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Around the Wheel: Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder


So, I may have set an unreasonable expectation here. Last time, I said: "I'd like to explore at least reasonably less-traveled paths with these creatures, and that means looking at what else we can do with them."

Sometimes a commander really doesn't want to be messed with. Sometimes a commander just wants to do one thing. Think of Nath of the Gilt-Leaf. That dude wants to make people discard. You could build Golgari Control with him, I suppose, but then you're just not using the commander. That seems silly.

To me, the four-color commander without White is one of those. Let's take a look.

Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder

It's no doubt a powerful ability. Free spells are always strong, and we can surely figure out a way to get at least one per turn we attack with Yidris. This is a reason to go to Valuetown; we put in the best spells we can at every casting cost and just blast the table with them.

I can't say we can do better, because truthfully, we probably can't. It's a strong commander and a strong strategy. But what we can do is something different, at least.

Once again, I thought it would be fun to win the game sort of all of a sudden. Knowing we were working with "cast one spell and get a second one of lesser value for free", it occurred to me we might be able to leverage that for the win. If we had a two-card combo where one card cost more than the other, we could attack with Yidris, hit, cast the more expensive card, and Cascade into the cheaper card and just win the game!

The problem there, of course, is how do we make sure we hit only the card we need to and nothing else? Well, by having that be the cheapest card in our deck, and the only one at that casting cost. This makes for a strange deck, but if you cast card A, you'll always hit card B. And if you've got the right amount of mana, you'll pretty much win on the spot.

The combo we're using is Bear Umbra and Aggravated Assault. It works like this: you attack with a creature enchanted with Bear Umbra. When it attacks, we untap all our lands. Then we can use five of those lands to make 3rr and activate Aggravated Assault. We then get another attack step. We attack again, untap again, and take another attack step. Repeat until all our opponents are dead.

In order to just win, we have to attack and hit with Yidris with 9 mana, two of which are Green and two of which are Red, with Bear Umbra in our hand. We hit, we cast Bear Umbra, we Cascade into Aggravated Assault, we activate it, and we're off to the races.

We're running 44 lands here. Why? Because we don't have any cards costing less than four mana except for lands and Aggravated Assault. Mana rocks and ramp spells of 3 or less ruin our combo. We need to hit our drops all the way to four every single game, without fail. That means happily keeping hands with six or seven lands. Several of our lands tap for multiple colors, and lands which come into play tapped are not a problem, so feel free to use what you have. One concern is we need that ggrr to pull off our combo, but we also need bb earlier in the game, so we do need ramp to get the colors. We've got a number of basics to go with our ramp; we're running several four- and five-mana get-two-lands-from-your-library spells. Ideally, we ramp on turn four every game, preferably for two extra lands on the battlefield.

Normally we'd talk about draw next, but we're not drawing any extra cards. Instead, we're running every tutor we can for four mana or more. It'd be nice to have access to White here, because that color likes to search for enchantments, but alas, we're stuck with expensive versions of Demonic Tutor. The fact is, we simply must find Bear Umbra to win, so we have to run tutors. We've got a bunch of 'em. I figure, if you're going to run tutors, don't mess around and just run lots of tutors. The hope is we tutor for Bear Umbra on turn five every game.

If things have gone well, on turn six we're casting Yidris. However, lots of times people will have done things to make attacking with Yidris more difficult, like playing big creatures of their own. We'll need a way to get him through. We've got a couple, though if we're lucky to have tutored with something like Behold the Beyond on turn five (after having ramped up two extra lands on turn four) we should probably get something like Tricks of the Trade in addition to Bear Umbra. That way we can cast it on Yidris on turn six, which will ensure his ability to get through. We do also have a couple of Sorceries and a Rogue's Passage; remember since we're winning all in one turn, we only need him to be unblockable that single turn, so anything that works until end of turn is perfect. Rogue's Passage is expensive, but it actually works here as long as there's a single opponent we can hit to go off: we need nine mana to start the combo, but after that we only need five, so if we have nine plus the Passage we'll be able to activate the Passage in addition to the Assault, because after we hit the opponent we can use five mana to activate Assault and four more to activate Rogue's Passage.

If things have gone well, on turn seven we attack with Yidris to do damage, cast Bear Umbra, flip into Aggravated Assault, attach Bear Umbra to Yidris, and win the game. Sometimes things don't go well, though, so we'll probably want a few ways to stay alive. To do that, we're running removal.

A funny thing about not running anything cheaper than four mana is we actually have fairly limited options. It feels funny to be complaining removal is too cheap. We're running a bunch of point removal spells, but feel free to run whichever ones you've got and want to run, as long as they're four or more. Additionally, several Wrath effects are here; if someone goes off with tokens or otherwise clogs up the board, it might be a good idea to clear the 'field before we attempt to win with our one guy. Just never never never never cast Bear Umbra when you don't have the mana to activate Aggravated Assault.

We're also running a single copy of Once and Future. Just in case someone manages to figure out what we're doing and get rid of Aggravated Assault or Bear Umbra, this will buy either or both back for us.

Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder | Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

Let's review. Turns 1 - 3 we play lands. Turn four we ramp, going to six lands on the 'field. Turn five we tutor for Bear Umbra, seven lands on the 'field. Turn six we cast Yidris and enchant him with Tricks of the Trade. Turn seven we attack with Yidris, cast Bear Umbra, Cascade into Aggravated Assault, activate Aggravated Assault, and beat everyone to death with commander damage over however many turns we need to do it. If things don't go perfectly according to plan, that's okay, we just wipe the board or destroy individual things here and there until we're able to piece together our win.

It's a party trick, but a fun one. Should be good for a laugh, and might even be fun to play once everyone figures out how it works, because you'll have to fight through everyone trying to stop your combo!

How would you build Yidris if you were trying to use something other than sheer power? Is there another two-card combo worth considering? Please let us know in the comments!

We're coming up on the final decks. No Blue next week. Until then!

Thanks for reading, and stay safe.

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