26, Jun, 23

Popular Combo Deck Maximizes Multiple LOTR Cards at Once!

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Article at a Glance

This weekend’s events showcased several extremely powerful Lord of the Rings cards in multiple formats. There were tons of copies of The One Ring, Orcish Bowmasters, and Delighted Halfling in Modern and Legacy events. It appears as though these cards are powerhouses, especially in Modern, at least for the time being. Perhaps what’s most interesting about these cards is that they each do very different things.

The One Ring is a card-drawing machine, Delighted Halfling is a mana-dork with major upside, and Orcish Bowmasters is a cheap Creature that interacts with opposing Creatures and punishes card-draw. Despite these cards all having unique abilities, they are individually so powerful that they all saw play in the deck that won the Magic Online Modern Challenge on Sunday. At first glance, this deck looks like a normal Yawgmoth combo deck, but yet it features these three Lord of the Rings cards, and not in small quantities. Are these three cards simply so powerful they can go in almost every archetype, or is Yawgmoth a natural home for each of them? To answer this question, it’s important to start with the core of the Yawgmoth deck.

The Core

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

The base of the deck is built around one card: Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. The goal of the deck is to reliably get this card into play. At minimum, this card can generate lots of value and card advantage with your Undying Creatures like Young Wolf. However, with two Undying Creatures, Blood Artist, and Yawgmoth, you can actually kill your opponent outright by using the following steps:

  • First, sacrifice a Young Wolf with Yawgmoth’s activated ability. Do not target any of your creatures with the -1/-1 counter. The Young Wolf will come back with a +1/+1 counter thanks to Undying. This will trigger Blood Artist, draining your opponent for one.
  • Second, sacrifice your Young Wolf that does not have a counter, targeting the Young Wolf that does have a counter. Your counters will cancel out. Your other Young Wolf will come back with a +1/+1 counter thanks to Undying. This, once again, will trigger Blood Artist.
  • You can repeat step two over and over, sacrificing the Young Wolf without a counter, targeting the one that does have a counter, thanks to -1/-1 counters and +1/+1 counters canceling one another out.

Notably, there are similar combos involving Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons and Prosperous Innkeeper. Each combo differs slightly and has their benefits, but for the sake of simplicity, only the Blood Artist combo will be listed here.

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Beyond the Combo

Grist, the Hunger Tide

While this combo is a bit convoluted, what makes the deck work so well is that the deck provides a stream of cheap Creatures for Yawgmoth, allowing you to continue to generate value so long as Yawgmoth stays in play. The ability to give opposing Creatures minus-one minus-one counters makes it difficult for the opponent to win in combat as well. With four-toughness, Yawgmoth is not always the easiest card to kill, and with a big enough board, it’s easy to draw a handful of cards before Yawgmoth dies, letting you rebuild your board and find more copies of Yawgmoth.

Beyond that, the rest of the deck is mostly made up of Chord of Calling, which can find Yawgmoth, and ways to fuel the powerful Instant. Grist, a powerful Planeswalker and piece of removal, can be found off Chord of Calling as well, and its ability to create a bunch of Creature tokens makes Chord and Yawgmoth even more reliable. This core is well-established, so the question is, is it worth it to put in each of the Lord of the Rings cards discussed above?

Read More: New MTG LOTR Deck Turns Historically Hated Combo Infinite!

Delighted Halfling

Delighted Halfling

Delighted Halfling is undoubtedly the easiest inclusion. The Yawgmoth deck already played a handful of mana-dorks, and this is an easy replacement for Birds of Paradise. Delighted Halfling does a great job providing the deck with early mana, just like Birds of Paradise. It survives through Wrenn and Six at two toughness, which can be a big deal. Although the mana it provides is sometimes colorless, it does help fix your colors when casting Yawgmoth and Grist. The most important part, however, is the “cannot be countered” clause.

One of the weaknesses of the Yawgmoth deck has always been that if the deck fails to get Yawgmoth in play, winning can be very difficult. One of the ways an Izzet Murktide player could get an edge was by simply using Counterspell to make sure Yawgmoth never hit the board and flying over the Undying Creatures with a large Murktide Regent. Delighted Halfling makes this plan a lot tougher, essentially forcing the Murktide player to kill it quickly or risk their Counterspells being invalid. Halfling, therefore, helps improve a handful of matchups at very little cost.

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Orcish Bowmasters

Orcish Bowmasters

This inclusion does come at a bit more of a cost. This version of Yawgmoth notably played zero copies of Strangleroot Geist, which was an excellent two-drop option with Undying that could combo with Yawgmoth. Instead, this version is making use of a full four copies of Orcish Bowmasters. Bowmasters is a great card. At minimum, it provides two bodies and pings an opponent or a Creature they control. This alone makes it an elite card against Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Esper Sentinel, and opposing mana-dorks. Orcish Bowmasters does even more though. Whenever an opponent draws a card outside of their normal draw step, you get to Amass Orcs 1 and ping something again! Obviously, this is a great card on its own, but it also fits the Yawgmoth shell very well.

Removing Strangleroot Geist is undoubtedly a big cost when it comes to Yawgmoth’s combo consistency. However, Bowmasters does a lot more for the deck than it looks. First, the two bodies provided are great for enabling Chord of Calling. Second, the Amass token is a great card to sacrifice either to Yawgmoth to get the value train rolling or to Grist to help remove a problematic threat on the other side of the board.

Further, if the opponent ever draws more cards, be it from basic Cantrips like Consider, Teferi, Time Raveler, and a range of other popular cards in the format, you can continue to deal additional damage and Amass Orcs 1 again. With Yawgmoth in play, you can keep sacrificing the Army token to draw a card to guarantee that Bowmaster’s Amass ability will create another token. So far, Bowmasters and Halfling seem like great fits.

Read More: Unique LOTR Card Interaction Makes Commander Staple Even Better!

The One Ring

The One Ring

The One Ring, despite not being a Creature or a card that directly helps the Yawgmoth gameplan, seems like a great fit too! It provides another easy way to quickly draw cards and dig for Yawgmoth and other combo pieces. The existence of the Yawgmoth combo helps negate the downside of The One Ring, too, allowing you to win the game before losing too much life from The One Ring’s burden counters.

The One Ring naturally protects you initially by giving you Protection from everything for a turn cycle. As long as you can close the game out relatively quickly and can maximize the card advantage that The One Ring gives you, then the card is worth playing.

In this way, Yawgmoth is an excellent home for The One Ring. Halfling can even make The One Ring Uncounterable too! Yawgmoth and The One Ring provide you with incredible card advantage, and the rest of the deck is filled with efficient cards, allowing you to convert that card advantage into a quick board presence.

Lord of the Rings is having an immense impact on a multitude of formats, and for Modern, these three cards, especially The One ring, have power levels that are through the roof.

Yawgmoth was already a well-positioned deck in the format, and utilizing these outrageously powerful cards together could be a massive boon for the deck moving forward. If you want to play Modern, you better have a good gameplan against these cards for the time being.

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