EDH IMHO: Rating Your Ramp, Once you BOP…

Welcome to EDH: IMHO. A diverse haven for passionate, casual weirdos who want to create stories with their friends through a game of Commander!

This is our second in an as-of-yet-unlimited series where we evaluate some of the nearly-countless ramp options in commander. So much of a game of commander can be determined by those crucial first few turns, while a failure to launch can be annoying and unforgettably unpleasant.

Last week, we looked at the godfathers of EDH ramp, Sol Ring and Mana Crypt. This week, I would like to look at another beloved piece of ramp technology.

Every week, we have a celebrity guest ‘star’ visit us in order to help us evaluate the card. This week, we are honored to have distinguished ABC News correspondent John Quinones. Thanks for joining us this week, John.



In classic Quinones style, its time to ask ourselves…What Would You Do?

One of the most magical words to see on a commander card is ‘any’: ‘any’ number, ‘any’ time, ‘any’ color. We love that word. It suits the limitlessness that brings so many people back to commander, time and again.

It’s that limitlessness that is so very appealing about Birds of Paradise. For decks that can regularly be 3-5 colors, the ability to drop in a Command Tower on a flying stick seems like just what the doctor ordered. And it would appear that most commander players agree, as Birds of Paradise is the 41st most popular card in commander according to edhrec.com

Here’s the thing: I’m not sure it’s that good.

Let me qualify this for a second; if you are building a deck to win in the first five turns, you are running a ton of ramp similar to this, and the color fixing makes it perfect for that kind of brew. If you run a commander that can use the Birds for another purpose late in the game, such as decks commanded by generals like Animar, Soul of Elements and Ezuri, Claw of Progress, it’s perfect.

If it’s not one of those situations…I don’t think this card is really that good.

At least when I draw Cultivate on turn 12 or later, I’m getting lands that I can use for the rest of the game. At least when I drop in a Fellwar Stone, it doesn’t have summoning sickness. Oh yeah, and neither of them dies to this.

If your playgroup is like mine, Wrath-effects are popular and efficient defense. It’s bad enough to lose a powerful team of creatures, but to lose a piece of mana-production that you were counting on for the next turn just seems unacceptable when you consider the options.

This may be a nice point for me to further explain what I usually want in a ramp spell. With some exceptions, I would ideally want my ramp spells to be:

1. Cards that get me lands OR
2. Mana rocks OR
3. Mana dorks (when necessary)

When I ramp, I want lands. I’ll settle for mana rocks (artifacts that tap to produce mana), because they are much less fragile than mana dorks like Birds Of Paradise. But what really hurts Birds of Paradise is the fact that it’s in green. When I play green, I have a variable armada of ramp options waiting in the wings, begging me to have them help me get actual lands of the color of my choice into play. In all likelihood, when I get a land on the battlefield, I will get to keep that land for the duration of the game. (Now that we, thankfully, live in the post Sylvan Primordial world)

If Birds of Paradise was in any other color, it would probably earn itself four stars or more. But it’s in green, and is simply not as good as other green cards used for the early game. For me, it settles in at a barely-respectable 3 out of 5 Quinones(es?). (Dear Editor, please leave this word in there, because I think it’s funny) (Actually, if you actually want to leave these parenthetical notes, as well, I’m down with that, too) (Editor, you rock)

This makes our running list as follows:

1. Sol Ring (*****)
2. Mana Crypt (****3/4)
3. Birds of Paradise (***)

Thanks for joining us this week! For John Quinones, I’m Akabane Rowsdower! Consider your ramp…rated!

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