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Yargalicious

The Mountain Ford by Thomas Cole (1846). Spikeshot Goblin by Jason Kang.

Scale Dragon from The Ur-Dragon by Jaime Jones.

I don’t always name my decks, but when I build a deck led by Yargle, Glutton of Urborg, it has to have an interesting name. Currently I’m going with Yargalicious. I’m the kind of person who will (and actually just did) name his new inkjet printer “Printy McPrinterson” so I guess you shouldn’t expect much better from me.

I wasn’t originally going to build a Yargle deck, but very soon, on Sunday May 20th, 2018, we’re holding a Yarglefest at the local game store I play at. I’m not going to run a day of Commander and not join in the fun, so I figured it made sense to throw together a deck and to share my list with you.

I’m definitely not worried about letting all my secrets out. To be perfectly honest, I’m not trying that hard to win. I want to get some good games in, but there are definitely cards I’m missing that I should be running if I were going to play the best deck I could possibly put together. In a nutshell, I hope to “Yargle” a few people, but fully expect to get “Yargled” before the day is complete.

You win a Yarglefest by being the last player not to have been killed by a Yargle. If it isn’t possible to determine a winner that way, it will be the player who has not been Yargled and who has Yargled the most opponents. This is all old territory, covered in detail a few weeks ago, so let’s dive into my build.

Building to the Meta

One of the most important things to know is that we’re going to be playing in a very strange environment on Sunday, May 20th. If you were to just take a Mono-Black deck and swap Yargle in for your old commander, you might find yourself with some dead cards in your hand at Yarglefest.

Lots of creatures “die to Doom Blade” but if you find yourself staring down a lethal strike from an opponent’s Yargle it’s not going to save you. Black removal spells that only affect nonblack creatures won’t be much help when every single deck will be Mono-Black.

Cards with the keyword “Fear” also won’t be much use. Making a creature only blockable by artifact creatures and creatures that are Black will do you very little good at Yarglefest. We need to cut out any cards that will be useless in a Mono-Black meta and add in some cards that will play well when we and our opponents are all forced to play Yargle decks.

Sword of Light and Shadow
Cemetery Gate
Ultimate Price

Giving your Yargle protection from Black on a day where you’re likely to see a lot of Black creatures seems pretty good. I don’t own an Akroma's Memorial or a Sword of Feast and Famine, but my Sword of Light and Shadow should come in pretty handy.

Creatures in Black that have protection from Black are pretty hard to find, but once upon a time I had a mill deck led by Phenax, God of Deception deck that ran Cemetery Gate. That deck is no longer together, but my Cemetery Gate was easy to find and will block incoming Yargles like a champ.

I’m going to be running a lot of removal, though sadly most of those instants and sorceries won’t do much good against someone with a Yargle that has protection from black. We will be able to safely run cards like Ultimate Price. A card with such a tight restriction is often left out of a Commander deck but here it will fit in nicely.

Leshrac's Rite

If we can run creatures with swampwalk or can find ways to give Yargle swampwalk that will also be very strong. On a day where everyone will be running swamps, having creatures that are unblockable if your opponent controls a swamp means free attacks. I don’t own a copy of Leshrac's Rite, but if you can pick up a copy and strap it onto your Yargle it will probably work out pretty well. I may just have to do a little digging at my local game store between now and the 20th to see if I can find a copy.

Anyone we eliminate from a game with lethal damage from a creature other than a Yargle will remain in the running to win the title of “Grand Yarglemaster” and the playmat that comes with it. Our focus should probably be more on commander damage than on generic or even good swampwalk creatures.

The next thing to keep in mind is that Black has a hard time dealing with certain types of permanents. We can run a ton of artifacts and not really worry about artifact removal. Maybe you’ve never been hit by a Vandalblast, but a Voltron deck with piles of mana rocks and equipment can really get set back by mass artifact removal. Because we’ll be playing against all Mono-Black decks we can pretty safely run tons of mana rocks and lots and lots of equipment.

I built this list with a “8x8” pattern and devoted one slot to mana rocks and two slots to equipment. That’s way more than I would normally run but for Mono-Black voltron deck it feels about right.

Yargle’s Toys

We need to remember what we’re working with. Yargle is a 9/3 Frog Spirit. With a 3 toughness he will be very easy to kill, so we’ll want to run the usual Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves to help protect him. Mask of Avacyn is worth considering as well, though it’s not in my current build.

Bladed Pinions
Sword of Vengeance
Viridian Claw

The fact that he’s 9/3 and the fact that lots of black decks like to run deathtouch blockers both mean we will do well to give our commander first strike. Bladed Pinions, Sword of Vengeance, and Viridian Claw all do that, and we’ll throw in Fireshrieker as a way to give Yargle double-strike. Lots of keywords will help us in our plan, but there are some toys that will just shine in this environment.

Strata Scythe
Lashwrithe
Cranial Plating

Strata Scythe at a 5-player table where everyone is playing Black will probably make Yargle a lethal threat fairly early in the game, giving him +1/+1 for each swamp on the battlefield. That’s assuming we exile a swamp and our opponents aren’t all playing wastes. Lashwrithe will give us +1/+1 for each swamp we control, which might not give us a 1-shot kill but is very strong in a Mono-Black deck. Cranial Plating will give Yargle +1/+0 for each artifact we control, and since we’ll be running over two dozen artifacts that should also help us out.

Hatred
Howl from Beyond
Endless Scream

These three cards were staples in my old Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon deck and should put in good work here. Pumping to 21 commander damage is a challenge, so these should help us get there.

Of course it’s also worth asking why we should get to 21 if we can simply kill opponents by getting to 10 instead.

Yargle’s Infectious Personality

Winning with commander damage should be within our reach if things go well. Things don’t always go well, so it makes sense to add a little infect to our game plan. If a player gets 10 poison counters they lose the game. The NexGen Commander League normally runs with an infect count of 13, but for Yarglefest we’re putting on our “big boy” pants and playing with 10.

Tainted Strike
Phyresis
Glistening Oil

These will all let us kill an opponent so long as Yargle is at least at 10 power. Starting at 9 power means that one swing with a Tainted Strike thrown in will kill someone pretty nicely. I’ll be running Grafted Exoskeleton as well as haste enablers so that I can kill someone after a boardwipe if they don’t have any answers. Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves will both protect our commander and let us swing in on the turn we play him.

Getting Damage Through

This might be our biggest challenge. I expect removal to be everywhere, as Black is a fantastic color for removal and will give us and our opponents lots of options. I’m not moving my copy of Damnation over to my Yargle deck, though I probably should. I expect to see that spell cast at least a few times, along with Bile Blight and Sever the Bloodline, both of which should rid the field of all Yargles.

Getting a haste enabler out and planning to cast Yargle and swing in after a boardwipe isn’t a terrible plan. If we can catch an opponent with no removal in hand or no open mana, we might be able to get in a quick kill. I think the biggest challenge will be resisting the urge to cast Yargle early. If we can keep from having to pay a huge commander tax later in the game we’ll be well positioned to get some kills.

My Yargle Army

I’m running a lot of removal, a lot of mana rocks and a ton of equipment, so this deck feels like it might be a little light in the way of creatures. The current list runs 16 creatures with a focus on deathtouch blockers. That means Rancid Rats, Typhoid Rats, Fetid Imp, and Gifted Aetherborn. I need to pick up the “OG” of deathtouch blockers, Vampire Nighthawk, as I wasn’t able to find one when I threw this first draft together. I’m also running creatures like Noxious Gearhulk, Royal Assassin, and Gilt-Leaf Winnower so that I’ve got additional ways to kill an opponent’s Yargle.

I think this is the area where the decks will really show a unique personality.

You might think a Mono-Black build would be boring but you could build a Yargle Rat Colony deck, a Yargle Eldrazi deck, a Yargle Vampires deck or any number of other Yargle decks with a unique feel and playstyle.

Because my build is Yargle Equipment, it might not have quite as much character as some of the other decks we’ll be seeing at Yarglefest, but with any luck it’ll have a shot to win any table it plays at.

The Good Stuff

By “good stuff” I don’t mean “goodstuff”. There are lots of great black cards and I’m running some of them. I decided to throw in Dark Ritual and Cabal Ritual even though I normally avoid one-use ramp spells. I’m also running Ad Nauseam, as I just picked up a copy and wanted to give it a whirl. I’ve heard card draw is good in Magic.

In all seriousness, I went out of my way to find some fun Black cards that might work well and are a little out of the ordinary. I’m not trying to run all the best or most powerful Black or colorless cards from the history of Magic in this list. For example, here are some of the more janky cards I threw in.

Helm of Possession
Withering Boon
Demonic Rising

I may not be in Blue, but I can steal your Yargle with Helm of Possession if you don’t have hexproof or shroud. You are eliminated when you are killed by a Yargle, but that doesn’t mean I have to kill you with MY Yargle.

Withering Boon will be well worth the 3 life if it keeps positions me for a kill or keeps someone’s Yargle off the field. I may be running a relatively light creature list but Demonic Rising might work well with this kind of build. There probably won’t be a lot of enchantment removal and if I’ve got just one creature out this enchantment will put a 5/5 Black demon creature with flying onto the battlefield.

Manriki-Gusari
Isochron Scepter
Eldrazi Monument

We may well be in a position where we need to remove protection from someone’s Yargle. In Mono-Black we don’t have a lot of options, but Manriki-Gusari will let us tap to destroy equipment so we can hit the offending creature with one of our many removal spells. Lots of those removal spells are instants that cost one or two mana, so Isochron Scepter could set us up with a kill spell, a ritual or even a Tainted Strike that we can play every turn. Eldrazi Monument is a little risky, as it could force us to sacrifice our own creatures, but in the right spot it could be invaluable as a way to protect our board and close out a game.

The Decklist

My list may well change between now and our Yarglefest, but I’m definitely going to keep with the same core. I might throw in Darkness, Damnation or Sheoldred, Whispering One, and a Mirage Mirror would probably be a smart addition. I might even go find my Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Cabal Coffers and grab a Demonic Tutor.

On the other hand I might just stay with a decidedly jankier build and just try to have some fun and maybe break into round two without getting Yargled.


Final Thoughts

Yes, I know. I’m running Sisay's Ring. I’m running some terrible cards in this deck and there’s a good chance I will not come to my senses and swap them out for better cards before we hold our Yarglefest. There’s actually a very good chance that I may even throw in stuff like Demon's Horn and Staff of the Death Magus. I know full well that I should be more worried about Yargle damage than regular damage but it would amuse me to run either of these cards.

If my opponents see my bad cards and underestimate me, maybe I’ll be able to sneak in a kill or two or even clear a table in round one. If I get Yargled right off the bat, I’ll probably still jump in on additional rounds with other players who have also gotten Yargled. You don’t often get the chance to play an entire afternoon of Mono-Black Commander where everyone has to build around the same legendary creature. I think it’ll be a lot of fun and I know some of the guys in our local Commander community are looking forward to it.

If you’re in the New England area, I would honestly love to meet you and have you join in the fun. If you’re not in driving distance of Pelham, New Hamsphire and can’t join us at NexGen Comics, you can always run your own Yarglefest. You don’t even have to run it on May 20th.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week!


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