Combo off with Kethis, the Hidden Hand

Meet Kethis, the Hidden Hand

Kethis, the Hidden Hand is the center of Standar’s most exciting strategy
  • Effect of Card: Legendary spells you cast cost (1) less to cast. Exile two legendary cards from your graveyard: Until end of turn, each legendary card in your graveyard gains “You may play this card from your graveyard.”
  • Converted Mana Cost: 3
  • Type: Legendary Creature – Elf Advisor
  • Sets: Core Set 2020

Okay… There is a ton to unpack here. Kethis, the Hidden Hand is, first and foremost, a nice creature. For three mana (albeit of three different colors) it provides a 3/4 body. Not insane by itself, but no slouch, and more than big enough to defend the battlefield while you’re setting the game up.

More importantly come the Hidden Hand’s two lines of text:

  1. The first makes Legendary spells — including not only creatures by Planeswalkers and big endgame stuff like Urza’s Ruinous Blast cheaper.
  2. The second is a kind of card drawing engine, provided you have sufficient Legendary cards and a way to stock your graveyard.

Diligent Excavator + Kethis, the Hidden Hand

By itself, Kethis, the Hidden Hand might have been able to drive a serviceable midrange deck. After all, its power and toughness are full-on “okay” for its casting cost, and if you have enough Legendary cards… It can do some good grinding.

But combined with Diligent Excavator and Mox Amber, this Elf Advisor can weave some legen — wait for it — dary game states.

Diligent Excavator sets up Kethis.

Unassuming in the abstract, Diligent Excavator makes for an extremely cost-efficient source of self-Mill. If you have this card in play, you can Mill yourself for zero — zero mana — using a [Legendary] Mox Amber. Go ahead and tap that Mox for a mana.

When you play another one, you will not only Mill yourself again, but the Legend Rule will put your original Mox Amber into the graveyard; you know, where you can cast it again using the Hidden Hand’s shenanigans.

Between these cards and a discount on Oath of Kaya, the Standard Kethis Combo deck can play for a Storm-like recurring Fireball plan, grind the opponent out with card advantage, or mold a plan to the other mage’s specific configuration.

Sure, there are ways to nerf the graveyard, but this deck plays Teferi, Time Raveler to bounce a Leyline of the Void, and conventional disruption like Duress is a little blunted (most of the combo pieces being creatures); as is creature removal (stuff like Cast Down is rather poor against all the Legends).

In sum: Awesome!

Stay Tuned for…

The best of the rest. We talk everything from Grixis Control to innovations in Golos for Field of the Dead. Standard is so dynamic nowadays! Enjoy!

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What Makes Bomberman Our Favorite Legacy Deck?

Modern Horizons in… Legacy?

Modern Horizons didn’t stop at just terraforming, you know, the Modern landscape with its Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis decks. Legacy is just staring to feel the impacts of this powerful new set.

Wrenn and Six is an amazing addition to Temur Delver. You thought Wrenn and Six plus Wooded Foothills was cute? Try Wrenn and Six plus Wasteland.

Wasteland

Wasteland puts itself into the graveyard, which is convenient for Wrenn and Six card advantage.

If you have these two cards working, the opponent will have to draw a land a turn just to keep pace. But of course an opponent who is drawing land every turn is kind of likely to fall behind, anyway. This new combo makes Temur Delver and Lands more powerful than ever.

What kind of world do we live in where there is an all-new Mono-Blue Urza, Lord High Artificer deck and it doesn’t come close to being our favorite.

Meet Bomberman.

Key Bomberman Combinations

Auriok Salvagers and Lion’s Eye Diamond make infinite mana.

With Auriok Salvagers on the battlefield you can play Lion’s Eye Diamond and sacrifice it for WWW.

1W of that WWW is used to retrieve the Lion’s Eye Diamond from the graveyard, netting the Bomberman one mana. You can do this over and over again, making any amount of mana.

So what do you do with all that white?

Walking Ballista
A Walking Ballista of literally any size is at Bomberman’s fingertips.
Monastery Mentor
How do you feel about any number of 1/1 Monk tokens… And any number of prowess triggers?

Bomberman can do this super quick, too!

Imagine this were your opening hand:

  1. City of Traitors
  2. Mox Opal
  3. Lotus Petal
  4. Lion’s Eye Diamond
  5. Auriok Salvagers
  6. [something]
  7. [something else]

You can play out City of Traitors, Mox Opal, Lotus Petal, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. The latter three cards (in total) give you metalcraft, allowing you to cast the Auriok Salvagers by sacrificing the Lotus Petal. So yeah, the Mox is “off” for at least a second, and Lotus Petal is gone to the graveyard.

But hey! You have an Auriok Salvagers. Now just sacrifice the Lion’s Eye Diamond and go off for infinite mana like we discussed, above. You’ll have to discard your last two cards, but if one is a Walking Ballista, no problem! You can get that back. Even a simple Mishra’s Bauble can draw you a lot of your deck, provided you piggyback off of the preceding infinite mana engine.

But yeah. First turn infinite mana. AND numerous backup plans.

Hear all about the recent developments in Legacy here:

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Why Leyline of the Void is the Most Popular Card in Modern

Leyline of the Void

Leyline of the Void was the most played card of Mythic Championship IV

Many decks played four copies of Leyline of the Void… Even if they couldn’t normally tap for black mana.

The winning “Mono-Green” Tron deck only has basic Forest for color-producing lands… But still ran the full play set. On the one hand, it can actually cast Leyline with Chromatic Star and Chromatic Sphere… On the other hand, “Plan A” is to drop the Leyline for free on turn zero.

There is some risk to the potential reward to playing a card you can’t cast… But there was a big enough problem at Mythic Championship IV to warrant so many.

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis

Hogaak is a Real Problem in Modern

Almost immediately after it was printed, we asked if Hogaak should be banned.

With a Mythic Championship in the books… We’re even more certain!

There was only one Hogaak deck in the Top 8, but the card / deck(s) / strategy did remarkably well anyway. “Hogaak” was the most popular pure archetype in the tournament (at about twice the popularity of Izzet Phoenix)… And “Hogaak Dredge” was essentially the top performer on Modern record. (Remember: mixed format Mythic Championship Top 8s are heavily influenced by Limited records).

Of all the decks that went 8-2 or better, more than half played the Modern Horizons monster! More than half!

It’s crazy to think, but Hogaak was a top performer even with Leyline of the Void as the most popular card in the tournament… And that doesn’t even consider the popularity of alternatives like Nihil Spellbomb, Tormod’s Crypt, or Surgical Extraction.

The heavy anti-graveyard attitude of this Modern tournament looks to have been instrumental in holding down the former best archetype. It used to be industry standard to bring in Rest in Peace against Phoenix. Now folks have all four Leyline of the Voids… and might have two or three main deck!

The combination of open deck lists and so many anti-graveyard hate cards — not to mention the London Mulligan — made for some unusual incentives.

And again… Hogaak still performed great.

Where Does Modern Go from Here?

We predict “Tree of Tales”-level bannings. Tree of Tales never hurt anyone; all it ever did was cast the Oxidize that helped contain the Affinity menace… But Tree of Tales was close enough to the actual villains of the format that it got swept up in the bans.

So who should get the veritable Lightning Axe?

Faithless Looting – Is this card the real problem? It’s not just played in Hogaak and Hogaak Dredge, but Izzet Phoenix, Mono-Red Phoenix, and more.

Ancient Stirrings – If you’re going to ban Faithless Looting, it’s tough to justify keeping Ancient Stirrings… Especially given the winner of this Mythic Championship. Alongside the London Mulligan, Ancient Stirrings makes assembling turn three Tron just a little too consistent.

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis – Hogaak itself, because we fear that just cutting Faithless Looting wouldn’t be enough!

… Izzet Phoenix would be a key winner with such changes; but this might just be setting up a domination of Urza-Thopter-Sword. Is the answer Mox Opal?

Lots to unpack this week.

We hit on Jund, Phoenix variants, and how much of a problem Wrenn and Six will be. Check it out!

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