Bo1 Standard Simic Ramp Deck Guide: Taking Going Wide to a Whole New Level

Scute Swarm Art by Alex Konstad
Scute Swarm Art by Alex Konstad

Hello fellow gamers,

Let’s talk about a very prolific insect. Every now and then we see Scute Swarm come out of the shadows to overwhelm some unsuspecting mage. When Ikoria was still part of Standard, Scute Swarm was a casual card favorite because you could mutate on top of it with say a Migratory Greathorn and then each preceding Scute Token would share the mutation leaving you with a massive force of 3/4s. Scute Swarm tokens, in sufficiently excessive numbers, are one of the few things that trigger a message from the MTGA client about taking a different action or the game will end. Trust me things can get excessive. Sometimes you have so many insects crawling around it just crashes the client all together without warning. All in all, it is a multitudinous blast to play and this list is no exception.

I recently ran 10 matches with this list in the Mythic Best of 1 ladder. I started out in the 99 percentile and was able to finish in with a rank of #877 going 8-2 in the process. The diversity of matches I faced was a bit low. For example, I did not see a single Izzet Deck and only one other blue deck. However, I feel confident that my deck can give Izzet a run for its money. It certainly has a good showing against mono-green going 3-0. This deck has the tools to beat both aggressive opponents and more controlling ones.

What I like most about this list is that it attacks from two distinct angles. Plan A is to chain copies of Alrund’s Epiphany together to gain an overwhelming board state to quickly end your opponent. Regarding Alrund’s Epiphany, DoggertQBones had an insightful comment on the state of the current meta, he said and I am paraphrasing here: it’s pretty much Esika’s Chariot versus Alrund’s Epiphany right now. I couldn’t agree more with the one caveat that Wrenn and Seven might also have something to say. 

In any case, plan B is to grow a pile of Scute Swarm tokens and gain gobs of life via Prosperous Innkeeper. Sometimes these two plans dovetail leading to a large headache for your opponent but either one is sufficient to secure the win.

Let’s take a look at the list.

Bo1 Simic Scute
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Ramp
best of 1
6 mythic
15 rare
18 uncommon
21 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (1)
1
Wrenn and Seven
$49.99
Creatures (16)
3
Scute Swarm
$19.47
Instants (10)
2
Fading Hope
$0.50
1
Negate
$1.99
1
Test of Talents
$0.99
2
Divide by Zero
$0.50
2
Saw It Coming
$2.98
2
Memory Deluge
$13.98
Sorceries (8)
3
Field Trip
$0.75
Lands (25)
7
Forest
$1.75
6
Island
$1.50
2
Field of Ruin
$0.50
60 Cards
$264.16
7 Cards
$2.27

Card Choices

Quandrix Cultivator Art by Filip Burburan
Quandrix Cultivator Art by Filip Burburan

Neverwinter Dryad – I have gone from not understanding why people play this card to really loving it. It is true that three mana to ramp is not a good rate, but the difference here is that mana can be sunk across multiple turns which makes a world of difference. You should be very happy to see this card on turn 1.

Quandrix Cultivator – The turtle druid saw some play in standard pre-rotation, namely in Sultai Ramp decks and also in Standard 22 as almost an auto include in Simic Ramp. Quandrix Cultivator is a great body and also an excellent form of ramp he checks a lot of boxes for this deck.

Scute SwarmThe star of the show. It may seem odd to have only three of these in the deck when it’s the namesake card. Really Alrund’s Epiphany is going to win you as many, if not more games. Scute Swarm however is an excellent answer to aggressive decks that lack board wipe capabilities.

Prosperous InnkeeperI have already waxed poetic about this card in other articles. I am currently (to be fair always) a huge fan of creatures that provide value even if they promptly bite the dust. Not to mention Prosperous Innkeeper in multiples with Scute Swarm gets a bit ridiculous. Check out this screenshot from a ranked match:

Multiplication is fun!

Koma, Cosmos SerpentA spicy singleton to help you in the control matchup. I have noticed a significant uptick of Fading Hope in the meta, which can be a bit of a bummer when you spend 7 mana to play this spell. At the end of the day Koma, Cosmos Serpent is still a force to be reckoned with; it generates tons of value and is very difficult to remove.

Emergent Sequence You can see by the low count of this card I am relatively low on it myself. I had attempted to run four of them, but slowly trimmed them back. On paper it would seem that Emergent Sequence is great for this strategy (you get a body and ramp after all), but in practice it has not been the case. I thought, in a post Bonecrusher Giant world it would be safe to play creatures with two or less toughness that don’t provide immediate value. I was wrong. Cards like Frost Bite, Play with Fire, Dragon’s Fire, and let’s not even get started on all the many board wipes, make this a huge liability. Feel free to play something else in this slot. Emergent Sequence is mainly here for curve considerations and because you want to have as many lands as possible hit the board with Scute Swarm making cards like Jaspera Sentinel less appealing.

Alrund’s Epiphany – A lot of decks are cramming this card into their list and rightly so. I will say there is probably no deck out there that can resolve an Alrund’s Epiphany quicker than Simic Ramp. Ideally you are casting this early to further solidify your board presence or late to end the game. Always be aware of casting this into counter magic.

Field Trip – I love this card so much more than Emergent Sequence I almost feel guilty. The joy of running two colors versus three is that you can play a lot of basic forest to target with Field Trip and Neverwinter Dryad without having too much anxiety of running out of targets. The ability to access lessons is quite the cherry on top.

Saw It Coming – I started with a single copy of this card but then I realized my games were often going long and Divide by Zero becomes less impressive in a stalled board state when a hard counter is so much better.

Divide by Zero – I love this card and I feel like if you are playing blue right now you should at least find room for a few copies. It’s a shame it cannot target creature-lands or Treefolk tokens but being able to delay a board wipe or soft-counter a Goldspan Dragon all while fetching a lesson more than makes up for it.

Memory Deluge – I really love this card, I could definitely see going up to three copies perhaps in place of Emergent Sequence. My only hesitation is curve considerations. If you decide to modify this to a best of three deck, definitely consider adding a few of these in your sideboard against the slower control decks. I love revealing one of these with a Wrenn and Seven on a self-mill activation. Let’s not forget that looking 7 cards deep will generally find you whatever you seek.

Fading Hope – I will have more details for this in the tips and tricks section. I will say here that this card is currently very well positioned in the meta. Being able to bounce a Treefolk token might be the most common and best use of this card. It is so flexible that other uses are bound to show up in just about each game you play, even if your opponent is creature light, they are likely removal heavy and this can be used just as effectively on defense as it is on offense.

Negate – I don’t know if you have noticed this but there are currently a lot of non-creature spells running around in this current meta, even Mono-green hates to see this card nullify a Esika’s Chariot. It’s true that against mono-white aggro this is not a great card, but overall this is not a bad matchup for you. Decks that run cards like The Meathook Massacre or Doomskar however are quite the challenge without cards like Negate to foil them.

Test of Talents – Yes this is a lone copy, because again, against certain decks it is almost a dead card, but for the decks that it works against it can sometimes draw an auto-concede from your opponent. I don’t know the exact percentage of Alrund’s Epiphany decks right now but it feels like a lot. In addition, the value in peeking at an opponent’s hand should not be underestimated.

Wrenn and SevenI vacillated a lot on this card and the potential inclusion of Esika’s Chariot. What ultimately swayed me against going more than one copy was that I hate self-milling myself with this deck. There are a few key cards you really don’t want to see in your graveyard, for example your sole copy of Koma, Cosmos Serpent. I think in a list that is less diverse and contains more four counts of cards this is of course less of a concern. I will say that Wrenn and Seven in this list in particular can generate some massive Treefolk tokens usually allowing you to have the biggest body on the board. Also, it’s nice to have at least one card that doesn’t get removed from a board wipe in this deck.

Lands are crucial in this deck. The four creature-lands can and do play a huge role in victory. I have gotten some scary big Lair of the Hydra activations going. Hall of the Storm Giants is as always, an awesome play in a stalled game too. Just be aware of the increased prevalence of Field of Ruin. Speaking of which, Field of Ruin is awesome in this deck, not only to take out opposing creature-lands but to get off additional Scute Swarm triggers. I will also say be wary of trying to add any more non-basics in this deck, I have definitely had games where I have fetched just about every basic land in my library.

Notable Card Exclusions

Ashaya-Soul-of-the-Wild-Zendikar-Rising-MtG-Art
Ashaya, Soul of the Wild Art by Chase Stone

Augur of AutumnThis card is fine. I just don’t think this is the home for it. You don’t have a ton of creatures in your deck to turn on the Coven ability and benefit from it when you do, and you are not running cards like Druid Class to make this engine really get rolling.

Druid Class – I actually like this card a lot and it may be a reasonable replacement for the Emergent Sequence. Though when I put one in my deck, I start thinking about other ways to abuse it and that starts to change the whole complexion of things, it is a slippery slope. Drawing one of these late is less immediately impactful then an Emergent Sequence as you have to sink a lot of mana into it in order to create the giant land monster (I like how the text just reads that the land becomes generically “a creature”).

Cyclone Summoner – I honestly don’t get the appeal of this card. Granted it sees a lot of play in other simic ramp shells but I feel like they hardly capitalize on it fully as it doesn’t have haste and they run no other giants or wizards to lead to a big alpha strike turn. I digress, the main reason to not put Cyclone Summoner in this deck is of course it is a huge non-bo (that is an anti-combo) with Scute Swarm.

Esika’s Chariot – I attempted to run this with more copies of Wrenn and Seven as you do. It just did not seem to jive with the other plans as you have to consider dropping cards like Memory Deluge to fit this in. In play testing this configuration it would lead to a sort of stalled board state when what I really needed was to draw more gas. Your mileage may vary of course, and I am first to say that Wrenn and Seven plus Esika’s Chariot is just about the best thing you can do in Standard at the moment.

Iymrith, Desert Doom – Doesn’t really synergize with the rest of the deck. I find it gets outclassed quickly by things like Treefolk tokens and the ward 4 is not a significant enough deterrent. In short, I am often underwhelmed playing this card.

Lotus Cobra – I do like Lotus Cobra as you have seen from my other lists, but again I have been down on cards that do not generate or leave behind value when they are destroyed. It’s hard life for some creatures out there right now.

Poppet Stitcher – I actually attempted to build a Poppet Stitcher/Scute Swarm wombo-combo deck and it did lead to some very fun moments, but in the end it was too awkward. When you flip Poppet Stitcher, it turns off the Scute Swarm multiplication ability even though it makes all your tokens 3/3 at the same time. If it could be transformed instant speed with say a mana activation then I’d be all for this mad scientist. Plus, you feel inclined to play more instants and sorceries with this card which can be less desirable when he doesn’t show up.

Eureka Moment – This is simple, Memory Deluge and Quandrix Cultivator are simply better cards for this deck. It is a bummer when you cast Eureka Moment and are not able to put in an extra land into play which happens more often than you think.

Sea Gate Restoration – I would not object to someone throwing one of these into their deck especially if it does not replace another land. However, this deck tends to empty its hand quite quickly making Sea Gate Restoration mediocre.

Jaspera Sentinel – We touched upon this a little. Neverwinter Dryad gets the nod over this card as it helps execute our plan of getting lands onto the battlefield whereas Jaspera Sentinel does not.

Ashaya, Soul of the Wild – I have seen some decks run this alongside Scute Swarm to pretty amusing results as it technically lets you get six lands faster as it starts counting all your non-token creatures as lands as well. It’s too bad it does have that “non-tokens” clause else you would have an infinite loop (copies of Scute Swarm would generate more Scute Swarm copies etc.). I classify this as a win more card, by the time you get enough mana to cast it you are almost at six mana anyway. In addition, I do not like how this card is vulnerable to being removed by Field of Ruins although it does dodge Binding the Old Gods and grants that same protection to other creatures. I think Wrenn and Seven is just a better card in this slot though.

Crawling Barrens – I really like the idea of this card as it can get scary big when you have a lot of excess mana on standby which this deck tends towards. That being said, this deck has great mana, rarely do you need to worry about color issues which is good because Quandrix Cultivator is quite a color intensive card so it’s a fine balance. Also the prevalence of Field of Ruin is of course a concern, at least Hall the Storm Giants and Lair of the Hydra can be perfectly functional islands and forest respectively.

Matchups

Saw It Coming Art by Randy Vargas
Saw It Coming Art by Randy Vargas

As usual, this is a best of one guide so we will be eschewing a sideboard primer and sticking with helpful notes on the most common matchups.

Dimir Control

I would say this is a harder matchup for you because of cards like Saw it Coming, Crippling Fear, and Shadows’ Verdict, not to mention the new kid on the block The Meathook Massacre. I have also seen an uptick in Test for Talent recently which can really brutalize you if it lands on an Alrund’s Epiphany. Your best cards here are your instant speed interaction suite (Saw It Coming, Negate, Test of Talents, and Divide by Zero. Try to pressure them early and get them to tap out if possible then follow up with a big turn by chaining Alrund’s Epiphany.  

Mono Green Stompy

I love this matchup. Quandrix Cultivator is great at holding the fort. Coupled with some light disruption like Divide by Zero and Fading Hope you can buy yourself plenty of time to assemble a Scute Swarm posse or spam Alrund’s Epiphany.  This is a perfect example of a deck where you can trade early life to assemble a stable board. Case in point, try not to chump with Prosperous Innkeeper unless you are forced as it can really pay off later and this deck has a hard time getting in that last few points of damage once you are stable.

Mono-White Aggro

This matchup plays much the same way except they have some fliers which can be difficult. Again, buying time through disruption is the name of the game. They have little to no way to deal with many Scute Swarm tokens backed by the life gain of Prosperous Innkeeper. Crow Tokens are great to trade with Elite Spellbinder as well.

Simic Ramp

I have not seen the mirror match much. I imagine that Cyclone Summoner will be a huge bummer here though, as it will send your Scute Swarm Tokens packing. At least you have access to Introduction to Annihilation in the sideboard to deal with their Koma, Cosmos Serpent. I really think this comes down to who can resolve more copies of Alrund’s Epiphany. You have a big advantage here with copies of Negate, Test of Talents, and Saw It Coming heavily disrupt their plan of jamming expensive spells whereas usually the opponent is only running Divide by Zero.   

Izzet Dragons

The only two cards that really matter here are for your opponent are Alrund’s Epiphany and Goldspan Dragon. If they are on the new Izzet Turns list (this uses Galvanic Iteration to copy Alrund’s Epiphany) they are also more likely to run board wipe cards such as Crush the Weak, Cinderclasm, and others. Again, here your counterspell suite is huge. Try not to overextend, and/or tap out to give your opponent the chance to chain cast cards. I like Quandrix Cultivator here as it applies early pressure and is hard for Izzet to remove. Likewise a Treefolk token can be huge as long as it doesn’t get bounced

Rakdos Treasures / Mono Black Control

 I am grouping these together because they run some of the same cards, namely The Meathook Massacre and Blood on the Snow. You hopefully can assemble a superior board to them and stop them from wiping it. If you get a chance to hit Deadly Dispute with Test of Talents go for it as this is a great play, or if you can snag Blood on the Snow even better. The trick here is to attempt to burst them down, they cannot stop Alrund’s Epiphany much less a bushel of them chained together. Just be careful to not overextend and you should be fine.

Party Decks

I am not sure why, but this deck has fallen off quite a bit lately. It still seems strong and well positioned. When all its pieces come together it can be really hard to overcome. I honestly think their biggest threat to you is Squad Commander. This card can match you in going wide and the indestructibility it provides is backbreaking in combat. On top of this, they have some instant speed interaction in the form of Concerted Defense. I suspect, if you can delay long enough you can go wider. They also have no answer to Koma, Cosmos Serpent.

Tips and Tricks

Prosperous Inkeeper Art by Eric Deschamps
Prosperous Inkeeper Art by Eric Deschamps

· One of my favorite plays to make with Fading Hope is to target an activated creature land. This is such a backbreaking tempo play as not only have they sunk all their mana into activating their land, but if they already played a land pre-combat, they have to wait two full turns before trying to do this again. Trust me, two turns for the Simic Swarm deck are an eternity.

· If at all possible, do not play your Scute Swarm until you can immediately play land number six. Even if they do have instant speed removal, you retain priority to play a land after resolving Scute Swarm, meaning the token will be generated regardless of what happens to the original.

· Unless you think they might have direct damage spells such as Play with Fire, generously trade your life to preserve copies of Prosperous Innkeeper and Scute Swarm. I had a game where my opponent literally got me down to one life and I ended up winning handily with more life than I could ever want.

· Neverwinter Dryad is a great way to absorb damage. Late in the game, have this card block some beefy creature and before you enter the damage phase of combat simply sacrifice this card to fetch a forest. If you play Neverwinter Dryad on turn one it is usually best to swing in for one damage on turn two and then just sacrifice it post combat for a forest.

· Remember that Quandrix Cultivator brings the land it fetches untapped which is great if you want to hold up mana for a Fading Hope or other instant speed tricks, essentially Quandrix Cultivator, much like Prosperous Innkeeper, gets a one mana rebate.

· My favorite lesson to fetch in this deck has been Teaching of the Archaics. You are often quickly emptying your hand and building up a surplus of mana, coupled with the fact that you have several bounce spells, it’s not unusual for you to get the full three card value from this spell. I don’t have to tell you that drawing three cards for three mana is a pretty good deal.

· If you use Divide by Zero to bounce an opponent’s flashed back spell for example the second casting of Memory Deluge not only does it counter that spell but they do not get Memory Deluge back into their hands either as it has been exiled as a condition of being cast with flash back so it’s essentially a hard counter in this case.

· Since Quandrix Cultivator can target both Islands and Forest whereas Field Trip and Neverwinter Dryad cannot, it is almost always best to go for blue when summoning the turtle druid.

Josh

Josh has been playing Magic: the Gathering since Ice Age (that came out in 1996 for you whippersnappers out there). He was a MODO grinder and early beta tester for MTGA where his handle is Parabolian. He is no stranger to Mythic ladder and has frequently finished in the top 1200. Josh loves to brew decks but he loves to win too. Sometimes those two interests align and sometimes he goes on epic losing streaks.