For the first-ever MPL and Rivals League Weekend, I brought an unusual deck choice. People were expecting a lot of Yorion, Sky Nomad decks, as well as a lot of Dimir Rogues decks that were seeking to prey on the Yorion decks, and living up to expectations both these archetypes turned up in large numbers. Instead, I brought Temur Ramp to battle.
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 4 Beanstalk Giant
- 4 Bonecrusher Giant
- 4 Llanowar Visionary
- 4 Terror of the Peaks
- 2 Glasspool Mimic
- 3 Kazandu Mammoth
Originally I was hesitant to register Temur Ramp. I felt like it was a big favourite against the various flavours of Yorion, as well as any midrange decks that were in the format like Golgari Adventures, and the deck’s weakness to hard control decks and the card Embercleave was acceptable as I didn’t expect those decks to be played in large numbers.
The problem was the Dimir Rogues matchup seemed quite scary in theory. In some late testing, however, Lurrus builds of Dimir Rogues honestly felt like fine matchups, as whilst the counterspells they present are brutal, these Lurrus lists end up playing so many creatures that generally they only get to fit in between four and six counterspells in their maindeck, and the lack of a card like Shark Typhoon makes consistently playing the control role in sideboarded games hard for them. The matchup wasn’t great, but felt very winnable with the right sideboarding and gameplan, and considering how hard Temur Ramp destroys Yorion decks I was sold on it as my deck choice.
Unfortunately people bringing more controlling Rogues builds, moving away from Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Ruin Crab in favour of Shark Typhoon and more countermagic, worked out quite badly for me, though I’m unsure how popular these non-Lurrus builds will be moving forward considering their struggles in the Rogues mirror match. Regardless, even with things breaking poorly, our team still posted a positive win-rate against the best players in the world with Temur Ramp, and this deck with some very favourable matchups to its name feels like a good one to be acquainted with in a world where Standard is about choosing the right deck for the right weekend.
Your early-game plays out in a fairly traditional manner for a ramp deck, as you seek to develop your mana as quickly as possible. Cultivate and Beanstalk Giant are the best enablers for this, both serving as clean two-for-ones, with Beanstalk Giant being particularly impressive for how well the creature half works with both Genesis Ultimatum and Terror of the Peaks. Note that you want to prioritise casting Cultivate instead of Fertile Footsteps if the untapped mana that Footsteps gives you won’t be of use to you this turn.
Lotus Cobra is a bit worse than these cards in general, both because of its vulnerability to removal and because the body it provides rarely matters, though the ceiling on the card is quite impressive, making the card important in matchups where you just need to goldfish as quickly as possible; sure, Gruul Adventures can Stomp your Cobra, but if they do, then they’re not developing their battlefield that turn, and if they don’t ,then you’ll have the developmental speed needed to keep up with them.
With Lotus Cobra in mind I rarely sacrifice my Fabled Passages early except if I really need to. With a Cobra already on the battlefield, your Fabled Passage lets you cast a Genesis Ultimatum with as few as five lands, and a mid-game Cobra can be cast for essentially no mana cost if you follow it up with a Fabled Passage as your land-drop for the turn. Lotus Cobra also works particularly with your three-mana ramp spells, making Fertile Footsteps cost a virtual one mana and Cultivate cost a virtual two, meaning that you’ll often get to chain together multiple pieces of ramp on Turn 3 if your Snake lives.
In terms of cute Cobra interactions that are easy to miss, remember you can play a Fabled Passage as your third land, have your Snake generate a mana, and use your two mana-producing lands and that additional mana to resolve a ramp spell, and now you have four lands on the battlefield on Turn 3, letting you sacrifice that Fabled Passage for an untapped land.
Llanowar Visionary was the worst card in the deck I registered, and I would absolutely play fewer copies of this card in the future, though I think it’s fine to play one or two of them, as the card is nice both with Glasspool Mimic and Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate, and you do need to be ramping. The problem is that the card is kind of the worst of both worlds; just like Lotus Cobra it dies to removal and has an almost irrelevant body, but the upside on the card is that…it gets to be a worse version of Cultivate and Beanstalk Giant? The green mana it produces will often fail to help you cast Genesis Ultimatum if you’ve had to search up any Forests early on, and in general the card is just mopey and low-power-level.
To help buy time until you can hit your payoffs you need some interaction in the deck. Bonecrusher Giant is great at Stomping down on early aggression from your opponent whilst also being a fine body against control decks, and Mystical Dispute is so crucial against Rogues, both for battling through counterspells and for denying Into the Story and Soaring Thought-Thief, that I’ve added a second copy to the maindeck.
The card I missed last weekend, and want to register from now on, is Soul Sear. Whilst Embercleave is the card you lose to from Gruul Adventures, it’s at its most scary equipped to a Questing Beast or Lovestruck Beast and the list I registered last weekend was embarrassingly bad at killing those cards. I think Soul Sear goes a long way to fixing the problems I was experiencing in the Gruul matchup and am excited to see how the deck performs there now.
These are your big payoffs, the rewards for getting so many lands onto the battlefield. The most appealing thing to me about this deck is how often it can disregard the game state with its late-game; Ugin, the Spirit Dragon cleans up everything regardless of how far behind you are, whilst Terror of the Peaks can easily end the game no matter how many more nonland permanents your opponent has than you do. This is why the Yorion matchups are so good; their deck is about snowballing towards an unbeatable game state, but few game states are truly unbeatable for this Ramp deck.
Terror of the Peaks is secretly the glue that holds the whole deck together. It makes your Genesis Ultimatums game-ending, makes the bodies on Bonecrusher Giant and Beanstalk Giant much more relevant, gets to count as virtual interaction without causing you to be threat-light, lets you make powerful plays in games where you’ve not drawn enough ramp to get to your true top-end quickly, and is a great card to be ramping out in the games where you’ve not drawn any Ultimatums. This deck is just as much a Terror of the Peaks deck as it is a Genesis Ultimatum deck.
Make sure not to expose Terror of the Peaks to removal unnecessarily; I’m pretty hesitant to block with the card so that it can’t be Stomped, and need good reason to attack with it into a potential large Shark Typhoon. Realistically the damage you’re going to cause just by keeping the Dragon alive is often just more than what you’d cause if they don’t have the potential Shark Typhoon anyway, so only take those sorts of risks when you feel you need to.
Terror of the Peaks also interacts really nicely with your DFCs. A common line is holding Terror of the Peaks until you have eight mana so that you can immediately copy it with Glasspool Mimic, making you resilient against sorcery-speed removal and guaranteeing you get a five-damage trigger too. If you have a Terror of the Peaks on the battlefield and a Kazandu Mammoth and Fabled Passage in hand, you can play the Passage before the Mammoth, meaning that when the Mammoth hits the battlefield, you can crack the Passage with the Terror of the Peaks trigger on the stack so that Terror of the Peaks will see a five-power creature instead of a three-power one.
As far as Genesis Ultimatum goes, it’s very easy to forget that you don’t have to put the permanents you see onto the battlefield. When looking at your Ultimatum cards, consider whether you’d rather be able to cycle that Triome, to cast Stomp or Fertile Footsteps instead of having a Giant on the battlefield, to have one of those lands in hand for a landfall trigger next turn, or whether your Glasspool Mimic might find something better to copy later on in the game; none of these are always-or-never scenarios, so be careful not to autopilot this stuff.
The sideboard is what needs the most work from the list I played, though what I registered is a good start. Chainweb Aracnir is one of the best cards you can be milled into against Dimir Rogues with Lurrus, though the card is both worse against non-Lurrus Rogues lists and also incredibly awkward to draw so playing more than two copies at the moment seems risky. With this in mind, Ox of Agonas seems like the perfect card to try out, being much more mana-efficient to escape when that matters and being a fine card to draw too.
Shark Typhoon is a card I only really liked against blue Yorion decks, which are great matchups even without this card, and Rogues, but I think that this card too is strangely a bit worse against the more controlling builds of Rogues just because it’s slow and tends to trade down aggressively both on mana and tempo in a matchup where a lot of your cards tend to do that a bit too much already. With this in mind I’m cutting the card to fit in the fourth Mystical Dispute.
Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate is a deeply appealing card in sideboarded games against interactive decks because she’s a plan all on her own. Answers for resolved planeswalkers are limited for a lot of these decks, especially if they’re trying not to tap too low in the face of a potential Genesis Ultimatum, and a stream of reach 3/3s makes her incredibly hard to attack down.
Typically you’re plussing your Vivien as your very own Beast-terblossom, whilst using her static to let you play creatures off the top, but there are a couple of important cases to be aware of with her minus ability. The first, a humble value line, is to minus your Vivien when you’re about to cast Terror of the Peaks to go grab a Llanowar Visionary; if the card that was previously on top of your deck was bad then getting to reset it, draw a card and make a 2/2 will often be worth more than a 3/3 would have been. The more impactful line, which borders on a combo-kill, is that if you’re about to cast Beanstalk Giant, then a minus will mean that a Terror of the Peaks swoops onto the battlefield from your library just in time to see the Beanstalk Giant land, hurling the world’s largest Fireball at your opponent.
Considering the updates I want to try out, my list now looks like this:
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 4 Beanstalk Giant
- 4 Bonecrusher Giant
- 2 Llanowar Visionary
- 4 Terror of the Peaks
- 2 Glasspool Mimic
- 3 Kazandu Mammoth
VS Azorius Yorion
One of the matchups you prey on. Bonecrusher Giant is honestly fine here as a beater that breaks past The Birth of Meletis tokens and forces your opponent to interact with you, though the cards you’re bringing in are quite a bit better. It’s possible you should be sideboarding in a single copy of Ox of Agonas just to help you grind though I’m not sold on that idea and like all the cards in the deck already.
VS Selesnya Yorion
It feels weird sideboarding in Mystical Dispute against a Selesnya deck but it tags Yorion which is their most important card. Keep in mind that Ugin is the best card in your deck in this matchup.
VS Gruul Adventures
I used to hate this matchup, but if you’re willing to mulligan towards strong draws I think you can put up a decent fight and Soul Sear should help a lot. Embercleave is your worst enemy and you should do everything in your power to try and slow it down, but sometimes you just have to accept you can’t beat it if they have it and instead focus on making sure you win if they don’t.
VS Dimir Rogues (Lurrus)
VS Dimir Rogues
Your sideboarding against Rogues decks in general is going to vary a lot based on what you see from them, though in general I value removal more highly against Lurrus builds where shutting down an early Ruin Crab can buy you a lot of breathing room, and value Genesis Ultimatum more highly against non-Lurrus builds since I figure they’re more likely to have room for Lullmage’s Domination against me and I want a way to punish my opponent tapping low for that card.
VS Rakdos Midrange
Elder Gargaroth is a lot less appealing if your opponent has a lot of Heartless Acts, and Bonecrusher Giant is pretty unexciting in the matchup, so the deck isn’t really built with this matchup in mind currently though I have felt slightly favoured regardless. If Rakdos picks up in popularity, I’d really want access to Scavenging Ooze in my sideboard as that is one of your best cards against them.
I hope this guide serves you well, and enjoy resolving some Genesis Ultimatums!