One of the more difficult issues when building decks for the more competitive side of Commander is the Blue problem. Counterspells (Hinder, Spell Pierce), card drawing (Fact or Fiction, Blue Sun’s Zenith), card filtering (Ponder, Brainstorm), and combo (Palinchron, Power Artifact) are so well rounded in Blue that it can be a challenge to succeed without Blue in your deck. The problem is that without exerting enough pressure on a Blue deck, they will usually be able to combo kill the entire table before dying to attacks. There are a few different solutions and this time I want to show you how to compete against these combo decks by casting giant monsters.
Green decks, historically, were one of the biggest dogs of Magic. If you look at what Green could do before Urza’s Saga you can see why people were crying foul. Then Green started having more and more tools trickle in and by Mirrodin the cries for Green’s weakness were quieting down. This matters because while we can go deep into the past of Blue for those oddball cards that can become strong role players or combo pieces, Green doesn’t have as many of those treasures to find. What Green does have is the ability to play with the best acceleration that any color can boast.
Speed as a Weapon
Every deck needs an angle. A deck must have some sort of guiding principle to help it develop. It’s not just about what you wish to do but it’s also about how you wish to do things. Previously I have described combo decks that wish to be somewhat speedy while not sacrificing their ability to dictate the actions of others. Today I am showing a deck that wishes to put a clock on its opposition as quickly as possible while simultaneously building up its board presence. So rather than hiding our key cards in our hands or decks until the moment is right, we try to gain victory through big threats and excessively disruptive destruction.
One of the best strengths that Green has in Commander is its bounty one drop mana accelerator creatures. Llanowar Elves, Fyndhorn Elves, Elvish Mystic, Arbor Elf, Boreal Druid, Birds of Paradise, Noble Hierarch, Avacyn’s Pilgrim, Elves of Deep Shadow, and Deathrite Shaman are all powerful turn one plays in a format where jumping ahead of mana means getting to your power plays first. While they don’t fit in every archetype or strategy, I find that mana creatures can play a pivotal role in allowing Green to cast its big plays before other decks can set up their own interaction. In this deck a turn 1 Llanowar Elves leads to a turn 2 Cultivate which can lead to a turn 3 Acidic Slime or Gauntlet of Power. More important is, sometimes, just casting Omnath on turn 2. It means that you can start attacking for 4-5 Commander damage on turn 3. That can be big deal as it may only take 2 or 3 swings with Omnath to eliminate an opponent. That quick Omnath also lets you store that mana to set up a large play. I have used Omnath’s mana storage to enable turn 4 Terastodon or Woodfall Primus many times.
Big Green with Omnath, Locus of Mana
The first thing you should notice from looking at the list is the sheer amount of redundancy. There are quite a few cards that are nearly the same card (Llanowar Elves vs. Elvish Mystic vs. Fyndhorn Elves) or are just a few degrees different from the other versions (Ranger’s Path vs. Skyshroud Claim vs. Hunting Wilds). What this means is that rather than being a deck that cares about a few specific interactions, Omnath is very modular. The parts are all interchangeable. You don’t really care about which specific cards you have and instead just trust that you will be able to have a desired game flow because of this redundancy. So in an average game you should hit a mana creature or artifact on turn 1. Turn that into a land ramp spell or Omnath on turn 2. And then on turn 3 and 4 cast more ramp, grow Omnath, and/or start going into disruption mode. Then eventually you will either draw or tutor into a larger threat or swingy sorcery (Tooth and Nail, Genesis Wave). By having access to all these comparable effects it means that our deck can have more deck consistency than a singleton format should normally allow.
These mana creates are what separates this build of Omnath from all those other ramp decks that rely upon just land ramp. While it won’t guarantee victory, a quick mana elf can speed up your whole deck a turn. Joraga Treespeaker, Wall of Roots, and Rofellos can give a lot of mana to help ramp up your bigger plays. Wall of Roots and Omnath have quite a wonderful interaction by letting you churn through it for mana in a single turn cycle. Rofellos is sometimes referred to as the real general in this deck. It’s usually a solid play to use tutors early and often for Rofellos as the extra mana lets you access your most powerful plays so much earlier. Even if you don’t have any other big spells to unlock it the mana won’t be wasted as a giant Omnath can be quite a threat.
It’s hard not to love these very cheap mana artifacts. These are the powerful mana rocks that most every deck could run effectively. Between these and our mana dorks we have enough acceleration to get into our mid game while most players are trying to set up their game plan.
This is the heart of the deck. By casting these spells early we can build up the resources to cast large things much earlier than normal. Whereas other decks may focus on artifact mana like Gilded Lotus and Everflowing Chalice, we focus on land ramp. This means we may be more vulnerable to effects like Armageddon, but less likely to get blown out by opposing Vandalblasts or Return to Dusts.
There are more mana doublers available, but I find it can be easy chase too much of a good thing. While Doubling Cube can get out of hand with Omnath, I find that it takes too much time to get going. Meanwhile, these doublers go well with all of our land ramp and can support the large spells even if Omnath is removed from the picture. When I get a chance, I will test out Nissa, Worldwaker. Not sure what I am going to cut, but it seems potentially potent because of the mana doublers.
These are the best of the bigger creatures we can have. While they are relatively few in number, we are extremely focused on having enough mana to cast them. One of the best ways to lose a game of Commander is having too many giant spells in your hand early in the game. So while we are quite selective, this pays off by giving up more room for search spells and utility effects to allow up to access our Big Guys more consistently.
In addition to the big monsters, Omnath has some really nasty and powerful larger spells on its top end. This means, that aside from just making Omnath larger, our ramp allows up to set up giant plays. Tooth and Nail is just a bunch of big guys, but you do have the option to set up a chain with Eternal Witness. Karn Liberated is our utility answer. Along with the Eldrazi, Karn answers most everything. Mindslaver, along with our various recursion schemes, can just take over someone’s game. This deck will one shot Mindslaver quite often and it is usually brutal. Nothing is more fun than using someone’s deck to combo kill the table aside from yourself. Genesis Wave is usually cast at a minimum of 6, but I try to mill 10+ if I can. Those extra cards pay off handsomely as even the extra land or two is important in this deck. Praetor’s Counsel is just one of those big ugly spells that can reshape a game to your favor. While I’m not always a fan of it, the Counsel addresses a lot of the concerns a deck like Omnath can have while being treated as the aggressor as it makes up for card disadvantage that racks up during a game.
While Omnath is more focused on offense and harassment by means of blowing up other people’s stuff, I did sneak in a few tools to combat the answers you may face. Boseiju, Who Shelters All may not have an excessive amount of spells to enable, but it ensures the important ones like Genesis Wave, Tooth and Nail, and Praetor’s Counsel resolve. Homeward Path is an important tool for this deck. As people assume you will have giant and disruptive monsters, it’s not unlikely for Bribery and Treachery effects to head your way. Homeward Path answers those easily. Hall of Gemstone, meanwhile, is one of the most disgusting cards available to a mono Green deck. It can trap multicolored Commanders from being cast and stop people from having access to colored mana through lands during their opponents turns (well, unless they have overlapping color identities). The Hall also is a World Enchantment so it can nuke other World Enchantments as the rules only allow one World Enchantment at a time. I personally have a few of Concordant Crossroads, Nether Void and The Abyss on my list for destruction thanks to this clever enchantment.
Card Flow in Green
One of the biggest advantages that Blue enjoys in Commander is the variety of powerful card drawing spells. Green has actually done well itself in the card manipulation department if you know where to look. It has few straight up draw spells, but has an excessive amount of tutors. This creature selection makes it very likely that you can access the right answer to the situation you are in. It also has a few graveyard based abilities and resource enablers that can make the graveyard quite accessible.
Life from the Loam is one of the heroes of this deck. While there are other decks that showcase the power of Loam in more spectacular and consistent manners, Omnath needs all the extra card advantage that it can get. Life from the Loam needs support to be a viable strategy and we have built our mana base to accommodate it. It also helps that Crucible of Worlds provides redundancy for many of the Life from the Loam strategies so we are more likely to utilize them. We run Misty Rainforest, Verdant Catacombs, Windswept Heath, and Wooded Foothills to have more lands in our graveyard to reuse. We lean heavily on disruptive elements like Dust Bowl, Strip Mine, and Wasteland to have repetitive land destruction effects. Buried Ruin can help us reuse our powerful artifacts like Mindslaver and Memory Jar. The Cycling lands of Tranquil Thicket and Slippery Karst allow for Loam to be a self-fueling machine, both gobbling up extra lands from the graveyard and replacing the skipped draw. Both Loam and Crucible of Worlds, in addition to the mana creatures, help to reduce the problems caused by Armageddon effects. These destruction effects are known destabilize land ramp strategies so solving them is key.
Sensei’s Divining Top and Sylvan Library provide a great level of card selection and potential access to extra cards. They work well with all the shuffle effects and Life from the Loam’s Dredge to promote a steady flow of gassy threats. Harmonize and Memory Jar are good old fashioned card advantage. Greater Good lets us turn out bigger creatures, or a large Omnath, into a bunch of cards and can get out of hand quite easily. Our utility creatures Deadwood Treefolk, Eternal Witness, and Genesis help us keep a flow of action as well. It helps that many of our creatures also have enters play abilities so it can feel like we are getting a spell and a body for the price of one.
But the real reason the deck has so much staying power and consistency is the excessive amount of powerful tutors for our key creatures. Worldly Tutor, Chord of Calling, Birthing Pod, Survival of the Fittest, Natural Order, Tooth and Nail, and Green Sun’s Zenith are some of the best creature tutors in the game and we get to run all of them. This gives us access to our accelerators (Rofellos), our Recursion (Eternal Witness/Genesis), our big monsters, and all of our various utility creatures with relative ease. If we are feeling overwhelmed by our opponent’s creatures, we can grab Spike Weaver to stall a bit. If we are afraid of an opponent’s graveyard then grab Scavenging Ooze and cut it down to size. All of these niche solutions combined with these powerful tutors allow us to answer almost anything.
A Most Absurd Combo
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary + Survival of the Fittest + Greater Good + Deadwood Treefolk + Lightning Greaves or Swiftfoot Boots + Kozilek, Butcher of Truth or Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre + 10 or more Forests
So this deck only has one true infinite combo and it is quite obtuse. It’s so absurd that I find it difficult to explain correctly as it involves many cards and is occasionally subject to fizzling out. Part of the reason for the difficulty is that the combo features so many interchangeable parts that it can lead to many different permutations. The plan is to give Rofellos haste and produce a large amount of mana. You may have to tutor for it. Then sacrifice Rofellos to Greater Good and draw some cards; how many depends on whether you have Caged Sun or Gauntlet of Power active or if you’d rather use Skullclamp. Then tutor into Deadwood Treefolk; the Treefolk will get back Rofellos twice for extra mana and you will use Greater Good to filter more cards while getting both the Treefolk and Rofellos back into your graveyard. Tutor up a Legendary Eldrazi, cast it, sacrifice it to Greater Good, and shuffle in your graveyard and draw more cards. Then start the cycle of again. Between all the Greater Good triggers, various tutors, or turning Omnath into cards, you should be able to repeat this cycle many times. Each time you do this you will be able to hopefully start casting extra land ramp spells or even an eventual Genesis Wave for your entire deck. The final end game is normally to Mindslaver each opponent 10+ times, then use Karn Liberated to exile all of their permanents and cards in hand (by putting Karn back in your library with Primal Command to draw again with Greater Good), and finally saying go with your opponents being able to do nothing against your horde of Eldrazi and friends. The deck was not designed for this interaction, but once discovered I have found no reason to ignore the existence of it! Most of the time you would be able to attempt the infinite combo you should be able to win anyway, but sometimes you just have a game go long and it is nice to be able to just end it.
Playing Against the Competition
The biggest issue this deck faces is its speed relative to combo decks and inability to handle getting teamed on. If the table is able to contain your early ramp, handle your middle game threats, and deal with your late game bombs then you won’t be able to accomplish much. In a meta where this deck is public enemy number one there will be more difficulties winning in spite of the hate compared to decks like Nin and Zur. It’s sad, but Green is just too fair (or free counterspells are too good). But that doesn’t mean you can’t fight against disruption.
One of the best methods to breaking through hate is weakening one player. Land destruction like Wasteland, Dust Bowl, or Acidic Slime can slow down one player enough to buy you a little time. These single use spells may not seem very impactful but they add up when you start targeting a single person multiple times. Meanwhile, if you realize you are public enemy number one soon enough you can hold some tools back. This will cause other players to think their window for advantage is open and hopefully that will draw out more resources from other players. While this deck can certainly win in some resource wars (Genesis, Life from the Loam, and Eldrazi are key players) it would be best to minimize them.
The other way to beat the late game blues is to buy time until you can just chain cast Eldrazi with the help of Eye of Ugin. Eventually the opposition will run out of answers and you still get their cast triggers. This deck can get to 15+ mana by turn 7 so it’s not that unrealistic.
Finally, it’s all about picking the right enemies. If you focus on destroying the permanents of one player, this may cause other players to fear you enough to avoid you. Some people will leave you alone while you eliminate another player for them because they see it as one less person they must dispatch. What they don’t necessarily appreciate is that you may be taking out the only person with counterspells or excessive graveyard hate. It comes down to threat assessment. If you think someone is going to eliminate you or severely hamper your ability to win, then eliminate them first. Just think about what possible plays you expect your opponents to make and go after the person who both places an imminent threat while not providing any protection to you. Good threat assessment is what wins game.
Omnath is one fine Green beast. While I wouldn’t rate it as highly as the Blue Combo decks, it can definitely take down events or just put the fear of ramp into your playgroup. If your play group starts playing against ramp decks taken to this much of an extreme then they may start to feel differently about Armageddon!
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