Explore Ramp

Written by James Heslip on . Posted in Casual Magic

Explore Ramp

James Heslip

James is a budget Magic connoisseur who values silly strategies and rogue decks. He has been playing Magic since 1998, and competing in Legacy events since 2010. When he is not teaching high school English, he can be found brewing Casual and Legacy decks to play with his students and peers. Always appreciative of feedback, he loves it when people send suggestions and share crazy decks with him!
Our final deck for Ramp Week is based on the another common ramping ability in Green: Explore Ramp. Explore Ramp is named after the card Explore, and is based on allowing a player to play extra lands on each of their turns. There are many expensive options for the strategy, but we want to stay as close to $10 as possible. Let’s see how we did!
 
The Core

We want to pack in as many Explore effects as possible without diluting the deck. Skyshroud Ranger is a cheap Explore on a stick, and comes in very handy in our late game. Sakura-Tribe Scout is similar, and we would be playing her as well, if she wasn’t $2 a piece. Luckily, Llanowar Scout was printed in the recent Dominaria set. He pairs well with Walking Atlas to give us twelve different Explore creatures.

As for non-creature Explore effects go, we can’t ignore out titular card. It does exactly what we want it to do in the deck, and it draws us a card. Not much to complain about here.

Storm Cauldron also gives us an Explore effect. What really makes it shine, however, is the land bounce drawback. This effect can be crippling to an opponent, but is actually a huge benefit to us thanks to our hand-picked finishers.

 
The Backup

Each of the above-mentioned cards allow us to play extra lands each turn, ramping us into large threats early into the game. These threats include Rampaging Baloths, Baloth Woodcrasher, and Zendikar’s Roil. What’s important about each of these fatties is that they all share the ability Landfall. Because Storm Cauldron forces us to return our lands back to our hand whenever we use them, we will be able to trigger Landfall multiple times a turn thanks to our Explore effects. If all goes well, we can easily stack up those Landfall triggers to create some seriously scary token armies.

Khalni Heart Expedition also benefits from the constant stream of landfall triggers, and ramps us into more mana as well. Vessel of Nascency gives us consistency, and can find any of the key cards in our list, including Storm Cauldron, Rampaging Baloths, or Zendikar’s Roil.

Golgari Rot Farm and Selesnya Sanctuary give us even more ramp and Landfall triggers. The effects of our Explore creatures help negate the bounce drawback of Golgari Rot Farm early in the game, and help to keep you ahead in this way. They also help bring our Khalni Heart Expedition online, providing extra Landfall triggers with their bounce.

The Final List

Playing the Deck
  Obviously, we want to put down our Explore creatures first to get rid of summoning sickness as soon as possible. Once they are down, we can empty our hand of lands early, and start casting some fatties.

Khalni Heart Expedition will help with the ramp. One fun aspect of the card is that you choose when to sacrifice it. This means in the middle or late game you can neglect to activate it until after you have cast your Rampaging Baloths or other finishers. This  gives you two free Landfall triggers the in the same turn.

Games in which we cannot find Cauldron can be scary, but we have other ways to abuse Landfall. Golgari Rot Farm and friends can target themselves with their bounce. So, as long as we have a Rot Farm or Sanctuary in our hand, Skyshroud Ranger and the other explore creatures will always have a land to put into play. This effectively gives all of our creatures the ability, “{Tap}: Trigger Landfall.”

The first addition to the deck, should you be looking to add just a little bit more money, is Sakura-Tribe Scout. Scout gives us some much needed turn one action, and is a staple in this strategy. Gaea’s Touch is also relatively cheap, and works well in multiples.

Enter the Unknown and Broken Bond are other cheap Explore effects to consider. If your playgroup uses sideboards, I could easily see Bond as a staple. Exploration, Burgeoning, Azusa, Lost but Seeking, Wayward Swordtooth, and Oracle of Mul Daya are your not-so-cheap options. These are the cards that really bring the strategy over the top in competitive circles. If you hate your wallet, give them a shot.

Caravan Vigil, Sylvan Ranger, and any other spell that puts lands into your hand have their uses. I find that because of our high land count, they aren’t really needed. That being said, it’s possible you could reduce the land count to make room, if you really like the idea.

Khalni Gem can be fun, as it allows you to trigger landfall more while also boosting your mana count. The same can be said for Overlaid Terrain. If you have Cauldron in play you can simply tap all your lands for mana, bouncing them safely into your hand, and then use the mana to cast Overlaid Terrain without having to sacrifice anything. Thanks to our Explore effects, this basically quadruples our mana output in one play. We can tap everything for double, bounce it all to our hand, cheat it all back into play, and tap it all for double again. It’s a neat trick, but I don’t know what this deck would do with the enormous amounts of mana this would give it.

Conclusion

And that’s it for Ramp Week! There are still quite a few options when it comes to boosting your mana in green. I enjoy Veteren Explorer, for example. He combos well with Evolutionary Leap. Dumping lands into the graveyard with Mulch and friends, then bringing them all into play with Splendid Reclamation or The Mending of Dominaria can be fun, too. What are your thoughts? Did you like this deck? Want to see more like it? Let me know on my facebook page. Do you have an idea for an inexpensive and fun deck you want me to see? send me an email at Spooky386@gmail.com.

 

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