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The Top 8 Problems with Omnath, Locus of Creation


Let's start with the results from the first Standard Challenge featuring Zendikar Rising:

  • Four-color Genesis Ultimatum- *111
  • Mono-Red Aggro - 11
  • Sultai Ramp - 1
  • Temur Adventures - 1

The good news is that heroic Mono-Red Aggro took two of the Top 8 slots, including a near-miss at second place.

Mono-Red Aggro

I feel like the build KOMATTAMAN used is probably a good place to start for the emerging format. Quite simply, Standard is at the dawn of a straight level up, power-wise. Nissa, Who Shakes the World just left with all the other sweet Planeswalkers from War of the Spark; but remaining sets like Throne of Eldraine are missing their signature cards like Oko, Thief of Crowns. The Companions from Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths all come prepackaged with anchors hanging around their necks... But Embercleave and Torbran, Thane of Red Fell remain. These are cards that have performed at the highest levels of bigger formats than Standard, after all.

While some of last year's Mono-Red builds felt more like StOmPy decks with basic Mountains; KOMATTAMAN opted to run the full four Shocks alongside four Bonecrusher Giants. Not just that... This version added new cards Roil Eruption and Spikefield Hazard. Read: loads and loads of cheap removal for only one or two mana.

Spikefield Hazard in particular already looks like the best Modal Double-Face card in the new set. Sometimes a terrible Mountain, sometimes a terrible Shock, Spikefield Hazard is priced right for murdering a Lotus Cobra (see below) or Akoum Hellhound.

Speaking of Akoum Hellhound, the Red-shifted Steppe Lynx slides comfortably into the Red Deck one over rotating threats like Tin-Street Dodger. Akoum Hellhound at its best will outperform almost every other potential 1-drop - especially in combination with Embercleave - but it does run the risk of dealing zero damage... Remember, this is a paltry twenty-two land deck before you start considering Modal Double-Face cards.

And for the record, Spikefield Hazard seems contextually much stronger than my earlier suggestion of Song-Mad Treachery.

Sultai Ramp

It's kind of nice to see the top deck from the previous format more-or-less survive into this new Standard rotation.

Kind of.

I mean, under most circumstances I would have said "Good riddance" to that particular Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath deck... But O_DANIELAKOS was actually pretty inventive with the inclusions from the new set.

The primary example being cutting at least a half dozen lands from the main deck. Sultai Ramp used to be all about having nearly half lands, but with a far leaner count, this deck is much less liable to lose flooded while in topdeck mode late (and make no mistake, there is probably going to be a "late" with this deck).

O_DANIELAKOS mitigated the loss of so many lands with - you guessed it - a commensurate number of Modal Double-Face cards. Of these, Tangled Florahedron might be the most interesting to talk and think about. It'll often be a "Forest" but sometimes just help O_DANIELAKOS get Ashiok, Nightmare Muse online a turn sooner. It's actually a very problematic inclusion for some opponents to plan for and sideboard against. Do you keep in your Spikefield Hazard against this 1/1? There are no other creatures quite so small (unless you count the one-of Brazen Borrower, which is clearly there for other reasons). How do you think about cheap removal, generally? Isn't Sultai planning to be the long game deck against you?

On that subject, the cheap removal in this deck really is a-plus. Bloodchief's Thirst is really something special. A lot of the Modal Double-Face cards are a bad this or a bad that, but all together flexible enough to make the cut. Bloodchief's Thirst is most of a Fatal Push (aka great), and most of a Vraska's Contempt (aka great). While not 100% of either - it's sorcery speed and lacks some of the upside potential of especially the latter mode - Bloodchief's Thirst is fast when you need it to be and the last word in killing things also when you want it to be.

The problem, though? If there is one? I'm not 100% sure about point removal in the emerging Standard. Clearly O_DANIELAKOS's deck can do things other than trade one-for-one. It's a serviceable Ramp deck with Uro and the aforementioned Tangled Florahedron... But unlike the Sultai deck of the past, this one lacks the death knell of Casualties of War. Shark Typhoon won a ton of games in the long-ago ages past of last week (or certainly when Teferi was popular in Standard), but my gut is it will rarely be the most powerful card on the table in the emerging Standard format.

I'm very curious to see if Confounding Conundrum will be enough to slow down opposing Ramp decks... Or if the card will only be effective when you yourself can keep pace (or get ahead) with your own Ramp.

Temur Adventures

Rounding out 8th place in this Standard Challenge was Temur Adventures.

Back before hell froze over, Temur Adventures was - at least for a week or two - the best deck to play in Standard.

I would never have predicted that it would not only fall so far on relative power level... But not even be the best Escape to the Wilds deck in Standard.

Sadly, I don't have high hopes for Temur Adventures. Used to be following up a Lucky Clover with a two-for-one or three was impressive... But I don't think this is the time for chip shot card advantage.

HEROTSUKAI mitigated that by playing three copies of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon between main deck and sideboard (you know, where a Fae of Wishes can help find one). The deck has most of its engine's machinery, and new Silver Bullets besides. My favorite is probably Run Afoul.

How great is it to slay a Dream Trawler, regardless of its hexproof situation?

Four-color Genesis Wave

Remember how we opened with "the good news"?

Well, the bad might be that the format - before paper cards are even in any of our hands - has already (!!!) been solved.

This event's Top 8 showcased four copies of Four-color Genesis Ultimatum (albeit without consensus on seventy-five yet), one of which finished in first place.

Genesis Ultimatum decks were some of the most exciting coming out of the last format; especially decks that paired Genesis Ultimatum with Terror of the Peaks as a closer. These decks go one better with the addition of White for Omnath, Locus of Creation.

Omnath is a hell of an incentive.

As a card straight up, compare it to guys like these:

Ravenous Baloth
Loxodon Hierarch

If you haven't been playing for a decade or more, you'll just have to believe me that Ravenous Baloth was good enough to win Extended PTQs; and that Loxodon Hierarch was straight up the best card in multiple competitive formats.

Even just purely as a life gain card [for four mana], neither of these could compare with an Omnath, Locus of Creation that sticks around for a turn... And certainly neither drew a card with an immediate 187.

If you look at Loxodon Hierarch over Ravenous Baloth, it is a good deal better generally, even if it loses the Beasts synergies that made cards like Indrik Stomphowler such effective teammates. It did so by saddling prospective mid-range Green mages with a White mana requirement.

Omnath is exactly four colors across its four total CMC.

The problem is that this is not a disincentive at all for the card.

Omnath is already a perfect fit for a Genesis Ultimatum deck - especially given how much it likes to hit multiple lands after already resolving - so the Red and Green bits aren't a tough sell.

But what about the White?

TELSACOW and others solved this ask by playing a single Plains. A Plains in the first half dozen turns will foul your ability to cast a Genesis Ultimatum on time, but the trade-offs actually net you up in total.

For one thing, the addition of a random basic is trivial when you're playing cards like Beanstalk Giant. For another, the supposed tax is actually quite beneficial in combination with Lotus Cobra. You want to play Evolving Wilds in addition to Fabled Passage for the Plains-searching. Of course, that just doubles up with...

Lotus Cobra

The real problem here is that Lotus Cobra was printed in the same set as Omnath. A second turn Lotus Cobra is a recipe for a third turn Omnath with almost any untapped land. The trick is you don't even have to play, search for, or whatever your Plains. Land a basic Island and make the Lotus Cobra landfall trigger give you a w. All good.

But that's not the worst of it. If you can somehow remove the Lotus Cobra before it can pop a third turn Omnath... The second Lotus Cobra will still get you. There are countless lines with the second Lotus Cobra, including just not breaking your Fabled Passage or Evolving Wilds to start.

Just an Omnath in play is a disaster for many decks. Look back at the Mono-Red and Sultai examples we looked at already. Tons of one and two damage effects from the Red Deck... Four mostly in the sideboard. The Black removal is kind of spotty for taking out a four. Eliminate doesn't do it. Hagra Mauling and Bloodchief's Thirst can... But at equal speed. Remember: Even in the best case scenario the Omnath player will still have drawn an extra card!

Following up an Omnath - especially with one of those Evolving Wilds or Fabled Passages that are kind of necessary to access that Plains - can give Omnath multiple landfall triggers in a single turn... And that's before you even start playing the five or seven cost sorceries.

It's a monster.

Genesis Ultimatum and Escape to the Wilds go over the top of midrange decks.

Because there is so much life gain - Uro and Omnath main deck, Elder Gargaroth in the sideboard - the deck has a ton of margin against beatdown. Because there is so miuch card advantage, it can also be forgiving of small errors in a variety of matchups.

Out of the gate - Omnath and Uro and Genesis Ultimatum are awfully tough to beat.



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