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Much Abrew: Yarok Reanimator (Pioneer, Magic Online)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. This week, we're heading to Pioneer to play a deck featuring one of my all-time favorite cards: Yarok, the Desecrated! While being a Panharmonicon in creature form comes with some drawbacks (like dying to creature removal), it also comes with some benefits, like being able to be returned from the graveyard to play with spells like Blood for Bones, Endless Obedience, and Ever After. Our deck today looks to embrace this upside by reanimating Yarok, the Desecrated and some sweet enters the battlefield–based finishers like Ashen Rider and Agent of Treachery. With a bit of luck, we can use Ever After to return Yarok and a finisher to the battlefield at the same time, maybe as early as Turn 4! Is a midrangey reanimator shell the right way to take advantage of Yarok, the Desecrated in Pioneer? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Yarok Reanimator

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Discussion

  • Overall, we finished 3-2 with Yarok Reanimator. While we did a good job of out-powering other midrange and control strategies, our two losses came to Blue-White Monument and Rally Zombies, both of which are sort of combo-aggro strategies, with Rally the Ancestors and Oketra's Monument allowing them to go so wide that our handful of big threats simply couldn't keep up (while not having graveyard hate also came back to haunt us against Rally Zombies).
  • Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Yarok Reanimator is that the deck is extremely powerful but can be inconsistent, thanks to its four-color mana base. We had some games where we were able to essentially win the game on Turn 4 by reanimating Yarok, the Desecrated and something like Ashen Rider or Agent of Treachery, which felt great. We also had some games where we had to mulligan away otherwise functional hands thanks to not having the right colors of mana. 
  • Speaking of mana, we're leaning very hard on Sylvan Caryatid to fix all of our problems. Unfortunately, our other mana dork is Elvish Mystic, which is a fine accelerant but not especially good at fixing our colors. Trading Elvish Mystic for Gilded Goose would probably go a long way toward improving our deck by making our mana work, with the added bonus of some more incidental lifegain against aggro.
  • One of the things that I love the most about Yarok Reanimator is that it can function as a normal midrange deck if our graveyard gets shut down. While our best and most explosive games involve reanimating threats from our graveyard on the cheap, we can win a lot of games by casting mana dorks into Yarok, the Desecrated and some Siege Rhinos while using Oath of Jace and Champion of Wits to loot away dead reanimation spells for more castable action. Thanks to our mana dorks, it's even possible that we can hard cast cards like Agent of Treachery and Ashen Rider in the late game, if we have to. Considering graveyard hate like Rest in Peace, Grafdigger's Cage, and Leyline of the Void is pretty heavily played in Pioneer sideboards, having a functional (and arguably powerful) game plan that doesn't require our graveyard is a huge selling point of Yarok Reanimator over other more all-in graveyard decks in the format.
  • The most awkward part of the deck—by far—is the reanimation package itself. Having seven total reanimation spells feels about right, but playing four different cards is this slot is strange. Rescue from the Underworld feels like the worst of the bunch since our creatures don't come back until our next upkeep, making it bad when we immediately need to reanimate something to stabilize our board. It would probably be better as more copies of Blood for Bones. Meanwhile, the six-mana reanimation spells are tougher to figure out. Ever After offers the most power by reanimating Yarok, the Desecrated and something else at the same time, while Endless Obedience often ends up being much cheaper than its mana cost suggests since we can use Satyr Wayfinder, Reflector Mage, and Champion of Wits like mana dorks to pay for it, thanks to convoke. Other than cutting Rescue from the Underworld, I'm not 100% sure what the right mix is for the reanimation package—it will probably take more testing to figure out. But I am pretty confident that the current mix isn't quite optimal.
  • The other place where the deck could probably use an upgrade is the sideboard. We don't really have good graveyard hate (Return to Nature doesn't really count) or any way to deal with a swarm of small creatures. Meanwhile, I'm not sure Solemnity and Oblivion Sower do enough to merit sideboard slots. Trading them out for something like Languish and Leyline of the Void would probably help to shore up some of the deck's weaker matchups.
  • In general, I found Yarok Reanimator super-fun to play. The combination of being a solid Yarok midrange deck with the possibility of some crazy, reanimation-fueled nut draws makes for a very powerful deck.
  • So, should you play Yarok Reanimator in Pioneer? If you're a lover of Panharmonicons and reanimation, the answer is yes. I don't think Yarok Reanimator is one of the top-tier decks in the Pioneer format, but it is competitive enough to win a decent amount of matches and should be even better with some of the upgrades we've been discussing (especially Gilded Goose over Elvish Mystic). Being able to win fairly as a midrange deck when our graveyard gets shut down really sets the deck apart from some of the other graveyard decks we've played in Pioneer. If you've been looking for a way to play Yarok, the Desecrated in Pioneer or just like sweet reanimator strategies, give the deck a shot!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck by liking, commenting on, and subscribing to Instant Deck Tech videos! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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