Like a True Pioneer: An Exploration of Omnath, Locus of Creation

Everyone’s favorite elemental has seemingly been absent from the Pioneer format. A card so powerful, it was banned in both Standard and Historic. We’ve seen him pop up periodically over the course of his life in Pioneer, but currently there are no decks that are really made for Omnath. Here, Bradcifer brews three.

Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride

Everyone’s favorite elemental has seemingly been absent from the Pioneer format. A card so powerful, it was banned in both Standard and Historic (though at this point, it’s a joke he’s still banned given the power level of Historic now). We’ve seen him pop up periodically over the course of his life in Pioneer, but currently there are no decks that are really made for Omnath, Locus of Creation. Sure, he sees play in Niv to Light at two or three copies, but that’s hardly a deck built to utilize his full power. There was a deck that tried to make full use of the mana creation of Omnath and Lotus Cobra in combination with Genesis Ultimatum, but that deck ran Uro and Teferi, Time Raveler as well. Once the latter two cards were banned, the deck fell off drastically. That’s not to say that the shell of Omnath, Lotus Cobra, and Genesis Ultimatum can’t be good! In fact, that’s why we’re here today. I’ve constructed a few Omnath, Locus of Creation decks that aim to take full advantage of Omnath himself. 

Midrange Landfall

The first deck is an archetype players can’t help but love. Landfall. There is nothing quite as satisfying as creating card advantage or board advantage by simply doing the most basic thing in Magic as playing a land. Now thanks to Neon Dynasty, we gained a card that may not say Landfall specifically, but it slots perfectly into this deck. Roaring Earth. A two-mana enchantment for one and a Green mana, that says “Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, put a +1/+1 counter on target creature or Vehicle you control.”. This is half the effect of Felidar Retreat for half the cost as well. But that’s not all this card can do. Neon Dynasty brought back the wonderful Channel mechanic, and of course this is one of the cards to feature it. “Channel{X}{G}{G}, Discard Roaring Earth: Put X +1/+1 counters on target land you control. It becomes a 0/0 green Spirit creature with haste. It’s still a land.”

If you read my Rakdos article, you’ll know that I had high praises for the card Bloodthirsty Adversary. These praises were due to the fact that this effect had existed before, but it was on a body that cost five mana in Goblin Dark-Dwellers. By allowing the flexibility of a 2/2 for two mana hasting threat that could match GDD later in the game for the same mana cost and effect propels deck ideas into another stratosphere. Remember, flexibility is one of the most important aspects of a card in MTG card evaluation. Roaring Earth does something similar with this deck as well, since this effect existed on a card but at a higher mana cost. Felidar Retreat is four mana and gives you the option to either pump all of your creatures or create a 2/2 Cat Beast token. Now, of course this card has it’s downsides in comparison since it only pumps a single creature rather than the whole team. But it still gives an outlet for all the extra mana you’re creating thanks to you being a Landfall deck in that channel cost. This makes it a reasonable draw late game, where Felidar Retreat is practically a dead card. I’m high on both cards, and as you can see, I’m running both!

I started with a more aggressive version of the deck, but then found it would be better to go into a more midrange approach given what style of play Omnath best supports. Initially you would think that being a Landfall deck, you would want Lotus Cobra as your mana dork of choice. Though since we aren’t trying to create a ridiculous amount of mana like the traditional Omnath deck, Sylvan Caryatid is the better option here. Elvish Reclaimer can become a 3/4 fairly quickly in this deck and serves as a genuine threat. 

The objective of the deck is simple: churn through the deck as much as possible with your card draw and card advantage, while creating bodies with felidar retreat and growing your threats with roaring earth. Remember that aggro version I said I made? Well that actually inspired a whole different deck altogether. There’s no Omnath in this version, but I think this idea deserves some consideration and maybe its own article in the future. 

Go Big or Go Home

The Original archetype for Omnath was this: A deck that looks to make the most of Lotus Cobra and Omnath’s second Landfall trigger to cast a big ol’ Genesis Ultimatum to go find some expensive cards to cast for free, like, Ugin, Escape to The Wilds, and Part The Waterveil. The problem now is that two key cards for this deck are now banned in, Uro and T3feri. Uro really helped the deck ramp into your big threats as well as being a threat himself, while T3feri allowed you to freely cast your big spells without worry of them being countered. So now the question is: how do we construct this deck to replace those cards? We increase interaction and early game card-draw to find our cards.

Portable Hole comes in as our interaction, Consider/Expressive Iteration enter as ways to filter through our deck, and finally we add an additional threat in Hullbreaker Horror. We’ve cut the Part the Waterveils as they performed better with the consistent ramp and threat of Uro, and we upped Caryatid to 3 copies. There could be an argument to jump up to the full playset though. Cards I’m interested in are Temporal Trespass and Galvatic Iteration. That combo is really powerful in Phoenix, so I suspect it could have similar utility in this type of deck as well. In fact….

Extra Turns

….I went ahead and made it a deck. Still playing the expected core, we add in threats like Brazen Borrower that doubles as interaction early, a great finishing threat in Dream Trawler, and a bunch more ways to churn through our deck. Treasure Cruise now finds a home here due to the amount of cheap spells we have to filter through our deck and fill our yard, as well as temporal trespass making sense as the extra turn spell of choice. Glavatic Iteration allows us to take more than 1 extra turn now with our extra flying threats to ensure we close the game.

Elementals

The home that makes the most sense for an Omnath deck. Elemental Tribal. There are so many synergies here and even Modern has a deck of this nature. I looked through all of the elementals in Pioneer and had several tribal decks drafted up. There were decks leaning more into blue to make use of the Risen Reef and Master of Waves synergies we’ve seen in “Mono U” decks. I made and attempt at an ‘Oops all Omnaths” type of deck and even a deck featuring all of the Cavaliers from M20.

The longer I worked on this deck, the more I realized that there was a chunk of cards I kept ignoring: Mutate cards from Ikoria. The one thing I forgot over and over again was that the majority of these sweet mutake cards are in fact, Elementals! So I locked in a playset of Parcelbeast because of that super cheap mutate cost, we want to be mutating this bad boy onto our Risen Reefs as often as possible to help make it a bit more durable. The added benefit of it being an Elemental and having a pretty great activated ability certainly helps.

Then, I found that rather than try higher-cost Omnath cards or shoehorn the Cavaliers into the deck, we just play Illuna, Apex of Wishes instead. It fits with the Mutate plan as well as guaranteeing to grab an Elemental and slamming it onto the battlefield. In addition to those two, we also play a couple of Auspicious Starrix to help with the grab big elementals for free game plan. The cards we plan on hitting with these mutate cards are our Scampering Scorchers – to trigger our risen reefs even more – our Omnath cards, and any other elemental we want to fill the board with. This deck draws a lot of cards and churns through itself pretty quickly. Cast elementals, mutate onto them, draw a bunch of cards, play lands, and swarm our opponent with Elementals. It’s so much fun!

Cards and Routes Left to Consider

There were quite a few ways to take this deck and to get the most use out of Omnath. If I made a deck for every single Idea then this article would be 50 pages long. So to close it out let’s quickly go over some other options I considered. 

  • Adventures. Taking a page out of an old standard deck, playing Lucky Clover, Edwall Innkeeper, and ALL the Adventure spells just worked well with omnath. Throwing in access to new cards like Portable Hole, Silence, and Chained to the Rocks to act as interaction goes a long way. 
  • Fires. You know a great way to get around Omnaths casting cost? By simply not caring and playing it for free! A fires shell could be interesting with our Elemental friend. Drawing cards and making extra mana, bouncing him and fires with Yorion to play even more spells. Sounds fun.
  • Gates. We’ve seen Guildgates pop up recently as a deck that has managed to 5-0 some Pioneer Leagues on MTGO. The deck is really fun and actually doesn’t play as badly as you’d expect. Omnath seems like a perfect fit for that deck, since you want to play as many gates as possible. This would allow for a great body and ways to stabilize with lifegain vs aggro, which gates can struggle against. 
  • Lands Matter Planeswalkers. Nissa Who Shakes the World and Wrenn and Seven are planeswalkers who want to make use of having a bunch of lands, so shoving omnath in the mix would be a great fit. 
  • Chromatic Lantern. Similarly to Fires of Invention, Lantern is another great way to get around that mana cost of Omnath and focus more so on a singular color. 
  • Energy/Marvel. I love Marvel decks. The classic omnath deck is aiming to accomplish a similar game plan to a marvel deck. So why not create a beautiful marriage of these archetypes? Again, Omnath gives a way for the deck to stabilize vs aggressive decks and buy time to get to your big threats. 

Wrap-up

Omnath, Locus of Creation is without a doubt, a powerful magic card. It deserves to see more play than it does, and deserves to be the center of attention in decks that play him. The best thing about him is that he slots into so many different game plans as we’ve showcased today with our brews. The brewing potential for this card is through the roof, and usually that means it’s only a matter of time until a viable competitive build is found featuring our sticky fingered friend. 

  • Author/Video Editor

    With a love for Ancient Egypt as a child, Brad’s card game of choice was always Yu-Gi-Oh! until the release of Amonkhet sparked interest in Magic. Ever since then he hasn’t looked back. Pioneer naturally became his favorite format of choice seeing that his starting point with Magic was Amonkhet. Rakdos is his favorite color combination but Kethis Combo will always have that special place in his heart as his favorite deck.

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