Hello everybody! So I just wrote a guide on Azorius Yorion where I proclaimed it to be the best deck, an opinion that most people I’ve interacted with share. That being said, unlike other past best decks, this one actually has exploitable weaknesses! It’s been awhile since you were allowed to play a deck that isn’t considered the best and still expect to win!
As a quick aside, for the purpose of this article, I’m going to be specifically tackling Azorius Yorion as that’s largely considered to be the best form of the deck as it’s the most versatile of all the versions. Selesnya Yorion is better against creature decks, but way worse in the mirror (they really can’t beat a Dream Trawler) and Esper seems to do everything slightly worse than UW realistically as Doom Foretold is not good in the mirror and their good enchantments are susceptible to Skyclave Apparition which makes their Dance of the Manse weaker. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the UW Yorion list that I posted.
Well there’s a good reason that this deck is considered the best. It has an extremely powerful late game engine and many cards to help ensure you make it there with Charming Prince, Skyclave Apparition, Barrin, Tolarian Archmage, Glass Casket, and Omen of the Sun. With this in mind, let’s break down what the deck is trying to accomplish. UW Yorion is trying to play a bunch of enter the battlefield creatures and permanents to accrue value and interact with the opponent’s board, then do it all again with Yorion. With that in mind, what cards/strategies are strong at exploiting this gameplan?
AGGRESSIVE DECK OPTIONS
In general, aggressive decks have been having a bit of a challenging time against Yorion. They have a lot of anti-aggro tools at their disposal making it difficult to break through with some of their better draws. However, not all hope is lost, and there’s definitely a way to make aggressive decks work against Yorion.
Although there aren’t many decks that can reasonably play Hushbringer right now, it’s one of the best ways to mess with UW Yorion. With a Hushbringer on board, their only options to killing it would be a Shatter the Sky (if they even play any main) or a Glass Casket. As long as this sticks on the board, all of their creatures are completely shut off! Furthermore, although it’s small, UW doesn’t have many ways to block flying creatures, so that can be extremely relevant as well. I’m going to be posting lists that go with each card, but the next two cards are also played in the same list.
This is not as powerful against Hushbringer in totality, but can lead to greater blowout potentials, is easier to reasonably include in a sideboard, and has Flash. Containment Priest doesn’t stop every permanent, but if you let a Yorion resolve, you can let them blink all of their permanents, flash this in, and they lose all of their creatures when they try to come back! I’ve already won a few games where the Yorion that would’ve killed me turned into a Plague Wind for my opponent.
UW Yorion is really good at dealing with creatures with all of their removal spells and interactive creatures, but they don’t work on the instant speed axis most of the time. Embercleave is the perfect card to exploit this weakness as you’ll be guaranteed at least one attack with it before they have a chance to interact with it. Thus, it’s vital to try and get their life total as low as possible so when you cast Embercleave, it’s ideally lethal so you don’t give them a chance to interact. Now, what’s a good deck that can utilize all of these cards?
I think Knights is a good combination of aggression and ability to grind with Worthy Knight and Acclaimed Contender to grind through the removal spells of UW Yorion. Besides that most Yorion lists don’t have many instant speed interactive spells, they are also not great at dealing with more than one threat a turn. The aggressive one drops and Worthy Knight can build you a large board very quickly and make it impossible for the Yorion player to ever recover from that far behind. Furthermore, having Bonecrusher Giant to kill their Charming Prince or Skyclave Apparition is extremely important as well.
This isn’t the beefiest brawler on the block, but the fact that it can’t be blocked by power 2 or less creatures is huge for breaking through against their army of little idiots. This does the job reasonably well, but looking at Brushfire’s big brother can also be helpful.
Questing Beast didn’t look very good when Bonecrusher Giant was the most popular card a week ago, but the meta moves fast nowadays and we have to keep up. Although my list only plays one Questing Beast in the sideboard, I believe there are other green strategies that can utilize it better than Gruul Adventures anyway. I’m sure within a few days, we’re going to be seeing a lot more Questing Beast popping up in green decklists.
Gruul is another good option if you’re looking for aggressive decks that are capable of grinding. With a suite of hard hitting creatures, removal spells, and Embercleave, this is a great combination to beat down Yorion players before they can get their engine going.
MIDRANGE DECK OPTIONS
There aren’t nearly as many midrange options you can play to beat Yorion as that’s really where they hit their stride. That’s how Rakdos (the deck I initially pegged as the best deck) and GB Adventures (which seemed like the best deck for a day) has been nearly completely pushed out by Yorion. However, there are definitely ways to interact favorably with Yorion using a deck that isn’t going completely over or under them.
Out of all of the ways to battle Yorion, counterspells are probably the most effective. Yorion, at the end of the day, is a 5 drop blue creature. That makes it susceptible to the best sideboard cards in Standard, Mystical Dispute. Furthermore, cards like Essence Scatter and Neutralize are amazing cards against the strategy as well as their threats will almost always be more expensive than your answers. Traditional Control decks do work well against Yorion, but I found them lacking against the rest of the metagame. Thus, we should opt for a more flexible counterspell deck.
Although the mill plan doesn’t really work against Yorion with their additional 20 cards, but beating them down with small creatures backed up by counterspells and card draw is an extremely effective strategy against the somewhat clunky Yorion deck. Time your counterspells well and the matchup will definitely be in your favor.
Dream Trawler is so good against Yorion that I even play 4 in my version of the deck! Since wrath effects and Shark Typhoon aren’t seeing much play, Dream Trawler is functionally impossible for UW (and especially GW) to deal with. The only way they can outsize it is have a Yorion come back from an Elspeth Conquers Death, but even then if you draw one additional card you can at least trade with the beefed up Yorion. I would post another list here, but sometimes you can just join them to beat them, so I’d recommend my Yorion list from the beginning.
RAMP DECK OPTIONS
Normally this is where I’d include Control decks as well, but as I said earlier, Control decks didn’t seem particularly viable in this meta. With that in mind, I wanted to explore the cards that are really hard for UW Yorion to interact with.
This little scutie grows out of control very quickly when you hit land six. Although it gets hit by Glass Casket, Skyclave Apparition, and Elspeth Conquers Death, those don’t matter much if you have multiple copies of it! The only way for them to deal with this when you start going off with it is Shatter the Sky. UW does have access to it, but it doesn’t feel good to have to wrath your entire board just to deal with one Scute Swarm.
This list is extremely weird, but it definitely puts in work against Yorion. You accrue so much value from your mutate creatures, and if you ever manage to get Scute Swarm copies with a mutated creature on it, you can get a massive army of creatures in one turn! I don’t know about the long term viability of this list, but it’s super sweet nonetheless.
PHYLATH, WORLD SCULPTOR
This is very similar to Scute Swarm, but is much less susceptible to UW’s removal spells. This gets hurt by Elspeth Conquers Death more than Scute Swarm, but if you time it right with a ramp spell, you can make a few decently sized Plants before they have a chance to get rid of it.
UGIN, THE SPIRIT DRAGON
This is my preferred way to mess up Yorion. Ugin’s ability to exile the entire board (sans Solemn Simulacrum and The Birth of Meletis tokens) is a huge headache for Yorion players as they can’t accrue any more value from their permanents. Once Ugin is on board, they have to attack it down in combat (which is very challenging) or have an Elspeth Conquers Death lest they will just lose to Ugin a few turns down the line. I’m not the biggest fan of the next list as it doesn’t synergize the best with Ugin, but I’ve heard good things about it so I’ll throw it out there.
This combines multiple cards that Yorion struggles with and can ramp into them relatively quickly. Although I’m confused about the combination of Felidar Retreat, Phylath, World Sculptor, and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon all in the same deck, it’s undoubtedly powerful against Yorion and other slow decks.
This is somewhat an extension of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, but this gets the inclusion because of the potential one turn kill with Terror of the Peaks. With that in mind, Terror of the Peaks is quite strong against Yorion as well since their only answer is Elspeth Conquers Death, but it works significantly better in conjunction with Genesis Ultimatum. This will get worse if UW starts adopting more counterspells, but with all of the threats, they will be spread rather thin.
This is my favorite iteration of the ramp archetype in Standard right now and the favorite of MPL member Brad Nelson. Ugin is an amazing way to help your Yorion matchup, but generally the UW Yorion player will hold an Elspeth Conquers Death in anticipation of Ugin. However, Genesis Ultimatum is a great way to get so far ahead on board it’s near impossible for the Yorion decks to come back. Temur can struggle with faster decks, but you can tailor your sideboard to be more favorable in those matchups.
UW Yorion is a powerful deck, but it’s not unbeatable by any metric. There’s a lot of ways to attack it and still have a functional deck, a huge sigh of relief compared to a few of the past Standard formats. If I had to pick any of these decks that work against Yorion the best and the rest of the field in general, I think I would have to go with UB LURRUS ROGUES. Their game plan is just so effective against a large portion of the meta, and some of Rogues worst matchups in RB Midrange, GB Adventure, and Mono Green Food, are struggling to keep up in the metagame right now. However, whichever list you decide to tackle the metagame with, you can’t go too wrong.
That’s all that I have today! If you like my content and want to see more of it, you can check me out at Twitch! Have a great day!