Yawgmoth, Thran Physician - Power Through Blood and Suffering

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Post by toctheyounger » 5 months ago

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician - Power Through Blood and Suffering

"The blood of the weak shall be the ink with which we scribe great Yawgmoth's glorious name."
—Stronghold architect, journal - here

"Image"

Introduction



I'll be the first to admit, I am not traditionally familiar with mono black control. I've had a Chainer reanimator list in the past which didn't quite gel, but like many of us sadistic b fiends, upon the release of Modern Horizons I knew I had to do something with Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. The flavour is too good - he looks like an angel of death and a genius of disease, and his abilities are not only strong, but fit his pre-god lore remarkably well.

To be fair, I am fairly new to this deck. I've taken some inspiration from benjameenbear's primer and darrenhabib's Superfriends walker-focussed list, and hopefully walk a line somewhere between the two. I am, as a deck builder, very much not the sort of person who puts all of my eggs in one basket. So in that respect, I've tried to lean into some big mana, some bleeder/lifegain, and include some of the stronger walkers as utility and/or finishers, and included some options for control and removal.

I've not leaned too far into phyrexian flavour - it's totally doable, but flavourfully I see this iteration of Yawgmoth as somewhere between a sadistic butcher surgeon and a traditional vampire. He doesn't care who dies or who he kills, every drop of blood is succour to him and feeds his power. The attrition in the deck lends to this, and there's a heavy reliance on life as a resource to be harvested and used for success in the deck naturally, which is why my imagination goes there instead.




The Decklist

"

Yawgmoth - The Blood is the Life...
Approximate Total Cost:


"Image"




Strategy

'There is hardly a foot of soil in all this region that has not been enriched by the blood of men, patriots or invaders...'


I'm going to preface this by saying that at present the deck is pretty new and I've not had the opportunity to do a ton of testing.

That being said, holy Phyrexia, Yawgmoth is nuts. His second ability being a way to keep card advantage going while removing creatures from the battlefield is crazy, and honestly, things can move pretty damn quick with Yawgmoth in play. In general, the long term goal is to use his second ability and as many tokens or dross creatures as possible to dig deep for a way to win the game, whether that be via a big mana X-spell, massive life haemorrhages, beating face, alternate win conditions, or just pure resilience in the face of opposition.

"Image"




Early Game:


At the start of the game, we're looking to hit the straps early and land Yawgmoth with some sacrifice fodder as soon as possible. We want a hand with some token generators or reusable creatures, some lands and either burst mana or rocks to get our commander out as soon as we can. Once we have some fodder and Yawgmoth, we want to start churning out some advantage. Sacrifice creatures as needed to keep your hand full and dig for key pieces. Early in the game, the more we can swarm the better. If we can set ourselves up with optimal draw options, great. If we can start filling our graveyard with bodies that's fine too.
Mid Game:


This is the point at which ideally we want to have established some board presence and a grip full of options, be they walkers, mana doublers, removal or end game spells. At this point, you are going to be a target - while we don't have the option of protecting our things with counter magic or a great deal of protection, we do have plenty of ways to keep the board clean. So if your creatures start to get removed, make sure you use Yawgmoth's ability to sacrifice in response for further advantage and removal of presence. Use some of the reanimation here in Cavalier of Night, Liliana, Defiant Necromancer, Dawn of the Dead, Living Death to keep your momentum.
Late Game:


Here's the point where we close the game out. What this looks like will depend on a lot of variables obviously, but there's plenty we can do to make this happen:



Control Elements


They danced like puppets to a tune only Yawgmoth could hear - here


This sort of covers most of what we can use to stop derailment, or to inflict it upon the board. Ideally, because this deck moves at a pretty rapid rate of knots, we want to make be proactive, seek the victory, and break down the board if and when we can at the earliest opportunity.

This should be relatively easy enough - Yawgmoth can wreck creatures easy enough, and we have plenty of removal in our instants, sorceries, and even to some degree our walkers. Traditionally the things that black has struggled with are artifacts and enchantments, and that's still the case to some degree, but we do have some options. Karn, the Great Creator can make artifacts into creatures, which we can then target. Ugin, the Ineffable can exile anything that has a color, which covers enchantments nicely (excepting Eldrazi Conscription). Smokestack covers both of these, and with enough in hand we can ramp up the counters on this to force a pinch - we have mana doublers to make sure our resources survive, plenty of token makers, and some reanimation to make sure we survive this global effect relatively unscathed.

Image


If you're struggling with removal for hexproof, shroud or indestructible pieces, Dictate of Erebos can help for creatures. It's non optional and doesn't target, and if we need to bring it in as a surprise, we can do so. Karn, the Great Creator can turn off most relevant artifacts in that respect although we don't have a lot of options aside from Smokestack if we have protected enchantments to deal with. It's a consideration to run Mire in Misery, but there's far too much room for opponents to be lenient on themselves with this for me to be excited about it.

We've got at least a small degree of reanimation in the deck - most of it is auto-reanimation with pieces like Nether Traitor, Gravecrawler, Reassembling Skeleton and Bloodsoaked Champion, but we also have option reanimation in Cavalier of Night, Dawn of the Dead, Liliana, Defiant Necromancer, and Living Death. These are different tools and should be used selectively as the case fits, as they all have some degree of restriction; Cavalier of Night can only get weenies back, but it still makes sense to choose carefully. Don't choose something you can reanimate anyway, grab a Burnished Hart, Dross Harvester, Pawn of Ulamog or the like. Dawn of the Dead will exile anything you reanimate with it at end of turn, so play it when you can sacrifice the creature otherwise, and choose something you can benefit from dying - Solemn Simulacrum, Cavalier of Night, Kokusho, the Evening Star. Liliana, Defiant Necromancer should probably only be used in the case where you can't possibly hit Lili's ultimate. And Living Death should really be saved for a point at which you have ample enters the battlefield' or 'leaves the battlefield' triggers to abuse; Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Kokusho, the Evening Star, Solemn Simulacrum, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, Dross Harvester. It's also worth mentioning that it's a symmetrical effect, so there's every chance you could put someone into a good position with casting Living Death, so some grave hate with Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet or Bojuka Bog could be advisable.

The planeswalkers present here are potentially game ending for the most part. That being said, most of them are to be used when you can make the biggest impact with them. The most recent walkers (that is, Karn, Lili the General, and Ugin) are a little different in that their static abilities contribute to our acceleration, or controlling the board in the case of Karn. In terms of using ultimates though, it's important to make sure that a)you can protect them, or b) you can ultimate them immediately. This is where Yawgmoth, Thran Physician's last ability comes in. Make sure you have a large grip, enough mana to use his ability to make the ability work, and cards you have no problem discarding (ideally these could be things we could reanimate later on, or just things we don't need at this point in the game). Ultimately, after resolving Liliana, Dreadhorde General's last ability, Liliana Vess' last ability or attaining Liliana, Defiant Necromancer's emblem, by rights you should win the game, either on the spot or shortly afterwards.

Further Developments

There's no higher honor in Phyrexia than dying for Yawgmoth's glorious vision - here


There are a few bits I could add or haven't added which I could:
  • Mikaeus, the Unhallowed is a super strong add in particular. As far as it goes, I really just can't afford a copy at present. He'd be just sickeningly good here, though.
  • Reanimate seems like it could lead to strong early wins I guess. It didn't seem crucial, so I haven't pursued it.
  • Aetherflux Reservoir is an absolute beast. This deck sort of storms off in many cases, and the lifegain wouldn't be unwelcome, because life is fleeting and disappears quickly in this deck. I won't be adding it, purely because I just don't feel any degree of satisfaction from winning with it.
  • Bolas's Citadel - it seems like suicide to add it, but I know precisely how strong it is. I'm not going to for now, but there's every chance it could be a beast here. I'm not looking to make the deck overly competitive, so I'm steering away from it for now. Maybe in the future, but I feel like hitting that 75-85% sweet spot I want I don't overly need it.
  • Demonic Tutor et al - If I don't have the money for Mike, I sure don't have it for these. I have a couple of tutor options already in Diabolic Intent, Razaketh, the Foulblooded and Buried Alive and Entomb (which is hugely more than I usually would think of adding), so these would really just filter down the fun stuff into 'what do I directly need to win', and I don't enjoy that, so these won't be added.
  • Rise of the Dark Realms - It's a cool reanimation spell that ends games. It's pretty expensive, but also I feel like it experiences diminishing returns when I also run Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet to deny resources. You can't have it both ways.






This list is very much a work in progress - as mentioned, I am newly starting to play the deck, so a lot of this is learning curve stuff. If you as a reader have any suggestions to contribute, comments to make or criticisms, feel free to share.

Image




Enjoy!

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Last edited by toctheyounger 1 month ago, edited 4 times in total.

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Post by benjameenbear » 5 months ago

All hail The Ineffable, Father of Machines!

It seems like Gravecrawler is pretty out of place here. Do you find that you can consistently take advantage of its Self-Reanimation clause?
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Post by toctheyounger » 5 months ago

benjameenbear wrote:
5 months ago
All hail The Ineffable, Father of Machines!

It seems like Gravecrawler is pretty out of place here. Do you find that you can consistently take advantage of its Self-Reanimation clause?
Well, there's Kalitas, so there's a pretty good chance of having zombies to befriend him - as well as Gary, Overseer, and I have a spare Liliana, Death's Majesty that I wasn't sure about adding. That being said, it is early days. I haven't seen it come up yet, so I can't be sure how reliable it is in the build at present. Could be it's dead weight (pun intended) or it could be just fine.

Any other adds/cuts you'd recommend at this point? There was a lot to squeeze in, so some compromise was made in putting this together.

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Post by benjameenbear » 5 months ago

Call me blasphemous, but I've actually found Skullclamp to be surprisingly lackluster. While I would never cut it, because it's just too good at what it does particularly with Yawgmoth's core strategy, it's a card I rarely tutor for and/or rarely equip. I've been stunned by its non-relevance at many points I could have drawn it.

Vona's Hunger can probably go. I appreciate that you like redundancy to Yawgmoth's ability, but this could be a hard wrath effect. Dead of Winter with the (hopefully) high number of Snow-Covered Swamps at your LGS could make this legitimately powerful.

I think that Exsanguinate is probably the better of the black X spells you could be running. Unless you have reasons to keep Torment of Hailfire, why don't you cut it and add it to your Grixis Superfriends list and open up a slot?
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Post by toctheyounger » 5 months ago

benjameenbear wrote:
5 months ago
Call me blasphemous, but I've actually found Skullclamp to be surprisingly lackluster. While I would never cut it, because it's just too good at what it does particularly with Yawgmoth's core strategy, it's a card I rarely tutor for and/or rarely equip. I've been stunned by its non-relevance at many points I could have drawn it.

Vona's Hunger can probably go. I appreciate that you like redundancy to Yawgmoth's ability, but this could be a hard wrath effect. Dead of Winter with the (hopefully) high number of Snow-Covered Swamps at your LGS could make this legitimately powerful.

I think that Exsanguinate is probably the better of the black X spells you could be running. Unless you have reasons to keep Torment of Hailfire, why don't you cut it and add it to your Grixis Superfriends list and open up a slot?
Nah, I agree with Skullclamp. It's far too mana intensive compared to Yawg, Necropotence and Arena.

Dead of Winter is cool, and all things considered it is still probably cheaper than springing for a Damnation or Toxic Deluge, even going for full art snow swamps. I can't think of any other well costed wrath effects that'd fit well, although it does seem weird to grab snow lands for no other reason than a single card. There's no way I could afford an Extraplanar Lens at its current price.

It seems reasonable to cut Torment. It probably does fit better in Grixis mechanically and flavourfully, and there's a Grave Titan in that deck that just doesn't really seem necessary. I'm sure Yawg could make use of it.

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Post by benjameenbear » 5 months ago

Besides the fact that the art on the new Snow-Covered Swamps look amazing? I don't have them in my deck because they're not quite Phyrexian enough in flavor, though one could argue that the Phyrexian menace was very pronounced during the Ice Age block.

Yup, I think Grave Titan could happily find a better home with Yawgmoth than with your Grixis deck.

Why no Undying creatures? Geralf's Messenger seems like a glaring omission, frankly, unless there are budget reasons for this. If you're running it in Varina, maybe you can cut it there and slide it into Yawgmoth. I think you'll get WAY more mileage with it here.
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Post by toctheyounger » 5 months ago

benjameenbear wrote:
5 months ago
Besides the fact that the art on the new Snow-Covered Swamps look amazing? I don't have them in my deck because they're not quite Phyrexian enough in flavor, though one could argue that the Phyrexian menace was very pronounced during the Ice Age block.

Yup, I think Grave Titan could happily find a better home with Yawgmoth than with your Grixis deck.

Why no Undying creatures? Geralf's Messenger seems like a glaring omission, frankly, unless there are budget reasons for this. If you're running it in Varina, maybe you can cut it there and slide it into Yawgmoth. I think you'll get WAY more mileage with it here.
They do look stunning. I get the flavour thing too - Nissa's lands are all Zendikar full arts, and my Glissa deck has Mirrodin forests and swamps too.

I skipped undying because it's too obviously combo - I know it limits the power of the deck but it's just not in me to lean too heavily into that. There's a couple of janky combos here as it is, I just don't find it satisfying to go down that route too heavily. It's a preference thing I guess.

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Post by Sinis » 5 months ago

Is Butcher Ghoul too good? It comes back after being sacrificed, and the next sacrifice can re-enable the Undying ability. For every non-Butcher Ghoul you sacrifice, you can sacrifice Butcher Ghoul again.

With Mikaeus and two other creatures, you can already activate Yawgmoth as long as you have life to pay...

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Post by toctheyounger » 5 months ago

Sinis wrote:
5 months ago
Is Butcher Ghoul too good? It comes back after being sacrificed, and the next sacrifice can re-enable the Undying ability. For every non-Butcher Ghoul you sacrifice, you can sacrifice Butcher Ghoul again.

With Mikaeus and two other creatures, you can already activate Yawgmoth as long as you have life to pay...
That's kind of why I skipped that whole mechanic - it's just too good here. Sure it's a bit suicidal but it's overly comboish for my liking. Not that that's a bad thing, just that it's something I don't enjoy, so I don't pursue it. I just can't do it, with combo. I can recognise that decks might be better for including particular cards that combo, but I'd prefer not to do it myself. There's sometimes like 3-4 card jank combos in my deck, but short of that I just don't enjoy it so I don't play them.

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Post by toctheyounger » 4 months ago

Made a couple of amendments over the weekend.

InOut
Dead of WinterAshes to Ashes
Phyrexian ScripturesVona's Hunger
Liliana, Death's MajestyTorment of Hailfire
Grave TitanSkullclamp
14 Swamp14 Snow-Covered Swamp
Burnished HartLiliana Vess


Mostly this is an improvement. The removal is generally an improvement, and I did need at least one more good wipe, which I'm pleased with Dead of Winter for. Scriptures is easy to pop and I've always loved the artwork (saga haters be damned). Torment fits better in another deck, and I'd been looking for space to squeeze in Liliana, Death's Majesty anyway. It's probably the least valuable Lili walker, but reanimation is nice, and that ultimate is still a great board wipe. Titan is going to be pretty good for token fodder, and it's easy to remove Skullclamp - this deck has really efficient draw. Clamp is good, but Yawgmoth is better, so why settle for second best (actually with Necropotence, Phyrexian Arena and Vilis, Broker of Blood it's probably more like fourth best)? Burnished Hart I'm always hesitant about. It's reasonable ramp if you really need it, but it's so interminably slow, and really mana intensive to cast and activate. Liliana Vess I already had in the list nominally; I'd accidentally added this copy to a different list, so I've now actually got the card in this set of sleeves.

As an aside, I've had a wee bit of play testing now (prior to these changes at least). The deck is a lot of fun to play, although there's a LOT of fear out there for Yawgmoth. Almost certainly you're going to be the archenemy - I figured this out after getting hated out of a game early against Yarok the Desecrated, Liliana, Heretical Healer and Mikaeus, the Unhallowed. Honestly it was a bit of a bummer because this deck isn't high tier, just high casual, and while I didn't stick around for the outcome, I could almost guarantee Yarok won - it's ridiculously easy to get advantage from it, so lame to play against.

Had one other cool game against Morophon the Boundless tribal humans and Kaalia of the Vast. Honestly, I was tired and made some bad plays. I got slapped down heavily until it became clear I had nothing to offer the game. Got stuck without token fodder, reanimation fodder and with a handful of cards that weren't overly relevant. I got swung at by Kaalia with the aforementioned, Rune-Scarred Demon and Angel of Serenity a couple times and got left on about 7 with Yawgmoth in play, a bunch of land, and not much else. Humans gets really close to going off, uses Zealous Conscripts to thieve a Demon, swings in with some weight against Kaalia, they trade creatures and Kaalia has nothing much left on field afterwards. At end of turn, I cast Thrilling Encore to grab Rune-Scarred Demon and Angel, tutor for Gray Merchant of Asphodel, and my next draw is Razaketh, the Foulblooded. I have Phyrexian Arena in play already, so I use what land I have to get every possible into play I can, along with Raz and Gary, and sting the board for somewhere around 17 life each, taking the game from nowhere. Totally undeserved win, but it was pretty explosive and fun.

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Post by toctheyounger » 3 months ago

It's been a little while since I've been able to get a game in at all. Real life is crazy right now. Nevertheless, the spoilers roll ever on, and I've managed to pick up some Eldraine goodies. Light on additions here, but the one addition is a good one:

InOut
Syr Konrad, the GrimVilis, Broker of Blood


In this deck Vilis really is just a beater. The draw is already crazy and Vilis doesn't add enough to be anything more than an 8/8. Captain Trigger Finger though, with all the sacrifice, death and recursion, is a veritable wincondition on his own. I don't think I even deliberated as to where he would fit best, he's clearly strong in a deck that lives out of the graveyard, and this one does so more than most.

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Post by xeroxedfool » 3 months ago

I've been pondering Syr Konrad since you posted this. Initially I thought he was sort of low impact, but I've changed my mind there. He can trigger on so many occasions and his milling ability could be potentially useful versus certain cards in the format. I'll be interested to see how you feel about him once you can test it.
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Post by toctheyounger » 3 months ago

Yeah I think he'll be nuts here. Even just sacrificing tokens for draw and killing off creatures as a matter of course he will shred life totals. Add in board wipes and reanimation and he could singlehandedly end the game on the spot.

Testing will tell for sure, but I anticipate him being pretty brutal.

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Post by toctheyounger » 1 month ago

Some upgrades after a long time away from being able to even touch the collection (Christmas time I guess)

Pseudo-landfall is kind of nice, so I wanted to try it out here. It could end up just being not impactful enough, but worth a punt. Revel was first on the block because alt win cons aren't really my jam. I've been looking for a place for Blast Zone for a little while, and black struggles with artifact and enchantment destruction, so maybe it'll be fine here.

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Post by Supersprite » 1 month ago

Im trying to build a yawgmoth deck, very hard so far.

Did find some nice combo, wirh phyrexian reclamation and a phyrexian altar in play you can draw your deck as long as you have life with either weapocraft enthusiast, sengir autocrat or chittering witch.

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Post by toctheyounger » 1 month ago

It's a funny thing, you really don't NEED to combo with him. The deck plays lightning fast anyway, so you'll find that all things going well you'll be just fine without, and you can still see most of your deck and win out of nowhere without having to go down that route. It's going to seem like combo anyway even if it isn't, strictly speaking - the deck is totally capable of winning at a pretty early point.

Altar can definitely do some crazy stuff, and with Mikaeus the Unhallowed or Butcher Ghoul in the build you can pretty much keep saccing, but yeah....you really don't need to. The mitigating factor is life loss, so Dross Harvester or Blood Artist will keep you alive or better.

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Post by Supersprite » 1 month ago

Well im kind of confused wich creatures to run, i think my curve is too low but i do play a lot pf the same cards for redundency.

Right now i really want to add dusk urchins, seems like a solid draw enabler annex potential combo piece? I actually want too shoot it with yawg drawing 6 cards?

Already removed sifter of skulls for grim haruspex since sac to extra draw seems good and sifter is just a wacker pawn.. i guess.

Really need to test and adjust when i have time

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Post by toctheyounger » 1 month ago

My best adds have been the cheap recurrables and token generators. So Reassembling Skeleton et al, and specifically Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder.

Ultimately I think you'll find that your commanders draw power is sizable enough to not require too much additional draw power. Maybe just enough to keep you going once he gets removed (he will, it's inevitable).

For what it's worth, I've also had really good results from the mana doublers like Crypt Ghast and such. We've got draw power aplenty, so it's important to have resources to play out our hand and these have been good adds for me.

Feel free to drop your list if you want some feedback, I'm happy to give you some thought if you'd like.

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