5.5–Color Ramp with Mark Jacobson

Posted in Event Coverage on August 19, 2017

By Marc Calderaro

How often do you really want to just completely "greed out" in Magic? I'm talking full on greed-ball, here. How often do you just want to say, "No, I want this one in the deck too! I need it! I don't care what it costs!"? It's all the time, right?

Look, we know it happens. Team Massdrop West's Mark Jacobson feels your pain—in fact, he's one of you. At Pro Tour Hour of Devastation, Jacobson played an ambitious (to say the least) ramp deck that spouted out all types of mana, and often required double mana symbols too. It was like he was on Supermarket Sweep, trying to clean out the canned goods.

Mark Jacobson

But Jacobson wasn't content—no no. He said, "I need this other stuff. I don't care what it costs!" And so, as they say in France, "Et voilà!" Here were are at Grand Prix Denver. He's currently 5-0.

Mark Jacobson's 5.5-Color Ramp – Grand Prix Denver

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[For the uninitiated, the 1/2 color is the colorless requirements for both Thought-Knot Seer and Warping Wail.]

"It's the first deck ever that I got other people to play!" Mark said. He smiled hard. He clearly loves this deck, proud he could get his teammates to go along for the ride at the Pro Tour. He, along with Pascal Maynard and Brad Carpenter brewed up a spicy one. This time out, only teammate and Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch champion JC Tao took the plunge with him.

"I usually don't have the time to go deep like this. In this case I just wanted to see what a ramp deck could do. Turn-five Ulamog is still really good." He added, "Maybe my subconscious was still thinking about Aetherworks Marvel..."

When Jacobson came across Gift of Paradise, he realized it did two different things the ramp deck needed. Against aggressive decks it gained you precious life while ramping out the boomers, and against grinding match-ups, it allows you to splash the back half of aftermath cards like Spring // Mind or even Cut // Ribbons.

After that revelation Mark was off to the races. For the Pro Tour, Jacobson was on an additional Delirium strategy of Traverse the Ulvenwald. "I can get two-card Delirium," he told me at Pro Tour Hour of Devastation. "Just need Walking Ballista and Spring // Mind."

It was pretty ingenious, but also a strain on the already-strained manabase. After removing it—despite added that "sixth" color—he says things are much simpler. "Often you would just cast Traverse turn one to find a land ... now I don't even need Green mana until the third turn!"

Though the deck performed adequately at the Pro Tour, Jacobson was sure it could do more, so he and Tao continued tinkering. "I had punted at least two matches at the PT," Jacobson said. "Because it's a ramp deck, people think it's easy to play—it's really not. I kept telling them, but no one believed me."

"It's hard because almost every single card in the deck either interacts with your opponent, or finds you more cards to interact with your opponent." Jacobson was almost frustrated at his own design.

... Apparently not frustrated enough that he didn't add Cast Out to the sideboard, changing the manabase even more. But he implored, "The Cast Out is necessary ... normally you guess what transformation will come out of the sideboard. If you guess wrong, your just sideboarded completely wrong. With Cast Out, it kills anything, and if it's bad, just cycle it!"

Mark added the Aether Hub (and a supporting Harnessed Lightning) to compensate for the white, blue, black, red, green, and colorless mana symbols on his cards, but he said it's really not that bad.

"Aether Hub gives you what you need early, and the green enchantments go great on them!" Mark was referring to Gift of Paradise and Weirding Wood. There is something pretty awesome about emptying your energy pool to make green mana, then casting Gift of Paradise to never worry about it again.

Just like any deck it's not without its faults. It has a tough matchup against White-Blue Approach Control, and Ramunap Red, especially since he took the Permeating Mass out of the sideboard. Jacobson was so sad to take the "Permeating Massdrop" out of the 75, but once Red dipped in popularity, it just wasn't getting it done anymore. "I don't have any room for cards that are only good against Red."

But his current configuration slaughters decks like Zombies and Blue-Red Control. "Game 1 against Zombies, you're basically pre-sideboarded. It's great." Jacobson mused.

Mark summed up the deck by saying, "All right, it's a little hard to play and sometimes it suffers from ‘Ramp Disease'," You know, when you draw a bad mix of ramp and non-ramp spells—a classic Ramp proplem. "But the format is still mostly creature decks and anti-creature decks, and this is pretty good against both of them. Their creatures are bad, and their creature removal is bad. Best of both worlds, really."

And come on, who doesn't want to port the most from deck from Hour of Devastation Limited to Standard?! Sometimes we look for efficiency, sometimes we look for raw greedy power—like, lying on a pile of gold coins Greed. Just remember, this pile was Jacobson's first.

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