Historic: Abzan Yawgmoth!

Unveil the power of Abzan Yawgmoth in Historic format. Dive into deck tech, strategy, and gameplay tips to master this powerful Magic: The Gathering deck.

With the Arena Qualifier Weekend around the corner (July 13-14), you have only a few days left to test and choose what will be your deck. Boros Energy is by far the most played one and it's not difficult to imagine that it will be the deck to beat and among the most popular choices also in this event because of: the super high power level of the MH3 cards, its explosiveness and the fact it's not particularly complex to play.

I therefore want to bring your attention to an outsider with a decent matchup against Cats, but that, at the same time, has a very solid gameplan and plays well even in an open field: Abzan Yawgmoth!

Abzan Yawgmoth

If you were on a last-minute search for a good Yawgmoth list for this Qualifier, I've got you covered, as the following list is the most updated and was put together by Omrithopter & Käpälä, who, for those of you who don't know them, are almost certainly the two biggest innovators when it comes to this archetype in Historic.

Total Cards:

Magic the Gathering Card - Yawgmoth, Thran Physician - MTG Circle

As the name of the deck suggests, Yawgmoth is the main card and the engine of combos and synergies.

Once he hits the battlefield, he allows you to pay life and sacrifice creatures to weaken and kill those of your opponent, making you draw cards in the process! Among other things, it's not mandatory to give the -1/-1 counter to draw and this makes it feasible even against Control or creatures that can be sacrificed / protected in response, in case we are not interested in killing them. In fact, if we choose to put a -1/-1 counter on a creature and then we lose the target in response, the ability fizzles and we don't draw, while on the contrary, choosing not to give the counter, we would have no target to lose.

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician has protection from Humans which is useful from time to time since they are everywhere, but above all it helps against aggro by blocking: Monastery Swiftspear or Soul-Scar Mage Vs Burn and Knight-Errant of Eos Vs Convoke.

Then there is the ability Proliferate which is not exceptional and is used very rarely. An example could be with Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons and a weakened board: adding several -1/-1 counters at once, you will generate as many Snakes from nowhere that can be used to block or convoke.

Magic the Gathering Card - Young Wolf - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons - MTG Circle

Speaking of Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, this one along with Young Wolf goes off with Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. There are 3 different ways to make the combo:

  • Young Wolf + Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons: you can start by sacrificing the wolf and putting a -1/-1 counter on a target creature. Because of undying it returns with a +1/+1 on it, while Hapatra triggers and creates a Snake. This latter can be sacrificed to put the -1/-1 counter this time on the Wolf and consequently we'll get a new Snake. The opposite -1/-1 and +1/+1 counters cancel each other and we'll find ourselves at the starting point, with: a brand new Young Wolf, a Snake token, one -1/-1 counter on an enemy creature and 2 more cards. So we can repeat the process.
  • Young Wolf + Young Wolf: unlike the previous one, with this loop we cannot distribute -1/-1 counters at will on the opponent's board, since these will be used to reset 1 of the 2 wolves alternately. It's still used to draw 1 card for each life spent and, if we control Prosperous Innkeeper, also the entire deck.
  • Young Wolf perpetually changed: similar result to the first case, instead, if you control only one Young Wolf but with the text modified by Rope Line Attendant. As the word perpetually suggests, Young Wolf will not lose the new text even if the game zone changes and this means it gives us 1 Citizen token every time it enters and exits the graveyard. Sacrifice Young Wolf first, giving an opposing creature -1/-1, then the token you get to reset the wolf and repeat the process.

Magic the Gathering Card - Prosperous Innkeeper - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Marionette Apprentice - MTG Circle

Since Yawgmoth, Thran Physician requires 1 life for each activation, the loops seen are not “infinite” until you add a lifegainer to the package, as Prosperous Innkeeper. The latter must also be combined with Marionette Apprentice to work as a finisher, since otherwise it's necessary to have more life than our opponent to win without. In the past we had Blood Artist which performed both roles draining life, but outside of the combo Marionette Apprentice is much stronger and synergistic: by placing 2 bodies in Orcish Bowmasters style, useful for convoke and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, and with an increase in both power and toughness.

Marionette Apprentice is also synergistic with both Treasure and Food tokens created by Prosperous Innkeeper and Gilded Goose.

Magic the Gathering Card - Avacyn's Pilgrim - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Gilded Goose - MTG Circle

The just named Gilded Goose and Avacyn's Pilgrim are the mana dorks, so as to speed up the plays and put board presence right from turn 1 to exploit convoke.

Avacyn's Pilgrim helps a lot with the white splash, mainly casting Rope Line Attendant and Juggernaut Peddler (sideboard) on turn 2, but often Knight-Errant of Eos too, since using even just 4 creatures to convoke is enough to pick up Yawgmoth, Thran Physician.

Gilded Goose instead fixes all the colors. Being able to use it only once, before reloading the Food, is annoying, but this is mitigated by having the convoke spells and using it "as mana" regardless.

Magic the Gathering Card - Rope Line Attendant - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Knight-Errant of Eos - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Chord of Calling - MTG Circle

And Knight-Errant of Eos and Chord of Calling are precisely our convoke spells.

Knight-Errant of Eos is the reason to play Abzan over Golgari, adding consistency and card advantage, finding combo pieces and post-sideboard solutions.

Chord of Calling is the real tutor of the deck, allowing to find what is needed and above all at instant speed, often requiring little or no mana. Against Counter decks, being able to cast it at the end of the opponent's turn will put the latter in a position to have to counter it, so we can resolve the next spell we'll cast on our turn.

Rope Line Attendant is probably the glue for the entire deck! When it enters it buffs all the creatures in hand, adding a huge board presence in a very short time, useful for: gaining life with Prosperous Innkeeper, doing life loss with Marionette Apprentice and mostly as bullets for Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. Additionally the fact that Citizen tokens are green-white makes them useful for casting both the convoke spells.

Magic the Gathering Card - Eldritch Evolution - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Suncleanser - MTG Circle

The last 2 slots are for Eldritch Evolution and Suncleanser.

Eldritch Evolution is an extra tutor especially for Yawgmoth, Thran Physician or any other piece of the sideboard, enhanced by the many 2-drops, often no longer relevant once their ETB resolved, as for Rope Line Attendant.

Note that it's also possible to take creatures with a lower mana value and sometimes the play is to sacrifice Knight-Errant of Eos for Yawgmoth, Thran Physician.

Suncleanser is the card of the moment since it removes and prevents the opponent from having Energy as long as it's in play. With Boros Energy and Jeskai Control as the two best decks of the format, it's important to have it, so as to tutor it in play when needed with Chord of Calling, perhaps in response to Galvanic Discharge or Wrath of the Skies. Because it's so awesome in the current metagame, it earned the maindeck spot but there's a second copy in the sideboard too.


Fatal Push is the only non-creature spell and is essential to gain time and stop aggro, whether it is Boros or Izzet Wizards.

Juggernaut Peddler is the Thoughtseize of the deck to use against Control and Combo. The fact it's a creature is obviously huge since it takes Rope Line Attendant's buff, can convoke and can be found or tutored with Knight-Errant of Eos and Chord of Calling respectively.

About Haywire Mite, we are used to seeing it remove The One Ring, but in this moment of the meta it could be useful to remove: Static Prison, Goblin Bombardment, Temporary Lockdown, as well as the hate cards like Pithing Needle.

Scavenging Ooze is for combo decks that use the graveyard like: Kethis, the Hidden Hand, Shifting Woodland, Persist or Arclight Phoenix, but it could also be useful against Jeskai Control by removing Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury or Snapcaster Mage's target.

Phyrexian Revoker is our Pithing Needle with legs and we'll use it mainly for: Goblin Charbelcher, Karn, the Great Creator, Kethis, the Hidden Hand, Shifting Woodland, even if it's not unreasonable to name Goblin Bombardment.

However, it would be better to remove it completely using Skyclave Apparition which is the best tutorable creature to exile both enemy creatures, as well as annoying permanents and hate cards for the combo.

Guardian of Faith is probably not strictly necessary, but you hope to surprise the opponent in response to any mass removal.

Plague Mare is the tech card against Boros Energy that allows you to wipe away the vast majority of creatures, especially Ocelot Pride and its cat tokens.

Eladamri, Korvecdal has taken the place of Elven Chorus because it's tutorable and is a value card for Control and Midrange.

That's all for today! While I don't expect it to be played too much, Abzan Yawgmoth is a solid choice for this Qualifier Weekend, especially for those who are already familiar with this deck and appreciate its playstyle, evaluating the possible plays each time and juggling between threats and solutions. Good luck to everyone, and above all have fun!

I'm Luciano, Italian MTG player since 2003. I play every available format on MTG Arena on a competitive level. Semi-finalist at the Arena Championship 3.