Brewer’s Kitchen: Rainbow Reef
(Disclaimer: this article was written before the Omnath ban in Historic. At the end of it, I’ll go over possible changes to the deck, and I’ve provided a list without Omnath. It’s not necessary so much as useful to this deck).
Hello there, this is Brewer’s Kitchen with another deep dive into the latest brew I’ve cooked up!
The long awaited Standard rotation finally happened a few weeks ago and the format couldn’t be healthier. The Aggro decks beat the Midrange decks, Midrange decks beat Control decks and Control decks beat the Aggro decks… and none of this has been true.
What really happened was the rise of four-color piles abusing the power of Omnath and no deck that offered reasonable counterplay against them.
Good thing I’ve only been playing Historic. Cards like Thoughtseize, Muxus and Mayhem Devil (and it’s Aristocrat friends) kept the format powerful enough to not just run away with the game once you play an Omnath. Which is a good thing considering that today we play… well… Omnath (edit: yeah, he’s banned now, but that’s okay! he’s not the focus).
Instead of his usual four-color home, I put Omnath in the deck he seemed to be designed for: 5-Color-Elementals or Rainbow Reef.
The Historic cardpool offers a wide variety of crazy Elementals that all synergize together:
They’re like the Avengers. But instead of fighting a purple intergalactic buff guy (ok, maybe I didn’t see all the movies), they fight the Arena interface. And by that I mean: get ready for some absurd amount of triggers and clicking when you play this deck.
Once you assemble your Elemental Avengers (though one of them is a snake to be honest), you will trigger a chain reaction of abilities that will pretty much allow you to play your entire deck in one turn.
But first we have to get some ramp for the early game, to set all this up. We play a total of 12 two-drops that produce mana:
One of them produces mana whenever a land enters the battlefield. One of them is a land itself. Last but not least, we have… well… a regular two-drop that produces mana! This acceleration enables us to play our more costly Elementals earlier and balances the tempo loss from our necessary tapped-lands (5 colors is no joke).
The fun part begins once we have a Risen Reef and a Lotus Cobra on the battlefield.
Now, every Elemental either draws us a card or puts a land on the battlefield, which will then produce mana with the Cobra. Now it’s time to go crazy with it. Once we have a Yarok on the battlefield both of these triggers get doubled up.
We can theoretically combo off with this by playing our two-drop elementals and getting lucky by hitting Lands on top of our library to get our mana investment back with the Cobra. But let’s make sure to reduce the variance of this combo.
With Ancient Greenwarden, all our Landfall triggers double up (most importantly the mana production of Lotus Cobra). Ashaya makes every nontoken creature count as a forest, so every creature triggers Landfall. With both together, every creature we play will trigger landfall twice!
Still not enough triggers?
We also play Zendikar’s Roil to get an Elemental whenever a land enters the battlefield, comboing beautifully with Risen Reef. Once we double up these triggers, it goes pretty much infinite until you draw your entire deck.
All of this triggering and clicking ends in a board full of Elementals, a bunch of mana from Lotus Cobra, and your library in your hand. Now usually I would just play a Thassa’s Oracle as a win condition but, in the spirit of playing elementals, we finish our opponent off with Omnath, Locus of the Roil.
Omnath does a lot of damage with all these elementals we’re cheating into play! Double his trigger up with Yarok and the likes, and we have a reliable win condition that fits perfectly in the rest of the gameplan.
I’ve provided one version with Omnath, for posterity and use in your casual queues (or perhaps it could be adapted for a Pioneer build??), and one without that I’ve tried out some and had similar results with so far.
The deck without Omnath
Imagine working two weeks straight on a video, writing a whole article, and then getting a card banned… Luckily Omnath was strong but not essential to the deck, and it functions just as well without our four colored powercreeper, if we just replace it with our other combo pieces. I have had similar results with this updated version of the deck:
With the main gameplan out of the way, it is time to talk about every card in the deck individually.
Oh, you want to see the deck in action first? Well good thing I made a whole video about it! Don’t worry, I’ve edited the gameplay down to the fun part, so you will not see all the excruciating clicking that goes into this combo. As always, I tried to make the deck tech as entertaining as possible, but since you have already read to this part of the article, you might want to skip to 4:05 to get right to that juicy gameplay. You are going to miss out on some memes and jokes though…
Full Decklist Breakdown:
Ok now it’s time to break down all the cards. Did you watch the video first? That last game was a real trainwreck, I know… Good thing you’re reading this article and can learn from my mistakes!
Leafkin Druid: This is likely the least interesting card in the deck, but it’s a two-drop elemental that taps for mana. Itss 0/3 body can block some early aggression, and it will tap for two mana once we have four creatures.
Tangled Florahedron: Stats-wise, this is worse than Leafkin Druid, but having the option to play it as a land is key in this deck. Too bad we can’t put it directly onto the battlefield as a land, if we flip it with a Risen Reef, but then again, the creature half is an elemental to trigger the Reef another time.
Lotus Cobra: Man, do I wish this was an elemental! This is our best play on turn two, but also necessary to keep our combo going later in the game. Its one toughness makes it fragile and easy to kill, but if it survives, we are getting an insane amount of extra mana in our crazy combo turns.
Explore/Uro: If you didn’t see the video (you should though…), Explore might seems out of place here. This is because I recorded my video before the B&R announcement (yes, it takes that long to produce these videos), and I was paranoid that Wizards would ban Uro. Luckily, Uro only got banned in Standard, giving us Historic players the wildcards while still being able to play with it. Uro, just as Explore, is just a filler card in the deck, with the upside that it’s a win condition against control. Explore, on the other hand, lets us play a Florahedron as an additional land, bun the end Uro is just the stronger card. If you have an Ashaya, Uro will trigger landfall as well.
Risen Reef: I always love playing with Risen Reef but, in this deck, it is actually our main combo piece.
It is very fragile as a 1/1, but some opponents might underestimate its power and prioritize killing our Omnaths and Cobras. Since its ability doesn’t draw cards (it’s worded as putting the cards directly in hand), we do not die from emptying our library with its triggers, which is very important in this deck. It also gets around the static ability of Narset, Parter of Veils.
Omnath, Locus of Creation: Even though Omnath got a lot of hate recently for dominating Standard, it is actually incredibly fun to play with. It replaces itself right away when entering the battlefield, and then generates ungodly amounts of value every turn. In this deck, we enable its most important trigger (second Landfall) very easily. If we have Yarok or Ancient Greenwarden on the battlefield, a single land will trigger the lifegain and mana trigger, and gaining 4 life is no joke against aggro. Sometimes it’s best to leave a Fabled Passage uncracked to gain some extra life in your opponents turn.
… aaaand it’s banned! Check out my list above without it…
Omnath, Locus of the Roil: Our main win condition. Don’t hesitate to play it in the early game to shoot down opposing creatures and buff your creatures, and prevent the opponent from killing you.
Once the combo gets going, you’ll find another copy to win the game anyway. Once we have eight or more lands, Omnath draws additional cards with its landfall trigger (good with Ashaya). Be aware of this when comboing off, so you can avoid drawing on an empty library.
Yasharn, Implacable Earth: Ok, not gonna lie, I just wanted to play this card since we play all the other cool and colorful elementals. Its first abilty makes sure that we hit our land drops, and its second is fantastic hate for some popular decks. Here’s a list of the most relevant cards it hoses: Neoform, Skirk Prospector, Bolas’s Citadel, Priest of the Forgotten Gods, Blood for Bones, Adanto Vanguard, etc.
Yarok, the Desecrated: Yarok doubles every (enters the battlefield) trigger. This counts for Landfall as well as for Risen Reef. Its lifelink and 3/5 body makes it a relevant blocker against aggro. Against mono red and mono green strategies (damage based removal), it’s best to put +1/+1 counters from Omnath on Yarok to create an unbeatable lifelinker.
Zendikar’s Roil: It might seem overcosted at five mana, but it serves as an insurance to prevent the Reef-combo from fizzling.
Ashaya: This makes all our nontoken creatures trigger landfall, and Lotus Cobra and Omnath even trigger themselves when they enter the battlefield. Besides that and its synergy with Ancient Greenwarden, Ashaya also gets crazy large. Some decks just can’t handle a huge vanilla creature.
Ancient Greenwarden: This doubles up all landfall triggers and synergizes with Ashaya. A 5/7 reacher is also pretty hard to deal with for some decks. Being able to play lands from the graveyard makes us hit every land drop once we have a Fabled Passage. This ability also allows us to play our spell-lands as lands from the graveyard.
Shatterskull Smashing/Turntimber Symbiosis: The mana base of this deck is very delicate. In my video I did not include any of the new mythic spell/lands (Modal Double-Faced Cards, I guess), but after some more testing I included one of each. They have not caused any problems with the mana base yet, but I’ve also rarely played the spell half. Shatterskull Smashing serves as two for one removal spell, while Turntimber Sybiosis helps in finding key combo pieces.
Fabled Passage: A land that triggers Landfall two times. Be aware of which basic land to get, as we have one Plains and a bunch of Islands and Forests. Don’t get the Plains if you have Yasharn in hand, since you’ll get it for free anyway.
Unclaimed Territory: This helps us fix colors for our various Elementals, but it only produces colorless mana for Zendikar’s Roil, Shatterskull Smashing, and Turntimber Symbiosis. Try to avoid having to name Snake or Elder to cast a Lotus Cobra or Uro. Both have happened only once each in my time playing with this deck.
Ancient Ziggurat: The Ziggurat produces any kind of mana for every creature in the deck, but ot does not help cast any of the four noncreature spells. Make sure to keep it in hand until you need it or have no other land drops, as Zendikar’s Roil is expensive enough at five cmc and having to wait till turn six to play feels awful.
Tips and Tricks
Mana Management: The mana base is basically Simic, splashing all other colors. Ancient Ziggurat and Unclaimed Territory are of great help here, but be aware that playing a forest on turn one and a Florahedron or Leafkin Druid on turn two will not produce you the mana for an Omnath, Locus of Creation on turn three (nevermind… it’s banned). When producing mana with Lotus Cobra, keep in mind that we mostly need green, but try tosprinkle in some blue and red every so often for Omnath, Locus of the Roil, white for Yasharn, Implacable Earth, and black for Yarok.
Don’t get too cute with it: Always keep an eye on your Elemental count and cards in your library. Once the point of a lethal Omnath is reached, just go for it! In my video I was going for some crazy turns to show off the deck, but when nobody is watching, I just kill my opponent whenever I get the chance. Besides the risk to mill yourself out, your opponent might be holding a counter – if they do, it’s better to have more cards left in the deck to go for the combo again the next turn.
Blocking is for losers: Don’t take any risky blocks if they don’t kill you, as our creatures are necessary for comboing. Just take the damage and try to combo faster than your opponent can race you. Once you are putting counters on your creatures (Omnath) or have a 20/20 Ashaya, you can go for blocks… but not the risky ones!
Stack your triggers: If you didn’t already, go to your settings and disable autostacking of triggers, as there is a real chance that the final Omnath trigger ends in milling yourself and drawing a card. Make sure to place its damage trigger way on top of the stack, so you can shoot your opponent before all the other triggers resolve. In game one of my video, you can see that this takes a lot of fighting against Arena’s UI!
Alternative win conditions/Maybeboard
As mentioned in my article and video, you can play a Thassa’s Oracle for the final blow, but this is not the only way to get the job done. In this section, I go over some other ways to go about winning after you are done comboing.
Thassas Oracle is probably the best alternative win condition for the deck. Its trigger doesn’t care about your opponent’s life total and doesn’t target so Shalai, Voice of Plenty and Leyline of Sanctity won’t stop it.
The Oracle is not an Elemental and forces you to almost empty your library to be lethal. If you play sideboarded games, there is an argument to put an Oracle in the board to have a chance against hexproof and Nine Lives/Solemnity.
Another alternative way to finish off an opponent. After comboing off you are going to have a huge board and between Omnath’s +1/+1 counters and Ashaya you are likely to just fling your opponent to death with the Fury. Unlike Omnath, this is a very situational card, and red taplands are pretty awkward to have, so I’m not too excited.
Scampering Scorcher almost made it into the deck as a one-of. Unlike Kazuul’s Fury, this actually synergizes with the rest of our deck and especially Risen Reef, but on the other hand, I don’t want my wincon to be vulnerable to Settle the Wreckage.
This fits more into the Maybeboard category. Being a land and a clone is useful on both sides, but it got cut in testing because a lot of our key pieces are legendary. If you can accept a slightly clunkier manabase, I wouldn’t fault you for playing 1-2 copies.
If you are like me, and love playing with cards like Risen Reef, Lotus Cobra and other value engines, this is the deck for you. However, don’t be fooled: it’s not an S-Tier tournament crushing deck. In fact it only crushes about 50% of the time (according to my stats), but when it crushes your opponent, you also get the upside of also crushing the Arena User Interface (good luck playing this on mobile). The lack of interaction makes every game a race to the combo, while hoping your opponent doesn’t kill you. I guess that’s why I’m Brewer’s and not Spike’s Kitchen.
That being said, see you next time and keep on brewing!