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The Archetypes of Artifact: Ramp

April 19th, 2019 | jscaliseok
Introduction
Well, we’ve finally done it, we’ve reached the end of the archetypes. The last four articles covered the staples you’d expect, but Artifact comes with one more: ramp. This one is interesting because, unlike the others, it is very limited in scope. Not only does it only play in one distinct way, but it only works with the color green.

Even so, do not be fooled into thinking it is simpler than the others. Though you do not get many options in the cards you can run with ramp, it is still a deep archetype that requires an in-depth breakdown.

Go Big or Go Home



As always, the first aspect we need to cover when analyzing ramp is how it plays as an archetype. At its base, ramp is an archetype that creates quick mana ahead of the curve in order to push out big plays or powerful cards. In that way, it is not directly tied into one set path. You have a lot of versatility with how you put a ramp deck together. The only requirement is that you break the rules.

In Artifact, both players are restricted by their mana. You begin with three to work with, and that goes up one every turn. Ramp breaks that system by allowing a player to have more mana than their opponent. For instance, using Stars Align on turn four to drop a six mana play and burst ahead on the board.

There are also cards, such as Roseleaf Druid or Selemene’s Favor, that give you continuous mana turn after turn. Though the burst is not as big as Stars, being one tick ahead for even a few turns can lead to a lot of problems.

As we’ve covered, Artifact is a game of back-and-forth. Your opponent plays a strong card, then you drop down one of your own. However, when your opponent throws out a card and you use additional mana to do something even more powerful, it is easy to take over the game. That buff is what makes ramp so strong, and why so many different decks utilize it in their game plan.

Green is the Loveliest Color



If you want to play ramp in Artifact you need to play green. It’s that simple. However, that does not mean that ramp is only for green decks. Rather than being the primary focus, ramp is much more often a support for another color. Decks like Green/Red Ramp and Blue/Green Ramp are mainly Blue and Red with the green filling in the gaps.

That may sound like an odd way to go about deck building, but extra mana is so powerful that it is more than worth it. As ramp is mainly used for support within Artifact, decks typically break down with two green heroes and three of the primary color. There are some lists that even try to get away with one green hero, but, as you want to spread out ramp into different lanes, that is often incorrect.

Green is all support here, which means you can use just about any hero in the game when building a ramp deck. The only requirement is, when choosing your green heroes, you have to run Treant Protector. There are only so many ramp cards in the game, and Roseleaf Druid is essential to making the archetype tick. The other green hero (as well as the ones for the other color) is completely up to you.

The Sacrifices of Ramp



Ramp is incredibly powerful. However, it does come with two key setbacks you should always be aware of when playing.

Always remember that extra mana comes at a cost. As you have to spend a turn or play getting out the cards that help you ramp, it is very easy to fall behind in tempo. You play a ramp spell, your opponent puts a strong creep on the board, and suddenly you’re losing in that lane. That can then leave ramp vulnerable to getting run over by aggro or fast midrange decks.

To ensure that doesn’t happen, most lists utilize AOE and beefy heroes to stem the tide. Being able to clear the board after you ramp instantly puts you back on even footing with your opponent (except you’re up in mana) while strong early game bodies ensure your towers don’t fall during the setup stage.

On top of that, ramp can easily lose card advantage. Getting extra mana is strong, but you have to spend a card to do it. A card that, with the exception of Roseleaf Druid, does nothing to impact the state of the game. That means, though you’re investing for the later turns, you’re also going down on cards. Where your opponent has two strong cards that both put pressure on the board, you have one card that sets up your second one. It is a subtle difference, but an important one.

Most of the time, ramp decks simply run such powerful top-end plays that the loss doesn’t matter. However, if you find yourself getting beaten out by card advantage, putting in some draw (such as Unearthed Secrets) is always something to lean on.

Lanes Matter



All ramp cards in Artifact focus on giving extra mana in one lane. This is another aspect to key into because you need to plan ahead when piloting a ramp deck. Though it is easy to simply drop down your ramp wherever you can, that will often lead to disaster. Rather, try to get it into places where you’ll find the most value.

You can only play your ramp into lanes where you have green heroes. As such, placement is extremely important. Figure out the lanes where you want to push and go hard into those sections. You’re never going to need to get extra mana across all three lanes. In fact, most games you’ll only have it one. Decide early on where you want to use resources and commit.

Also note that there will be times where you need to ramp into a lane where you’re not winning to stave off your opponent’s push. This scenario comes up much less than the above ones, but it still happens. If you only see ramp as a way to get ahead, you will lose games you could otherwise win. If your opponent looks like they’re going to make a big play, do not be afraid to ramp there and cut them off.

The Top of the Curve



The final question about this archetype is, what do you want to ramp into? Every color in Artifact has impressive finishers and strong, expensive cards. The one you choose is completely up to personal preference. Red has Time of Triumph, Blue runs cards like Annihilation and Bolt of Damocles, Green gives strong creeps, and Black has strong removal. The colors you choose should be the ones you know well, as well as the ones that are strong against your current meta.

Finishers are the best things to ramp into, but they are not the only option out there. Being able to ramp for value is important, and it can go a long way. Using ramp in a control shell, for example, enables you to get to your removal or AOE faster than your opponent can get out onto the board.

That is a key note because it shows that ramp is not all about the flash. It can be, and it often should be, but that is not the only way to go with this archetype. Do not be afraid to branch out, and understand that ramp does not exist on its own. It can work with many other archetypes to make those archetypes even stronger than they are already.

Conclusion


Ramp is one of the most fun archetypes in Artifact. Being able to break the rules is always fun, especially when breaking those rules enables you to slam down huge card after huge card. Though the archetype is not for everyone, it is perfect for those who like flashy cards and important spells.
(Last Updated: April 26th, 2019)

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