Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Swarming Lands in Magic
In Magic, the green faction contains several ways to "mana ramp" by playing cards that increase your resource production. While green's vast array of creature ramps that tap for mana are nice, they're vulnerable to common field wipes and other removals.
Since lands are much harder to eradicate, any spell that seizes extra terrain offers a safer method of quickly amassing mana. Remember, players can normally play just one land from their hand each turn; green's tricks let you field extra arenas in addition to your regular land play. But with dozens of awesome land ramps, which cards reign supreme? These are the ten best land-swarming spells in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Courser of Kruphix
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 3
As an enchantment/creature mix, Courser of Kruphix strengthens many type-dependent combos—but is also vulnerable to several removals. For three mana, this 2/4 (two power and four toughness) beatstick is just sturdy enough to withstand red's common "Lightning Bolt" instant, and Kruphix bears two useful abilities.
He reveals the top card of your deck, giving you and your opponent knowledge of your upcoming draws, and lets you play it if it's a land (which counts towards your land per turn limit), adeptly maintaining card advantage by sparing your hand. Plus, whenever a field enters the field under your control, you gain a life. Both are appreciated traits that support your land capabilities; I just wish Kruphix had the useful elf subtype rather than his obscure centaur bloodline.
9. Summer Bloom
Summer Bloom only costs two mana, and since it's a sorcery, it immediately heads to the graveyard once used, helping meet the conditional bonuses of cards with "spell mastery" or "threshold" effects.
Bloom simply lets you play an extra three lands that turn. That's monstrous, affording up to four locations in a single round! Definitely a powerful card, but often your hand simply won't have enough fields to make full use of the bonus, so access cards from your deck using "Kruphix" or combo with extra draws from creatures like "Regal Force."
8. Genesis Wave
Admittedly, Genesis Wave is a mid or late-game option, but it offers superb swarming with not just lands but other permanents. You pay three green mana plus an X value of your choice. You definitely want X to be as high as possible; Wave reveals the top X cards of your deck, then lets you put any permanents with X or less CMC onto the battlefield.
Since lands cost zero mana, you'll automatically pull any land while nabbing other cheap permanents along the way. As a final bonus, even the cards priced more than X are placed into your graveyard, contributing to threshold quotas and offering potential revivals.
7. Oracle of Mul Daya
An alternative or supplement to Kruphix, Oracle costs more mana and arrives weaker, bearing a puny 2/2 stats. However, like Kruphix, Oracle reveals the top card of your deck and lets you play it if it's a land, but now you also simply receive an extra land play per turn.
Comparing the two, Oracle's extra land exceeds Kruphix's life gain, Oracle possesses the superior elf and shaman subtypes, and it only needs one of its mana to be green, better meshing into multicolor builds. Picking one over the other depends on your theme and reliance on elf support—or you could use both!
Like Summer Bloom, Cultivate is a one-off sorcery with a powerful effect. You search your library for up to two basic lands, reveal them, then place one tapped onto the field and the other into your hand. This stocks both your hand and field with lands for future plays, helps earn spell mastery benefits, and can search basic lands of all types, not just the forests that green employs.
5. Kodama's Reach
I enjoy how Reach mirrors Cultivate's artwork as well as effect, offering the same ability to pull two basic lands from your deck, moving one to the field tapped and the other to your hand.
However, Reach bears a small advantage with its added arcane subtype, empowering the effects of arcane-dependent spells like "Blessed Breath" and "Petalmane Baku." Even if you're not including arcane themes in your structure, having different cards with the same effects helps deck-build for EDH format, where lists can't contain more than one copy of anything except basic lands.
4. Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Legendary Azusa's puny 1/2 stats won't win many battles, but she allows an extra two land plays each turn, for a total of three! Extra lands stack, so if you field both Azusa and Oracle, you'll attain a heap of potential environments in each round.
Azusa makes an excellent green commander for EDH, and since you'll probably run out of lands after one or two turns with Azusa, you don't have to worry much about protecting her. Once the lands are out, they're out, and eliminating Azusa at that point won't stop their extra resource production. Finally, while there aren't any elf combos here, the monk and especially human subtypes provide several bonus effects, especially when teamed with the white faction.
3. Skyshroud Claim
Skyshroud Claim requires a fair chunk of four mana, and unlike several sorcery land-grabs, it mandates you pull forest-type lands from your deck. However, you place each of the two forests immediately onto the field without tapping them! Thus, you're basically refunded two of the mana you spent casting Claim since your new regions are ready to tap.
Finally, while the chosen cards need to be forests, they don't need to be basic, meaning you can even search the powerful twin-type land cards.
2. Nissa's Pilgrimage
Without its spell mastery trait, Nissa's Pilgrimage is a slightly restricted Cultivate, searching two lands from your deck and placing one onto the field tapped and the other into your hand. However, this time, the lands have to be basic forests, so no swarming with islands, swamps, or mountains.
Still, this is a nice effect for just three mana, and if you achieve Pilgrimage's spell mastery condition by having at least two sorceries or instants in your graveyard, you actually search your deck for three forests, now fielding one and adding two to hand!
Essential in my own mono-green decks, Pilgrimage is also today's cheapest card, costing less than a single dollar!
For a single green mana, Exploration simply affords an extra land play each turn. This can provide a beast of a first turn; play a forest, tap it and cast Exploration, play another forest with its ability, then cast one of green's many single-cost mana creatures like "Llanowar Elves" or "Birds of Paradise."
Burgeoning gives you a land play whenever an opponent plays one, less useful for main-phase spells, but arguably more powerful in multiplayer games.
Both are incredible enchantments that rapidly harvest your mana; be sure to keep your hand stocked with spells like "Sylvan Library" to ensure you don't run out of lands.
Creature Mana Ramps in Magic
As we discussed earlier, several potent creatures (especially elves) can also quickly mana ramp, though they're more vulnerable to removals. Still, check out monsters like "Bloom Tender" and "Omnath, Locus of Mana" or enchantments such as "Frontier Siege" for competent ramping abilities.
Ramping remains a fun and competitive strategy; if you can afford your bigger cards before your opponent, you're well on your way to victory. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of renowned green ramps, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill