Omnath, Locus of Rage
– Battle for Zendikar
June 20, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 4.25
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I still think of Battle for Zendikar as a “new” set, which I guess is because it’s a sequel. It came out in 2015, but that’s sort of a long time in Magic terms. Four and a half years before Battle for Zendikar, Standard was New Phyrexia leading into Innistrad – the era when Jace and Stoneforge Mystic were banned. Everything moves so fast in Magic sometimes, and it’s easy to forget about interesting cards that have a lot to offer. I think Omnath fits into that category.
Landfall is perhaps the mechanic most associated with Zendikar, and Omnath has one of the most powerful landfall abilities – it’s right up there with Rampaging Baloths from our first visit to Zendikar. He’s also in a color combination that lends itself to ramping and hurling him into play shockingly early, with his landfall ability then adding an extra edge to any ramp cards in the late game. While his death trigger is not as powerful a form of protection as something like hexproof, it’s very aggressive and it’s likely to trigger at some point, as failing to deal with him will make the game unwinnable for any opponent.
And on top of that . . . have you heard about this Chandra-themed Elemental-themed core set we’re supposed to be getting soon?
Big, angry, and hard to answer without getting punished, Omnath is an excellent example of a card that rewards you if you build around it, either in a straight-up landfall deck or as part of an Elemental package. Making a steady stream of elementals is always a promising angle of attack, especially since them dying means Lightning Bolts to go around with each death.
The downside is that Omnath is an expensive beater with little protection beyond the threat of a Bolt to the face when he dies. 7 mana (with particular color requirements) for a 5/5 isn’t the most-efficient rate of return, and you still need to put down lands after he comes out to be worth it. Green’s weakness in the Battle for Zendikar block made Omnath look weaker even in Limited, and he’s way too inefficient for more-expansive formats. He’s a boss in Commander, where you can build around him and build around landfall, but he comes up short elsewhere.
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