Hello there! 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!

Yuriko can be built with a variety of power levels in mind. You can easily tone it down by cutting the free counterspells like Fierce Guardianship, or by cutting the one mana tutors such as Vampiric Tutor. You can also make it more competitive by adding the Demonic Consultation & Thassa's Oracle combo, or stax pieces like Null Rod. Whatever works best for you and your playgroup!

Personally, I like to play to win, and love to optimize every deck that I play. So my list is probably more competitive than casual. But I don't really enjoy playing combo decks, so I've opted to not include the aforementioned Demonic Consultation & Thassa's Oracle combo.

By the way, please don't be intimidated by the cost! I've upgraded this deck a lot since it was first created, and you do not 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 picky with our opening hand: Only keep an opening hand with , , and an enabler for Yuriko. 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. Ideally, we want to be in a winning position by turn 6-7. If the game goes on much longer, we can be overwhelmed by our opponents' more expensive and powerful cards.

In these panels, I go through each category in depth and explain each of my card choices:

0 Mana

  1. Ornithopter
  2. Memnite
  3. Phyrexian Walker

Free spells have a track record of being very powerful in Magic, and these 0 mana creatures are no exception. They effectively negate the "return a creature to hand" cost of ninjutsu, which allows us to further our game plan without having to take one step back, so to speak. This is especially relevant on turn 2, where ninjutsu-ing Yuriko causes us to have 8 cards in hand, and we have to discard one. Instead, you can replay Ornithopter for free, avoid discarding to max hand size, and ninjutsu another ninja on turn 3. For a while I didn’t play Memnite or Phyrexian Walker because they don't have any kind of evasion. But with more testing, I believe the tempo advantage they provide is enough to outweigh this downside.

1 Mana

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

For a long time, this category was split in two sections. The first was called “Unblockable”, which included creatures such as Gudul Lurker and Mist-Cloaked Herald. The second was “Flying” and featured 1/1 flyers for 1 with another ability, like Faerie Seer or Mausoleum Wanderer.

Before the release of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, we didn’t have a ton of ninjas in the deck, so the unblockable enablers were essential for getting the ninjas we did have to connect. But now that we have a critical mass of ninjas, it’s not necessary to include as many enablers in our deck. This led me to cut all the 1 mana unblockable creatures, as I believe a 1 mana flyer with a relevant ability is more crucial to our game plan now.

2 Mana

  1. Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive

It might not seem like it at first, but 2 mana is very expensive for an enabler. In order for me to include one, it has to have an extremely strong ability. Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive gets the nod because it makes many of our ninjas (Yuriko in particular) unblockable. Some enablers that I used to play in the past but just barely miss the mark are Sage Owl, Spire Owl and Augury Owl.

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 with graveyard hate (can be useful since we don't play Bojuka Bog)

Card Draw (& Ramp)

Yuriko does provide us with a lot of card advantage on her own. But it's 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 - Similar to Ingenious Infiltrator, but only draws cards off itself
  3. Moon-Circuit Hacker - A Ninja of the Deep Hours for one mana on the first turn it comes down, and lets us loot later.
  4. Prosperous Thief - A very unique and powerful ninja that gives us a treasure for each opponent we hit with a ninja

Threats

  1. Sakashima's Student - Cheap ninjutsu cost & its copy effect is really versatile
  2. Mist-Syndicate Naga - Overwhelms your opponents with an army of 3/1 ninjas if left unchecked

Cheap Attackers

These cheap ninjas maximize Yuriko's aggressiveness and punish opponents' clunky threats. They also function as enablers for Yuriko in your opening hand.

  1. Changeling Outcast
  2. Mothdust Changeling
  3. Universal Automaton
  4. Thousand-Faced Shadow
  5. Inkrise Infiltrator

Old Inclusions

  1. Throat Slitter - Powerful ability & high cmc for Yuriko triggers. Unfortunately its ninjutsu cost is quite expensive for what is does.
  2. Walker of Secret Ways - Cheap ninjutsu cost but underwhelming combat damage ability.
  3. Fallen Shinobi - Very powerful ability & can usually attack through blockers. Unfortunately its 4 mana ninjutsu cost is just too costly.

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. Lim-Dul's Vault
  4. Personal Tutor
  5. Scheming Symmetry
  6. Brainstorm
  7. Ponder

When deciding on cards in this category, I prioritized instants over sorcerys. The reason being that 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. Therefore Vampiric Tutor, Mystical Tutor, and Lim-Dul's Vault are quite a bit stronger than Personal Tutor and Scheming Symmetry, but they are still reasonable inclusions. Lastly, Brainstorm and Ponder are already great cantrips on their own, but are especially powerful in a deck that depends on topdeck manipulation.

Repeatable

  1. Sensei's Divining Top - Rearrange your top 3 cards at instant speed for just .
  2. Scroll Rack - Similar to Brainstorm, set aside your highest cmc cards to put on top, then draw that many cards.

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 or to cast an enabler. Turn 2: Use 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; Cheaper than most spells with the same effect
  2. Cyclonic Rift - Only 2 cmc, but extremely versatile; Bounce spell early on, asymmetrical board wipe later
  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
  4. Dauthi Voidwalker - a versatile threat, an enabler, and graveyard hate stapled onto one creature

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:

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

November 2021:

  1. re-added Personal Tutor, removed Insidious Dreams
  2. re-added Throat Slitter, removed Chain of Vapor

March 2022:

  1. added Takenuma, Abandoned Mire, removed Swamp
  2. added Otawara, Soaring City, removed Island
  3. added Treasure Cruise, removed Karn's Temporal Sundering
  4. added Nashi, Moon Sage's Scion, removed Fallen Shinobi
  5. added Thousand-Faced Shadow, removed Gingerbrute
  6. added Moon-Circuit Hacker, removed Walker of Secret Ways
  7. added Prosperous Thief, removed Throat Slitter
  8. added Phantasmal Image, removed Sage Owl
  9. added Lotus Petal, removed Island
  10. added Phyrexian Walker, removed Augury Owl
  11. added Memnite, removed Gudul Lurker
  12. added Inkrise Infiltrator, removed Mist-Cloaked Herald
  13. added Network Disruptor, removed Triton Shorestalker
  14. added Wonder, removed Slither Blade
  15. added Entomb, removed Liliana's Triumph
  16. added Cover of Darkness, removed Arcane Adaptation

June 2022:

  1. added Dispel, removed Curtains' Call
  2. added Silver-Fur Master, removed Nashi, Moon Sage's Scion

July 2022:

  1. added Imperial Seal, removed Scheming Symmetry

August 2022:

  1. added Gitaxian Probe, removed Phantasmal Image

You made it to the end! Thank you so much for reading through my Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow deck and primer!

Yuriko is my all-time favourite commander, and I hope you'll enjoy the deck as much as I do!

If you have any questions/comments/suggestions feel free to leave a comment!

Suggestions

Updates Add

I finally got to play enough games with the new cards from Kamigawa that I feel confident enough to update my decklist. I'm happy that most of the cards that I tested worked out, but having to cut many Yuriko staples to make room for them was definitely bittersweet. Check out the changelog if you're curious what I added/cut. These changes will be reflected in the primer in the near future!

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Top Ranked
Date added 3 years
Last updated 1 week
Legality

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

10 - 0 Mythic Rares

44 - 0 Rares

20 - 0 Uncommons

19 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.00
Tokens Bird 2/2 U, Copy Clone, Ninja 1/1 U, Treasure
Folders Uncategorized, slime, Deck EDH Examples, Yuriko, Uncategorized, Fave Primers, Cool decks, Commanders, Commander, Interesting decks, See all 71
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