A wide range of emotions flowed in and out of me when Omnath, Locus of the Roil was spoiled. At first glance, I saw an Omnath card that was also RUG and I became immensely excited. Then I read his ability, and the excitement died off a little bit. And then I began considering the implications, and the excitement flowed once again.
Let’s break this card down piece by piece.
First off, Omnath is a four mana 3/3 Elemental. Those stats are not amazing. In Standard it dies to Lightning Strike and everywhere else it can die to Lightning Bolt. There are no other keywords to ice the cake either. So far, a below curve creature.
The first ability triggers when he enters the battlefield, and only does something if you have other Elementals on the battlefield, and unless you have several, it won’t be doing a whole lot.
The second ability is pretty interesting, and by interesting, I mean extremely good. Each land now pumps up a creature on your team permanently, and if you’re in the late game, it draws you a card too.
This card is actually absurd, in order to fully explain my viewpoints however, I need to put it into context.
As a precursor, I do want to note that there are several different builds at your disposal with this deck. The main differences in builds is the one drop slot. Some lists will prefer Healer of the Glade while others will want Fire Shrine Keeper, whereas I decided to go with Scorch Spitter. There’s not necessarily an incorrect deck building choice at this stage, but Scorch Spitter can get in for quite a bit of damage, especially if followed up with a second turn Creeping Trailblazer.
The reason why I would prefer the aggressive style over the conservative style is it seems to line up better for match ups across the board. It allows us to keep pace with the other aggressive decks while we’re lubing up our engine, and it also ensures we have threats on the board early for midrange and control to deal with, making our engine easier to resolve and stick on the board.
There is a core engine to this deck that revolves around two cards. The first, as I have already spoken of, is Omnath, Locus of the Roil. He acts as removal, makes our creatures larger, and even provides card advantage.
The second card is Risen Reef. This card is absurd. He immediately replaces himself upon entering the battlefield, and makes each other Elemental that we land replace themselves as well. So every single creature spell we resolve with a Risen Reef on the battlefield with either accelerate us, or draw us card. What’s also notable is the fact that Risen Reef doesn’t draw us the card, it puts the card into our hand. This is relevant when Narset, Parter of Veils is a powerhouse in the format.
Now we have our engine built, we need to lube and prime it with Chandra, Acolyte of Flame. This card turns our dream into a reality. Her first 0 ability is really only ever going to be used if we want the loyalty to use her -2 ability more than once, which, considering we only have Shock and Lightning Strike to flash back, won’t be often. Her real power comes from her second 0 ability, giving us two Elementals. Chandra allows us to shoot something for four damage with Omnath’s ETB ability provided we have a one and two drop. If we have a Risen Reef on the battlefield, her 0 ability becomes a Divination. I’ve been toying with the idea of a fourth copy, but I think it might be too greedy.
Past the engine, we have value cards that are part of the core such as Creeping Trailblazer and Overgrowth Elemental. Creeping Trailblazer allows our tokens from Chandra to hit a LOT harder, along with every other creature in the deck. It’s not as great as an actual lord, as it doesn’t pump our toughness, but I can settle.
Overgrowth Elemental has some weird implications. First off, it plays well with Thunderkin Awakener, growing it’s toughness in order to reanimate Creeping Trailblazer and Overgrowth Elemental in addition to whatever targets it had before. Furthermore, it pads our life total and gets bigger any time one of our other creatures die (including our Chandra tokens).
Scorch Spitter is my one drop Elemental of choice. I want to quickly touch on the other one drop options and why I’m not playing them. The first, and runner up to the choice for this deck is Fire Shrine Keeper. This card is fine, my first issue with it being it won’t get in for much damage before it becomes double blocked and gets eaten. Its second ability is designed to make a one drop creature much less of a dead card if drawn in the late game, however, I would much rather have the extra aggression that Scorch Spitter allows than have the possibility of the added late game advantage.
The only other one drop Elemental is Healer of the Grove. This card is extremely different than the other two cards we’ve discussed, and calls for a shift of around 12 card slots if you’re playing it. It calls for a deck that is much more interested in the mid to late game, whereas I firmly believe this deck wants to start early, and then capitalize on the mid game to pull ahead.
Thunderkin Awakener is our next support slot, this is more of a test slot than anything however. I feel this card has a lot of power behind it, as it can reanimate Risen Reef without any help, which is an absurd card to reanimate, but with the help of Overgrowth Elemental and Omnath, it becomes a build-your-own engine. Again, this is still early testing period, but I feel this card might have what it takes to make the cut.
With all of these lands matters cards like Risen Reef and Omnath, I had to include at least one Living Twister. What can I say, it’s an Elemental with a big butt and a bone to pick with lands. There’s really no need for more than one, as this card is awful in multiples.
Shock and Lightning Strike also made the cut as they are our best form of removal, and we had to have some kind of spell that we could flash back with Chandra’s -2. They do give us quite a bit of reach, which is very nice, especially considering we’re built more towards that aggressive game plan.
We have in our deck our very own four horsemen of the apocalypse in two copies of Cavalier of Flame and Cavalier of Thorns. If I could play Cavalier of Gales with the hope of casting it, I would, I think it would be just a little too hard on the mana however.
Cavalier of Thorns puts cards into our graveyard, making Cavalier of Flame better, while also being able to buy something back from our yard once it bites the dust. It’s not my favorite of the Cavaliers, but it does give us good value on a well stated Elemental, which is what this deck is looking for in the late game.
Cavalier of Flame on the other hand IS my favorite of the Cavaliers. The ability to fire breath your entire team is a real threat that your opponent has to respect. When it enters the battlefield you can throw all of your land cards into the bin to redraw something better, or you can toss any Elementals that you might want to reanimate with Thunderkin Awakener. With all of this, he can threaten a lot of damage once he’s answered, potentially killing multiple Planeswalkers in its wake. All of this slapped onto an above curve Elemental makes for an excellent way to finish out a game.
This deck feels extremely powerful. It gets that power from the astounding engines that the deck has available to it, on top of an incredible finisher. The Sideboard is what it is, I suspect Mono-Red and Super Friends to still be popular, past that I have included just some generic Sideboard cards in order to shore up any shortcomings I thought the deck might have, though there are two cards I would like to discuss really quick
The first is Pulse of Murasa, which I can see replacing Thunderkin Awakener in future builds of the deck if the Awakener proves it doesn’t have what it takes. Pulse can buy us back the pieces of our engine that get answered, giving us a second chance in the midrange and control matchups, while padding our life total for no small amount against the aggressive decks.
The second is Chandra, Awakened Inferno, which I feel is one of the best Chandra cards ever printed. I don’t see too many games ending badly if she sticks on the battlefield for two or more turns. The fact that she moves up two loyalty to have your opponent take a permanent one damage every upkeep blows my mind, on top of that she is a one sided sweeper in the Elemental deck, and can pick off anything giant if needed. This card legitimately feels absurd and I would like to find a way to move her into the main deck in the upcoming weeks of testing.
That just about concludes everything I have to say on this deck. I believe some build of Temur Elementals will be a top competitor in Standard in the season to come, and I look forward to every second of it.