Yarok, the Desecrated | Illustration by Daarken
I usually dislike playing tier decks in any format. It’s not because I can’t, but rather because I quickly get bored from doing the same repetitive interactions.
Let’s take Pauper for example. I rarely use tier decks anymore because I like to brew around new cards. But I always have my go-to when the time comes to do well in a tournament: Azorius () blink. I just love how small interactions involving Ghostly Flicker can win you games and get you insane card advantage.
You can also build a blink Commander deck that specializes in getting value from ETB abilities and triggers. Unlike my choice for Pauper, the deck I have for you today is Sultai (), not Azorius.
That’s right! It’s time to unfold the mysteries of one of the best Sultai commanders to abuse this kind of effect: Yarok, the Desecrated. Let’s get into it!
Farhaven Elf | Illustration by Brandon Kitkouski
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
Venser, Shaper Savant
Gonti, Lord of Luxury
Tatyova, Benthic Druid
Agent of Treachery
Avenger of Zendikar
Bala Ged Recovery
Crucible of Worlds
The Great Henge
Field of the Dead
Yarok, the Desecrated is, in a nutshell, a Panharmonicon with legs. It doesn’t seem right since pretty much everything you do triggers its ability. When was the last time WotC printed a creature card without an ability? Kaldheim, that 5/5 green bear for five? Creatures usually have some kind of ability attached aside from that.
This opens the door for this commander to be built around in a lot of different ways. What makes the most sense to me is to build it with the best value cards ever printed. It’s not a fair commander, and you may want to see if your table group is okay to play against it before investing.
Remember that it also has deathtouch. And lifelink.
The Ramp Spells
I prefer cards that search for lands and put them onto the battlefield rather than use mana rocks for this deck. The lands trigger abilities from cards like Lotus Cobra when they enter the battlefield.
Your better ramp cards are the ones like Farseek and Three Visits that can tutor lands with a basic type like Zagoth Triome.
Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach also search for lands, but they put one into play and the other in your hand.
There are also creatures like Wood Elves and Solemn Simulacrum that can search for lands and put them onto the battlefield, so they also serve as ramp spells.
This deck runs little interaction because it’s geared toward building absurd card advantage. Some spells are still needed to protect some combo pieces.
Counters like Counterspell, Ertai Resurrected, and Negate should do the trick.
The signature of this deck is card advantage. Most of its creatures either draw cards or have an extra effect when they enter.
The most notable ones are Eternal Witness, Mulldrifter, Fierce Empath, and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath.
The deck also runs noncreature spells that are a must in Commander decks running blue, like Rhystic Study and Tatyova, Benthic Druid.
It’s only natural to run cards that can exile and return your creatures to the battlefield since most of them have an ETB effect. These cards are usually referred to as “blink effects.”
Ghostly Flicker can blink two permanents.
Deadeye Navigator is an enabler that I’ll go into a lot deeper in a bit.
This deck also has spells that destroy creatures or permanents as they hit the board along with those that draw a card or fetch for lands when they enter the battlefield.
Notable mentions are Massacre Wurm, which can act as a pseudo-board wipe, and Ravenous Chupacabra, which kills any pesky creature you may need to deal with.
A must-have for these decks is Cyclonic Rift, which can be game-ending on its own.
Beast Within is an answer-everything card.
Tutors are a necessary evil for this deck.
It runs Worldly Tutor and Rune-Scarred Demon. The latter can be used multiple times if you have blink effects, and you’ll be close to winning the game if you resolve this interaction.
While this deck can enable multiple combos with the right combination of cards, some are close to game-ending when they manage to resolve.
Cards like Agent of Treachery or Avenger of Zendikar can kill between one and many opponents if they’re unanswered.
Scute Swarm is also a fun win condition that’s hard to track because the number of triggers multiplies the more there are on the battlefield. Even MTGA had difficulty catching up in its early days.
There are other cards in the deck that don’t have a shared role but are a critical part of some combos, or a must-have in every Commander deck. Hello Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves
Peregrine Drake is an excellent addition if you manage to blink it for cheap. It can generate tons of mana to ramp you ahead on turns.
Heroic Intervention is an excellent safety valve to protect your creatures.
Panharmonicon is the artifact version of Yarok, the Desecrated, so it’s got to be here.
The Mana Base
You’ve got a complete set of fetch lands since multiple cards care about making your land drops. These include all the rare ones from Zendikar, like Misty Rainforest, to the common ones, like Evolving Wilds.
The deck is otherwise very straightforward in terms of mana. It doesn’t run a lot of utility lands, but two cards do more than just add mana.
Reliquary Tower is an obvious addition to any Commander deck, but it does a lot in this one. You get multiple cards that can make you draw a card and easily exceed more than the maximum hand size.
Meanwhile Field of the Dead can start quickly spawning zombies on your side of the field, and it’s the main reason to run at least one of each snow land in your colors.
The plan for this deck is to ramp until you can cast your commander or big spells, but there are some interactions you may want to wait until you have your commander out. Peregrine Drake for five mana and without any mana rocks or lands producing more than one mana is nothing more than just a creature that gets played for free. But with Yarok, the Desecrated it becomes 10 mana in return for just five spent.
Other examples of cards that become very powerful when Yarok, the Desecrated is in play are Fierce Empath (it can tutor for two cards), Massacre Wurm (a one-sided pseudo-Languish), and Thassa, Deep-Dwelling (a Ghostly Flicker for creatures).
Combos and Interactions
Let’s address one thing: Yarok, the Desecrated is not a fun commander to play against. Some may say that these kinds of decks are generally either good piles or combo oriented, and they’re not exactly wrong. It’s effortless to pile up good cards and just do well with them.
Here are some of the most common interactions this deck can pull.
Archaeomancer, Ghostly Flicker, and Venser, Shaper Savant is a 3-mana counter or bounce effect. Soft lock.
Archaeomancer, Ghostly Flicker, and Peregrine Drake equals infinite mana.
Deadeye Navigator plus Peregrine Drake is more infinite mana.
Agent of Treachery, Deadeye Navigator, and Peregrine Drake lets you steal every other permanent.
Peregrine Drake, Venser, Shaper Savant, and Yarok, the Desecrated is, again, infinite mana. This also works with Panharmonicon instead of your commander.
Yarok, the Desecrated, Dryad Arbor, Deadeye Navigator, and Lotus Cobra equals infinite ETB and landfall triggers.
Dryad Arbor, Deadeye Navigator, Tireless Provisioner, and Ancient Greenwarden are yet more infinite ETB and landfall triggers.
These are just examples of “fair” things you can do, but you can make it even more annoying (
While most of the deck can be reasonably cheap, there are cards that can replace the most expensive ones. Let’s start with the mana base.
These are the obvious inclusions in most of my Commander decks. For this deck I’d recommend Temple of Mystery, Temple of Deceit, and Temple of Malady as lands because they’re very cheap in terms of money.
You can use these to fix your mana base instead of some fetch lands. They won’t tutor for Triomes or dual lands and won’t trigger twice by your commander so they’re a notable downgrade. But they’re like gold on a budget.
There are some dual lands that enter the battlefield tapped that can be used instead of shock lands. These include Tangled Islet from the Dominaria United cycle and Alpine Meadow from Kaldheim.
Ramunap Excavator is an acceptable replacement for your Crucible of Worlds. Retreat to Hagra can be used as a win condition on a budget instead of some of the expensive (pricey) ones. Ob Nixilis, the Fallen follows the same logic of Retreat to Hagra as it can be used instead of one of your win conditions.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel is another win condition replacement that can be paired with Deadeye Navigator to drain the entire board to death. End-Raze Forerunners is like building your own Craterhoof Behemoth on a budget.
This is where things get unfair. It doesn’t take too many other cards from the deck to do insane stuff. I think you’ve seen that the bread and butter of this commander is going to be the Deadeye Navigator plus Peregrine Drake interaction by this point. You can end up with other unfair results if you throw in other cards.
This deck can suddenly turn matches into solitaire games by adding a Time Walk effect. For example, you’ll have infinite turns if you have Archaeomancer and Conjurer’s Closet. Another way to get infinite turns is to throw Azusa, Lost but Seeking in and pair it with Crucible of Worlds. It’s not as smooth as the previous interaction, but you get the same result.
You can cast the artifacts indefinitely by adding either of these cards to the deck with Venser, Shaper Savant and Displacer Kitten in play. Or have infinite storm if you feel like adding any of the storm broken cards to the deck.
Kodama of the East Tree can be another win condition you may be interested in running because it pairs well with bounce lands and Field of the Dead. This interaction creates infinite tokens and infinite landfall triggers.
Peregrine Drake | Illustration by Mike Bierek
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Yarok is not a fun or fair commander. Panharmonicon decks usually aren’t, so why would you think the embodiment of it would be any other way? It’s still part of Magic, and some competitive tables may play it. Or you may want to play it, so it’s essential to get to know how it usually plays.
What do you think? Do you like this build? Was there any card I missed you may want to see in this deck? Let me know in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.
Thank you all for reading, and I’ll see you later!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: