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The Artifact Ramp Archetype in Highlander

Welcome to the Artifact Ramp deck archetype for 7 Point Highlander! On this page you will find all the content related to this play style.

A Summary of the Artifact Ramp Archetype

Artifact Ramp decks look to leap ahead of the opponent on mana (i.e. ‘ramp’ up) and head straight for the ‘end game’, where they can play huge threats significantly ahead of curve. These big spells range from Planeswalkers like Karn Liberated, through to creatures like Wurmcoil Engine; either way the opponent will have a hard time dealing with a string of large threats. Lands like Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors play a key role in getting the mana-base running, whilst artifacts like Grim Monolith and Basalt Monolith set up massive plays once every ‘other’ turn. In general, Artifact Ramp decks look to be mono-coloured, but their use of colourless mana for threats like Thought-knot Seer mean that variants of the Artifact Ramp archetype tend to operate like two-colour decks, where their second is effectively ‘Colourless’. Given their ability to deploy expensive spells and reduced focus on one-mana plays, Artifact Ramp decks can often support effects that punish mana costs, such as Trinisphere.    

Artifact Ramp Deck Lists and Variations

If you never want to be ‘colour screwed’ again, Colourless Ramp is the deck for you! This is the most straightforward variant of the Artifact Ramp archetype in that the deck relies only on colourless threats. The payoffs beyond a very stable mana-base is the ability to leverage cards like All is Dust, Sanctum of Ugin, and lands that would otherwise be a liability like Zhalfirin Void. Colourless Ramp also operates on a slightly different curve than conventional Ramp decks in that its payoff spells sit at either 4 mana or 6+ (as opposed to all high mana costs). This allows the deck to present a 4 mana threat around turn 2, forcing the opponent to manage it whilst the deck sets up for much larger haymakers. Colourless Ramp can also play well through Null Rod effects and other ‘taxes’ post-Sideboard, as its suite of 4 mana threats can easily be cast via conventional lands.

Deck ListColourless Ramp

In addition there is a video primer available, which covers the key groupings of cards and touches on the fundamental aspects of the Colourless Ramp playstyle in only 7 minutes. You can watch it here:

Artifact Ramp decks can often easily support a colour in order to provide more options, e.g. Green lends an Eldrazi deck access to Channel, which also forms a two-card Combo with Emrakul the Aeons Turn as early as turn 2. However one of the most popular pairings for the Artifact Ramp archetype is Colourless and Red. These variants are able to draw on diverse threats in Red, such as creatures like Inferno Titan, or Planeswalkers like Sarkhan the Dragonspeaker. The plethora of dragons available at 5 mana means that a Red Ramp deck can power out creatures that would otherwise be at the top of a Midrange curve and use them to quickly outclass opposing creature decks. Most importantly, Red offers the allure of removal spells unavailable to Colourless variants, such as Abrade and Fiery Confluence, as well as the ability to punish opposing mana bases via Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon.

Deck ListRed Ramp

Here is a video primer for another take on the Red Ramp variant, which covers the key groupings of cards and touches on one approach to the Red Ramp playstyle in only 7 minutes. You can watch it here:

Some Artifact Ramp decks opt to include a Combo in their deck as a way to either finish the game if they stall, or steal a win on the early turns before the opponent can set up their anti-artifact Sideboard cards. One of the most straightforward means to do this is via the Blue spell Tinker, which not only lets you play a game-winning threat turn one via Mana Crypt but also permits the flexibility to choose exactly which threat will win you the game against the interaction that you expect your opponent is holding. Popular Tinker targets include Blightsteel Colossus, Myr Battlesphere, Sundering Titan, and Inkwell Leviathan, all of which can in fact be cast normally if drawn (due to your large suite of artifact ramp). Tinker Ramp decks are also filled with powerful Blue cards that can win the game in the face of Null Rods, such as The Antiquities War, Urza Lord High Artificer, and Sai Master Thopterist. Whilst Blue offers the most powerful ‘one-card’ combo (as long as you have a mana artifact out), there are many other two-card combos in a variety of colours that all happily synergise with Artifacts, for example Thopter Foundry plus Sword of the Meek. The decklist below is a variant of Tinker Ramp in Blue, Black and Red, which permits it to run a collection of the best two-card combos!

Deck ListTinker Ramp

In addition there is a video primer available, which covers the key groupings of cards and touches on the fundamental aspects of the Tinker Ramp playstyle in only 7 minutes. You can watch it here:

Building Artifact Ramp on a Budget

If you enjoy the sound of Artifact Ramp but you are on a budget, the best avenue is Red Ramp. The other versions of the Artifact Ramp archetype typically employ Mishra’s Workshop to enable their explosive starts, however Red Ramp prefers to use Colourless or Red mana-generating artifacts in order to cast their Red spells. This lends better to budgets, as your most expensive items will be the degenerate mana sources; Sol Ring, Mana Vault, and Mana Crypt (which are also in many Commander/EDH player collections so can be readily borrowed too). Whilst City of Traitors and Mox Diamond are expensive, unlike the other variants where ‘ramp at any cost’ is the name of the game, these high upside (some downside) are by no means essential in Red Ramp. Sometimes the deck just wants to string together basic Mountains and artifacts in order to deploy your big Red threats back-to-back. For the most part, the remaining cards in Red Ramp are a mash up of large Red creatures and generic mana artifacts, and should be readily obtained on a budget.  

Playing 7 Point Highlander on a budget? Don’t forget to listen to listen to one of the 7 Point Highlander Cast’s seminal episodes on how to construct a good deck whilst on a shoestring!

Podcast – Building on a Budget

Highlander Artifact Ramp Video Content

Compiled below are links to some excellent YouTube resources that can help you see versions of the Artifact Ramp deck archetype in action.

Watch this video to see Colourless Ramp in action:

Watch this video to see Red Ramp in action:


Where to next?

Did Artifact Ramp fit the kind of deck archetype you’re looking for? Want to know more about other Ramp decks? Visit the Ramp hub here.

Some of the decks featured above also contain a combo sub-theme. If you’d like to know more about dedicated Combo decks or those that have a ‘combo finish’ element to them, visit the Combo hub here.

Dr Sarven McLinton

Sarven has been playing Magic the Gathering since Stronghold (1998) and is on The Highlander Points Committee. He is well-versed in a wide variety of deck archetypes but remains an avid student of the game. Sarven is a passionate writer and seeks to apply his extensive experience in research and statistics to gaming. By day, 'Dr McLinton' works as a Research Associate at the Centre for Workplace Excellence (CWeX) managing various projects investigating psychosocial factors at work, as well as lecturing Psychology Honours and supervising PhD candidates. By night, 'McLinton Sensei' teaches traditional Japanese Karate in South Australia's premiere sporting centre, the ARC Campbelltown. He holds a 4th-degree black belt and is a gold medalist, competing both nationally and internationally in Karate and Open-style contact tournaments.