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Cool, But Rude

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Yidaro, Wandering Monster

It sure is cool!

The deck-building ideas spring almost immediately to mind, like machines from the sewer of a bo staff weidling Donatello.

A hasty 8/8 creature for seven? It's not good-good... But that's a heck of a failsafe. Could you mayhap play Yidaro, Wandering Monster in a Gruul creatures deck? I can vaguely imagine playing it among cards like Pelt Collector and Questing Beast. Random cycling isn't the most desirable feature of such a deck... But when they get to seven?

Heck of a thing to slap an Embercleave on, am I right?

But Yidaro, Wandering Monster as an actual monster with actual power and toughness isn't the weirdest option.

It won't have been the first time I summoned a trampling 8/8 Red creature with exactly two other abilities to great effect...

Dragonlord Atarka

... And I must say I didn't like Dragonlord Atarka much before I played with it some.

This? This I like much.

And of course because of the cool cycling clause:

When you cycle Yidaro, shuffle it into your library from your graveyard. If you cycled a card named Yidaro, Wandering Monster 4 times this game, put it onto the battlefield from your graveyard instead.

The Reg

The regular cool thing about this card is that for the low, low price of two eight mana [albeit paid over four installments], you get seven mana worth of 8/8 hasty trampler.

Let's assume for a moment you can actually pull this off. This is pretty cool, right? In the moment, at least, you pay two and then get a giant Legendary Turtle. If you do it on your own turn, you get to attack immediately.

Not for nothing, despite being a sick non-cast and a card drawing effect, Yidaro, Wandering Monster gets around some of the current Standard's most notorious game changers.

Teferi, Time Raveler
Narset, Parter of Veils

You can not only cycle Yidaro on the opponent's turn with Teferi in play... You can draw a card even if they have Narset in play! Provided, of course, you haven't already drawn a card. More interesting than either, if it's the fourth Yidaro, you get the big body because the card is never actually cast. Sorry Teferi. Sorry Narset. Sorry Teferi (again).

The Simian Grunts

What's cooler than cycling your fourth Yidaro, Wandering Monster on your own turn to attack with? Cycling your fourth Yidaro during combat on your opponent's turn.

You will not only draw a card, but you will get a giant potential blocker. If you are able to dive bomb an attacker, successfully blocking (and presumably killing) it, you will get a negative-one-for-one.

Blocking a creature with a larger creature is already the most common way to generate card advantage in Magic: The Gathering. This particular play is very reminiscent of using a two-mana removal spell that has a particular targeting restriction (think "Immolating Glare"); that would be a one-for-one. Except in this case you get to keep the Immolating Glare (which is in fact a giant monster of your own); making it a kind of zero-for-one. Except you also just drew a card!

I'd say this is a pretty paradigm changing card from the Simian Grunts perspective... Except you will have had to cycle Yidaro three times previous... So it's not like the fourth one ruining the opponent's attack will come as some kind of left field surprise.

The Ceiling

I think we've all wrapped our heads around the idea that Yidaro, Wandering Monster is cool.

The more salient question right now might be how cool?

An important consideration is how much deck-building cost is required to play it. I think most people will look at Yidaro, and after determining that they might in fact want to play with it, decide the correct number to play is four.

I mean, especially since it kind of replaces itself early game, I'm generally in the camp of four copies... But it doesn't mean we have to play four.

Look at this card:

Nissa Revane

Back before we were playing five-mana Nissas that shook the world, a select number of stalwart mono-Green mages were swinging with a version that didn't get out of Lightning Bolt range - and yes, Lightning Bolt was in fact legal in Standard at the time - even after you used one of her multiple [+1] abilities.

The interesting thing about this Nissa is that she came pre-built with a deck-building tax. When you play cards in combination, you don't necessarily have to play a certain set number of pairs. For example lots of people won lots of tournaments playing four copies of Illusions of Grandeur but only three copies of Donate. I for one qualified at a Regional Championships and tied for ninth at Nationals playing four Dark Rituals but only three copies of Hatred.

Now if you play Nissa Revane it kind of doesn't matter how many you play. You can play four, or maybe three... But if you played even one you kind of had to play four copies of Nissa's Chosen.

Why?

Because if you drew even one copy of Nissa Revane - If you only played one copy of Nissa Revane - you were ceilinged on how many copies of Nissa's Chosen you had. Her most commonly used ability is just to search up Nissa's Chosen! If you only play three, you're only going to be able to use that ability three times. Since her other two abilities both scale with 1) loyalty [which you probably got and / or preserved by finding Nissa's Chosens] and 2) the number of Elves you could muster... It really paid to play the most Nissa's Chosens you could. This was therefore a pretty hard tax.

Yidaro doesn't work quite that way.

I do of course think that you will be much more likely to cycle into a free Yidaro, Wandering Monster if you play four copies, the entire Yidaro engine will work with as few as one copy in your starting sixty.

Yidaro shuffles itself back into your library every time you cycle it, so you can theoretically draw, shuffle, eventually draw into the same one, shuffle again, and hit four all on a single piece of cardboard.

If this seems ponderous... Well, it is. But getting Yidaro in play the cool way is going to be ponderous regardless of if you have one copy or four. Since you're constantly drawing (i.e. making your deck smaller) and shuffling every time you cycle Yidaro, a single copy might go further than is immediately intuitive.

I'm not saying one is better than four or anything... But just don't assume that if you want to play this very cool card you automatically HAVE to play four copies. One will literally sometimes get you there, albeit with the diminished corner case liability that has always plagued the lone Drain Life or Blaze.

Rude

Now I can't assume everyone experienced the same nostalgic heartstring pull that I did upon first eyeing this Legendary Dinosaur Turtle...

But I figure one deck-building concept that many had all at the same time was a ur Control deck that won more-or-less only with four copies of Yidaro. I mean, there is precedent.

Gaea's Blessing

In the mid-to-late nineties a ton of the most innovative North American deck designers all made decks that won by biasing their designs around Gaea's Blessing. The most important one was probably this one:


This Prison deck from 1997 marked the GOAT Jon Finkel's first Masters Pro Tour Top 8. While the deck could nominally win by attacking with one of four Mishra's Factories... You'll notice it also played three copies of Armageddon, so might blow up its own Misra's Factories long before it could deal twenty points two at a time.

More likely was that Finkel would win by recycling his key control elements with Gaea's Blessing. At some point he might get back a 2/2 land-attacker; but often he would just be getting back Gerrard's Wisdom to pull himself further and further out of danger, or creature removal to dull the opponent's ability to win.

Jon would always smile while pointing out the only Blue card in his starting sixty was the uu Counterspell (which was a fine Gaea's Blessing recycle target); and the only Green spell was Gaea's Blessing itself.

Gaea's Blessing was a very attractive way to win for a particular stripe of player; the kind that didn't want to lower himself to actually playing a way to win (versus building more resources, or getting further and further ahead of the opponent); and you'll note that even in Jon's deck, Mishra's Factory occupies a "land" spot so barely counts.

It foiled silly people trying to win with Millstones, and even replaced itself!

Yidaro scratches a lot of the same itches. While nominally a creature, it acts more like an Opt most of the time; it even outmaneuvers today's Millstones - Narset and Teferi - with sheer cleverness.

So why rude?

The Yidaro Control deck... At least the ur Yidaro Control deck just doesn't seem realistic to me.

First off... Why ur?

I think that you want to be Blue to make your deck smaller and smaller (to find more copies of Yidaro); and you can't really rely on a four-color splash the way Jon played Gaea's Blessing. In 1997 it kind of didn't matter when you cast your Gaea's Blessing; you were probably casting the nth one on the second-to-last turn. But Yidaro has r in its cycling cost. You'll want to get rid of any clunky cast you draw early, and get paid off by cycling multiple copies (whether the "same" copy or different ones) all during a single end step. You'll want lots of access to Red mana, and besides, you even have a Wrath of God!

Storm's Wrath

So one of the attractive aspects of a ur deck is that with Storm's Wrath serving as your primary defensive spell you can actually play Blue-Red without relying on White for Time Wipe or Shatter the Sky. You can supplement with Scorching Dragonfire for the odd Narset, Teferi, or Anax; but largely play for tempo.

The problem?

All these guys!

Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt
Illuna, Apex of Wishes
Brokkos, Apex of Forever

... And more! Not to mention other people's Yidaros!

The big problem as I see it is that too many cards that will predictably show up are going to have toughness in excess of Storm's Wrath. Everything is great so long as you can keep those cards off the battlefield, but the minute one actually resolves your strategy dissolves.

So wait... Not cool?

Party Dude

Aw no!

I think Yidaro will be slamming pizza in the winners circles of fine sewers everywhere in a couple of months. It just won't be in the pure Control deck that many originally envisioned. What if we did something like this instead?


Not tuned at all, but hopefully illustrative.

Faerie Vandal is one of the best cards in Standard without a really robust home. It seems nowhere near as potent as Irencrag Pyromancer to me. First of all... Who can kill an Irencrag Pyromancer? Easily? One can take over the entire battlefield in the right shell... And lo and behold this is a shell of all card drawing.

We get some pretty reasonable action out of cycling here; and I do think that holding a Neutralize will be very profitable. Yidaro can party without ever really having to stretch. In fact? Against Teferi, you'll often be happy to have it, even if it never goes 8/8.

Just some food for thought.

I personally can't wait to make someone take three - no six - and then do it all again on their turn!

LOVE

MIKE

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