Mardu Yorion: Standard’s Definitive Creature Deck Killer
Hello everyone! Today I’m here with a deck scientifically designed to slap creature decks back to the stone age, and of course because it’s me, it has to be a Yorion deck. I’m talking about Mardu Yorion! Everytime I’m on Twitter, I see Magic streamer Krowz singing Mardu Yorion’s praises, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to give it a try considering I have an affinity towards a different brand of Yorion. However, I was ultimately convinced to try the deck after my good friend Rumti said that Mardu Yorion was his least favorite matchup when he’s playing Mono Green Food. When Rumti says something about Mono Green, you listen. I looked for krowz’s base to start with for the first run with the deck.
Looking at it, I can certainly see why krowz has done so well in a creature dominated meta game. When looking at the list, a few things struck me immediately. The first was that the red in the deck was for a total of 3 cards, Omen of the Forge, one Ruinous Ultimatum, and Kroxa in the sideboard. Adding an entire color to your deck for so few cards felt very weird to me, but whenever I try a new deck, you have to try it card for card to see where the creator is coming from.
However, the second thing that struck me about the list is how few ways you had to win. I figured that you can easily establish a pretty strong lock on your opponent with this deck, but actually killing them may end up being problematic. Before I made any more value judgments, I played some matches with the deck.
Three matches, three creature decks, three wins. This deck was geared towards beating creatures and that aspect definitely didn’t disappoint. Omen of the Forge felt surprisingly good and blinking it with Yorion was relevant a few times for killing a Gilded Goose or a Brushfire Elemental. Although a quick 3-0 is obviously a great result, I wanted to keep playing until I faced a non-creature deck. The very next match I faced my very own creation, UB Yorion, and let me tell you the lack of win cons came to a head that match. Game 1 took about 40 minutes where I had 7 cards in hand functionally the entire game while my opponent was top decking most of the match. Despite my overwhelming card advantage throughout the first game, I just couldn’t close out the game. I had to be extremely patient with all of my threats as one Ugin just reset all the progress I made in that game.
Furthermore, with the necessity to be patient, my opponent was able to slowly crawl back into the game in the time I had to sandbag my threats instead of full sending and risking dying to an Ugin. Despite that, with patience I did eventually win Game 1, got not so swiftly killed in game 2 after a series of missed land drops, and actually timed my opponent out game 3. I had extremely strong draws in the third game so I liked my odds of winning anyway, but the fact that it went to time is a really rare occurrence in Arena. That match alone gave me the confidence that the deck needed more ways to win, so when changing up the deck list I kept that in mind the whole time. Here’s what I came up with.
In reality, not much needed changing in my opinion as the base worked very well. I actually saw krowz say on Twitter yesterday that he was concerned with the mana base, but I think that’s endemic to playing 3 colors in general. The biggest change from the original list to mine is the lack of Necromentia. It’s not that I don’t like Necromentia, and the ability to get rid of Ugin is very nice for the deck, I would prefer just trying to end the game faster rather than settling in for an even longer game, one you’re not even guaranteed to win with or without Ugin in the opponent’s deck. Furthermore, if you aren’t naming Ugin, I’m not sure what the card is really there for.
Before we talk about card choices, since this deck is so powerful against creature strategies I can confidently recommend my main deck for Best of One play as well!
Companion: Yorion, Sky Nomad
Doom Foretold and Yorion work so well and so awkwardly together, but I still think their pairing works out. Both like permanents with ETB effects, so having Yorion allows you to rebuy value from all the permanents you played before it. Furthermore, in a deck that is as slow as this one, starting with a functional additional card in hand is a pretty big boon for the deck.
2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Krowz had this originally at 1 Ugin and 1 Ruinous Ultimatum, and I certainly like the spicy Ultimatum, but I think the deck is better served with 2 Ugin. Ultimatum actually seemed difficult to cast at certain points, and although it sets your opponent really far back, it can’t win you the game. Ugin serves double duty as a board wipe and a wincon which serves the deck’s purposes better in general.
4 Skyclave Apparition
I feel like it’s been a little while since Skyclave has seen widespread play, but this card feels as good as ever. It effectively answers a whole variety of permanents for a low cost which is great for a controlling deck like this.
3 Yorion, Sky Nomad
More sky-noodle for more blinking and more wincons.
4 Emeria’s Call
Bolt Plains and wincon wrapped in one card. This card is so good, especially in slower white decks.
4 Extinction Event
Standard’s best board wipe. Most creature decks tend to play a lot of creatures in the same mana costs (Gruul and Temur has a lot of 3s, Rogues a lot of 1s), so Extinction Event can generally be an easier to cast board wipe that also exiles!
1 Hagra Mauling
Tapped Swamp or Bad Murder. I don’t know if this is better than a different land, but for a moment I considered adding Field of Ruin to help against Crawling Barrens, then realized this was way better.
The original list had 3 Glass Casket in this spot, and I can see the appeal with the synergy between it and blinking Skyclave Apparition, but I feel like that interaction is less relevant than having more instant speed removal and more answers to Crawling Barrens. I could be wrong here and I have significantly less experience than krowz with this, but I think the good synergy is more niche than killing threats instant speed.
4 Mazemind Tome
If you’re playing Yorion, you’re playing 4 Mazemind Tome. Draw a few cards, cast Yorion, do it all again.
4 Omen of the Forge
2 mana Shock is not very exciting, but the ability to blink it with Yorion or to sacrifice it to Doom Foretold makes the card worth the inclusion. Does Omen make it worth including Red in this deck? I’ll talk about that later.
4 Elspeth’s Nightmare
I love this card probably more than I should, but it does so many things! Most decks have small creatures and scary non-creatures to end the game with, so at least for now this card is very well positioned.
4 Omen of the Sun
I like Elspeth’s Nightmare, I probably like this card significantly more than I should. I think it’s just such a good way to stall, gives you small lifegain, and is good to blink or sacrifice. It may not seem like it, but Omen of the Sun beats is a legitimate way to soften up your opponent as well for your Yorions or Ugins to deal the final points of damage. Do you need 4? Almost certainly not, but I like that this is a legitimate threat against UB Yorion.
4 Treacherous Blessing
A draw 3 with a steep drawback. It can be scary if you have to cast this turn 3, but it’s so good with Doom Foretold and Yorion it’s more than worth the inclusion. Furthermore, this deck is so good at keeping the board clear that the life loss downside is mitigated in this deck more than usual.
4 Doom Foretold
Sacrifice your permanents that already gave you value and make your opponent sacrifice permanents that are more relevant. Doom Foretold is very good as a value engine, a removal spell, and a win con. The really nice part of this card is that it triggers on the upkeep where Sagas trigger after the draw step, so you can sacrifice your own Sagas if the next mode isn’t that relevant.
4 Elspeth Conquers Death
ECD also hasn’t seen much play recently, but the card is so powerful and versatile it feels like it never left. If you can get all 3 modes the card is insane, but even if you can only trigger the first 2 it is still very powerful, and at worst, you can always sacrifice it to Doom Foretold.
31 Lands + 5 MDFC
With some handsome man and Magic writer popularizing UB Yorion, Duress has increased in stock. It’s like Thoughtseize but for cards this deck cares about!
1 Heartless Act
Sometimes you need 1 more piece of removal.
3 Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger
Kroxa is good for grinding against other Control decks and can also help your Rogues matchup significantly. I considered going to 4, but this deck can actually have a difficult time either Escaping it or even casting it in the first place as this is more an Orzhov deck than a Mardu deck. Still, this card is extremely powerful and worth the slots.
2 Skyclave Shade
Similar function to Kroxa, just less powerful but way easier to cast.
3 Archon of Sun’s Grace
I’m surprised Krowz didn’t include Archon himself as it’s a great win con against pretty much every deck in the post board where they’re much more likely to board out their removal. In fairness, this probably isn’t as good when there are open lists, but the charm of playing Archon is that they either have to ignore it and risk losing to it, or keep in removal and risk it being dead if you don’t see an Archon. Use this as a great roadblock against creature decks, or a surprise threat against Control decks that take out a lot of their removal.
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Good against other decks that are looking to grind really late into the game.
SIDEBOARDING AND MATCHUPS
|+1 Heartless Act||-4 Treacherous Blessing|
|+3 Archon of Sun’s Grace|
Blessing can be good in this matchup, but you much rather just have a pile of removal and destroy your opponent. Since this is a creature deck, this matchup should be one of your best as all you have to do is keep their board clear and wait.
MONO GREEN FOOD
|+1 Heartless Act||-3 Eliminate|
|+3 Archon of Sun’s Grace||-2 Omen of the Forge|
|+1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon|
Food is an interesting matchup as they’re a much slower creature deck which allows you to do your thing better, but they also grind a lot more effectively. Despite that, your deck is so well set up to handle what Food is doing that it’s extremely hard for Food to realistically beat this deck in fair games of Magic. Keep their board clean and you shouldn’t have too difficult of a time.
|+1 Heartless Act||-2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon|
|+3 Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger||-4 Omen of the Sun|
|+2 Skyclave Shade|
This is rough boarding as recently a lot of Rogues lists have a lot of variety to them, but I feel rather confident this is where you can start if you’re unsure where to board. Against Lurrus Rogues Omen of the Forge is reasonable as it has more targets, but it’s a lot worse if they aren’t playing Lurrus so you can take them out if you don’t play it. Something like Duress could be good to take Into the Story or Counterspells so keep that in mind. If Rogues takes out all of their removal, Archon of Sun’s Grace could also be a consideration to bring in as well. Doom Foretold is awkward as the card is very good in general, but is pretty bad against Lurrus or opposing Skyclave Shades. Be flexible in this matchup as Rogues has a lot of variations.
|+1 Heartless Act||-4 Omen of the Forge|
|+3 Archon of Sun’s Grace||-1 Omen of the Sun|
|+1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon|
This matchup is very interesting as Temur is generally good against slow decks, but you have so much removal that you can really stymie their game plan effectively. Genesis Ultimatum is by far the scariest card against you, and if they hit an OTK with Terror you can be in real trouble, but you have so many ways to deny them resources and Ugin is very strong against them.
|+4 Duress||-4 Extinction Event|
|+3 Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger||-4 Skyclave Apparition|
|+2 Skyclave Shade||-4 Omen of the Forge|
|+3 Archon of Sun’s Grace|
Hope you like playing long games of Magic because you certainly will here. The boarding is simple, but the matchup is extremely grindy and complex with knowing when to time your spells to play around counterspells or Ugin. My best advice is to try and pressure your opponent enough to force them to tap out for something like an Ugin, then you follow up with a Doom Foretold or an Elspeth Conquers Death to put them on the backfoot again. Game 1 this matchup can be challenging because you have a lot of dead cards, but they also have a lot of dead removal and good, patient play can allow you to steal it.
Overall, I’m still not completely convinced that this deck is better off Mardu than it is Orzhov. If all you’re getting is Omen of the Forge and Kroxa, you can just cut those for better mana. If you want a base to work off of, it’s old but I wrote a guide on it a while back to help you out. Overall, I liked this deck a good deal, but I think you’re better off just cutting red for better mana.
Thanks for reading! If you like my content and want to see more of it, you can check me out on Twitch! Have a great day!