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Deck Guide: Historic Colorless Ramp Combo

Colorless Ramp Combo, to my knowledge, originally comes from Ryosuke Nishiura who played it in a large Japanese tournament about a week ago. I tried the previous Colorless Ramp deck with cards like Forsaken Monument, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and thought the deck was way too slow and clunky, often losing to a single Abrade or Reclamation Sage killing your first mana rock. This version is a lot different though, as picking up Paradox Engine and Metalwork Colossus from Kaladesh Remastered means you can go from a slow ramp deck to a very resilient and powerful combo deck. 

Historic Colorless Ramp Combo by Martin Juza

The best part of this deck is that it smashes the best deck in the format, Sultai Ramp, in its current form. All their removal spells like Fatal Push, Yahenni’s Expertise, Languish and Eliminate do absolutely nothing and the same is true for cards like Aether Gust. Their top end of Nissa, Who Shakes the World, Hydroid Krasis and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is way too slow against you, so often this matchup can be a free win. 

The harder part is the aggressive decks that can follow up a few early creatures with interaction like Thoughtseize and Abrade, but I have found Timely Reinforcements to be an excellent card against them that often buys you enough time. 

If you look at this deck and think it looks too slow or clunky, I strongly urge you to play a few games and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how consistent and fast it is. Grinding through hate is also not a problem thanks to having so many ways to find your combo pieces.

You should definitely check out my recent video where I take this deck for a spin on the Arena ladder and explain all the combos and how to play certain matchups.

Game Plan

This is a ramp combo deck that wins by going off with Paradox Engine, Mystic Forge and a few mana rocks in play. Once you assemble these pieces, you can keep playing artifacts off the top of your deck, and every time you do that, you get to untap all of your nonland permanents, which means even more mana and even more cards. Eventually, you find Karn, the Great Creator, use it to get Aetherflux Reservoir out of your sideboard, keep playing more spells until you are above 50 life and finish the game by activating the Reservoir. 

Your plan is to almost always start with a turn two Mind Stone or Guardian Idol and follow it up with turn three Hedron Archive or Mystic Forge. You’re usually easily able to go off on turn four or five and you can even grind through hate cards like Abrade and Thoughtseize thanks to the utility lands like Buried Ruin and Inventors’ Fair.

Key Cards

Guardian IdolMind StonePowerstone ShardHedron Archive

These are your mana rocks that speed up your early development and let you effectively get infinite mana when you’re untapping everything with Paradox Engine while going off. Your second and third turns are usually spent playing at least two of these.

Mystic ForgeParadox Engine

Your two main combo pieces. Mystic Forge can even exile unwanted lands from the top of your deck so you can keep going off. 

Karn, the Great Creator

Karn lets you tutor for the missing combo piece or an answer for your opponent’s hate card like Grafdigger’s Cage or Yasharn, Implacable Earth

Metalwork ColossusWitch's Oven

If you have both of these out and Paradox Engine, as well as a few other artifacts to make Colossus free, you can use Oven to sacrifice Colossus, create two food tokens, sacrifice those food tokens to bring Colossus back from the graveyard to your hand, cast it again for zero and untap everything, which means you end up with an untapped Oven and Colossus in play again. You can do this as many times you want. You can then float extra mana from all the mana stones you are untapping with Paradox Engine, gain life from Forsaken Monument or just finish the game with Aetherflux Reservoir

Chromatic Sphere

Chromatic Sphere is like a Street Wraith in this deck, in the sense that it’s almost like playing a 56 card deck. It makes Colossus cheaper, it is a one mana card that lets you untap everything when you are going off, which can be really important if you are low on mana, and it also lets you splash for almost any colored cards in your sideboard. Thanks to Spire of Industry and Aether Hub, you have no problems casting cards like Timely Reinforcements after sideboard. 

Zhalfirin VoidRadiant FountainBlast ZoneBuried RuinInventors' Fair

All the other lands in this deck have some purpose as well. Zhalfirin Void helps you find what you’re looking for, Radiant Fountain can often buy you an extra turn against aggro decks, Blast Zone gets rid of Grafdigger’s Cage and Buried Ruin and Inventors’ Fair are great in the grindy games where you can trade them for one of the combo pieces. 

Meteor GolemPlatinum AngelAetherflux Reservoir

The sideboard has a lot of important one-ofs for Karn. Meteor Golem is your answer to problematic permanents like Grafdigger’s Cage, Yasharn, Implacable Earth or your opponent’s Karn, the Great Creator. Platinum Angel can be game over against decks like Auras or Neoform. Aetherflux Reservoir is your win condition. 

Opening Hands

A good rule of thumb is that you always want to have one of the two-mana rocks in your opening hand because you really need to ramp from two mana to four. Sometimes keeping a hand with Zhalfirin Void, Chromatic Sphere and Powerstone Shard is fine, as you will see three more cards by turn two and even if you fail to find a Mind Stone or Guardian Idol, you still have a Shard to play on turn three. I’d say I mulligan about 75 to 80 percent of seven card hands without Mind Stone or Guardian Idol

It is also important to make the first three to four land drops, so keeping one land hands is not a good idea, unless it’s something like Zhalfirin Void, Chromatic Sphere and everything you need to combo off on turn four, such as Mind Stone, Hedron Archive, Paradox Engine, Mystic Forge and Metalwork Colossus. I would keep this hand on the draw and I would strongly consider keeping this hand on the play as well, but that’s about the only seven card one land hand I would consider. On six you can take a few more risks with those kinds of hands, especially if they contain all the combo pieces and a two-mana stone.

Zhalfirin VoidChromatic SphereMind StoneGuardian IdolGuardian IdolHedron ArchiveMystic Forge

 This another Zhalfirin Void one land hand that I would keep.

Generally, you also don’t want to have extra copies of your combo pieces or too many expensive cards, so hands with three lands, Paradox Engine, Mystic Forge, Karn, the Great Creator and Hedron Archive or three lands, two Powerstone Shard, two Paradox Engine are just going to be too slow.

Tips and Tricks

  • If you have a choice between Guardian Idol and Mind Stone on turn two, you should always play the Guardian Idol because Mind Stone will be able to immediately make an extra mana when you play it on one of the future turns
  • Crawling Barrens can one-shot your opponent out of nowhere if you get infinite mana with Witch’s Oven, Metalwork Colossus and Paradox Engine without a way to get extra cards. You can just put a bunch of counters on it and smash your opponent for 20.
  • On Magic Arena, you can use the shortcut “QQ” to float mana from everything you have in play, which greatly speeds up the combo. The only times I don’t do it is when I have a Buried Ruin or Inventors’ Fair in play that I might want to use to get something from my deck or graveyard. 
  • Make sure you play fast, as it is easy to rope out during your turn when you are comboing off.
  • It’s often good to have an upkeep stop, as you might want to use Mystic Forge to exile your top card at the end of your opponent’s turn and then again in your upkeep if there is something you don’t want at the top of your deck
  • Similarly, sometimes when you combo off and you are very tight on resources, you will want to hold control when you play a card from the top of your library with Mystic Forge and Paradox Engine out. This lets you see the top card of your deck while the Paradox Engine untap trigger is still on the stack, so you can activate Mystic Forge to get rid of the top card and still end up with it untapped thanks to the Paradox Engine trigger that will resolve afterwards.
  • Against Roiling Vortex, casting Metalwork Colossus for free means you will take five damage. I learned this the hard way in a game I thought I had locked up.
  • Similarly, pay attention to your life total. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and just keep exiling stuff from the top of your deck with Mystic Forge and then die because you forgot you started the turn at five life. As with Roiling Vortex, I also learned this the hard way.

Possible Changes

  • If you want to change something in the main deck, the replaceable cards are one Witch’s Oven, two Mazemind Tome and one Forsaken Monument. You could also possibly replace the four Powerstone Shard with some other mana rocks, but I would strongly recommend not changing anything about the other 52 cards in the deck. 
  • The sideboard cards you can easily change are the three Ceremonious Rejection, which are great in the mirror and against Marvel, but not really elsewhere, though I haven’t really found anything I would love to add to my sideboard instead. In general, I tend to sideboard very little thanks to the combo nature of the deck.
  • If you want to add more colored cards or even an extra color, it’s pretty easy to do that. You don’t really have to play all colorless lands, so you can even play some colored cards in your main deck if you want. I’ve seen a black splash for Extinction Event and I thought about splashing blue for Aether Gust but the problem with counters is that you are a tap-out kind of deck so keeping up multiple untapped mana sources isn’t easy. 
  • I cut some one-ofs from the sideboard that I never wanted to get during my games. God-Pharaoh’s Statue, Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, both versions of Ugin and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger all just seemed either too situational or too slow.

Sideboard Guide

This deck doesn’t want to sideboard much because of its Karn sideboard. In general though, Mazemind Tome is great against slow control-style decks with Thoughtseize, where you have time to activate it and get some extra cards out of it, but it’s too slow against aggro, where you just don’t have the time or mana to play or activate it. Don’t get fooled by the fact that it gets you four life after four activations; if you play Tome instead of a mana rock on turn two against aggro, it will very often cost you the game and if you play it later on, the game won’t often last four more turns.

Sultai

Sultai

Out: 1 Forsaken Monument, 1 Witch’s Oven

In: 2 Mazemind Tome

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Mono Red Aggro

Mono Red Aggro

Goblins

Goblins

Jund Sacrifice

Jund Sacrifice

Mono Black Aggro

Mono Black Aggro

Azorius Control

Azorius Control

Out: 1 Forsaken Monument, 1 Witch’s Oven

In: 2 Mazemind Tome

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Colorless Ramp Combo (Mirror)

Mirror

Orzhov Auras & Azorius Auras

Auras

Out: 2 Mazemind Tome, 1 Forsaken Monument

In: 3 Timely Reinforcements

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Rakdos Arcanist

Rakdos Arcanist

Dimir Control

Dimir Control

Out: 1 Forsaken Monument, 1 Witch’s Oven

In: 2 Mazemind Tome

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Gruul Aggro

Gruul Aggro

Conclusion

As good as this deck is against Sultai, there are a lot of annoying sideboard cards you’ll play against. For example, Goblin Trashmaster is a card this deck almost can’t beat. Grafdigger’s Cage stops you from being able to play cards for free with Mystic Forge. Yasharn, Implacable Earth means you can’t activate Mystic Forge or Aetherflux Reservoir. Karn, the Great Creator on the opposite side of the board also stops you from pretty much doing anything and a well timed Abrade can stop you from comboing off. 

This deck is definitely real, it’s fun to play and currently gets you a lot of free wins.  On the other hand, once it gets more popular, other players might start respecting it a lot more and learn how to play against it.

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