Updating Mardu Blink (Yorion) In Zendikar Rising Standard After The Arena Open

Sam Black’s Mardu Blink (Yorion) deck continues to evolve in response to Zendikar Rising Standard. Get his latest list and sideboarding guide.

Yorion, Sky Nomad, illustrated by Steven Belledin

When we last left our hero, the deck looked like this:

At first, things were going well, but then I started losing to The Great Henge more than I was comfortable with. Elspeth Conquers Death is a great answer to it, but you don’t always draw it, and if they’re on the play, it’s often too slow and The Great Henge has put you too far behind to spend a turn answering it. I tried hard to find another answer and came up with Shredded Sails, which actually played pretty well since there are a decent number of flying creatures and having an instant answer to Embercleave is good. It was a step in the right direction, but there was more work to be done.

Glass Casket

I was playing black removal because I liked the low casting cost of Bloodchief’s Thirst and the instant-speed of Heartless Act, but it was wrong.  Glass Casket is just better.  Scavenging Ooze is the most important creature to kill, which makes Heartless Act awkward, and it’s really important to be able to kill Kazandu Mammoth or Lovestruck Beast on time to stop them from playing The Great Henge, which Bloodchief’s Thirst can’t do.  Glass Casket does all of that, but once I started playing with it, I was amazed by how good blinking it with Yorion was.  Like, I knew it was something, but the combination with Skyclave Apparition to answer all the tokens you leave behind when blinking your permanents is really important.

The Birth of Meletis

The biggest change came when I realized I wasn’t playing against Dimir Rogues that much and I was sideboarding out Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger against everyone else. Cutting Kroxa let me cut a lot of red sources, giving myself a lot more untapped lands. Once I had these extra untapped lands, I could play basic Plains, which I both didn’t have room for and didn’t want because it couldn’t cast Kroxa. Basic Plains let me add The Birth of Meletis. This fixes a problem where I’d been a little light on mana sources, but also, the Wall token plays really well with Skyclave Apparition, allowing me to block the token they get.

Banishing Light

Glass Casket played so well that I was really excited to add Banishing Light once I thought of it.  This can do the same work as Glass Casket with Yorion, but it’s an enchantment to trigger Archon of Sun’s Grace and an answer to The Great Henge.  That let me cut Shredding Sails, but I need room for it.

Tymaret Calls the Dead always felt like the weakest card.  It was there to fuel Kroxa and Omen of the Dead, but the tokens just don’t do enough, so that was an easy swap for Banishing Light once Kroxa wasn’t in the deck anymore.

That left the question of whether I really wanted Mire Triton without Kroxa.  I liked gaining two life and digging for creatures to return with Omen of the Dead, but how necessary is that and is it really worth a card?  Ultimately, I decided it probably isn’t, as long as Omen of the Dead is still good enough without it, so I figured I could try cutting it and see if it made my Omens bad.

So far, Omen has felt good enough without Mire Triton.  I have good creatures that my opponents want to kill and value creatures I can reasonably chump block with.  If I wanted something to make it better, I’d probably be better off adding another creature that my opponent has to kill like Lurrus of the Dream-Den rather than Mire Triton anyway, though the two would play well together.

Weaponize the Monsters

The last big additional spell was Weaponize the Monsters. I’d been looking for more cheap enchantments I could play to trigger Archon of Sun’s Grace, and Weaponize the Monsters fit perfectly. Between The Birth of Meletis, Omen of the Sun, Archon of Sun’s Grace, and the newly added Castle Ardenvale I have a lot of tokens, but also most of my other creatures are good to sacrifice to Weaponize in various ways. It’s a little mana-intensive, but it can absolutely take over long games. As with cards that incrementally gain life, the fact that it extends the game by removing their creatures serves to give you more time to get more value out of it. I’ve killed huge numbers of creatures with it in a single game to win games I absolutely wouldn’t win without it. It also lets me pressure my opponent’s life total in a way that otherwise wouldn’t really be an option.

That brings me to my current list:

I was worried about the Dimir Rogues matchup without Kroxa, but it’s gone much better than I expected.  Weaponize the Monsters is great against them and with more untapped lands and fewer low-impact cards, I can typically keep up with them to avoid falling behind early and grind them out before they can resolve Into the Story because I’m not filling my own graveyard even with my removal spells (since they’re permanents) and I’m killing their engines quickly.  This means they tend to run out of answers and let me resolve a big flying creature before they can reload their hand and they typically don’t have a way to turn the game around from there.

Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger

At first I didn’t have Kroxa in my sideboard because my mana isn’t configured to cast it, but it’s a high-impact card to have access to in case they do get a mill engine going and it’s not unlikely that you get to a point where you happen to be able to use it. I also think the maindeck is pretty tight and most sideboard cards have decreased impact due to having an 80-card deck, so I think it’s more valuable than anything else I could play there. I could use Cling to Dust instead as an easier-to-cast way to escape cards out of my graveyard, but in my experience it’s typically too low-impact. When they have an engine going, they put enough cards in your graveyard that Cling doesn’t really get you out and you can spend that much mana on something that doesn’t impact the battlefield.

Mazemind Tome Duress

Mazemind Tome and Duress are the most important sideboard cards.  The maindeck is configured to answer opposing permanents and not fall behind.  This means that I’m weak against cards that go way over the top of me and opponents with disruption for my big plays who can grind me out.  Duress gives me an answer to cards like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, and also helps resolve my own Yorion, the Sky Nomad, and Mazemind Tome is an amazing engine against anyone who isn’t putting enough pressure on me to stop me from using it.

Giant Killer

The remaining sideboard slots are more flexible. Currently I’m playing Giant Killer, Necromentia, and Ruinous UltimatumGiant Killer is strong instant-speed removal against Gruul Adventures to avoid dying to Embercleave. When they have a lot of big creatures, you can kill one, recast it, and then they’ll generally want to answer the tapper, so you can get another removal spell out of Omen of the Dead.  I think this makes it better than black removal spells against Gruul Adventures, which is the spot where I’m most interested in adding more removal.


Necromentia is still an experiment. The primary reason for it is to answer Ugin out of the Big Red deck, which I played against multiple times this weekend, and I don’t really know how they win without it, but it might be good against Yorion or maybe even Kroxa.  I’d also be happy with it against Temur Ramp.  I might even try it against Dimir Rogues to name Into the Story, but it’s definitely not as good there.

Ruinous Ultimatum

Ruinous Ultimatum is there for Yorion mirrors, especially Selesnya Blink.  Given that I have it, I haven’t worked out whether I want to bring it in against Gruul Adventures.  I think the early-game matters too much, but it can definitely get you out of some spots against The Great Henge where nothing else could save you.

Elspeth's Nightmare

The card I’m not playing that I most have my eye on is Elspeth’s Nightmare.  Players who play the card seem to like it a lot, and it’s definitely amazing against some draws from Gruul Adventures.  When I tried it, I had problems where I felt like there were too many reactive cards in my deck and I’d have turns where my hand didn’t have anything I wanted to cast, which is a problem because this deck really wants to use all of its mana to build a battlefield to blink with Yorion.  I’m interested in the idea of playing another strong enchantment that can attack my opponent’s hand, but I think it’s just not quite right in this build, despite the fact that I think it’s very strong in Doom Foretold versions of Yorion.


VS Gruul Adventures


Weaponize the Monsters


Giant Killer

I used to bring in a bunch of sweepers, but with so much spot removal, they’re pretty awkward a lot of the time and the real problem is that you can’t leave a Lovestruck Beast / Kazandu Mammoth on the battlefield to let them overextend because it gives them a chance to cast The Great Henge, so you just can’t play to maximize your sweepers, which means they aren’t worth it.  I used to cut Acquisitions Expert, but casting something to the battlefield on Turn 2 is pretty good, and due to landfall, they really try to use all their resources so the discard matters.  All my cards are good against them, so I basically just leave everything alone.

Giant Killer is an upgrade and Weaponize is slow against them.  It might be right to cut the second for a Ruinous Ultimatum, but I’m still not sure.

VS Dimir Rogues


Elspeth Conquers Death Elspeth Conquers Death Elspeth Conquers Death Elspeth Conquers Death Banishing Light Banishing Light Banishing Light Charming Prince Charming Prince Charming Prince Charming Prince


Mazemind Tome Mazemind Tome Mazemind Tome Mazemind Tome Duress Duress Duress Duress Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger Necromentia

Charming Prince doesn’t line up well against Ruinous Crab and scrying doesn’t accomplish anything because they’re going to mill you before you draw anyway, and the life gain doesn’t matter, so it’s only good if you can blink something that matters, and that’s unlikely.  It’s nice for Yorion loops, but you don’t really need to go that big against them to win.  Elspeth Conquers Death can only hit Lurrus, and Banishing Light is an inefficient removal spell compared to your alternatives.

VS Yorion, Sky Nomad Decks


Banishing Light Banishing Light Banishing Light Charming Prince Charming Prince Glass Casket Glass Casket


Mazemind Tome Mazemind Tome Mazemind Tome Mazemind Tome Ruinous Ultimatum Ruinous Ultimatum Necromentia

Answers aren’t good in the value mirror.  It might be right to cut all the Glass Caskets, but I think it’s okay to have a couple to blink to clean up tokens.  Charming Prince is fine but low-impact.  The game goes long and both players have a lot of answers, so you want Mazemind Tome to grind even though it’s bad against Skyclave Apparition.

Against Blue Yorion decks, you might also want to bring in Duress for their counterspells and Elsepth Conquers Deaths, probably just cutting more Princes and Caskets. It also might be right to bring in Giant Killer instead of one of those cards when you’re not bringing in Duress.

The Best Build of Yorion?

I think this is the best build of Yorion because the focus on the low curve and impacting the battlefield with all your mana stops you from falling behind in a format that’s very much about the early-game.  This also builds up to the most impactful Yorions.  Archon of Sun’s Grace gives you a really powerful end-game that can trump Dream Trawler to let you beat other Yorion decks, especially since blinking card drawing effects isn’t as strong as blinking Omen of the Dead, which gives you an indefinite loop.

The other huge strength of this deck is that it plays four Castles which it uses really well.  The low curve means you get to the point where you can spend mana on them and the deck is very good at preserving its life total and gaining life so that it can use Castle Locthwain, which gives you a Mazemind Tome-type effect against other control decks, and Castle Ardenvale is great with Weaponize the Monsters.

Happy blinking!