Today I’d like to share my thoughts on deck building with 80 cards. Most people, when we start playing Magic, are told to stick to the minimum number of cards required for a legal deck: 60 cards for constructed and 40 cards for limited.
Why is this? Very simple; The smaller your deck is, the higher the chance to draw a certain card. We build decks around a specific strong card or mechanic and we want to be able to execute the same plan as often and as consistently as possible.
But what happens when the power level of cards within the deck is balanced enough that you don’t really care about which card you draw? What happens if you are not building a deck with a specific mechanic in mind? How often do you end up playing with 3 copies of each card in your 60 cards deck because you are not sure what to cut?
Advantages of 80 Cards
Playing with 80 cards in Standard right now is not only easy, but also advantageous. First and most important: we have the Rogues deck as one of the most popular and successful decks in the metagame. What makes this deck very good is the dual plan it has access to: Beatdown with aggressive Rogues and a mill plan using Rogues triggers plus 《Ruin Crab》. Add 20 cards to your deck and you are making their mill plan much difficult to execute.
A larger deck also makes tutoring effects better. We don’t have many of these effects in Standard right now, but even cards like 《Fabled Passage》, 《Cultivate》 and 《Solemn Simulacrum》 become better when you are less likely to run out of basics to fetch.
Same happens with the Escape ability. Many decks and games can grind and go very long and the cards in your graveyard become a resource. Having more cards in your deck and in your graveyard and being able to cast more spells with Escape could make the difference in the outcome of the game.
My Approach to Yorion
So why aren’t there many Yorion decks around or why do I think there should be more? The way we approach 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 is to think first where it would be good and then we build a deck that uses the blink ability profitably, normally one copy goes to the Companion slot and the other three copies to the maindeck.
These strategies were very successful at different stages of the format in different versions. The metagame adapts and the deck sometimes is better and other times not so much.
The approach I want to take is different though. Instead of building around Yorion, I just want to be able to add the card as a bonus to any deck that can cast it without sacrificing consistency for adding the extra 20 cards.
Let’s take for example Dimir Control. When counterspells and removal are good in the metagame, this deck is a good choice. Normally you would build your 60 cards deck and have to decide how many copies of 《Eliminate》, 《Heartless Act》 and 《Bloodchief’s Thirst》 you want to play and will most likely end up with some combination of numbers because you don’t really want 12. Then you also want to add maybe 2 or 3 copies of 《Extinction Event》. Same will happen with the counter spells you add. Your final decklist will have a lot cards with only one, two or three copies.
If you go up to 80 cards, you will maintain similar probabilities of drawing a certain card because instead of having 2 or 3 copies of it, you can play 4. Now you can add Yorion as a Companion for value and improve the Rogues match-up as well!
Keep in mind the mana base of the deck when doing this. It is not the same to play 8 Dual Lands and 16 Basic Lands in 60 cards as 8 dual lands and 24 Basic Lands in 80 cards. In the current Standard some color combinations have much better mana than others and this translates into 80 cards as well.
Sample Deck 1: Dimir Control
Luckily, I’ve just won the NRG Series Standard Trial this weekend with the deck and what a better testimonial than that.
4 《Fabled Passage》
2 《Zagoth Triome》
4 《Clearwater Pathway》
4 《Temple of Deceit》
2 《Crawling Barrens》
-Land (32)- 2 《Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths》
2 《Cling to Dust》
4 《Heartless Act》
4 《Jwari Disruption》
2 《Essence Scatter》
4 《Extinction Event》
2 《Sublime Epiphany》
4 《Omen of the Sea》
2 《Elspeth’s Nightmare》
4 《Shark Typhoon》
3 《Mazemind Tome》
3 《Ashiok, Nightmare Muse》
You can find results and decklists here and also the video coverage of the event here. By the end of the video you can watch the finals against Gruul Adventures, it was a very entertaining match in my opinion(you can watch the final from here).
Sample Deck 2: Mono-White Control
Another idea I’ve been working on, trying to keep the mana simple, is Mono White Control. I like what White has to offer for board control. 《Glass Casket》, 《Skyclave Apparition》 and 《Elspeth Conquers Death》 work very well with 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》.
4 《Unknown Shores》
3 《Castle Ardenvale》
4 《Crawling Barrens》
4 《Labyrinth of Skophos》
4 《Radiant Fountain》
-Land (29)- 2 《Stonecoil Serpent》
4 《Skyclave Apparition》
4 《Solemn Simulacrum》
1 《Legion Angel》
4 《Emeria’s Call》
2 《Ondu Inversion》
4 《The Birth of Meletis》
2 《Elspeth Conquers Death》
4 《Glass Casket》
4 《Golden Egg》
4 《Mazemind Tome》
4 《Skyclave Relic》
4 《Forsaken Monument》
4 《Ugin, the Spirit Dragon》
I think the 《Forsaken Monument》 package has some unexplored potential and it also works well with 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》. The format is quite diverse and I don’t think this deck has all the tools to fight all the diverse archetypes, but I’ve really enjoyed playing something different like this.
The Companion mechanic is very interesting and fun to build with the different restrictions from each one of them, but when playing 80 cards becomes an asset instead of a restriction, I can’t help it but to have a clear favorite Companion.
The format as it stands it’s getting close to an end and soon we’ll have a new set and new cards to start exploring with again. 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 is not rotating anytime soon and I am sure there will be more decks to build with the Bird Serpent creature.
80 is the new 60. Thanks for reading!