Building Around Yarok, The Desecrated For Brawl

Yarok, the Desecrated loves doubling triggers! Dayv Doberne builds three Brawl decks around Yarok and the strongest possible effects with its ability, like Lotus Field. Wait, not Lotus Field…

Hey everyone! Welcome back to The Brawl Project!

Today I’ll be featuring a commander chosen by legendary Magic streamer Gaby Spartz. If you’re not already familiar with her, Gaby has been creating top-quality Magic content full-time for the past four years, on top of being a champion for all the right causes. She’s incredibly friendly and approachable, so if you ever see her at an event, don’t feel shy about going up and saying hello!

When I approached Gaby for her commander of choice, she thought for a bit, then came back with “Definitely Yarok, snap it in.” Great pick! Let’s take a closer look at Yarok, the Desecrated:

At first glance, Yarok may seem nearly analogous to Chulane, Teller of Tales, even sharing two colors with the Brawl precon commander. Both play very well with “enters the battlefield” abilities. However, there are two key distinctions to be made, as tempting as it may be to copy/paste my Chulane deck from last week here.

First, the difference in added effect: Chulane staples a Growth Spiral onto every creature spell you cast, while Yarok doubles the triggered ability. This means that we’ll be leaning toward bigger, splashier effects with Yarok. Chulane wants to dump as many creatures as possible to maximize free Growth Spirals, but while copying an Arboreal Grazer trigger is… quaint… we’re looking to steal two permanents with Agent of Treachery.

Second, Yarok’s ability works with any permanent and any trigger; Chulane only works with creatures. That means you get two Food tokens when you play a Gingerbread Cabin untapped. Two life when you play a Dismal Backwater or Thornwood Falls. Scry 2 Two “scry 1″s when you play a Mana Geode.

And most importantly, two cards when a creature enters the battlefield while you control Guardian Project. Each time. Some of you may have caught my sneak peek for this article on Twitter:

Well, I don’t think anything more needs to be said. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next week!


That was… not according to keikaku. It looks like I need to find… let me check my notes… 58 other cards for this deck. Um, that’s a lot. This is a singleton format, too? Wow. How about this. Let’s list the pros and cons of Yarok as a commander.



  • Does nothing if immediately hit by Murder et al.
  • Abilities worth copying are often expensive
  • Fixing in current Standard isn’t great for supporting three colors

I think the logical direction to go is to build a control deck and just use Guardian Project with Yarok as a value engine, but I’m not going to give up on doing cool things that quickly. It may be a challenge to stick Yarok long enough to get some value, but fear not. Introducing: Sunyveil’s Three-Step Plan to Do Cool Stuff with Yarok and Win Some Games!

Sunyveil’s Three-Step Plan to Do Cool Stuff with Yarok and Win Some Games

Step 1: Apply Hand Damage

Your opponent might develop their battlefield over the first few turns, but any card on the battlefield is one fewer card in their hand. The fewer cards our opponents have in hand, the more likely they are to discard a card they want to hold on to. In the business, we call this concept “Hand Damage.”* We need to free our opponents from the burden of holding on to removal as we decline to offer a good target for their Mortifies and their Bedevils.

*Note to self: fact-check this statement.

Since we are generous opponents, we’ll let our adversary have the choice for what they wish to discard at first…

… and then we’ll take a peek and see what can actually deal with Yarok and rid them of it. Once we’ve applied enough Hand Damage, it’s time to…

Step 2: Slam Yarok and Stabilize the Battlefield

Yarok has deathtouch and lifelink, so if your opponent doesn’t have removal (see: Step 1), hopefully Yarok can just trump the battlefield. Going wide isn’t an option, with Yarok’s lifelink decreasing the effectiveness of pushing damage on the ground. In case the opponent is able to establish something that can punch through or fly over, we have access to a few removal spells to halt the opponent’s advance.

The goal is to create a standstill. Yarok discourages the opponent’s attack, and we have no real interest in pushing damage. Why? Because we’re about to do…

Step 3: Fun Stuff

So much value. Once we get going with Golgari Findbroker or The Great Henge, there’s no stopping us!

These effects are the ones that really benefit from being played with Yarok. Voracious Hydra can double its size and then fight something, allowing it to take down just about anything (just in case X times four +1/+1 counters isn’t a good enough option). Disinformation Campaign causes the whole table to discard twice while casting Divination. Finally, Kenrith’s Transformation draws two cards while silencing the text box on an opposing creature.

The Manabase

This deck is mostly Golgari, so we’re going to have a manabase that reflects that. On top of that, there are a bunch of lands with enters the battlefield effects we get to double dip on.

Wait a second…

Lotus_Field_Text_Box_1 Lotus_Field_Text_Box_2

After much deliberation, I have concluded that we would not like to sacrifice four lands.


Much better. Getting extra value out of lands, even if small, is pretty nice. The real winner here is Field of the Dead, which (if it isn’t good enough already) makes two Zombies with Yarok out. Please, opponents, no sweepers!

Here’s the list I arrived at:

There’s some cool stuff here, but what if I told you there was a way to skip Steps 1 and 2 and go straight to the fun stuff? That sounds great, right? So, how do we avoid worrying about advanced Magic concepts like Hand Damage and just get on with drawing cards and copying triggered abilities?

It’s simple.

It’s called, “Play a multiplayer game and delegate the responsibility of prolonging the game and keeping aggressive starts in check to the other players at the table.”

We are really letting loose here. While we still have a couple of interactive elements here, we have many more cards that replace themselves. We are trying to ensure that we are never out of steam, no matter how many sweepers get cast.

A few cards of particular note:

Golden Egg and Guild Globe may be too durdly for head-to-head battles (or not), but when the threat of aggression is lower, they’re just right. They also match well with Flood of Tears, which is sure to set everybody else back while rebuying a few “enters the battlefield” triggers.

God-Eternal Rhonas is a nice effect to double; quadrupling each creature’s power will promote otherwise innocuous cards (such as District Guide) into huge threats! I wanted to include it in the previous list but was a bit concerned about the lower creature count. Since we’re applying a Hakuna Matata philosophy to things our opponents might be up to, we get to go up to 21 creatures with this build!

Earlier I mentioned that the best direction for a Yarok deck might just be to build a control deck. It’s not the most exciting, but having Guardian Project add a free Divination to Yarok each time you cast your commander is a cool angle. Since counterspells are powerful control tools when people are going big, let’s pivot from Golgari to Dimir for this build.

A Dimir control deck with just five green cards, plus Yarok. This deck doesn’t close out the game quickly but it can pull ahead in a hurry. Once stabilized, a copied Agent of Treachery or Scholar of the Ages should be more than enough to seal the deal.

Two benefits this build might have over a straight Dimir list are in the manabase. Temple of Malady and Temple of Mystery are unavailable to Dimir decks, and achieving the seven lands with different names for Field of the Dead is easier with a third color to dip into. It even gets to be more potent with Yarok!


As part of an effort to promote The Brawl Project, I’ll be giving away a Brawl precon each week, every week, until the end of 2019! Retweet to enter, and the only catch is that I’ll be shipping to the USA only for now. Drawings will be done at 11:59pm PT Monday night (that’s tonight!) each week. Good luck!

Next Week

Next week we will try to live Happily Ever After with Golos, Tireless Pilgrim! I stream a substantial portion of my brewing for this column live on Twitch, so tune in on Thursday at noon PT if you would like to catch the process. Also, a reminder that submissions are always open here if you would like to see your own deck featured on The Brawl Project!