Archetune-Up - Welcome to Nomad's Land
(Yorion, Sky Nomad | Art by Steven Belledin)
The Sky is the Limit
Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, a weekly article series devoted to tweaking a deck with the help of the EDHREC Theme pages!
By now, everyone knows the power of Yorion, Sky Nomad in 60-card formats. A card you always have access to, that rewards you with a 4/5 flyer, and which functions as a better Eerie Interlude is an incredibly strong card to build around, even with its restriction. In our format, Yorion's power has drawn parallels to Azorius's most-played commander, Brago, King Eternal, which is impressive considering that Brago has consistently topped the blue/white page since his printing.
Today, though, we aren't here to contend with Brago. I'm not interested in having a knock-down, drag-out fight with the king of Azorius. Instead, I'm going to take a page from the playbook of Magic's lead designer, Mark Rosewater. One of his catchphrases is, "Restriction breeds creativity," and I took that to heart for this list.
Yorion is a hybrid card, which, in an ironic turn of events, is better for us than it is for other formats. Yorion being a hybrid card is part of their ubiquity in other constructed formats, since any deck able to produce white or blue mana can play them. In EDH, if we are looking to play Yorion, our deck has to include both blue and white, making running them a bit more of a restriction.
So how exactly is this better for us?
If we play Yorion as our commander, unlike with a gold creature like Brago who is only an Azorius commander, Yorion gives us thee options: a mono-white deck, a mono-blue deck, or an Azorius deck. This is where the restriction comes in. For this deck, we'll be building Yorion as if they were a mono-white commander; in other words, other than Yorion, we'll only be including cards that could be used in a mono-white deck!
But first, let's see what the average Yorion Blink list looks like:
Average Yorion Blink
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I've seen Azorius Blink decks, I've seen mono-blue Blink decks, so why not a mono-white one? We often talk about white being weak on card advantage, so why not utilize a commander that is pure card advantage? Part of the reason why Azorius blink decks are so good is because both white and blue contribute solid ETB effects and ways to flicker creatures. We can have mono-blue flicker decks, so if we dig deep enough, the tools for a mono-white Blink deck have to be somewhere in here, right? We just have to find them!
"Card Advantage" is Our Middle Name!
When we look at EDHREC's Blink Theme, we have quite a lot of color combinations to choose from, including Azorius, Orzhov, Grixis, Five-Color... but no mono-white. After looking through the various pages, I realized that focusing on the color combinations that included the fewest number of colors, Azorius and Orzhov, would probably be the best bet to find the cards we need. The Orzhov page was quite interesting, but a lot of the Orzhov decks are very aristocrat-like or use life totals as a resource, which we can't replicate being only in white. The Azorius Blink page, on the other hand, revolved around good cards of all types and solid enter-the-battlefield effects, which is exactly what we're after.
Due to the large number of cards added, I won't be able to go over all of them, but I will try and hit as many categories of cards as I can. This first section consists of all the cards that provide card advantage through various means.
The most obvious way to generate advantage in a list like this are cards that say "draw a card", which is where cards like Unquestioned Authority and Pentarch Ward come in. Both of these Auras provide some measure of protection to whatever they are enchanted to, and also immediately cantrip when they enter the battlefield. What is great about these is that Yorion lets you flicker any nonland permanent, which includes Auras. This will allow you blink these cards and reap the rewards, giving us a way to consistently draw cards whenever Yorion triggers!
Scroll of Fate does not provide us card advantage, but instead provides us a mana advantage. Scroll allows us to Manifest a card from our hand, turning it into a face-down 2/2 creature. If we end up Manifesting a creature with Scroll's ability, we can use Yorion, or any of our other blink effects, to flip them over! When we blink a Manifested creature, they'll come back not as a 2/2 face-down creature, but as a face-up creature, instead! This allows us to get a huge mana advantage! Cards like Sun Titan, Luminate Primordial, and Angel of Serenity can be cheated into play, which will leave our mana up to cast and play other cards and get creatures out many turns before our opponents would expect!
Normally, I am not a fan of single target blink effects like Flicker of Fate or Justiciar's Portal, but in this deck they are an exception. When our commander is a suped-up Eerie Interlude on a body, any single-target flicker effect will end up targeting all of the nonland permanents we want anyway! This gives us to flexibility to use them on a single creature if we have to save them from removal, or the ability to blink the entire board with Yorion if we so choose!
Most of the creatures we're blinking, like Boreas Charger or Skyscanner, are small and cheap, allowing us to accrue value early in the game and smooth out our deck. These cards are integral and also a reason why Mentor of the Meek is in the deck. I'll talk about some token-makers in the next section, but this deck is chock full of creatures that have two or less power entering the battlefield. This means that whenever we have any mana left over, we can easily refill our hand with Mentor, on top of benefiting from whatever other valuable effects we are getting!
A Never-Ending Journey
I stress it often, but I feel like one of the core pillars of a deck that needs to be stapled down early on is its way to close out a game. Personally, I can't write about or build a deck if it does not have a solid way to control the board and/or win. Both interaction and win conditions are incredibly important, especially if you are going into an unknown meta or playing with strangers.
Being able to answer your opponents' threats is essential for a deck to function properly, and luckily we have plenty of ways to interact with our opponents in this deck, from cards that are a bit restrictive, like War Priest of Thune and Duplicant, to ones that can handle nearly any permanent type, like Meteor Golem and Oblivion Ring, we have interaction for almost any kind of situation. The best part is that because all of these are attached to permanents, we will be able to reuse them over and over again thanks to Yorion and our flicker effects.
When talking about actual win conditions, we have three different strategies for our deck. The most straightforward is an overwhelming board presence thanks to our creature-producers, but we also incorporate a mill strategy thanks to an innocuous artifact and a "you win the game" condition stapled to a seven-mana sorcery.
Our main strategy in this deck is to use our token-producers, which consist of Myr Battlesphere, Evangel of Heliod, Reverent Hoplite, Blade Splicer, and Geist-Honored Monk, to create a strong board presence. We can then combine this overwhelming force with Cathars' Crusade and Call for Unity to make even the smallest of 1/1s into a threat that our opponents will have to deal with.
Altar of the Brood is an offshoot strategy that pairs well with the swarm strategy. With enough tokens and creatures being produced, we can easily take huge chunks out of our opponents' decks. It's not only creatures that will trigger Altar, though: whenever we flicker any nonland permanent with Yorion, Altar will count them, too! Altar of the Brood does a fantastic job at giving us viable secondary win condition while also synergizing really well with or commander.
The final win condition needs no introduction. Approach of the Second Sun is a blessing for slow decks everywhere. While we may not be able to cast it and immediately dig down to it like blue decks can, we do have enough card draw that we won't have to wait the full seven turns to draw it again. Be aware of when Approach becomes your gameplan since shifting to a more defensive play style is imperative. Also, keep an eye out for those sneaky blue players and their Counterspells! Nothing is worse than casting Approach the second time and getting it countered.
Home is Wherever I Lay My Head
While I don't think mono-white Yorion is going to overtake traditional Yorion decks in terms of number of decks on the site, I still love thought experiments like this. Commanders that have multicolored identities but can be built to be just one or two colors are incredibly fun.
There are plenty of commanders who can have a self-imposed color restriction on them and flourish. Why not try Boros Alesha and figure out ways to utilize red and white's plethora of small creatures? How about a mono-black Oloro deck where we have plenty of ways to utilize our life total since Oloro will bump it up each turn? A Sultai Ramos deck revolving around +1/+1 sounds fun, too, especially when we have cards like Corpsejack Menace and Master Biomancer!
If you have ever built or brewed or built a deck with something like this in mind, make sure to comment down below and let us know what it is or was and how it worked out for you!
If you’d like to reach me I’m active on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.
The Sky is the Limit
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