Thanks for checking out my Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow deck and primer!

Whenever I'm deciding on a new commander to build around, I look for three things:

  1. Able to win the game quickly
  2. Creature-based
  3. Lots of card advantage

Yuriko fits this criteria to a tee, so it's no surprise that she's my all-time favourite commander. If your play style is anything like mine, then Yuriko is for you!

I think that Yuriko can be built with a variety of power levels in mind. You can easily tone it down by cutting the free counterspells and/or the one-mana "tutor to the top of your deck" spells. You can also make it more competitive by adding the Demonic Consultation & Thassa's Oracle combo, or one of the various Doomsday piles.

As for me, I have a "play to win" mindset and love to optimize every deck that I play. So my list is probably more competitive than casual. I also play this deck in the weekly commander league at my LGS, so I want it to be as strong as possible, without breaking the "no infinite combos" house rule.

I also wanted to mention: Don't be intimidated by the cost! I've upgraded this deck a lot since it was first created, and I can safely say you don't need every card on my list to build a strong Yuriko deck.

Early Game:

We want to get Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow out and attacking on turn 2 (or turn 3 at the latest). To make this happen, we need to be very picky with our opening hand: Only keep openers with blue mana, black mana, and a creature listed in the "Enablers" category. The London mulligan is more forgiving, so even if we have go down to 6 or 5, it's generally worth it.

Mid Game:

Unlike most commander decks, our "mid game" starts around turn 3, the turn after getting our first Yuriko trigger. We typically want to start by re-playing an enabler. This will allow us to ninjutsu our other ninjas onto the battlefield, and more importantly, get Yuriko back ASAP if she is destroyed. Don't forget, ninjutsu is not affected by commander tax since it's an activated ability!

We also want to focus on manipulating the top card of our library to maximize the damage we deal with Yuriko. There are 2 ways we can do this: One-time use tutors like Vampiric Tutor or repeatable effects like Sensei's Divining Top. During the mid game, we mostly want to put our "high cmc but still interactive" cards on top, such as Submerge or Force of Will.

This is the most challenging part of playing Yuriko. We need to focus on getting Yuriko triggers, protecting ourselves with counterspells, removing our opponent's threats, and manipulating the top card of our library all at the same time. Maintaining a good balance of these is our key to success!

Late Game:

The most common way this deck wins is by tutoring an extremely high cmc card to the top of our library, like Blinkmoth Infusion or Draco. Another way is to chain extra turns: Another turn = another combat step = more Yuriko triggers. I don't play any infinite combos in this deck, but you can easily add the Demonic Consultation and Thassa's Oracle combo as a backup plan if the "dealing combat damage with Yuriko" plan gets shut down.

In these panels, I go through each category in (far too much) depth, and explain my card choices:

0 Mana Enablers

  1. Ornithopter

Enablers that are free to cast work great in this deck: You can cast it along with a 1 cmc enabler on turn 1, which still allows for a turn 2 Yuriko even if one of the two is removed. After using it to ninjutsu Yuriko on turn 2, you can replay it on your second main phase and have it ready to ninjutsu another ninja on turn 3. I think Ornithopter is good enough to include because it has flying, so it can consistently get past blockers. I opted not to include Memnite or Phyrexian Walker because they don't have any kind of evasion, so they aren't very good past turn 3 or 4 when your opponents are likely to have blockers.

1 Mana Enablers - Unblockable

  1. Changeling Outcast
  2. Gudul Lurker
  3. Mist-Cloaked Herald
  4. Slither Blade
  5. Tormented Soul
  6. Triton Shorestalker

The 1 mana enablers can be divided into 2 sub-categories: Unblockable and flying. I prioritized including the ones with unblockable in my list because they are guaranteed to get past blockers. Of course, the probability that each of your opponents will have a flying blocker is low, but it does happen on occasion. Changeling Outcast is a must-include in this category because it doubles as a ninja to trigger Yuriko later on in the game.

1 Mana Enablers - Flying

  1. Faerie Seer
  2. Mausoleum Wanderer
  3. Siren Stormtamer
  4. Spectral Sailor
  5. Wingcrafter

There are a lot of 1 mana flyers that are legal in edh. When I was deciding on which ones I should include, I narrowed it down to 1/1 flyers for 1, with some kind of extra ability. My favourites in this category are Faerie Seer which can scry 2 multiple times per game, and Wingcrafter because it gives itself and another creature (quite often Yuriko) flying.

2 Mana Enablers

  1. Augury Owl
  2. Sage Owl
  3. Spire Owl
  4. Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive

I think most Yuriko players can agree that 2 mana enablers feel quite slow. In order for me to consider running one, it has to have an extremely strong ability. The amount of cards Augury Owl, Sage Owl, and Spire Owl allow you to look at and rearrange is just too good to pass up, and Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive makes herself, Yuriko, and a few other ninjas in the deck unblockable.

Interaction

These interactive ninjas allow us to control the board and maintain our proactive game plan at the same time.

  1. Mistblade Shinobi - Very cheap ninjutsu cost & powerful combat damage ability; Hands down one of our best ninjas
  2. Skullsnatcher - Very cheap ninjutsu cost & graveyard hate (can be useful since we don't play Bojuka Bog)
  3. Throat Slitter - Powerful ability & high cmc for Yuriko triggers; Unfortunately its expensive ninjutsu cost does make it feel meh sometimes
  4. Walker of Secret Ways - Cheap ninjutsu cost & allows us to peek at an opponent's hand

Card Draw

Yuriko does provide us with a lot of card advantage on her own. But, it is useful to have other sources of card draw, especially when they're ninjas too.

  1. Ingenious Infiltrator - Cheap ninjutsu cost & draws us more cards than we know what to do with; Likely the best ninja in our deck
  2. Ninja of the Deep Hours - Very similar to Infiltrator, but doesn't draw cards off other ninjas

Side note: Cards such as Coastal Piracy and Bident of Thassa tend to be too slow in my playgroup, but they might work for you.

Threats

  1. Fallen Shinobi - Has a very powerful ability & it can usually attack through blockers; Unfortunately its ninjutsu cost is very expensive.
  2. Sakashima's Student - Cheap ninjutsu cost & its copy effect is really versatile
  3. Mist-Syndicate Naga - Overwhelms your opponents with an army of 3/1 ninjas if left unchecked

Changelings

These 1 mana ninjas punish your opponents if they don't consistently leave up a blocker. They also function as enablers for Yuriko in your opening hand.

  1. Mothdust Changeling - In a pinch, we can tap Yuriko or another creature to get it past a blocker
  2. Universal Automaton

As mentioned earlier, the topdeck manipulation category can be divided up into 2 sub-categories:

One-Time Use

  1. Vampiric Tutor
  2. Mystical Tutor
  3. Brainstorm
  4. Lim-Dul's Vault
  5. Insidious Dreams
  6. Personal Tutor
  7. Scheming Symmetry

When I was looking up cards to use in this category, I prioritized instants over sorcerys. The reason being because you can use them after your ninjas have dealt combat damage, in response to Yuriko's trigger. This is extremely important because your opponents can't destroy your ninjas to stop the damage: It's already too late for that. Really, the best they can do is have a counterspell for it. This puts Vampiric Tutor, Mystical Tutor, and Lim-Dul's Vault far ahead of both Personal Tutor and Scheming Symmetry in my opinion. But I still consider those two being good enough to include, because nothing is better than tutoring Blinkmoth Infusion or Draco straight to the top of your library to deal a ton of damage.

Insidious Dreams is ridiculously good because it can search for multiple cards at once.

Brainstorm is already a great card on its own, but it also synergizes suprisingly well with the other cards in this category: It can put your high cmc cards right back on top of your library from your hand, after they've already done some damage earlier on.

Note: Imperial Seal is an auto-include in this category, I just don't have the budget for it.

Repeatable

  1. Scroll Rack
  2. Sensei's Divining Top

You will find that both of these cards are a Krosan Grip magnet, but it's probably for a good reason. Sensei's Divining Top lets you reorder the top 3 cards of your deck so often throughout the game that it's hard to whiff on any of your Yuriko triggers. Unfortunately, Scroll Rack isn't a budget-friendly card. But if you're looking to upgrade your Yuriko list, I think that it's the best topdeck manipulation you can get.

A good set of removal spells is essential for any commander deck. They're especially important when playing Yuriko since our game plan relies on dealing combat damage to our opponents, so clearing a blocker is a big deal. Here's a few things that I considered when deciding on removal spells: Does it have a high cmc? Can we cast it cheaper than its cmc? Can it be used at instant speed? Which permanents does it hit?

  1. Liliana's Triumph - Only hits our opponents & only costs 2 mana; Very strong early on, but becomes a bit weaker in the late game.
  2. Deadly Rollick - Exiles any creature for free as long as we control Yuriko & has a fairly high cmc; Undoubtedly our best removal spell.
  3. Snuff Out - Also has a fairly high cmc & fetching Underground Sea or Watery Grave lets us cast this for free easily.
  4. Submerge - Free as long as one of our opponents is playing green & has a high cmc; Best used in response to an opponent doing something which will shuffle their library ;)
  5. Curtains' Call - Destroys two creatures instead of only one, typically costs 3 mana but has a cmc of 6
  6. Consign / Oblivion - Only costs 2 mana, but has a cmc of 7. Also hits any nonland permanent, not just creatures.

Side note: My play group plays a lot of black, so Snuff Out can feel pretty bad. I often swap it out for Dismember instead.

Yuriko is almost always the fastest deck at the table. This means that you're the primary target for your opponent's interaction. We need to have a powerful suite of counter magic to back up our ninjas:

0 Mana

  1. Force of Will
  2. Misdirection
  3. Force of Negation
  4. Fierce Guardianship

Casting a counterspell for free is about as good as it gets. Of course Force of Will is the best of the best, but Misdirection and Force of Negation are super powerful too. My newest addition to his category is Fierce Guardianship, which is a free negate as long as we control Yuriko!

1 Mana

  1. Swan Song
  2. Spell Pierce

This deck has a very low land count compared to most other EDH decks, so we need our counterspells to be as efficient as possible. Both Swan Song and Spell Pierce can't counter creatures, but we don't care much about creatures anyway. They hit most creature removal, boardwipes, and Dictate of Erebos/Grave Pact, which are about as common as Sol Ring in my meta.

2 Mana

  1. Counterspell
  2. Mana Drain

The most expensive counterspells in this deck cost 2 mana. We want to spend our mana on our turn using ninjutsu and manipulating our library, so it's too much of a burden to pass with more than 2 untapped lands. Counterspell and Mana Drain are great catch-all counterspells, and Mana Drain has the extra bonus of helping us cast our expensive extra turn spells.

  1. Temporal Manipulation
  2. Karn's Temporal Sundering
  3. Temporal Mastery
  4. Temporal Trespass

Like I was saying earlier, extra turn spells are effectively used as extra combat steps. If you're able to take 2-3 turns in a row with a couple of triggers from Yuriko each time, it's almost always enough to take the win. At 5 mana, Temporal Manipulation is as cheap as it gets for an extra turn spell. Karn's Temporal Sundering costs one extra, but has the extra benefit of bouncing a blocker for the following turn. Temporal Mastery deals 7 damage off Yuriko's trigger, and you can use something like Brainstorm or Scroll Rack to cast it for it's miracle cost later. The MVP of the extra turn category has to be Temporal Trespass: It has the third highest cmc in the whole deck, and I've found myself having enough cards in the graveyard to cast it easily in the late game.

  1. Chrome Mox
  2. Mana Crypt
  3. Mox Amber

Ramp is one thing that Yuriko decks are not very good at. The start of the majority of your games will go as follows:

Turn 1: Use U or B to cast an enabler. Turn 2: Use UB to ninjutsu Yuriko, then discard a card to hand size on your cleanup.

This leaves no room to cast any ramp spells on turn 1 or 2, and forgoing the tempo advantage to get ahead on mana is just not where we want to be. This is why I've only included ramp spells that cost 0 mana. We can play them at any point in the game without losing tempo, and if we play one on turn 2 it will actually save us from needing to discard a card to max hand size!

This deck relies heavily on having a creature on board at all times, so there are not many situations where we want to destroy all creatures with something like Damnation or Toxic Deluge. But we can bounce them to hand if necessary!

  1. Coastal Breach - 7 cmc but generally costs only 4 mana, which is cheaper than most spells with the same effect
  2. Cyclonic Rift - Only 2 cmc, but extremely versatile (removal spell early on, asymmetrical board wipe later in the game)
  1. Blinkmoth Infusion
  2. Draco

At first, I was reluctant to include these cards. Being 14/16 cmc, they are pretty much impossible to cast in this deck, and can easily end up being dead cards in hand. But, being able to deal that much damage when put on top of your library using something like Vampiric Tutor or Brainstorm has game-ending potential, and I don't think I could live without them anymore.

  1. Demonic Tutor - 2 mana to grab any card in our deck is just too good not to play
  2. Dig Through Time - heavy hitter with yuriko but all our cheap spells make it easy to cast for only 2
  3. Arcane Adaptation - turns all your enablers into evasive ninjas, cheapest card (mana-wise) with this effect

Added a changelog! Check it out here if you're interested:

May 2020:

  1. Added Deadly Rollick, removed Murderous Cut
  2. Added Fierce Guardianship, removed Arcane Denial

June 2020:

  1. Added Mana Confluence, removed Choked Estuary

July 2020:

  1. Added Universal Automaton, removed Phantom Ninja
  2. Added Island, removed Castle Vantress
  3. Added Island, removed Reflecting Pool

August 2020:

  1. added Prismatic Vista, removed Island
  2. added Azra Smokeshaper, removed Higure, the Still Wind
  3. added Spell Pierce, removed Aqueous Form

September 2020:

  1. Added Arcane Denial, removed Delay
  2. added Clearwater Pathway  , removed Darkslick Shores
  3. added Scalding Tarn, removed Island
  4. added Misty Rainforest, removed Island
  5. added Sea Gate Restoration  , removed Island
  6. added Mana Crypt, removed Sol Ring

December 2020:

  1. added Mana Drain, removed Arcane Denial
  2. added Verdant Catacombs, removed Swamp

February 2021:

  1. added Cyclonic Rift, removed Evacuation
  2. added Agadeem's Awakening  , removed Darkwater Catacombs
  3. added Walker of Secret Ways, removed Azra Smokeshaper
  4. added Commandeer, removed Commit / Memory
  5. added Snuff Out, removed Cover of Darkness
  6. added Liliana's Triumph, removed Smoke Shroud

March 2021:

  1. added Underground Sea, removed City of Brass

June 2021:

  1. added Street Wraith, removed Unnatural Selection

July 2021: Testing (not updated in decklist)

  1. added Gingerbrute, removed Tormented Soul
  2. added Ponder, removed Personal Tutor
  3. added Chain of Vapor, removed Spire Owl
  4. added Dauthi Voidwalker, removed Throat Slitter

Thank you so much for reading through my Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow deck and primer. This is my favourite edh deck that I have by far, and I'm glad to have shared it with you. If you end up building Yuriko for yourself, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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Date added 2 years
Last updated 1 week
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

9 - 0 Mythic Rares

42 - 0 Rares

17 - 0 Uncommons

22 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.23
Jetons 2/2 C Creature Morph, Copy Clone, 2/2 U Token Creature Bird
Folders Uncategorized, slime, Deck EDH Examples, Yuriko, Uncategorized, Fave Primers, Cool decks, Commanders, Commander, Interesting decks, See all 34
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