Is Omnath, Locus Of Creation Prepared To Dominate Pioneer?

Zendikar Rising’s four-color menace has arrived in Pioneer. Will our six SCG creators play with Omnath, Locus of Creation or against it?

Omnath, Locus of Creation, illustrated by Chris Rahn

Welcome to What We’d Play! With the recent introduction of Zendikar Rising, many are unsure what they’d play in Pioneer. That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it. Hopefully this advice aids in your decision making for your next Pioneer event! Be sure to vote for what deck you would play at the end!

Gerry Thompson — Four-Color Ramp

It’s now a time-honored tradition of broken Standard decks making their way into older formats. In this case, it’s Four-Color Ramp with Omnath, Locus of Creation.

The Zendikar Rising Standard version uses Genesis Ultimatum to set up kills with Terror of the Peaks or Kenrith, the Returned King, but Pioneer offers Agent of Treachery as a stronger top-end. Several copies of a Yorion-based version did well in the Pioneer Challenge on Magic Online last weekend but I don’t think you need it. I’d rather slim the deck down and use Glasspool Mimic to copy Lotus Cobra on your big turns and Agent of Treachery for the finishing blow.

Pioneer has a healthy variety of archetypes, so the best way to prepare for the format is playing something strong and proactive. You can’t get much better than a deck like this. Uro combined with Omnath gives you plenty of incidental lifegain for fighting aggressive decks and Agent of Treachery smashes midrange.

We’ll see this deck get refined over the coming weeks, at which point it could truly become a monster. In the meantime, I’d be incredibly pleased to register this for a Pioneer tournament. 

Todd Anderson — Gruul Aggro

For the last year, all I’ve wanted was a red-green multicolor land of some kind that entered the battlefield untapped without having to jump through a ton of hoops. Allied two-color lands in general have been pretty poor in the format, forcing us to resort to the likes of Game Trail or Cinder Glade. While Port Town and its ilk can enter the battlefield untapped, playing a ton of basic lands to meet the requirement isn’t exactly ideal.

For the longest time, I wanted them to reprint the allied-color fastlands like Copperline Gorge and Seachrome Coast. Instead, we got something almost as good:

Cragcrown Pathway

This cycle of lands is outrageous. They’re perfect for splashing a color, or just helping you cast your spells when the color requirements aren’t all that hard. You need more lands that tap for both colors of mana when your deck is full of tougher-to-cast spells. For example, playing Torbran, Thane of Red Fell in a deck like this is probably impossible because you’re forced to play so many copies of basic Forest.

If you want something tried and true, this decklist has already won a major event on Magic Online. I believe Cragcrown Pathway to be a major factor here, as this style of deck has existed for quite some time but just couldn’t quite get there due to unreliably casting Llanowar Elves into a red card on the second turn. Mana Confluence has been tried a bunch, but you would regularly lose by dealing yourself too much damage.

This deck in particular hits on so many different levels. You have the Burning-Tree Emissary draws that bury slow opponents, but you also have a little top-end with Glorybringer. Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic get double time, helping accelerate into powerful three-drops while being bodies for Atarka’s Command and Reckless Bushwhacker. It’s the best of both worlds. You even get Bonecrusher Giant!

I love this deck and can’t wait to play with it more. Pioneer is mostly fleshed out, but having these new Pathways might unlock some sick sequences, and I’m here for it.

Ryan Overturf — Izzet Phoenix

Todd Anderson and I had very similar thoughts when Magmatic Channeler was previewed. We differ a bit on some of the particulars of how to build Izzet Phoenix, so I’ll talk about what’s different between what Todd covered in his preview article and my list here.

One major difference is that I loaded up on eight one-mana prowess creatures, whereas Todd went the Young Pyromancer route. I like Young Pyromancer in Pioneer against honest aggressive decks, but I find that most of Pioneer is varying strategies trying to go over the top of you. As such, I strongly prefer the aggressive slant here. I’ve played builds of Izzet Phoenix in the past to some successful League records, and Magmatic Channeler serving as an additional threat and enabling Fiery Temper is a solid upgrade for this aggressive slant. 

The difference that I’m less excited about and less sure of is that I have totally eschewed Treasure Cruise from my list. Some of this has to do with what I mentioned above in that most opponents are just trying to out-value you. Truth is, Treasure Cruise isn’t beating a Sacrifice deck once it’s online, nor is it beating a Niv-Mizzet Reborn. Treasure Cruise is also a rocky hit off a Magmatic Channeler activation, and you don’t want to go heavy on that sort of thing with Arclight Phoenix already weakening your average activation. 

While I could see making some changes to some of the spell slots, I want to highlight that this archetype gets a huge boost from Riverglide Pathway. These decks want all of their lands to enter untapped and my prowess build skews heavily red, which mitigates the downside of having to choose only one color from a given pathway. I played some number of Sulfur Falls previously and I’m very excited to be moving off that one. 

Shaheen Soorani — Four-Color Ramp (Yorion)

It’s time to stress-test Omnath in the older formats.  We all know how broken it is in Zendikar Rising Standard, but that does not always translate down the pike.  This sweet deck made a splash in a Magic Online Challenge over the weekend, taking advantage of all the synergistic cards in Standard, as well as a couple of banned items that would have just naturally rotated.

Growth Spiral is a messed-up card, especially in a world of landfall cards that make the other recent mechanics look silly.  Omnath, along with the supporting cast, can make a ton of mana to deploy Agent of Treachery, another card that had to be forcibly removed for format health.  The rest of the cards in this deck make a ton of sense and it saddens me to have to resort to big-mana tactics in Pioneer, but it must be done.  Until the formats get some heavy spring cleaning, control is a distant dream in the competitive world.

Ari Lax — Lotus Field Combo

The new hotness in Pioneer is people trying Omnath. And if people are going down that road, I just want to go a step bigger than them rather than fight on life or cards. Even without Underworld Breach, the Lotus Field Combo deck is fairly powerful, with a true combo end-game. It looks like the old Omniscience end-game has seen an upgrade to the likely cheaper Peer into the Abyss with Core Set 2021.

I trust Caleb Scherer knows how to build his unique combo decks and I assume drawing half your deck produces enough mana into Pore over the Pages that you will win the game almost every time that card resolves. Bala Ged Recovery is another crucial addition, ensuring you hit lands early and keeping your mana and card chains going during your combo “late-game.”

Patrick Chapin — Four-Color Ramp (Yorion)

I could be persuaded to run a different build of Omnath in Pioneer, but thugnificent32’s Yorion Ramp build looks great to me. A lot of people are playing Niv-Mizzet lists, so if that’s your speed, it might be the safer choice. Still, I like the look of this list and just how many busted cards you get to play (and just how good it makes Omnath).

I’ll be detailing at length these and other Omnath decks in Pioneer tomorrow, so you can check it out, if you like. Or don’t. I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life. (But I’m checking it out, and I wrote the darn thing.)