Kethis Combo: A quick overview
First off I would like to say this is my first of hopefully many pieces of MTG content to come. With that being said, it has been quite sometime since I have written and formatted anything so please bear with me. Critiques and advice is definitely welcome.
I wanted to touch on this deck in particular because this is something I enjoy playing. Especially when you get to watch the gears turn as you find the intricate lines of play to finish off your opponent and possibly make them tilt. Yes, We all know the combo Mox Amber, Diligent Excavator, and Kethis the Hidden Hand. You play a host of legendary spells to mill your library via Excavator's ability to the end the game by Jace, Wielder of Mysteries' static ability. What I wanted to discuss here in this piece is Flex Slots, Mulligans and sideboarding.
The best way to describe a flex spot is a spot in the deck where you usually replace a card with something that you usually don’t find in the core builds. For example, the spot I want to discuss is Ashiok, Dream Render. In previous builds of the deck I have seen that particular spot in the deck be replaced by either Another Uro, Titan’s of Nature's Wrath or Lurrus of the dream den. Both options are very reasonable and it definitely depends on how you want to advance your game-plan. I’m more of a fan of Lurrus due to its ability to allow you to play one and two CMC spells out the graveyard that are essential to advancing your game-plan a lot quicker.
Mulligans with this deck can sometimes be troublesome since it’s always not clear on what you should be keeping or throwing away. I’m going to give a few examples and breakdowns on why I decided to keep or mulligan. Again these decisions are always open for discussion and everyone has different opinions.
This hand is what we call a snap keep. I had lands all on color and that would allow me to cast everything I had in hand and anything else that would come up. Excavator on turn 2 with the follow up on turns 3 and 4 of at least 2 legendary spells is definitely a home-run and a recipe for success.
This one is a bit more on the hazy side, but it is definitely a keep. Being on-color and being able to cast spells here is important in this opener, especially on the play. I had Lazav and Emry to fuel the graveyard. I had Mox Amber to make Emry cheaper and I have Tamiyo to find important spells during the match-up. Also Tamiyo buying back pieces I may have milled with Emry is very helpful as well.
As usual being on-color and casting spells is important. However, in this case I had to put back a card. Being on the draw here, I put back a Teferi Time Raveler. So I already had combo pieces in hand and I didn’t want to put back Kethis because if I ran into an Emry, I basically would have milled six cards to fuel Kethis later on if I needed to combo out. Again, Mulligans are always open to interpretation. Don’t be afraid to discuss them!
Sideboarding with this deck is definitely a learning curve, especially since it’s a combo deck and you don’t want to board out combo pieces. I am here to share my experiences with the deck. I’m not going to give out a complete guide at this time due to not enough data and there is still so much of this MTGA Historic format that we have yet to see. However, I am going to share what I have experienced so far.
In aggro match-ups you are looking to survive the initial onslaught and stabilize as quickly as possible, turn the corner, and close the door. With that being said, I recommend boarding in the Oath of kaya, board-wipes and maybe Linvala. Yes I said Linvala, but it depends on the match-up. For example, the Elves match-up. Linvala shuts off Allosaurus Shepherd and they can’t make 5/5’s or activate any of the other Elves. In the Goblins matchup, Ashiok actually shuts off Goblin Matron and is kinda interesting. Also Maelstrom Pulse is pretty important too since they play multiples of goblins.
In control match-ups I've found your opponent realistically cannot stop you if you get them to tap out and play a few well placed Mystical Disputes along with Teferi Time Raveler. Also, Ashiok milling them is nice.
In the mirror, Linvala seems like a slam dunk since they can't activate cards like Kethis or Lazav, with Kethis being the most important. In the field of dead match-up, a well-timed Cry of the Carnarium and Maelstrom Pulse to deal with Kenrith, is definitely the right direction to go in order to close out the game quick and fast.
I hope you all can take something away from this article. Have fun and happy games. I want to give a huge shout out to Emma Handy for the advice on writing this and Yoman5 as well.
My Twitter is @jaywmtg. Feel free to write to me there if you have any questions. By the way my name is Jaren.