Yasova Dragonclaw Play-By-Play

It’s time for another play-by-play, and today’s action features Sheldon’s latest go-to Commander, Yasova Dragonclaw, who excels at shifting the dynamic of the table by literally Threatening to take your stuff and hit you with it.

Play-by-play coverage of the games at my LGS Armada Games does more than just showcase how our local games play out. It also gives you some insight into the people with whom I play. Over the course of these adventures, I hope that you’ll see that there are more than just card choices which go into sculpting your environment, there are real, actual people. You’ve already met Shea, Anthony, and Chris multiple times in previous episodes (having featured decks from both Shea and Anthony); I hope that meeting them more regularly will give you a better sense of why I continue to look forward to games with them. That’s not to say they’ll be the only ones with whom I’ll record battles. One of the best parts of Commander is meeting new people and seeing their take on the format.

I don’t recall ever sitting down and facing three mono-colored decks before, but that’s what happened this time. Anthony has Baru, Fist of Krosa; Chris has King Macar, the Gold-Cursed, and Shea his relatively new Avacyn, Guardian Angel. Yasova has become my new pet deck; it’s the one that I always want to put into the box when I go to the shop. I sometimes resist to make sure I run through my whole collection of decks, but this time, it’s Yasova all the way.

What I like about the deck is that it plays both with and without the commander. Having Yasova makes combat steps rather interesting and always worth figuring out whether spending the mana to Threaten something is worth it or if that mana is better spent doing something else. Sometimes choices are obvious; sometimes they’re extremely complicated. I’ve noticed that Yasova’s presence changes how the other players think about the game, which has nothing but upsides. One of my favorite things to do in the format is to make each game different than the last. Let Vintage or Standard have all that high-quality redundancy. For Commander, different is better.

Turn One

Anthony (Baru): Windswept Heath, which he cracks (39) and gets a Forest. I give him a solid boo for playing off-color fetches. Yes, it’s legal, no we’re not going to write a rule to change it, but I can still dislike it stylistically.

Chris (King Macar): Swamp.

Shea (Avacyn): Kabira Crossroads (42).

Me (Yasova): Temple of Mystery. I scry and see a Forest. Since I have four other lands in my opener, I ship it.

Turn Two

Anthony (Baru): High Market, Sylvan Ranger.

Chris (King Macar): Withered Wretch.

Shea (Avacyn): Ghost Quarter, Imposing Sovereign. I don’t expect any of these decks to come out all that fast, but the Sovereign will slow them down if they do.

Me (Yasova): Steam Vents tapped.

Turn Three

Anthony (Baru): Summer Bloom. The deck is clearly designed to put multiple Forests into play in order to take advantage of Baru’s triggered ability. Here, he drops Homeward Path and two Forest.

Chris (King Macar): Nim Deathmantle. Attacks Anthony with Withered Wretch (37). Thespian’s Stage.

Shea (Avacyn): Plains, Moonlit Wake, a card which he says has been doing good work for him lately. It certainly will in this game.

Me (Yasova): Reflecting Pool, Yasova. Unless I’m playing a ramp spell or an amazing creature, I always want Yasova as my turn-three play since it lets me start influencing the pace of the game right away. If players are avoiding casting their best creatures because of the threat of Yasova, then that’s a win for me.

Turn Four

Anthony (Baru): Scorched Ruins, sacrificing High Market and Forest. I confess to not remembering seeing anyone play the card. This is a clever choice from Anthony; although it seems fraught with danger (he could certainly get daggered by a Wasteland), our local environment plays very little land hate. Of course, Shea has already shown Ghost Quarter, and he knows I pack some nonbasic hate in every deck, so this is a calculated risk. It tells me that he’s playing something which will get lands back into his hand at some point, like Life from the Loam.

Chris (King Macar): Attacks me with Withered Wretch (38). Transmutes Brainspoil for Gilded Lotus. Looks like he’s having a little mana trouble.

Shea (Avacyn): Plains, Armillary Sphere. He cracks it right away to save time and says go.

Me (Yasova): Island, attack Chris (36). Cast Ranger’s Path, getting Stomping Ground and Breeding Pool. At EOT, Anthony flashes in Yeva, Nature’s Herald.

Turn Five

Anthony (Baru): Terramorphic Expanse, which he immediately activates to get Forest. Attacks Chris with the Sylvan Ranger (35). Casts Birthing Pod, uses to it sacrifice the Ranger and get Tilling Treefolk. Shea to (43). As predicted, gets back Windswept Heath and Terramorphic Expanse.

Chris (King Macar): Misses another land drop. I think he kept a greedy hand. No action.

Shea (Avacyn): Plains, Angel of Jubilation. This is a nice follow-up to Birthing Pod, since no one can sacrifice creatures to do stuff. It will turn out to hurt me a little along the way, but it hurts Anthony much worse.

Me (Yasova): Island, Garruk Wildspeaker. At the beginning of combat, I pay to borrow Angel of Jubilation. I attack Chris with both (27). That’s more about the commander damage than anything. At EOT, Shea blows up Scorched Ruins with Ghost Quarter. Chris responds by copying Scorched Ruins with Thespian’s Stage.

Turn Six

Anthony (Baru): Reliquary Tower. No other action.

Chris (King Macar): Finally with some mana, he uses Scorched Ruins to cast Gilded Lotus and uses that to help pay for Solemn Simulacrum, getting a Swamp. Three land/Solemn openers aren’t what I’d consider greedy, but sometimes they don’t work out.

Shea (Avacyn): Plains, Sword of Feast and Famine — which changes the dynamic of the game immediately. Attaches it to the Angel, battles Chris (22). Chris discards Sanguimancy. Shea uses his freshly-untapped lands to cast Archetype of Courage.

Me (Yasova): Mountain, Zealous Conscripts borrowing the Angel. At beginning of combat, I also borrow Solemn Simulacrum. Yasova is becoming the wealth-redistribution deck. Attack Shea with the Angel, Anthony with Solemn, which he blocks with Yeva. Shea goes to (38) and then (39) when Solemn Simulacrum dies (due to Moonlit Wake). I tick up Garruk.

Turn Seven

Anthony (Baru): Windswept Heath.

Chris (King Macar): King Macar. Grey Merchant of Asphodel drains us for six. Me (32), Shea (33), Anthony (29), Chris (40).

Shea (Avacyn): Plains, Sword of War and Peace. Equips it to the Angel. Bashes Chris (33), then triggers happen. Shea to (34), Chris to (28).

Me (Yasova): Island. I can kill Chris with commander damage by using Garruk to Overrun and casting the Savage Beating in my hand. Since his board isn’t all that great (and it’s only turn seven), I elect to bring a little more parity to the game. Anthony’s creatures having flash might be an issue, so I attempt to force his hand. Garruk has five counters, so using the Overrun ability means I’ll still have it in play. I don’t do anything with Yasova’s trigger. I attack Anthony with Yasova (attempting to set up killing him with commander damage) and Shea with Zealous Conscripts. Before blocks, Anthony flashes in Baru — but it’s tapped due to Imposing Sovereign. Still, he can use the trigger. He cracks Windswept Heath to get a Forest. Yeva is now 5/5, Tilling Treefolk 2/4. He double blocks. Shea blocks with Sovereign. I cast Savage Beating, entwined. Yeva dies to first strike, preventing Yasova from trading, and the Treefolk dies when Yasova strikes the second time. Anthony to (25), Shea to (29). In the second combat step, Anthony goes to (11) with seventeen commander damage and Shea goes to (16). I suspect this game isn’t going to last all that long. I would be wrong.

Turn Eight

Anthony (Baru): Terramorphic Expanse. Indrik Stomphowler, taking out the Gilded Lotus. Seems like about the fourth-best target on the battlefield (two Swords, Moonlit Wake). Perhaps Anthony is aware how precarious his position is and hopes to gain some favor from Shea by not blowing up a Sword.

Chris (King Macar): Untaps King Macar (remember, it came in tapped due to Imposing Sovereign), taking out Indrik Stomphowler. He can’t target the Angel due to the protection of Sword of Feast and Famine. Not hitting Yasova and getting Stomphowler instead seems like a little payback. I’m not going to complain. Plays a Swamp. He casts Treacherous Urge on me, getting my Sower of Temptation. Blue is the only color the Angel is not protected from, so he swipes it. He then casts Thousand Year Elixir, a fine card to go with his commander. Battles me (23). At EOT, sacrifices Sower of Temptation. Shea gets back his Angel and goes to (17).

Shea (Avacyn): Avacyn attacks me. After triggers, I’m at (13).

Me (Yasova): Command Tower. I’m in a pretty lousy position here, so I give myself the only shot I have of being in the game in the long run. I cast Praetor’s Counsel, scooping up my graveyard. I cast Sower of Temptation to take Angel of Jubilation. Anthony has Homeward Path, but chooses to not use it.

Turn Nine

Anthony (Baru): Creeping Renaissance, responds by cracking his two fetches, getting 2x Forest. When it resolves, names lands. Baru gets +2/+2 but stays home.

Chris (King Macar): Springleaf Drum. Diabolic Revelation. Temple of the False God. Attacks me with the team. Before blocks, untaps King Macar with Thousand Year Elixir, and then uses it to exile Sower of Temptation. I lose the Angel as well. I block Withered Wretch with Zealous Conscripts, killing it. I go to (9), Shea to (19).

Shea (Avacyn): Plains. Attacks Anthony with Avacyn (4).

Me (Yasova): Forest. Yasova. Shivan Harvest. As I tick up Garruk, I realize that Angel of Jubilation would not have prevented me from using the Read the Runes I have in my hand. Angel of Jubilation prevents players from sacrificing creatures to cast spells or activate abilities; because the sacrifice of the creatures with Read the Runes happens in the resolution of the spell, I could have done it. I won’t forget a second time.

Turn Ten

Anthony (Baru): Forest, pass.

Chris (King Macar): Uses Springleaf Drum to tap King Macar for mana, sacrifices a gold token, and casts Decree of Pain. Shea responds by activating Avacyn to prevent all damage to himself from black sources. I Read the Runes for four. I draw Forest, Mountain, Hellkite Charger, and Solemn Simulacrum. I pitch the two lands and sacrifice my two creatures. Chris draws six cards. Shea to (23). Chris then casts Syphon Mind.

Shea (Avacyn): No action. One card in hand.

Me (Yasova): Cast Hellkite Charger. Untap two lands to cast Solemn Simulacrum and still have up mana to activate Shivan Harvest to blow up Homeward Path (or any other problematic land) if needed. Hellkite Charger attacks Chris (13).

Turn Eleven

Anthony (Baru): Wood Elves, then Pods it away to get Solemn Simulacrum (and two Forests in the process).

Chris (King Macar): Swamp. Staff of Nin and Ob Nixilis Unshackled. Anthony can’t catch a break with Birthing Pod (but like a grownup, he doesn’t whine about it). At EOT, Shea casts one of his favorite spells, White Sun’s Zenith, for 5.

Shea (Avacyn): Cycles Secluded Steppe. Casts Avacyn. At EOT, realizing that Chris has gone from being short on mana to the mana leader, I sacrifice Solemn Simulacrum to Shivan Harvest to blow up Thespian’s Stage, which had copied Scorched Ruins.

Me (Yasova): Draw Xenagos, God of Revels. That changes things. Cast it. Think about attacks for a bit. With Anthony in single digits, I need some help with Shea, but I also want to put Chris in range. Ob Nixilis is problematic for more than just Anthony, so I try to get him to block. Xenagos triggers, making Hellkite Charger 10/10. I battle Chris; for some strange reason, he pings Anthony with Staff of Nin (3). To my surprise, he doesn’t block (3). Killing him doesn’t do me much good. I use Hellkite Charger’s ability to get another combat phase. I attack Shea, who blocks with Avacyn.

Turn Twelve

Anthony (Baru): Veteran Explorer. Duplicant, which takes out Hellkite Charger. Maybe I should have just tried to kill him instead. Scorched Ruins, sacrificing Reliquary Tower and Windswept Heath.

Chris (King Macar): Upkeep, he pings Veteran Explorer with Staff of Nin. No one else searches. Shea to (24). Swamp. Consuming Vapors targeting Anthony. He sacrifices Solemn Simulacrum. Shea to (25), Chris to (5). Gruesome Encore Anthony’s Solemn Simulacrum. Attacks Garruk with Ob Nixilis and Anthony with Solemn Simulacrum. Anthony blocks; Solemn gets exiled.

Shea (Avacyn): Equips Sword of Feast and Famine to a Cat. Casts Austere Command, naming big creatures and enchantments. In response, Anthony casts Momentous Fall (8). Shea to (26). Attacks Anthony, who reveals his big plan: Constant Mists with buyback.

Me (Yasova): Coiling Oracle into High Market. At beginning of combat, target Yasova with Xenagos. Chris responds by casting Bile Blight on it (instead of taking out the Cat clowder).

Turn Thirteen

Anthony (Baru): Praetor’s Counsel. Summer Bloom, dropping Deserted Temple and two Forests. Recasts Veteran Explorer and Pods it away. We can now search for lands since Ob Nixilis is gone. Anthony announces he has no two-mana creatures in his library.

Chris (King Macar): Consuming Vapors rebounds, targeting Shea who sacrifices a Cat; Chris to (7) and no more life for Shea since he blew up his own Moonlit Wake. Ob Nixilis the Fallen. Drops a Swamp. Landfall triggers, taking Anthony to (5). Constant Mists can’t help with that. Casts a morph and Phyrexian Plaguelord.

Shea (Avacyn): Peels and casts Basilisk Collar. Equips it a Cat. Equips Sword of War and Peace to said Cat. Casts Emeria Angel. Goes to attack step. I cast Volcanic Offering and start negotiating with Shea. I have to do something to get him to not kill me, so this is it, but the price is that if he doesn’t kill Chris, then I have to. I target Homeward Path and Ob Nixilis. Shea targets Temple of the False God and the Morph. Chris sacrifices Ob Nixlis to Phyrexian Plaguelord to kill Coiling Oracle. He taps the morph for mana and then turns up Bane of the Living, giving everything -1/-1. He then sacrifices two more things to kill the remaining Cats. After the combat triggers resolve, Chris is at (1). Shea moves all the equipment over to Emeria Angel.

Me (Yasova): Pay 9 to recast Yasova. True to my word, I borrow a Cat and kill Chris with it. I believe in never going back on a deal as well as never trying to rules-lawyer my way out of it. It means, at least with the people that I play with all the time, there are long-term benefits to them being able to trust the deals I make. It just means I have to make smarter deals. After combat, I sacrifice the Cat to High Market (10). At EOT, Anthony flashes in Yeva, Sylvan Ranger, and Tilling Treefolk, getting back Homeward Path.

Turn Fourteen

Anthony (Baru): Pods away Ranger, getting Eternal Witness, which returns Summer Bloom. He casts it. Piles of lands come into play.

Shea (Avacyn): Avacyn attacks Anthony. At least we’ll make him sacrifice lands and spend resources to recast them.

Me (Yasova): Target Yasova with Xenagos. Battle Anthony, he once again casts Constant Mists with buyback. I cast Momentous Fall on Yasova, drawing eight cards, going to (16). First card I draw is Reliquary Tower. I drop it and cast Hateflayer. That’ll get around Constant Mists as well. If I live. At EOT, Anthony flashes in Baru. I don’t think I’m going to make it. Go on without me.

Turn Fifteen

Anthony (Baru): Generates lots of mana with Scorched Ruins and Deserted Temple. Casts Wave of Vitriol. Baru triggers five times for him, plus he plays a Forest for the turn. Wood Elves and Baru are now +6/+6. He attacks me with everyone. I block Baru with Hateflayer. Even if I’m going to die, it’ll get -1/-1 counters, meaning it will die when the +6 wears off. He casts Momentous Fall (10). He then drops Zuran Orb, and I’m pretty sure this game is over.

Shea (Avacyn): No action, but says he has an answer or two, so he’s going to give it a whirl.

Turn Sixteen

Anthony (Baru): Duplicant takes out Avacyn. Shea prevents all the damage to himself from green. Anthony casts Swiftfoot Boots and equips them to Baru. He drops Yavimaya Hollow.

Shea (Avacyn): Akroma, Angel of Wrath. Attacks and Anthony doesn’t use Constant Mists (4). I suppose he feels safe enough with that Zuran Orb around. Shea casts Armillary Sphere.

Turn Seventeen

Anthony (Baru): Crucible of Worlds, adding more pain. Attacks Shea with the team. Emeria Angel blocks Duplicant, Akroma blocks Treefolk. Shea to (24).

Shea (Avacyn): Cracks Armillary Sphere in his upkeep. Drops Plains, gets a Bird. Casts Martial Law. Attacks with Akroma. Anthony makes the Mists Constant. At EOT, he sacrifices Haunted Fengraf to return Tilling Treefolk. The engine is running.

Turn Eighteen

Anthony (Baru): Tilling Treefolk gets back Haunted Fengraf. Anthony plays it. Attacks with Eternal Witness, which Shea unadvisedly blocks and kills. Anthony gets it back with Fengraf since it’s the only creature in his graveyard.

Shea (Avacyn): Detains Eternal Witness. Plains, gets a Bird. Casts Sun Titan to get back Armillary Sphere. At EOT, Anthony flashes in Yeva and then Grazing Gladeheart.

Turn Nineteen

Anthony (Baru): Plays Haunted Fengraf. He does nothing else; he’s obviously just going to wait for Shea and flash in stuff.

Shea (Avacyn): Detains Yeva. Cracks Armillary Sphere. Plains, Bird. Pays 11 for Avacyn. Battles with Akroma, Sun Titan (getting back Sphere). At EOT, Anthony flashes in Rampaging Baloths and casts Krosan Grip on Martial Law.

Turn Twenty

Anthony (Baru): Casts Summer Bloom. With Crucible of Worlds, plays three lands from the graveyard. Battles with the team. It’s not quite lethal, but Shea sees the writing on the wall and scoops so that we can get to the next game. He looks at the top card; it’s a land.

In retrospect, it might have been a punt to not get Shea and Chris to work together to take care of Anthony first. I’ve seen the deck before and know about the eventuality of Constant Mists, so leaving Ob Nixilis around — with the agreement that its purpose is to get rid of Anthony — seems like it would have been the right call. It still doesn’t seem like I would have survived much longer than I did, but sometimes all you need is one more turn. I suppose one lives and one learns.

This Week’s Deck Without Comment is the deck I play above.

The Threat of Yasova
Sheldon Menery
Test deck on 11-30--0001

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