Yorion, Sky Nomad Rises in Modern
- Rodrigo Martin
"Come slide down rainbows in the sky, let's fly away. Like a bird, you're free to see the boundless face of the earth. Let the wind blow you like a kite and glide away." This is what it feels like to try Yorion in Modern, where the sky is the limit and all your wishes come true by playing an 80-card deck.
Greetings, folks! I hope you are all safe and sound, still waiting for tabletop Magic to come back. We have to be patient and in the meantime, the reign of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths' companions over all competitive formats continues. (Except for Legacy/Vintage where the king was slain already.)
A quick recap before we dive into today's topic: Lurrus of the Dream-Den, Obosh, the Preypiercer, and Yorion, Sky Nomad are dominating Standard. In fact, according to recent data, the Bird Serpent is the most played creature in that format. Moving on to Pioneer, the Cat Nightmare gets the first position followed by Yorion second. Modern, finally, is all about Lurrus, since it fits into so many archetypes. If you are interested in recent companion literature, please check out Brent Terean's thoughts on Yorion brews in Standard, Marin Magda's look at Obosh in Standard and in Modern, as well as my latest piece regarding Lurrus as king of Standard.
For today's menu, my goal is to focus on all the possibilities the white-blue companion has to offer in Modern. By increasing your deck's size to 80 cards, you will be able to fit in more options while at the same time you will be losing some consistency. How to balance the pros and cons of this equation? Let's break it down!
The Top Yorion Archetypes
- Four-Color Snow Control
- Uroza, featuring Yorion
- Chord Soulherder Yorion
- Five-Color Bring to Light Yorion
- Bant Urza Yorion
- Scapeshift Yorion
As the ranking shows, there are plenty of variants to choose within the brave new Modern metagame. All of them have their ups and downs, but the most successful ones are the previous top-tier decks that embraced Yorion as their companion. No matter which one you want to build, all six are midrange archetypes in green and blue, often splashing white, sometimes red, and very rarely a small touch of black. Every shell includes snow-covered lands and the omnipresent Arcum's Astrolabe, which smoothens your mana while becoming Yorion's new best friend to blink for an extra card. More similarities among the different versions: Ice-Fang Coatl and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath are almost a must. Only Bring to Light doesn't pack the Snake, whereas Soulherder leaves the Elder Giant aside. Obviously both Simic creatures are perfect for every strategy and great to blink for card advantage. While Coatl stalls the board, Uro ramps to enable Yorion sooner.
Other common permanents are enchantments like Abundant Growth and Omen of the Sea which dig further into the deck, add some consistency, and synergize with Yorion at the same time. On the planeswalker section, you can basically reset anyone you want with your mighty companion. But most of the versions run Wrenn and Six and/or Teferi, Time Raveler who can return Yorion to its owner's hand so it can be replayed again for maximum value. Last but not least, Yorion demands some protection and Cryptic Command is the most efficient. It can set up Mystic Sanctuary recursion while also allowing you to have an extra bounce effect available aside from Threeferi or Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Regarding the mana base, it's going to cost a bit more to gather all the extra lands an 80-card deck requires. Basically it adds up to ten extra copies since all versions play around 30 of them. Misty Rainforest is the common fetch land for all variants, combined with others from different color combinations, next to some snow-covered basics, usually with at least four or five copies of the Island. Then there's the aforementioned Mystic Sanctuary. Moreover, newer additions from Ikoria show up. The Triome cycle has found a place in Modern as a fetchable tri-land that can be cycled later in the game.
6. Scapeshift Yorion
|Scapeshift Yorion by in5ano, 7-0 at Modern Super Qualifier|
Another take on the famous Scapeshift/Valakut duo, one of the most long-lived combo decks in Modern history. This time around, Primeval Titan is not invited to the party; rather you play the control role until the coast is clear for the green sorcery to kill on the spot.
Highlights: Having an extra-large deck means no issues when searching for Mountains to trigger Valakut, including the new Ketria Triome. What's more, having Yorion as companion can confuse opponents since they may not expect a Scapeshift deck.
Disadvantages: There aren't many targets for Yorion's enter-the-battlefield ability, aside from Astrolabe and Abundant Growth. Missing Primetime means no crazy turn four kills.
Verdict: Fancy brew but not quite competitive in a cut-throat environment.
5. Bant Urza Yorion
|Bant Urza Yorion by Jadecavy, 5-0 in Modern League|
Urza decks have been dominating the format ever since the card Urza, Lord High Artificer was printed in Modern Horizons almost a year ago. It is my firm belief that sooner or later the famous character will leave Modern. But in the meantime it is now paired with Yorion to create even more deadly Constructs.
Highlights: The deck supports a ton of enter-the-battlefield action in the shape of creatures like Gilded Goose or Emry, Lurker of the Loch. Indeed, white gives access to Restoration Angel which can blink Yorion or the other way around, making a massive flicker effect happen over and over again. The other main innovation is Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy as an interesting tool straight from Ikoria. It doubles up the mana from mana dorks and mana rocks, including Astrolabe but excluding Urza, which can then be invested in its own ability or Urza's.
Disadvantages: Not having red means missing direct damage and Wrenn and Six, as well as Pyrite Spellbomb, although that could be fixed, if necessary, by switching up the mana base a little bit.
Verdict: This version offers a ton of cool unexplored synergies, but it's not been as successful as the regular Uroza, at least for now.
4. Five-Color Bring to Light Yorion
|Five-Color Bring to Lightt by Mordeka1ser, 5-0 in Modern League|
Highlights: Blinking Niv-Mizzet with Yorion seems like one of the most broken things to achieve with this build. You also have the usual suspects: Astrolabe, Omen of the Sea, Teferi, or Wrenn and Six. The big upside of 80 cards is the plethora of silver bullets you can include to find with either the multicolored Dragon or the converge spell, for example Kolaghan's Command to bring Yorion back from the grave or Kaya's Guile to exile opposing graveyards. Finally, Glittering Wish can tutor up even more tools from the sideboard.
Disadvantages: The most obvious thing is the mana base the deck requires, which is basically five colors in order to cast Niv-Mizzet consistently. That's why Pillar of the Paruns is a must here. The high variance of an 80-card deck with a lot of singletons is the other main drawback, especially when facing aggressive matchups where you need to find your answers as early as you can.
Verdict: Another fancy brew but not consistent enough to join the top tier of the metagame. However, I'd rank it as the most fun, paired with the next on the list …
3. Chord Soulherder Yorion
|Chord Soulherder Yorion by LordoftheLobsters, 5-0 in Modern League|
This was actually one of the first strategies where Yorion showed up in Modern, piloted by the famous pro player Gabriel Nassif. It's an updated version of the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker combo that still persists in the format as a remnant of the Splinter Twin era.
Highlights: Having a total of 40 creatures in your main deck is a "dream come true" for any Chord of Calling lover. Aside from the usual mana accelerants, almost every creature has an enter-the-battlefield ability, from Wall of Blossoms to Eternal Witness or the good old Avalanche Riders. Soulherder is Yorion's new partner in crime. As the centerpiece of the strategy, it has the ability to blink a creature every turn, becoming bigger by the minute. Last but not least, you have the Kiki-Jiki plus Restoration Angel combo to win the game on the spot.
Disadvantages: This version looks spectacular in grindy matchups. Almost every card is a two-for-one and the longer the game progresses, the easier it gets to win on such a card advantage plan. However, when facing fast aggro or combo decks, there's little you can do as your creatures are not scary threats and you rely on your singleton sideboard to become victorious.
Verdict: Yet another fun build to try out despite its lack of consistency against combo strategies.
2. Uroza, Featuring Yorion
|Uroza by TopherMarsh, 7-0 at Modern Super Qualifier|
Leave all shenanigans aside. This is straight Uroza with some fillers to fulfill the Yorion clause. Everything you knew before companions broke into Modern remains true. Urza and his crew of Uro, Emry, and the Goose, combined with cheap artifacts, is still a winning choice.
Highlights: There is no remarkable Yorion interaction here, other than what we already saw elsewhere. Uroza adds a small splash for red, so you can run some Galvanic Blast to deal with small/medium threats as well as Pyrite Spellbomb, which Emry allows you to cast over and over again.
Disadvantages: Not many actually, this deck had dominated Modern for months when Mox Opal and Oko, Thief of Crowns were legal. Later it found a replacement for Oko in Uro while Mox Amber is a downgraded replacement for Opal. Now, Yorion is just another piece to make the strategy even stronger.
Verdict: One of the best decks to play with Yorion as companion.
1. Four-Color Snow Control
|Four-Color Snow Control by Nahuel10, 5-0 in Modern League|
Our ranking ends with another pre-existing archetype that cemented itself on the snow-covered theme from Modern Horizons and all the power creep the set brought to the format.
Highlights: This variant is running four colors because red grants cheap interaction for the early game, mainly Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix to deal with early threats from all the Lurrus decks. Yorion is here only to improve an archetype that was successful already, packing the best cards in the format. A ton of planeswalkers including Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Jace, the Mind Sculptor are your top-end finishers that also synergize with the Bird Serpent.
Disadvantages: Some mana issues when you mulligan, but one Astrolabe is enough to fix it all. Sometimes the deck loses to the timer during online matches, but that has also improved thanks to Yorion.
Verdict: Probably the best Yorion deck moving forward. More linear than Uroza but more adaptable to the metagame.
I hope you have enjoyed our Yorion review for Modern. As you see, there are plenty of possibilities to build around the Sky Nomad. If they address the companion fiasco via bannings, my guts tell me Lurrus will always be the one to go first. Then again, if Lurrus gets banned in Modern, Yorion may become the absolute king and maybe won't be safe anymore either. If they change the companion rules, Yorion might pay for the Cat's sins.
Thanks for reading! As usual feel free to leave all your comments and questions below.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.