The Course of Empire: The Savage State (1836) by Thomas Cole.
Yargle, Glutton of Urborg by Jehan Choo.
If you're a regular reader, you know that I run a Commander league at a local game store and also coordinate a weekly casual commander night. I'm very actively involved in trying to help organize fun Commander-related activities for the small community of Commander players in our area.
I attended the Saturday NexGen Comics Dominaria prerelease, and one thing I noticed is that there was a general sense of excitement and amusement around our new frog spirit overlord, Yargle, Glutton of Urborg. Given that this 9 power / 3 toughness former maggot is an uncommon, I expect him to be widely available and fairly popular in casual Commander circles.
It seems silly to even try to quantify or explain the awesomeness that is Yargle, but I'll try.
This ex-maggot is that rarest of rare cards, a paradox in cardboard, Yargle is a vanilla legendary creature who still somehow gets Commander players excited about building decks around him. The fact that he's got 9 power probably has a lot to do with that. In a format that scoffs at vanilla creatures and often looks down on mono-colored decks, there are plenty of Commander players building Yargle decks.
Before you stop reading, let me be clear. Few "serious" or "cEDH" players have looked at Yargle and thought about building him. I'm talking about all the weird and wonderful deck-builders who are willing to build bad decks that are funny. Lots of Commander players build suboptimal decks because they find joy in exploring the incredibly wide and diverse history of Magic cards.
Nobody solely or even primarily focused on winning Commander games is going to get that worked up about a vanilla 9/3, even if it's a frog spirit with a name you can't stop saying.
Yargle Yargle Yargle
It's fun. You should try saying it. I'm not even kidding.
In my continual efforts to think of fun things for our group of Commander players to do, I came up with an idea. Why not have a day dedicated to celebrating the awesomeness that is Yargle?
I doubt this will become an annual event, but it sounds way better with a year tacked onto it, so I decided I'm going to be organizing "Yarglefest 2018" at our local game store.
It's a pretty simple plan, and if you like what we're going to be doing at NexGen Comics, you should talk to your local game store and see if you can organize your own Yarglefest 2018.
It'll be a Commander tournament with unique rules centered around Yargle.
Our organized and casual Commander events at NexGen are free, so it's likely we will have this be free as well, but I may check with our playerbase to see if there is interest in having a $5 pay-in and a store credit prize for the winner. I'll probably scrounge up a foil Yargle to give out as a prize. Yargle is being printed at uncommon, so I'm guessing they'll be easy to find.
The big prize is bragging rights and the made-up-by-me, purely honorific and entirely meaningless title of "2018 Grand Yarglemaster".
I've also ordered a playmat from inkedgaming.com (https://www.inkedgaming.com/products/custom-playmat) for our Yarglefest winner. You can download the artwork shown above (https://i.imgur.com/9eSK4NJ.jpg) and order one for yourself if you are running a Yarglefest and want to have a playmat to give away as a prize. Their prices are reasonable and I've been happy with the playmats I've had them make for me in the past.
Whether you have a playmat to give away or not, the winner will hold the title of Grand Yarglemaster until the following year's "Yarglefest", which may or may not occur. It's quite possible this will turn into a lifetime achievement.
If you run your own "Yarglefest", you can certainly do whatever you like for a prize, over and above awarding the title of "Grand Yarglemaster". If your group loves paying into a pool and having a payoff for the winner, that's great. You should do what makes sense for your own Yarglefest. You can even have a playmat ordered like I did, but jump on that now so it arrives in time for when you play to hold your own tournament.
So how do you become Grand Yarglemaster?
This will be an elimination-style Commander Tournament with unique rules and restrictions.
All decks must be Mono-Black Commander decks, legal by the current Rules Committee's strictures (no proxies), and must be led by Yargle, Glutton of Urborg.
We will not have any extra bans or restrictions beyond the format's normal rules. NexGen's Commander league runs with 13 poison counters for an infect kill but we will be using 10 for Yarglefest.
Games will be played in 3-5 player pods, with a preference for four or five player pods when possible. Pods will be randomly determined for the first round.
If you are eliminated from any game in any round of play by taking lethal damage from someone's Yargle, you "got Yargled" and you are no longer eligible for the title of Grand Yarglemaster.
Don't get Yargled!
If you eliminate an opponent by doing lethal damage with your Yargle or with someone else's Yargle under your control, you will earn a point.
The tournament organizer will track these points, but they will only matter if there are multiple players who haven't been "Yargled" and you run out of time to play. Ideally you will run rounds of Commander games until there is one player left standing who hadn't been killed by a Yargle.
You can become the Grand Yarglemaster in the middle of a game if at any point in time you become the last man standing -- the only player not to have been Yargled.
Players who have been eliminated may continue to participate in additional rounds of play, as one of the goals is to have more Yargle in our lives, not less. They just won't be in the running to win the tournament.
We're going to run our rounds with a two hour cutoff, as it's what we do for the NexGen Commander league so our players are familiar with that timeframe. Players will have a 10 minute turn limit and if a pod goes to the two hour mark, each player will get one last turn of no more than 5 minutes before the game is declared a draw. If you need to run with shorter rounds for some reason, that's fine. I would be surprised if any pods went to time, given that we're in Mono-Black and players have a real incentive to try to kill each other.
After all tables are done for each round of play, all players who have not yet been "Yargled" (eliminated from a game by taking lethal damage from a Yargle) will be placed at the same table or tables (if there are more than five remaining). All other players who wish to keep playing will be randomly sorted into pods for the round.
It's better to have decent sized pods than to wind up with two or three player tables. Try to have your still-active players play each other after round one, try to make sure that everyone who wants to play gets to play, and try to randomize the pods when it makes sense to do so.
Our Yarglefest will be run with no proxies and no gold-bordered cards. We basically try to run things as if we were a sanctioned event. I would urge you to do so as well, especially if you are playing at a game store.
If you do allow proxies you may see less variety in the decks that are played, but you know your meta or league better than I do, so you should do what makes the most sense for your group.
At the end of the day, the last remaining player to not have been Yargled is the winner.
If there are multiple players who have not been eliminated and you run out of time and cannot fit any more rounds in, the winner can be determined by which of the remaining active players earned the most points over the course of the tournament.
Promoting Your Yarglefest
Whether a day full of Mono-Black Commander games sounds like torture or like a fun experiment, it's a chance to throw a deck together and try something different. If you think it sounds like fun, I'd urge you to organize your own Yarglefest, even if you don't do prizes, playmats or anything fancy for it.
If you go for it, you'll probably need to put a little effort into spreading word and getting players excited about joining in. These things don't happen on their own and it'll be much more fun if you get a decent showing, especially if you do it at a public venue like a game store.
If you're not up for organizing a tournament and you're in the New England area, you can get a chance to meet me and maybe even kill me with your Yargle. We'll be playing at NexGen Comics in Pelham, New Hampshire on May 20th. I expect we'll start at 1:00 pm and it'll either be free or maybe $5.00 if the guys decide they want to have a prize pool.
Getting Your Yargle On
I suspect some players will swap a Yargle in for the general of one of their Mono-Black decks and make some minor tweaks but the most important thing to remember is that you can only eliminate someone from the Yarglefest by killing them with a Yargle.
If you're not going to build a Yargle deck from the ground up I would recommend reworking an existing Mono-Black Voltron deck like Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon. It will probably has lots of pump spells and support for the kind of strategy you'll need to employ to rack up the points. I had a "Skittles" deck a while back so I should be able to throw together something playable by May 20th.
Infect kills a player with 10 poison counters, so an unblocked Yargle with Swiftfoot Boots, hit by a Tainted Strike will kill an opponent. I expect we may see a lot of Tainted Strikes and a decent number of other ways to give him haste and make our giant frog poisonous.
Commander damage is still at 21 points of damage from a single commander. That means that a little pump and an equipment that gives Yargle double-strike is also a pretty good plan. All you have to do is give him +2 power with double-strike and he'll be a lethal threat. Evasion is going to be important. Cheap ways to give Yargle flying or or make him unblockable will help us out, so Fleetfeather Sandals, Whispersilk Cloak, and equipment like that are worth including.
I don't know if players will try to kill tables with non-Yargle wincons. Normal damage and combos like Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Triskelion or Sanguine Bond and Exquisite Blood will kill a table but they won't eliminate any opponent from the competition and they won't earn you any points that way. If we have players using the threat of an table-killing combo as a way to avoid getting "Yargled" we might wind up having to look at points to determine who wins.
I had promised a long series of Dominaria decklist articles, but as soon as I thought up the idea for Yarglefest I knew I had to devote this week to it. In a way, that's probably going to be a good thing as it gave me a chance to actually play my first few Dominaria Commander decks.
Last week's Firesong and Sunspeaker list had some great stuff in it, but also some glaring omissions. I am fairly confident that next week's deck will make up for any failings on my part from that article. I'm not only onto something pretty good, but I will have gotten through those early games where you sort out early problems with an new deck.
If you need any advice on setting up and running your Yarglefest, feel free to comment below. I've been running our Commander League for over two years now so I'm a little experienced with this sort of thing.
If you want to read about my Commander games, I write about them on the old site where Commanderruminations was first hosted. You can find that blog at http://dantesdad.wixsite.com/commanderruminations. I don't know that it's the most enlightening writing to be found on the web, but it's a glimpse into my thoughts as I work through new and old decks and try to balance fun and competitiveness in both league and casual Commander play.
That's all I've got for you today. Thanks for reading and I'll see you next week!