Kaervek, the Merciless: it’s not my fault you’re dead

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DirkGently
My wins are unconditional
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Post by DirkGently » 1 year ago

Kaervek has been one of my favorite experiments. The initial thought was basically - Kaervek is frustrating to play against because whenever you cast spells, he wrecks your day, motivating you to kill him ASAP. But what if you could make casting spells while Kaervek was alive a GOOD thing? Would Kaervek stop being a target for removal? Would he stop looking like an obstacle, and start looking like a tool to be abused rather than feared?

So the basic plan was: Let he who casts the spell, choose the targets.

There have been three addendums to this rule:

1 - If the spell screws me over - by killing kaervek, destroying my mana, discarding my hand, dealing me damage, etc - then I will choose the targets as I see fit, usually with intent to screw the caster over as much as possible. This is open to some interpretation when it comes to global effects like board wipes, which might be positive or negative depending on what my opponents are doing, but generally you know when you're doing something that's going to piss me off. Almost anything you're doing that's improving your own board position will not fall afoul of this rule - draw, ramp, tutor, whatever, it's all good. Just don't mess with me.

2 - I will not target anything that would be a very bad choice. Kaervek won't kill himself, unless there's some reason why that might be necessary (such as a control magic being played on him). He won't target me. He won't target a player with No Mercy unless it's for lethal, he won't target a phyrexian obliterator, etc. If you absolutely refuse to choose a target - which I can't legally make you do, since you don't actually control the ability and it's technically my choice...screw you for not playing along with Kaervek's "fun". You can eat all that damage all day long, you boring sod, until you either start playing the game or die abstaining.

3 - If the game is ending, or about to end, I will take the reins. When it's 1v1, I choose all targets, naturally. If I see a window to win the game, I'm going to take it. If you cast zealous conscripts with a kiki-jiki on-board, I will use Kaervek to prevent the game from ending by killing kiki. If you're killing the last other player bringing it to a 1v1 game I can't possible hope to win, I'll also prevent that from happening - though this is a somewhat grey area.

I've found this deck is actually quite a bit of very rakdos-y fun, and possibly the most fun deck I've ever constructed (I still hold up Phelddagrif as the best deck I've ever constructed, though). It speeds game up immensely, and it wins a pretty frequent number of games. It's certainly not without its weaknesses - it's very reliant on the commander - but when it does its thing, it can be very amusing watching my opponents pulverize each other only to realize that they're too low on life to fight off kaervek before he murders them.

This is not the optimized version of the build - that one is back on mtgsalvation - but this is what I'm playing right now, with some budget considerations in mind as this is my newest standalone deck, and isn't borrowing cards from my collection anymore. That said, it's still a blast to play even if there are some tweaks I'd like to make.

The essential composition is the same as ever, though - get Kaervek out ASAP with loads of mana rocks, protect him and make him as deadly as possible with enchantments and equipment, then watch the fun unfold. It also has some removal to keep up some interactivity even if Kaervek is offline and keep my opponents on their toes, and a handful of "standalone" cards that essentially are just great goodstuff cards that can do lots of work regardless of whether Kaervek is or isn't on the board, up to being win conditions in themselves, or just great value generation.
Kaervek the Merciless

Commander (1)


Lands


Basics (11)


Approximate Total Cost:

Last edited by DirkGently 1 year ago, edited 1 time in total.
Perm Decks
Phelddagrif - Kaervek - Golos - Zirilan

Flux Decks
Lukka - Sefris - Ebondeath - Rokiric - Garth - Nixilis - Grist - Mavinda - Kumano - Nezahal - Mavinda - Plargg - Plargg - Extus - Plargg - Oracle - Kardur - Halvar - Tergrid - Egon - Cosima - Halana+Livio - Jeska+Falthis+Obosh - Yeva - Akiri+Zirda - Lady Sun - Nahiri - Korlash - Overlord+Zirda - Chisei - Athreos2 - Akim - Cazur+Ukkima - Otrimi - Otrimi - Kalamax - Ayli+Lurrus - Clamilton - Gonti - Heliod2 - Ayula - Thassa2 - Gallia - Purphoros2 - Rankle - Uro - Rayami - Gargos - Thrasios+Bruse - Pang - Sasaya - Wydwen - Feather - Rona - Toshiro - Sylvia+Khorvath - Geth - QMarchesa - Firesong - Athreos - Arixmethes - Isperia - Etali - Silas+Sidar - Saskia - Virtus+Gorm - Kynaios - Naban - Aryel - Mizzix - Kazuul - Tymna+Kraum - Sidar+Tymna - Ayli - Gwendlyn - Phelddagrif - Liliana - Kaervek - Phelddagrif - Mairsil - Scarab - Child - Phenax - Shirei - Thada - Depala - Circu - Kytheon - GrenzoHR - Phelddagrif - Reyhan+Kraum - Toshiro - Varolz - Nin - Ojutai - Tasigur - Zedruu - Uril - Edric - Wort - Zurgo - Nahiri - Grenzo - Kozilek - Yisan - Ink-Treader - Yisan - Brago - Sidisi - Toshiro - Alexi - Sygg - Brimaz - Sek'Kuar - Marchesa - Vish Kal - Iroas - Phelddagrif - Ephara - Derevi - Glissa - Wanderer - Saffi - Melek - Xiahou Dun - Lazav - Lin Sivvi - Zirilan - Glissa - Ashling1 - Angus - Arcum - Talrand - Chainer - Higure - Kumano - Scion - Teferi1 - Uyo - Sisters
PDH - Drake - Graverobber - Izzet GM - Tallowisp - Symbiote
Brawl - Feather - Ugin - Jace - Scarab - Angrath - Vraska - Kumena
Oathbreaker - Wrenn&6

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DirkGently
My wins are unconditional
Posts: 2289
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Post by DirkGently » 1 year ago

Quick play report: won back to back 4-player games last night. Got a t2 kaervek game 2 which was crazy but not that powerful in actual effect since I had no follow-up and topdecked a million lands.

Been playing vek a lot recently. Games have generally been finished via either helm of the host or cut // ribbons. Helm is too funny and amazing to cut, but cut // ribbons might be linearising the deck a bit and making my endgame predictable, especially with all the tutors. The removal // win combo is cool but the ribbons side is scary enough that I usually sandbag the removal half until I just win, making it just a worse exsanguinate. So I might switch that for something else.

Still, this deck is hilarious and great and actually pretty good, so long as people play along, which they usually do. People even out-loud blame each other and not me for the damage, so the rules are working perfectly. So far I've loved it for a lot of games, and my opponents usually find it fun and I often get compliments on the design. Definitely glad I permed this one, I do think it's my biggest breakthrough since the phlying hippo.
Perm Decks
Phelddagrif - Kaervek - Golos - Zirilan

Flux Decks
Lukka - Sefris - Ebondeath - Rokiric - Garth - Nixilis - Grist - Mavinda - Kumano - Nezahal - Mavinda - Plargg - Plargg - Extus - Plargg - Oracle - Kardur - Halvar - Tergrid - Egon - Cosima - Halana+Livio - Jeska+Falthis+Obosh - Yeva - Akiri+Zirda - Lady Sun - Nahiri - Korlash - Overlord+Zirda - Chisei - Athreos2 - Akim - Cazur+Ukkima - Otrimi - Otrimi - Kalamax - Ayli+Lurrus - Clamilton - Gonti - Heliod2 - Ayula - Thassa2 - Gallia - Purphoros2 - Rankle - Uro - Rayami - Gargos - Thrasios+Bruse - Pang - Sasaya - Wydwen - Feather - Rona - Toshiro - Sylvia+Khorvath - Geth - QMarchesa - Firesong - Athreos - Arixmethes - Isperia - Etali - Silas+Sidar - Saskia - Virtus+Gorm - Kynaios - Naban - Aryel - Mizzix - Kazuul - Tymna+Kraum - Sidar+Tymna - Ayli - Gwendlyn - Phelddagrif - Liliana - Kaervek - Phelddagrif - Mairsil - Scarab - Child - Phenax - Shirei - Thada - Depala - Circu - Kytheon - GrenzoHR - Phelddagrif - Reyhan+Kraum - Toshiro - Varolz - Nin - Ojutai - Tasigur - Zedruu - Uril - Edric - Wort - Zurgo - Nahiri - Grenzo - Kozilek - Yisan - Ink-Treader - Yisan - Brago - Sidisi - Toshiro - Alexi - Sygg - Brimaz - Sek'Kuar - Marchesa - Vish Kal - Iroas - Phelddagrif - Ephara - Derevi - Glissa - Wanderer - Saffi - Melek - Xiahou Dun - Lazav - Lin Sivvi - Zirilan - Glissa - Ashling1 - Angus - Arcum - Talrand - Chainer - Higure - Kumano - Scion - Teferi1 - Uyo - Sisters
PDH - Drake - Graverobber - Izzet GM - Tallowisp - Symbiote
Brawl - Feather - Ugin - Jace - Scarab - Angrath - Vraska - Kumena
Oathbreaker - Wrenn&6

WolfWhoWanders
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Post by WolfWhoWanders » 1 year ago

Looks like a pretty fun deck and concept. Deadly wanderings made me laugh, and is a great piece of tech. Soul conduit seems a little strange here but maybe there is more to it than meets the eye. A lot more tutors than I like to run but it makes for consistently setting kaervek up I suppose. I wonder how it would work by replacing some of the tutors with more tech or rocks
Responds well to spells and abilities

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DirkGently
My wins are unconditional
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Post by DirkGently » 1 year ago

Thanks! Yeah tbh I'm not sure about soul conduit either, since in almost every game I'm at the highest life for most of it, and if I die it's usually an alpha strike or combo, and usually I've fallen behind because kaervek has been kept off the field (usually not by targeted hate, but more likely stuff like grave pact). So even if I put them to 1 life, it won't make much difference because I can't finish the job. I do like that you can do funky stuff with switching enemy life totals, but maybe it's just not the kind of thing that makes sense here.

The other one that I haven't been doing much with is avarice totem. So I might cut both of those and try to streamline the deck a bit.

The tutors I've been thinking about increasing, actually. For one thing, you've gotta remember that especially for demonic/vampiric/gamble/(grim if I had an extra to play here) they basically count as an extra sol ring/mana crypt and drastically improve my chances to get a t3-4 kaervek. Diabolic even works a functional sisay's ring when hitting mana crypt. Besides that, once you've gotten him out ASAP, the tutors let you solve things that are otherwise basically hard counters to kaervek - karn to kill grave pact for example - and increase the consistency of getting one of the enhancers in the late game, since there aren't very many. Usually early-game I want as much mana as possible, but once kaervek is out I want tutors and enhancements. So I think I might cut down on the removal and add in a couple more tutors like beseech and maybe diabolic. I'd take a grim if they reprint it, but it's a bit much right now.
Perm Decks
Phelddagrif - Kaervek - Golos - Zirilan

Flux Decks
Lukka - Sefris - Ebondeath - Rokiric - Garth - Nixilis - Grist - Mavinda - Kumano - Nezahal - Mavinda - Plargg - Plargg - Extus - Plargg - Oracle - Kardur - Halvar - Tergrid - Egon - Cosima - Halana+Livio - Jeska+Falthis+Obosh - Yeva - Akiri+Zirda - Lady Sun - Nahiri - Korlash - Overlord+Zirda - Chisei - Athreos2 - Akim - Cazur+Ukkima - Otrimi - Otrimi - Kalamax - Ayli+Lurrus - Clamilton - Gonti - Heliod2 - Ayula - Thassa2 - Gallia - Purphoros2 - Rankle - Uro - Rayami - Gargos - Thrasios+Bruse - Pang - Sasaya - Wydwen - Feather - Rona - Toshiro - Sylvia+Khorvath - Geth - QMarchesa - Firesong - Athreos - Arixmethes - Isperia - Etali - Silas+Sidar - Saskia - Virtus+Gorm - Kynaios - Naban - Aryel - Mizzix - Kazuul - Tymna+Kraum - Sidar+Tymna - Ayli - Gwendlyn - Phelddagrif - Liliana - Kaervek - Phelddagrif - Mairsil - Scarab - Child - Phenax - Shirei - Thada - Depala - Circu - Kytheon - GrenzoHR - Phelddagrif - Reyhan+Kraum - Toshiro - Varolz - Nin - Ojutai - Tasigur - Zedruu - Uril - Edric - Wort - Zurgo - Nahiri - Grenzo - Kozilek - Yisan - Ink-Treader - Yisan - Brago - Sidisi - Toshiro - Alexi - Sygg - Brimaz - Sek'Kuar - Marchesa - Vish Kal - Iroas - Phelddagrif - Ephara - Derevi - Glissa - Wanderer - Saffi - Melek - Xiahou Dun - Lazav - Lin Sivvi - Zirilan - Glissa - Ashling1 - Angus - Arcum - Talrand - Chainer - Higure - Kumano - Scion - Teferi1 - Uyo - Sisters
PDH - Drake - Graverobber - Izzet GM - Tallowisp - Symbiote
Brawl - Feather - Ugin - Jace - Scarab - Angrath - Vraska - Kumena
Oathbreaker - Wrenn&6

lantz
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Post by lantz » 1 year ago

I built my own version of this deck and it has quickly become my absolute favorite deck. Would love to hear any updates you have made.

these are some of the new cards I am trying out
shame the new Kaervek is so lame :pensive:

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DirkGently
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Post by DirkGently » 1 year ago

Those are all definitely on the short list to try out. I haven't gotten my hands on a fiery emancipation yet, unfortunately. Swat is probably an easy include. Rollick seems less certain, since Kaervek is generally pretty good at killing things on his own, but having exile available and it being frequently free is pretty nice, so it might edge out some other removal.
Perm Decks
Phelddagrif - Kaervek - Golos - Zirilan

Flux Decks
Lukka - Sefris - Ebondeath - Rokiric - Garth - Nixilis - Grist - Mavinda - Kumano - Nezahal - Mavinda - Plargg - Plargg - Extus - Plargg - Oracle - Kardur - Halvar - Tergrid - Egon - Cosima - Halana+Livio - Jeska+Falthis+Obosh - Yeva - Akiri+Zirda - Lady Sun - Nahiri - Korlash - Overlord+Zirda - Chisei - Athreos2 - Akim - Cazur+Ukkima - Otrimi - Otrimi - Kalamax - Ayli+Lurrus - Clamilton - Gonti - Heliod2 - Ayula - Thassa2 - Gallia - Purphoros2 - Rankle - Uro - Rayami - Gargos - Thrasios+Bruse - Pang - Sasaya - Wydwen - Feather - Rona - Toshiro - Sylvia+Khorvath - Geth - QMarchesa - Firesong - Athreos - Arixmethes - Isperia - Etali - Silas+Sidar - Saskia - Virtus+Gorm - Kynaios - Naban - Aryel - Mizzix - Kazuul - Tymna+Kraum - Sidar+Tymna - Ayli - Gwendlyn - Phelddagrif - Liliana - Kaervek - Phelddagrif - Mairsil - Scarab - Child - Phenax - Shirei - Thada - Depala - Circu - Kytheon - GrenzoHR - Phelddagrif - Reyhan+Kraum - Toshiro - Varolz - Nin - Ojutai - Tasigur - Zedruu - Uril - Edric - Wort - Zurgo - Nahiri - Grenzo - Kozilek - Yisan - Ink-Treader - Yisan - Brago - Sidisi - Toshiro - Alexi - Sygg - Brimaz - Sek'Kuar - Marchesa - Vish Kal - Iroas - Phelddagrif - Ephara - Derevi - Glissa - Wanderer - Saffi - Melek - Xiahou Dun - Lazav - Lin Sivvi - Zirilan - Glissa - Ashling1 - Angus - Arcum - Talrand - Chainer - Higure - Kumano - Scion - Teferi1 - Uyo - Sisters
PDH - Drake - Graverobber - Izzet GM - Tallowisp - Symbiote
Brawl - Feather - Ugin - Jace - Scarab - Angrath - Vraska - Kumena
Oathbreaker - Wrenn&6

lantz
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Post by lantz » 1 year ago

thoughts on Lithoform Engine

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DirkGently
My wins are unconditional
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Post by DirkGently » 1 year ago

I could see it being worthwhile. It's not amazing for kaerveks ability alone, but it's got a lot of other cute synergies like fetches, and god forbid you copy a damage doubler of some kind. We should have the mana to actually use it effectively. It might be too high of setup, though, to really shine. I'd probably need to see it in action.
Perm Decks
Phelddagrif - Kaervek - Golos - Zirilan

Flux Decks
Lukka - Sefris - Ebondeath - Rokiric - Garth - Nixilis - Grist - Mavinda - Kumano - Nezahal - Mavinda - Plargg - Plargg - Extus - Plargg - Oracle - Kardur - Halvar - Tergrid - Egon - Cosima - Halana+Livio - Jeska+Falthis+Obosh - Yeva - Akiri+Zirda - Lady Sun - Nahiri - Korlash - Overlord+Zirda - Chisei - Athreos2 - Akim - Cazur+Ukkima - Otrimi - Otrimi - Kalamax - Ayli+Lurrus - Clamilton - Gonti - Heliod2 - Ayula - Thassa2 - Gallia - Purphoros2 - Rankle - Uro - Rayami - Gargos - Thrasios+Bruse - Pang - Sasaya - Wydwen - Feather - Rona - Toshiro - Sylvia+Khorvath - Geth - QMarchesa - Firesong - Athreos - Arixmethes - Isperia - Etali - Silas+Sidar - Saskia - Virtus+Gorm - Kynaios - Naban - Aryel - Mizzix - Kazuul - Tymna+Kraum - Sidar+Tymna - Ayli - Gwendlyn - Phelddagrif - Liliana - Kaervek - Phelddagrif - Mairsil - Scarab - Child - Phenax - Shirei - Thada - Depala - Circu - Kytheon - GrenzoHR - Phelddagrif - Reyhan+Kraum - Toshiro - Varolz - Nin - Ojutai - Tasigur - Zedruu - Uril - Edric - Wort - Zurgo - Nahiri - Grenzo - Kozilek - Yisan - Ink-Treader - Yisan - Brago - Sidisi - Toshiro - Alexi - Sygg - Brimaz - Sek'Kuar - Marchesa - Vish Kal - Iroas - Phelddagrif - Ephara - Derevi - Glissa - Wanderer - Saffi - Melek - Xiahou Dun - Lazav - Lin Sivvi - Zirilan - Glissa - Ashling1 - Angus - Arcum - Talrand - Chainer - Higure - Kumano - Scion - Teferi1 - Uyo - Sisters
PDH - Drake - Graverobber - Izzet GM - Tallowisp - Symbiote
Brawl - Feather - Ugin - Jace - Scarab - Angrath - Vraska - Kumena
Oathbreaker - Wrenn&6

mr_abomination
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Post by mr_abomination » 5 months ago

Hoo hoo hoooo, this is a fun deck to play.

I tweaked the deck a little to fall within our playgroup's allowed rules, but the core remains. The largest change I made wasn't actually to the deck itself, but to how I presented the deck. I took on a thick southern accent, one designed to put me into the character of an individual arming the population and to make me sound more trustworthy at the same time. It worked perfectly.

One of my friends (playing Scarab God) immediately saw through what I was doing: deflecting the blame onto other people. He kept reminding people that I was the one doing the damage, but even he fell victim to blaming others. People were nervous at the start to play spells, but more in an apprehensive way rather than a playing this stuff will hurt me so I won't do anything sort of way. Shizo was a big help politically, it let a Tana through multiple times and earned me an early ally. There was a really funny moment when my Deathtouch equipment got bounced and everyone redirected their small damage towards the Scarab God in a cute, friendly sort of alliance. Soon after someone played a threat and everything went back to chaos.

I was fairly low for most of the game from taking some hits from numerous 6/6 tokens before I got deathtouch out, and even fell to 4 life at one point. However, a perfectly timed Basilisk Collar into a Blasphemous Act got me just enough life to survive. The game ended with people sniping the last few life points from each other and my last opponent casting a Court of Cunning at 3, forgetting once again that technically I choose the targets.

All in all, everyone thought it was a really interesting game to play, and once they realized the consequences of not choosing the targets for their damage (Killed his Scarab God for not choosing), everyone started slinging.

Thank you Dirk for once again making a hilariously fun deck to play with, I look forward to tinkering around and seeing how to fit Vorpal Sword into the list.

illakunsaa
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Post by illakunsaa » 5 months ago

Possibility Storm is great with kaervek.

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DirkGently
My wins are unconditional
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Post by DirkGently » 3 months ago

Ugh I hate possibility storm. Idc if it's synergistic tbh.

Vorpal Sword is decent here. It's just another deathtouch equipment, but then sometimes it just wins you the game.

I think that's about it from this set though. Warlock Class would almost be okay as another Wound Reflection except it only triggers on your end step, boo.
Perm Decks
Phelddagrif - Kaervek - Golos - Zirilan

Flux Decks
Lukka - Sefris - Ebondeath - Rokiric - Garth - Nixilis - Grist - Mavinda - Kumano - Nezahal - Mavinda - Plargg - Plargg - Extus - Plargg - Oracle - Kardur - Halvar - Tergrid - Egon - Cosima - Halana+Livio - Jeska+Falthis+Obosh - Yeva - Akiri+Zirda - Lady Sun - Nahiri - Korlash - Overlord+Zirda - Chisei - Athreos2 - Akim - Cazur+Ukkima - Otrimi - Otrimi - Kalamax - Ayli+Lurrus - Clamilton - Gonti - Heliod2 - Ayula - Thassa2 - Gallia - Purphoros2 - Rankle - Uro - Rayami - Gargos - Thrasios+Bruse - Pang - Sasaya - Wydwen - Feather - Rona - Toshiro - Sylvia+Khorvath - Geth - QMarchesa - Firesong - Athreos - Arixmethes - Isperia - Etali - Silas+Sidar - Saskia - Virtus+Gorm - Kynaios - Naban - Aryel - Mizzix - Kazuul - Tymna+Kraum - Sidar+Tymna - Ayli - Gwendlyn - Phelddagrif - Liliana - Kaervek - Phelddagrif - Mairsil - Scarab - Child - Phenax - Shirei - Thada - Depala - Circu - Kytheon - GrenzoHR - Phelddagrif - Reyhan+Kraum - Toshiro - Varolz - Nin - Ojutai - Tasigur - Zedruu - Uril - Edric - Wort - Zurgo - Nahiri - Grenzo - Kozilek - Yisan - Ink-Treader - Yisan - Brago - Sidisi - Toshiro - Alexi - Sygg - Brimaz - Sek'Kuar - Marchesa - Vish Kal - Iroas - Phelddagrif - Ephara - Derevi - Glissa - Wanderer - Saffi - Melek - Xiahou Dun - Lazav - Lin Sivvi - Zirilan - Glissa - Ashling1 - Angus - Arcum - Talrand - Chainer - Higure - Kumano - Scion - Teferi1 - Uyo - Sisters
PDH - Drake - Graverobber - Izzet GM - Tallowisp - Symbiote
Brawl - Feather - Ugin - Jace - Scarab - Angrath - Vraska - Kumena
Oathbreaker - Wrenn&6

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