Food is all the Rage in Historic

Before I get into this great new twist of an idea, let me state that its irrevocably not my idea. The credit all goes to Cho Jaeseok, who posted it to Twitter on their account. The deck is Jund Food in Historic but unlike previous iterations. This list cuts the Claim the Firstborns and Woe Strider for Fatal Pushes and Thoughtseizes (arguably two of the most powerful cards printed at one converted mana cost).

What this does is gives Jund an angle to attack Yasharn in Fatal Push and is better equipped to combat control lists with Thoughtseize. It’s no secret that Sultai is top dog right now in Historic. All the data points to it being so. Having Trail of Crumbs is a nice way of out-“card advantage” Sultai opponents so long as you can prevent them from having one of their two engines accumulating value (Nissa or Uro).

The beauty of being on Jund right now is Paradox Engine combo is all over the internet right now and messing that up with the inherent ability of Mayhem Devil is value you cannot buy. That matchup is already quite solid but our sideboard also has cards coincidentally good against them in Reclamation Sage and Embereth Shieldbreaker that are normally meant to answer Grafdigger’s Cage.

In case anyone is unfamiliar with Paradox Engine or wants to see my cool twist on the deck, here’s that list:

The deck utilizes Emry and Paradox Engine to draw the deck and add infinite mana. Emry targets any artifact and playing the artifact with Paradox Engine out untaps Emry and additional mana sources. This lets you loop the process as often as you like. Eventually killing the opponent by tutoring the Aetherflux Reservoir out of the sideboard.

An inherent flaw in earlier lists was that Emry was necessary to win, but as the deck has developed further and further. Excellent advances like Ancestral Statue and Escape the Wilds were come up with by excellent innovators.

With Karn, the Great Creator lists, you need two mana rocks, a Kinnan, and a Paradox Engine. This allows the Karn to be essentially free to cast because the mana rocks add two mana each with Kinnan. Then untap thanks to Paradox Engine. Step two is grab Ancestral Statue which also costs nothing since it also costs four mana. Bounce Ancestral Statue with its own ability repeatedly to get your storm count very high. Then use Ancestral Statue to bounce Karn, the Great Creator. Upon recast tutor up Aetherflux Reservoir and then cast any spell to gain tons of life and finish off the opponent.

I may have gotten off track with a sweet deck. Let me get back on track. This is a good opportunity to roll out the main Decklist:

Other than Fatal Push not a lot has changed with the new set on Arena. What we are seeing is format shifts that position this deck nicely. Due to the maneuverability of Goblins and powerful effect of Muxxus, I might list that as one of the weakest matchups. We do have four nice sweeper effects in the sideboard to try and help combat that method.

Cho managed to pilot this list to the #2 spot in Mythic on Arena. With good reason but I’m sure also good play. These decks tend to have lots of little interactions that it may be best to familiarize yourself with. Sideboarding strategies are always important but I might argue even more important with a deck like this. You’ll want to keep the basics intact, avoiding cutting away too many food enables while leaving in Trail of Crumbs. Even just boarding in too much removal and not having enough threats can disarm your decks potency. Shieldbreaker or Reclamation Sage are to be brought in on a case-by-case basis if we suspect Grafdigger’s Cage or other situational cards.

Cho’s recommended sideboard guide looks as such:

Vs Sultai
In- Thoughtseize, 4 Noxious Grasp, Chandra, Citadel
Out- 2 Mayhem Devil, 1 Cat, 4 Fatal Push

vs Goblins
In- 1 Bloodchief’s Thirst, 1 Thoughtseize, 3 Witch’s Vengence, 1 Languish
Out- 2 Trail of Crumbs, 1 Ooze, 2 Midnight Reaper, 1 Citadel

Vs Aggro
In- 1 Bloodchief’s Thirst, 2-3 Witch’s Vengeance, 1 Languish
Out- 3 Thoughtseize, 1 Citadel, and some number of Trail of Crumbs

There are a million and one decks in Historic so the sideboard guide is kept brief. I recommend lots of reps so you know how to stack Korvold Triggers properly. Proactive mulligans are extremely important in generally but more so here. You cannot expect to win keeping four lands and 3 Cauldron Familiars in an opening hand. Spell diversity is also quite important. Even repeated copies of Korvold or Trail of Crumbs tend to cause clumping issues.

Figuring out how to play around Maelstrom Pulse and Thoughtseize is the next level you’ll get to when you play this deck a lot. Mayhem Devils are the clutch card to the mirror. If you board out too many Mayhem Devils and are boarding in Bolas’s Citadel’s, then you won’t be able to kill the opponent in the same turn in most circumstances. That’s all for now, but thanks for reading and check in again next time!

Spoiler Talk – Showdown of the Skalds

It’s never too early to talk spoilers! While we’ve been enjoying Zendikar Rising for the last few months, Kaldheim’s release is on the horizon.

Showdown of the Skalds is quite the interesting Boros card. The power of this card lies in its first chapter, essentially drawing you four cards for four mana. This is comparable to Escape to the Wilds, which is currently on the ban list (thanks to Omnath and Uro). Escape remains banned most likely to hinder green strategies, so I don’t think you’ll find Showdown of the Skalds in a ramp deck. However, there are some cards that synergize with this saga nicely…

You guessed it! Everyone’s favorite sky noodle. Mardu Yorion, while not a major contender in the current Standard format, can definitely utilize this new saga. Your initial Showdown of the Skalds can even find your Yorion, giving you access to a powerful turn five. I can imagine this deck curving out with a Glass Casket or Mazemind Tome into Omen of the Sun, Elspeth’s Nightamre or Treachorous Blessing, and finally topping off into Showdown into Yorion. You can also play cards like Flicker of Fate as an essential “draw four” or to reset your Yorion. While chapters two and three aren’t as impactful, you can still take advantage by buffing your Yorion or Skyclave Apparition. Taking inspiration from Gavin Bennet’s Kaldheim qualifier Top 8 list, I can imagine a Mardu Yorion deck in Kaldheim looking something like this: 

Showdown of the Skalds may not end up being as broken as Escape to the Wilds was in the height of Omnath Standard, but it’s definitely abusable with Yorion. This was only our first real spoiler outside of the other pathways, so who knows what other presents we’ll be getting in this new Stanard format. From what we’ve seen of the last few sets it’s almost a given we’ll be seeing some incredibly powerful cards from Kaldheim. Until then…


It’s an Omnath World and We’re Living in It

After my article on control decks in Zendikar Rising Standard was published last week I reflected a bit on modal double-faced cards. While I was satisfied with my analysis I underestimated just how powerful MDFC cards were and immediately started working on some new decklists. I was daydreaming about a 4x Emeria’s Call, 4x Sea Gate Restoration, 4x Ondu Inversion control decks up until the point Zendikar Rising went live on MTG Arena. Then I played against Omnath, Locus of Creation and my world changed. 

After both playing with and against Omnath I’m still trying to wrap my head around how this card is even real. Omnath immediately reminds me of Uro in the sense that it does so much for such a small mana investment, can be game ending, and is great against pretty much everything. It immediately replaces itself, giving you some insurance if it’s met with a wrath or removal spell. Against aggro decks it’s a 4/4 that must be dealt with, otherwise they run the risk of having their opponent gain life and potentially make a ton of mana the following turn. Omnath does it all. While Omnath is incredibly powerful, a lot of its power comes from the cards that help support it, both in and out of standard. Before we explore Omnath in all of its constructed forms let’s focus on standard for now. 

Lotus Cobra is Omnath’s evil henchman. With Lotus Cobra you can easily ramp out an Omnath turn 3. Additionally, it’s awkward to have a basic plains in play when you’re trying to cast a Genesis Ultimatum on your seventh land drop, so Lotus Cobra can solve the issue of not having to fetch up a plains early on in the game. 

The real crazy thing you can do with Omnath is play it and Escape to the Wilds together on your turn 4. Wild right? Let’s pause for a minute and look at Inspired Ultimatum. 

Now for seven mana, which you have to have exactly the right colors of, you get to draw five cards, deal five damage, and gain five life. Not bad right? Now let’s compare that to a turn four Omnath in addition to cracking a Fabled Passage with Escape to the Wilds in hand. So instead of turn seven, on turn four you: get a 4/4 body, gain four life, “draw” six cards, get to play an additional land, and deal four damage to the opponent and their planeswalkers. Siege Rhino, we’ve come a loooooooooong way.

I remember the day Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath was spoiled. I was at a cube draft in NYC on a chilly winter evening. In the office space we were playing in, three-time Pro Tour Champion Chris Pikula sat in his chair dumbfounded as he read Uro’s spoiler. “Why wouldn’t you play this card??” he exclaimed. That quote rings in my head everytime I look at Omnath. Why wouldn’t you play it? On its own Omnath does so much. But when you add Lotus Cobra, Escape to the Wilds, and fetchlands into the mix, Omnath skyrockets in value. It’s no surprise to me that Omnath inevitably won this past weekend’s Standard Challenge. 

I’m really in love with a lot of Telsacow’s card choices. 

I’m not a fan of Dryad of the Ilysian Grove in these lists for a number of reasons. Dryad is a pretty lame find off of a Genesis Ultimatum and it neither draws a card or searches for a land. It permits you to play extra lands, but I think having your lands tap for any color is a fringe benefit. Beanstalk Giant on the other hand is such a powerhouse. It reminds me of Rampant Growth in that you get a mana back when you cast it, and it can add potential landfall triggers for your Omnath or Lotus Cobras. Beanstalk is an incredible find off of Genesis Ultimatum, especially in mirror matches. How does your Omnath opponent even deal with one of these guys? The only option is to overwhelm them in time or Ugin -7. Beanstalk also just might win you the game if you have Terror of the Peaks already in play. 

Kenrith is another all-star that I think should be a one-of in every Omnath deck. There aren’t many mana sinks in the deck and Kenrith fills the void of having something to do if you flood out and can’t seem to draw an Ultimatum or Escape to the Wilds. I usually like Kenrith paired with Felidar Retreat since if you have a big Ultimatum turn and put a lot of tokens into play, it’s nice to haste them all and go wide. Even on his own Kenrith can be a huge roadblock for an aggro deck with 5 life a turn buying you some time. 

I’ve never been really impressed with Radha. I feel like Radha usually gets chump-blocked a bunch so their activated ability isn’t always that useful. Radha is better than Dryad because you might get an extra land off the top of your library the turn you play her. I’d just rather have a Cultivate instead. 

While I’ve seen a lot of lists play Bonecrusher Giants in addition to Spikefield Hazards to deal with an opposing turn two Lotus Cobra, Fire Prophecy seems really exciting to me. The 4/3 body off Bonecrusher is not always relevant, especially in mirrors, so Prophecy being able to cycle away any card bad in the current matchup you’re playing seems like a win. Also as a deck playing 30 lands and other mana sources, having a way to filter later in the game to find one of your big spells is fantastic. 

Overall Telsacow’s list seems tuned for an expected meta of both Mono Red decks and Omnath mirrors. While I would prefer to play more threats main over Thundering Rebukes, Telsacow had a great read on the metagame for this event and was able to dismantle Mono Red in the finals. Going forward I wonder if it’s better to have this many answers for opposing Cobras and Omnaths or if instead Ugins should find their way into the maindeck to have more cards to find off of Ultimatum. 

I played a bunch of games over Discord with my Jedi Master Mike Flores and we noticed a couple of things from playing. The deck is extremely forgiving. I had a game where I fetched the wrong land and was a turn behind and another where I misclicked on an escaped Bonecrusher Giant to play it as a 4/3 instead of as a Stomp to let my opponent’s Lotus Cobra live another day. I easily won both games. I did lose one game to Mono Red where I sequenced incorrectly, giving me seven mana instead of eight to play an Ugin and win the game. The deck is just so streamlined that it’s hard to make huge mistakes, although you do have to be mindful of draws where you want to cast both Omnath and Genesis Ultimatum on time. 

Omnath is definitely making waves in Standard, but that’s not the only format that it’s making an impact on.

Take a look at this monstrosity:

I’ve been crushing Best of One queues with this list and I have no clue if it’s even optimal. My first thought building this list? Put all the busted mana advantage cards from the past year into this deck. Instead of having your Lotus Cobra shocked on turn two, you can easily avoid that with one of your other eight turn two plays. What’s interesting about Historic from the games I’ve played so far is that the decks aren’t too different speed-wise than standard. I’ve had some close games against Goblins and Gruul for sure, but I can’t stress how easy any matchup is that also isn’t trying to murder you by turn four. Any non-Goblins red deck can never remove an Omnath or deal enough damage to counteract an Uro or gain four life trigger. The only deck I’ve actually struggled with is Mono Blue when I lose the die roll, especially if they have an early Curious Obsession start. Omnath does not play fair and this deck can easily put together multiple triggers and give you access to a turn five Genesis Ultimatum. While I’m not set on a specific sideboard having access to four Aether Gusts and multiple Mystical Disputes seems like the place to start. I’m going to attempt to hit Mythic this month and would not be surprised if others did the same with a similar list. While you can be flexible with cards like Kenrith, Ugin, and Terror of the Peaks, the core of the deck is Omnath, Cobra, Uro, Explore, and Growth Spiral. I also feel like Craterhoof Behemoth should be in this list somewhere.

Like I mentioned earlier, this strategy is extremely forgiving. A deck that flips over cards until it wins is hard to mess up. Sure, you can fetch for the wrong land or sequence incorrectly, but for the most part you’re not making incredibly difficult decisions apart from sideboarding and playing mirrors. Permission is your worst enemy, and you can assuage that with your sideboard choices. But if you ever get matched up against a counterspell deck most of the time your goal is to just jam your powerful cards until something sticks. And when one of your big spells resolve, it’ll be (hopefully) game over.

Funny enough, while I took a break from writing this article, this tweet popped up in my timeline:

While Omnath is the real problem here I wonder if Wizards will pull the trigger and get rid of Uro as well. I think an Omnath ban would make this deck incredibly worse, but it still has legs. Removing Omnath just limits the amount of busted draws you can have. I’m interested to see what ends up getting banned and if Wizards will consider removing Omnath from Historic and Pioneer as well. For the meantime, however, I’ll be jamming Omnath until I can’t anymore. The craziest thing about this ban is that Uro isn’t even the problem card in this scenario, but maybe Uro will be met with the same fate in an attempt to balance the format. 

What are your thoughts on Omnath? Will it inevitably meet the banhammer in all of these formats? What card choices do you like to pair with it? Let me know!

Twitter: @Roman_Fusco


Thanks for reading!

Big Bad Blazing Red


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