Is 80 the New 60?

Joe Soh

Joe Soh

Introduction

“Any idea what should I cut to make room for this?”

“Is this one-of better than that one-of?

Making room for the final card of the deck has always been every player’s biggest headache. We all want to make our deck linear, consistent and full of powerful cards, but how do we determine “this or that” in that last slot? Occasionally the last slot gets so tough to choose that the best players in the world choose to just play all of them and present a 60+ card deck, which sometimes earn weird respond from community. But is it wrong to be playing more than 60 cards? Rather than being wrong, I believe there wasn’t a reason, or incentive, to go out of the norm. What if playing a few more cards in your deck reward you with the 8th card in your opening hand, a built in card advantage engine, and solid finisher?

Yorion, Sky Nomad

Yes, I believe 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 will have us breaking the “60 card rule” for good.

Lurrus of the Dream DenGyruda, Doom of DepthsObosh, the Preypiercer

The Companion mechanic of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths has changed the entire dynamic to approach deckbuilding and overall gameplay. Aggressive decks are keeping the curve extremely low to take advantage of 《Lurrus of the Dream Den》, Ramp decks will always be rewarded with 《Gyruda, Doom of Depths》 and we even have odd deck utiziling 《Obosh, the Preypiercer》. While it’s great to always have access to the centerpiece of our deck, the Companions have a steep deckbuilding cost attach to them. So what makes 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 so different? It doesn’t require you to play only selected cards of selected mana cost, it only requires you to play 20 more good cards in your deck.

Standard: Yorion Azorius Control

Let’s take a look at a general Standard Azorius Control decklist with 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》.

Omen of the SeaNarset, Parter of VeilsTeferi, Time RavelerGlass Casket

At first glance, I wouldn’t even realize this deck is any different from other list without Yorion as you still have everything, and more! Yorion’s ability is what any midrange or control deck needs to hit that perfect land/spell ratio as you now always have a great threat to play while providing card advantage. It’s not hard to set up your board in a way where you can reset 《Omen of the Sea》 to set up your draws, a planeswalker for further use, or 《Glass Casket》 on better target.

Act of Treason

Aside from known advantage, Yorion also creates an awkward game play pattern to play against. While the general rule against control deck is to board out removal spell and load up on permission or discard still applies to a degree, Yorion puts your opponent in a weird spot. Assuming you are playing RB Sacrifice with 《Act of Treason》 in your sideboard as your only answer to Yorion, do you sideboard it in? If you do, you may put yourself in a position of card disadvantage right at the start if you open your hand with it. Maybe we just sideboard in 《Duress》 and 《Drill Bit》? Great, your opponent slam Yorion with empty hand, reset his 《Narset, Parter of Veils》, Omen, and now have a full hand again. Sideboarding against Yorion control decks just got a lot trickier.

Yorion, Sky Nomad

While the aggressive decks are going to have a tough time sideboarding against Yorion, Yorion will change the entire dynamic of control mirror. Control mirrors are long grind, with lots of game decided by decking. Great players will build their deck and develop a game plan around decking when it’s virtually impossible to win the mirror via lethal. Imagine playing a Azorius Control without Yorion against a Azorius Control with Yorion. Good lucking trying to win against 20 more cards.

Pioneer: Yorion Orzhov Doom

But what of other formats? Will adding 20 more cards destroy the deck’s consistency to compete in bigger, faster, more linear formats? Evidently not as the Magic Online Pioneer Super Qualifier finals was Azorius Yorion Devotion mirror! But what really catches my attention is 6th Place hodortimebaby’s Orzhov Doom.

Thraben InspectorTrial of AmbitionDoom Foretold

I’ve played with Orzhov Doom for a bit in Standard so this is a beauty I can truly appreciate. Orzhov Doom has been around Pioneer, but Yorion may be what the deck needs to push it to Tier 1. While the deck previously struggled when it doesn’t draw 《Doom Foretold》, Yorion fixes it by resetting our ETB (Enters The Battlefield ability) enchantment to constantly generate advantage.

Demonic Pact

When I look at this decklist, I can’t help but feel 《Doom Foretold》 is more of a decoy, but the best card in the deck by far is actually 《Demonic Pact》. 《Demonic Pact》 was a card that got a lot of hype when it was revealed, and it may finally have found a home to shine! 《Demonic Pact》 + Yorion represent a maximum value of 16 damage, 8 life, opponent discard 4 cards and draw 4 cards before we lose the game to it. If your opponent took some damage of shockland or 《Thoughtseize》, this is a 2 card combo that could win the game without any help. 《Demonic Pact》 + Yorion is such a powerful combination that it won’t surprise me if this replaces 《Inverter of Truth》 combo in Pioneer. In the post-Yorion world, ironically the best play we could do is probably to 3-for-1 ourselves and remove the 《Demonic Pact》 immediately.

Modern

Is it possible that Yorion has a place for even bigger format like Modern? Well, there already exists a deck that is begging for it. Yorion 《Soulherder》 by @MoughonEvart and @gabnassif.

Yorion Soulherder

Wall of BlossomsSoulherderAvalanche Riders

To all value lovers, rejoice as 《Soulherder》 deck just got an amazing upgrade! The deck is all about ETB value town so it’s not hard to just throw in 20 cards to utilize Yorion. By now we should already be familiar on how great Yorion is with ETB triggers, but how do we approach this match up if we’re on the receiving end? Any fairer deck is going to have a nightmare against this. In the past, we would only need to keep 《Soulherder》 off the board and it should buy us a lot of time. With Yorion in the mix, what is the new game plan? Do we pre-emptively kill every value creature? If so, how do we deal with Yorion as a 4/5 flier? Or do we remove Yorion after they drew a new hand of the value creatures?

Birds of ParadiseNoble Hierarch

《Soulherder》 might feel like the default deck for Yorion as it has a lot of value creature, but the true reason is that it runs enough mana creature to be able to support it. While Yorion is extremely powerful, attempting to cast it without any help, while putting value permanents in play, is going to be really tough in Modern and I would really avoid that route (Yes, I’m looking at you Azorius Control). Fortunately, I heard 《Urza, Lord High Artificer》 and value artifacts are good at generating tons of mana too.

Yorion Uroza

Urza, Lord High ArtificerMetallic RebukeCryptic Command

The banning of 《Mox Opal》 may have weaken Urza decks, but Yorion may be what it needs to revitalize it as the best deck. The sequence of Urza, tapping 5 artifact for Yorion, blinking Urza and the artifacts into counter back up while threatening lethal feels downright absurd.

Conclusion

Ikora has only been released a short while ago, and we have barely scratch the surface on the endless possibility to exploit Yorion across formats. But one thing for sure, Yorion will change the deckbuilding of midrange and control deck. Be prepared for Yorion, understand your game plan against Yorion, and if you ever find yourself playing a straight up control deck without Yorion, pray your opponent’s deckbox is not 20 card bigger than yours.

Joe Soh (Twitter)

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Joe Soh

Joe Soh Joe Soh is a veteran player from Malaysia. He achieved many things like four Grand Prix top 8, winning Nationals twice, and went 11th place at Pro Tour San Diego 2007 (Two-Headed Giant) with his brother; Terry Soh. Recently, his constructed skill is rewarded and he won the whole thing at Grand Prix Kobe 2017 with an interesting Orzhov Eldrazi, and went 9th place at Mythic Championship Cleveland 2019 with Mardu Vampire. Read more articles by Joe Soh