Four-Color Yorion Kaldheim Standard Deck Guide: Esper Has Evolved and Looks Better Than Ever

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Hello everyone! Today we’re going to go over the latest iteration of the classic Yorion midrange archetype, 4 color. Realistically, this is just Esper splashing for one card, but that Binding the Old Gods makes all the difference in the world when you have to tackle all the different strategies that are popular in Standard.

I was working on my own iteration of this list, but why not use one that generated some clout this last weekend and looks more tuned than mine? Here’s Tian Fa Mun’s take on 4C that he 6-0d a satellite with then cruised into top 12 at the SCG $5k!

Four-Color Control by Tian Fa Mun – $5K Strixhaven Championship Qualifier (9th)

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Companion
1
Yorion, Sky Nomad
Creature (7)
4
Archon of Sun's Grace
3
Yorion, Sky Nomad
Sorcery (8)
2
Dance of the Manse
2
Emeria's Call/Emeria, Shattered Skyclave
4
Extinction Event
Instant (10)
3
Eliminate
4
Heartless Act
3
Negate
Enchantment (21)
4
Binding the Old Gods
3
Doom Foretold
3
Elspeth's Nightmare
4
Omen of the Sea
4
Omen of the Sun
3
Treacherous Blessing
Land (34)
2
Barkchannel Pathway/Tidechannel Pathway
1
Branchloft Pathway/Boulderloft Pathway
4
Brightclimb Pathway/Grimclimb Pathway
4
Clearwater Pathway/Murkwater Pathway
1
Darkbore Pathway/Slitherbore Pathway
4
Fabled Passage
1
Forest
4
Hengegate Pathway/Mistgate Pathway
3
Indatha Triome
2
Island
2
Plains
2
Swamp
4
Zagoth Triome
Cards 80
Sideboard (15)
2
Cling to Dust
2
Disdainful Stroke
2
Duress
1
Eliminate
1
Elspeth's Nightmare
2
Mystical Dispute
1
Negate
2
Skyclave Apparition
1
Treacherous Blessing
1
Yorion, Sky Nomad

Unsurprisingly, this looks a lot like the classic Esper Yorion list. You have your card advantage permanents, your removal, your lynchpin cards like Doom Foretold and Dance of the Manse and so on. None of that is surprising, but where I get intrigued is how Tian built their particular list. When you look at the list one thing sticks out to me in particular, and that’s how skewed it is towards the creature matchups. Between 4 Archon of Sun’s Grace, 7 two mana removal spells, 3 Elspeth’s Nightmare, 4 Omen of the Sun, and only 3 Doom Foretold. Tian made a bold move deciding he’s looking to smack around creature decks, and it certainly paid off.

That being said, gearing really hard towards the creature matchups is actually not as bad as it seems. Realistically speaking, there’s only 2 popular decks that punish this type of deckbuilding: Dimir Control and Sultai Ultimatum. I would then argue, that even if you had a list that was less teched for creature matchups and more built for a general matchup spread, the game 1 would be pretty poor for you anyway against those more controlling decks. Why not just make your game 1 excellent against aggro then have a sideboard that can help you out in the few matchups your main deck isn’t well suited? I think the approach is brilliant, and Tian’s success with the deck mirrored that.

Similarly, this iteration of Yorion plays out very similarly to how Esper played, be the control deck and keep accruing small advantages. Esper used to do that with just Treacherous Blessing and Doom Foretold. This was a relatively good strategy, but greatly suffered when the opponent could go underneath these cards with aggro, or ignore them entirely by going over them. With that, this list shores up some of those weaknesses.

  • Archon of Sun’s Grace is a tremendous threat against aggro decks, but it’s surprisingly good against the slow decks as well. Although it doesn’t work well game 1, slow decks will be hard pressed to keep in any Wraths to deal with Archon of Sun’s Grace which can give you random openings that let you sneak under to win.
  • Binding the Old Gods, on top of being a great removal spell, is like a huge threat by itself. Since we maxed out on Yorion in this version, the threat of playing a Binding then blinking it is a humongous issue for a multitude of decks to deal with, doubly so if you get to blink anything else. My biggest issues with Esper in the past were the ability to close and interact with more annoying permanents, but this version does a great job at patching those up.

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

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NAYA FURY (SLIGHTLY FAVORED TO MODERATELY FAVORED)

INOUT
+2 Disdainful Stroke-1 Dance of the Manse
+1 Eliminate-3 Elspeth’s Nightmare
+2 Duress-3 Treacherous Blessing
+2 Skyclave Apparition

Naya is put into a very awkward situation when facing this deck: do they go for the combo and risk being blown out by your myriad of removal spells, or try to go long, but likely get outgrinded by your superior advantage cards? With that, I found that most opponents opt for strategy number 1 and try to combo us out in the postboard games as well. For this matchup we keep it simple, keep the board clear, don’t leave yourself dead to a Goldspan Dragon, and you should be fine.

TEMUR TURNS (EVEN)

INOUT
+2 Disdainful Stroke-3 Elspeth’s Nightmare
+1 Eliminate-3 Omen of the Sun
+2 Mystical Dispute
+1 Negate

Temur can be a rough one as they grind nearly as effectively as we do, but that’s mostly off the back of their back-breaking cards like Alrund's Epiphany and The Great Henge. If you can keep those cards from resolving, which shouldn’t be impossible with our 8 counterspells, the matchup is a lot less complicated. Keep their board clean, keep your card advantage live, and grind them out.

MONOWHITE AGGRO (SLIGHTLY FAVORED TO MODERATELY FAVORED)

INOUT
+1 Eliminate-1 Negate
+1 Elspeth’s Nightmare-3 Treacherous Blessing
+2 Skyclave Apparition

This matchup is what less complicated than many others and way easier. They lose if you can keep their board clear and they lose if you resolve an Archon of Sun’s Grace in a timely manner. Cards like Extinction Event, Archon, and Omen of the Sun are all very annoying for Monowhite in general, so stalling them while building towards one of your Yorion is generally a simple practice. The only real issue is by nature with an 80 card deck, you can run into some consistency issues, but assuming you have any reasonable hand you should be fine.

MONORED AGGRO (SLIGHTLY FAVORED TO MODERATELY FAVORED)

INOUT
+1 Eliminate-1 Negate
+1 Elspeth’s Nightmare-3 Treacherous Blessing
+2 Skyclave Apparition

Same boarding and mostly the same deal as Monowhite Aggro. The main difference between Monored and Monowhite is that Monored can be “slower”, but they can kill you out of nowhere with Embercleave while Monowhite does need a reasonable board presence to win.

Archon is obviously the MVP in this matchup again and if you can keep their board relatively clear, you should be able to find some way to kill them down the line. Avoid making lines that put your life total any lower than it has to as Embercleave can really get you out of nowhere.

CYCLING (SLIGHTLY UNFAVORED TO MODERATELY UNFAVORED)

INOUT
+2 Duress-4 Heartless Act
+1 Eliminate-2 Binding the Old Gods
+1 Elspeth’s Nightmare
+2 Skyclave Apparition

This matchup can definitely be difficult as they work on an axis you don’t interact with easily, but it’s also far from impossible. Cycling can only fight on 2 fronts, creature beatdown and Zenith Flare. We’re already naturally good at mitigating creatures and we have a host of ways to help not lose to Zenith Flare like Duress, Elspeth’s Nightmare, and Negate.

Our lifegain cards are extra important in this matchup as if you can avoid dying to 1 Zenith Flare, you can navigate yourself to a spot they may not be able to kill you at all. Don’t keep hands that are too slow as Cycling preys on decks that don’t do anything quickly.

SULTAI ULTIMATUM (SLIGHTLY UNFAVORED TO MODERATELY UNFAVORED)

INOUT
+2 Cling to Dust-4 Extinction Event
+2 Disdainful Stroke-3 Eliminate
+2 Duress-3 Heartless Act 
+2 Mystical Dispute
+1 Negate
+1 Treacherous Blessing

The game 1 against Sultai is going to be rough, and there’s not much you can do to change that. Since they have all of their creature interaction, it’s hard to kill them with Archon and Yorion beats, furthermore, you only have 3 total counterspells to stop their Emergent Ultimatum.

In the board games though, the matchup changes significantly. They should take out nearly all of their removal so Omen of the Sun and Archon of Sun’s Grace become significantly more threatening. You’d be surprised how often you can kill someone by going Omen of the Sun into Omen of the Sun. The key is to keep enough pressure on to kill them quickly, but trying not to tap out when they have an opportunity to resolve a backbreaking spell. If you don’t have any creatures to pressure them, put a squeeze on their hand as much as possible so they don’t get too far ahead.

ROGUES (SLIGHTLY UNFAVORABLE TO MODERATELY UNFAVORABLE)

INOUT
+2 Cling to Dust-4 Binding the Old Gods
+1 Eliminate  -4 Omen of the Sun
+1 Elspeth’s Nightmare-2 Doom Foretold
+2 Mystical Dispute
+1 Negate
+1 Treacherous Blessing
+2 Duress

The matchup isn’t very good, but at least the plan is simple. We need to keep their board as clear as possible and stop them from resolving an Into the Story. Depending on how you draw, this matchup can feel great or atrocious as if you keep their board clear and resolve an Archon they can’t kill, you can cruise to victory. If they have a fast start with disruption and Into the Story, you’re probably just dead. Not much you can do to change that, but that’s just how it goes sometimes.

TIPS AND TRICKS

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  • I say this a lot with Yorion decks, but especially when you have a Binding the Old Gods, get your Yorion into hand really aggressively. I feel like people don’t do it even when their alternate play is much worse and I don’t know why.
  • Play Archon of Sun’s Grace aggressively as it’s very easy to win going Archon on 4 into double Enchantment on 5. That being said, if you have to choose between getting a good Extinction Event or playing Archon, go for Extinction Event. I just think too many people wait until they can guarantee value off of Archon when it isn’t always necessary to do so. 
  • Dance of the Manse doesn’t always have to be a humongous spell, even getting back 2-3 auras earlier in the game can be extremely good
  • Against monocolored decks, try to keep one of your 2 mana removal spells in hand as long as possible. You really want a way to kill Faceless Haven easily.
  • Against decks with very few creatures, use your Elspeth’s Nightmare as 0 mana Duress. This seems obvious, but many players are tempted to run this out as soon as possible when you can time it to try and force through an important spell after you see their hand
  • Be cognizant of the Omen of the Sun beats, you’d be surprised how often you can win with 1/1s.
  • This is general knowledge, but be cognizant of how double Yorion interacts. If you cast a Yorion with a Yorion already on board, sacrifice the new Yorion so you can blink the current one with your trigger giving you effectively double Yorion triggers.

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is a streamer and high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and teaching!

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