Updating Orzhov Doom with Core Set 2021

Joe Soh


With Players Tour Online in the books, the results were pretty much expected that Temur Reclamation will be everywhere after the recent bannings of 《Agent of Treachery》 and 《Fires of Invention》 and changes to the companion ruling. It seems like the logical choice for everyone to play it, as the deck is extremely consistent and powerful.

Uro, Titan of Nature's WrathWilderness ReclamationExpansion+Explosion

A Big Surprise from Players Tour

While I wasn’t expecting any new decks to challenge Temur Reclamation given how matured the metagame is, I was in for a big surprise as I turn in to the coverage. And I do mean BIG SURPRISE as my new found favorite card, 《Yarok’s Fenlurker》, finally getting the love and recognition it deserve by Ben Stark running it in his Orzhov 《Doom Foretold》. Ben Stark and crew even register them alongside 《Burglar Rat》!

Yarok's FenlurkerBurglar RatDoom Foretold
Ravenous Rats

Now this is a deck that I instantly fall in love with! I’ve always have a sweet spots for 2 mana discard creatures aka Rats as 《Ravenous Rats》 from Urza’s Destiny was the first value creature I played to a lot in my LGS, and it’s no secret that 《Doom Foretold》 has been my favorite standard deck for a while.

Rats have always felt great when the format is full of fragile x/1 creature and decks that don’t block well as you’ll always 2-for-1 them through blocking or eating a removal spell. This deck gets even extra mileage out of all our rats by either blinking them with 《Charming Prince》 and 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》, or just having more fodder to sacrifice from 《Doom Foretold》.

Elspeth Conquers DeathMortify

Having the extra Rats also make 《Elspeth Conquers Death》 better, as the creatureless version occasionally blanked on its 3rd Chapter as it doesn’t have anything to return. I really liked the choice of 《Mortify》 over 《Murderous Rider》 here as they definitely understand the importance of removing 《Wilderness Reclamation》 is much more important than an extra random body.

The Decklist I Want to Try in the New Format

The deck is definitely no flash in the pan, as not only Ben Stark and crew put together great results in the Players Tour Online, it also won the Red Bull Untapped Qualifier the following week with minimal changes to the deck!

With Core Set 2021 release just around the corner, this is what I’m really excited to try out as soon as possible:

New Cards From Core Set 2021

《Solemn Simulacrum》

Solemn Simulacrum

The deck is extremely mana hungry, and it suffers from it especially as it generates card advantage with its discard creature, but less on card draw engine. But it’s also caught in a weird conundrum where we can’t draw too much lands as our discard spells loses value later on.

Luckily our favorite sad robot, 《Solemn Simulacrum》 gets reprinted and we have the perfect bridge to hit reach the crucial 5th land and keep up with our card economy. It fits the curve perfectly as the deck previously didn’t have another good turn 4 play except for 《Doom Foretold》.

《Solemn Simulacrum》 presents an awkward scenario for our opponent as this deck is good at getting value from it by staying on board or in graveyard. Attack into it or remove it? Sure, we’ll use 《Elspeth Conquers Death》 to remove your biggest attacker and bring it back. Let it stay on the board? Let’s blink it via 《Charming Prince》 or 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 for more lands.

《Liliana, Waker of the Dead》

Liliana, Waker of the Dead

《Liliana, Waker of the Dead》 is a card I’d really like to try in this deck. It complements the deck’s discard strategy well similar to its Modern staple 《Liliana of the Veil》 in Jund decks, but doubles up as a finisher by having our opponent loses 3 life occasionally. The deck could now play a Jund game very efficiently as it is not uncommon to leave our opponent without cards in hand by turn 5, in which 《Liliana, Waker of the Dead》 will single handily win the game against any midrange or control decks as it ultimates 3 turn later!

Chandra, Heart of Fire

The deck also have enough early roadblocks and interaction against creature decks that 《Liliana, Waker of the Dead》 will serve as a reusable removal with 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》, albet a weak one as we don’t have much ways to fill our graveyard fast. 《Liliana, Waker of the Dead》 has so much potential that it makes me wonder if it will put a new Jund deck in Standard by herself (And she even curve out great alongside 《Chandra, Heart of Fire》!).

《Mazemind Tome》

Mazemind Tome

And to save the best for the last, and the card I believe may propel Orzhov Doom to a Tier1 deck, 《Mazemind Tome》. One of the biggest issue of Orzhov 《Doom Foretold》 deck is the consistency issue it faces at the early stage as the deck doesn’t have access to card selection. Often we have to rely on putting out an early 《Treacherous Blessing》 to hit out land drops, but that will cause us a lot of life points unless we follow up with an immediate 《Doom Foretold》. I’ve often considered 《Omen of the Sea》 is the reason to go Esper 《Doom Foretold》, as it fixes the early consistency while providing another cheap fodder to the deck’s namesake card.

Treasure Map

Enter 《Mazemind Tome》, a card that I’m immediately drawing comparison to 《Treasure Map》 and how much it changes the landscape when it was legal. 《Mazemind Tome》 feels the perfect glue for this deck; it comes down on turn 2 to dig for lands, draws when you have access mana, a cheap fodder to 《Doom Foretold》, or gain much needed 4 life against aggressive decks. Once you are able to stabilize the game, simply reset it with a 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 and draw even more cards!

Yorion, Sky Nomad

Companion decks have definitely taken a huge blow with the new ruling, but 《Mazemind Tome》 may be the card to bring out those 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 again. The biggest argument against 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 decks have always been about its reduced consistency as adding 20 cards could dilute our game plan, but drawing a single 《Mazemind Tome》 will allow us to get 3 scry or draws, which we could then reset with every 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 to continue the chain and ensure we never run out of gas the entire game!

Even without 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》, it’s not hard for us to get 3 scry in the early turns to smooth out our game, and eventually draw a card as well as gain 4 life. That’s a pretty good rate for 4 mana over several turns. 《Think Twice》 was widely played when it was legal, and this seems far better than it while having no color restriction! Only time will tell if 《Mazemind Tome》 will be the midrange or control card to beat, and don’t be surprised if the format comes to a point we must pack artifact hate maindeck or get buried in card selection offer by 《Mazemind Tome》.

Some other Core Set 2021 Considerations

《Grim Tutor》

Grim Tutor

《Grim Tutor》 fits the curve into 《Doom Foretold》, 《Solemn Simulacrum》 or 《Liliana, Waker of the Dead》 and have our deck engine going. We could also start building out deck differently to include powerful but situational 1-ofs such as 《Cavalier of Dawn》, 《Kaya’s Wrath》 or 《Ugin, the Spirit Dragon》. Spending 3 mana and 3 life is a steep price, but the effect is certainly powerful enough to consider.

《Ugin, the Spirit Dragon》

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

《Ugin, the Spirit Dragon》 is very expensive, and may be too greedy to consider. But the effects are so powerful that having an 《Ugin, the Spirit Dragon》 in play will win the game on its own. The deck could also create several Magical Christmasland scenario such as discarding 《Ugin, the Spirit Dragon》 via hand size to 《Treacherous Blessing》 or 《Liliana, Waker of the Dead》 and reanimating it via 《Elspeth Conquers Death》, or ultimating 《Ugin, the Spirit Dragon》 and blinking it with 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》.

《Silversmote Ghoul》

Silversmote Ghoul

This is actually the card that drew my biggest attention in the whole spoiler alongside 《Griffin Aerie》, but I’ll wait for the rotation and next set to work on that. 《Silversmote Ghoul》 has a serviceable body size, and its recursion is so easy to trigger that it’s almost impossible to remove it permanently. It even comes with an ability to protect itself from exile effect as well as a card advantage engine!

It comes back of every 《Oath of Kaya》, 《Mazemind Tome》 and 《Charming Prince》 to just keep drawing cards or continuously attack your opponent with 3/1s. 《Silversmote Ghoul》 also seem to have implication in older formats, as I’ve seen players putting this in Modern Dredge. Easy recursion with built in card advantage engine is a great combination, definitely don’t sleep on this card!


While I can see myself spamming Core Set 2021 draft spree for a bit, I’m also excited to try out the new additions from Core Set 2021. Will it be the deck to beat with its new found consistency? Could 《Liliana, Waker of the Dead》 be good enough to build a Jund deck around her? Is 《Mazemind Tome》 the new auto include card advantage engine for all midrange decks?

And be sure you pack enough removal or you are going to have a tough time against all-time favorite 《Baneslayer Angel》 for a long time in Standard.

Joe Soh (Twitter)

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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

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