This past weekend was MTG Las Vegas, the first Grand Prix-like event since the start of the pandemic. I played in the Modern main event and finished in 9th place with a deck that I think is especially well-positioned right now. Today, I’ll be breaking down my Four-Color Yorion deck, including how to win, what cards to play, and how to sideboard for different match-ups.
For those not in the know, Four-Color Yorion midrange decks have been climbing up the ranks in Modern. This deck looks to answer every threat your opponent presents on the back of the “Pitch Elementals” (Fury and Solitude). Once you have the board under control, the goal is to generate so much card advantage that winning is virtually impossible for your opponents.
How does the deck win?
This has to be the most frequently asked question I get with this deck. One of the best things about this deck is how flexible it is, and there are three common ways it can win.
Eternal Witness Loops
The first and “easiest” way to win is to cast a Time Warp with an Eternal Witness in play. Then, before the end of your turn, you Ephemerate the Witness and return Time Warp from your graveyard to your hand. When you take your second turn, Ephemerate will come off rebound and target the Witness again. By the time Witness’s trigger resolves, Ephemerate will be in the graveyard, so you can pick it up. This creates a six-mana loop that allows you to take as many turns as you want, at which point winning is trivial.
Wrenn and Six
Wrenn and Six is another effective tool for looping Time Warps, if you get to ultimate it. You also can simply Lightning Bolt people a bunch once you have the emblem. If you have a counterspell in the graveyard, many players will concede once they realize they can’t progress the game forward.
Classic win with the leftovers
At the end of the day, Four-Color Yorion is a controlling midrange deck. If you’re unable to combo, you can simply run your opponents out of resources and eventually win by attacking with Yorion or Solitude.
This brings up an important part of playing this deck: time management. You’ll play a lot of grindy games with this deck that will take 10-15 turns, so it’s important to play at a competitive pace and choose moments to tank very wisely. While blinking creatures and comboing off takes much less time in paper compared to MTGO, fetching and shuffling will take a lot longer. Do your best to keep your head in the game so your “easy” turns don’t take longer than they should.
Ultimately, it comes down to the metagame you expect for the tournament. If you’re playing in a Modern tournament on MTGO, you’re likely to see a higher percentage of Tier 1 decks than you would in a paper tournament. The incentives to play and the availability of cards just aren’t the same between the two platforms, so the metagames end up looking very different. By all metrics, I think I played against about eight “Tier 1” decks in 14 rounds at MTG Vegas, while on MTGO, I would expect more like 10-12.
So, Spreading Seas is slightly better against the best decks in the format (i.e. the mirror and Hammer Time), and it’s still fine in plenty of other situations. But Ice-Fang Coatl is much better against a lot of the Tier 2 and 3 decks you would expect to see in a large tournament. It’s also a decent blocker against Hammer Time, as well as a good way to play a flash game in the mirror (which is often how the early turns play out). Plus, it has other small synergies with cards in the deck and will keep the cards flowing if you blink it with Ephemerate. In my mind, a card that’s a B+ against the best decks but an A- card against the rest of the field is more appealing then the opposite.
If you’re playing Modern IRL, it’s important to play cards that are more broadly useful. People have decks they just love to play, and you have to show them some amount of respect because they are often sideboarding lots of cards for you.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The most compelling reason to play Four-Color Yorion right now is how effectively it plays against creature decks. It’s especially good against decks that go all-in on one creature, such as Hammer Time or UR Murktide. It also has game against decks that flood the board, thanks to Fury, but it’s much stronger against decks that want to put a few bodies in play and ride them to victory.
Four-Color Yorion can also out-value every other deck in the format. Decks like Blue-White Control can’t answer or even keep up with the amount of card advantage you have. If your opponent is trying to make the match about card advantage, they’re in for a tough time.
So, what is this deck weak to? The answer is truly only combo decks. Four-Color Yorion is great at punishing decks that play to the board, but decks that don’t win via the battlefield can be challenging. Take Belcher, for example. Their game plan is to either stick a Goblin Charbelcher and win in one turn, or try to lock you out with an early Blood Moon. In both cases, they’re playing on a completely different axis, and you’ll need to drastically change your deck to get the match-up close to even.
Four-Color Yorion is tied with Hammer Time for the title of best deck in Modern, in my book. It’s well-positioned against the field right now, and it will reward you heavily for playing it well. Make sure to follow me on Twitter at @masoneclark; I’ll be releasing more content on this deck soon!
Mason Clark is a grinder in every corner of the game who has played at the pro level and on the SCG Tour with Team Nova. Whether he’s competing in Standard, Historic or Modern, Mason plays with one goal in mind: to be a better player than he was the day before. Check out his podcast, Constructed Criticism, and catch his streams on Twitch.