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M20 Arena Omniscience Draft Primer


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Omniscience Draft has returned to MTG Arena for five days, starting on August 30th and ending September 2nd. The draft uses Core Set 2020 boosters this time around.

Omniscience Draft has four changes compared to a normal draft:

  • Spells you cast from your hand cost 0 mana (aka Omniscience).
  • You have an emblem that you can activate once per turn to generate 5 mana (WUBRG) to spend however you want. You usually use this mana to pay for activated abilities (Creeping Trailblazer) or opposing spells (Convolute)
  • Your starting hand size is 3 instead of 7.
  • Basic lands have been removed. This means only 2 of the cards you draft will be left out of your deck, compared to the 18-20 cards you leave out in a regular draft to add basic lands.

Such huge changes to gameplay means card evaluation while drafting is going to be very different from a regular M20 draft.

 

Winning Omniscience Draft

Since all our spells are free to cast, traditional draft and deckbuilding strategies do not apply in this format. Having a balanced mana curve is irrelevant when Loyal Pegasus costs the same to cast as Dragon Mage.

There are two keys to winning any Omniscience Draft, regardless of the set:

  1. Prioritize drafting cards that have "card draw" while filling the gaps with as many powerful bombs and game-winning combos as possible.
  2. Aggressively mulligan away opening hands without card draw. Card draw is the key to the signature explosive turns this format is known for, finding other card draw to keep the momentum rolling. If you keep bad hands you will quickly lose. A 1-card hand with Spectral Sailor is worth ten times more than a 3-card hand with Loyal Pegasus, Fearless Halberdier, and Griffin Sentinel.

Another tip to optimize your play is to understand that Omniscience Draft is a very explosive, high variance format, where the RNG that is prevalent throughout Magic is exaggerated to absurd levels. Drawing 10+ cards and playing multiple 5/5 creatures is pretty standard for a good turn 1 in this format. There is skill involved to this format just like any other, both in drafting and in gameplay, but sometimes these facts are hard to remember when your opponent draws 15+ cards and kills you before you even had a turn. Embrace the format for what it is and not only will you enjoy it, but you'll be open to improving your skill level (instead of blaming everything on RNG) and therefore perform better.

All your card picks fall into one of the following categories:

  • Card Draw
  • Finishers
  • Removal
  • Graveyard Recursion
  • Filler
  • Garbage

For this guide, I will be focusing on Commons and Uncommons only. Those will be the cards you will be seeing consistently in draft, but the philosophy applies to rares / mythics too.

 

Card Draw Is King

Card draw is the single most important thing in Omniscience. Since we have to run all but 2 of the cards we drafted in our deck, the overall card quality of our deck is going to be poor and we need to compensate by drawing through the garbage cards into our sweet stuff. The player that wins the game is the one that draws the most cards, dropping the most stuff on the battlefield to overwhelm the opponent's stuff

Cards that can reliably draw you 2+ cards are the foundation of your deck. Winged Words is the best Common for this reason. The Allstar card draw, however, is the Uncommon Spectral Sailor, which you can use your emblem's mana to draw a card every single turn -- both yours and your opponents'! An unanswered Sailor is going to take over the game pretty darn fast. Risen Reef is also an incredibly strong engine in this deck, largely because one of the best creatures, Cloudkin Seer, is also an Elemental to trigger it, not to mention a slew of other Elemental cards that you can pick up to bolster your Reefs. Another engine is Season of Growth, since scrying lets us dodge our garbage cards and it synergizes with solid filler like Angelic Gift and Bladebrand.

Cantrips, aka cards that only draw you one card, can also be sweet. Cloudkin Seer is the best of these, made even better due to the Risen Reef synergy. Angelic Gift and Bladebrand are fine and become insane with Season of Growth. Faerie Miscreant is relatively low-priority pick but if you end up with 4+ of them they're fine inclusions. Silverback Shaman doesn't draw you a card immediately, which is a big downside in this format, but it's a big threatening body and gets you a card eventually.

Looters are also huge boons in this draft because we can exchange our garbage cards for good cards (aka card draw). Tomebound Lich is the best one at Uncommon, and Keldon Raider is the best at Common.

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Finishers

In Dominaria Omniscience Draft, games could end on the first turn thanks to Garna, the Bloodflame or 2x Guardians of Koilos + Cabal Paladin combo. War of the Spark Omniscience Draft was a little less explosive but you could still win on the first turn with lots of creatures and Samut, Tyrant Smasher. But in M20, I don't see any Commons/Uncommons that enable an easy turn 1 victory. There are plenty of game-winning bombs at Mythic/Rare, like Cavalier of Flame, Drakuseth, Maw of Flames, and Sephara, Sky's Blade, but at Uncommon/Common it's pretty tame.

While they're all uncommons and therefore inconsistent to assemble, there's at least two combos I found that are worth prioritizing. The first is double Yarok's Wavecrasher. With two of these you can bounce them infinite times. Combine that with Corpse Knight and your opponent loses infinite life. While less immediately lethal, adding Risen Reef gives you infinite draw or Overgrowth Elemental gives you infinite +1/+1 counters.

Another combo is Scholar of the Ages and Blood for Bones. Sacrificing Scholar to Blood lets you return all your creatures from your graveyard to the battlefield infinite times. Again these are both Uncommons so it will be hard to consistently assemble this, but if you pull this off it's unlikely you can lose. Add a third card like Sage's Row Denizen for infinite mill to win the game outright.

Another card that can take over games, albeit slowly, is Ironroot Warlord. Making a 1/1 token each turn provides great chump blockers and eventually overwhelms your opponent. It competes for mana with Spectral Sailor but it's a great mana dump until you find a Sailor.

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Removal

The third thing you should prioritize after card draw and the best finisher is removal. You need ways to deal with both creatures and noncreature card draw spells.

One of the best removal spells in this format is Bone to Ash. No matter what you counter, you're up a card against your opponent. Bonus points if you utterly destroy your opponent by countering a Risen Reef or similar powerhouse.

For stuff already on the board, Meteor Golem is your best answer. It can get rid of any permanent and leaves a 3/3 body on the battlefield.

Discard is high risk, high reward in this format. Being on the play and hitting your opponent with a discard spell can easily secure victory if you deprive them of their opening card draw. However, if you're not going first or if you draw discard later on it could be a dead card. Generally speaking this is worth the risk -- or at least it's better than most filler/garbage. Thought Distortion seems like a no-brainer option, but in M20 the scariest card draw are actually creatures like Risen Reef and Spectral Sailor making this a little worse but still good. Mind Rot is another option and only slightly worse.

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Graveyard Recursion

Recursion starts off as dead cards in your hand when you have no cards yet in your graveyard, but as the game progresses they become your most valuable cards since they can grab your best cards back from the grave.

The best recursion is the aforementioned Scholar of the Ages and Blood for Bones. They're great individually, but together they win you the game. After that, Gravedigger and Soul Salvage are both solid inclusions.

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Filler

When you can't choose card draw / synergy filler / disruption / recursion, you're left with these. Big dumb beaters mostly. Herald of the Sun is powerful because it hits hard, has evasion, and can continue to pump any other flyer into a lethal threat. But even Vorstclaw gets the job done. You just want big dumb stuff to win the game with after you've drawn as many cards as possible. The person with the most filler on the board wins.

Generally speaking for filler, take the biggest thing, and if there's ever a tie on the biggest thing then take the Elemental creature. If you have picked up multiple Risen Reefs somehow (lucky bastard) then take Elemental creatures over every other filler.

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Garbage

Since we can only exclude two of the cards that we draft out of our deck, unfortunately, we'll be forced to run a lot of garbage. It's going to happen. Just make sure not to actively pick the garbage cards over other stuff. Small creatures with no utility are bad. Ramp is bad when mana is irrelevant. Only take these types of cards when you're forced to.

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Tomer's Priority Pick List (Commons / Uncommons)

This isn't a definitive list and pick priorities change a little based on previous picks but it should still be helpful to people new to the format:

 

Go For This

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Then This

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Also The Best

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Always Great

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Tasty

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Mmm Yum

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I'm Hungry

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For Value!

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Have Fun!

Hope this quick guide helps you out! Omniscience Draft is my favorite Arena event so I'm off to play an ungodly amount over this weekend. Let me know if there's any sweet spice you uncovered in M20 that I should mention and I'll try to update this article with it. Thanks for reading!


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