Omnath's Life Beyond Standard

Rone

While the marquee card of Zendikar Rising only lasted three weeks in Standard and on MTG Arena, Omnath, Locus of Creation can redeem itself by being a playable but not completely busted contender in other formats. Pioneer, Modern, and even Legacy — we review every Omnath strategy!


omnath

For today's article my goal is to review the applications of Omnath, Locus of Creation outside of Standard, where obviously it was way too strong so it only lasted a couple of weeks. Regarding impact, I want to tackle Modern first since it's the format where Omnath seems to fit the best; combined with fetch lands and ramp spells, it's quite easy to get up to three land drops in the same turn, unlocking its full potential. Meanwhile, in Pioneer, it mainly synergizes with Fabled Passage and Terramorphic Expanse, which isn't nearly as strong. Plus, it is a tad too expensive for Legacy, a tempo-oriented format where it's challenging to resolve a four-mana creature in the face of free countermagic à la Force of Will and Daze. However, even there, some decks are willing to take that risk.

Modern: Uro Piles and Copycats


uro

Right before Omanth's release, there was a discussion about which Uro Pile version was positioned the best in the metagame at that point: Bant, Temur, or Sultai. While Bant had Path to Exile and two Teferis, Temur gave access to Wrenn and Six and Lightning Bolt, and finally Sultai offered a different style of play packing Fact or Fiction combined with black removal in the shape of Abrupt Decay and Assassin's Trophy.

Once Omnath became available, there was no doubt anymore. The new four-color version featuring our favorite four-armed legend (also known as Money Tribal among several streamers) is the best one, at least for this humble writer. Before you get sick of reading it several times, Omnath's best partner in crime is obviously Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, since the ability to put extra lands into play ensures more Omnath landfall triggers and the life gain they produce combined is a total nightmare for any aggressive strategy.


What are the pros and cons of going to four colors?, you might ask. Well, let's give it a quick review:

  • Improved spot removal: Having red and white grants two of the three best one-mana removal spells in the format. Four Path and two Bolt are key to deal with early threats since the rest of the decks start operating on turn two. Besides, Bolts can end some surprising games alongside Omnath third landfall trigger while getting rid of opposing planeswalkers.

  • Infinite life gain: As previously mentioned, six repeatable life-gain sources — four Uro, two Omnath are the average numbers — is pretty hard to handle for aggro strategies like Burn or Prowess. They need to immediately deal with Omnath, otherwise they will face 4 life per turn, if not 8 as we can crack fetch lands on opponents' turns for that purpose.

  • Explosive turns: Uro and Growth Spiral, another busted Simic card that every Uro Pile version was taking advantage of ealy on, allows us to hit four mana as early as possible. Then, we proceed to slam Omnath, and right after we play/crack a fetch to get maximum value, with the lifegain and fresh four mana to cast more spells. The ideal scenario is using the land we just searched to summon Teferi, Hero of Dominaria or even better, Hour of Promise for an extra Omnath trigger while tutoring for Field of the Dead, the strategy's main win condition.

  • Awkward mana base: The main disadvantage of adding a fourth color is clearly the loss of consistency added to the fact that we need different land names for Field of the Dead to function. Although we get to work with two Triomes to smooth our color requirements in the early game, Ketria and Raugrin, sometimes we find awful starting hands without blue sources plus spells like Cryptic Command and Force of Negation.

  • Public enemy number one: Playing the best deck in the format comes at a high price; every other competitor should be ready to beat you. From Cleansing Wildfire, the newest and cheapest way to deal with problematic lands from Zendikar Rising, to Blood Moon or the scariest of all, Boil, there are multiple hateful choices to dismantle our fragile mana base.

All in all, I highly recommend you try out Four-Color Uro or Money Tribal in the near future to enjoy the sensation of playing with the best cards in the format, not to mention getting to know how to battle against it. If you want further information regarding deck construction, check out Cardmarket's YouTube channel for extra content!


felidar guardian

Next on our list we have Saheeli Copycat, a tier-two shell that was already established in Modern a while ago. The combo originated in the Kaladesh cycle and combines the Izzet planeswalker Saheeli Rai with Felidar Guardian to create an infinite army of hasty white cats to win the game on the spot.

This deadly combination was banned in Standard shortly after warping the whole metagame and later on also experienced a brief period of success in Pioneer, until again the interaction was erased from existence while balancing the newly created format. That being said, Modern is a pretty challenging format. That's the reason why Copycat is not a top dog; nevertheless thanks to Omnath, the deck has gained a lot of raw power.


The deck's plan, as its name prays, relies on copying the Cat as early as possible, but in the meantime it also needs to stabilize the board. To do so, it packs the same spot removal as the Uro Pile strategy, Path and Bolt, alongside Wrenn and Six to ensure it hits every land drop. The deck runs an enchantment package to speed up the process with Utopia Sprawl while Oath of Nissa digs for each combo piece and also acts as a nice target to flicker with Felidar Guardian if needed.

Speaking of flickering targets, there are plenty of them to get value out of Felidar when the combo is not ready yet: three-mana Teferi is here in multiples to protect us from opposing spells during our turn, but it can also bounce Felidar to get extra flicker effects while also being flickered itself to bounce multiple targets on the same turn. Our main protagonist, Omnath is a sweet choice to flicker as well, since that will reset the landfall triggers and of course draws an extra card in the process. Last but not least you can flicker Uro, although the outcome is not as appealing since the Elder Giant will end up in the graveyard as a result of not being cast, but you will get the other trigger as well.

Overall, the deck is an interesting alternative to fight the vast Modern metagame. It can win games very quickly compared with all the time Four-Color Uro requires — time that might result in a draw when games go long.

Pioneer: Niv to Light and Reclamation


Niv-Mizzet Reborn wilderness reclamation

Now we switch gears and look toward Pioneer, the format aside from Standard where newly printed cards have the biggest impact. Just a quick comparison, Omnnah is the eighth most played creature in Modern whereas it ranks fifth in Pioneer. (Meanwhile Uro takes first and second place, respectively.) There are three if not four completely different archetypes that have embraced Omnath in their ranks, so let's review them ordered according to the amount of play they see.

Niv to Light: This archetype works in Modern and Pioneer, since the centerpieces, Niv-Mizzet Reborn and Bring to Light, are legal in both formats. However, the Pioneer version is way more successful. It's among the Top 5 most played decks at the moment.


Sadly for our Omnath boy, the former Izzet Dragon cannot hit it with its enter-the-battlefield ability, although it can be tutored via Bring to Light. That's why you will find a single copy in most lists.

Four-Color Reclamation: The most successful archetype in the current Pioneer metagame is Wilderness Reclamation, and has been for some time. Nevertheless, it has evolved significantly since Zendikar Rising released, back when Temur was the best and only choice. (You can find a more detailed analysis in my Temur Reclamation primer.) Nowadays there are three different routes to assemble a Reclamation deck: straight Temur with no further additions from the latest set, Sultai, which may currently be the best choice as it's able to run cheaper removal than red and get access to Extinction Event, and finally the four-color version featuring Omnath, which is the one I am most interested in.


This variant is clearly an upgrade from the Temur one, adding white for obvious reasons. We get access to Omnath and Teferi, thus the ability to mess with opponents' turns, and finally Dovin's Veto in the sideboard. Like previous examples, you gain extra tools to fight grindy games and the free mana Omnath grants with its second landfall trigger can be spent to cast Wilderness Reclamation on the same turn and then immediately untap all your mana at the end of the turn. The downside is again the mana base's lack of consistency plus the awkwardness when trying to cast cards like Anger of the Gods and Teferi in the same deck.

Four-Color Omnath: At last an archetype with the protagonist as the namesake! This one is directly adapted from the infamous Standard counterpart that only was available for three weeks after Zendikar Rising released and once Omnath became no longer legal instantly disappeared.


Looking at the bright side of that early banning, if you invested your money in Omnath and Lotus Cobra for Standard, at least you can continue playing the same shell in Pioneer, although it needs a bit of work in the mana base section. Here you can find a lot of the usual suspects from previous examples: Uro, "Threeferi," and Growth Spiral — but this time around some Standard allstars are thrown into the mix as well: Lotus Cobra is the other two-mana ramp to get to our top end, Escape to the Wilds works as a draw engine as well as card advantage, and finally Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Genesis Ultimatum make sporadic appearances as the expensive payoffs that should win games if uncontested.


lotus cobra escape to the wilds

Regarding popularity, although at first it seemed like the hottest deck to beat in Pioneer, a month after Zendikar Rising's release it has decreased in the metagame percentage: around 4% whereas Reclamation variants are about 12%. But it still sits in eighth place of the most played decks, something that can change depending on how the metagame evolves.

To sum up: I am convinced Omnath is safer in Pioneer compared to Modern. It will continue to see play but won't warp the metagame because of its strong mana requirements and the lack of fetch lands in the format.

Legacy: An Elk's World

arcum's astrolabe

Last stop for the Omnath review, or revue, is Legacy, a very demanding format where only a few select cards from newer sets are welcome. Lately, due to an increase in power creep, things have changed a bit and actually both Legacy and Vintage are the two fields left where Oko, Thief of Crowns can reign. In that Elk world, it's hard to find your place but luckily, there is some room for Omnath since Green Sun's Zenith can search it up.


This Snowko variant is more creature oriented, adding a toolbox for the Zenith aside from Ice-Fang Coatl and Uro, which are the bread and butter of every Simic shell. Regarding mana requirements, Arcum's Astrolabe has completely warped the way to build mana bases in Legacy to the point where casting Omnath is no problem at all. In any case, Omnath's inclusion isn't a big change since it's just another silver bullet among others like Leovold, Emissary of Trest or Knight of the Reliquary, all of which will be put into play via Zenith most of the time.

Regarding Legacy's unique and common interactions, our beloved Elemental gets caught by both Pyroblast and Hydroblast, but is resilient against c=Abrupt Decay}, and has great synergy with Karakas so you can replay it and draw an extra card each turn. In sum, Omnath's impact in Legacy will remain circumstantial; as long as Astrolabe is legal, it's easy to cast, but the format is so fast that few four-mana spells are relevant, even less if they are creatures that can get "elked."

Wrapping Up

This humble writer stands in favor of Omnath, although the effects could have been tweaked a bit — maybe 2 life instead of 4, getting the four mana with the third landfall trigger, and so on and so forth. Outside of Standard, it is a reasonable card, still with a taxing mana cost that arguably wouldn't see much play if Uro didn't exist. It has found a second life outside Standard, fitting into several strategies across formats, so expect to see it a lot in future months. Who knows how the five mana version will look like …

This concludes Omnath's review for today. As usual thank you for your time and please let us know in the comments below your opinions on the card itself, the different decks running it, or any other aspect of this the article. Your feedback, as always, is very much appreciated!

Until next time,
Rodrigo Martin


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.



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