Roon of the Hidden Realms, Doran, the Siege Tower, All Legendary Orzhov, Wort the Raidmother. I have a few commander decks, and I've built a more over the last few years. But there's one Commander I get asked about more than any other:

At the highmark of Magic Story printed on the main Magic website, Allison Luhrs created a queer-coded, mono-black, non-binary hero that resonated with many Magic players, myself included. Yahenni reminded me of a few people in my life in different ways, and they continue to be my favorite character in all of the Magic lore. When Yahenni, Undying Partisan came out, I built a Commander deck for them shortly after purely out of love for them and the stories Allison wrote.

As a commander, Yahenni, Undying Partisan isn't your typical card. Haste is a powerful commander ability, but a 2/2 creature with no evasion doesn't use the ability all that effectively. Their latter two abilities are not synergistic. Yes, if Yahenni can trade for things, they will become a Voltron-style threat, and if several things can die they will be difficult to kill. But both abilities require other cards as setup.

That said, they have a few things going for them:

  1. They're a free sacrifice outlet. Entire decks and combos play cards like Ashnod's Altar or Altar of Dementia solely to sacrifice creatures easily and continuously. While activating Yahenni, Undying Partisan ability infinite times doesn't, on its own, generate any sort of value, "free" is powerful even if you're playing fair.
  2. They should gain +1/+1 counters passively. With three other players' creatures to pick up counters from, Yahenni, Undying Partisan quickly becomes a threat sitting in play for just a turn cycle or two. Even if you yourself don't kill them, the other players will kill each other's creatures. The goal is just to keep the removal from hitting your stuff!
  3. They're cheap. At three mana, multiple of which can be colorless, Yahenni, Undying Partisan is quite easy to cast. If the best way to pick up counters is to have Yahenni in play while other people do the work, they need to be in play early to do that. Even in a format full of continuous haymakers and eight-drops, inexpensive cards are still valuable. Especially when you may need to cast your commander two or three times, not spending a couple dozen mana to do so is a blessing.
  4. They work absurdly well with and against Wrath of God-type effects. On a full board the combination of Yahenni, Undying Partisan, a way to give them indestructible, and Damnation represents a One-Hit K.O. If the opponent blows up the board, they need an answer for Yahenni immediately… unless they strike a deal to bribe you to hit someone else.

It's worth noting, although I have not built the deck around this, that Yahenni, Undying Partisan is also a Vampire. Generally speaking there are stronger Vampire build-arounds, often in multiple colors. Even sticking to just mono-black, there are options that more fully embrace the tribe. That said, it isn't hard to include some Vampire payoffs in the deck, and there could be room for more if you so choose.

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Yahenni, Undying Partisan by Nick Prince

'Yahenni, Undying Partisan' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Nick Prince

Event:

Rank:

Commander

Market Price: $561.45

Cards

Butcher of Malakir

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.41

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/166753_200w.jpg

Flying
Whenever Butcher of Malakir or another creature you control dies, each opponent sacrifices a creature.

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Charcoal Diamond

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.23

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/226319_200w.jpg

Charcoal Diamond enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {B}.

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Tormod, the Desecrator

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.35

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/226883_200w.jpg

Whenever one or more cards leave your graveyard, create a tapped 2/2 black Zombie creature token.
Partner (You can have two commanders if both have partner.)

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Agadeem's Awakening

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $12.69

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222163_200w.jpg

Return from your graveyard to the battlefield any number of target creature cards that each have a different converted mana cost X or less.

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Disciple of Bolas

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/219008_200w.jpg

When Disciple of Bolas enters the battlefield, sacrifice another creature. You gain X life and draw X cards, where X is that creature's power.

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Ophiomancer

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $18.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/71878_200w.jpg

At the beginning of each upkeep, if you control no Snakes, create a 1/1 black Snake creature token with deathtouch.

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Whip of Erebos

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $5.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/71354_200w.jpg

Creatures you control have lifelink.
{2}{B}{B}, {T}: Return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield. It gains haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step. If it would leave the battlefield, exile it instead of putting it anywhere else. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery.

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Westvale Abbey // Ormendahl, Profane Prince

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $6.46

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/115917_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{5}, {T}, Pay 1 life: Create a 1/1 white and black Human Cleric creature token.
{5}, {T}, Sacrifice five creatures: Transform Westvale Abbey, then untap it.

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Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $13.29

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/110836_200w.jpg

Lifelink
If a nontoken creature an opponent controls would die, instead exile that card and create a 2/2 black Zombie creature token.
{2}{B}, Sacrifice another Vampire or Zombie: Put two +1/+1 counters on Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet.

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Filigree Familiar

Market Price: $0.01

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/226885_200w.jpg

When Filigree Familiar enters the battlefield, you gain 2 life.
When Filigree Familiar dies, draw a card.

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Malakir Rebirth

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.75

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222103_200w.jpg

Choose target creature. You lose 2 life. Until end of turn, that creature gains "When this creature dies, return it to the battlefield tapped under its owner's control."

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Decree of Pain

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.96

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/139932_200w.jpg

Destroy all creatures. They can't be regenerated. Draw a card for each creature destroyed this way.
Cycling {3}{B}{B} ({3}{B}{B}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)
When you cycle Decree of Pain, all creatures get -2/-2 until end of turn.

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Shizo, Death's Storehouse

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $13.94

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/12167_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {B}.
{B}, {T}: Target legendary creature gains fear until end of turn. (It can't be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or black creatures.)

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Unstable Obelisk

Market Price: $0.32

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216419_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{7}, {T}, Sacrifice Unstable Obelisk: Destroy target permanent.

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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230466_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Crux of Fate

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.45

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/139805_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Destroy all Dragon creatures.
• Destroy all non-Dragon creatures.

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Loxodon Warhammer

Market Price: $0.58

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227363_200w.jpg

Equipped creature gets +3/+0 and has trample and lifelink.
Equip {3}

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Mox Amber

Market Price: $26.37

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/162125_200w.jpg

{T}: Add one mana of any color among legendary creatures and planeswalkers you control.

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Bitterblossom

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $39.28

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/179459_200w.jpg

At the beginning of your upkeep, you lose 1 life and create a 1/1 black Faerie Rogue creature token with flying.

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Harvester of Souls

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.40

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216571_200w.jpg

Deathtouch
Whenever another nontoken creature dies, you may draw a card.

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Desert of the Glorified

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/134864_200w.jpg

Desert of the Glorified enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {B}.
Cycling {1}{B} ({1}{B}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Dictate of Erebos

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $12.87

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/82278_200w.jpg

Flash
Whenever a creature you control dies, each opponent sacrifices a creature.

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Commander's Sphere

Market Price: $0.24

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/231210_200w.jpg

{T}: Add one mana of any color in your commander's color identity.
Sacrifice Commander's Sphere: Draw a card.

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Rogue's Passage

Market Price: $0.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227325_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{4}, {T}: Target creature can't be blocked this turn.

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Cabal Coffers

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $74.83

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/37339_200w.jpg

{2}, {T}: Add {B} for each Swamp you control.

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Grave Pact

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $21.91

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/166826_200w.jpg

Whenever a creature you control dies, each other player sacrifices a creature.

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Castle Locthwain

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.84

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/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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Pawn of Ulamog

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.38

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/140009_200w.jpg

Whenever Pawn of Ulamog or another nontoken creature you control dies, you may create a 0/1 colorless Eldrazi Spawn creature token. It has "Sacrifice this creature: Add {C}."

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Coldsteel Heart

Market Price: $3.31

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/166760_200w.jpg

Coldsteel Heart enters the battlefield tapped.
As Coldsteel Heart enters the battlefield, choose a color.
{T}: Add one mana of the chosen color.

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Shriekmaw

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212495_200w.jpg

Fear (This creature can't be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or black creatures.)
When Shriekmaw enters the battlefield, destroy target nonartifact, nonblack creature.
Evoke {1}{B} (You may cast this spell for its evoke cost. If you do, it's sacrificed when it enters the battlefield.)

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Zulaport Cutthroat

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.35

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222543_200w.jpg

Whenever Zulaport Cutthroat or another creature you control dies, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.

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Night's Whisper

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.76

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/118762_200w.jpg

You draw two cards and you lose 2 life.

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Bloodsoaked Champion

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/93153_200w.jpg

Bloodsoaked Champion can't block.
Raid — {1}{B}: Return Bloodsoaked Champion from your graveyard to the battlefield. Activate this ability only if you attacked this turn.

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Relentless Dead

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $11.97

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/114839_200w.jpg

Menace (This creature can't be blocked except by two or more creatures.)
When Relentless Dead dies, you may pay {B}. If you do, return it to its owner's hand.
When Relentless Dead dies, you may pay {X}. If you do, return another target Zombie creature card with converted mana cost X from your graveyard to the battlefield.

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Sidisi, Undead Vizier

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $10.17

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/96362_200w.jpg

Deathtouch
Exploit (When this creature enters the battlefield, you may sacrifice a creature.)
When Sidisi, Undead Vizier exploits a creature, you may search your library for a card, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.

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Hangarback Walker

Market Price: $4.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/100305_200w.jpg

Hangarback Walker enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it.
When Hangarback Walker dies, create a 1/1 colorless Thopter artifact creature token with flying for each +1/+1 counter on Hangarback Walker.
{1}, {T}: Put a +1/+1 counter on Hangarback Walker.

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Damnation

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $15.00

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/233863_200w.jpg

Destroy all creatures. They can't be regenerated.

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Swiftfoot Boots

Market Price: $1.77

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/231281_200w.jpg

Equipped creature has hexproof and haste.
Equip {1}

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Yahenni, Undying Partisan

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $5.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/126374_200w.jpg

Haste
Whenever a creature an opponent controls dies, put a +1/+1 counter on Yahenni, Undying Partisan.
Sacrifice another creature: Yahenni gains indestructible until end of turn.

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Jet Medallion

Market Price: $30.63

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/94132_200w.jpg

Black spells you cast cost {1} less to cast.

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Sol Ring

Market Price: $2.32

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/231261_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}{C}.

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Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Market Price: $21.88

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/71039_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{2}, {T}: Choose a color. Add an amount of mana of that color equal to your devotion to that color. (Your devotion to a color is the number of mana symbols of that color in the mana costs of permanents you control.)

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Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $11.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/226122_200w.jpg

+2: Create two 0/1 black Thrull creature tokens.
+1: You may sacrifice another creature or planeswalker. If you do, draw two cards, then draw another card if the sacrificed permanent was a commander.
−10: Gain control of all commanders. Put all commanders from the command zone onto the battlefield under your control.
Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools can be your commander.
Partner

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Sword of the Animist

Market Price: $13.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/140049_200w.jpg

Equipped creature gets +1/+1.
Whenever equipped creature attacks, you may search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.
Equip {2}

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Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Market Price: $25.00

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/234275_200w.jpg

Each land is a Swamp in addition to its other land types.

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Sign in Blood

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.88

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/166945_200w.jpg

Target player draws two cards and loses 2 life.

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Blood Artist

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $4.45

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216042_200w.jpg

Whenever Blood Artist or another creature dies, target player loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.

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Sheoldred, Whispering One

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $18.84

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216249_200w.jpg

Swampwalk (This creature can't be blocked as long as defending player controls a Swamp.)
At the beginning of your upkeep, return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield.
At the beginning of each opponent's upkeep, that player sacrifices a creature.

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Necromantic Selection

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222405_200w.jpg

Destroy all creatures, then return a creature card put into a graveyard this way to the battlefield under your control. It's a black Zombie in addition to its other colors and types. Exile Necromantic Selection.

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Szat's Will

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.28

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/226130_200w.jpg

Choose one. If you control a commander as you cast this spell, you may choose both.
• Each opponent sacrifices a creature they control with the greatest power.
• Exile all cards from all opponents' graveyards, then create X 0/1 black Thrull creature tokens, where X is the greatest power among creature cards exiled this way.

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Ogre Slumlord

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.33

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222401_200w.jpg

Whenever another nontoken creature dies, you may create a 1/1 black Rat creature token.
Rats you control have deathtouch.

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Barren Moor

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196729_200w.jpg

Barren Moor enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {B}.
Cycling {B} ({B}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Solemn Simulacrum

Market Price: $1.45

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215510_200w.jpg

When Solemn Simulacrum enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a basic land card, put that card onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.
When Solemn Simulacrum dies, you may draw a card.

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Nether Traitor

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $13.96

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/233875_200w.jpg

Haste
Shadow (This creature can block or be blocked by only creatures with shadow.)
Whenever another creature is put into your graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay {B}. If you do, return Nether Traitor from your graveyard to the battlefield.

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Erebos, God of the Dead

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $12.57

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/71086_200w.jpg

Indestructible
As long as your devotion to black is less than five, Erebos isn't a creature. (Each {B} in the mana costs of permanents you control counts toward your devotion to black.)
Your opponents can't gain life.
{1}{B}, Pay 2 life: Draw a card.

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Anowon, the Ruin Sage

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.48

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/139891_200w.jpg

At the beginning of your upkeep, each player sacrifices a non-Vampire creature.

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Grim Haruspex

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.76

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196522_200w.jpg

Morph {B} (You may cast this card face down as a 2/2 creature for {3}. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)
Whenever another nontoken creature you control dies, draw a card.

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In Garruk's Wake

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.49

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222545_200w.jpg

Destroy all creatures you don't control and all planeswalkers you don't control.

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Vindictive Lich

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $11.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/139856_200w.jpg

When Vindictive Lich dies, choose one or more. Each mode must target a different player.
• Target opponent sacrifices a creature.
• Target opponent discards two cards.
• Target opponent loses 5 life.

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Dark Prophecy

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.63

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/69253_200w.jpg

Whenever a creature you control dies, you draw a card and you lose 1 life.

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Puppeteer Clique

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $6.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/140013_200w.jpg

Flying
When Puppeteer Clique enters the battlefield, put target creature card from an opponent's graveyard onto the battlefield under your control. It gains haste. At the beginning of your next end step, exile it.
Persist (When this creature dies, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner's control with a -1/-1 counter on it.)

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Phyrexian Arena

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $13.78

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At the beginning of your upkeep, you draw a card and you lose 1 life.

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Reassembling Skeleton

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.25

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{1}{B}: Return Reassembling Skeleton from your graveyard to the battlefield tapped.

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Finale of Eternity

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.76

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Destroy up to three target creatures with toughness X or less. If X is 10 or more, return all creature cards from your graveyard to the battlefield.

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Black Market

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $5.67

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Whenever a creature dies, put a charge counter on Black Market.
At the beginning of your precombat main phase, add {B} for each charge counter on Black Market.

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Blade of the Bloodchief

Market Price: $2.45

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Whenever a creature dies, put a +1/+1 counter on equipped creature. If equipped creature is a Vampire, put two +1/+1 counters on it instead.
Equip {1}

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Bloodghast

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $8.76

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Bloodghast can't block.
Bloodghast has haste as long as an opponent has 10 or less life.
Landfall — Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may return Bloodghast from your graveyard to the battlefield.

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Liliana, Heretical Healer // Liliana, Defiant Necromancer

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $18.75

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Lifelink
Whenever another nontoken creature you control dies, exile Liliana, Heretical Healer, then return her to the battlefield transformed under her owner's control. If you do, create a 2/2 black Zombie creature token.

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Smothering Abomination

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.60

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Devoid (This card has no color.)
Flying
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice a creature.
Whenever you sacrifice a creature, draw a card.

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Yawgmoth's Vile Offering

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.25

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(You may cast a legendary sorcery only if you control a legendary creature or planeswalker.)
Put up to one target creature or planeswalker card from a graveyard onto the battlefield under your control. Destroy up to one target creature or planeswalker. Exile Yawgmoth's Vile Offering.

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Mind Stone

Market Price: $1.20

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{T}: Add {C}.
{1}, {T}, Sacrifice Mind Stone: Draw a card.

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Bone Shredder

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.56

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Flying
Echo {2}{B} (At the beginning of your upkeep, if this came under your control since the beginning of your last upkeep, sacrifice it unless you pay its echo cost.)
When Bone Shredder enters the battlefield, destroy target nonartifact, nonblack creature.

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Smuggler's Copter

Market Price: $3.04

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Flying
Whenever Smuggler's Copter attacks or blocks, you may draw a card. If you do, discard a card.
Crew 1 (Tap any number of creatures you control with total power 1 or more: This Vehicle becomes an artifact creature until end of turn.)

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Lashwrithe

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.54

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Living weapon (When this Equipment enters the battlefield, create a 0/0 black Germ creature token, then attach this to it.)
Equipped creature gets +1/+1 for each Swamp you control.
Equip {B/P}{B/P} ({B/P} can be paid with either {B} or 2 life.)

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Because I'm sure it'll come up, I want to address one thing: this is not a Cabal Coffers deck.

I have Cabal Coffers, I have a lot of Swamps, I have Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. Many other mono-black decks go in hard on assembling the the two cards with more tutors, Expedition Map, etc. While I tried that, I ultimately found that it took over the gameplay and made my Yahenni, Undying Partisan deck into more of a Big Mana deck. Once in a while that's fun, but I don't want every game to be about making 80 mana with the same two cards.

When I first built the deck, I had a few goals in mind. Most importantly, I wanted to ensure that I could cast Yahenni, Undying Partisan with "fodder" to make them indestructible reliably on turn three or four, so the curve of the deck is quite low. And second, I wanted as many ways to turn Yahenni's sacrifice ability into tangible resources as I could. The intention is to get to Yahenni, a creature we're happy to sacrifice, and a payoff for creatures dying into play as soon as turn four or five.

Recursive creatures like Bloodghast and Bloodsoaked Champion are the easiest to use and keep using. At one point the deck had more, but you only need one or two at a time, and they're practically impossible for opponents to exile. Once you find one, it's probably going to be around for the rest for the rest of the game.

Instead most of the creatures die for value. Solemn Simulacrum, Hangarback Walker, Filigree Familiar, Relentless Dead, and the like can all die for card advantage somehow. To a certain degree, it doesn't really matter which creature it is, as Yahenni, Undying Partisan or one of the expensive black creatures ends up winning the game more often than not.

A few of the creatures have weird applications, where they're removal spells that act as fodder. Shriekmaw and Bone Shredder can handle some problems without dedicating actual spot removal to the deck. Cards like Hero's Downfall or some kind of Doom Blade effect aren't worth the space when we're going for a fairly synergistic deck.

Finally there are a few token makers to spew out a stream of creatures when we need. Occasionally, you need to sacrifice a lot of creatures over time, and Ophiomancer, Pawn of Ulamog, and Bitterblossom will keep a steady supply of faux-cardboard creatures in play.

Sacrifice Payoffs

There are a lot of payoffs for all the sacrificing we've got going on. Some of these also double as fodder, like Liliana, Heretical Healer, Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools, and Ogre Slumlord, but they're primarily payoffs for going through the trouble of sacrificing other creatures.

The most powerful payoffs in the deck are the trio of Grave Pact effects. Any of them must be removed quickly. If they're not, you'll be the only person allowed to have creatures in play, and Yahenni, Undying Partisan will quickly end the game from there. The continuous nature of these abilities means the deck doesn't need much spot removal to clear the board and keep it empty.

This classic combination of creatures is meant to pressure everyone's life total, and keep yours high. Like any good mono-black deck, Yahenni, Undying Partisan is going to run your life down all on its own, drawing cards and paying for effects. The deck needs ways to recoup life so it doesn't die to a random Comet Storm or a big flier that slips by. If the deck can find the Zulaport Cutthroat or Blood Artist with a huge board already in play, the game ends. That said, it's pretty rare that you're allowed to sacrifice a massive amount of creatures while one's in play—the table tends to react quickly when you cast one of these two creatures.

Most of all, the deck is good at drawing cards, and thus finding more fodder to keep the cycle going. As soon as one of these spells resolves, the deck has a way of finding all the other pieces in the deck as Yahenni, Undying Partisan ability becomes Sacrifice a Creature: Draw 1 (or more) cards. If you find Black Market and can untap with it, the game ends shortly thereafter.

Equipment

I play a good deal of equipment in this deck, though some of the reasons might surprise you.

Yahenni, Undying Partisan often picks them up, and I'm not sure I ever equip a Loxodon Warhammer to any other creature if given the option. Sword of the Animist is an excellent way to ramp every turn with Yahenni, since there's virtually no reason to stop the attacks and you'll force a chump block each turn. But while Yahenni is difficult to deal with, it's by no means impossible. I prefer to use Yahenni to "Voltron" people without investing many resources, on the assumption that I will eventually attrition people out by continually checking whether they have Swords to Plowshares or something similar. That's much more difficult if I'm investing a dozen mana into equipping them with several items on top of commander taxes. A Swiftfoot Boots of Lightning Greaves makes Yahenni more durable, but it's not the primary plan.

Mostly, the equipment exists to create other threats. The deck is fantastic at generating plenty of creatures and bodies, but most of them are quite small. Equipping a random token with a Lashwrithe will turn it into one of the largest creatures in play to either attack or block with.

There's one exception to this:

Blade of the Bloodchief acts as a bridge for Yahenni, Undying Partisan first two abilities. If Yahenni ever finds the Blade, they will be large enough to one-shot a player in just a couple activations of their sacrifice ability, or a single wrath effect.

Wraths

My favorite part about Yahenni, Undying Partisan abilities is how they interact with board wipes. Rather than invest mana into enchantments and Auras like other commanders trying to grow big, Yahenni just needs one wrath effect to gain a dozen counters. When the dust settles, there's just a giant Undying Partisan ready to crash into someone, forgoing the need to play ways to give Yahenni flying, trample, or unblockable. There's Rogue's Passage and Loxodon Warhammer in the deck as backup plans, but Damnation and the like are both a defensive and offensive strategy.

The only limiting factor here is that many of black's best board wipes give creatures -X/-X in some absurdly large amount. Yahenni, Undying Partisan is resilient to many forms of being destroyed, but having 0 toughness will still remove them. This does limit the number of ways we can blow up the board, and means that a card like Toxic Deluge doesn't work at all.

A Few Random Cards

The last slots of the deck I switch around a fair amount as I experiment and learn more about the deck

Normally I don't go in heavily on spells or effects that require your commander to be in play. Yahenni, Undying Partisan is difficult enough to remove and cheap enough to cast that I've included each of these, because they're basically always powered on in this list. Mox Amber becomes the rare free ramp spell, and can power out some of the deck's sillier starts. Szat's Will is mostly more cannon fodder, but also gives the deck some instant-speed functionality and disruption if needed. Yawgmoth's Vile Offering is a very powerful spell, and there are incidentally enough legendary creatures in the deck that I haven't had trouble casting it. Returning Butcher of Malakir or Sheoldred, Whispering One to play will end games very quickly, and Vile Offering gives the deck a random reanimation plan in some games.

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is a sort of anti-hero to Yahenni, Undying Partisan. To be clear: they do not synergize. Because Kalitas' ability is a replacement effect, opposing creatures never actually die, they just get exiled. In exchange, Kalitas makes a 2/2 Zombie. For the most part, that isn't as good as just making Yahenni go Super Saiyan.

But sometimes I need another payoff for killing their creatures. Sometimes, I need to disrupt their recursive plans, and make sure creature cards get exiled. And other times, I need a huge lifelink threat to stay alive. In all of these cases, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet steps up where Yahenni, Undying Partisan can't. They are not so anti-synergistic that they can't both be in play, since Yahenni still acts as a free sacrifice outlet. Because of that, I've kept Kalitas in.

This one is a bit of an oddball, but I've come to like it quite a bit. Smuggler's Copter is cheap, almost everything crews it, and it loots quickly. It attacks well, is bigger than a lot of random fliers, and actually disincentivizes a lot of attacks. Looting is almost synonymous with just drawing cards in the deck, because any recursive creatures will just hop back out of the graveyard after they're discarded. In a pinch, Copter can even hold some random equipment. Just duct tape that Loxodon Warhammer onto the front or something and send it at an opponent I guess.

All of this combined has me in love with the multi-format banlist occupant. When I came across it around the beginning of the year, I was genuinely surprised more people don't play it. It might not be as flashy or mind-boggling as a lot of other cards in Commander, but it's so cheap and efficient that basically any deck can run it. Yahenni crews it better than most, but I'm going to try using it in more of my decks as I see opportunity to do so.

Altogether, Yahenni, Undying Partisan is not the most powerful deck, nor does it need to be. This list captures what's unique about them and their card as a commander, and provides enough power to be competitive at any given table. Even better, every time I've set them down on the table, it leads to a conversation with at least one person at the table about them, their story, and their flamboyant style. There's no better way to honor one of the best-written characters in Magic's history than that.