It's rare that after a format has been "solved" we see a mostly new deck do well at a big tournament. This past weekend at the Online Players Tour was the exception. Let's go back in time and walk through how I ended up arriving at this deck decision.

Charming Prince

It's less than 24 hours before deck submission for the Players Tour. I am "locked in" on Temur Reclamation. My list feels really strong, and I have been playing the deck for many weeks, so I feel like I can pilot it very well. In the back of my mind though, I realize that Temur Reclamation is the deck that everyone else is gunning for. That's not the worst thing in the world, but I prefer to target the best deck rather than play it a lot of the time. 

In my head, the metagame is going to be Bant Ramp and Temur Reclamation, followed by Rakdos Sacrifice. (I am correct.) I decide to message a couple friends to see what they are playing the night before submitting my decklist. I expect to persuade them to jump on board the Reclamation train, so I start talking to Eric Froehlich and Brad Nelson. This is where the Temur Reclamation train starts going off the track.

Yorion, Sky Nomad

They tell me they want to play White-Black Yorion. I can hardly believe what they are saying. I knew that people are a bit off Magic, but to throw away a tournament on Orzhov Yorion seems a little crazy to me. Once I realized they are serious and have actually been testing the deck for a few days, and doing well, I know we have to play some games. We play, and the deck absolutely crushes Bant, while feeling close against Temur Reclamation.

The results aren't overwhelmingly positive, but they are good enough to make it feel like a real decision whether to play Orzhov Yorion or Temur Reclamation. I don't have time to play the deck much before deciding what list to submit. Then I hear that Ben Stark has also been testing the deck. Ben says he thinks the deck is absolutely busted. Whether it's the results against Bant, wanting to play a deck that is totally under the radar, or just wanting to have fun, I end up going with White-Black Yorion. I feel a little more comfortable knowing that other great players have also chosen the deck.

Everyone plays the same list, other than the Triomes:

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Orzhov Yorion by Ben Stark

'Orzhov Yorion' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Ben Stark

Event: Players Tour Online 3 - June 20-21, 2020

Rank: 4

Standard

Market Price: $137.39

Cards

Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $1.87

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/206010_200w.jpg

−1: Up to two target creatures you control each get +2/+1 until end of turn.
−2: Create two 1/1 white Human Soldier creature tokens.
−3: You gain 5 life.
Escape—{4}{W}{W}, Exile four other cards from your graveyard. (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its escape cost.)

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Yarok's Fenlurker

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.42

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/192529_200w.jpg

When Yarok's Fenlurker enters the battlefield, each opponent exiles a card from their hand.
{2}{B}: Yarok's Fenlurker gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

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Doom Foretold

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.32

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/198873_200w.jpg

At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player sacrifices a nonland, nontoken permanent. If that player can't, they discard a card, they lose 2 life, you draw a card, you gain 2 life, you create a 2/2 white Knight creature token with vigilance, then you sacrifice Doom Foretold.

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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.33

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/215937_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Rotting Regisaur

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.05

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/192593_200w.jpg

At the beginning of your upkeep, discard a card.

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Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.47

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/216276_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

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Oath of Kaya

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.79

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/188651_200w.jpg

When Oath of Kaya enters the battlefield, it deals 3 damage to any target and you gain 3 life.
Whenever an opponent attacks a planeswalker you control with one or more creatures, Oath of Kaya deals 2 damage to that player and you gain 2 life.

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Burglar Rat

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.23

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/216214_200w.jpg

When Burglar Rat enters the battlefield, each opponent discards a card.

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Kaya, Orzhov Usurper

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $3.40

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/182951_200w.jpg

+1: Exile up to two target cards from a single graveyard. You gain 2 life if at least one creature card was exiled this way.
−1: Exile target nonland permanent with converted mana cost 1 or less.
−5: Kaya, Orzhov Usurper deals damage to target player equal to the number of cards that player owns in exile and you gain that much life.

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Despark

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.42

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/212309_200w.jpg

Exile target permanent with converted mana cost 4 or greater.

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Treacherous Blessing

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.31

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/206658_200w.jpg

When Treacherous Blessing enters the battlefield, draw three cards.
Whenever you cast a spell, you lose 1 life.
When Treacherous Blessing becomes the target of a spell or ability, sacrifice it.

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Glass Casket

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.17

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/199004_200w.jpg

When Glass Casket enters the battlefield, exile target creature an opponent controls with converted mana cost 3 or less until Glass Casket leaves the battlefield.

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Castle Locthwain

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.69

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/199388_200w.jpg

Castle Locthwain enters the battlefield tapped unless you control a Swamp.
{T}: Add {B}.
{1}{B}{B}, {T}: Draw a card, then you lose life equal to the number of cards in your hand.

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Godless Shrine

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $7.26

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/182836_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W} or {B}.)
As Godless Shrine enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

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Elspeth Conquers Death

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $1.68

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/207052_200w.jpg

(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — Exile target permanent an opponent controls with converted mana cost 3 or greater.
II — Noncreature spells your opponents cast cost {2} more to cast until your next turn.
III — Return target creature or planeswalker card from your graveyard to the battlefield. Put a +1/+1 counter or a loyalty counter on it.

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Agonizing Remorse

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.40

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/207044_200w.jpg

Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it or a card from their graveyard. Exile that card. You lose 1 life.

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Yorion, Sky Nomad

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $0.84

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/212715_200w.jpg

Companion — Your starting deck contains at least twenty cards more than the minimum deck size. (If this card is your chosen companion, you may put it into your hand from outside the game for {3} any time you could cast a sorcery.)
Flying
When Yorion enters the battlefield, exile any number of other nonland permanents you own and control. Return those cards to the battlefield at the beginning of the next end step.

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Temple of Silence

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.48

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/215548_200w.jpg

Temple of Silence enters the battlefield tapped.
When Temple of Silence enters the battlefield, scry 1.
{T}: Add {W} or {B}.

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Charming Prince

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $1.34

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/198860_200w.jpg

When Charming Prince enters the battlefield, choose one —
• Scry 2.
• You gain 3 life.
• Exile another target creature you own. Return it to the battlefield under your control at the beginning of the next end step.

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Castle Ardenvale

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $2.92

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/199390_200w.jpg

Castle Ardenvale enters the battlefield tapped unless you control a Plains.
{T}: Add {W}.
{2}{W}{W}, {T}: Create a 1/1 white Human creature token.

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Kaya's Wrath

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.59

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/183178_200w.jpg

Destroy all creatures. You gain life equal to the number of creatures you controlled that were destroyed this way.

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Fabled Passage

Market Price: $4.95

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/215556_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Fabled Passage: Search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library. Then if you control four or more lands, untap that land.

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Mortify

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/182129_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature or enchantment.

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Savai Triome

Color Identity:B,R,W

Market Price: $4.45

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/212693_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R}, {W}, or {B}.)
Savai Triome enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {3} ({3}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Indatha Triome

Color Identity:B,G,W

Market Price: $4.17

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/212689_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}, {B}, or {G}.)
Indatha Triome enters the battlefield tapped.
Cycling {3} ({3}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Duress

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://6d4be195623157e28848-7697ece4918e0a73861de0eb37d08968.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/215662_200w.jpg

Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose a noncreature, nonland card from it. That player discards that card.

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We go back and forth on a couple card choices, though most of it is just theory. For instance, we cut Basilica Bell-Haunt and add Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis. The theory is we want a more proactive four-mana play, and don't expect as many small creature decks. Basilica Bell-Haunt is certainly better vs. Mono-Red, but we prefer Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis against the green midrange strategies. I'm able to get in a handful of matches before the event, but honestly my confidence isn't particularly high. It's only after the Players Tour starts that I feel like the deck is actually good.

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I end up going on from here to rattle off an 8-1 record on day one, putting me in a great spot going into the second day. We all think we made a great metagame call, since Bant Ramp is the most popular deck in the tournament. I personally have a 6-0 record against it. Unfortunately, I get some rough pairings on day 2 coupled with some bad luck, and amazing topdecks from my opponents. This leaves me just outside the Top 8, finishing in 10th place.

Luckily we are able to put one copy of Orzhov Yorion into Top 8, in the hands of Ben Stark, to make our group feel validated in our decision to play the deck.

The Game Plan

Let's get into what the deck is trying to actually do. 

Pick the Opponent's Hand Apart

Burglar Rat Yarok's Fenlurker Agonizing Remorse

This is the most discard-dense deck I have ever played. We have 12 maindeck discard spells, and four more in the sideboard. That isn't counting Doom Foretold. The idea is to force the opponent to topdeck to win, and strip them of precious resources. Since there is so much hand disruption it often means the opponent is forced to play into removal like Elspeth Conquers Death

Make Doom Foretold Good

Doom Foretold

One of the signature cards in the Orzhov color pair is Doom Foretold. The card is very good if you have permanents lying around that you don't mind sacrificing. In this case, we are playing plenty of expendible permanents. In fact, some of our cards we want to sacrifice in some cases. 

Cast Treacherous Blessing

Treacherous Blessing

This wouldn't be a deck without Treacherous Blessing. This card ties the deck together, and allows us to gain card advantage on the opponent. This is a great example of a card that we don't mind sacrificing to Doom Foretold, but if given the opportunity we are of course going to flicker it with Yorion, Sky Nomad. You do have to be carefulI know firsthand that you can die from these triggers. Still, there is enough life gain that it doesn't usually happen. 

Abuse Yorion

Most of the recent complaints regarding companions are that they aren't being used after the latest rules change. Well, we are definitely using Yorion, Sky Nomad to great effect here. Not only is Yorion our companion, but we also have three more copies in the main.

Charming Prince

Our primary way to win most games involves casting Yorion, Sky Nomad. We want to have as many permanents in our deck that have enters-the-battlefield effects as possible. Charming Prince plus Yorion lets you continually flicker Yorion in and out of play. That is pretty insane, as some decks simply can't interact with it. 

Matchup Guide

Let's go over some important matchups, keeping in mind things may change a bit after the release of Core Set 2021.

Vs. Temur Reclamation

This is a challenging, but winnable matchup. Their card advantage and countermagic give them the edge game one, so you want to be able to pivot after sideboarding. We are bringing in a full 10 cards, the most of any matchup. 

Vs. Temur Reclamation

After the Glass Casket and Oath of Kaya, finding what to take out is a bit tricky. I have been doing some shaving, but trying to keep the core of the deck intact. With the additional discard in Duress, and the additional removal for Wilderness Reclamation and Nightpack Ambusher in Despark, the game plan is much more likely to work.

However, we can simply go on a Rotting Regisaur beatdown plan as well. We aren't the same sort of Regisaur-based strategy as some other decks playing it, but if we can pair it with discard, especially on the play, it definitely has a good shot of going all the way. 

Vs. Bant Ramp

I love playing this matchup. Once you get Charming Prince plus Yorion, Sky Nomad going, there is very little they can do. The games usually go long enough that you have time to set up this combo. There have been some differing opinions on Glass Casket in this matchup, but I really like it. Being able to flicker it out later (after, say, eating a Hydroid Krasis) definitely comes up. 

Vs. Bant Ramp

Despark sometimes comes in depending on the build. If they have lots of planeswalkers like Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Tamiyo, Collector of Tales you definitely want them as well. Taking out Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis is always fine because it isn't super important to the Yorion, Sky Nomad game plan.

The Bant deck tries to out-grind you with card advantage, but it really doesn't work. Always play around what you can, and try to aggressively attack their hand. Kaya, Orzhov Usurper and Glass Casket can deal with Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath and Shark Typhoon

Vs. Jund Sacrifice

This is the matchup that ended up knocking me out in the final round of the Players Tour, but the games can be very swingy. Kaya, Orzhov Usurper is amazing against this deck, it even deals with the food tokens. Bolas's Citadel can completely swing the game, and it's tough to play around your opponent topdecking it in a close game. Overall, I do think the matchup is very close. 

Vs. Jund Sacrifice

We aren't sideboarding very much here. I'm not actually super confident in the Kaya's Wrath, but they can be a nice way to claw back in after your opponent has a good aggressive start. In the end I'm sideboarding them in. The games usually come down to trying to line up your removal and discard properly against their threats. 

Vs. Aggro

I love playing against aggro decks of all varieties with this deck. We have such a high density of removal and life gain, it's really tough for the aggressive decks to get too many threats in play at once. Oath of Kaya is one of the best cards in these matchups. I didn't drop any matches to aggro decks this past weekend. 

Vs. Aggro

You will need to vary a little bit based on lists to find what you want to be doing here. Against Mono-Green for instance, I have been bringing in a couple of Rotting Regisaur on the draw as well, and they should likely come in against Mono-Red Aggro as well. However, against Rakdos Sacrifice Rotting Regisaur is dangerous because of Claim the Firstborn. If you do bring in Regisaur you probably need to take out Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis.

* * *

I'm not a true expert with the deck, which is why this is the full extent of the sideboard guide I'm comfortable with providing today. I'm looking forward to seeing if this deck has what it takes to stay a factor in the metagame for many months to come. After playing it, I think we will see plenty more of it moving forward.

Thanks to everyone who helped me with this deck. It really did come together in the end, despite me initially calling it "unplayable garbage."