Yosei, the Morning Star
– Champions of Kamigawa
Date Reviewed: July 15, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.75
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Some time ago, we re-reviewed the best member of the Kamigawa spirit dragons, and this being a loose dragon-themed set seemed like a reasonable time to go back and look at who generally is seen as the cycle’s second-best member. Amusing that the best of the dragons weren’t in the “usual” Dragon color, but here we are.
Yosei, the Morning Star has become notorious for his lock effect doing rude things to opponents; you basically freeze someone out of the game for an entire turn, because tapping 5 of their things and making them not untap at all is decent at putting most board states on ice. He’s also a decent enough body as-is, an evasive creature able to swoop early and often, but what makes him rude is that he’s very much a creature your opponents likely would prefer to not have die. There are ways to handle him, sure, but Yosei demands more precise answers for an opponent to not have a very bad time on their next turn, and there are plenty of cards to get Yosei good and dead if you feel like it’s time. (Like Minsc from earlier this week, amusingly enough.)
Unlike Kokusho, who tends to be more aggressive about ending games with reanimator loops, Yosei likes to slow things to a crawl in retribution, while still presenting a decent clock as-is. He’s not immune to removal, but he’ll make an opponent think long and hard about it. I think he’s not quite there in Modern; he’s not quite the finisher they want, but he’s terrorized many other tables, so it’s all worth it.
Limited: 5 (all 5 of the spirit dragons are massive bombs)
Multiplayer: 4 (you only get to lock down one player, but Yosei offers lots of political intrigue)
We’ve gotten so used to creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities in recent years that it’s easy to forget that there’s another (and much older) way to be resistant against removal: do something to the opponent when they die. All the Kamigawa dragons have strong examples of that, but Yosei is particularly nasty – in many circumstances, his trigger is awfully close to Time Walk. Indeed, there were decks in his Standard era that basically used him as a repeatable Time Walk, with cards like Greater Good to sacrifice him at will and Zombify to return him to play. While Kokusho is considered the most powerful of the cycle because he ends the game fastest and his unique wording devastates multiplayer tables, Yosei can be absolutely monstrous against an opponent who lacks certain kinds of answers.
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