limited recently and opened…

Budget: Pyramid of the Pantheon & Dowsing Dagger

The cleverly renamed Builded Lotus (thanks the internet) and Jilted Lotus (I just came up with that, does it make any sense?) each provide the budget EDH player with decent enough imitations of the original, but with a little extra elbow grease required. Pyramid needs what works out to be one mana per turn for three turns, and Dowsing Dagger needs an evasive creature and/or an opponent with no defenses for a turn.

Personally I like the Dagger a little more because you can generally flip it the turn you play it if you have the required mana and a creature, but for the times you don’t the Pyramid is definitely the better option.

Original: Chromatic Lantern

While Chromatic Lantern isn’t ban-worthy or anything, it feels like WOTC’s reluctance to reprint this card in a meaningful way kind of indicates they’re aware how busted it is to essentially make every card in your deck ignore colour casting requirements. No doubt one of the absolute best mana fixers in the game, there’s a reason the closest we have to this card for budget players is…

Budget: Joiner Adept

You can only be green and then the ability appears on an easily dealt with creature. Still, having this ability in a five coloured deck is essential and, well, if you’re running four or five colours Joiner Adept is an auto include.

Budget versions of more powerful cards are essential when it comes to building with tighter purse strings and is probably the most requested thing when newer players start out in Commander. SO if you know anyone who would like to know these cards and ones they fill in for, point em here at MTGCanada because I’ll be back with more in two weeks!