Treasures: Ramp or Ritual?
Hello and welcome back. I hope everyone is having a productive and not too busy time searching for the best gifts for the holiday season. I think it can be rather tedious and paralyzing trying to pick a gift for someone, or waiting to pounce on what you think is the best deal. Gift getting is not my favorite event even when I know the person or people well.
Luckily today’s article isn’t as hard as choosing the right gift, because treasure is definitely something everyone considers for a deck they have. The mechanic is quite popular and rampant, even if it has some cards that might be too easily abused.
Whether treasure might be good or bad or if the mechanic is used too much isn’t the subject of today’s article however. Today I want to ask the question; are treasures a kind of ramp, a ritual effect, or something on their own?
I think a lot of players think of treasures as a kind of ramp. After all they stick around like lands, make mana, and get you ahead of curve like extra land drops. Interactions that care about how treasures are actually used aside, I often think of treasures as ramp as well. Well, until I thought about the question this article will try to answer.
Generally, ramp in Magic is defined by using a permanent resource that can be reused to create mana. This would be lands, mana rocks and mana dorks, and I suppose some planeswalkers and enchantments. Largely the problem defining treasures as ramp is they are not reusable from a single source. Once you use that treasure, it’s gone.
Conclusion: treasures are literally not ramp.
Ritual is a colloquial term for cards that give you mana when you cast them, like Dark Ritual, Jeska’s Will or Desperate Ritual. These are a one time effect and are time restricted. As you move through the steps and phases of a turn, like Main Phase 1 to the Combat Phase, or the Upkeep to Draw Step, you will lose this mana if you don’t use it. Poof and it’s simply gone.
Something that the treasures have over ritual effects are that they stick around to be used (and abused). While they are temporary since they likely aren’t going to stick around forever, they do stick around through steps and phases of a turn. This allows more for planning ahead and storage of mana over time, ala Charming Scoundrel or Smothering Tithe.
Conclusion: Nope, not a ritual effect.
This argument is probably the closest we get to naming the treasures after something that came before. Black Lotus is a very famous Magic card, with Lotus Petal being a less powerful version. As treasures are, they act very much like Lotus Petal. They come into play often for free or at least refunding the resource, whole or in part, that creates them and can be sacrificed for any color of mana.
While this is the closest argument I’ve seen to compare treasures to something else, there are a few differences. Lotus Petal can be very much abused for combos and is an actual card recognized by the rules (for things such as the mechanic Descend). Treasures are tokens, placeholders for something that is created but not a card. This hampers the usefulness of Treasures when compared to cards like Lotus Petal and similar artifacts (excluding the number that can be created at a time).
Conclusion: Closer, but not quite in line with Lotus Petal.
It looks like treasure is very much a combination of everything above, but powered down for the most part and helping across the color pie to bring other colors up to Green’s speed of production. The other colors also gain an added benefit since they interact with artifacts more than Green ever has, even if Green does get some fairly potent treasure making cards.
One thing the treasures fixed earlier on was the use of Gold tokens. When Improvise came out as a mechanic, the Gold tokens could essentially be used to double your mana instead of just giving you a bump, so WotC made Treasure tokens instead.
Conclusion: All things considered, Treasure is probably a category on its own. While it does mimic many functions of other mana producing effects and sources, it brings along its own strengths and weaknesses that are by and large unique. With that in mind Treasure stands by itself and I would consider separate from other kinds of mana production.
ALL THAT JINGLES
Treasure Cruise - Cynthia Sheppard
With the holidays coming fast and budgets often being a concern, I thought it would be a nice touch if we talked about the currency rampant at many commander tables. Treasures have certainly changed the game. Over time it might be said for better or for worse, but having a little extra mana to budget for the next turn is something everyone can appreciate.
Until next time, I hope you have a lot of extra mana lying around.