The Mana Dork

This is a story about why it’s important to have good friends.


So. Last week, I put together this Yasova Dragonclaw control-voltron deck. I’ve built Yasova before… but it was a budget version, and the way I had originally built it was unsatisfying. I was hoping that this time ’round, with neat things like the Swords of X and Y, Birthing Pod, Greater Good, and Dack Fayden, it would feel much more satisfying, and do more at the table.

And boy, did it ever. But I nearly didn’t see it.

Yasova Dragonclaw
I’m playing against a Gisela, Blade of Goldnight control deck and a Dave, Guru of Sports combo deck. It’s early game. The turn comes around to me. Untap, upkeep, draw.
Here’s what our boardstates look like:

Gisela: Solemn Simulacrum with Skullclamp equipped, and Containment Priest.

Ghave: Only has his commander out. Still dangerous, since it’s very easy to make infinite combos with Ghave on the board.

Yasova: Treasonous Ogre, Yasova herself with Darksteel Plate attached, and five available mana from my lands.

I’m at 34 life, having just blown six life through the Ogre to equip the Darksteel Plate to Yasova.
Here’s my hand:

Another friend is just hanging out, watching the game. We’ll call him Han, because he had my back and helped me win the day out of nowhere.

I asked Han which card I should play: Freyalise, or Acquire?

Han looks at the boardstate. Looks at my cards. Looks at me. Looks at my cards.

Han holds up the Untamed Might and the Relentless Assault, gestures with his chin at the Treasonous Ogre, and says, “Do it.” Hands me back my cards and goes to get his laptop.

Here we go.

I go to combat. I skip Yasova’s beginning-of-combat steal-a-creature ability. I attack the Gisela player with Yasova. At instant speed, I cast Untamed Might for X = 9, using all five mana from my lands and 15 life (for five more red mana) from the Treasonous Ogre. Yasova is now a 13/11 creature with indestructible and trample.

By paying another six life through the Treasonous Ogre, I cast Temur Battle Rage on Yasova, giving her double strike on top of the 13/11 trampling indestructability. This takes out Gisela’s blockers and deals more than 21 commander damage to the Gisela player (remember, Gisela herself is not out), which is enough for lethal. One player down.

Han sits down with his laptop and begins playing this song:

On my second main phase, I pay 12 more life through the Treasonous Ogre to cast Relentless Assault. Remember, Yasova is still a 13/11 indestructible double-striking trampler until end of turn… including any extra combats I might give myself.

I swing with Yasova at the Ghave player, who blocks with Ghave itself since he doesn’t feel like losing immediately. Ghave soaks up five damage, and Yasova gets through for 20 commander damage… one point short of lethal.

You’ll notice that I spent a lot of life this turn — almost too much. After paying six life to equip the Darksteel Plate, 15 life as part of Untamed Might, six more for Temur Battle Rage, and 12 more for Relentless Assault, I am now at… one life.

Next hit wins.

(At this point, Han closes down the One Punch theme, because of course we are now at more than one punch to take out the Ghave player.)

I send the turn back over to the Ghave player. If he can deal a single point of damage to me this turn, he wins… and he’s a white-black-green deck, and black specifically has a lot of cards that cause opponents to lose life…

… but he apparently doesn’t have them in his hand. He re-casts Ghave from the command zone and sends the turn back to me.


The Untamed Might and Temur Battle Rage have worn off on Yasova, leaving her as a 4/2 trampler with Darksteel Plate equipped. Neither she nor Ghave fly or have any kind of evasion, currently. I have no way to hit the Ghave player with her this turn.


I cast Acquire (using mana from lands like a normal smart person) on the Ghave player and find Akroma’s Memorial in his library. Looks like Yasova’s got flying after all! I swing with her and win.

Akroma's Memorial

That’s why it’s important to have friends, folks. You need someone who believes in you more than you believe in yourself.

Jesse Mackenzie is a contributor for A Muse N Games. Nobody knows who he is. Tune in every two weeks for The Mana Dork, his column about getting into Magic.