The Many Flavors Of Yorion, Sky Nomad In Kaldheim Standard

Yorion, Sky Nomad isn’t wandering off just yet. Ben Friedman explores the many ways to build 80-card maindecks in Kaldheim Standard.

Yorion, Sky Nomad, illustrated by Steven Belledin

One of the great joys of playing with Yorion, Sky Nomad is that you have the exquisite privilege of playing with 95 cards in your Standard deck with a perfectly logical justification. After playing for an entire career with a mere 75 to work with (or risk being termed a “loose nerd” or worse for going over the sacrosanct minimum), the new requirement to play extra cards leads to exciting and engaging deckbuilding.

You may feel like a new player again, building a deck and not having to care about optimizing and shaving down cards. A player might be so used to the obligatory minimum deck size that they won’t know what to do with all their extra cardboard real estate. That’s a beautiful feeling, being able to just keep going, adding new cards because you have the room.

Yorion, Sky Nomad

In a way, Yorion is the one card that makes Standard feel a little bit more like Commander, certainly more than any other companion at this point. Never is that more true than with new set releases, where every new card might earn a slot on your bench, just because your bench is extra-large and has room for so many new recruits!

There are a number of different exciting cards from Kaldheim in the Esper color combination that look like excellent candidates for a deck based around Yorion and Doom Foretold, or even a straight-up Azorius take. There’s even the possibility of making a Jeskai version of the deck involving Transmogrify and Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast. And with so much room for deckbuilding creativity, there’s less of a punishment out there for getting creative, as we haven’t really gotten the kinds of heuristics we usually use for normal decks ported over to these extra-wide 80-card maindecks.

So what cards are the most exciting in Kaldheim for these different flavors of Yorion? There are a bunch.

Niko Aris

The biggest one is Niko Aris, who synergizes with Yorion for a number of reasons. As with any good planeswalker, blinking to reset the loyalty counters is never a terrible idea. You can generate a couple of Shard tokens (more exciting than Shadows over Innistrad‘s Clue tokens, for sure!) and then reset Niko Aris to keep gaining more ways to keep the gas flowing. Additionally, there’s always some utility in returning your Yorion to your hand to keep the value going, even if you don’t intend to do it very often. Niko Aris allows you to do that, too! 

There are a very few special and powerful cards that synergize with Niko that also synergize with Yorion, but the most impressive among them is perhaps the quiet best card in Zendikar Rising, Skyclave Apparition. Now, obviously Skyclave Apparition isn’t as exciting as, say, Omnath, Locus of Creation, but it is far, far better than any Fiend Hunter impersonator.

It’s also an incredible synergy piece with both Niko Aris and Yorion. Turning your opponent’s best cards into small Illusion tokens over and over again is exactly what you want to be doing in this format. Dimir Rogues has barely any use for a 1/1 Illusion token compared to a Ruin Crab or Thieves’ Guild Enforcer. Gruul Adventures is significantly less happy with a 1/1 Illusion compared to an Edgewall Innkeeper. Opposing Niko Aris decks will be very unhappy to see their key planeswalker get replaced with a simple 3/3 token.

The beauty here is that you get to do this over and over again with your various blink effects. The increase in synergy between the various pieces here even puts Charming Prince back in the discussion for inclusion in a deck like this. I’m excited to give it a shot.

Additionally, we aren’t just relying on Yorion and Niko to tag-team. The incredible Archon of Sun’s Grace combines with Niko Aris to do something truly special. A Turn 4 Archon of Sun’s Grace followed by a Turn 5 Niko with a downtick generates three 2/2 flying Pegasus tokens and three Shard tokens. That’s an incredible swing with very little fuss. Flooding the battlefield with tokens is a great way to get quick wins when the opponent isn’t able to immediately answer your 3/4 threat. 

Of course, it’s not just Niko Aris that deserves attention in Kaldheim for its possibilities with Yorion. Doomskar is an incredible card that will be a part of just about every white control deck for the duration of its time in Standard. The ability to foretell this card on the second turn and bank that two mana for a two-spell turn down the road is incredible. I expect Doomskar to single handedly push Azorius, Esper, and the like from good to great in this new format. It’s not often that you can simply foretell a mystery card and watch your opponent squirm as they try to decide whether or not to play into it.


I mean, what are they supposed to do as a Gruul Adventures player? You’re going to pull the trigger on a three-mana sweeper whenever the battlefield looks unfriendly and follow it up with a threat or pull Yorion into your hand for more pain the very next turn. Then, if they hold back their threats, you’ll just pull ahead by casting an Archon of Sun’s Grace and start pumping out tokens. You win either way.

To be honest, Doomskar feels like a Terminus that doesn’t require either getting lucky or having access to broken Legacy cards like Brainstorm. You spend a little mana up front to set up the effect and then juggle it in purgatory for as long as you want while your opponent knows that the threat is there. The beautiful thing about Niko Aris and Doomskar together? Niko can let you pick up your Skyclave Apparition; bust out a Doomskar to clear the battlefield of all your opponent’s creatures, including their new Illusion token; and then retain the Skyclave Apparition for future turns. It’s absolutely savage throwing these two in the mix at the same time.

Tertiary cards like Starnheim Unleashed, Glorious Protector, and the unique Saw It Coming are all worth investigating in varying numbers, and it’s likely that at least one of them will be part of a final list simply because of a high power level. There’s definitely something appealing that makes me want to really go deep on Glorious Protector alongside Archon of Sun’s Grace and Skyclave Apparition. There’s also something deeply satisfying about feigning Doomskar against an unsuspecting opponent, putting them into a position where they can’t realistically put all of their creatures on the battlefield, and then, when they do make an attack or cast a removal spell, flashing in this new Restoration Angel and embarrassing them. 

However, there’s one card that doesn’t look like it’s received much attention, yet probably has a lot of interesting applications that haven’t been properly investigated.

The Raven's Warning

The secret card to play in a deck like this may wind up being The Raven’s Warning. Obviously on power level alone it’s nothing to scream about, but the ability to pick up a powerful threat like Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis against Dimir Rogues or an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon to close out a game is certainly not to be ignored. Even a unique card like Dance of the Manse or Heliod’s Intervention can make all the difference when you’ll never naturally draw it but you can always tutor it up when you want it.

Wish effects are always super-useful for players who truly optimize their decklists and know how to use them to their best effects. Wishes are even better with an 80-card deck because sideboard cards are weaker overall (as they will come up less frequently in sideboard games). It’s just better to have four copies of The Raven’s Warning to pick up the cards you need when you need them rather than have to deal with trying to balance a real sideboard in an extra-thick deck. A full-blown wish-sideboard is exactly the kind of thing that a Yorion deck wants. 

Oh, and the beautiful thing about The Raven’s Warning in a Jeskai Transmogrify version of Yorion? You can pick up your Transmogrify or Lukka if you want and have your 1/1 Bird token ready to turn into something exciting, or you can pick up an extremely exciting creature of your choice if you already have the Transmogrify in hand. You can even dig out an uncastable creature and happily turn your token into it without worrying about clogging your maindeck with a total dud. Want to get a Koma, Cosmos Serpent? You got it. An Icebreaker Kraken? It’s all yours. A Dream Trawler? You can cast that normally, but it’s certainly doable. The sky’s the limit here.

Taking all of that into consideration, what are the decklists we can use as starting points for these cards? Remember, you have a lot of choice and countless options when you have 95 cards to work with in no fewer than three different flavors of Azorius and Azorius-adjacent Yorion decks. 

Do we want Charming Prince? Do we want Barrin, Tolarian Archmage? Do we want to have anything to do with snow mana? What bullets do we want in our sideboard? Are there more bullets we’re forgetting that could be useful as sideboard tools? How can we adjust to better cover the predicted metagame? This deck is going to have a lot of tweaking and tuning ahead of it, you can be sure of that!

It gets even more complicated when you add in a third color, as with this Jeskai version.

And of course, here’s an Esper version of the deck.

This may be the most fertile portion of the upcoming metagame to tinker with as a deck designer. With the incentive to play Yorion, Sky Nomad and associated synergies, a lot that will happen in the next few weeks as the metagame adjusts to these incredible new cards. If you can adjust with them, you’ll be well positioned to get wins in the early part of this exciting new format.