General Knowledge: Making Omnath Angry on a Budget
One funny piece of feedback I received from my Muldrotha list was “so it is a budget casual list” and the weirdest thing about calling a $500 stack of cardboard budget is that they weren’t wrong. Commander can be a radically expensive format especially for new players for three big reasons.
- Deck size. We are looking at 100 total cards which means our deck price can grow like crazy if we aren’t paying attention. If every single card costs $2 our deck costs $200. Here are a handful of popular Commander cards that cost between $1-$2: Kodama’s Reach ($1.85), Beast Within ($1.86), Chaos Warp ($1.52), and Rakka Mar ($1.73). All of these cards are decent role players but we aren’t talking about cards like Oracle of Mul Daya ($31.50), Avenger of Zendikar ($6.22), or Craterhoof Behemoth ($17.43) which are a lot more expensive!
- Card Pool. Formats like Standard have an extremely limited card pool compared to Commander so we find ourselves having to fight against all of the major formats when it comes to price. Want to play Sneak Attack ($19.72)? Nope, it is expensive because of Legacy play. Chandra, Torch of Defiance is (21.50) from standard play and Blood Moon (29.88) sees so much modern play. Of course we have the benefit of only needing 1 of each card.
- Supply/Demand of that actual Commander. Now of course every format of Magic has its prices controlled by Supply/Demand but in Commander we have the added cost of needing a commander and some really popular Commanders having fewer printings than cards in other formats. Sought after commanders, like Atraxa ($31), and standard staples, like The Scarab God ($21), provide a huge cost barrier to building a financially minded deck.
While many more competitive players wouldn’t want to restrict their deck building based on budget, there are benefits to building on a budget. We aren’t going to get to play cards we normally would and broaden our horizon to cool spicy cards that we might not have found without this restriction; as our benevolent ruler Mark Rosewater says, “Restriction breed creativity”. With all this in mind, in this deck tech we are going to be building a very fun deck while keeping every card (except for the commander) at $0.99 or less.
Let’s meet the Commander! Omnath, Locus of Rage is a sweet legendary creature elemental from Battle for Zendikar. One of the things that I love about Omnath for a budget build is that the main plan of what it wants us to do is just play lands. No matter if you have been playing since Alpha or just started playing Magic you probably have a good amount of Forests and Mountains sitting around and for the mere price of putting those lands in to play Omnath, Locus of Rage is kind enough to give us a 5/5 elemental! Omnath is a kind and gracious ruler for our deck! But what if people kill our elementals? That makes Omnath angry so in its rage it will pay them back with 3 damage to any target! Since we are on a budget this is a good way to give us some staying power against board wipes and will make combat math trickier for our opponents.
As you read through the list of cards that cost between $1-$2 you may have noticed a couple things: they are all Red or Green and we would probably run all of them in this deck if they were within our $0.99 budget. Oracle of Mul Daya would let us play extra lands, Kodama’s Reach lets us get lands out of our deck, and Rakka Mar makes elementals trigger Omnath’s second ability. Alas though, we are going to make due with exploring the almost 20,000 magic cards for some sweet budget gems.
If you took the time to read my last article on Muldrotha (thank you!) you will know that I like the Command Zone categories of deckbuilding. Here is a reminder of the categories of cards we are going to be looking for:
- 25 Standalone
- 10-12 Enhancer (cards that make the plan better)
- 7-8 Enabler (cards that make the plan work)
- 10 Mana Ramp
- 10 Card Draw
- 5 Targeted Removal
- 5 Board Wipes
- 38 Land
Let’s start taking a look at cards for our deck with the obvious thing: LANDS! Since we are on a budget we are going barebones in this category: Mountains and Forests! Well we aren’t going that simple but that is the basic idea. Lands are a huge price factor in deck building with staple cards like Wooded Foothills ($21.88) and Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle ($8.92) being well out of our budget. In addition to our basics, the lands we are playing get us more landfall triggers. All the Panoramas (except for Esper Panorama), Warped Landscape, and Gruul Turf to name a few!
Targeted Removal/Board Wipes
Removal is a category that we could have gone in radically different directions with. I typically don’t like to run all of the Earthquake style cards because they can kill our commander. It is possible we want the big X-spells because it will give us something to do with our mana but I have chosen for us to go the direction of cards like Chandra’s Ignition. Chandra’s Ignition will let us to target Omnath and then deal 5 damage to every other creature and opponent. This will conveniently kill our elementals giving us more damage to use to kill our opponent with! Where Ancients Tread and Warstorm Surge will give us the ability to deal damage from our creatures entering the battlefield while Goblin Bombardment will let us sacrifice our creatures should our opponents try to bounce or exile them.
Like any deck that wants to be attacking, we should make sure we don’t run out of gas and for that we need some card draw. Shamanic Revelation will draw us cards based on the number of creatures we have and Omnath and its tokens are Ferocious so we will gain life off of the card as well. Elemental Bond will let us draw cards as we get elementals, so with it and Omnath we will get a 5/5 and a card whenever we play a land! Seer’s Sundial performs a similar function where we will get to draw cards for playing lands though without needing Omnath in play.
Our mana ramp is two-fold in this deck. It will ramp us to Omnath, which costs a hefty 7 mana, and then it will get us elementals once Omnath gets on the board. Since Omnath wants us to be playing lands we are going to be skipping the normal mana rocks and running mostly land ramp. There are some cool artifacts though like Firewild Borderpost and Khalni Gem that will get us mana but will pull double duty by letting us replay those lands for more elementals if we don’t draw them till later in the game. Our other ramps are a lot of what you would imagine: Spend mana to cast sorceries to get more lands and since we have so many basics we can take full advantage of cards like Nissa’s Pilgrimage and Far Wanderings to pull the most lands possible out of our deck.
When it comes to enabling our plan there are fun type of cards that don’t see much play and those take all of the lands in our graveyard and put them back onto the battlefield: Splendid Reclamation and World Shaper for example. As a slight diversion I have been really liking World Shaper in any graveyard based deck, whether you are getting the lands out of your graveyard, like we are, or just looking to self mill. While Mina and Denn, Wildborn don’t see as much play as Oracle of Mul Daya they are very powerful in our deck. Playing an extra land is obviously good for us and then bouncing a land to give trample isn’t really a drawback for us.
Since it is on our commander “Landfall” is naturally going to enhance our plan of playing lands. Rampaging Baloths+Omnath turns every land drop into a 5/5 elemental and a 4/4 beast and that feels pretty nice. Ogre Battledriver is a solid roleplayer in our deck since it will get our new elementals a slight pump in power and haste the turn they enter the battlefield. Spawnwrithe is also great because we can make an army of 2/2’s that will trigger Omnath’s second ability if they are killed since they are elementals. We will typically be tapping out on our turn so haste and the ability to punish our opponent for blocking or destroying our creatures is vital. Commander being a multiplayer format also gives us the ability to get political with our opponents. We can talk our opponents out of destroying our creatures by threatening to send the 3 damage their way and if they wipe our board we hit them with the triggers or if they don’t, we get to attack them with our creatures. It is a win-win for us.
Our big stand alone threats are creatures that are going to get bigger the more lands that we get. Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer naturally has trample so it can easily close out games for us. I feel like the “Bloodrush” mechanic doesn’t get nearly enough love and Rubblehulk can either be a threat on its own or get us a ton of sneaky damage out of nowhere (using this on Omnath is a great way to get that last bit of Commander Damage through as well). Shivan Harvest isn’t going to make us any friends but I am so excited for this card to get the some time in the spotlight. It acts as a “Rattlesnake Card” which means it will deter our opponents from messing with us and it gives us the ability to answer all of those pesky non-basic lands our non-budget opponents are running.
The best thing about budget decks is that they are a great way to get into the format and at the time of writing this deck costs right around $33 using TCGPlayer Mid. While budget decks aren’t the most competitive, decks like this are very straight forward when it comes to teaching new players how to play the overly complex game of Magic and provide an excellent starting point for teaching deck building. Gifting someone a budget deck and encouraging them to find cards they think is cool can be a great way to help people get into the hobby.
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