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Standard Selesnya Ramp Deck Guide – Outmuscle The Meta

Hello fellow gamers. Doesn’t it feel like certain colors on the color-pie of Magic get neglected? I don’t know if this has been your experience, but to me, the allied colors of nature and order (green and white) seem to get left out a lot. It feels like they would be the last color-pair invited to the after party. Just think about the most recent visit to the plane of Ravnica. Sure, you may have drafted Selesnya if you opened a big bomb pack-one in that color-pie, but more often you were looking to force Boros, Izzet or Dimir. Even if you did have Green and White it was usually green, white and one or two other colors to supplement.

I am thinking about recent top-tier constructed decks too; I know a lot of folks love their Green/White life gain lists, myself included. If we are being honest though, this type of deck is not winning tournaments too often. I think one of the problems is that this color combo tends to gravitate towards more linear strategy. Not that those linear strategies are always bad, just ask Red Deck Wins. Rather, the best linear strategies are those that tend to win quite quickly and – this is key – can easily withstand disruption. Left unchecked Green/White can certainly end a game in a hurry, but it seems they have a harder time recovering from board wipes and a bevy of spot removal.

All that said, is Selesnya finally going to shine in Standard? The list I am about to share certainly has a lot of recovery mechanisms. When it really starts to get rolling, it feels like you are battering your opponent from every possible avenue. Let’s take a peek.

Selesnya Ramp
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $257.34
Standard
Ramp
best of 3
13 mythic
27 rare
11 uncommon
9 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (7)
3
Wrenn and Seven
$26.97
Sorceries (8)
4
Emeria’s Call
$21.96
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (2)
2
Borrowed Time
$0.50
60 Cards
$318.2
Sideboard
2
Masked Vandal
$0.98
3
Doomskar
$6.87
2
Farewell
$17.98
2
Portable Hole
$4.98
2
Borrowed Time
$0.50
15 Cards
$32.71

That’s right a ramp deck with only 21 lands! Weird, right? We of course also have access to 6 additional modal faced cards with Emeria's Call and Tangled Florahedron bringing our actual count up to 27. Only occasionally did I feel like I could have used one or two more lands off the top and of course just as many times I wanted anything other than a land off the top, you know…variance. Mostly though, the flow of spells and lands behaved exactly like you’d want.

Let’s break down the basic plan here. Right off the bat, I am very happy to see a Murasa Rootgrazer in my opening hand. This is a card that is quite solid but hasn’t see much love, likely because it belongs to that boring guild we were just discussing. Holy cow though, you get an above average body in a 2/3 for two. Plus, it has a perfect keyword for its abilities that allows it to simultaneously play defense, offense, and ramp.

You will note that we are trying to get to four mana as soon as possible so Prosperous Innkeeper, Murasa Rootgrazer, and Tangled Florahedron (in a pinch) each enable this. From there, we are hoping to drop the Cat Cadillac (Esika’s Chariot) or alternately Yasharn, Implacable Earth. Speaking of, Yasharn is really well positioned right now with many prevalent decks relying on Treasure tokens and cards like Deadly Dispute to function. It is pretty hard for Orzhov to remove Yasharn as well since it shuts down Rite of Oblivion and dodges Vanishing Verse! Pretty much the only way they can kill it is with The Meathook Massacre to deal with it which is harder when the Treasures they may need to get to six mana are being locked up.

Once we have gotten to four mana, we generally go on the offensive, but if are opponent is matching us beat for beat, we have another angle to work. One thing I like about this deck is that it’s not reliant on any one thing. It’s a good mix of creatures, planeswalkers, artifacts, enchantments and spells. For example, an opponent drops Thalia? Annoying, but we have Skyclave Apparition to gobble it up, and Murasa Rootgrazer to buy us time. Essentially, we have a lot of weapons to get the job done.

Our late game comes in the form of Wrenn and Seven, Storm the Festival, and the angels generated by Emeria's Call . All of this is interspersed with timely appearances from The Wandering Emperor, who can make combat tricky for your opponent.

The two new pieces of tech in this deck are The Wandering Emperor and Ao, the Dawn Sky (along with the legendary channel lands). Playing with Ao, the Dawn Sky has been mostly positive for me, sure there is the potential that it runs into Vanishing Verse or Rite of Oblivion which feels bad, but when that doesn’t happen, both death triggers are quite good. Most often you are fishing in your library in hopes of pulling out an Esika’s Chariot, but let’s say you have smallish army of cat tokens already on the board (not an uncommon occurrence) then suddenly it looks quite attractive to make all those 2/2s into 4/4s.

Ok that is the general game plan, in summary we are ramping, then turning (digital) cardboard sideways and building up our board state. Storm the Festival allows us to have explosive turns and quickly recover from disruption. All of this is coupled with a bit of disruption of our own. Let’s break down the specifics.


Card Choices

Ao, the Dawn Sky Art by Chris Rahn
Ao, the Dawn Sky Art by Chris Rahn

Creatures

Skyclave Apparition we touched briefly on this card, it’s a great response to Thalia,, it snags a lot of great targets in green stompy including Old-Growth Troll, Esika’s Chariot, and Rangers Class. Unlike Brutal Cathar the penalty of losing a card under Skyclave is much less as well. In a pinch Skyclave can get in there for a few points of damage too.

Tangled Florahedron maybe the least exciting card in this deck, but it fills an important role. Once in a blue moon you are using this as a creature to ramp. Although if you have strong suspicions that your opponent is packing removal, maybe refrain from playing it as a creature unless you have a ton of extra lands in your hand.

Murasa Rootgrazer is the two drop we are happiest to see in are opening hand. I will cover a few more pieces of advice with this beast in the Tips and Tricks section below.

Prosperous Innkeeper is back, our halfling friend invites us out of the cold once more. While we don’t have Scute Swarm to really rack up the life points, Esika’s Chariot can certainly add a spring to our step. Unfortunately Yasharn shuts down our own Treasures too, but half the time we are using that treasure to ramp into Yasharn anyway so it’s a very minor annoyance.  

Yasharn, Implacable Earth is a great source of card advantage, beat down, and disruption all in one giant pig package. Pretty symbolic of the multifaceted nature of our deck.

Ao, the Dawn Sky we touched upon this new dragon briefly above. I would only add that its excellent at keeping cards like Goldspan Dragon at bay.

Reidane, God of the Worthy comes in from the sideboard against more controlling decks but I have had actually had some luck with this card versus Orzhov too, but mostly the shield side. See the tips and tricks section for details.

Masked Vandal is a nice option to remove the many pesky artifacts and enchantments running around these days with the release of Kamigawa.

Elite Spellbinder is a good option to bring in against control decks to buy us some intel and slow them down. Can also come in against White aggro to give us a cheap flyer to trade with their fliers.

Enchantments

Borrowed Time is a high-risk high-reward card. Certain decks like Rakdos and Red Deck Wins have almost no way to deal with this, but sometimes we are going to play it against a deck packing Boseiju, Who Endures and set ourselves up for a blowout. Targeting tokens is a way to offset this though.

Sorceries

Doomskar is here for the faster decks and I did occasionally bring it in. Honestly most times I was able to deal with their threats with my own creatures.

Farewell is another sideboard option which is pretty good against Orzhov and enchantment-based decks

Storm the Festival is one of our core sources of card advantage and tempo, they sometimes get cut back against the faster decks though.

Planeswalkers

Wrenn and Seven we already know this card works great with Esika’s Chariot in addition it can help us ramp and unearth copies of Storm the Festival.

The Wandering Emperor is nice as both a piece of instant speed interaction in a deck that normally wouldn’t have it as well as a token producer for Esika's Chariot for double the value!

Artifacts

Esika's Chariot is one of our main win cons, it synergizes well with several other pieces of our deck, and is one of the best cards in Standard.

Portable Hole is a hedge against aggro decks.

Lands

I touched briefly on the land base in the introduction. I will say that during my plays with this I was able to summon angels quite often with Emeria’s Call and even copy those angels with Esika’s Chariot. That is why I am hesitant to play this as a regular land unless pressed.


Notable Card Exclusions

Fateful Absence Art by Eric Deschamps
Fateful Absence Art by Eric Deschamps

Fateful Absence is a notable absence in this deck. While The Wandering Emperor fills the same niche and plus a couple other things that Fateful Absence does not, it does leave us with a hole in regards to Planeswalker removal. I think an argument could definitely be made to cut back the copy count of Borrowed Time to two to make room for two of these.

Felidar Retreat is another interesting card that could be of use to us here even as a one of, we can find it with Storm the Festival and it helps us recover from board wipes quicker.

Valorous Stance is another card that could be considered as we have several high value threats that this could protect while also removing some of the bigger creatures they run. I know this was cast against several of my big creatures while running this on the ladder.


Matchups and Sideboard Guide

The Wandering Emperor Art by William Arnold
The Wandering Emperor Art by William Arnold

Orzhov and Mardu

OUTIN
-2 Ao, the Dawn Sky+2 Farewell
-2 Borrowed Time+2 Reidane, God of the Worthy
-1 The Wandering Emperor+1 Masked Vandal

Orzhov and Mardu decks are a tricky proposition for us. On one side of the coin, we do not want to get into protracted war of attrition with them, but on the other side we do not want to overextend into a board wipe. Toe that line of exerting pressure but leaving something in the tank if they decide to clean house.

OUTIN
-3 Storm the Festival+3 Doomskar

I have seen a trend of more aggro elements in these decks such as inclusion of Luminarch Aspirant, Elite Spellbinder, and Adeline, Resplendent Cathar if that is the case you may want to make the changes above plus this change here

Mono Green Stompy

OUTIN
-3 Storm the Festival+3 Doomskar
-1 Yasharn, Implacable Earth+2 Masked Vandal
-1 Borrowed time

We essentially have very similar plans, there creature’s matchup pretty well against ours. We would love to buy enough time to hit a few Storm the Festival and just go over the top, but they tend to be fast enough to make that a tricky proposition. If you are on the draw, I would tend to sideboard more defensively like so.

On the play you might want to stand pat and ride out the storm. If they don’t demonstrate a lot of enchantment removal such as Outland Liberator you could consider leaving in the Borrowed Time, but in my experience once they know you have Esika's Chariot they are less likely to do that. Doomskar is our great stabilizer here, and if we can keep them off Ranger Class, they are less likely to be able to recover.

Mono White Aggro

OUTIN
-4 Storm the Festival+3 Doomskar
-2 Wrenn and Seven+2 Portable Hole
 +1 Elite Spellbinder

Mono White is definitely not going to let you cast Storm the Festival between Elite Spellbinder, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Reidane, God of the Worthy so you might as well forget it.

The game I lost against Mono White involved them flying over my head with Elite Spellbinder pumped up by Luminarch Aspirant. That’s why it really hurts to sideboard out Wrenn and Seven, but they have Portable Hole and Brutal Cathar that can make those Tree tokens useless.

Obviously cards like Ao, the Dawn Sky and Esika's Chariot are the key cards as if we cast them, our chances of winning go up significantly

Mono-Red Aggro

OUTIN
-4 Storm the Festival+3 Doomskar
-3 Skyclave Apparition+2 Borrowed Time
 +2 Portable Hole

The first three to four turns of the game will decide the outcome. If we can drop an Esika's Chariot before our life total gets knocked down too much, we have a good chance of turning the corner.

If you see a lot of equipment and enchantments like Roiling Vortex, feel free to sub in some copies of Masked Vandal as well.

This game will depend on you be able to defend yourself. Just because the coast looks clear, don’t always assume its safe to attack as a large portion of their creatures have haste.

On the flip side, you don’t want a Chandra sticking around ticking up either so you can’t be too hesitant to attack either. They have no answer to Borrowed Time so use it with impunity.

Izzet / Jeskai

OUTIN
-4 Skyclave Apparition+2 Elite Spellbinder
-2 Wrenn and Seven+2 Reidane, God of the Worthy
 +2 Borrowed Time

Skyclave Apparition is terrible against Izzet, it has no decent targets and when it does connect with something it will quickly get burnt to a crisp. Likewise, Wrenn and Seven may win you the first game, but you better believe there is going to be a target for Fading Hope in the future.

Try to avoid walking your Storm the Festival into a Test of Talents or a different counterspell and you can quickly run them over.

Throughout the game, you should be applying constant pressure so that they can’t sit back and cast their many cards draw spells in comfort. Izzet generally runs fewer board wipes than other control type decks, but they are out there.

Remember that The Wandering Emperor is great against Goldspan Dragon as they don’t even get a free Treasure token, although you have to wait for the Dragon to attack and they do get one from there, but at least Emperor plays around Valorous Stance well.

Naya and Seleynsa Enchantments

OUTIN
-2 Storm the Festival+2 Doomskar
-2 Wrenn and Seven+1 Masked Vandal
 +1 Farewell

This is at tough one for us. If they are packing a lot of enchantment removal it makes Wrenn and Seven actively bad. The Wandering Emperor is huge here to take out the giant Kami of Transience or whatever creature they pump up.

You could also consider using Portable Hole as it targets most of their creatures with the exception of Runeforge Champion. They have few ways to deal with flying so Ao, the Dawn Sky is better than Wrenn and Seven here as it can be retrieved from under a Banishing Light type effect with Skyclave Apparition or a Masked Vandal where is you get nothing back with a Wrenn token.

You can absorb a lot of damage with Cat Tokens as long as they are not packing trample. Storm the Festival is not terrible here and I may consider keeping them in if I am on the play but if I am on the draw it might be better to go more defensive.

Blue / White/Black Control decks

OUTIN
-4 Skyclave Apparition+2 Elite Spellbinder
 +2 Reidane, God of the Worthy

Ideally, we can keep their planeswalkers in check with our superior ground forces. Farewell is an issue for us, but at least Wrenn and Seven and The Wandering Emperor can get around it.

Be wary of attacking with Esika's Chariot into open four mana (two white) as you want to avoid getting it exiled by their opposing The Wandering Emperor, so in this case it might be safer to send in just the cat tokens. Be as aggressive as you can as it may come down your creature lands finishing the job,


Tips and Tricks

Murasa Rootgrazer Art by Mathias Kollros
  • Occasionally you may find yourself in a position of being stalled on three mana with a Murasa Rootgrazer in your hand, you can tap a basic land floating the mana then use Murasa Rootgrazer’s second ability to return that land to your hand which you can then replay, and voila, one extra mana.
  • I also love the interaction between Murasa Rootgrazer and The Wandering Emperor. On turn three you can send your Murasa into attack, even against a bigger enemy like a Werewolf, if you have a basic land in your hand and The Wandering Emperor, you can wait until blocks are declared then tap Murasa to put the land into play and use the Emperor’s plus one ability to make your 2/3 into a 3/4 with first strike. Of course, if they decline to block you can do the same thing on defense too; when the Werewolf comes in for an attack declare blockers on your side and execute the same play.
  • Since Murasa Rootgrazer has a limitation of basic lands only, try to play your basics last to ensure a chance to ramp one out.
  • I have noticed some folks using The Wandering Emperor sub-optimally as their first inclination is to always use the minus two loyalty ability to remove the attacking creature. For example, players seem privy to always use the -2 to exile an attacking creature but creating the Samurai token could be correct in a good deal of situations as well.
  • Maybe it was just the games I played with this deck, but several times I had the opportunity to drop Valkmira, Protector’s Shield and it’s like my opponents had never experience playing against the flip side of Reidane, God of the Worthy before. I had folks trying to trade with my Esika's Chariot with two 2/2s only for my Chariot to mow them down and keep on trucking. I had folks cast Go Blank with exactly three mana and watch it fizzle. I guess the tip here is to consider playing the back side of Reidane occasionally, and also read cards you haven’t seen in awhile!

Thanks for reading and good luck!

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Josh
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.

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