Cube Card Spotlight: Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful

Hachiko, the inspiration for Yoshimaru

    Welcome into the Cube Card Spotlight where I focus on singles. Each installment will highlight the function of the card, its application in game, the archetype it supports, and a special section. The special section will touch on interactions that did not make it into the other sections, possible alternatives (Might not be present for all cards), and any differentiated application for multiplayer if any. The card names in bold are cards that synergize with the topic card.

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For those who want a quick run down of the post. 

Archetypes: Aggro, Tempo, Legends Matter

Synergies: Kari Zev, Skyship Raider| Karakas| Zurgo Bellstriker| Ragavan,Nimble Pilferer| Lae'zel, Vlaakith's Champion

Special Notes: N/A

Alternative: N/A


Yoshimaru has been a card that I haven't seen the cube community talk too much about and even the commander community has been pretty quiet about this card. This could be to blame on WotC for creating so much product making it difficult to keep track or really explore these cards. Having just finished my post release articles on NEO, Yoshimaru is a card I wanted to give more attention to as I think it is way more playable than it looks. I envisioned that the card would generally be a 2/2 with each counter afterwards being pure gravy. This would have put it on par with Isamaru, which is one of the stronger 1 drops that's been a long time cube card. 

The card has impressed my playgroup as every time it has been played it's been something that needed to be dealt with. Yoshimaru has generally been a 3/3 or 4/4 rather than the expected 2/2 with the largest I've had it being a 5/5 that would have kept growing had the game not ended. The changes to planeswalkers making them all legendary and the printing of the highly playable NEO channel lands has been a boon for this card, in game, this has no issues growing big at all. In addition, my cube composition is about 20%  legendary cards, which statistically means that each of my drafters' decks will have a decent density. 


Kari Zev is one of the best cards to pair with Yoshimaru as it spawns a legendary Ragavan token every turn she swings. This means when they are on the field together, Yoshimaru will grow from playing Kari Zev and from Kari Zev attacking. Alone, Kari Zev can guarantee that Yoshimaru will get bigger than a 2/2.

Karakas has a similar function to Kari Zev when played alongside Yoshimaru. As a legendary land, you are able to play this to trigger Yoshimaru. What's more important is that Karakas can be used to bounce legendary creatures to rebuy their ETBs, protect them, and use them to retrigger Yoshimaru. Strong synergies between the two.

Zurgo Bellstriker and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer are great alongside Yoshimaru in aggro decks. As other 1 drops, you can curve out into a larger turn 2 Yoshimaru. They aren't terrible later in the game either. The important factor part of both cards is the dash. This allows them to enter and reenter the battlefield growing Yoshimaru and sneaking in an extra creature.

Lae'zel, Vlaakith's Champion has good synergy with Yoshimaru. When played after Yoshimaru, she will grant 2 +1/+1 counters thanks to her ability and will trigger Yoshimaru. Subsequently, the ability will help Yoshimaru grow faster. 


Unfortunately/ Fortunately for Yoshimaru does not really have anything unique going on for it other than being a reward piece for playing a large number of legendaries, this relegates it to the merits of its stats. Being a 1 drop with the potential to grow does make it a consideration for aggro decks and tempo decks. Interestingly, I have managed to have some success with it in midrange builds. Despite all this, the lack of an ability narrows its applications. 


 Aggro decks are looking to play on curve to overwhelm their opponents before they can stabilize. The aggro players are playing creatures and backing them up with cards that either slow down your opponents or boost your creature's capabilities. Based on the color combination of the aggro decks, they will have different tools to close out games. I have a guide that goes more indepth with aggro with Boros as the framework

 Yoshimaru being a white 1 drop with the potential to grow makes him a great fit for an aggressive deck. To start, the baseline for the card is pretty bad being 1/1, however the chances of a deck not having any legendary card is really low. As mentioned already, being able to get this card to 2/2 is already good enough for the purposes of aggro. Should it get any bigger than this card is going to be a nightmare. This is easily achieved as many of the better cards are actually legendary, especially if you are playing in Boros. You will have access to Zurgo Bellstriker, Ragavan, Kytheon, and Isamaru. That's already 4 one drops. Looking beyond that there's Loran, Thalia, and all of your planeswalkers. Playing him in other colors may not yield as good of results, but as long as he often becomes a 2/2, he's earned his spot.


Tempo decks are looking to leverage efficient threats to whittle down your opponent's life while invalidating their plays. These decks will feel similar to Aggro decks as they are focused on the same ideas. What differentiates the decks is that tempo decks have a heavier emphasis on disrupting your opponent. This comes with the price of holding up mana to threaten playing removal, which can be mitigated by playing more instant speed cards such as Vendillion Clique or Resolute Reinforcement. Going further, cards that function as both disruption and a creature are especially good as they advance the board state of the tempo player while hampering the game plan of the opponent. This is typically why tempo decks are Blue/x as they have more ways to deal with your opponents without falling behind in terms of mana usage.

Much like in aggro, Yoshimaru thrives as it can grow just from playing legendaries. Managing to get it to a 2/2 or a 3/3 is more than enough to carry you to finishing the game. Assuming you are playing with blue, it won't grow as fast or consistently as with Boros since you'll be running a higher number of noncreature card, which tend to not be legendary permanents. Fortunately, this is also the color that gets to play with cards like Venser and similar cards. 

Legendary Matters

These decks are receiving more support and I think there is enough cards here to make it a full fledge archetype in cube. The decks are similar to creature tribal deck but are instead focuses on the legendary supertype. It's primarily white based as many of the reward/support pieces are in white/x. When mixing with the other colors, they have different takes on how they make the legendary matters with Orzhov (White/Black) having the deepest choices.

Yoshimaru will just be a reward piece for playing an abundance of legendaries. Nothing too special here.

Commander Cube Considerations

 When viewing it from the lens of a commander cube, Yoshimaru does suffer a bit moving from the traditional environment into the commander environment for one big reason. The reason is that the card wants to be in an aggressive shell. Commander discourages aggressive play because you need to deal at minimum 120 damage or 63 commander damage to 3 players. This is a difficult thing to achieve as you want to be quickly killing off your opponents because they can respond to your threats. When viewing as just another card to be played in the deck. I would strongly recommend against it as there are better cards to play, but it has other factors that make it worth taking a look at.

This card will be worth considering simply because it is a legendary creature. This will always allow it to be something worth considering as the card will always have the option of acting as a monocolor commander. What's more is that the partner text is relevant as Yoshimaru is able to partner up with other partner commanders. The card is sweet as a build around voltron commander when paired with Bruse Tarl or Jeska, Thrice Reborn. Its uses my seem limited but the partner will keep the card around as a serious consideration.

The End Step

Yoshimaru has been more impactful than I initially anticipated. Just a little bit before I wrote my kamigawa articles, I was able to cube with my playgroup with the winning deck always having a huge Yoshimaru. This reinvigorated my desire to share my experience with the card and hoping others do the same. 

Outside of blog writing, I've been also working on my YouTube channel running a general magic podcast with my friends and making YouTube shorts about cube. It's been an interesting endeavor and I plan on continue working on it, but I don't find it as enjoyable as writing these articles for a variety of reasons. If you want to take a look, just click this link here.

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