Jeskai Yorion Winota Fires Deck Guide

Jeskai Yorion Winota Fires Deck Guide

Who am I?

My name is Mark Gabriele, and I am an SCG Tour Grinder and avid Arena player. My absolute favorite decks in Standard are all flavors of Mono-Colored aggro decks, and I’ve recently been having a ton of fun grinding Mythic with Aaron Barich’s Jeskai Yorion Winota deck, which she took to #18 on the Mythic Ladder. If you have any questions about the deck, feel free to email me at markgabriele1@gmail.com or message me on Twitter at @gabriele_mark!

What is Winota Fires?

This is a bit of an interesting list, as “Winota decks” and “Yorion decks” have been entirely separate entities so far this Standard format. Winota decks seek to take full advantage of the card Winota, Joiner of Forces by playing a lot of cheap nonhuman creatures like Fblthp, the Lost and Legion Warboss, and a few human creature payoffs like Agent of Treachery and Haktos, the Unscarred. Yorion decks are piles of the best cards in standard, designed to grind your opponent into dust by accruing incremental advantages and then pulling way ahead on cards by landing a Yorion and blinking Elspeth Conquers Death, or Agent of Treachery, or Teferi, or Narset, or Omen of the Sea, or… You get the idea. Yorion decks are typically built around a powerful interaction that ends the game by itself; your opponent has to stop it, and if they do, then they can try and deal with the deluge of incidental card advantage.

Up until this point, there have been two main builds of Yorion; the most popular is Lukka Yorion Fires, built around the interaction of noncreature spells that make creatures and Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast-ing those creatures into Agent of Treachery. The second build is Bant Yorion, built around the interaction between Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and literally any other magic card. Jeskai Yorion Winota is a deck of incredibly powerful individual cards, supplemented by the interaction between Winota and entering the combat step. This deck is a solution to one of the main problems Winota decks have had, which is not being able to have a companion, while maintaining the concept behind Yorion decks.

An Aside on 80 Card Decks

A question that I’ve seen coming up a lot recently is “Is playing 80 cards really worth it just to play Yorion?”. I believe that this question comes from a very valid place; one of the first things that we are told as magic players is to always play the minimum number of cards allowed in your deck. When we ask why, we are told some variant of “you only want to play and draw the best cards, and by definition the 61st card in your deck is weaker than the first 60, so you are weakening the average card in your deck”. This concept has been ingrained in magic players for the past 27 years. Even Hall-of-Famer Ben Rubin was roundly mocked on Twitter after getting second at Grand Prix Oakland in 2016 with a 64-card deck.

Being hard and fast on the “Play 60” rule has run its course. It was certainly correct in 1995, when the best cards in your deck were 100/100s and the worst cards in your deck were 12/100s. There’s simply far more good cards today; the best cards in your deck are 95/100s and the worst cards are 82/100s, and the cards you’re cutting are 81/100s. What if the exact perfect number of lands to play in your 60 card deck is 25.6? You can get much closer to this proportion by playing 26 lands in a 61 card deck, and at the cost of adding an 81/100 to your deck, that may be worth it.

Now, let’s add Yorion into the equation. However good you think Yorion is, it’s better than that. The companions are easily some of the most powerful cards ever printed; for my money, they’re Power Nine level messed up. Yorion is a 4/5 flying body with an enters-the-battlefield trigger that resets all your planeswalkers, re-triggers all your creatures with enters the battlefield triggers, and exiles your Fires of Invention so you can cast a third spell in the turn. Yorion-ing a Fblthp or an Agent of Treachery is significantly better than simply drawing a Fblthp or an Agent, because you don’t have to spend any mana to cast them; you just get their effect for free. With Yorion, you can do this EVERY GAME without spending a card from your hand!

This is all to say, playing 80 cards and lowering your average card quality (slightly) so you get to play Yorion is an exchange I would make every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Don’t worry about consistency, I promise Yorion makes it worth it. Now, on to the list!

Changes for Best of One

In Best of One, I would keep the maindeck the same. However, there’s no longer the need for sideboard cards that aren’t explicitly Fae targets. Because of this, my Best of One list would look something like this:

This is a preliminary sideboard, and could certainly use improvement, but it’s a fine starting place.

Card-By-Card Analysis

Main Deck

4 Charming PrinceJack of many trades, master of none. Prince is actively good when it’s exiling Yorion or an Agent of Treachery; besides that, it’s fine enough to warrant inclusion. The order, in generic power, that I would give Charming Prince is as follows: Exiling Yorion > Exiling Agent of Treachery > Exiling Fblthp > Scry 2 > Exiling Hanged Executioner > Gain 3. Prince and Yorion can theoretically go “infinite” exiling each other, though that rarely happens (I’ve never done it). If you’re worried about a board sweeper, you can use Prince to exile Yorion, then use Yorion to blink out your team for the duration of your opponent’s turn. With all that being said, the most common use I’ve found for the Prince is scrying on turn two to smooth out your draw, or gaining three life if you’re against a poor soul trying to play aggro right now. Matt Sperling said in his Winota Deck Guide that he boards out Princes when in doubt, and I think that’s a fine heuristic for this list as well.

4 Fae of WishesFae is probably the most interesting inclusion in the deck, as neither Winota decks nor Yorion decks have really included it up until this point. First of all, Fae is a cheap non-human creature, so it works with Winota. However, its inclusion has much less to do with the Winota plan than it does to do with the Yorion plan. Games of Standard right now often devolve into attrition-based midrange fights, and in those matchups having access to a hammer like Inspired Ultimatum or Casualties of War is often the deciding factor. Because Fae has the high floor of being a cheap Faerie, it’s not necessary to set fire to the idea of having a real sideboard just to play it. There are two cards that I don’t ever board in, Inspired Ultimatum and Casualties of War, and besides those cards I treat the sideboard like I would for a Fae-less deck, with a couple exceptions. Don’t be scared to play out Fae on turn two as a blocker against aggro decks!

Fae of Wishes Art by Magali Villeneuve

2 Fblthp, the LostThis card fills a lot of cracks in the deck. It’s a two drop so it fills the curve, it cantrips so it smooths out your draw, and it’s a non-human so it triggers Winota. Don’t be scared to Teferi bounce Fblthp back to your hand, as those kinds of incremental advantages play well into the Yorion gameplan. Being Legendary limits the number of copies you can play, but i might consider moving up to three. Note that its shuffle clause means that adventure spells that target it won’t resolve, and instead go to the graveyard.

4 Raise the AlarmWeirdly, the tokens that Raise the Alarm makes aren’t humans, so this is an excellent Winota enabler. It’s not a terribly common card in Standard, so you can get some people by casting this in combat, too. 

4 Hanged ExecutionerA super-Raise the Alarm that can answer problematic creatures. This card is great at clearing out low-loyalty planeswalkers, and in a pinch you can bounce it with Teferi or blink it with Charming Prince or Yorion to give yourself an extra body.

4 Legion WarbossWarboss puts in a lot of work, providing a stream of non-human attackers while also putting a ton of pressure on by itself in draws that don’t feature Winota. You win a surprising number of games by playing your normal game plan, trading off resources and then landing an unanswered Warboss. This card is not good against decks that will usually have blockers back to eat your goblins, and as a result gets boarded out a lot.

4 Teferi, Time RavelerTeferi was seeing play in most Winota lists even without the Yorion package. It’s not a threat by itself, and it doesn’t interact with Winota, but it’s still good enough to warrant its spot, and it’s even better in the Yorion version. Teferi bouncing an Elspeth Conquers Death or an Agent of Treachery is a value train that the opponent will have a hard time keeping up with. Having a Teferi on the battlefield also allows you to set up sequences like end-of-turn Raise the Alarm into Winota that your opponent can’t interact with, even if they have removal or counterspells in hand. Don’t be afraid to jam Teferi on turn 3! Waiting until you can cast it with protection often makes it much worse, and if they don’t have the countermagic on the spot it’s so brutal to try to play through.

Teferi, Time Raveler

4 Winota, Joiner of ForcesWinota is the basis around which many of the card choices are informed. It’s a very cool design in theory, requiring a critical mass of non-human and human creatures to be effective. Of course, competitive players immediately figured out that this translates to “Shove 15 to 20 cheap nonhumans, four Agent of Treacheries and some other cool humans in your deck and call it a day”, but c’est la vie. Having an 80 card deck rather than 60 reduces your chances of hitting a human on any given Winota trigger from ~75% to ~60%, but to be honest I haven’t actually lost after triggering Winota yet, so I don’t think it matters TOO much. If I’m not being pressured, I try to play out nonhuman creatures before Winota, as playing Winota first leaves you two turns away from ever hoping to trigger it. Don’t forget that Winota gives the creatures you find indestructible until end of turn, so you don’t have to worry about them running face first into a bigger creature immediately.

Winota, Joiner of Forces

2 Haktos the UnscarredWhile we’re on the topic of praying to RNGesus, let’s talk about Haktos! If you roll the right number, you get a 6 power True-Name Nemesis, and if you roll the wrong number, it runs face first into a Charming Prince, or a Teferi bounce, or an Uro, or any number of other random things that can punish you. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about it, but the way the Standard meta looks right now, Haktos shapes up very well. Besides being bounced by Teferi if you land on three, Haktos has protection from the entire Yorion Fires deck, and is very hard for Temur Rec to deal with. If aggro decks start gaining ground, this is one of the first places I would be looking to cut.

4 Fires of InventionPlayers are starting to realize that your entire deck doesn’t have to be built around maximizing Fires of Invention for it to be worth inclusion in your deck. Doubling your mana, and tripling your mana when you exile Fires with Yorion, is nigh-impossible to keep up with for any deck that’s actually trying to pay mana for it’s spells. Fae of Wishes + Sideboard Hammers + Fires is an extremely potent combination of cards that kind of faded towards the end of last season, but never stopped being one of the most powerful things to do in standard. Fires IS a bit awkward with counterspells, which we play five of in the sideboard, but it’s so powerful that having a dead card in your hand isn’t the end of the world. The colors are a bit stretched right now, but if it’s at all possible I would look at adding more Castles to the deck, as they are also excellent in conjunction with Fires.

2 Kenrith, the Returned KingKenrith was already an established part of Winota decks, and it also happens to work extremely well with Fires of Invention in play. This card wins the game against aggro decks if you can untap with it (why does it gain FIVE life?), and can go nuts drawing cards against slower decks, so I don’t really board it out. Be mindful of using Kenrith to give something like Raise the Alarm tokens haste to trigger Winota immediately.

4 Elspeth Conquers DeathThis card has gone from “a really solid card” to “you better have a good reason for not putting this in your deck” with the printing of Yorion. With Lurrus decks on the downswing, ECD should be exiling most permanents that you care about, and then doing it again down the road when you blink it with Yorion because you get to play Yorion every game (every game!). ECD’s biggest liability right now is that it’s a really valuable asset that sits on the board for a couple of turns, so your opponent can steal it with Agents or copy it with Mythos of Illuna.

Elspeth Conquers Death

4 Agent of TreacheryIf you had told me we would be having discussions about this card being too good six months ago, I would have laughed in your face, but here we are. It works with so many cards in the format; Teferi, Winota, Yorion, even Charming Prince! If I had one piece of advice for people playing this card, it’s that your opponent’s lands are very, very valuable.

Sideboard

1 Yorion, Sky Nomadhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srRRYZpb6Mg

2 Redcap MeleeMono Red has seen a huge resurgence on the ladder over the past three or four days; I think I’ve been playing against it about a third of the time. If that trend continues, I would look to increase the number of these in your sideboard. Melee also does good work against BR Obosh decks and Winota, so these see a lot of use. It’s also really nice to be able to Fae for a Melee and cast it all in the same turn game one.

Redcap Melee

1 Disdainful StrokeThe miser’s Stroke in the board puts in work against Temur Rec and Yorion decks. It would probably be worth more slots if it didn’t miss, and then get blanked by, T3feri. Against Temur, try to line it up with a Wilderness Reclamation or an Explosion, if you can. Against Yorion decks, try to line it up with a Fires, ECD, or Yorion.

4 Mystical DisputeIf you’re going to play blue decks in Standard, it’s important to recognize that every other blue deck is playing four of these, and much of these matchups revolves around them. It’s a funny tension, as you have to play these to try to answer turn three Teferi, but they’re absolutely awful once it’s resolved. Once you get to turns four and five, it’s usually best to cash these in wherever you can, as they begin to rapidly lose value, especially with this many Fires of Inventions running around. The counterspells are not really a big part of the Fae plan, so feel free to board all of them in without worrying about leaving any as Fae targets.

2 Deafening ClarionThese might look a bit silly to play in a Raise the Alarm deck, but against aggro you’re “Midrange-Value-GrindTown” first and Winota second, and Clarion helps keep you alive to your Yorion turns really well. Clarion is good mainly because you can play it on turn three, and for this reason it’s not a particularly exciting Fae of Wishes target. I usually board both of these in against aggro decks, and don’t leave any to Fae for.

Deafening Clarion

3 Shatter the SkyLike Clarion, these are there to further the grind plan against aggro decks, and to get you out of a tight spot in a pinch against random nonsense when they’re in your sideboard. Against aggro I board in two and leave the third in my Sideboard to Fae for, as a “Press in Case of Emergency” button.

1 Casualties of WarStrictly a Fae target for when you have Fires of Invention out. The best ratio of mana to Power you can get in this slot, especially against all the Yorion Fires decks which play relevant Artifacts, Creatures, Lands, Enchantments, and Planeswalkers.

Casualties of War

1 Inspired Ultimatum- Similar to Casualties in that this card stays in my sideboard, but is actually able to be cast even if you don’t have Fires. Once again, this is just the best “hammer” you can play in this slot, and resolving one should end the game.

Inspired Ultimatum

Sideboard Guide

OpponentInOut
Yorion Fires+4 Mystical Dispute
+1 Disdainful Stroke
-2 Hanged Executioner
-2 Fblthp, the Lost
-1 Charming Prince
Bant Yorion+4 Mystical Dispute
+1 Disdainful Stroke
-1 Hanged Executioner
-2 Fblthp, the Lost
-2 Charming Prince
Temur Reclamation+4 Mystical Dispute
+1 Disdainful Stroke
-1 Hanged Executioner
-2 Fblthp, the Lost
-2 Charming Prince
Cycling Decks+2 Deafening Clarion
+2 Shatter the Sky
-2 Haktos the Unscarred
-2 Legion Warboss 
Mono Red Aggro+2 Redcap Melee
+2 Deafening Clarion
+2 Shatter the Sky
-4 Legion Warboss
-2 Haktos the Unscarred
Rakdos Obosh Sacrifice+2 Redcap Melee
+2 Deafening Clarion
+2 Shatter the Sky
-4 Legion Warboss
-2 Haktos the Unscarred
Winota Decks+2 Redcap Melee
+2 Deafening Clarion
+2 Shatter the Sky
-4 Legion Warboss
-2 Haktos the Unscarred

Thanks for reading!

markgabriele

markgabriele

A lover of both paper and digital magic, Mark recently reached the rank of #1 Mythic on the standard ladder, and has several top 8 finishes on the SCG Tour. He is on twitter @gabriele_mark

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