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Zendikar Rising Standard Set Review with Ali Aintrazi
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Scales of the Dragonclaw

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You know that’s a sweet title. I want to talk all about using your opponents’ spells and creatures against them to make your threat level “scale” up or down based on their decks. Dragons have scales. It’s a Yasova deck, and Yasova’s name is Dragonclaw. Tell me you’re not seriously in awe of that title. Fine, don’t admit it, but we both know you’re seething with envy. Relax; you’ll come up with a sweet pun title some day; I believe in you. You know what else I believe? I believe that stealing your opponents’ creatures may be the most fun you can have playing Magic.

Yasova Dragonclaw
Yasova Dragonclaw was one of those commanders I didn’t do a while back because I assumed I had already done a Yasova article. I literally went back through everything I have written until well before Yasova was even spoiled because I guess I assumed I’d done a Yasova deck already. Thoroughly convinced I haven’t done one yet, I have moved on to feeling excited. You kidding me? I get to build a 75% deck in my favorite color combination that involves stealing opponents’ stuff from them? What more could you possibly ask for? A theme? I don’t know, how about the I-steal-all-of-your-creatures-and-then-I-have-all-of-your-creatures theme? If we’re all in on scaling, we’re limiting our card pool by preferring to use opponents’ stuff as win conditions and therefore rolling the dice. We scale to their power level, and we limit our card pool to stuff that steals stuff and supports the theme of stealing stuff. What could be more 75%? I’m legitimately excited to build this deck for real as soon as we iron out the kinks in this article.

Right off the bat, I’m thinking of what I want to include, but there are probably some cards that seem obvious at first that we probably can’t include. It’s going to cause me physical pain, but I don’t think Prophet of Kruphix is all that appropriate in the deck. I usually love to have that effect in any deck that can run G/U, but we aren’t keeping a ton of mana up or Flickering or really doing a ton that isn’t sorcery speed. Another staple of my 75%-means-scaling-so-get-out-there-and-scale tendencies is Vedalken Shackles, a card I am reasonably certain will not work at all in a three-color deck in which the blue is not super-important. If you have Frontier Bivouac, Flooded Grove, Cascade Bluffs, a Mountain, a Forest, and an Island, you can make 6 blue mana. You can also not steal a creature bigger than a Llanowar Elves. I don’t want to jam a ton of basic Islands, so it looks like we’re going sans Shackles, which feels bad from a flavor standpoint, but it can’t really be helped.

I am not really content just stealing creatures, so I think I will jam some ways to steal other permanents in the deck and some ways to sac things so I don’t have to give them back. I also want to run Spelljack and Insurrection in this deck, so the mana base is going to have to be pretty flexible. Most importantly, I want the deck to be fun to play and annoying, but not oppressive to play against, and I want to put a Trading Post in here because it’s my article series, and if you don’t like it, you can start your own 75% article series in which you write each week about why not to put Trading Post in decks and see if anyone believes you.

Let’s get to the deck list, shall we?

75% Yasova Dragonclaw ? Commander | Jason Alt

I like where this ended up. You have some fun ways to steal cards from opponents, and you have a lot of ways to make sure you don’t have to give those cards back if you don’t want to.

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Here are a few things to watch out for:

Is Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker appropriate here? You can snap-win-the-game with Zealous Conscripts, and maybe that means the card would be the first to go if we notice we’re trying to win every game with that combo. Kiki has some utility, but if there isn’t enough to justify, cut judiciously. You should have ways to win the game, but not just one you always use. Insurrection is another I-win card in most games, and that is a good thing because the game doesn’t need to last forever.

I don’t know whether I included enough ways to make Yasova big. I think it’s better to include unconditional steal effects, so I added cards like Callous Oppressor and Empress Galina. If you find you need a bigger Yasova, there are a ton of ways to do it. Recasting with Master Biomancer on the battlefield can make the base power 6, which is good enough for a lot of creatures, but you will feel stupid if your deck does everything very smoothly and you lose to a Kozilek, Butcher of Truth because you didn’t want to jam something to pump Yasova’s power. I have seen some people get creative and use cards like Homura, Human Ascendant, Dragon Mantle, and Empyrial Plate. I think we’ll probably be fine, and we won’t have to rely on our commander for everything since I really went to swipey town when I made this deck. We have a lot of steal effects.

If you cut Trading Post, you will have seven years of bad luck.

Brand and Homeward Path are bad for you. Brand is rarely played, which is good. Path, though, gives you issues. I included Shivan Harvest and Dust Bowl to make sure it at least doesn’t stick around. I have seen some people suggest Tsabo's Web, which has the added bonus of shutting off other utility lands. I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe you just have a card you’re weak to and you just deal with it because Magic is more fun that way. Watch out for Homeward Path, but don’t sweat it too much. You can still sac stuff in response to it being activated to avoid giving stuff back.

Bazaar Trader
Stealing opponents’ creatures is a lot of fun, and it’s the perfect way to scale your deck to make sure the power level of the creatures you attack them with matches the power level of the rest of their decks. Swiping stuff will make you a target though. Fortunately, I included a lot of reusable swipe effects, and you can use Bazaar Trader to target yourself and keep their stuff permanently. You can block aggressively and badly with their creatures, and every trade is very, very good for you since you’re killing two creatures and taking them off the board.

Unfortunately, Yasova’s ability is triggered, so all we have to double it is Strionic Resonator. Being able to shove Illusionist's Bracers on her would feel good, but probably bad for opponents. As it is, I think we will be able to swipe two creatures per turn regardless. Roil Elemental, Empress Galina, Dominus of Fealty, and the rest of the crew can help you make fat stacks of opponents’ dudes and then run them through the meat grinder of combat, Greater Good, and your bevy of Altars. Anything that escapes unscathed you can use to beat them about the face with. Isn’t multiplayer wonderful?

What do we think? Are we powerful enough to play a strategy that will almost certainly paint a bull’s eye on our backs? Should we focus more on our commander or are we good loading up with swipe effects to make sure we can steal enough every turn to keep ahead of a group of players all trying to overwhelm us who are all kind of miffed that we’re borrowing their dudes? Is this even a viable strategy? Do you have a Yasova deck with some sweet tech that you want the world to know? Leave it in the comments section. We can even debate cutting Kiki-Jiki, which is a conversation I’m actually really hoping we get started in the comments. Just leave Trading Post out of the conversation. It’s a sac outlet, and it stays. I’ll cut you before I cut Trading Post.

That does it for me this week. Keep sending me decklists, questions, comments, and brownie recipes. You were right—Dutch Process cocoa is a game-changer. Until next time!


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