Pokedecks: Yasova, the Bellossom

Unsummoned Skull • December 8, 2023

Got them Moves Like Swagger

While linear decks, like Voltron and kindred strategies, are a lot of fun to build, their play patterns can get rather stale after a while. Sometimes, it's fun to make a deck that can shake things up, and who better to shake things up than a fancy dancing alternate evolution to an old-school favorite?

Removal in Commander games can be a bit of a contentious topic. Personally, I've been cutting removal from decks because, while winning is fun, removal rarely seems to add much to games besides length. Often, I wind up leaving removal in hand and letting someone win in a fun or original way, even if I could have stopped it, based on the Dungeons and Dragons "Rule of Cool". But how can we keep removal in the deck while maintaining excitement? It's Yasova to the rescue!

Yasova Dragonclaw!

Polymorph and I go back a long way. One of my favorite Standard decks of all time was a Polymorph deck that turned Eldrazi tokens from Awakening Zone into Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. I love combo decks, and that deck was... beautiful. My first article for EDHREC was a Polymorph deck, my take on The Locust God. I also used to have a Saheeli Oathbreaker deck, and I have a Deck Tech of it on my YouTube Channel. But how does this relate to the discussion of removal and to Yasova?

Polymorph doesn't specify WHOSE creature is destroyed. I have a Djinn kindred deck designed to aim Polymorph effects at opponents' creatures in order to use this as a mechanical version of the double-edged sword that is a Djinn's wish-granting ability. In this deck, the Polymorph effects are used to set up Threaten effects, like Yasova's ability. The two work together to force threats out of opponents' decks and then use them for our benefit!

Swagger and Flatter are both abilities that function similarly to the Polymorphing threats strategy. Both Pokemon moves strongly increase an opponent's offensive stats, which can be dangerous, just like when we draw opponents' threats out. Both moves also come with the confusion condition, which reverses the offensive force and can use it against them. Swagger is a fairly popular move, so why Bellossom in particular? Bellossom is a dancing Pokemon in a Hula skirt of colorful leaves, and its taunting, beguiling dance reminds me of the "Big Pig" scene from The Lion King, where Timon and Pumba use a Hula dance to distract and taunt a horde of hyenas.

Yasova's Abilities

Despite only having a green pip in her casting cost, Yasova is considered to be a Temur commander. Like Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, Yasova is a Khan from an alternate timeline with a mono-colored casting cost and an activated ability that features a generic mana and two hybrid mana of the wedge's other two colors. Like Alesha's reanimation ability, Yasova's Threaten ability is limited, in this case to creatures with less power than Yasova's (naturally 4). Stealing creatures tends to be a bit controversial, like Memnarch, so the deck only has Threaten effects. But how do we make sure one swing is enough?

Insurrection is the grandaddy of big red Commander finishers. High converted mana cost, big effect, scales with multiplayer... it was BUILT to end Commander games. In addition to creating an army of the best creatures on the board, it makes sure no one has blockers, so this essentially becomes "Pay 8 mana: win the game". This can be a bit anticlimactic, however.

Reins of Power is less mana and more focused than Insurrection. It swaps our board, which doesn't get terribly big, with an opponent's. If we focus on pushing one opponent's power, we can steal wins or create huge momentum swings. For even more chaos, we can swap creatures and then swap boards, sending everyone's stuff all over the place!

Mob Rule is another slightly cheaper, slightly-more-limited version of Insurrection, but one that can have a drastic effect on a game. It either threatens all big creatures or all small ones, making it so we either get an army if the table went wide or a towering team of terrors if they went big. Either way, we can lay down a smackdown!

Bellossom's Moves

Swagger is a move that increases the opponent's potency with the aim of reversing it on the opponent. It rides a thin line between political support and unassuming reversal-based offense. How do we show this ability to draw out the opponent's latent power to complement Yasova's Threaten effects?

Oath of Druids is a solid way to force powerful creatures out of opponents' decks. Players without the most creatures can mill cards until they get a creature, putting the creature into play. Cheating large creatures and enabling graveyard strategies help accelerate the game to a place where we can reverse it and redirect it.

Proteus Staff is a repeatable Polymorph that costs 3 mana a turn, so the more turns it's out, the closer it gets to being mana-efficient. Repeatable removal on an artifact is a powerful asset, and doing so while replacing the threats with ones the table might be more prepared to answer or that might be better to steal can reduce some of the frustration that comes with a repeatable source of removal.

Spellshift is an oddball Polymorph effect, shifting smaller instants and sorceries into big bang spells, or just generally causing chaos on the stack. Chaotic decks and spells tend to draw some ire, but effects like what we are using help to continue moving the game forward, just in strange and exciting ways.

So...we've got eight-mana game-breaking spells, four-mana removal spells, and a commander that requires mana to activate. How are we going to afford all this? The answer is the same as that for most green decks: RAMP.

The Perfect Fusion

The deck does a great job of producing threats out of other decks, seizing control of them, and redirecting them towards the opponent. The pieces fit together nicely, creating a gameplan based on riding the exciting line between powering opponents up and succumbing to the power we've bestowed on the board. But power creep is real, and it's entirely possible that we could get overpowered if there's too much time between the mesh points of the strategy.

Cursed Mirror is one of many three-mana rocks that have been printed recently, each with different powerful abilities that differentiate them. In this case, the Mirror becomes a copy of a creature on the battlefield, and gains haste. It's almost like a mini-threaten, as we can use it to ramp into big Threaten effects or copy a big threat later in the game.

New Frontiers helps with the turbo-charging plan by ramping everyone and enabling big, powerful plays. While most of our ramp is more selfish, this helps act like a Polymorph by forcibly advancing the game.

Tempt with Discovery is a neat reciprocal ramp spell, albeit one that enables the search of any land card. This is another way to help along decks that win with unique permanents and spells, as well as helping opponents advance towards giving up things to steal.

Yasova, use Swagger!

Here is the most recent iteration of the deck, which is still one of my favorites.

How do you feel about Chaos and Group Hug decks? And how do you determine whether they're exciting or frustrating?

View this decklist on Archidekt

Teacher, judge, DM, & Twitch Affiliate. Lover of all things Unsummon. Streams EDH, Oathbreaker, D & D, & Pokemon. Even made it to a Pro Tour!