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Kethis's Legendary Brews | $50, $100 | Budget Commander


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It's Gonna Be Legen .. Wait For It ... Dary!

Hey friends, it's Tomer, and welcome back to Budget Commander! Today we demo one of the most Legendary commanders out there: Kethis, the Hidden Hand. Kethis is an Elf with expensive taste: he loves Legendaries! But he doesn't discriminate on types of legendaries: creatures, enchantments, artifacts, lands, sorceries, planeswalkers -- Kethis loves 'em all equally. Kethis rewards you for playing Legendaries by letting you cast them for 1 mana less and also letting you play legendaries from your graveyard by exiling two other legendary cards. This combination of ramp and recursion is an amazing rate for just a 3cmc commander!

 Kethis isn't the only Abzan card that cares specifically about legendaries: one of the blocks in Magic's history, Kamigawa, had Legendary Tribal as a main theme, giving us a bunch of powerful Legendary support cards like Champion's Helm and Reki, the History of Kamigawa. There's also one of the most powerful Legendary support cards in existence, Captain Sisay, the mega tutor, although she is quite pricey. Then Dominaria brought back Legendaries as a main theme, giving us three of the most powerful cards in any Legendary deck: the legendary sorceries Urza's Ruinous Blast, Primevals' Glorious Rebirth, and Kamahl's Druidic Vow. These huge nukes serve as the ultimate reward for filling a deck with legendaries, and each one can singlehandedly turn a game in your favor!

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All of these are under a buck!

Filling Out With Subthemes

So yeah, there's some really powerful payoffs for focusing on Legendary Tribal as a main theme! Unfortunately, however, there's not enough of these amazing Legendary payoffs to fill an entire Abzan deck, so I'd encourage adding at least one subtheme as well to fill out the deck. There are over 580 legendary cards in Abzan colors to choose from and there's a huge variety of archetypes they promote. After poring over all the available legendaries and lumping them into archetypes, some of the best themes to focus on for Kethis would be:

You might have noticed that there's plenty of cards that support multiple archetypes. It's definitely possible to smoosh multiple archetypes together here when reasonable!

No matter what direction you take the deck, however, you can smooth things out considerably with a Self-Mill / Graveyard package. Cards like Satyr Wayfinder and Buried Alive allow you to tap into the powerful recursion potential of Kethis, the Hidden Hand while also setting up big haymakers like Primevals' Glorious Rebirth.

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Two Budget Directions: Goodstuff & Combo

While there's no shortage of legendary cards to choose from, many of them happen to be quite expensive. It's difficult to fill an entire deck full of legendary cards that also have a tight, focused strategy at the high power level that I usually aim for with these Budget Commander articles. Focusing too strongly on a specific archetype will require you to pick up some expensive key cards, and the card pool isn't big enough to easily replace them without sacrificing too much power or watering the deck down. I spent a lot of time trying to cobble together a $50 Superfriends deck that I was proud of but alas, it's just impossible. In the end, however, I settled on two unique builds that I'm quite proud of: Goodstuff and Combo! So instead of the usual article where I build one deck at multiple price points, I'm going to cover two distinct Kethis decks that function well at just $50!

 

Kethis Goodstuff

The first list is Legendary Goodstuff. As mentioned earlier, while the legendary cards in Abzan have some well-supported archetypes, there's a ton of overlapping synergies between them. By embracing multiple overlapping archetypes instead of focusing on just a single one, we have more than enough powerful yet affordable cards to fill our entire deck with. The end result is this $50 Kethis Goodstuff list. 

This deck is a Control list that is looking to grind out the rest of the table over a long game. It combines multiple archetypes -- +1/+1 Counters, Sacrifice, Self-Mill, Recursion, and Superfriends -- into a cohesive whole, with the overarching Legendary archetype tying it all together. Our high concentration of legendary cards allows us to take full advantage of Legendary payoff cards like Kethis but also card draw with Reki, the History of Kamigawa, efficient tutoring with Time of Need, insane assymetrical nuke with Urza's Ruinous Blast, and awesome mass recursion with Primevals' Glorious Rebirth. +1/+1 Counters from Ajani, the Greathearted and Shalai, Voice of Plenty not just beef up our creatures but also help us ramp with Rishkar, Peema Renegade and Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter. The Lifegain from Kambal, Consul of Allocation and Oath of Kaya fuel powerful the removal ability of Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim and let us draw all the cards with Necrologia.

The deck is absolutely loaded with ramp, card draw, interaction, and a silly amount of tutors to make sure we always have the right card for the right situation. The deck is a slow grind, out-valuing all our opponents while shutting them down with removal.

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The $100 list does the exact same thing as the $50 list but is faster, more powerful, and more consistent.

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Kethis Spirit Combo

This second Kethis brew is basically the opposite of the previous deck: instead of being a Goodstuff deck filled with good cards, this is more like Badstuff. Our deck is filled with bad, overcosted legendary spirits like Patron of the Nezumi and Kuro Pitlord. So why? Why is this deck filled with Kamigawa trash?

The answer lies in our secret commander: Iname, Death Aspect

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Iname, Death Aspect is a relatively unknown card in Commander, but its ability is incredibly potent: when Iname enters the battlefield, we can search our library for any number of Spirit cards and put them in our graveyard. That's like a mega Buried Alive for Spirits. Since our deck is loaded with Spirits, we'll cast Iname, Death Aspect and dump them all into our graveyard. After that, we mass reanimate all our legendary spirits with Primevals' Glorious Rebirth, Living Death, or Twilight's Call. We now have a giant army and win with combat. We can even clear out all opposing blockers with the combination of Kuro, Pitlord and Horobi, Death's Wail, making Kuro's ability instantly lethal. Or we can just win the game on our upkeep with Mortal Combat. Whatever works!

This deck is just a dumb Combo deck. All it wants to do is tutor up Iname, Death's Aspect and a way to win the game with a graveyard full of Spirits. Considering our obscene amount of tutoring and card draw, we can assemble our Combo alarmingly fast and catch people off-guard. When it works, you just win the game. When it doesn't, well ... pray you manage to survive to try again. We still have ramp, interaction, and recursion to try this combo a few times per game. Like I said, it's the total opposite of the Goodstuff deck: win fast or pray you can win later on.

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The $100 is much the same, just with better mana, better tutors, and better Spirits. Kokusho, the Evening Star is among the best spirits to reanimate, sacrifice, and reanimate again! 

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CEDH Kethis

While researching this article, I came across a sweet cedh list on tappedout by user shadowmage: check it out here!

Shadowmage's list is a focused Combo deck, looking to execute three combos:

  1. The main combo involves Kethis, the Hidden Hand + a way to dump your entire library into the graveyard (Hermit Druid in a deck with zero basic lands) + a graveyard with a bunch of legendaries including Gaea's Cradle, Mox Amber, and others. It takes minimal setup and very little mana to pull off, however the required combo pieces alone cost over $500.
  2. The backup combo involves Melira, Sylvok Outcast, Lesser Masticore, Disciple of the Vault, and Viscera Seer. Sacrifice Masticore to the Seer, triggering Disciple to ping. Masticore comes back due to persist, but doesn't get a -1/-1 counter thanks to Melira. You can do this infinite times for infinite Disciple pings. You can assemble the entire combo off Protean Hulk and a sac outlet. All the pieces of this combo can be purchased for under $15. You also have some flexibility with this combo, such as replacing Melira for Renata, Called to the Hunt or replacing Seer with any other free sac outlet, but you may not be able to fetch them all up with Hulk.
  3. The final combo involves Phyrexian Altar, Eternal Witness, Unearth, and Bitter Ordeal. Sacrifice Witness to the Altar, floating B. Spend the B to cast Unearth, returning Witness, which returns Unearth back to hand. Repeat this infinite times for infinite ETB/LTB triggers, winning numerous ways such as Zulaport Cutthroat or Bitter Ordeal. The pieces of this combo can be as low as $30.

So if you're looking to add some extra punch to your Kethis, the Hidden Hand deck, I'd highly consider adding one or more of these combos and making them the focus of your deck! The combos range in price from as low as $15 to as high as $500+, but all of them win the game immediately. Thank you shadowmage for the sweet list!

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Card Options

I'm playing around with the format a bit this time. Deck samples at the top, and card options following. Since we are a Legendary deck, my card recommendations rate legendary cards higher than usual but I try to be balanced with the suggestions.

 

Lands

We're a 3-color deck and Kethis, the Hidden Hand requires all three colors of mana to cast on turn 3. That means mana-fixing is our highest priority: budget versions are going to rely on mana-fixing lands that enter tapped (Sandsteppe Citadel) and some gems that enter untapped (Tainted Field) while bigger budgets will focus on the expensive staples like fetches (Marsh Flats) and shocks (Temple Garden).

There are plenty of legendary lands out there. Most of them don't contribute much to the deck outside of being legendary, which makes them great fodder for Kethis's ability. The good ones enter the battlefield untapped and tap for at least one color of mana. There is one exception to this guideline, though: Boseiju, Who Shelters All, whose utility is so good that it's worth all the downsides. Kor Haven is another one that comes with a minor downside (no colored mana) but great utility. Other than that, random legendary lands like Flagstones of Trokair and Shizo, Death's Storehouse will almost never have their utility be relevant in a game, but their drawbacks are so minimal that's it's very much worth running them just as graveyard fodder for Kethis.

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Ramp

We don't have too many legendary cards that ramp, but there are some great ones such as Azusa, Lost but Seeking, Selvala, Explorer Returned, Honor-Worn Shaku, and the busted Mox Amber. We also have Rishkar, peeme Renegade and Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter playing off +1/+1 Counters, and also some planeswalkers that ramp too (Garruk Wildspeaker).

Fret not at the lack of options, however: no matter what you're budget, we're still in Green, so we're spoiled with fantastic options like Rampant Growth and friends.

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Removal

There is no shortage of fine legendary removal. We can control graveyards with Tymaret, Chosen from Death and Anafenza, the Foremost, wipe the board with Kagemaro, First to Suffer, pick off creatures with The Wanderer or nonland permanents with Vraska the Unseen, just tons of options here. Urza's Ruinous Blast is a downright silly card.

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Card Draw

Reki, the History of Kamigawa is obviously a staple in any Legendary Tribal deck, but the true hero of our deck has got to be Necrologia. This card has singlehandedly turned losing games around for me, drawing 10+ cards, filling my hand with amazing removal / recursion while also filling my graveyard with fuel to recur later or use with Kethis. Seriously the card is nuts.

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Recursion

Lots of sweet legendary recursion options here: Primevals' Glorious Rebirth is the best of the best, but there's also Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle, Storrev, Devkarin Lich, Saffi Eriksdotter, Loyal Retainers, etc.

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Tutors

Our deck excels at tutors like no other. Not only do we have amazing Black tutors (Demonic Tutor), amazing Green tutors (Eladamri's Call), but also amazing Legendary tutors (Time of Need)! Oh and since we're a Graveyard deck, all the graveyard tutors (Gravebreaker Lamia) are nuts here too!

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Protection

What type of protection you'll want to run depends on your meta. Up against a lot of countermagic? Dragonlord Dromoka. Getting shut down by targeted removal? Shalai, Voice of Plenty. Opponents doing degenerate things with activated creature abilities? Linvala, Keeper of Silence.

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Self-Mill

Kethis, the Hidden Hand definitely benefits from some amount of self-mill. You can go deep with it and make it a primary focus like CEDH versions of the deck with Hermit Druid. Or you can use it "fair" and just run some stuff like Satyr Wayfinder.

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Random Tomer Pile

When I research this deck, I dump all the cards I consider interesting into one freeform deck list. Then when I form categories I move those cards over that fit. These are the remaining stuff that don't really fit in other categories and I didn't feel like making a billion categories to fit them all.

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Gameplay Footage

Interested in seeing the deck in action? Check out this recording of me playing it on a Twitch stream!

 

That's All, Folks!

I hope you enjoyed this take on Kethis, the Hidden Hand! Legendary Tribal was a tough one to figure out on a $50 budget but I'm happy with the results. As always, let me know in the comments section what commander you'd like to see covered in a future episode! Thanks for reading! 



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