Phew! What a week it’s been in Magic history. I can’t remember a time this historic since I’ve been playing (at least when talking about bannings and unbannings). While this is normally a Commander-focused article, I’m going to weigh in with my thoughts on all of the bannings and unbannings and then we’ll get into my decklist for the week.
So first we had the banning of Sensei’s Divining Top in Legacy. To that, I say good riddance. Top has always annoyed me as a card. I don’t add it to many of my Commander decks because I think it’s rather annoying to watch my opponents make everyone wait right before their turn every single turn. In Legacy, in addition to the time issue Wizard’s cited as one of their reasons for banning, Top became a problem when combined with Counterbalance. I don’t have a problem with the power of Top, but it’s the time it takes up and the fact that some opponents will just top to top.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about the Gitaxian Probe restriction in Vintage. I’ve never played Vintage though and don’t have the means or really the will to do so and my experience with the format is limited to the few games I’ve watched through the Vintage Super League. I will say however that I’m not surprised since phyrexian mana and “free spells” are way too good in a format as fast as Vintage.
And then we had the Felidar Guardian whirlwind. I’ll say that I think it had to go. The Felidar Guardian/ Saheeli Rai combo was a bit too oppressive for Standard as people just aren’t supposed to die by turn 4 in what is supposed to be the most welcoming format. It felt really bad to know that on turn six you could die from an empty board. The banning of Felidar Guardian should make watching Pro Tour Amonkhet more enjoyable at least.
I really don’t like the way the ban was presented though. I was surprised to not see Felidar Guardian banned on Monday. I was even more shocked to see an emergency ban take place only two days later. I’m not sure what happened here but it looks bad. I have a hard time believing that they just looked at two days of MODO results and decided to ban it. I think it has more to do with the backlash presented from Monday’s announcement from multiple pros. (I don’t think it has anything to do with the pizza.)
I’ll also say that it looks bad to a newer player to see this many cards banned from Standard. Standard should generally be a format without a ban list. The amount of cards banned right now makes me question the Future Future League and the people that playtest the sets before they’re announced. Combos like Felidar Guardian and Saheeli Rai should never be allowed to exist and I don’t know how Emrakul was ever printed. Mindslaver effects never feel good.
Alright, enough with that. I’m here to talk about Commander. That said, there were two changes to the ban list in Commander that has been mostly overlooked thanks to all the other news from this week.
First, Leovold was hit with the ban hammer. I say, “Good riddance.” Leovold is inherently an unfun card. He clearly wants to be paired with Windfall effects which makes for a completely unfun situation since the Leovold player has just taken away all of their opponents’ ways to fight back. Even when not paired with Windfall effects he’s not particularly fun to play against. My friend Stephen wanted to build him as a Sultai Elf tribal leader but he just doesn’t seem like a fun card there either. Leovold needed to go.
Beyond that, I’m pretty excited to see the unbanning of Protean Hulk. Sure, he can combo with several creatures but I think decks can deal with him. I also think Protean Hulk could just be a nice deterrent to board wipes once you’ve built a board.
Now, onto that sweet Kefnet the Mindful deck…
In order to be able to attack with our commander, we’re going to need to have at least seven cards in our hand at all times. Apparently that’s Kefnet’s thing. Therefore, obviously, the first thing this deck wants is plenty of ways to draw cards. Fortunately, Commander has plenty of card drawing options and I get to play some of the best. I’m running my favorite all-knowing wizard, Arcanis the Omnipotent. Blue Sun’s Zenith is another great way to draw cards because it will shuffle back into your library.
Other than mass card draw, every card in this deck is focused on adding cards to our hand. Kami of the Crescent Moon and Dictate of Kruphix, for example, not only help us fuel up, they hopefully will make friends around the table as they end up drawing cards for our opponents as well. Consecrated Sphinx is still the strongest mono blue creature in Commander (suck it Deadeye Navigator). Treasure Cruise will draw us three cards and Tamiyo, the Moon Sage can put a whole lot of cards in our hand in one go. Finally, Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur will ensure that we draw seven cards every turn.
Benefits for Drawing Cards
With all this card draw, I wanted to add some cards that synergize with merely the fact that we’re drawing so much. Psychosis Crawler will deal our opponents damage every time we draw a card while Venser’s Journal will start gaining us life every turn during our upkeep. Archmage Ascension seems insanely powerful because we will often be drawing more than two cards a turn, and once there are six counters on Archmage Ascension, we can search up Laboratory Maniac or whatever and finish drawing the rest of our deck. I didn’t include Enter the Infinite even though I could have since I decided that was just too easy. I would like to win the game with Laboratory Maniac at least a few times with this deck though.
Chasm Skulker is another fun card to play and can get out of hand rather quickly. When one of our opponents finally destroys the Skulker, we could easily have enough islandwalk creatures to kill our fellow blue players. Jushi Apprentice will start by drawing us one card a turn and once flipped will either double the number of cards in our hand or start milling our opponents out.
Finally, we need to make sure we don’t get punished for drawing too many cards by needing to discard down to a pathetic seven cards at the end of the turn. I’ve added several ways to bypass the maximum handsize rule, from the Commander mainstay Reliquary Tower, to the new Thought Vessel, to the old school Library of Leng.
Of course, Kefnet’s ability to draw cards isn’t the only line of text on him. The new blue God also allows you to return a land you control to your hand, but only if you have a land you want to reset. Luckily, there’re several cool lands that have ETB triggers we’d like to return with Kefnet’s ability. We can recycle Lonely Sandbar or Remote Isle. We can bounce Tolaria West so that we can then transmute it. Halimar Depths will help us find whatever we’re looking for off the top of our deck. We can keep something locked down for multiple turns with Skyline Cascade. Vesuva will give us a copy of whatever land we like most from our opponent’s boards. Oboro, Palace in the Clouds, while it doesn’t really add anything per se to the deck, seems like a land that’s best friends with Kefnet.
Finally, along with having lands to reuse, I’ve also included several landfall effects to get even more value out of our land drops. Roil Elemental will steal our opponents creatures. Retreat to Coralhelm will either give us some scry power or tap or untap creatures in order to either tap down a blocker or untap to give one of our creatures pseudo-vigilance. Guardian of Tazeem can help to control the board as he locks down some of our opponent’s problematic creatures.
I also wanted to play a few cards that let us unload a lot of these extra lands in our hands. The most obvious of these is Patron of the Moon, which will enable us to vomit all the extra lands from our hand onto the board. Walking Atlas is also nice since he can ramp us in the early game and then return the land that Kefnet put into our hand in the latter parts of the game. Terrain Generator can also put basics clogging our hand back into play once.
Finally, we’ve got to pay devotion to the various gods in our Commander deck. In addition to playing Kefnet’s Monument, we’ve also got to pay homage to the other monoblue god, Thassa, God of the Sea. Being able to play the deck with the other god at the helm was a goal of these builds, and while Thassa and Kefnet don’t really have a whole lot of overlap, I’ve gone and added some Thassa-specific cards to make her feel at home. In go Thassa’s Ire and Bident of Thassa.
There you have it. The rest of the deck is either more card draw or just good valuable blue creatures and spells to make sure we can close out the game and attack with our crane god. I hope you all enjoyed reading about this deck. I’ve now built an Oketra deck and a Kefnet deck. Up next we have Bontu the Glorified dog god deck. Until next week, I hope you have a doggone good week.