Omnath makes its presence known
In times past, Omnath, Locus of Creation took over Standard in such a way it was banned within the first month of being released. After being banned in Standard, decks featuring Omnath made their way into Pioneer and have, from time to time, put up some strong results.
The basic strategy of most Four-Color Elemental decks is to get Risen Reef and Omnath, Locus of Creation into play and play elementals to trigger the Reef to put more lands into play and trigger Omnath’s many landfall triggers.
The deck does tend to have a slower start than many others, but if the engine gets going, it is as hard to stop as a tractor-trailer on the highway.
Why are we talking about Omnath, Locus of Creation?
The printing of Dominaria United brings back a keyword that seems to have been tailor-made for Omnath: Domain. Domain looks to see how many basic land types your lands have and produce a multitude of different effects. Since most Four-Color Elementals decks ran a plethora of shock lands and triomes, there will be little issue in reaching four basic land types by turn three – in fact, it will often be accomplished without specifically trying.
With cards like Leyline Binding and Slimefoot’s Survey, the benefits of domain shine through in a deck centered around Omnath and its elemental friends.
The main deck contains a total of six copies of Omnath: three Omnath, Locus of Creation, two Omnath, Locus of the Roil, and a miser copy of Omnath, Locus of Rage. Locus of Creation is certainly the star of the deck, but having copies of Rage and Roil help out the deck in other ways. Locus of the Roil deals incidental damage when you play lands and provides card draw if the game becomes more drawn out. Locus of Rage is more of a deterrent for board wipes, as if your opponent kills your creatures, they will take damage.
The backbone of this deck is certainly Risen Reef. Risen Reef may not be as flashy as the Omnaths, but without the Reef, the deck would not function properly. This three-drop helps power out your lands for the landfall abilities as well as let you draw cards without actually drawing them (important for combating Narset, Parter of Veils and, now, Sheoldred, the Apocalypse).
Ten elementals is not quite enough for an elemental deck powered by Risen Reef, so we also have copies of Thinderkin Awakener, which allows you recur Risen Reef when it inevitably dies. Voice of Resurgence is a fun addition that, itself, is an elemental and has the ability to create elementals when it dies or your opponent casts spells during your turn.
This deck needs a way to play its mana-intensive cards earlier than it should, and Lotus Cobra comes in clutch for this. The landfall trigger of producing mana of any color will come in handy with the number of double enter-the-battlefield lands the deck utilizes.
The deck is not all creatures and lands; it has spells that help the deck ramp and even fill your hand up with even more threats.
Growth Spiral is a two-mana spell that has two effects: first, you draw a card, then, you can put a land from your hand into play. With the main focus of the deck being to ramp and put lands into play, this spell can be useful no matter when it is played.
The big haymaker of the deck is one of the ultimatums – in this case, Genesis Ultimatum. For seven mana, you get the top five cards from your deck into play if they are permanents. The cards that are not permanents go to your hand.
The deck does not rely solely on Growth Spiral and Lotus Cobra for early-game ramp, as Dominaria United brings us Joint Exploration. Joint Exploration is a two-mana spell that allows you to scry two and draw a card, and if it is kicked for one, you can put a land into play from your hand as well. The card acts as a Growth Spiral that may even be stronger in the later game.
Slimefoot’s Survey is a costly ramp spell, but it lets you search for non-basic lands as long as they have basic land types (i.e. shock lands or triomes), then letting you look at the top X cards of your library, where X is the number of basic land types you have, and put one of the cards on top and the rest on the bottom. With this spell, you can set yourself up for the next turn or even set the next elemental you play if you have a Risen Reef in play.
There are a number of potential landfall enchantments this deck would benefit from, but Zendikar’s Roil has a wonderful synergy with Risen Reef. Play a land, get an elemental, the elemental triggers Risen Reef, if you reveal a land, repeat the process.
Another powerful card from Dominaria United fits in this deck quite well in Leyline Binding. This six-mana Banishing Light effect will never really cost six, since the cost drops for each basic land type you have – all the way down to one if you have all five basic land types. Having flash makes this card all the better, as you can avoid a lethal attack or deny the opponent the key card in their deck at instant speed for only two mana in a four-color deck.
The deck contains every triome that has both blue and green, the main colors of the deck as well as a handful of shock lands. As with every deck containing green since the release of Kamigawa Neon Dynasty, the deck contains the channel land Boseiju, Who Endures.
The combination of Shock Lands and Triomes allows the deck to reach the magical full domain of five with as few as two lands in play. This is rather significant for Leyline Binding if you need to deal with an early threat. Beyond the domain aspect of the deck, having the lands that produce multiple colors allows you to more consistently cast any number of cards in the deck that would normally be an issue for most decks. Oh, Genesis Ultimatum needs seven mana? And all of it is colored? Not an issue, your mana base can handle that no problem.
Your Triomes may come in tapped, but with the inclusion of Lotus Cobra you still effectively get to use that mana. On top of the Cobra, you will be ramping so hard, the “enters the battlefield tapped” will matter very little.
The sideboard is a bit heavy on new Dominaria United tech, containing copies of four new cards.
Temporary Lockdown is a new board wipe that gets rid of all nonland permanents with mana value two or less. This is an enchantment type removal spell, so the affected cards are exiled until Temporary Lockdown leaves play.
Drag to the Bottom is yet another board wipe, but for bigger creatures. This spell gives all creatures -X / -X, where X is your domain plus one. This is essentially a full boardwipe against most decks in the Pioneer format.
Silverback Elder is a new ape that triggers when you cast creature spells with your choice of effects. The choices are artifact or enchantment removal, land ramp from the top five cards of your library or lifegain.
Sphinx of Clear Skies is yet another domain creature, but this one comes with a Fact or Fiction effect when it deals combat damage to a player, allowing you to reveal X (domain) cards from the top of your library and putting some number of them into your hand, based on your opponent’s choices.
Outside of Dominaria United cards, the sideboard does contain more traditional sideboard cards for Pioneer.
Unlicensed Hearse is the deck’s graveyard hate of choice.
Yasharn, Implacable Earth is an elemental that messes with the sacrifice strategies in Pioneer.
Finally, the sideboard contains a few more copies of Omnath, Locus of Rage for extra protection against control strategies.
In the coming weeks and months, we may start to see more of the multicolor jellybean in the Pioneer meta with the addition of domain, especially with the raw power level of some of the domain cards such as Leyline Binding.