No-Cash Commander – Ramos, Dragon Engine

Commander, No-Cash Commander

Hey everybody, Crazy here.

We’re going ambitious today. After my strong words regarding the dragon pre-con’s manabase a couple weeks back and some words exchanged to the tune of “I could do better than that on a no-cash budget” I was told to put my money where my mouth was. As such – Clocking in at $48.60 and weighing 100 pieces of cardboard, we have Ramos, Dragon Engine and his favourite cereal, Lucky Charms!

Ramos, Dragon Engine

Tappedout list available here:

The Plan

Today we’re going with a slightly non-traditional value-based voltron plan – Where we drop the dragon and then use efficient multicoloured spells to remove threats and power up our dragon simultaneously – While also using the dragon to fuel those spells. There are two alternate win-conditions in the deck as well – After all, this is one of my decks. Let’s get those out of the way:

The Alternative Endgame

Maze’s End – A win-condition from the famously-awful Dragon’s Maze set of all places, this one doesn’t even require any nonland permanents to win! It does take about 7-8 turns though without any assistance. We are of course playing the full set of accompanying guildgates – and even if it is stopped by losing a guildgate Maze’s End itself is still a reasonable, if slow, source of ramp and fixing.

Door to Nothingness – So this one doesn’t strictly need the dragon, but he sure does help. Those two cards in combination read “Remove 5 +1/+1 counters: Target Player dies. Horribly.” This also gives a turn’s worth of notice though, so hopefully you’re pretty good at table talk.

And now we get to have a little bit of fun – Many of you may already understand the Charm of the upcoming cards but in Ramos especially they’re incredibly flexible and powerful answers:

Lucky Charms

Abzan Charm – Even without the Engine, this is one of the most powerful charms in the deck, being able to flex between card draw or removal. With the engine it can also be used to shotgun 5 counters onto him for either the surprise lethal or a massive influx of mana.

Azorius Charm – A considerable step down from Abzan Charm, but still powerful in it’s own right – It can effectively bestow +2/+2 to our commander while also giving lifelink, cantripping or Aetherizeing one of our opponent’s creatures. None of which are awful.

Bant Charm – Another one of our more powerful charms, this affords us three different types of removal – Dispel, Shatter and a Condemn effect – that can also give our commander a chunk of counters while doing it.

Boros Charm – The charm with perhaps the biggest potential for surprise lethal, I expect you’ll be using the doublestrike and indestructible modes a lot on this – Especially when that’s actually +2/+2 doublestrike. You may be able to snipe someone with the burn mode but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Crosis’s Charm – Another one with 3 powerful brands of removal – Shatter, Disperse and Doom Blade in this case – that can also bestow a quick charge to our commander engine.

Darigaaz’s CharmDisentomb, Lightning Bolt and Giant Growth are all okay effects in their own right, but with Ramos in the house stapling 3 +1/+1 counters onto any of those effects, this card seems like a fair bit of value. +6/+6 is nothing to sniff at off the pump mode after all.

Dimir Charm – Another charm with a lot of flex space, having weenie removal, a counterspell and an Anticipate effect that mills and, perhaps more relevant, can be used to fateseal an opponent instead. Individually the effects are quite weak but the flexibility of this charm makes it dangerous.

Dromar’s Charm – The lifegain is a bit of a trash mode here, but the hard counterspell and the -2/-2 are both reasonably strong effects, especially considering the “commander bonus”.

Golgari Charm – +2/+2 on top of the regen effect or the disenchant effect both seem pretty powerful, and the weenie-wipe can certainly be relevant against some archetypes like Elves or vampires with the new Edgar Markov at the helm.

Grixis Charm – A personal favourite of mine, it provides Disperse, Grasp of Darkness and an instant-speed Trumpet Blast in an easily-accessible 3 mana spell. Generally an excellent card even without accounting for the power boost.

Izzet Charm – Combining Careful Study, Spell Pierce and Dead, Izzet Charm is another high-tier charm for our purposes, fueling the dragon while providing one of three reasonably powerful effects.

Jeskai Charm – Another one with a kind of useless mode (4 damage to target player) – But with the other two modes being as powerful as they are that’s mostly fine, providing either a power boost and lifelink to your board or a straight-up Excommunicate.

Jund Charm – Another particularly powerful charm, it can be used as described above in Abzan Charm to quickly shotgun for 5 counters to the dragon, or it can be an instant-speed Pyroclasm or Tormod’s Crypt effect.

Mardu Charm – Another charm with 3 pretty strong modes – Either a Call to Arms, a Flame Slash or an instant-speed Duress. The duress in particular is quite powerful for potentially being able to pick off an opponent’s hand if they’re running low.

Naya Charm – Another one I expect to find a lot of “Surprise Lethal” attacks, it can either tap down an opponent’s entire board, bring a card back from the graveyard or even just straight up Lightning Bolt a creature.

Orzhov Charm – Being real here, the only mode we’re probably going to be using on this is the removal option. There may be some niche use for the bounce option but we don’t have any creatures that can be hit by the weenie reanimation so that can mostly be written off.

Rakdos Charm – My favourite charm by a long shot, on top of having Shatter and Tormod’s Crypt as modes, it also has a mode that reads “Win the game”. Don’t believe me? Ask a Splinter Twin player like Yami what they think of the damage mode on this one.

Rith’s Charm – Instant speed bodies isn’t a bad deal, and neither is an instant-speed Stone Rain or bubble effect. It could be better but it certainly isn’t the worst.

Selesnya Charm – Another particularly powerful charm, it provides either a combat trick, removal or an emergency body at a more than reasonable cost.

Simic CharmUnsummon, Giant Growth or a board-wide Hexproof effect. All of which are pretty good for 2 mana considering the “Flex Cost”.

Sultai Charm – Another strong contender for “Best Charm”, this provides Naturalize, Catalog and Ultimate Price, none of which are weak picks in any situation.

Temur Charm – One that stops blockers, Mana Leaks and removes creature via fighting, this charm just screams aggression from all angles.

Treva’s Charm – The final charm on the list, Exiling Attacking Creatures, Erase-ing and looting are all pretty powerful effects in their own right, and having all of that available for flex on one card is even moreso.

And there’s the full list of Ramos’s charms, but that’s not to say he didn’t pack a bunch more spells. Look, he even bought some friends…

Ramos’ Engineers

Chromanticore – The nitrous in our commander engine – For the low, low cost of 5 +1/+1 counters, we can bestow Chromanticore for an immediate refund on those, as well as an extra +4/+4 and a whole lot of keywords.

Corpsejack Menace, Vorel of the Hull Clade, Winding Constrictor – As if the charms didn’t provide enough, these guys will turbocharge our counter production by providing more and more counters all the time.

Dragonlord’s Servant, Etherium Sculptor, Sakura-Tribe Elder – All in different ways, but all of these creatures provide some ramp towards rushing Ramos out of the command zone and onto the board to start generating +1/+1 counters.

Etched Monstrosity, Etched Orcale – two cards which let us turn our colours into card draw and creatures. Especially when you combine Etched Oracle with…

Forgotten Ancient – Another powerful source of fuel for the engine, he gets us extra value from our and everyone else’s spells and lets us move them around our creatures at will – Hence the silly amount of value with Etched Oracle.

Fusion Elemental, Transguild Courier – Both of these creatures being 5-colour, both can provide a great amount of value to Ramos, as well as being fairly powerful creatures in their own right.

Grixis Grimblade – As well as being 3 counters to Ramos for only 2 mana, it’s also going to be a 3/2 deathtouch for that cost a good chunk of the time, which is nothing to sniff at.

There is, of course, a very big elephant in this 5-colour room I should probably address. And that is “5 colour fixing on a budget?”

Putting my money where my mouth is

2 of each basic land with an extra forest and a full set of tri-taplands – Fairly standard budget fixing. Certainly stands to be improved but it’s fine for now.

Full set of Guildgates – For Maze’s end. Still better than basics most of the time here I’d say.

Command Tower – Produces 5 colours and enters untapped. Hellll yeah.

Terramorphic Expanse, Evolving Wilds – They’re not quite proper fetchlands, but they’re still pretty great.

Nylea’s Presence, Trace of Abundance – Enchanting our lands for fun and profit of the ramping and fixing varieties.

“Allied” Signets – We have the WU, UB, BR, RG and GW signets in the deck, along with…

Commander’s Sphere, Darksteel Ingot – 5c Mana rocks for 3 mana, standard rocks for a standard cost.

Farseek, Rampant Growth – As much as Farseek would ordinarily have a bit of extra utility, in this deck it is unfortunately a slightly hamstrung Rampant Growth. Bad Rampant Growth is still Rampant Growth though.

Hour of Promise, Tempt with Discovery – Now this is a little better. Note the lack of the word “Basic” here and realise these can help us fix pretty heavily, as well as provide a considerable jump towards a surprise Maze’s End win.

Urban Evolution – Strong card draw that also lets us play an additional land this turn. Seems pretty powerful.

Increasing Savagery – Yes this is the ramp and fixing section. Consider the fact that with our commander this can turn that 2GG into WWUUBBRRGG and you’ll see why.

There is also, of course, things to help clear the way for our draconic beatdown:


Crystallization – A pacifism that also gives the creature the Illusion clause – in 3 colours for only 2 mana at that for Ramos value.

Sangrite Backlash – Same deal of 3 colours for 2 mana that can either be a pump spell or weenie removal, it’s generally pretty excellent.

Crackling Doom – 3 colours for 3 mana that also removes the biggest threat from each opposing board as well as giving those opponents a slight slap to the cheek.

Mortify, Putrefy – Very similar cards, both instant speed cards that are Murder with benefits. As always, pretty strong.

Decimate – A very Gruul piece of removal, lets you pop 4 threats for 4 mana – more a sledgehammer than a scalpel but every inch as effective as more targeted removal.

Finally, I’ve saved some particularly powerful value picks for the end.


Cloven Casting – A bit costly in terms of man perhaps but when we have over 25 cards that this can affect I think it’s pretty justifiable.

Finest Hour – Doubling up on our attack phases with Ramos seems pretty strong as-is, let alone the fact he’ll be generating more power with each swing.

Temur Ascendancy – Helps keep us in cards and can provide us with either a hasty commander or just three counters.

Past in Flames – Given the massive walking ritual that is our commander, it seemed prudent to include something that might let us cast a bunch of charms at once from the graveyard for hilarious value to Ramos.

Mizzix’s Mastery – The biggest of value bombs in our deck, for 8 mana this lets us CAST (And it does say cast) every charm and other instant and sorcery in our graveyard for ridiculous value all round, giving Ramos a silly amount of counters and doing a whole lot of other things as well.

And that, Lads and Ladies, is the deck. You’d think I’d have a lot of suggestions for improvements given that I have every card in Magic to choose from. You would be correct.

Landbase – Scalding Tarn, Volcanic Island, Steam Vents

I just grabbed one of each type of the most important lands, but really the most important part of any 5 colour deck ever was always going to be the landbase. OG Duals are a bit of a pipe dream for anyone without a legacy collection or more money than sense, but Shocks and at least the Onslaught/Khans fetches should probably be in any 5-colour deck if budget isn’t a massive concern.

Removal – Too much.

I mean really we have all of magic to choose from here, personally I would have loved to fit removal staples like Damnation, Cyclonic Rift and Path to Exile at least but there was just no way on this budget while having even a reasonable manabase.


Given that the commander is basically a giant walking ritual, I don’t think a storm deck is totally off the table for Ramos, not that I’ve had the chance to really look into it. If you want us to do this as a budgetless build though please give us a shout, I would love an excuse.

So that’s the list. I think it’s a better fixing job than the preconstructed deck Ramos came from at least, and probably a more fun deck, at least for those who aren’t too interested in Dragons! Have any ideas for improving the list? Maybe just an idea for the next featured No-Cash commander? Just want to talk deck techs? Leave a comment below or drop us a like and a message over on Facebook or follow us on Instagram and we can get back to you!

Crazy out.

1 thought on “No-Cash Commander – Ramos, Dragon Engine

  1. Love the article, good job!
    My buddies and I are doing a league with the new decks and I chose the dragon deck to play with Ramos.

    I would like to see you take this budgetless if you’re looking for an excuse, I think charms seems like the right way to go to accelerate the Ramos growth.

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