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Last updated on August 3, 2022

Yurlok of Scorch Thrash - Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

Yurlok of Scorch Thrash | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

When I’m playing a game of Commander, someone might jokingly say, “bring back mana burn!” Apparently Wizards was listening, because they decided to print Yurlok of Scorch Thrash back in Commander Legends.

Yurlok of Scorch Thrash creates a very interesting game environment because it forces your opponents to pay attention to how they generate and spend mana. They have to think of creative ways to spend the mana you force into their pool, regardless of color, or else continue to lose life.

Yurlok might be the commander for you if you‘re interested in adding a new aspect to your games or just like them sped up a bit. Let’s find out!

The Deck

Torment of Hailfire - Illustration by Grzegorz Rutkowski

Torment of Hailfire | Illustration by Grzegorz Rutkowski

This deck is built to take full advantage of Yurlok of Scorch Thrash’s abilities. The ultimate goal is to keep opponents losing life by making them create as much mana as possible.

While you usually wouldn’t want to give your opponents more mana, this can serve a dual purpose to help you win the game. First, you’re dealing damage to them each turn that Yurlok is out because you can force them to create more mana than they can spend.

Second, your opponents might be reluctant to take you out at first: you cost them life, but you’re helping them ramp. They might be happy to make that trade, but they’ll eventually realize you’re a threat. Hopefully not before it’s too late to stop you from winning the game.

The Commander

Yurlok of Scorch Thrash

Yurlok of Scorch Thrash is the type of commander you’re going to want to have out on the field as quickly and for as long as possible. The key to making Yurlok work is getting the most out of its static ability.

Luckily its activated ability helps you land reliable damage on your opponents even if they’re managing to play around its static ability. You can activate it at instant speed and likely cause most of your opponents to lose three life if you do it on the end step before your turn.

The one problem with Yurlok is that your opponents probably know that it’s a big threat. They’ll be looking to remove it as fast as possible to avoid losing life, so it’s important that you’re not making yourself a target too early.

Mana Ramp

Green has some great ramp spells like Farseek and Rampant Growth that are usually good in any multicolored deck. They help you to get ahead on lands and have lands of each color you need.

Collective Voyage

Collective Voyage can sometimes be a risky card to play since it can give your opponents access to lots of lands. But you might want that because Yurlok can punish your opponents for producing excess mana.

Belbe, Corrupted Observer

Belbe, Corrupted Observer can act as a reliable source of mana for you since you’re most likely causing your opponents to lose life. Just activate Yurlok’s ability during the end of your combat step and you’ll probably get two mana for each opponent.

Extra Mana Production

Leyline of Abundance

Leyline of Abundance is great in this deck because it adds an extra mana to Yurlok and your mana dorks. Yurlok tapping for four mana instead of three can lead to some pretty nasty combos.

Cards that allow all players to increase their mana production serve double duty here. Mana Flare and Heartbeat of Spring allow you access to more mana and force your opponents to produce even numbers of it. They then have some mana left over to take damage from if they’re spending an odd amount of mana on their turns.

Mana Sinks

Helix Pinnacle

You’re going to want cards like Helix Pinnacle on the board to avoid taking damage from Yurlok of Scorch Thrash yourself. This card allows you to spend that mana at instant speed, but you could also just end up winning the game with it.

Kessig Wolf Run

Kessig Wolf Run is another card that you can spend your mana on. It’s harder to remove since it’s a land, and you can use it to deal a lot of damage with the extra mana you produce.

Walking Ballista

Spells with X in the mana cost like Walking Ballista are another good payoff for the large amounts of mana this deck produces. It also has an ability you can sink mana into, giving it utility both in your hand and on the field.

Protection

Your commander is going to be a big target once you start dealing out damage. Equipping Yurlok with Darksteel Plate or Lightning Greaves can help keep it on the board. The Greaves also has the added benefit of granting haste, letting you activate Yurlok without worrying about summoning sickness.

Heroic Intervention

Instant-speed protection spells like Heroic Intervention can also help keep Yurlok alive, and it can help you pay to play them.

Deflecting Swat

Deflecting Swat is a good option to shut down targeted removal while allowing you to remove something yourself.

Ways to Untap

Staff of Domination

Cards that let you untap Yurlok allow you to then activate its ability multiple times a turn if you can afford it. Staff of Domination doubles as a mana sink: you can always pay just one to untap it so that you never get burned by extra mana.

Seedborn Muse

Seedborn Muse allows you to activate Yurlok at least once on each opponent’s turn, giving you more chances to cause damage. It also gives you access to all your lands, allowing you to cast removal or protection spells as needed.

Umbral Mantle

But the real star here is Umbral Mantle. It lets you untap Yurlok as many times as you can afford to activate it. You’ll deal lots of damage to opponents by giving them more mana than they can hope to spend.

Tutors

You want to be able to find a lot of the cards in this deck quickly. Demonic Tutor or Vampiric Tutor help you find them when you really need them. Tutoring can make a big difference because there are several combos in this deck.

Removal

Bedevil

You’ll most likely lose life along with your opponents thanks to Yurlok’s ability, so you’re going to want some targeted removal like Bedevil to take out creatures that threaten to finish you off.

The Meathook Massacre

The Meathook Massacre can restore some of that lost life.

Spells like Assassin’s Trophy and Chaos Warp are nice because they can hit any permanent, letting you remove anything on the board that’s giving you trouble.

Blasphemous Act

Board wipes like Blasphemous Act can help you catch up if you’re behind or take out boards that are too wide to deal with one creature at a time.

Doing Damage and Taking Life

Wound Reflection

Your commander does damage, but you can help speed things up more by doubling up the life lost with cards like Wound Reflection.

Citadel of pain

Citadel of Pain punishes players for leaving lands untapped, incentivizing them to tap out. Combined with Yurlok, they’re damaged if they do and damaged if they don’t.

Creatures like Zo-Zu the Punisher and Rampaging Ferocidon deal damage to your opponents when they play lands or cast creatures, meaning they take damage no matter what they do to address your threats.

Spells like Lavalanche and Crackle with Power let you spend extra mana to do massive damage directly to your opponents, potentially winning the game.

The Mana Base

Dual and tri-lands are very helpful for a 3-color deck. Fetchable dual lands like Overgrown Tomb and the one fetchable Jund tri-land, Ziatora’s Proving Ground, are useful, but it’s also good to include a few fetch lands like Wooded Foothills and Bloodstained Mire.

Mana dorks like Ignoble Hierarch can help ramp and fix your mana. Zhur-Taa Druid is a dork that also damages your opponents, and Magus of the Vineyard can help damage your opponents if they can’t spend extra mana.

Mana rocks help ramp and fix mana. Chromatic Lantern allows all your lands to tap for whatever you need, including fetch and utility lands. Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth also help with mana fixing by adding an extra land type to all your lands.

The Strategy

Your main goal with this deck is to make sure your opponents are constantly losing life. This can be from Yurlok’s static ability and cards like Kaervek the Merciless.

You also want to make sure your opponents generate too much mana so that Yurlok deals damage to them. Mana Flare and similar enchantments help with that. Belbe, Corrupted Observer is another way to deal some damage, especially because some players tend to play most of their spells during their pre-combat main phase.

You can also aim to finish off low-life-count opponents with direct damage from spells like Fireball or Walking Ballista.

There’s a possibility, although rare, that you can win with Helix Pinnacle just by pumping all your extra mana into it.

Combos and Interactions

If you’re looking to generate some extra mana for your X spells, Cabal Coffers can add a ton with a Swamp-maker like Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth on the field.

There are a few cards that help you untap Yurlok, making its effect repeatable for a cost. Staff of Domination costs two colorless mana each time you repeat the effect, while Umbral Mantle costs one colorless mana each time.

You can repeat Yurlok’s ability an infinite number of times if you have Leyline of Abundance on the field and Yurlok is equipped with Umbral Mantle. This continues to give your opponents mana and nets no total mana for you since it costs all four mana to repeat the ability. You can just repeat the effect until you’re sure they’ll all die the second you end the current phase of the turn.

Sanguine Bond combined with Exquisite Blood creates an infinite loop of you gaining life and your opponents losing it. All you need to do is cause them to take any amount of damage and this continues until you’re the only player standing.

Budget Options

Yurlok is a very affordable commander and an attractive option for a budget deck. Replacing more expensive cards like The Meathook Massacre with some more affordable options like Toxic Deluge can slash this deck’s price.

Dockside Extortionist is a fantastic ramp spell, but you can easily switch it out for a cheaper option since you have other ramp. Skyshroud Claim, though not as explosive, is much more affordable and just one of many great options playing green offers.

Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor both have affordable alternatives. Mastermind’s Acquisition is a higher mana cost but still tutors any card from your deck to your hand. Profane Tutor makes you wait two turns to get the card you tutor for, but that isn’t too bad in Commander if you know what combo piece you’ll eventually need.

This deck’s high price tag mostly comes from its land base. Swapping true duals for cheaper options like Grove of the Burnwillows or Sulfurous Springs drops the price by hundreds of dollars.

You can also replace some of the dual lands with basics, relying on your ramp spells and Chromatic Lantern for mana fixing. And you can replace fetch lands with Fabled Passage if you go this route.

Other Builds

Cards that activate when opponents lose life could easily fit into this deck. Savage Gorger could get buff in a deck built around dealing small amounts of damage each turn, for example.

You’d want to include cards like Archfiend of Despair that double up any damage dealt during a turn. This deck wouldn’t be built too differently from the current build, just putting more emphasis on loss-of-life triggers.

Commanding Conclusion

Vampiric Tutor | Illustration by Raymond Swanland

Vampiric Tutor | Illustration by Raymond Swanland

You should give this deck a try if you’re nostalgic for some good old mana burn. Yurlok is also great for players who like a fast game that feels dangerous for everyone involved. Your opponents might try to keep your commander off the board, but that’s just a sign that you’re doing something right.

Do you miss mana burn? Do you think we should get more cards with Yurlok’s ability? What other old mechanics would you like see make a comeback? Let me know in the comments below or over on the Draftsim Twitter.

Hopefully you aren’t too burned out to check out some more of our great decks. I can’t wait to share our next build with you!

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