Modern Horizons 2 is creeping ever closer, and there’s a lot to be excited about if you’re a Commander player. Sure, Cabal Coffers at Mythic Rare is interesting, but that’s not going to move the needle much on card prices (the extended art version is amazing, though!). What I’m interested in, as always, is new Commanders, and I like what I’ve seen so far. Let’s take a look at one: Yusri, Fortune’s Flame in Commander.
This reads like a coin flip Commander with a fun, random payoff and a 1/32 chance of netting you an incredibly explosive turn. It’s important not to forget, though, that this comes with a 1/32 chance of taking 10 to the dome. If you’re not okay with that, well, one option is to choose a number less than five when you attack, but I’d argue that if you’re doing that, you’re missing the point of the card. Go big or go home and build another deck, I say! (For real, though, play this card how you want and have fun.)
So how do we build a deck around Yusri? Well, there are a few options.
Within the Izzet identity, there are 58 cards that refer to coin flips and are currently legal in Commander, which means we’re not double-counting Yusri. Throw in a Tribute Mage to grab your Krark’s Thumb, add 40 lands and call it a day.
This is a totally reasonable option, but it means you’re playing some awkward cards like Wild Wurm that won’t be terribly fun for you alongside some like Impulsive Maneuvers and Planar Chaos that are unlikely to be fun for anyone. Even back in the day, I cut Planar Chaos from my casual coin flip deck after just a few games because of how it affected the table, and I didn’t have a great grasp of “fun for other people” in those times. If this is what you want to do, I can’t stop you, but your friends might not be hyped.
Coin flips are random, so let’s add more randomness, right? Well, what does this accomplish, really? Sure, you get to play cards with more words on them than my old AIM profile, but those words don’t add up to anything fun.
Warp World is at least justifiable as a payoff for ramping and creating lots of tokens to break the symmetry, but if you’re just casting it to ruin the game state, I’m not sending you another SpellTable link. Cards like Confusion in the Ranks and Scrambleverse don’t serve to accomplish anything – the novelty wears off immediately, and they just become chores that disrupt peoples’ fun.
When I sit down to play Commander, I’m trying to do something interesting and at least play out some of my plan, and these cards just ruin that. It’s like someone showed up in the middle of the night and switched all the labels on my NES cartridges, meaning that when I go to load up Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, I’m instead greeted by the hideous text scroll from Deadly Towers, and now my day is ruined. I suppose in this analogy they also planted the copy of Deadly Towers in my collection, but I have to say that I do own that game (don’t play it).
It’s amazing how close the chaos idea came to being sweet – you just have to replace the wrong ingredient with the right one. There are a few different themes you can link to coin flips – spellslinging, artifacts, Treasures and clones all seem like good options, and Pirates might even work too!
Shockingly, I’ll be going with option three, the “win-win-win” of this particular lineup. I’ll be focusing on an artifact/Treasure subtheme as a sideline to the coin flipping, and I’ll feature some good cards so we can feel like we’re not only playing thematic, underpowered cards.
Now that we’ve settled on a build, let’s talk about the deck’s plan, or plans.
My dream here, as mentioned previously, is to attack with Yusri, win five flips and enjoy a turn of free spellcasting after drawing five cards. How do we maximize our chances of making this happen?
If you already knew this card existed, you knew it was coming. If not, you’re welcome. Krark’s Thumb turns coin flips into 75 percent chances for positive outcomes. Let’s take a look at what that means for our outcomes with Yusri, assuming five is chosen:
|Normal||With Krark’s Thumb|
|Take 10 damage||1/32 (3.125%)||1/1024 (.098%)|
|Draw 1, take 8||5/32 (15.625%)||15/1024 (1.465%)|
|Draw 2, take 6||10/32 (31.25%)||90/1024 (8.789%)|
|Draw 3, take 4||10/32 (31.25%)||270/1024 (26.367%)|
|Draw 4, take 2||5/32 (15.625%)||405/1024 (39.551%)|
|Draw 5, cast from hand for free||1/32 (3.125%)||243/1024 (23.730%)|
I’d consider “draw three, take four” and better to be a positive outcome, and for argument’s sake, let’s say “draw two, take six” and worse are usually bad, though the best of that bunch is sometimes good enough. That means that, under normal, unmodified circumstances, you get a good outcome half the time and a bad outcome half the time – a coin flip, if you will. With our lucky thumb, however, positive outcomes abound, coming up a whopping 89.6 percent of the time! The more coins you are flipping, the better Krark’s Thumb is.
That means that in order to best leverage Yusri, we need to get Krark’s Thumb into play reliably. I’ve come up with a few ways to do that, and while I’m not normally a fan of tutor packages, sometimes they’re necessary to help sweet cards shine a little brighter.
Pretty simple – find an artifact, drop it into your hand, profit. With 15 artifacts in my version of this deck, we have plenty of non-Thumb options should we need to branch out.
It’s easy enough to sneak this into the land section, and with the aforementioned 15 artifacts, this fair has more than enough attractions.
This card pulls double duty as a tutor or a low-grade Negate. Don’t be afraid to use it to counter something, but don’t let it rot in your hand so long that you miss the opportunity to tutor up something useful, even if it’s not the Thumb. Besides Muddle and Thumb, there are 15 other two-cost cards in my list.
Tezzeret crosses over into our wider artifact theme – more on that later – but activating it for -2 to drop the Thumb directly onto the battlefield is going to be a frequent play.
I haven’t gone too hard on other two-drop artifacts in this deck, but there are enough mana rocks, plus a sweet enabler in Strionic Resonator and a solid value play in Treasure Map, that it’s a welcome card even if you draw the Thumb first.
Krark’s Thumb isn’t the only way to help Yusri, though. I’ve included a few ways to give Yusri a little extra punch, either by copying the triggered ability or adding some extra combats.
Copy the Yusri trigger and get another spin on the wheel of coin flipping. Obviously, this is better with Krark’s Thumb in play, but if you don’t mind taking some extra damage in service of the good story you’ll have when you hit the jackpot, it’s worth it even without tipping the scales in your favor.
Aggravated Assault and Hellkite Charger provide multiple extra combats when enough mana is pumped into the system, while Seize the Day and World at War are spells that provide more than just a single extra attack.
What good is all that if Yusri will die in combat, though? We may need a little help sneaking our commander through, and I’ve got that covered as well.
Rogue’s Passage is joined by a new friend from Strixhaven, Access Tunnel, that helps sneaks small utility commanders through. Trailblazer’s Boots is a solid way to sneak Yusri past flying blockers that also helps out some of our other creatures when necessary – most people have enough nonbasics that it’s worthwhile.
Giving Yusri lifelink removes some of the hassle of getting domed for two to 10 damage per trigger, and since Yusri is sneaking in for a little damage anyway, it’s nice to get a gain.
One last thing – a non-legendary Yusri clone gives you even more spins on the wheel.
With so much focus on access to Krark’s Thumb, and given my desire to build around coin flips anyway, I’d like to have some fun adding worthwhile coin flip cards to the deck. Of course, when going this route, there’s the obvious payoff:
If you’re going to flip coins – and Yusri lets us do plenty of that – Chance Encounter is an easy inclusion. Sure, it doesn’t do anything but get blown up most of the time, but in the worst case, it’s basically a Flagbearer protecting Krark’s Thumb (well, perhaps the worst case is getting both caught in a Cleansing Nova). Much like Yusri though, when you hit with this, it’s the most fun you’ll have all year.
These are the commanders of most coin flip decks these days, as they provide tons of flips and payoffs for every flip any player wins. Remember that when you lose a flip, your opponents aren’t winning the flip, so that won’t trigger these effects – and yes, that means the printed text on your copy of Game of Chaos is probably inaccurate, so don’t expect big value out of that (I’m still playing it anyway).
Need to flip a lot of coins in a hurry? Frenetic Efreet, unlike Frenetic Sliver, lets you resolve its ability a bunch of times even if it dies in the process. That means you can go really crazy with Okaun or go from zero to 10 with Chance Encounter – just be careful if you have Zndrsplt in play.
If you’re casting spells for free off Yusri, this is the most hilarious card to have in play. Losing a flip just means you get to cast your spell again – no problem there at all! We’re not storming off in this deck, but there’s a potential for lots of fun here.
This is another great way to flip extra coins, and given the nature of multiplayer, there’s no guarantee that losing coin flips will actually hurt you.
Another high-reward card in the vein of Yusri, Fiery Gambit has one specific problem – it requires a single target. If that target goes away, gets hexproof or whatever, you’re not flipping coins. That said, with Krark’s Thumb in play, you have an approximately 42 percent chance to draw nine cards and untap all of your lands. While this is not necessarily “good” in the abstract, it’s great fun.
All the excitement of going heads up in a poker game with all of the randomness of doing so pre-flop… although if you have a Thumb, it’s like having pocket aces.
The biggest thing I like about this is that it comes back to your hand if you win the flip, letting you cast it and flip more coins.
You’ve seen people go off really hard with this on Arena, and while some of our creatures aren’t great candidates for this, we’re eligible to win the Goldspan Dragon Sweepstakes and win the game outright via this card. If you haven’t figured out that this deck is primarily a Cool Story Generator yet, this should convince you.
For three mana and a card, a 50 percent chance to do nothing is a little iffy, but we’re a coin flip deck, right?
The original Ral Zarek lacks some punch in the basic ability department, but a chance to take five extra turns is just too much fun.
Of course, there are plenty of lesser coin flip cards in this deck, and you can check those out in the final deck list.
As mentioned earlier, cards like Tezzeret and some of our tutors play into this theme already, so why not go a little harder?
These are our main Treasure generators, and many of them are also our Treasure payoffs. Galazeth Prismari in particular turns them into long-term sources of mana, while Goldspan Dragon lets us do some huge shenanigans in a single turn.
Shimmer Dragon is an amazing Treasure payoff, as it lets you reap a ton of card advantage over time – and of course, that means we draw more sweet coin flip cards!
It’s important to have a little bit of countermagic running around, and this knockoff Mana Drain is a sweet way to play into this theme at the same time.
Once this flips, we can continue to turn Treasures into value, and even beforehand it provides some solid scrying and mana sinking.
This deck isn’t winning a high percentage of games on its own, so adding in another alternate win condition doesn’t strike me as a bad idea or something that’s likely to be unfun.
Okay! That’s the overview – here’s my version of the deck list. If you’ve got your own version of Yusri, please tweet it at @RagingLevine, because I can’t wait to see how you build around this awesome new Commander!
Yusri, Fortune's Flame Commander/EDH by Eric Levine