Early in a new format, we want to, generally speaking, pursue the following three goals in deckbuilding:
- Be proactive.
- Be consistent.
- Be resilient.
Proactivity means going out there and winning the game quickly and decisively. It makes no sense to dither around with drawing extra cards, getting “value,” or prolonging the game without closing the door. Individual cards are so powerful and game-changing that the best way to gain control of a game is to minimize the chance that an opponent peels out of it.
After all, you don’t want to have a smattering of low-impact creatures and small planeswalkers, only to watch your opponent topdeck a Garruk, Cursed Huntsman or Lochmere Serpent and pull the game out of reach.
Consistency means you don’t want to be constantly mulliganing, missing key land drops, missing a color, or flooding out. You want to minimize the fail rate of your deck.
And resilience means you want to be able to slog through disruption. Maybe your opponent has removal spells! They could curve Stomp into Bonecrusher Giant, or Petty Theft into Brazen Borrower. You need to be able to continue to present relevant threats and grind a bit. You need powerful topdecks of your own. A deck full of 2/1 creatures isn’t going to cut it.
What does Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig offer to make these things happen?
On the consistency front, Yorvo helps incentivize the most consistent manabase in the game. One color. It’s simple, really. If you have three lands or two lands and a mana creature, you can keep. If you have zero, one, five, or six lands, you mulligan. If you have four lands, you can keep if and only if you have three plays over the first four turns. It’s so simple, even a machine could do it!
On the proactivity front, Yorvo is basically built to do exactly one thing: hit hard and fast in a Mono-Green (or with a small splash) Stompy deck. Your job is to give your opponent as little time to squeeze out from under your giant monsters as possible.
And on the resilience front, Yorvo is pretty straight-up: three mana for a big honking threat. However, this Giant has one very special, very hidden ability that will let him keep fighting through what is sure to be a common removal spell in the new Standard.
Realm-Cloaked Giant’s adventure half, Cast Off, is going to be a major piece of the puzzle for control decks in this format. Brilliant design, stitching together a sweeper and a threat for the late-game. It’s a perfect card for white-based midrange or control decks, and sure to be a massive thorn in the side of a beatdown deck like Stompy.
However, Cast Off doesn’t hit Yorvo. This is a key aspect of the card, and means that sometimes the five-mana sweeper won’t be sufficient to stem the bleeding in time.
What does it look like when we put the deck together, then?
- 4 Pelt Collector
- 4 Growth-Chamber Guardian
- 4 Paradise Druid
- 4 Barkhide Troll
- 2 Voracious Hydra
- 4 Shifting Ceratops
- 3 Leafkin Druid
- 4 Questing Beast
- 3 Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig
There’s a lot to like for Mono-Green Stompy. First of all, it’s ultra-consistent, especially with Once Upon a Time. This card allows you to keep one-landers with a two-drop mana creature under the expectation that you’ll find a second land in five cards. It also lets you keep four-landers with a two-drop and a Yorvo, with the understanding that there’s at least one other threat in the top five cards for you to find for zero mana.
It’s also not a terrible topdeck in the late-game, just as Commune with Dinosaurs was a powerful play on Turn 1 or Turn 10 in last Standard’s Jund Dinosaurs deck.
When you’ve got six lands on the battlefield and need to peel something impactful, Once Upon a Time can be the card you’re looking for. It will almost always turn up a creature to own the battlefield. Plus, you get to say, “Once upon a time, there was a….Questing Beast!” (Or whatever powerful creature you find with it.)
I’d go so far as to say that Mono-Green Stompy will be the most consistent deck in this new Standard format, although the loss of the explore package to increase consistency will be missed.
Then, it’s got a powerful hate card in the maindeck. Shifting Ceratops embarrasses anyone who wants to play a blue deck. There are sure to be quite a few people obsessed with Brazen Borrower, and Ceratops makes that plan look pretty weak. It’s also no slouch in its own right as a hefty 5/4 creature with potential haste if you have the extra mana to spare. It may look like this particular decklist is rife with four-drop creatures, but Ceratops curves out so well on Turn 5 that it still works well as a follow-up to a Questing Beast or a Vivien, Arkbow Ranger.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that Lava Coil exists and will likely be one of the most important removal spells in the format going forward. Lava Coil hits Questing Beast, Yorvo, and Ceratops while obtaining a valuable mana advantage to double-spell or fit in a tapped land. It’s critically important to minimize vulnerability to both Coil and Bonecrusher Giant’s Stomp half. But how, when all the most important creatures at three and four mana die to it? Maybe there’s a way around the Coil?
This realization begs the question, is it correct to play any copies of Nullhide Ferox in the list over some of the other four-mana creatures? Obviously Questing Beast is a powerful card in its own right, but pseudo-hexproof and +2/+2 is no laughing matter. And Nullhide Ferox immediately boosts Yorvo to 6/6 status the very next turn, which is quite a feat.
I’m unconvinced, but we are seeing an absolute glut of powerful four-drops here, and it could easily be correct to go with the other one. It all depends on the prevalence of Lava Coil in the coming format. If it’s all over the place, we’re going to have to play Ferox. If not, then we can diversify our threats.
It drives home an important point about green in the upcoming format, though. There are too many good four-mana creatures, and too few from one to three mana. If only all that power got spread across some other spots on the curve, we’d have something truly special on our hands.
The next-best one-mana creature after Pelt Collector is likely the Adventure half of Lovestruck Beast, Heart’s Desire. The Beauty is obviously weak in her own right, but she enables the Beast, and at 5/5 for three mana, we’re talking about a serious bruiser that doesn’t bite it to Lava Coil either! If there were still a Llanowar Elves to both churn out Yorvo and enable Lovestruck Beast, I would have no problem signing off on the card, but with only Heart’s Desire and non-boosted Pelt Collectors to offer a way to turn on the card, it’s an awfully sketchy choice to include Beauty and the Beast.
The other question is God-Eternal Rhonas. At five mana, he’s got a high asking price, but his ability to boost the rest of your team and send them through for massive chunks of damage is unique enough to merit at least one spot in the full decklist. Could he be worth including over the Voracious Hydra? I’d like to examine both options, especially in a world with Once Upon a Time to fuel powerful card selection throughout the game.
Again, we are blessed with an abundance of incredible threats at the top of the curve, yet struggle to even find a reasonable backup one-drop or a supplemental three-mana creature. It’s a sad situation, to be frank. Perhaps upcoming sets will juice up the archetype a bit more with better low-cost creatures.
However, with a card like Yorvo, there’s one more, even less obvious bonus that we’re going to want to pay extra special attention to in the future. Yorvo costs GGG. Not 1GG. GGG. That’s meaningful. It’s not a downgrade. With Theros: Beyond Death coming out early in 2020, it seems highly likely that the devotion mechanic will return. If it does, the three green mana symbols in Yorvo’s casting cost will put him at the top of the list when it comes to curving out giant Gods.
After all, there’s a reason that Wizards chose to print the cycle of four-mana hybrid creatures. Something tells me they’re a bit underpowered in actual stats, but those four pips of devotion will mean more than anything when it comes to Theros and its Gods. Yorvo gets most of the way towards enabling whatever green mana requirements Theros: Beyond Death may demand, while also being an incredibly hard-hitting creature in its own right.
Barkhide Troll into Yorvo into some massive new Nylea is exactly the type of curve-out we’re looking to enable in the not-too-distant future. Vivien, Arkbow Ranger costing 1GGG plays into this new angle nicely as well, so don’t sleep on Mono-Green Devotion as a powerful Standard deck next year, either!
Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig is a worthy heir to the throne of the three-mana green beatstick, and with the right support and payoffs, he’s going to be the centerpiece of a killer aggro deck. Plus, he’s got the right mana cost to do even greater things when Theros gives us a reason to appreciate his mana cost.
In short, I’m not excited to lose to Yorvo and his merry band of mana creatures and oversized Beasts. We’ll see how many times that happens before the message sinks in: everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face by a Giant Noble.