Brewing with Yawgmoth in Modern

A few nights ago I fired up my laptop to jam a Modern league while I was staying at a Holiday Inn and was completely blown away by the deck one of my opponents destroyed me with.

And this time, it didn’t contain [Card]Oko, Thief of Crowns[/Card] or [Card]Urza, Lord High Artificer[/Card]. Instead I got combo-killed by one of the coolest cards printed in the last little while — [Card]Yawgmoth, Thran Physician[/Card].

I needed to give it a spin for myself:

[Deck Title= Yawgmoth Chord – Eli Kassis]
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Young Wolf
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons
1 Blood Artist
4 Wall of Roots
4 Strangleroot Geist
4 Geralf’s Messenger
4 Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
1 Thragtusk
3 Chord of Calling
4 Once Upon a Time
4 Eldritch Evolution
4 Blooming Marsh
2 Khalni Garden
1 Nurturing Peatland
2 Overgrown Tomb
2 Snow-Covered Forest
2 Snow-Covered Swamp
4 Twilight Mire
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
3 Verdant Catacombs
1 Fatal Push
1 Veil of Summer
1 Collector Ouphe
1 Damping Sphere
1 Phyrexian Revoker
1 Plague Engineer
1 Reclamation Sage
3 Leyline of the Void
1 Force of Vigor
1 Obstinate Baloth
1 Vraska, Golgari Quee
1 Cavalier of Night
1 Gaze of Granite

This deck revolves around Yawgmoth, your own creatures dying for value and a powerful combo finish. The entire deck is built to abuse the powerful synergy between Yawgmoth and the Undying mechanic.  If you have two [Card]Young Wolf[/Card]’s in play with Yawgmoth, you can sacrifice one to target one of your opponent’s creatures. Then when the Undying counter gets added to the wolf, use your other fresh wolf to target the undead wolf. These positive and negative counters erase cancel each other out. Bringing your wolf back from the dead. You lose one life for this interaction, but you also get to draw a card. You can repeat this action for as much life as you possess. Then, if you throw a [Card]Blood Artist[/Card] into the mix you’ve got an infinite loop that wins the game. 

But that’s just the beginning. Its much easier to win with this deck than assembling a four card combo. [Card]Young Wolf[/Card] can be replaced by any creature with the Undying mechanic. [Card]Geralf’s Messenger[/Card] is especially spicy as it has a come into play ability that causes your opponent to lose two life.

This means that if you are ahead on life, Messenger + Yawgmoth + Wolf is game over. The deck is also chock full of sweet one-ofs to fetch up like [Card]Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons[/Card]. Hapatra and Yawgmoth combo nicely together as well. Hapatra + Yawgmoth + Wolf is a one-sided [Card]Plague Wind[/Card] and [Card]Yawgmoth’s Bargain[/Card] for yourself.

This play pattern goes as follows: Sacrifice Wolf to target one of their creatures. This creates a 1/1 deathtouch snake token and brings an undead Wolf back. Use the 1/1 creature to target your undead Wolf. This brings it back to life and nets you another token creature. You can then rinse and repeat again for as much life total as you possess. 

You’ll find there’s a million little interactions with the deck that you’ll keep learning more and more about over time. That’s what makes it so fun!

Here’s some helpful hints to give you a boost in the beginning: as opposed to traditional competitive decks where early-game chump blocking is often considered not a winning play, this deck utilizes its life total as a resource and often has an abundance of Undying creatures ready to preserve your life total. So, feel free to block early and often. The deck has solid resiliency and redundancy, but do not make the common mistake of over sideboarding as many often do with a combo deck like this. You’ll butcher your own proactive strategy and thin out your combo pieces to where you’ll lose to inconsistency.

A solid and consistent way to win on Turn 3 is as following:

  • Turn 1: [Card]Blooming Marsh[/Card] + [Card]Birds of Paradise[/Card]
  • Turn 2: Swamp + [Card]Geralf’s Messenger[/Card]
  • Turn 3: Attack with Messenger, then [Card]Eldritch Evolution[/Card] for Yawgmoth Sacrificing Geralf. Cast Wolf, perform loop. Win!

Another key piece of the puzzle that has helped make this deck into a very real sleeper choice in the metagame is the printing of [Card]Once Upon a Time[/Card]. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how powerful free spells like this are, but in the context of a creature-combo deck like this Once offers incredible consistency. It also gives your further access to some of your tutor bullets which is extremely helpful post-board. 

If you can’t get your combo online, the silver bullets are there to help. Maindeck we have [Card]Scavenging Ooze[/Card] for the graveyard-based decks and midrange matchups, [Card]Thragtusk[/Card] for Burn and other removal heavy matchups. When we get to the sideboard we’ve got even more bullets at our disposal: [Card]Plague Engineer[/Card] is great versus all the tribal strategies and great versus [Card]Thopter Foundry[/Card], an extra [Card]Obstinate Baloth[/Card] for the aggressive strategies, a [Card]Phyrexian Revoker[/Card] for Oko and Karn, [Card]Reclamation Sage[/Card] for [Card]Oblivion Stone[/Card] and other problem artifact or enchantment-based strategies and even a spicy [Card]Cavalier of Night[/Card] for additional life gain, but also a hard to deal with threat. 

As is the case with most combo decks in Modern you’re going to want to know what kind of hate people will beat you with after-board. Watch out for [Card]Grafdigger’s Cage[/Card] specifically, because not only does it turn off your tutor-effects, it also stops a lot of your graveyard recursion. 

In the abstract after playing a few matches with this deck, I actually think it’s pretty close to being able to contend in Modern. Oko and company surely have a strangelhold on the top of the metagame for the moment, but a ban here or metagame shift here might be all Yawgmoth needs to become competitive. With that said, this deck is a ton of fun and presents a strong proactive plan which we all know is exactly what you need to compete in Modern. I recommend giving it a shot!

As always thanks for checking out my article. Hopefully everyone likes the deck, I’m going to be tooling around with it some more and hopefully make it even better. Check out my stream at Twitch.Tv/EliKassis usually on the evenings of Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Maybe we’ll be putting some Yawgmoths into play!

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