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You Down with ETB?



Are you as excited as I am that I finally figured out what I want to do with my Omnath deck? If not, start assembling some of your spare hype because you're going to need all of it today. Landfall is part of it but I realized that landfall isn't enough on its own so I'm pairing the obvious landfall components of an Omnath deck with something I'm calling creaturefall. With me so far?

Why the hybrid approach? For me, the idea to build a "creaturefall" deck came from being initially a little underwhelmed by Omnath. I was hoping for something that would build on Omnath, Locus of the Roil and it kind of felt like we were taking a step back. Omnath, Locus of the Roil can draw a bunch of cards when it's ready to win, ensuring you get the cards you need to end the game. New Omnath can only draw one card a turn, right?

Omnath, Locus of Creation

I left Omanth alone for a few weeks so I could come back when I was ready to build to Omnath's strengths rather than lament its weaknesses. People who play cEDH seemed excited for this card because it says "When Omnath, Locus of Creation enters the battlefield, draw a card" and that means you can build a Food Chain deck, drawing cards until the commander tax gets too expensive. I didn't want to build a cEDH deck that could win on the basis of drawing an extra card 4 or 5 times because I ran cards like Vampiric Tutor. The idea of playing Omanth over and over to draw cards didn't appeal to me a ton, but I realized that there was a benefit to "refreshing" Omnath for other reasons.

The way Omnath, Locus of Creation is worded, it seems like you track the number of times you get Omnath's triggers in a given turn and it stops triggering after three landfall triggers. However, the ability is tied to Omnath, not to you, meaning a new Omnath in the same turn gets 3 more triggers. You'll need to cough up a bunch of landfall to make this even matter, but the addition of White gives us everything we need to make it happen.

Finding ways to remove Omanth from play means we can get a ton of value, gaining life, drawing cards, getting mana to play more spells and doming our opponents. I explored a lot of ways to refresh Omnath - I even looked at an Astral Slide build with Gavi, New Perspectives and Fluctuator. In fact, I haven't ruled that out as a potential avenue for exploration in the future. However, I decided to keep it simple and bounce Omnath with cards like Equilibrium, Cloudstone Curio and Temur Sabertooth.

We have ways to make sure we can get full value out of Omnath, but in order for that to matter, we'll need to get more than 3 landfall triggers in a turn, or there's no point even exerting ourselves. Not to worry, because in addition to cards like Scapeshift and Nahiri's Lithoforming, we have some smaller, looping effects that can give us triggers without having to resort to digging new lands out of the deck.

Confounding Conundrum

A lot of players were initially very excited about Confounding Conundrum, a card they said would be a thorn in the side of Ramp decks and give the rest of Commanderdom a chance to catch up. I thought about ways to combat this card in my Omnath, Locus of the Roil deck and realized that not only was I running nearly every good card to combat Conundrum, it would actually make a few of my cards, such as Burgeoning, much better. I use Burgeoning to great effect in that deck because I like to pick up Ghost Town every turn and replay it if my opponent triggers Burgeoning, giving me another landfall trigger which draws me a card and gets me other landfall effects in that deck. I later added a Trade Routes, which does a ton of work in that deck in the same situations. Burgeoning is very good if it's in your opening hand but it's significantly less good drawn later unless you have a way to pick lands back up. Conundrum makes Burgeoning, Sakura-Tribe Scout, and Walking Atlas much better cards, and I run those cards in landfall decks either way. Sakura-Tribe Scout plus Retreat to Coralhelm can give you a very big turn if your hand fills up with land from Trade Routes or just drawing new lands with Omnath. Omnath, Locus of Creation doesn't give you a card draw trigger with landfall so Sakura-Tribe Scout is less powerful combined with Retreat to Coralhelm. However, Omnath, Locus of Creation has something Omnath, Locus of the Roil does not - access to White.

Ruin Ghost

Ruin Ghost can "flicker" a land, giving you a landfall trigger without having to find a new land in your deck somewhere, which is a resource that runs out. Couple Ruin Ghost with Retreat to Coralhelm, and you have a repeatable effect that can give you all the triggers you need, which is something we wanted in a deck where we're putting in the effort to keep replaying our commander. It's not just Ruin Ghost that White gives us access to, either, we can also play one of my favorite cards of all time.

Knight of the Reliquary

This is the "Knight" in "Knightfall" decks from Modern which used Retreat to Coralhelm with Knight of the Reliquary to win as early as turn three by stripping every land out of the deck and funneling the mana into Kessig Wolf-Run to smack the opponent before they can deal with a trampler that large. Knight can turn a Forest into a fetchland, giving us 2 more triggers without the help of any other card, meaning you can use just Knight to get full value out of Omnath. Knight is a little harder to use than Ruin Ghost, but it can be more powerful in certain situations and there's no reason not to run both.

We can round the deck out with some ETB creatures that we might not typically run since Panharmonicon is so much fun in this deck. We'd run Reef Elemental and Coiling Oracle regardless, but with Cloudstone Curio, Equilibrium, Chulane (another Retreat to Coralhelm all-star) and Temur Sabretooth, we can really branch out. I personally like Dockside Extortionist, Stonecloaker, and Knight of Autumn, but you can really go nuts and play your favorite cards for that situation. Maelstrom Wanderer is an option, Acidic Slime, Cloud of Fairies - there's no wrong answer. I personally like their cards so I'm looking at Diluvian Primordial and Molten Primordial as well as Agent of Treachery.

Can we fit all of this nonsense into one deck? I think so, especially since cards like Sakura- Tribe Scout and Walking Atlas makes it less important to run mana rocks and our powerful abilities on our creatures make it less necessary to run a ton of Instants and Sorceries. There is a lot of synergy here and I think the deck will be pretty powerful. So, what does a pile like this end up looking like?

Omnath, Locus of Creation | Commander | Jason Alt

This isn't perfect, but it's pretty close.

I will be testing a few different things in the future depending how the first few games go.

It looks a bit light on ways to return lands to hand. I don't like the idea of trifling with bouncelands here - we have too many non-basics as-is. One bit of tech I do enjoy is Soratami Mirror-Mage which does quite a few things we like. In a pinch, we can bounce their creatures, but picking up 3 lands and bouncing Omnath seems very strong on its own. We added a lot of creatures that tap to put a land from our hand into play and have a lot more creatures that let us play lots of extra lands, so picking up 3 lands basically has no drawback and it's something we actively want to do most games. Both modes will get a lot of play here. If we still find we need more, Mirror-Mage is part of a cycle with Meloku and a few other creatures with abilities ranging from making small creatures unblockable to looting to milling our opponent. I even considered Storm Cauldron, briefly, but that seems like it would either slow us down except on a turn we were already destined to win because we assembled a combo that goes infinite. Hopefully, the number of cards we have that let us bounce a land when we need more triggers is adequate.

I like the move to cut all of our Cultivate effects but I wasn't able to add as many Wood Elves effects to replace them as I would like. Our draws may end up very awkward and we may need to rethink our plans a lot. I think having a lot of early drops that play extra lands and being able to get mana from playing Omnath with a deck that has a lot of fetches in it means we should be fine for mana early but this deck does like having lands and cutting Cultivates means we have to come by them honestly. If you and up whiffing a lot, don't be afraid to add a few more of those cards. The problem I have is that the best ones are 3 or 4 mana and don't help us much if we get stuck on 2 lands. If you have to cut something to add one more basic, Molten Primordial isn't great since I don't know how often we're actually going over the top with this deck.

If you miss the old days of making a ton of tokens with our landfall triggers, you can add Phylath to join Avenger of Zendikar, add a Craterhoof maybe and consider Felidar Retreat. It helps you go both wide and tall and it's a fun new card. You'll want to add some ways to give your creatures haste, and Temur Ascendency is a good one. The deck as built will rely a lot on removing their creatures to get through or dealing damage with Omnath's third trigger. If you go infinite, you can do that easily, but it requires two different loops so you'll have to draw well and not get disrupted.

This deck looks heavy on enablers and light on win conditions at first blush, but that is because the deck functions a bit differently from past Omnath builds. We want to draw as many cards as we can to find our finishers, but we're also just trying to extract value from our ETB creatures as much as we can. We want to keep returning them to our hand and replaying them for value so we can keep Omnath refreshed and earning value with our land triggers. If it works right, we should play a lot of creatures and lands on every turn and even if we can't go infinite with the cards we have, we should still get a ton of value. We also want to be stealing and removing their blockers so any of our creatures can deal them damage. We're not planning a big Avenger into Craterhoof alpha strike, although the deck is capable of that if you find one cut to add 'Hoofy. Hopefully your turns aren't too long and boring - if they are, tweak the deck so your turns do more or finish quicker. This is a social game and people watching you Solitaire for 5 minutes and ultimately do nothing more than gain a bunch of life is going to get old, fast. Ideally the only turn that takes longer than their average turn is the one where you combo off and win.

What do we think? Is it all enablers and no payoff? Do you wish it had more new cards? Are you excited to get a Cloudstone Curio or Equilibrium loop with Thieving Skydiver and Dockside Extortionist going? Leave it for me in the comments section below. Thanks for reading, everyone. Until next time!

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