Rogue Tech is Win Condition Games’ regular column highlighting new and exciting cards, and how they can be leveraged for kitchen-table dominance. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill competitive strategy article. We’re looking for fun combos and forgotten cards that are a blast to play in a friendly environment.

 

Aether Revolt looks like it is going to shake up the competitive scene in wild and exciting new ways. But it also has some potential to do crazy things around the kitchen table – especially with the fan-favorite mechanic “+1/+1 counters!”

And who’s better to lead our army than the +1/+1 growing, hasty, free-sacrificing, glow-in-the-dark legend himself – Yahenni, Undying Partisan! Yahenni is a swiss army knife of a card. He comes down, hits hard, and gets bigger to do it again next turn. Left unchecked, Yahenni can dominate a game pretty much by himself.

But what’s the fun in that? Let’s take Yahenni, and make him into an unstoppable force for +1/+1 domination.

      
 

It’s a Hardened-Knock Life

While Yahenni can turn into a board-dominating monster all by himself, it takes a little bit of time. But with a little help from his friends Hardened Scales and Winding Constrictor, Yahenni can go from wimp to powerhouse in less than a turn. You might be able to block a 3/3 without losing a creature for a long time, but a 5/5? Not many decks can profitably chump that.

Hardened Scales was the cornerstone of a competitive deck a few standard cycles ago. Although it doesn’t do much on it’s own, if you build your deck to take advantage of it, you can get an incredible rate on your future creatures. The interaction with Yahenni is great, but you want more density of creatures to really take advantage of the one-mana enchantment.

Winding Constrictor helps. Not only is it a legitimate creature on it’s own, it also gives redundancy to the Hardened Scales ability. Now you get twice as many options to boost your team.

With the boosting combo in place, how do we supercharge the engine, and get those +1/+1 counters flowing? There are two immediate ways that come to mind:

  1. Play creatures that come into play with counters
  2. Play cards that add counters.

My mind goes first to another 3-mana black legend to anchor our strategy: Drana, Liberator of Malakir.

  
 

One of the challenges of building around Yahenni is his legendary status. That means drawing too many clogs your hand, and doesn’t let you keep up the beats. Drana both relieves some of that pressure AND continues to play into the +1/+1 theme is a very big way.

You know what else links Yahenni and Drana? Their creature type. Both a vampires. In an aggressive deck like this, we want to make sure we have a properly aggressive mana curve. A one-drop like Indulgent Aristocrat gives us something else to do on turn one, plus some late game synergies.

Another obvious one-drop is Experiment One. Hardened Scales + evolve makes everyone happy.

Rogue Tech: Rounding Up

With the core of the deck locked in, it’s time to looks for the support cards that round out your strategy. You might want some more aggressive creatures to really put the pressure on early. My I suggest Gifted Aetherborn? The mini-Vampire Nighthawk fits a perfect spot on the curve, gives you another vampire, and love getting +1/+1 boost. Or how about Strangleroot Geist? GG makes the mana a bit more difficult, but sacrificing him to make Yahenni indestructible AND getting multiple +1/+1 counters is extreme value.

    
 

Maybe you want to go even bigger? Make sure that your opponent can’t stabilize the board when you grow over everything else on the table. Forgotten Ancient and Managorger Hydra grow for every spell played. If you want a slower game, check out Spike Weaver or Spike Feeder, who both love getting extra counters.

Finally, you might want some tricks to keep your opponent on his toes. With plenty of instant-speed sacrifice effects, both Tragic Slip and the new Fatal Push become overachieving removal spells. Don’t miss out on Inspiring Call for a way to refill your hand and ensure your army goes through unharmed.

Counting to Win

Taking a pretty aggressive stance, we end up with the following deck. But as you see above, this theme let’s you veer off in plenty of different directions. Who would you build a Yahenni + Hardened Scales deck? Sound off in the comments below.

It's a Hardened-Knock Life

Creatures (23)
Indulgent Aristocrat
Experiment One
Winding Constrictor
Strangleroot Geist
Gifted Aetherborn
Yahenni, Undying Partisan
Drana, Liberator of Malikir
Walking Ballista

Enchantments (4)
Hardened Scales

Instants (9)
Tragic Slip
Fatal Push
Inspiring Call

Lands (24)
Blossoming Marsh
Hissing Quagmire
Swamp
Forest