Archetune-Up – Keep on Yarok-ing on! ?

(Yarok, the Desecrated l Art by Daarken)

Hit Me Baby, One More Time!

Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, a weekly article series devoted to tweaking a deck with the help of the EDHREC Theme pages!

Over the next three articles I’ll be once again looking at reader-submitted decks, since there are a few in my queue that I have to go through. This week, we’re going to be going over Rachel Slattery’s (@SlatteryMTG) Yarok, the Desecrated ETB value list!

Oops, I did it Again! by Rachel

Comander (1)
Creatures (35)
Instants (5)
Sorceries (4)
Artifacts (4)
Enchantments (7)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (43)

Rachel’s deck has all of the trappings of a good Yarok list. From cards like Tatyova, Benthic Druid, Treachery, and Ob Nixilis, the Fallen, a good amount of ramp and card draw, it’s a solid deck. Even with all these great options, though, I think there might be a couple things that we can improve on to make the deck a touch more streamlined, so let’s dig into it!


Renounce the Bounce, Start Thinkin’ About Blinkin’

Due to Yarok being such a strong, ubiquitous commander, I could have chosen any number of themes to pull from for this article. My first thought was the Bounce Theme, but I didn’t want to reuse that theme so soon after my Oketra article. As such, the Blink Theme seemed like the best option. This theme had a great variety of options here, providing some cards that this deck would really enjoy to add to its arsenal.

Let’s start off with one of the coolest cards I added into the deck: Voracious Hydra. We all love modal spells due to their flexibility, and Voracious Hydra is a modal spell with a body! With Yarok out, we can either choose to double up on one of the Hydra’s modes or to choose both (yes, I checked the ruling)! With this interaction, we’ll end up with a massively powerful creature, two removal spells, or a mix of both, which is exactly the kind of card Yarok asks for.

Something I like to see in a slower, value-based deck like Rachel’s is a handful of different win conditions, and Rachel did not disappoint. She already had Craterhoof Behemoth, End-Raze Forerunners. Ob Nixilis, the Fallen, and Torment of Hailfire, but this deck looked ripe to add a personal favorite of mine. Sepulchral Primordial is a repeatable, mini-Rise of the Dark Realms in this deck. It pairs well with Craterhoof effects, has a fine stat-line with evasion, and can net you six creatures in a three-player game with Yarok out. It’s exactly the kind of card this deck loves to see.

Cloudstone Curio is a card that can function as a way to maintain a steady stream of value, or close the game with a combo finish. Curio pairs well with any non-artifact card in this deck, letting you bounce a permanent of the same type whenever one enters play. This is great for simple things like Gonti, Lord of Luxury or Elvish Mystic, but it gets really nutty with Palinchron or the previously mentioned Treachery. These cards will let you bounce cheaper cards of the same type and recast them. If done properly, you’ll be able to accrue as much mana as you’d like, letting you dump it into a Torment of Hailfire or Villainous Wealth to blow someone out of the game.

Speaking of cards that provide value or accidentally combo if you sneeze on them, the next two cards on the list are Temur Sabertooth and Illusionist’s Stratagem. Similar to Cloudstone Curio, Sabertooth straddles the line between value and combo potential depending on what you bounce to your hand. Want value? Bounce Coiling Oracle. Want to combo? Bounce Peregrine Drake, instead. Illusionist’s Stratagem may seen a bit strange at first blush when I could be using Ghostly Flicker or Displace, instead, but there is a good reason for its inclusion: when Strategem is combined with Eternal Witness + Palinchron or Peregrine Drake, it’ll allow you to untap a number of lands (depending on which you’re using), buy back Illusionist’s Stratagem, and draw a card. By using Strategem as opposed to the other two options, you’ll be able to draw down to whatever card you need while also accruing an arbitrarily large amount of mana to do with as you please!

This is where we get to the “vegetables” of my inclusions. These cards aren’t flashy, but they are important to make sure the deck runs smoothly.

Risen Reef and Springbloom Druid are two cards that help grease our wheels. Reef in particular is quite fun in this deck, as it triggers off of itself, Yarok, and the couple other Elementals in the deck. We’re already running Coiling Oracle, so a second one that can also trigger a few more times is great! Springbloom Druid is a nice little ramp card that’ll turn two lands into four if Yarok is out. This deck has a tiny bit of land recursion with Muldrotha, the Gravetide, but it is definitely something we could always lean harder into since we are also running Avenger of Zendikar and Rampaging Baloths. Regardless, these are two tiny creatures we’ll always be happy to see and can blink whenever we are able.

If we’ve learned anything from Oko, Thief of Crowns, it’s that making things into 3/3 Elks is a strong ability. Now, I could have easily added Oko into the deck, but I instead decided to add Kenrith’s Transformation. Not only is it a “nicer” card, but it’ll draw you two cards with Yarok out. It isn’t nearly as strong as Oko, himself, but it is still great removal for blanking pesky creatures and commanders.

Speaking of removal, Casualties of War may seem like a strange inclusion in a deck revolving around permanents, but it is a card that I have consistently been impressed with whenever it’s cast. We need more removal in the deck, and sometimes wiping the board is a bit too much of a nuclear option. Wiping four to five hand-selected permanents off the board, though? I’ll take that any day.

The last two cards are personal favorites because I feel naked in a deck that has blue and no counterspells. To shore up this personal insecurity of mine, I’ve added two of my favorite cards: the original Counterspell and Negate. Sometimes you just have to say “no.” Not all removal can deal with every problem, and the only way to stop instants or sorceries is to make sure they never resolve in the first place! Counterpells like these double as removal and protection for Yarok and our value engines. You can always use Familiar’s Ruse or Disappearing Act if you’d prefer to get more value from your counterspells, but they also come with inherent risk as you can’t always cast them when you need to. I’m a very cautious player, so I would rather have the consistency over added value, but add whichever type of counterspell that fits you the best!


Blink, and You Might Miss it

I am going to forgo a Bonus Round for the next three articles, and instead have a slightly extended afterword about the decks I’m writing about.

Rachel’s deck, as well as the other two submitted decks, are very good, very tight lists. Part of the reason I have little to no additions from myself and only changed ten cards is because of this. Unlike the average lists that I’m tuning up now, all of the bases are covered here. Ramp, card advantage, threats, wincons, everything is accounted for.

Of course, there are still changes that can be made; no deck is perfect. Adding in Archaeomancer, Mnemonic Wall, or Salvager of Secrets for value or redundancy with Eternal Witness to buy back combo pieces is one thought; adding more threatening bodies that accrue value, such as Cavalier of Thorns, the other two Cavaliers, and/or Grave Titan is also applicable here. Even going a bit more enchantment-heavy with pieces like Retreat to Hagra, Path of Discovery, or Wild Pair is a viable option. One of Yarok’s blessings (and curses), is how versatile they are. There are many ways to take this deck, and I think Rachel has found one of the best ways to streamline it.

Looking over decklists submitted by people instead of ones that EDHREC puts together comes with its own challenges of course, but I’m happy to be able to take a crack at them for a change. I love seeing their thought process and creativity shine through their work. I know I keep saying it, but this deck, as well as the next two I have queued up, had me really excited to write. They’ve all been submitted from great women in our community, and I’m really happy to be able to feature them in this series.

If you’d like to reach me, I’m quite active on Twitter (@thejesguy), and I have an email that I do my best to respond to (thejeskaiguy@gmail.com). If you have any comments, questions, concerns, or anything else of the sort, please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch!

As always, thanks for you time, and thank you for arche-tuning in!

Decklist:

Keep on Yarok-ing On!

Comander (1)
Creatures (31)
Instants (5)
Sorceries (4)
Artifacts (3)
Enchantments (6)
Planeswalkers (0)
    Lands (39)
    Blink Theme (11)

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    Angelo is a Connecticut native who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. With at least 20 EDH decks constructed at all times, it's an understatement to say that he loves Commander. Angelo trusts counterspells over creatures, and is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation rotation out of Standard.