Here comes Yasova Dragonclaus!

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What better way to get into the holiday spirit than with a festive deck tech! 

Today I’ll take you through a holiday inspired list that doesn’t rely on silver bordered cards (although who doesn’t love Thopter Pie Network or Snow Mercy). While it was tempting to make the Happy Holidays set cards work, it’s always better to have a deck you can play at any time, and this is one your friends will want you to play again. Let’s unwrap this present and spread some holiday cheer at the table with Yasova Dragonclaus. 

The primary goal of this deck is to take control of our opponents creatures with Yasova, then gift the stolen creature to another opponent in an unfavourable position. In order to be able to take anything we want, we’ll need to buff up Yasova, or cast some spells that let us take control of permanents. After we have some goodies to give away, we’ll use one of our twenty-three exchange control spells to make some generous trades. Of course we’ll need a healthy hand and plenty of mana, so we’ll use some group hug effects to accelerate everyone’s ramp and card draw. In some cases, we may have some creatures in play that make the game less fun for all, regardless of who owns it. We pack a very small Yasova-centric removal package to deal with that pesky Void Winnower or an unfun Jin-Gitaxis, Core Augur.

The ideal opener will get the game rolling a bit faster with some group hug effects. Veteran Explorer, Helm of Awakening and Howling Mine can all come in early and kickstart the game with an added bonus of saving any players that are suffering from a bad opening hand. We can also keep the good times rolling with Rites of Flourishing, Pir’s Whim and Horn of Greed

If you can position it correctly, Tempt With Discovery can also act as a group ramp spell, but it’s hard to convince the table that you won’t use the additional mana for evil. With eleven draw effects, the deck is a little short of the ideal fourteen, but you should be able to garner some good will by doling out some free card advantage. We’re also on fifteen ramp effects to make sure we get up to the ten-plus mana stage of the game, so we can activate Yasova and resolve an exchange effect in the same turn. 

Once we have sufficient mana we can start our holiday gift exchange. Whether we’re taking a creature with Yasova, an artifact with Treasure Nabber or a permanent with Dominus of Fealty we should be mindful of how we play this politically — try to steal from different opponents and balance out who’s receiving the gifts in the exchange. Our goal with this list is to increase the level of fun everyone is having, so be mindful of your choices and make deals where you can to balance the scales. 

When it comes to gifting, we have plenty of options between Bazaar Trader, Role Reversal and Shifting Loyalties if we need to exchange permanents, and a slew of other options for gifting creatures (where most of our focus will be). If we have an empty board, we can still force some gifting with some instant speed tricks like Bolt Bend, Sudden Substitution and Domineering Will. In true holiday spirit I’d urge you to favour those in need, but if you build this list you can play it however you see fit. 

To get the most distance out of Yasova, we need to increase her power. While this list runs fewer buff effects than other Yasova decks, we lean on Blackblade Reforged, O-Naginata and Hero’s Blade to efficiently buff power. We also include some Yasova staples to fill out our removal suite — Willbreaker let’s us keep creatures permanently, Demonmail Hauberk is great for removing indestructible threats and if we want to make sure something is gone for good we can banish it back to the library with Proteus Staff. Since we’re focused on fostering equity, we don’t run any wraths and only have three proper removal effects. 

The last part of this deck tech is one of the highlights — the manabase. Normally building a three colour manabase can get pricey, but this one clocks in under $150 driven almost solely by the three shocks. The shocks provide some good colour smoothing driven by the slow fetches (Flood Plain, Mountain Valley and Bad River), but they can be dropped if your budget calls for it. I’d highly recommend investing in shocks though, as they’ll maintain their value and they’ll make mana a smaller issue in the future, which means more time focusing on having fun. This list boasts a total twenty-eight blue sources, twenty-seven green sources and twenty-three red sources, meaning we should consistently have our  colours online and have ample blue mana to cast Blatant Thievery. We also have a few utility lands that we run to push the group hug strategy a bit further, Forbidden Orchard gives us some good swap targets, Rainbow Vale for a little bit of collective fixing and Mikikoro, Centre of the Sea for more card draw. 

There we have it, a list that will make you lots of friends, and maybe an enemy at the table — but just give them some gifts to win them back. I hope you’ve found this deck tech inspiring and that you can find a way to spread some holiday cheer at the next table you join. 

Here Comes Yasova Dragonclaus! – Bryan Smith

Commander (1)

Card Draw (11)

Removal (3)

Tutor (1)

Ramp (15)

Staple Cards (4)

Exchange (23)

Group Hug (15)

Steal (14)

Steal Buff (5)

Lands (36)