Archetune-Up – Roiling in the Deep

(Omnath, Locus of the Roil l Art by Luis Lasahido)

Hello… It’s Me

Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, a weekly article series devoted to tweaking a deck with the help of the EDHREC Theme pages!

This week we’re looking at a commander who is one of the few legendary creatures to have three separate cards: Omnath, Locus of the Roil.

This comes after his previous iteration, Omnath, Locus of Rage, which was preceded by the original, Omnath, Locus of Mana. The first two versions of Omnath cared about lands or mana in some fashion, and Omnath, Locus of the Roil is no different, building upon the ground that Omnath, Locus of Rage began to cultivate.

Average Omnath Elementals by EDHREC

Commander (1)
Creatures (29)
Instants (7)
Sorceries (10)
Artifacts (5)
Enchantments (7)
Planeswalkers (3)
Lands (38)

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What’s interesting about this Omnath is that first line of text. Yes, Omnath, Locus of Rage cared about Elementals, but the strategy was very insular. Locus of Rage was not often played as a tribal payoff, but as instead as a tangentially accrued value engine and lands payoff, instead.

We’ve seen recently with Chulane, Teller of Tales and Korvold, Fae Cursed King that drawing cards is an enticing reward, and people love building around it. Interestingly, though, at the time of writing, there are 480 Locus of the Roil Elemental decks, and merely 210 Lands decks, even though the reward for playing lands is arguably better. Why the disparity in decks?


I’m in Core 2020, Dreaming About Who We Used to Be

I think there are two reasons why Omnath, Locus of the Roil has twice the number of Elemental decks versus land decks.

First is how Omnath references Elementals in his text box. An ability that points you towards a specific tribal theme, no matter how minimal, is an enticing effect. Often, when a card references a particular strategy or tribe, or if the creature happens to be a relevant creature type, itself, it causes more decks of that strategy to be built even if that wasn’t the intended purpose of the card. We can see this with Olivia Voldaren Vampire decks, The Scarab God Zombie decks, and Alela, Artful Provocateur flying decks. None of these commanders outright need these types of creatures to function, but there is an avenue to build around them should you so choose, much like with Locus of the Roil.

The second reason is something that is often more exclusive to wedge combinations: a lack of support and diversity. Prior to Locus of the Roil, there were two other Temur commanders at the helm of Elemental decks: Animar, Soul of Elements and Maelstrom Wanderer. While both of these are strong cards, they often reward you for playing general “goodstuff” cards, which is reflected in their numbers: of the 1,690 Animar decks, only 56 of them are Elemental Tribal. Wanderer also sports equally as pitiful numbers: out of 894 decks total, only 17 of them are home primarily to Elementals.

What is important to note, though, is that people were still building Elemental tribal decks with them, even if the numbers were weak. That shows that there was some form of demand for an Elemental tribal commander in these colors, so when Core Set 2020 introduced a Temur Omnath that even remotely cared about Elementals, people jumped on it. No wonder Omnath, Locus of the Roil has the most built Elemental decks out of any commander now, even surpassing Horde of Notions!

These are all correlations and educated guesses, though, so please let me know if you think my logic is sound, or if you have a different opinion, down in the comments below!


Rumor Has it (That Elementals are Popular)

Without further ado, let’s get into what we’ve been waiting for and take a peek and see what the Elemental Tribal page can do for this new Omnath!

First, we’re going to assess the most important part of a tribal deck… the tribe itself! Originally the deck started off with a nice, healthy 29 creatures, but I ended up cutting that down to 24 before looking at this theme. Some creatures in the original list weren’t even Elementals, which is a big no-no in tribal decks that I build, while other creatures were just plain underwhelming. After the dust settled, I ended up adding three Elementals to our deck from this page. The two Cavaliers from Core Set 2020 join Cavalier of Flame in the deck, completing the Knightly trifecta.

Cavalier of Thorns is an over-statted creature with a much-desired ability to block fliers, which have a habit of plaguing our deck. These attributes, combined with potentially ramping when coming into play and also being able to snag a card back from our yard when it dies, make this Cavalier a great addition to the deck. Cavalier of Gales was added for a similar reason. It’s a creature with good stats and can disrupt fliers. This Cavalier can be quite aggressive in comparison to its thorny cousin thanks to its evasion. Exchanging reach for flying is great since Omnath can start piling counters onto Cavalier of Gales, turning it into a potent threat. In my opinion, the Brainstorm effect is negligible, as I’m not a fan of that ability in 90% of EDH decks, but as a bonus to a card that I’ll already be playing, I’ll take it.

The Cavaliers are well-costed for their stats, and their abilities are well worth the mana investment. It can be a bit scary to run creatures that have triple pips in each of their mana costs, but the deck has quite a bit of fixing to accommodate.

The third and final creature I added to the deck was our little friend Ingot Chewer. A 3/3 for five mana is incredibly unimpressive, even with its ETB effect. What makes Chewer such a good card is the same reason that Mulldrifter has stolen the hearts of players throughout time: its wonderfully priced Evoke cost. For a single red mana, you can have a sorcery-speed Smelt which can also double as a creature to later count towards Omnath’s trigger. Most decks can use a few more pieces of removal, and flexible ones that come attached to a creature in a tribe we care about is perfect for us.


I Set Fire to the Rain… and Everything Else

Instead of saving the “vegetables” for the deck for the end of the article like I often do, I felt like changing it up a bit and talking about them before we get into the real fun cards.

Just to get it out of the way now, yes, I added Negate. If a deck is blue, and I have the room, Negate is going in. I’ve added it into countless decks I’ve written about, and I don’t think any of you need to hear me talk about it again… as much as I’d love to. It’s a clean counterspell, and I love it.

Escape to the Wilds is a cute little card that came out in Throne of Eldraine that marries red’s impulsive draw with green’s Explore effect. I’ve played with this card a bit and it always manages to impress me. Having access to the exiled cards until the end of your next turn is a big deal, and playing an extra land is just icing on the cake. Escape to the Wilds will quite often be a draw five for five mana, which is a great rate, one you’ll usually only see in blue or black, a testament to its efficiency.

This next card needs no introduction as it has become quite the format staple. Rishkar’s Expertise is an incredibly strong sorcery from Aether Revolt that just oozes value. This deck is packed full of powerful creatures that Rishkar’s Expertise can take advantage of. Not only that, but this is a deck with a commander whose power can increase! At absolute worst, this card’s baseline will be three cards and a free spell with CMC five or less. That’s the bare minimum. Any counters on Omnath, or any larger creatures make Expertise even better! If you’re running a green deck, you really can’t go wrong with adding Rishkar’s Expertise. There is a reason why at the time of writing this it’s in a whopping 16,363 decks on EDHREC!

There were a surprising amount of Chandras that synergize with this deck, ranging from Chandra, Acolyte of Flame, all the way up to Chandra, Flamecaller. In the end I decided to go in a slightly different direction, adding Chandra, Awakened Inferno to our repertoire instead. Chandra, Awakened Inferno provides a few key effects that this deck will happily make room for. Her +2 is game-winning inevitability. Yes, it will turn the entire table against you, but if you’re able to leverage your board and play a slow, methodical game, you’ll be able to keep stacking up emblems on your opponents and leverage your creatures to help you reduce their life totals. Her -3 mops up annoying buggers like Oracle of Mul Daya or commanders like Kykar, Wind’s Fury and their troops.

Finally, her -X gives us more removal to throw around when needed. We can focus down a single creature or planeswalker and exile them without issue, something that’s always appreciated. I chose to include this Chandra over the others thanks to her diversity of abilities and her utility. That being said, feel free to swap them, or even add in all three, as all of them work really well in this build!


What Do You Call an Elemental with Vocal Prowess?

The last three cards from this theme are cards that have a lot of synergy and work really well with our gameplan. These three are all cards I’d love to see every game, if possible.

Kindred Discovery is a boon for any tribal deck that includes blue. Cantripping whenever a creature of the chosen type comes into play or attacks is absolutely incredible and keeps our hand stocked and prepared in case our pieces get removed. Our deck, like many tribal decks, seeks to win through combat damage as our main objective, and often there aren’t good enough incentives in our format to make us want to get into combat. Kindred Discovery turns that on its ear, giving us a very tangible reward for turning our creatures sideways. As mentioned with Chandra, Acolyte of Flame and Chandra, Flamecaller above, they have potential synergies in the deck, this card being one of the best if you chose to add them. There is a reason why this card has started to command such a hefty price tag, as of late.

Trade Routes is a single card engine and the definition of a do-nothing enchantment (which are usually the best kind). While normally bouncing a land back to our hand won’t do anything, if Omnath’s out it’ll often function as a mini-Phyrexian Arena, which I’m already on board with. Later in the game Trade Routes becomes flood insurance, cycling lands you draw to keep your momentum going. While Crucible of Worlds didn’t make the cut, it could be worth consideration if we wanted to focus more on our land synergies, since by focusing on that we can guarantee lands in our graveyard consistently.

This last card is one of my favorites from Ravnica Allegiance: Simic Ascendancy. I’m normally not a fan of alternate win conditions, but this enchantment works really well with our deck, and I couldn’t help but add it in. Having a late-game mana sink is always nice, but the enticing part here is that a lot of Elementals care about +1/+1 counters: Omnath, Animar, Soul of Elements, Vigor, Undergrowth Champion, Overgrowth Elemental, and Avenger of Zendikar, just to name a few. Our deck has the means to incidentally support this card, and it also gives us a backup plan if our main route to victory through combat damage doesn’t pan out. This is exactly the kind of card I enjoy slotting into my decks when applicable, since I like having a couple safety nets if things don’t work out the way I plan.


…An Adele-mental!

Omnath, Locus of the Roil is a slight departure from previous designs while also keeping his core identity intact. Instead of going all-in on one central theme, this deck straddles the line between two of them. While that design may not always pan out for some commanders, I think it adds quite a bit of depth to this iteration of Omnath.

As a testament to that potential depth, I quickly want to touch on a few interesting cards that I came across that could help move Omnath down a different build path.

There is a fair amount of wiggle room with Omnath to comfortably suit whatever style of deck you’re looking for. While we went through and developed a strong Elementals theme, there could easily be an entire lands deck built around him. Scapeshift and Splendid Reclamation can single-handedly win games when combined with cards like Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle or Field of the Dead, should you choose to go down this path. Combine that with Crucible of worlds, Trade Routes, and Tectonic Reformation to make something that equates to what I believe is a stronger version of a Tatyova, Benthic Druid deck.

We can also build in a small blink package into our Elementals list if we really wanted to take advantage of Omnath and many other Elementals’ ETB triggers. Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, Conjurer’s Closet, and Deadeye Navigator are all cards that can allow us to utilize their effects multiple times to make sure the board stays clear of threats that we’d rather not see. One-shot effects like Ghostly Flicker or Teferi’s Time Twist can also be thrown in if you wanted to go a bit deeper into that theme.

I think Omnath, Locus of the Roil is a bit overlooked in comparison to some of his brethren from Core Set 2020, Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, Kykar, Wind’s Fury, and Yarok, the Desecrated being the three major standouts from that set. Despite coming up a bit short against the other legends in Core Set 2020, there is still quite a bit of space that our angry Kool-Aid Man plays in that other Temur commanders don’t. If you’re looking for a deck in these colors, or a strategy that comes close to anything I’ve talked about today, make sure to give Omnath, Locus of the Roil another look; you may be surprised at what you can do with him. I know I was.

Once again, we’ve reached the end of the line. If you’d like to reach me, I’m quite active on Twitter (@thejesguy), and have an email that I do my best to respond to (thejeskaiguy@gmail.com). If you have any comments, questions, concerns, or anything else of the sort, please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! I’ll see you next week, my friends!

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Angelo is a Connecticut native who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. With at least 20 EDH decks constructed at all times, it's an understatement to say that he loves Commander. Angelo trusts counterspells over creatures, and is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation rotation out of Standard.