|As we saw in my previous article on elf ramp, boosting your mana based on the number of creatures you have in play is nothing new. However, when Rise of the Eldrazi was released back in 2010, players were given a new outlet for their mana ramping craves: Overgrown Battlement. The Priest of Titania lookalike costs the same amount of mana, but at 20 cents of value, is monetarily much cheaper. Two years later, Return to Ravnica gave us Axebane Guardian, and a new archetype was born. This is Defender Ramp, and at just over $8, this is the cheapest ramp deck you’ll see this week.|
Overgrown Battlement and Axebane Guardian are our core cards. Their defender-based mana abilities determine the structure of the rest of the deck by requiring us to play as many defenders as possible. Luckily, there are quite a few defenders in green which also produce mana, just like elves!
Vine Trellis, Ulvenwald Captive, and Wall of Roots each provide us with even more mana to play with. Roots is a great way to get multiple plays in a turn, as its ability can be activated the same turn you cast it. Captive is also a great mana dump, as you can transform him into a beater once you are stable on mana.
Tinder Wall is one of your turn one plays. It produces mana for us just like most of our other walls. Even better, the mana it makes is red, meaning it can help pay for some other key cards in our list. Gatecreeper Vine acts as a cantrip that grabs lands for us. It can search out mountains as needed, to ensure we never get mana-locked.
Mana isn’t the only thing walls can do, though! Wall of Mulch can draw us cards in a pinch, for example. It’s basically a cheaper Wall of Blossoms. Carven Caryatid is another option in this slot if you want card draw without paying the extra money for Blossoms. Commune with Nature is a cantrip that helps us find the creatures we need, when we need them. Usually, it will be looking for Battlement,Guardian, or one of our finishers.
Vent Sentinel is the first half of our endgame, and one of the main reasons we splash red. One in play means we are likely to kill our opponent in about three turns. Once we get multiples, though, that clock gets much quicker. Sentinel is cool, but our primary kill is Cinder Elemental, the only creature in the deck without defender. Many players will throw in spells like Fireball for the big finish, which is why this archetype is often called Wall Ball. Because we use Commune with Nature, though, we needed our “Fireball” to be a creature it could find for us. This simply increases consistency. Sadly, there is no creature with defender that has the same ability…yet.
If you wanted, you could easily play the deck as a traditional ramp list. That is to say, just use your mana to cast really big creatures. Commune can just as easily find a Plated Crusher, Breaker of Armies, or any other big monster you would want to play. I like the flash of style that comes with dumping tons of mana into an X-cost ability and killing the opponent in one big blaze of glory, though. So, my list is sticking with Cinder Elemental.
|The Final List
|Playing the Deck|
|Tinder Wall will usually be your first play of the game. She will help you get your primary mana walls in play as soon as possible. Don’t hesitate to sacrifice your Tinder Wall early to play a turn two Axebane Guardian. The quicker you get him down, the better. You will always have other walls to fuel his mana ramp.
Commune with Nature is another turn one option. Since it will ever really be used to look for one of two things (A Battlement/Guardian or finisher) you can easily decide what you are looking for after you see your opening hand. Should neither of them be available, Ulvenwald Captive is another good pick, as he can be used as a mana dump. The 4/6 creature he transforms into can put pressure on the opponent and prevent the from attacking, buying you time to get the real goodies out.
Nine times out of ten Gatecreeper Vine is going to grab you a mountain just so you know that you have one. You won’t ever be mana-locked out of green, and you don’t want to try and topdeck into a red source when you have enough mana to kill your opponent.
There’s actually a pretty cool list of options here. Wall of Blossoms is the first card you should consider if you want to put a little more money into this deck. It can replace Wall of Mulch and/or Gatecreeper Vine. Also, Lead the Stampede could replace Commune with Nature if you feel inclined. You lose out on more turn one plays, but you have the chance to get more creatures out of it.The level up creatures Kargan Dragonlord, Kazandu Tuskcaller, and others are decent mana dumps. Colossus of Akros is a hilarious finisher if for nothing more than the fact that he starts out as a defender, so he contributes mana to animate himself. Jungle Patrol is another cool card for improving your mana. The tokens it produces are defenders, and can produce mana just like Tinder Wall. This means you can Battlement/Guardian for mana, then sacrifice the tokens for even more. The four CMC cost, plus the fact that it taps to create a token, means that it’s probably too slow to play, though.
Pack Hunt is another really cool card. If you cast it on Battlement or Guardian you jump your mana production immensely, as each wall produces more mana off the other. A list that plays Hunt should probably use creatures as finishers, so that the card is not dead in the late game when you already have all the mana you could want.
Finally, Assault Formation is a cool finisher if you want to stay mono green. Formation’s animation ability only costs one mana per wall you own. Coincidentally, Battlement and Guardian each produce one mana per wall you own. Just tap one of them to animate your whole army and swing. A list that uses Assault Formation as the finisher should also play Commune with the Gods over Commune with Nature. It costs more mana, but it allows you to find Formation more easily.
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