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Theros Beyond Death Limited Set Review Featuring MTGNerdGirl
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The Song That Never Ends

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Much of the attention Magic 2015 is receiving for Constructed is focused on green, with Nissa, Worldwaker at the forefront. However, there’s another green card that hasn’t been receiving as much attention. Yisan, the Wanderer Bard can be a powerful card-advantage engine if it isn’t killed immediately, but most players have been turned off by the idea of spending turn four fetching a 1-drop. In my mind, this is just a minor challenge to overcome, especially when grabbing a creature straight from your library effectively amounts to tacking “draw a card” onto whatever 1-drop you find.

The Base

Chord of Calling
Since I’m already including a giant toolbox of different creatures for Yisan, adding Chord of Calling was a no-brainer. If Yisan is killed or you don’t draw one, Chord can still take advantage of the huge variety of creatures in the deck. The hard part is remembering what creatures you have at each cost so you know how much mana to put in.

Elvish Mystic allows you to cast Yisan on turn two and start finding free creatures on turn three. In this deck, that basically amounts to taking an extra turn for just 1 mana. You can also grab one with Yisan if you want access to a bit more mana.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a second 1-mana accelerator like Arbor Elf of Birds of Paradise in Standard, so Voyaging Satyr will have to do. It doesn’t bring Yisan out any faster, but it does make it easier to cast the more expensive creatures you draw. Later in the game, it can untap Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to supercharge your mana production.

The Toolbox

Experiment One
The main problem with fetching a 1-mana creature on turn three or four is that it won’t survive combat with the creatures your opponent will probably have on the board. Therefore, I’ve chosen creatures that mitigate this weakness. Experiment One can’t do much right away, but given that Yisan will ensure you trigger evolve every turn, it won’t be long before the Ooze becomes a serious threat.

For a more defensive option, you have Wasteland Viper. No matter what turn you play this, it’s going to present a problem for decks focused on attacking with ground creatures. Particularly against green decks, the Viper will often serve as a free removal spell.

At 2 mana, Deadly Recluse serves as a second Viper that can also deal with flying threats such as Desecration Demon. Similarly, Gyre Sage is effectively another Experiment One with the added ability to produce large amounts of mana. Scavenging Ooze is the other option I added since it will often be an extremely effective threat late in the game.

When Yisan reaches 3 counters, Courser of Kruphix is the go-to card for its ability to provide long-term card advantage. Reverent Hunter can serve a more aggressive game plan, and Hornet Nest can be a powerful defensive took against creature decks. Finally, Reclamation Sage can be used to take out any problematic artifacts or enchantments you run into.

Polukranos, World Eater is the premiere 4-mana threat. It also gives the deck a bit of removal with its monstrosity ability, and Nykthos can power it to extreme levels. Nylea's Disciple is a powerful tool against aggressive decks, easily gaining upward of 5 life immediately—and leaving you with a 3/3 as well. When you already have a strong board position, Nylea, God of the Hunt can make it unbeatable. In addition to the indestructible 6/6, all your other creatures have trample. Nylea’s +2/+2 ability can also end games quickly when backed up by Nykthos.

Arbor Colossus
Arbor Colossus is a great defense against flying creatures. It can block them thanks to reach, and its monstrosity trigger can knock one right out of the sky. If you’re on an aggressive plan, Kalonian Hydra is an incredibly powerful threat that has fallen out of favor since the release of Theros. Despite being mostly forgotten, it still attacks for 8 with trample, and it can double the counters on creatures like Experiment One and Gyre Sage.

When planning for the long game, Nessian Game Warden gives you a lot of value. A 4/5 creature is a bit below par, but not when you’re only spending 3 mana on it thanks to Yisan. It will also go find you another threat when it enters the battlefield, ensuring you can keep the hits coming if your opponent has a removal spell.

Kalonian Twingrove gives you two large threats for 6 mana, forcing your opponent to have two removal spells to stop the beatdown. If you have a Nykthos to produce large amounts of mana, Hydra Broodmaster can be even better. With 9 mana to put into its monstrosity ability, it gives you a quartet of 4/4s in addition to the now-11/11 Hydra.

Phytotitan is usually regarded as a terrible prerelease promo, but against decks like the Planar Cleansing control deck that won the recent Pro Tour, it gives you a nearly unkillable threat that sticks around after everything else dies to a board wipe.

Hornet Queen is absolutely devastating for creature decks. Most of the time, it’s going to be a five-for-one no matter how you look at it, and that kind of card advantage is hard to come back from. If creatures aren’t the problem, Sylvan Primordial can deal with anything else. It also gives you a gigantic creature large enough to block and kill a Desecration Demon.

Playtesting

G/W Aggro — Game 1

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard
I started off with Elvish Mystic, and my opponent cast Experiment One.

I cast Yisan, the Wanderer Bard and passed the turn. My opponent cast Fleecemane Lion, evolved Experiment One, and passed back.

I played a land and ended my turn. My opponent attacked with both creatures. I activated Yisan, fetching Wasteland Viper. The Viper blocked Fleecemane Lion, and my opponent cast Boon Satyr before damage to trigger evolve and hit me for 3.

I cast Deadly Recluse and passed the turn. My opponent attacked with Experiment One and Boon Satyr. I blocked the Satyr with Deadly Recluse and took 3. My opponent cast Fleecemane Lion and Voice of Resurgence before ending his turn. During his end step, I activated Yisan to grab Scavenging Ooze.

I passed the turn with no play. My opponent attacked with everything. I activated Yisan, fetching Reverent Hunter, which became a 5/5. I exiled the two creatures from my opponent’s graveyard to pump Scavenging Ooze, gaining 2 life. The Ooze blocked Experiment One, and Reverent Hunter blocked Fleecemane Lion. My opponent removed 2 counters from the Ooze to regenerate it and activated the Lion’s monstrosity ability. I took 2 from Voice of Resurgence, and he passed the turn.

Kalonian Twingrove
I attacked for 5 with Reverent Hunter, cast Elvish Mystic, and ended my turn. My opponent passed the turn with no play, and I activated Yisan during his end step to fetch Nylea, God of the Hunt.

On my turn, I exiled the last creature card from a graveyard with Scavenging Ooze, making it a 6/6. I attacked with it along with Reverent Hunter and Nylea. Fleecemane Lion blocked Scavenging Ooze, and Voice of Resurgence blocked Nylea. My opponent dropped to 5, and I ended my turn. During my end step, my opponent cast two copies of Skylasher. My opponent exiled Nylea with Selesnya Charm and passed the turn. During his end step, I exiled the Voice of Resurgence with Scavenging Ooze and activated Yisan to find Kalonian Hydra.

On my turn, I cast Gyre Sage and activated Yisan again, finding Kalonian Twingrove and evolving Gyre Sage twice. I attacked with Kalonian Hydra, Scavenging Ooze, and Reverent Hunter, doubling the +1/+1 counters on all my creatures. Fleecemane Lion blocked Kalonian Hydra, and Skylashers blocked the other two. My opponent fell to 1 life, and I passed the turn. He drew his card and conceded.

Wrap-Up

When things go well for this deck, they go incredibly well. Despite never hitting a land drop beyond the fourth, Yisan easily powered the deck to victory by pumping out creature after creature. Every single creature from 1 mana to 6 was relevant. With the wide array of creatures I had access to, removal wasn’t really necessary. Whatever my opponent could play, I could simply tutor up something bigger and better.

Although this deck won’t perform nearly as well against opponents with the removal to make sure Yisan doesn’t get out of hand, the deck can still work without him since most of the toolbox creatures come with big bodies to battle with. If your local environment doesn’t have much to kill a 2/3 outside of combat, or if you just want to slam as many free creatures onto the battlefield as you can, give this deck a try.


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