Meta Watch: To Yurk or Not to Yurk
Each time new cards from the upcoming Age of Ascention set are spoiled, debates begin over the perceived usefulness of each. After all, we all want to be in as good a competitive position as possible once the new set drops. One of the most debated of these cards has been Yurk, and its elder companions Old Yurk and Ancient Yurk:
These cards have received a lot of criticism, with many arguing the forced discard is more often going to hurt you than help. While “Play: Discard x card(s)” may not be the sexiest ability to date, I think we should be careful not to dismiss the Yurks so easily, it may be worthwhile to re-evaluate how we think about discard, especially with some of the shifts we might be seeing in the metagame with the release of AoA.
In games where you are drawing a fixed number of cards per turn, having to discard them is almost always a downside, giving you fewer cards to play on your next turn and generally limiting your options. However, when you are refilling your hand to six cards (or seven or eight, thanks Mother!) ever turn, discarding can actually prove highly valuable. Think about all of the times you have been stuck with a Psychic Network with no friendly Mars creatures, a Coward’s End while you’re ahead on the board, or a Dimension door… just in general…
These cards often rot in your hand until you can call that house just to discard them, losing major tempo and effectively chaining you as long as you are picking other houses. Sadly, up until now there hasn’t really been a good way to dispose of these cards. This is where my good friends the Yurks come in. While discarding three cards will often be pretty tough to swallow (sorry Ancient Yurk), I think the ability to discard one or two mediocre plays clogging up your hand is going to prove extremely valuable in the next set amidst a meta that only seems to be getting faster and faster. As long as the major competitive field is flush with rush and combo decks, winning is going to be all about drawing the right answers at the right times as frequently as possible, and the ability to discard poorly timed draws and all-around bricks will prove more valuable than it may seem at first glance.
The ability to sculpt your hand is not the only benefit I see to discarding in AoA, however. With the introduction of cards like Shard of Life, Exhume, and Song of Spring, it seems like we’ll be seeing a lot more interaction with the discard pile than we had in CoA (although it is worth noting that Arise! is rotating out, so we are also losing one of the major pieces of discard interaction we did have previously).
The addition of more discard interaction is going to change the way a lot of decks are played, encouraging some choices that might seem counterintuitive in the current meta. For example, imagine drawing this hand in the early game, few if any creatures on the board, no keys forged:
Clearly, you have some problems. Perhaps chief among them being the two, two, two spread across houses. On top of that, because it’s early in the game, there isn’t any damage on the board to capitalize on Oharna’s ability, and you don’t want to block yourself off from playing creature cards by putting down Grommid. Perhaps worst of all, because your opponent has no keys forged, Sample Collection is an entirely dead card. It’s a textbook case of cards that could be quite impactful (or at least decent) being drawn at the wrong time. Thankfully, you’ve got some discard interaction that can help you. If you go dis, you can play your lifeward and Ancient Yurk, discarding Sample Collection, Oharna, and Grommid, and saving the Shard of Life to bring back Oharna when she’ll be a bit more useful. Now, rather than having to trudge through two or three turns of low-tempo play, you’ve gotten yourself down to just one card, allowing you to draw five at the end of your turn to hopefully get some better early-game plays.
This is admittedly a carefully-sculpted example to prove my point, but I’m sure you can imagine some similar situations you’ve been stuck in. While I don’t want to say the Yurks are going to be the next Control the Weak or Bait and Switch, I encourage you to give them a chance when you see them pop up on your AoA decks, their value just might surprise you.