There came a point in last year's Okotoberfest where playing a turn-two Oko, Thief of Crowns made me feel nauseous.
It was all I'd been doing for weeks, and I was growing tired of doing the same thing over and over again. I started getting that feeling this week when I transformed my umpteenth Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis token into an Agent of Treachery with Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast.
TL;DR: I'm sick of Yorion, Sky Nomad/Fires of Invention mirrors.
And if you've been playing enough Standard, I bet you are too.
Fires of Invention decks currently account for about 23% of the metagame according to mtgtop8.com. There's going to be a reasonable number of Keruga, the Macrosage decks in there, but enough Yorion, Sky Nomad/Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast decks to make me want to stop playing it.
If you're looking to win in a different fashion and try your hand at taking down these decks, I've found some ideas on how to do it!
The first deck is still a Yorion, Sky Nomad deck, but not your typical Fires of Invention or Bant version.
This first list attempts to establish a value engine with its Elemental package, utilizing Risen Reef to accelerate your mana and generate card advantage. You also play Thassa, Deep-Dwelling to recur the effects of Agent of Treachery, Risen Reef, Omnath, Locus of the Roil or all of the above with Yorion, Sky Nomad every turn.
This deck helped me hit Mythic on MTG Arena late last season and I played it in a MagicFest Online a couple of weeks ago. One thing I can guarantee is that this deck is a lot of fun to play, and while winning is a good thing to aspire to, you need to be enjoying what you're doing to some extent. This deck certainly helps in that department.
I did end up putting the deck down not long after to try out the new Fires of Invention brews. But over the past couple of days lists similar to the following have started doing well, so I am revisiting the idea!
The updated version of Temur Elementals still revolves around Risen Reef and co. generating some nice ramp and card advantage, but has a Finale of Devastation finish as an added bonus. The randomness of Genesis Ultimatum can be a liability, so it's good to have the option to use End-Raze Forerunners and Cavalier of Flame as Finale of Devastation targets to close out the game.
We play a lot of tapped lands, and getting them out of the way with a turn-one Arboreal Grazer feels great. Turn-two Risen Reef and a potential turn-three Cavalier of Thorns are made possible thanks to our trusty sloth.
This deck can get a lot of lands into play quickly, and Omnath, Locus of the Roil being able to turn your lands into card draw later in the game is a huge deal. Cavalier of Thorns and Finale of Devastation can retrieve threats from your graveyard. Cavalier of Thorns also contributes to casting and escaping Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, which is pretty nifty!
Fair warning: you see a lot of cards, and can definitely deck yourself playing this. Seems odd for an 80-card deck, but it is something to keep in mind in grindy matchups.
The next deck on the "We Hate Yorion, Sky Nomad/Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast Mirrors" roster is Simic Mutate! Magic Online user attentionspan98 was able to put up a 17th place finish in a Standard Challenge with this list.
In the entire 75 cards (wow, weird not talking about 95-card decks), there are no noncreature spells, so including Umori, the Collector as a companion seems like a lock.
The deck aims to use Arboreal Grazer, Paradise Druid and Pollywog Symbiote (Babygodzilla!) to generate a mana advantage, while also putting non-Human bodies into play. Migratory Greathorn and Parcelbeast are a nice middle ground between the deck's goals of ramping and mutating. You also have Gemrazer (remember it has reach!), Auspicious Starrix and Illuna, Apex of Wishes to push the mutate agenda over the top.
Your mutate creatures are looking to do powerful things ahead of schedule and generate a decent amount of card advantage at the same time. Parcelbeast shines brightly here, proving it's not just a Limited bomb. Illuna, Apex of Wishes and Auspicious Starrix help you develop a wider board state, so that eventually you can close out the game with End-Raze Forerunners.
End-Raze Forerunners is the perfect finisher for this deck. While the goal is to flip into it with Illuna, Apex of Wishes or Auspicious Starrix, the deck's mana dorks in addition to Parcelbeast and Migratory Greathorn ensure that you'll easily be able to pay the eight mana.
You'll notice that we are not playing Temple of Mystery or Fabled Passage. This deck relies heavily on being able to do everything on curve, and tapped lands are a barrier to executing this plan. You could play Raugrin Triome, but if you are looking to add red sources to this deck for cards like Klothys, God of Destiny, I would recommend sticking to Stomping Ground and Steam Vents (if necessary).
After putting this deck through some hoops, I found that keeping the core the same or similar to the above list was essential. However, there is breathing room in the sideboard, so here's the list I would go with:
Creatures to consider:
One of the very real downsides to playing this deck is that the potential to get two-for-one'd (or worse) by removal, and when it happens, it's incredibly punishing. If your opponent kills or exiles one of your mutated creatures, you are losing multiple cards to one spell.
Mutating creatures onto non-Humans is not quite the same as attaching Auras to your creature, but the end result can be similar. Diversifying your board while working toward mutating a creature enough times for a big Auspicious Starrix is a fine line to walk, and something to keep in mind as you learn to play this deck. Standard as a whole is grindy, and losing too many resources to one spell from your opponent can often cause the game to snowball in their favor.
One of the things I do love about the current decks of Standard is that they can offer transformational sideboards, where the transformation often includes dropping a companion so as to play cards the companion wouldn't normally allow. In this case, removing Umori, the Collector as our companion allows us to play noncreature spells.
Breaking the rules doesn't always offer upside, so we do need to make sure that our inclusion of noncreature spells in this deck is impactful and necessary, and ensure that they do not have a creature equivalent.
Adventure spells such as Brazen Borrower are a good way to access noncreature spells in this deck, since despite having an instant attached to it, it's still a creature card for Umori, the Collector's purposes.
If you are looking to play noncreature spells in your sideboard, here's a starting point:
Countermagic is a good play to defend your creatures, but losing Umori, the Collector is significant.
At the beginning of the format we saw a blue-black versions of Flash trying to make use of Slitherwisp and Cunning Nightbonder.
Over the weeks, it evolved into just being a blue deck.
Mono-Blue is looking to do the same old tempo dance we're used to: land an early threat, mutate a Sea-Dasher Octopus onto it, and attack so we can draw some cards and use your countermagic to protect it. Brineborn Cutthroat is the most potent threat in this deck and can grow out of the range of most burn spells quickly. If you choose to mutate a Sea-Dasher Octopus onto a Brineborn Cutthroat, putting the Octopus on top adds 1 base toughness, and the counters are added on top of that.
Something to note with both this deck and the Simic Mutate deck I talked about earlier is that you have the option to mutate on top or below a creature, but the creature on top determines the color of the spell and its converted mana cost. This is significant against Elspeth Conquers Death decks, where you want to maintain a lower converted mana cost and deprive your opponent of a target to exile.
Playing Mono-Blue can be relatively straightforward. Learning to prioritize developing your board versus countering opposing threats is something that will come easier to you as you play the deck. You should keep in mind that your ability to deal with permanents is limited to four copies of Brazen Borrower in your mainboard, so it is likely you will use your countermagic to answer opposing threats on the stack.
I would be doing my job poorly if I didn't at least mention Teferi, Time Raveler here. Teferi, Time Raveler is enemy number one for the Mono-Blue Flash decks, and while you are technically able to function while your opponent has one in play, you will struggle. Your plan to protect your threat goes out the window, and 15 of your countermagic spells are rendered useless, save for Neutralize which you are able to cycle.
Stonecoil Serpent shines in these matchups, as it is unaffected by Teferi, Time Raveler. Often the Yorion, Sky Nomad decks don't have many ways to target it. Shatter the Sky and Agent of Treachery, however, are pretty great against Stonecoil, so keep that in mind if you are tapping out against these matchups.
Here's my updated Mono-Blue list:
As you can see, not too much has changed. But updating your countermagic to suit the meta is one of the things you'll need to do if you're looking to play this deck over an extended period of time.
A practical example is Aether Gust. It can be a very effective mainboard card, but if we see a reduction in green and red decks then we may just move it into the sideboard to unlock a slot for something relevant. Lazotep Plating has started to see play due to the abundance of Agent of Treachery in Standard. You are able to cast it in response to a Teferi, Time Raveler to protect your permanents from being bounced; otherwise, you are able to cast it simply to amass a Zombie army.
Even if Yorion-Fires decks are the way of Standard's future, I'm going to keep trying to find innovative ways to play this format. We deserve to do more than just win. We deserve to have fun while winning.