Ondrej Strasky’s Guide to Bant Yorion Ramp / Control
Hello guys, welcome to my second article for MTG Arena Zone. This past weekend, I took part in the MagicFest Online Season 2 Weekly Championship. After finishing day 1 with a 7-1 record, I had high hopes of doing really well in the tournament. Unfortunately, my day 2 start was poor with two early losses, but I managed to rally and ended up drawing into 12th place, because my tie breakers weren’t good enough for top 8. Normally that would be a bit of a disappointment, but my goal was to qualify for the season finals (top 32) and I managed to do that. The prize difference between top 8 and top 16 was also very marginal so, all in all, I consider the tournament a great success! Today, I’m here to share all I know about the deck I played – Bant Yorion.
If you’ve managed to catch my stream at any time since Ikoria came out, you might have noticed that I struggle a bit with this format. While normally, my win rate on Arena hovers around the 70% mark, in the past week it’s been only a little higher than 55%. I’ve felt pretty lost in the format, not able to consistently win with any of the decks. On the other hand, I felt like I could properly recognize what the good decks were; I discarded a bunch of brews like Mutate, Flash, Heroic and many more. I knew that the top decks going into the tournament would be Bant Yorion, Lukka Yorion, Obosh decks, and Temur Reclamation.
Reclamation is a bit worse against these Yorion piles, because they have access to Teferi and Narset. Having Shark Typhoon helps but they usually play their own Shark, so they can just block your Shark token and lock you out. I tried out the Lukka deck as soon as Crokeyz first posted about it and felt like it had some consistency issues; I lost games to not having a token producer, not having double red, or lacking Lukka. Still, it was obvious that it was pretty powerful, and Crokeyz and others added cards like Omen of the Sun that helped with the problems I had. I didn’t want to play Obosh, because the power level of the other decks seemed a tad higher – you would win the games when they stumbled, but their best draws beat yours. That left me looking at Bant Yorion, as the rest of my household was singing its praises, and the boys even managed to come up with a somewhat innovative version.
Here’s what me and Stan played, Ivan didn’t try to qualify, because he’d already secured his season finals spot last week.
Bant Yorion Control by Honey – MagicFest Online Season 2 Week 2 Weekly Championship (12th)
There are two big changes compared to Kanister’s list from the previous weekend. The first one is playing a whopping amount of 40 lands. Honestly I felt like playing 30 lands in the previous format was almost correct. Now you have an 80 card deck with a card that produces card advantage in every single opening hand. I think the correct number of lands is somewhere between 39-41, but I’m sure you shouldn’t play less than that. Playing 36 lands like Kanister did seems wrong to me. Right now Standard is very slow and in these midrange battles, mana advantage is the king. If you’re both playing ultra-powerful cards, eventually the player who can play multiple per turn gets the upper hand. The second difference is tied into this as well. We chose to go with 3 copies of Cavalier of Thorns; another card that helps you create mana advantage, while also synergizing super well with Yorion and Uro. Tamiyo gets a lot worse when you’re forced to play 80 cards, because her +1 ability is less consistent, whereas Cavalier fits her role of filling up the graveyard alongside being a great roadblock against the aggressive decks and an extra land + a way to pressure planeswalkers in the midrange battles.
Other than that, our maindeck is mostly tuned to beat the slower decks. The aggro matchup is pretty bad in game one, and we’re giving up even more ground by playing only 2 Shatters maindeck. Postboard, you improve massively and should be a solid favorite. RB decks are less grindy than they used to be, because they either can’t play Priest of Forgotten Gods/Kroxa (Obosh) or Midnight Reaper/Woe Strider (Lurrus). This makes them more one-dimensional; once you stabilize, you should be able to have an easy time winning the game.
One thing that our list lacks is Aether Gust. Gust has become a bit worse with the new set’s release for a couple of reasons. The biggest one is the lack of Mono Red. Instead the aggressive decks rely on black cards like Gutterbones, Serrated Scorpion, or Knight of the Ebon Legion. Gust is bad against all the Lurrus and Obosh decks. Second, Temur Reclamation nowadays isn’t so vulnerable to Gust. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still a good card in the matchup but, when their postboard threat is Shark Typhoon instead of Legion Warboss and Nightpack Ambusher, you no longer get an insane amount of value. Combine this with Bant dropping Nissa and Tamiyo, and we were looking at a metagame with few Gust targets. Oliver Tiu, who won the tournament with Lukka Yorion, mentioned that he was happy not having to face Gust out of my deck, but I’m still not sure it would be good in that matchup, because while powerful, it’s quite narrow. It might still be worth it, but I haven’t played enough to be 100% sure. In the tournament, I was happy playing none.
The rest of the maindeck is pretty stock and nothing out of the ordinary.
As for the sideboard, I’ve really loved Dovin’s Veto in this new format since it’s great against all the Yorion decks and our best card against Temur Reclamation. We have 5 cheap removal spells, our favorite wolf-maker Tolsimir, and 2 Shatter the Sky to round up our main deck numbers. Overall in an 80 card deck, I’m trying to build my sideboard with high impact cards instead of situational one-ofs, and I think we’ve achieved that pretty well.
Matchups and Sideboard Guide
Jeskai Yorion Lukka
The biggest winner of last week. A completely new deck that showed up and broke the Standard metagame in half. This matchup is pretty close; they have access to more Agents, but your deck is more consistent, and mana advantage is on your side. If you manage to get ahead, you can use your counterspells to capitalize and take over the game. This looks like a midrange slogfest but most games are decided within the first 7 turns. Both decks are good at snowballing their advantage, so make sure to get ahead and stay ahead. Always try to be mindful of Lukka and try to play around it, either by killing creatures in play or by having a counterspell.
Bant Yorion (mirror)
Sideboard is decklist-dependent. If they have Hydroid Krasis, Glass Casket gets better. If they have Narset, Uro gets worse. If they have Dream Trawler, you might consider keeping in Shatter the Sky. This plays out similar to the Lukka matchup; be mindful of opposing powerful cards like ECD, Yorion and Agent. One thing to note is that you should be trying to steal either lands or planeswalkers with your Agent. If you steal ECD or Yorion, they can land Teferi, bounce their permanent back, and get immense value that way. Obviously, sometimes you’re forced to steal ECD if they have a third chapter coming up, but just be careful.
Rakdos Obosh (or any other aggressive deck)
|+1 Glass Casket|
+4 Devout Decree
+2 Shatter the Sky
+3 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves
|-4 Mystical Dispute|
-3 Agent of Treachery
-1 Elspeth Conquers Death
-2 Shark Typhoon
Like I said, just try and stop the early aggression, your deck doesn’t lose the late game. Again there are variations based on their list: against Lurrus, you want to have maximum 1 ECD. You can cut Narset or Shark Typhoon; Typhoon is fine if they have a bunch of 1 power creatures, but pretty mediocre otherwise.
Jeskai Keruga Fires
This is how I would sideboard blind. This matchup is pretty easy, but postboard you can have trouble with Legion Warboss. They might also have Robber of the Rich; if they do, bring in some Devout Decrees. You can always trim on Neutralize, Agent of Treachery and even Shark Typhoon. Overall this deck struggles hard against you. ECD is incredible against them, and so are Cavalier and Uro to some extent. Fires is on the decline and this matchup is one of the reasons why.
Casket is nothing special, but you want to board out those 5 + this matchup is mostly about Sharks killing your planeswalkers, which Casket helps to stop. Overall, your goal should be to resolve Teferi early on and tick up his loyalty, so your opponent can’t one shot him with Shark Typhoon. If that’s not possible, make your Shark to chump their Shark and then bounce their Shark with Teferi. Eventually they’ll run out of Sharks and if they don’t, you probably lose.
Looks like Standard has settled in a spot where Yorion is the big dog, and not much can compete with the 4/5 flying menace. The boys have been busy brewing something to topple it, but I’ll save that for next time. For now I’d recommend playing either this deck or Lukka; both are incredibly powerful and despite playing 80 cards, incredibly consistent. Or maybe if you can find a decent aggro deck, but I think the postboard games will be too rough.
That’s it from me today, see you next time!