Commander Showdown - Omnath vs Omnath
(Omnath, Locus of the Roil art by Lius Lasahido | Omnath, Locus of Rage art by Brad Rigney)
The Angry Green Jelly Bean
Omnath, Locus of Mana has had quite the adventure over the years. He began as a mono-green menace, collecting so much mana and increasing his power to such a degree that he's now entering weightlifting competitions with Mowu, Loyal Companion.
Then one day he stuck his many hands into a couple bags of Cheetos and became Omnath, Locus of Rage. The bane of many an EDH night, Omnath now doesn't just collect mana, but collects mini copies of himself. Through the simple expenditure of a land placement, he creates a 5/5 Elemental token, and he's so fiercely protective of his toys that he'll deal damage to anyone who dares take them away.
So what happens when you take the green-red legend and let him stand in two feet of water for a couple minutes? He becomes blue, of course!
He was just trying to wash the Cheeto dust off, but instead, he gained a whole new color, one that turns his Landfall ability into a card-drawing powerhouse. If you're in the market for a Landfall deck, which of these Omnaths is right for you? How do their strategies and playstyles differ? Let's explore it together on this Om-nom-nom-nath Showdown!
Filled with Rage
Let's start with the devil we know. Omnath, Locus of Rage has been spilling Bertie Bot's Every Flavor Beans onto the battlefield for years now. It's no accident that he's the #1 Gruul commander, outpacing the runner-up by over 600 decks. When every land also produces a huge 5/5 body, it's hard not to be popular. Where other colors have to pay mana for that kind of power, Omnath just has to play mana to establish his board presence.
We've discussed Omnath in this series before, during the Landfall Battle Royale from about a year ago. Landfall decks are, to some degree, fairly well-known entities. From Exploration and Burgeoning to Oracle of Mul Daya and Azusa, Lost but Seeking, the name of the game has always been to acquire multiple land drops per turn to trigger your fantastic Landfall effects.
Many of these triggers reward you with tokens, and with multiple land drops per turn, the board presence quickly becomes overwhelming. Normally, token decks can be weak to mass removal like Wrath of God, but Omnath even has that base covered: when his Elementals die, he'll throw a Lightning Bolt at anything you like. This is quite an impressive rattlesnake to prevent your opponents from destroying your enormous board; either you get to attack them for 40 with your army, or they wipe the board and take 24 damage anyway. If you can incorporate other Elementals into this, such as Titania, Protector of Argoth and her tokens, you can increase this rate of damage even more quickly.
It's not just the damage that makes Omnath so red, though - it's also his speed. On any given turn, Omnath could Evolving Wilds and Explosive Vegetation into four new creatures. That's 20 damage just waiting to punch someone, and Omnath is never one to wait. As a result, Omnath decks are flush with resources to take advantage of all these bodies as soon as they hit the floor.
Fires of Yavimaya and other haste enablers ensure your opponents are never safe. Even if it looks like all you have out is your lonesome commander, one Boundless Realms could sprout an army from nowhere that runs them right over in the blink of an eye. Where Ancients Tread and Warstorm Surge can even bypass the combat step, giving every Elemental the grandest of entrances.
Additionally, Perilous Forays has been a fun piece in Omnath decks for some time. Omnath is by no means obligated to wait until his opponents pull the trigger and destroy his minions. He can happily sacrifice them by himself. Forays will toss an Elemental away, causing Omnath to deal 3 damage to an enemy, then replace the token with a land, which in turn generates a new token, ready to repeat the cycle anew. Even an effect like Ashnod's Altar can manually increase his damage output.
Now, as any Landfall player knows, the trickiest part of these decks is making sure you you don't run out of steam. Omnath himself is no slouch, requiring a whopping seven mana before he can hit the battlefield, and that's just the first time. Additionally, the turn you play him, you'll want to make sure you're able to gain some value from his abilities right away, which often requires you to play him before you play a land for turn, and preferably on the same turn you can crack a Khalni Heart Expedition or Sakura-Tribe Elder. This sometimes creates timing restrictions that are a smidgen difficult to play around to get the best bang for your buck. Luckily, Omnath has some straightforward workarounds.
Elemental Bond is probably Omnath's best friend in the whole wide world. Every land creates a creature, every creature draws a card, and every card drawn gets him closer to even more lands. It's the circle of life for you, and the circle of death for your enemies. A well-timed Shamanic Revelation can also reward Omnath's many fine creations, as can a simple Rishkar's Expertise. If you're interested in drawing cards and dealing damage, always remember to be a utilitarian and work for the Greater Good.
Cards in hand are not your only resources, though. It's not unusual for an Omnath deck to run out of lands in hand, or even run out of basic lands in their decks to search for with their Cultivates! Yes, if you run out of land drops in hand, you could use Living Twister or Mina and Denn, Wildborn to bounce them back to your hand so you can remake your land drops and acquire even more Landfall effects... but you can also slam down a single Ramunap Excavator and open up your entire graveyard, reclaiming your used Evolving Wilds, or all those lands you sacrificed with your Scapeshift.
At the end of the day, Omnath, Locus of Rage is a force to be reckoned with. He may cost seven mana, but he'll ramp out at a blisteringly fast pace, and create an army even more quickly. His abundance of expendable creatures cause him to be aggressive and militant, a consistent battering ram that will knock down the walls around your opponents. His job is to put his enemies between a rock and a hard place, and he does so exceptionally well.
OmnomnomnathView on Archidekt
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And We'll Never be Roils
Let's now wade into the waters of Omnath, Locus of the Roil. How does the addition of blue modify Omnath's toolkit and general strategy?
Much in the same way that Lord Windgrace became a home for Omnath, Locus of Rage and The Gitrog Monster decks to join forces, new Omnath is a place for Omnath, Locus of Rage and Tatyova, Benthic Druid to combine their powers.
If there's a weakness to red-green Omnath, it's that he can run out of steam. If there's a weakness to Tatyova, it's that she occasionally lacks the necessary firepower to push through to victory. New Omnath answeres both of those concerns.
There aren't many Landfall effects blue provides to new Omnath. Roil Elemental is an absolute powerhouse here, of course, and Tatyova is a surefire inclusion. On the whole, though, Omnath's blue presence is, quite literally, just a splash.
The most peculiar part about Temur Omnath is his Elemental synergy. I find myself in the awkward position of saying that I in fact do not advise playing Omnath, Locus of the Roil as an Elemental tribal deck, while at the same time advising Omnath lists to include a great deal of excellent Elementals.
Allow me to explain. Yes, Omnath deals damage equal to the number of Elementals you control, and that's a decent enough ability. However, Flamekin Harbinger and Smokebraider are simply not worth the slot. Mulldrifter belongs in a deck that can blink it, not in a deck that will deal one more point of damage if it happens to be in play when you cast your commander.
With that said, Risen Reef is just a darn good card, and Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar is phenomenal in a land-based deck. Maelstrom Wanderer, Avenger of Zendikar, Bane of Progress; these are just great cards that Omnath can take advantage of, and they happen to be Elementals!
I think we should leave the Elemental tribal to Horde of Notions. Omnath's damage trigger just isn't worth the deckbuilding constraint of tribal synergies, especially not when his other effects are so potent.
That is where I think Omnath should focus his energy: every time you get a new land, Omnath can power up an Elemental. Which Elemental do we choose? I nominate... Omnath! As a source of commander damage, he holds counters better than any other Elemental in the deck, and he becomes a source of card advantage to boot! While the rest of your deck goes wide, Omnath himself will go tall.
Ironically - or perhaps not ironically at all - several other cards that work well with this plan also happen to be Elementals. Forgotten Ancient can put even more counters on our commander, and Rubblehulk turns all those lands into an unexpected win condition if our commander ever goes unblocked. I'm also not going to pretend that it wouldn't be awesome to turn all of our lands into indestructible Elementals with Sylvan Awakening, then plop Omnath onto the field to deal a ton of damage.
Enough chatter, let's see what the deck can really do!
Non-Elemental ElementalView on Archidekt
In truth, I think the biggest boon the color blue offers to new Omnath is its counterspells. Not only will you be able to keep your hand well-stocked from Omnath's card draw ability, but you are more able to protect your board, as well. Where previous Omnath was willing to sacrifice its board, this Omnath is here to keep things where they belong.
Comparing the decklists above, the vast majority of the cards in the 99 are the same; blue does not radically shift the deck's overall composition. Yet even with these minor differences, the strategic direction the commanders themselves offer are quite dissimilar. Old Omnath is a battering ram of relentless aggression, hurriedly tossing an expendable army into the fray. His extra Landfall compatriots are, in a way, supplemental. New Omnath is a fuel source, allowing the 99's Landfall synergies to shine a bit brighter, while threatening to become a one-hit-punch if your opponents aren't paying attention, all the while holding a few more protective spells to make sure things go his way.
Cards to Consider
Before we wrap up today's Omnath-tastic Showdown, let's linger for a moment longer on some extra-important cards that could stand to see a bit more play than the data on EDHREC shows they're currently seeing.
Locus of Rage
- Ghost Town: EDHREC has begun distinguishing between regular lands and utility lands in its recommendations. I hope that will serve to better highlight how useful Ghost Town is, because it deserves to see more play than just 33% of decks.
- Kavu Lair: No one else is going to generate more big creatures than Omnath.
- Finale of Devastation: Make mana. Find creature. Make tokens. Buff tokens. Win game.
- Field of the Dead: This is not a land. It is a win condition.
- Fervor: Haste is important. This gives us more of it.
Locus of the Roil
- Hardened Scales: I cannot believe this only sees play in 11% of Temur Omnath decks! This card halves Omnath's clock. Be afraid, be very afraid.
- Stone-Seeder Hierophant: This is very often better than Lotus Cobra.
- Retreat to Valakut: The Retreat cycle are usually pushed out of contention by other, sexier Landfall effects, but I think they genuinely shine here. Most land-based decks don't use their commander as a one-shot kill, but this one does, and that's exactly what these enchantments facilitate. Retreat to Kazandu and Retreat to Valakut can power Omnath up to some seriously scary heights, and both the red and blue iterations can remove blockers from consideration. Don't sleep on these, they're better than they look.
- Stubborn Denial: This is better than Swan Song, and no, I'm not kidding.
- Basic lands: Okay, look, I know, this is a silly thing to recommend. I've played many a Landfall deck, though, and I can attest that they run out of basic lands in the library very quickly. Don't let the fancy nonbasics get in the way of your necessary basics. Run as many as possible. You won't regret it.
Which Color Will Omnath Acquire Next?
We've had a mono-green Omnath, a red-green Omnath, and now a red-green-blue Omnath! In another five years, will he acquire a new color? And if so, which color should it be?
On a more serious note, which of these Landfall-manders would you prefer to build? Are you content with the token-making jelly bean, or all about that card draw?
Oh, and which commanders would you like to see on the next Commander Showdown? We've got a whole new bunch of entries from Commander 2019 to choose from, so cast your votes!
Til next time!