Yawgmoth’s Bargain – Urza’s Destiny
Date Reviewed: October 18, 2021
Commander [EDH]: Banned
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Yawgmoth’s Bargain is about as elegant as Magic cards get. And if you’re used to that adjective being used for cards like Naturalize or Murder, you’ll need to get used to the fact that “elegant” doesn’t always mean “not insanely powerful”. Bargain may be banned almost everywhere, but in the few places it’s not, the results are very telling. People have used it in Australian Highlander, and even in a format that revolves more around redundancy and tempo, it turns out that always having exactly as many cards in your hand as you want is a pretty strong basis for a deck. It’s resurfaced in the growing Premodern scene, where it helps get certain kinds of Storm decks over the line and can combine its old ally Academy Rector with Flash. And if those seem like corner cases in the world of formats, consider its history: it was a power card in Standard even alongside things like Tolarian Academy, Memory Jar, and Yawgmoth’s Will, and it started getting banned in bigger formats starting with Extended in the early 2000s.
Yawgmoth’s Bargain feels like Magic’s version of the forbidden lore you can’t un-read, at least in a metagame sense. It’s an icon of turn-of-the-century Magic and something which can still upend games with ridiculous ease.
Commander: N/A (banned)
Yawgmoth’s Bargain is banned in Commander.
Necropotence taught people that paying 1 life for 1 card was a fair deal, so what does Yawgmoth’s Bargain teach us? Nothing terribly new, besides not having to wait for the card being better than waiting for the card in 97% of cases. (Those 3% are the anti-draw effects, which Necropotence ducks around.) It costs twice the mana of its predecessor, but it’s arguably even better at ending games once it does stick, because you can just find the card you need and play demolition derby with it and everything else in your hand.
Of course, it costing six mana was an obstacle…not insurmountable, but it takes a bit more to bring the Bargain online, since you can’t just go “Swamp, Dark Ritual, Necropotence”. All the same, Yawgmoth’s Bargain is one of the shining exemplars of Urza’s Destiny‘s approach to card design (if everything’s over the line, who cares?) that managed to perform quite well in the Standard of its era, and while it’s certainly too powerful for most tables, that needn’t stop you from having a good time. The only proper format Yawgmoth’s Bargain is legal in presently is Vintage, where it’s unrestricted and never seen; Necropotence is already extremely narrowly viable (though that might partly be because it’s Restricted), and six mana is a bit much for an engine to come online in formats with lots of disruption.
Constructed: 4.75 (it says “game over” once you get to 6 mana, but it’s never shone in Vintage; still, this seems fair for a card that was a house in its Standard and is banned in Legacy)
Limited: 4.75 (won’t win you a game on its own, but it certainly will help)
Multiplayer: 5 (who cares how many opponents you have when they all die that turn)
I go back and forth between this card and Necropotence when I’m running a black strategy in commander…until I realize that my play group has been using it despite it being a banned card! If you happen to be playing casual commander or a no ban list commander then the double mana cost for Yawgmoth’s Bargain isn’t so bad in a commander environment where this card is a bit better than Necropotence, solely because you can get the card right away. This pairs quite well in a few strategies, life manipulation combo decks come to mind right away where when you lose life X effect happens to your opponent. Even black aggro decks would benefit from the card advantage to play their large bombs and have answers to their opponent’s creatures by having the answers in their hand and using it as many times as you want per turn is just pure gravy. There’s a reason it is banned in commander! Casual and multiplayer I see this card having similar effects that it does in commander (despite the ban), giving you a huge advantage in a turn to answer your opponent’s creatures and spells in one go. You can have fun with it in casual settings by trying different combos that would impact the draw step or combos surrounding hand manipulation. There’s a lot of creativity that could be had for a card with very little text! I was on the fence about being used in constructed due to the high mana cost, but if it is included in the right deck then it will win you the game by putting you in the lead from a card advantage standpoint. Limited is the only play style I do not like this in, if you open it should you take it solely because of what it is? Will it help you by turn 6 given the other cards you chose from the other packs? Is it too slow? Or on the flip side, could it give you the edge late game? I’m not sure honestly…in a whacky draft it depends on the other sets being played. Is the draft the Urza saga block only? There are some great uncommons in those sets that might help you win the draft faster or in a more optimal strategy…it really comes down to the circumstances, but this isn’t a card you build around in a draft.
- Constructed: 4/5
- Casual: 4/5
- Limited: 3/5
- Multiplayer: 4/5
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