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Black Plague, On The Rocks: Yawgmoth EDH [PRIMER]

Commander / EDH* Aristocrats Combo Jank Mono-Black Primer Tokens

Daedalus19876

Maybeboard


Behold Yawgmoth, the Father of Machines, the Lord of the Wastes:

This is a hybrid mono-black control-combo deck, with minor flavor elements, meant for high-power (but not cEDH) pods. The deck intends to:

  1. Generate early tokens, particularly via repeatable effects such as Ophiomancer
  2. Play our commander and sacrifice the tokens as removal/draw (disrupting your opponents in the process)
  3. Proliferate if needed, both the -1 counters we've placed and other, more eclectic counters
  4. Use our commander to dig for further control pieces (and eventually an infinite combo in the deck)

The wincons are generally either infinite storm-esque combos (the faster path) or repeated proliferation of a powerful effect (the more incremental path). Let's be clear about one thing: this is not a particularly friendly deck, which is unsurprising since Phyrexia is not a particularly friendly place. This deck can and will repeatedly kill mana dorks, utility creatures, commanders... as well as win via prison locks, infinite combos, and (rarely) infect.

The deck intends to end the game via any of the following infinite (or pseudo-infinite) interactions:

Potential wincons... Show

Fittingly enough, with many of these setups, our commander's effect becomes Yawgmoth's Bargain (which is banned in EDH for a reason) until we find a Blood Artist effect, which lets us go properly "infinite". The deck plays as many mana-positive effects as the budget permits, to let the deck pseudo-storm off once you're in the process of drawing your deck.

Notably, the deck is fully capable of winning via Infect (thematically appropriate, no?) or Planeswalker emblems -- ie, without infinite combos. This is our backup wincon when stax pieces such as Rest in Peace are on the field, which disrupt our proper infinite combos. More details in the next section!

The real power of this deck, however, lies in the toolbox-esque ability to use Yawgmoth's abilities at instant-speed. You'll rarely want to use them on your turn, instead waiting to get maximal value from each activation (ie, getting maximum power from each of Dr. Yawgmoth's "patients").

  • Like any mono-Black deck worth its salt, this deck can attack our opponents' hands. The primary hand-hate options in this deck are Mindslicer and Awaken the Erstwhile , valuable because they strip all players' hands, then let you rebuild via Yawgmoth's first ability. I've seen people running Sadistic Hypnotist or Mind Slash in similar decks as well for the same purpose, but I found I frequently didn't want to sacrifice tokens to those abilities when I could instead gain card advantage through Yawgmoth.
  • Another potential lock (this one targeting players' landbase) is Contamination + Bitterblossom (or Dreadhorde Invasion or Ophiomancer ), which can even be an upside for our deck by letting colorless lands tap for black mana. We can easily kill mana dorks to facilitate this lock, but be aware that this deck has almost no ways to handle mana rocks (mono-black always has issues with artifacts).
  • The deck also has a non-infinite combo with Nest of Scarabs , which kills all opponents' creatures and lets you draw equal to their total toughness (at the cost of life - similar to Kuro, Pitlord 's ability), which can be a surprisingly hard lock. This works best with Blood Artist and friends, obviously, but it's easy to dig for them in the execution of this ability.
  • Former versions of the deck ran effects such as Grave Pact or Dictate of Erebos , to get double synergy out of sacrificing creatures to Yawgmoth, or Attrition to murder threatening creatures. The issue was that these weren't... necessary? Our deck has no trouble shutting down most creature-based lists, and sometimes we don't want to let our opponents choose which creature dies at which time. However, if your meta runs a smaller number of higher-stat creatures, these may be a good addition.

These stax-ish elements let us win with more grindy wincons, such as proliferating up to planeswalker ultimates, token aggro, or proliferation of poison counters (granted via Inkmoth Nexus , and incredibly in-flavor for the Lord of Phyrexia). Or, you know, we can wait for our opponents' to concede out of misery! ;)

Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat and Deathgreeter make Yawgmoth's abilities painless to use (and the first 2 harm your opponents as well). It's necessary to have one of these three for Yawgmoth's ability to go properly infinite, though you can easily find them while executing the combo (since Yawgmoth's ability digs obscenely easily). If you draw into Zulaport Cutthroat and mana to use him with at least 40+ cards left in your library, that's a kill.

The deck also runs minor life-gain elements, particularly Grey Merchant of Asphodel and Kokusho, the Evening Star , which can let you dig much deeper into your deck with Yawgmoth's ability (as well as, you know, not die). I've actually won by repeatedly draining opponents with Gary, so that's at least possible (though not easy). I've been working to find space for Whip of Erebos for recovering my life total, as well.

However, the question remains - if we don't have access to Zulaport Cutthroat , how do we actually WIN with our full library in our hand? We can't play Laboratory Maniac (though I'm dangerously tempted to run Praetor's Grasp to steal one), so we have to win through other means.

Even if I have no mana untapped when executing the combo, I usually use mana rocks to recoup mana where possible: Mana Crypt / Chrome Mox into Mana Vault / Fellwar Stone / Cabal Ritual / Culling the Weak / Dark Ritual etc, to rebuild my available resources. I've considered running Lotus Petal for this purpose as well.

With mana and my library in hand, the simplest way to end the game is casting the Nim Deathmantle / Ashnod's Altar combo with Defense Grid or Imp's Mischief as protection against disruption, winning via infinite instances of any death trigger (or ETB ability). In a real pinch (for example, if Nim Deathmantle were exiled), I have used Pitiless Plunderer to generate pseudo-infinite black mana and cast (and ult) Liliana, Dreadhorde General , or win via Ichor Rats and proliferate.

This deck focuses a bit more heavily on Yawgmoth's token-sacrificing ability, but it's worth mentioning that Yawgmoth can rapidly proliferate counters on cards such as Blast Zone , Hangarback Walker , Phyrexian Scriptures , Everflowing Chalice , or any of our planeswalkers (in addition to poison counters, obviously). This deck can sometimes act like a secret superfriends list, with staxier hands, since any of our three planeswalkers' ultimates will win the game!

The deck runs a strong reanimation suite as well, since Yawgmoth's proliferate effect gives us an efficient discard outlet to put powerful threats in the grave. Reanimation is also an easier way to put Mikaeus, the Unhallowed onto the battlefield, which enables several of our infinite combos. Notably, we can cast Final Parting to put a threat or combo piece into the graveyard, as well as Reanimate or Animate Dead in hand.

Awaken the Erstwhile is something of a pet card in this deck, but it does good work by allowing us to strip opponents' hands while refilling our own. If you sacrifice tokens to put a -1 counter on each of your opponents' zombies, then proliferate once, you can be the only player with a hand OR creatures. Awaken the Erstwhile works nicely with reanimation spells as well, to reanimate any large threats you discarded.

The landbase is largely basics, obviously, but we include the classic Cabal Coffers / Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth pairing. I no longer run Lake of the Dead , as it's too easy to get 2-for-1'd with the card.

Remember that we can proliferate lore counters on Phyrexian Scriptures to blow up the board at instant speed (and keep Yawgmoth around, no less). Most people don't realize that this interaction works! ;) Overall, this deck can proliferate eight kinds of counters, all with different interactions:

(Make sure to take some complimentary Glistening Oil with you when you leave!)

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