Casting spells for free is a hallmark of Legacy. Playing the highest impact spells for the least amount of mana is the name of the game, and it’s why cards like Force of Will, Cabal Therapy, Massacre, and Gitaxian Probe are such staples. It’s why cheap creatures like Delver of Secrets and Tarmogoyf are so powerful, and why Delve cards have to be costed obscenely high. But while those cards have cheaper alternate casting costs, there exists a card that allows you to play whatever you want for free. Once in play, it’s virtually impossible to lose with this card. Enabling combos left and right, and hardcasting the biggest, baddest monsters in the game for a zero mana investment, I can only be talking about Omniscience!
OmniTell is a deck designed to cheat out Omniscience with Show and Tell. Then, once in play, you get to perform a massive, game-ending combo to win the game. Since you can cast whatever you want for free, the possibilities are limitless for how you’re going to win. One of the earliest iterations of OmniTell revolved around casting Petals of Insight an infinite number of times, then casting Brain Freeze for the opponent’s entire deck. Then, after Gatecrash and the printing of Enter the Infinite, the plan was to cast Enter the Infinite for free to draw your deck, then put an Emrakul on top of your deck. You would then Cunning Wish for Release the Ants, and cast it over and over, always winning the clash due to Emrakul.
As the years went by, it became the norm to simplify the deck, cutting down on the unnecessary chaff and fanciness, instead focusing on hardcasting Emrakul to just end the game. This prompted the above version of the deck, where you can simply Cunning Wish for Eladamri’s Call to put Emrakul directly into your hand and skip jumping through all those hoops. The deck runs a staggering 19 cantrips to help dig into your combo pieces, with Cunning Wish to fetch out whatever instants you may need over the course of the game. This gives you the ability to play a pretty solid control game until it’s time to combo off. As well, thanks to Lotus Petal, Ancient Tomb, and City of Traitors, you can just jam a Show and Tell on turn 1 or 2 and kill them before they can fight back.
Thanks to Cunning Wish, the sideboard for OmniTell is pretty varied. Having access to whatever sideboard cards you want in game 1 can make things really rough for the opponent, so OmniTell’s sideboard instants tend to cover a wide assortment of potential headaches. For faster graveyard decks, Surgical Extraction is the go to card, with some lists flipping between a Ravenous Trap and a Grafdigger’s Cage. While Cage can’t be tutored for, it does have the advantage of shutting off Snapcaster Mage as well as Reanimator, which often combos off at times when Ravenous Trap can’t be cast for its Trap cost.
Snap, Echoing Truth, and Hurkyl’s Recall are there to shut off Ethersworn Canonist out of Death and Taxes, which single-handedly stops us from comboing. Hurkyl’s Recall also does great work against MUD, which often employs Chalice of the Void to shut off cantrips, as well as Trinisphere, which puts a three mana tax on all of our formerly free spells. Snap and Echoing Truth are also great for stopping Meddling Mage and vGaddock Teeg out of Deathblade and Maverick. A Meddling Mage on Show and Tell stops our deck entirely, so getting it off the table is imperative.
In the matches against Blue decks, Swan Song acts as another cheap counterspell with next to no downside, as the 2/2 bird token is pretty inconsequential in the face of Emrakul. Trickbind is there to shut down some of the trickier ways to beating Show and Tell decks. Some decks, such as Reanimator and Death and Taxes, have cards like Ashen Rider and Oblivion Ring that they can put down after you Show and Tell to exile your Omniscience. Thanks to Trickbind, you can counter the trigger from those cards, and due to Split Second there is nothing they can do about it.
Rounding out the sideboard are Boseiju, Who Shelters All, Defense Grid, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Boseiju is a necessary evil against counter-heavy matchups like Sneak and Show and Delver. Guaranteeing that Show and Tell will resolve is well worth any life loss, and not having to spend a spell to do it is even better. Defense Grid also comes in for these matchups, and has the advantage of being a potential turn 1 play off of Ancient Tomb or City of Traitors. Given how mana-light most Legacy decks are, putting a three mana tax on any spell they try to cast on your turn is huge, and renders most counterspells virtually useless. Finally, Jace is there for the longer, more drawn out matches like Miracles. These are matches where you aren’t under a lot of pressure, but they have plenty of ways to counter your spells thanks to both Force of Will and the Counter Top engine. Jace gives you a way to gain long term card advantage while setting up your combo.
BRUTE FORCE OMNISCIENCE
This is an OmniTell build that I’ve been playing myself for the past few months. This eschews the Cunning Wish package for more copies of Emrakul and Dig Through Time. I found as I was testing the combo versions, if they had a way to disrupt your Omniscience or Cunning Wish, you were often just dead. With this deck, I found that the tried and true “just putting an Emrakul on the table” was sufficient for victory. Yes, the opponent gets a turn to stop you, but more often than not they won’t be able to do anything. This gives the deck even more options for a Show and Tell turn, which also makes it easier to have an Emrakul already in your hand when you do cheat an Omniscience into play. Just in case one Emrakul attack wasn’t sufficient, running more copies of our favourite Eldrazi makes it easier to cantrip into a second one to cast off of Omniscience and really hammer home how little the opponent can do to fight you.
Dig Through Time and Intuition really play a huge role in this style of deck, as they are two of your highest impact cantrips. Dig Through Time allows you to see seven cards, often for UU, and lets you take whatever two cards you want. Normally, you would be able to cast one, maybe two copies of Dig over the course of a game, but thanks to Omniscience you can ignore Delve and look at seven cards for free! And you can chain Digs into one another until you find enough countermagic and cantrips before finally hitting an Emrakul. Intuition also plays a huge role in this deck. You can cast Intuition and get to pick any three cards in your deck, keeping one of the opponent’s choice. However, if you choose three copies of the same card, you guarantee getting the card you want, which makes setting up your combo so much easier.
The sideboard is a little more linear than the previous version because there’s no Cunning Wish. While Defense Grid, Echoing Truth, and Trickbind remain, I swapped out most of the 1-ofs in favour of a set of Leyline of Sanctity and a pair of Misdirection. One of the biggest ways Legacy combo decks lose is through excessive hand disruption, and now that graveyards aren’t fuel for Treasure Cruise any more, Thoughtseize and Cabal Therapy have made a pretty big comeback. Leyline of Sanctity shuts off anything aimed at your face, be it Thoughtseize, Lightning Bolt, or Tendrils of Agony. This not only preserves your hand, but buys you plenty of time to put your combo together. Misdirection also falls in the category of “anti-discard”, but it has the added benefit of also acting like an extra pair of Force of Wills in countermagic wars. As well, amusingly enough, Misdirection helps fend off Surgical Extraction, which can be devastating if it one hits a countered or discarded Show and Tell. You can change the target of an oncoming Surgical to something in the opponent’s graveyard, potentially blowing them out and ripping away key cards.
I generally favour this version of the deck because of how redundant most of the spells are, which adds consistency at the cost of flexibility, but regardless of how you want to play with Omniscience you’re going to have fun. It almost feels like cheating when you have Omniscience in play. You have access to some of the most powerful spells in the game, but you don’t have to pay mana for any of it? Sign me up! Omniscience is a backbreaking card to play against, and if you want to be the one breaking those backs, sleeve up OmniTell and show the world you do know it all!
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