Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Making Magic in the Arena - Orzhov Yorion

It's been a while since we've engaged with the Standard meta-game here in MTG Arena. To be honest, I'd been growing bored and disinterested since it seemed like nothing even the release of Core Set 2021 did anything to shake up or otherwise change the kind of decks being played. It was still mostly Bant/Sultai Ramp, with Temur Reclamation and Mono-Red Aggro trailing right behind, just as it's been for months now.

That all changed thanks to the recent update, banning a number of key cards that forced most of those decks out to make way for new archetypes to take the stage, while we still have the cards from the Ravnica sets and Core Set 2020 to make use of.

You can find the decklist here


Out of all the bans, probably the most impactful one is Teferi, Time Raveler. He the primary reason to run UW, as a strong tempo/disruption piece that can come down early and replace itself. Additionally, his passive completely nullified counter magic (and instant speed interactions), which killed tempo decks almost immediately after he was released. You might remember a couple of the times where, while playing one of the Flash decks, that the moment Teferi is resolved, I pretty much had to surrender. The entire format was warped around not having access to instants, and doing away with him pre-rotation makes it possible to play around with tools we just couldn't before.

Wilderness Reclamation is another card than maintained relevance for an extremely long time. This was actually a piece of a combo with the Explosion half of Expansion/Explosion. We've actually played this deck before, and you can see the combo in action there. Even without that combo, the extra mana gained from it can make a huge difference, allowing it's controller to safely tap out knowing they'll still have mana available later. Obviously, the deck named after it relied on it to function, so with it being banned new decks will rise up in its place.

Growth Spiral is banned because, along with Uro, it served as the backbone for both the Bant and Sultai ramp decks that have terrorized most of standard since Theros, along with Nissa. With such a glut of these effects, it was trivial to accumulate a lot of lands/mana and use that to quickly overwhelm the opponent with a choice of powerful finishers. Usually, it would end up being a Hydroid Krasis, or Nissa herself. Getting rid of it won't completely cripple ramp decks, but it will force them to change up their game plan and do something different.

Sadly, the last card to get banned was Cauldron Familiar, but I understand why. As I have demonstrated time and time again, this card forms a powerful combo with Witch's Oven that forces the opponent onto a clock that will slowly kill them if they don't stop it. This core synergy formed the foundation of many powerful decks that used Mayhem Devil and/or Korvold as win conditions, getting many triggers off each sacrifice to control the game. I'll be sad to see it go, but I'm not surprised because it'll likely take over the power vacuum once the other big archetypes go away, losing only a few valuable pieces in the rotation.


Which brings us to the deck we're playing, which is a hybrid deck using a couple of different strategies that synergize well. Cards like Burglar Rat and Yarok's Fenlurker can be used to slowly chip away at our opponent's hand to put them on the backfoot, especially when we double up on those types of effects using Yorion or Charming Prince.

Then, once we've got a collection of bodied just sitting there, we can use Doom Foretold, (the card that convinced me to play this deck because I missed Esper Dance) in conjunction with other removal pieces like Oath of Kaya and Elspeth Conquers Death to wipe out our opponent's board to keep them down, finishing it off with either Yorion himself or Kaya, Orzhov Usurper.

I don't think it's a top tier deck, but it's a fun one.

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