COMMUNITY Article written by TOP 8 player form ARG Indy, Michael Atwood.
The Yamata Combo deck, known as Yamata Reanimator, Salt.dek, or (my personal favorite) Yamata Cannon, is a deck that I have been playing for the last month with great success. The primary goal of the deck is to utilize Yamata-no-Orochi, the Eight Disasters to kill your opponent in a single turn. Yamata can attack up to 8 times in a single turn with Swiftness and Target Attack, with a large health pool of 2000 and measly 200 attack. With a few small buffs, however, 8 attacks can quickly bring down any opponent.
But there is a problem. Yamata costs a whopping 10 will to cast, and most games are well over before 10 will can be achieved. To get around the prohibitive cost, the goal of the deck is to bring Yamata into the field from the graveyard using either Book of Eibon or Genesis Creation. Here is the list I piloted to top 8 most recently at the ARG event in Elkhart, IN at Realms Games.
Ruler: Blazer Gill Rabus/Blazer Gill Rabus
4 x Yamata-no-Orochi, the Eight Disasters
4 x Guinevere, the Jealous Queen
4 x Rukh Egg
4 x Prowler of Niflheim
4 x Forty Thieves
4 x Nyarlathotep, the Usurper
1 x Hastur, the Unspeakable
4 x Necromancy of the Undead Lord
4 x Book of Eibon
3 x Genesis Creation
3 x Realm of Pure Spirits
1 x Phantom of Premogenitor
4 x Magic Stone of Heaven’s Rift
3 x Magic Stone of Darkness
1 x Almerius, the Levitating Stone
1 x Magic Stone of Moon Light
1 x Little Red, the Pure Stone
4 x Artemis, the God’s Bow
4 x Deathscythe, the Life Reaper
4 x Marybell, the Steel Doll
3 x Phantom of Premogenitor
Goal of the Deck: As stated above, the goal of the deck is to bring Yamata onto the field by using Book of Eibon or Genesis Creation to cast it from your graveyard and kill your opponent in a single turn. Guinevere, Prowler of Niflheim, and Forty Thieves are the way to get the Yamata and the Necromancy of the Undead Lord into the graveyard, and with the right draws, kill your opponent as early as turn 3. The deck is very consistent and resilient.
Blazer Gill Rabus: A quick look at the magic stones will tell you why I selected Blazer as the J/Ruler. The will fixing effect gives you much more flexibility and consistency in the early turns. Additionally, in a format with regalia and big J-Rulers, Blazer’s ability to shut out J-Ruler centric strategies cannot be overlooked.
Prowler of Nifleheim: This card is the one card in the deck I both love to hate. The random nature of the two card self-mill can be very self defeating, but a turn 1 Prowler that turns up a Yamata and a Necromancy of the Undead Lord puts an immense amount of pressure on the board before you’ve even played your combo. On the other hand, a Prowler that hits neither card, a vital card for the matchup, or reveals your strategy to a prepared opponent can make the game much more difficult. Against another deck running Book of Eibon, you might find yourself putting a Yamata in the graveyard for your opponent to steal with their own Book of Eibon, using your own combo against you. But the Prowler is vital to the next card…
Nyarlathotep, the Usurper: Nyarla is the perfect card to answer your opponent’s answer, or drastically slow an aggro deck while you set up your combo. The ability to learn your opponent’s plays, eliminate their most problematic card, and put an 800/800 body on the board as early as turn 2 can lock a match in your favor. While the Prowler’s randomness can backfire, it gives you the opportunity to make the early Nyarla play before your opponent can answer (since you need at least 1 darkness resonator for it’s incarnation cost).
Realm of Pure Spirits: Perhaps the MVP card at recent events, Realm of Pure Spirits turns your enormous Nightmare Dragon from a deadly threat to an unstoppable menace. With the prevalence of the Artemis/Demonflame combo to make quick work of large resonators, Realm of Pure Spirits gives Yamata the freedom to swing away while only having to contend with opposing J/resonators. It also protects your Guinevere’s until you are ready to discard an important part of the combo. At the tournament I saw many people side Robe of the Fire Rat to shut down the threat of Yamata, but with a Realm of Pure Spirits on the field they can do nothing but watch as their life points deplete and their resonators crumble.
Hastur, the Unspeakable: This was suggested by another Yamata player at a previous event. The one of Hastur gets rid of any problematic resonators, such as a Glinda trying to delay your combo, or a Lancelot to slow your opponent. It can be searched out with the Rukh Egg in a tricky situation.
Phantom of Premogenitor: Another one of, in case your opponent packs a mainboard answer to the graveyard combo (such as the odd Pricia or 28 Regalia). Phantom is a slower method, but no less potent if you can stall the game. The three in the sideboard usually replace the Genesis Creation in game 2 and 3 since many players have graveyard removal in their sideboards.
Speaker of Creation: This card was played by another Yamata player that I played against in round 1. It lets you search out a Book of Eibon or Realm of Pure Spirits in a pinch. You can also destroy an opponent’s Book of Eibon or Robe of the Fire Rate with the active effect.
Niflheim, the Realm of the Dead: While Niflheim doesn’t directly buff Yamata, with a Necromancy of the Undead Lord on your resonator it becomes a Zombie and gains the Niflheim buff. It also lets you refill your graveyard quickly in case your opponent removes your graveyard.
Card Soldier Club: Another darkness resonator to more consistently incarnate to Nyarlathotep, and fills up the graveyard pretty well. Like the Prowler it has the element of randomness, and usually takes the slot of Forty Thieves.
Refarth, the Castle in Heaven: While it isn’t normally possible to cast this card with the current stone setup (unless you call wind on Little Red), Genesis Creation can grab it from the graveyard to give your Yamata a big boost that can’t be removed by a fresh Artemis.
What beats the deck?
Xeex, the Ancient Magic, Horn of Sacred Beasts, and Fetal Movement in Outer World, The 3 cards in the current format that make any graveyard plays very difficult. When your opponent plays with these cards, you have to either be very fast or very creative in how you execute the combo.
If a Realm of Pure Spirits isn’t on the board, Yamata is vulnerable to any kill spells.
Addition removal such as Dream of Juliet or Elvish Bowman can kill your momentum by destroying your Book of Eibon (forcing you to banish Yamata) or your Realm of Pure Spirits to open up another kill spell.
One-Inch Boy is a cheap resonator that can kill Yamata without targeting it, and a Valentina can instant cast one as a blocker.
Artemis, the God’s Bow can slow the deck down by destroying your Necromancy of the Undead Lord, even if you have a Realm of Pure Spirits. While Yamata still requires an answer, the bow can buy a few precious turns.
Robe of the Fire Rat can shut down Yamata without Realm of Pure Spirits.
Yamata Cannon is one of the most enjoyable competitive decks I have played. The deck is consistent in execution, and surprisingly resilient in a format filled with cheap answers and brutal aggro decks. There are tons of stylistic choices to be made and many decision points throughout the game, which to me is the hallmark of a fun deck that requires skill to pilot. The potential rise of Dark Alice in The Twilight Wanderer is definitely going to change the deck, but much like the Dragon King of the previous format, I expect Yamata to survive and thrive.