Geeze, they sure don’t balance Siege Rhinos like they used to…
Okay, so first, to get up to speed, Omnath, Locus of Creation is the latest Oko/Uro type (you can tell because of the letter “O”). It’s completely busted in Zendikar Rising Standard (since the whole four colors thing is a joke with Gilded Goose, Lotus Cobra, Fabled Passage, Triomes, etc.); so I wanted to jump straight to the part where we ruin as many other formats as possible, starting with Pioneer.
So as to not gloss over it, let’s take a minute to reflect on why Omnath is busted. Without the landfall ability, our “floor” is a 4/4 that draws a card for four mana. This is an absolutely incredible rate, ostensibly balanced because of the “challenging” mana requirements.
So, how about this landfall ability?
Well, the first one in a turn gains you four life… and already we’re just way off the deep end. Loxodon Hierarch was a cross-format all-star, and just playing a single land already makes this a Loxodon Hierarch cantrip. That’s already Siege Rhino. What’s more, you can literally just do this each turn. Hell, if somehow your opponent is foolish enough to play aggro, you generally do it twice, sacrificing a Fabled Passage or Evolving Wilds on their turn.
But speaking of Fabled Passage and Evolving Wilds, you can just cast this card on Turn 6 (or Turn 4 if you played something crazy like Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath or something outlandish like that). Immediately drop a fetchland of any sort and you’re immediately gaining four life and getting your four mana back, letting you make another big play in the same turn.
Just take a moment to consider the predicament you are now in. You have gotten your mana back and you have gotten a card to replace your Omnath. And what do you have to show for this tiny opportunity cost of having to go to the trouble?
You literally just have this card on the battlefield. And I guess that four life, too.
What is even going on? I cannot believe this train wreck couldn’t have been stopped six months ago, long after Oko and all that nonsense reared its ugly head. Maybe it was too late to stop Uro at that point, but if at that point you knew Uro was coming, why would you make this Omnath card? It’s not like Omnath is aspiring to help counterbalance Uro or anything. If there are more cards costed on the “Simic” curve in the next set, is there really nothing that can be done? I mean, they can’t possibly have been printed yet, let alone packaged. Why is this like this?
But okay, so this Super Double Bloodbraid Rhino Sculptor replaces itself in every way if you complete the quest of playing a Fabled Passage or Evolving Wilds, along with massive short-term and long-term battlefield advantage, but it’s not like you only get to do this once. If you ever untap with this card that cost you nothing, you could easily have access to eight to ten mana.
Why can’t you just be normal?
But hey, at least there’s an opportunity cost to playing so many expensive cards.
Omnath’s third landfall ability could literally just dome yourself for four and the card’s still busted. Sadly, it domes the other player. Without targeting. Oh, and all of their planeswalkers.
Just keeping it real, though, all things considered, I rather like that part of the card. Weirdly, it’s the Blacker Lotus that’s the most busted (and the cantrip for no reason that’s the most offensive).
Oh, I get it. It’s four colors and has four abilities, one for each color. They are even in reverse order, mirroring the ordering in the cost of the card. I’m not saying there wasn’t some poetry going on here. The rate just makes no sense, at least for a Standard legal set.
But wouldn’t it ruin the aesthetic to have the card not have the blue ability?
Why is that the alternative?
Oh, I dunno, maybe have all four abilities be connected to landfall and just have a stage four?
But the three landfall abilities all do four of something.
Then maybe make the blue one something besides freaking draw a card! Or if you just can’t help it, make the fourth stage draw four cards or something. I dunno. It’s not like it’s gonna be balanced with the Blacker Lotus ability second, anyway.
But I dunno, I guess I’m not here to provide final design feedback, so let’s see whatever formats we can break. I wonder if this card was fine in actual fetchland formats?
So, why Pioneer?
Well obviously, it’s at least (ostensibly) a challenge, without OG fetchlands.
It would be really weird to ban these cards, so…
So, how do we capitalize on this bad mama jama?
Well, since the “constraint” is that you have to play (at least) four colors and Fabled Passage, one reasonable place to start is with a ramp deck. You see, there’s finally a reason to ramp out lands ahead of schedule. And that reason is Omnath.
There are lots of cards that are really good to ramp out early anyway, and the ability to get that second landfall in a turn for the Blacker Lotus is where the real money’s at, making all of these great options (to go alongside your Uros).
Once you’re playing all these colors and all these ways to play multiple lands in a turn, Lotus Cobra really ties the room together.
Okay, so let’s suppose you just have all the ramp and fixing you could want. What do you ramp out in Pioneer, anyway? Well, you can still just play Escape to the Wilds; Genesis Ultimatum; and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, so there is that.
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 3 Arboreal Grazer
- 4 Agent of Treachery
- 4 Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
- 4 Omnath, Locus of Creation
This deck is like a who’s who of problematic designs (more the Uros than the Grazers; but you know…) What’s the strategy? Well, you just kind of use some resources to accumulate more.
Isn’t that the game, though?
Well, I mean, in theory, attacking and blocking matter; there’s bluffing; you can use your modal cards in a variety of ways instead of all of them; there’s using your interaction carefully on the most valuable target; there’s taking symmetrical effects and sculpting a position in which you benefit disproportionately; there’s combining weaker cards together to make greater than the sum of the parts; there’s…
But anyway, yeah, you just kind of accumulate resources, and the synergies are a few ways to make your cantrips cantrip again, along with powerful cards that cost a lot and ways to cast them more easily than they’d normally be.
Sure, why not?
Do they really all draw cards?
Aha! Not this one!
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar? That’s not legal, is it?
Err, sorry, I meant Felidar Retreat. Easier to cast, triggers more, harder to kill, etc. And you have to admit, this doesn’t “draw” cards. It makes 2/2 creatures. That’s not the exact same resource.
Besides, that’s not the extent of it. Turntimber Symbiosis doesn’t “draw” cards, either. This particular (reliably) untapped land can be cycled for seven-mana into an Agent of Treachery or another Om-nom-nom-nath.
There are plenty of other options for Omnath shells, of course.
Like, you can just do this kind of stuff again, if that’s your jam.
Here we see you don’t have to play so much ramp. If you want, you can actually play some interaction.
Omnath’s color requirements already give you so much incentive to play multicolored cards (since you’re already paying for the mana anyway), it’s not surprising to see what a lot of folks have done.
While it is true that Niv-Mizzet Reborn doesn’t actually “find” Omnath, it does give you a boatload of cards to use that Omnath mana on. It’s also pretty convenient that you can just cast Omnath into Fabled Passage, into Niv-Mizzet Reborn, so easily.
Bring to Light is a Niv-Mizzet staple, of course, but it’s also a great way to make sure you have Omnath. It’s also a great way to spend Omnath mana.
If you ever untap with Omnath, that’s just a seven-ball right there, and they’re handless. Besides, that’s quite the added dimension and alternate win condition for a deck like this. For my mana, I’m playing Omnath in Pioneer, next chance I get (leaning towards the Yorion full-on ramp style, but I could easily be convinced of another variation).
We’ve only just begun Omnath Autumn, so buckle up.
Omnath in Historic?
Like all good Historic decks, I’m sure you can just play the Standard deck, but add all the banned cards.
What about Modern?
Yeah, obviously full-on fetchlands are unreal with Omnath; but that’s hardly all we pick up…
And that’s assuming you don’t want to just go full Elementals.
It’s not like playing some four-color blue deck was a big ask or anything.
Oh, there’ll come a day, all right.
You can literally Flash this card onto the battlefield and have it be amazing, if you want. It’s that powerful of a permanent… that costs four mana.
Time to do some serious investigation for the countermeasures that are hopefully littered throughout the formats, because it’s Omnath’s world; we’re just living in it.