Kess, Cartoonish Supervillainy

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Mookie
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Post by Mookie » 1 month ago

When I build a deck, it usually comes from a Timmy perspective - I'm looking for a specific experience or sensation that my other decks don't provide. In this deck's case, it was inspired by two core items.

The first item was a personal desire to cast Cruel Ultimatum..... multiple times, and maybe copy it for good measure, "just in case".
The second item was the release of Unstable and creatures with the 'villain' type, such as Grusilda, Monster Masher and Baron Von Count.

These two ideas combined into the deck's concept: this deck wants to act like a cartoonish supervillain. It doesn't aim to win - rather, it aims to make its opponents lose. It wants to cackle evilly while playing doomsday devices and big, splashy spells that make its opponents feel miserable - and their little dog too! No quick deaths or combos here - it's much better to watch your opponents squirm as the needlessly complicated deathtrap slowly closes in on them.

Kess was obviously chosen due to her ability to flash back Cruel Ultimatum, but Nicol Bolas, the Ravager // Nicol Bolas, the Arisen would function as a solid alternative from a thematic standpoint. I've cut the silver-bordered villains over time, but I've kept to the theme of excluding any heroic figures from my creatures.

Kess

Protection


Tutors


Approximate Total Cost:

Last edited by Mookie 1 month ago, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Mookie » 1 month ago

First major update for the deck in a while. I've generally been happy with how it functions - my current meta is a bit on the slower side, so running a ton of card advantage and interaction tends to work out quite well. Still, there are new cards I want to try out, so swapping some things around.
  • Pulse of the GridSee the Truth - I've noticed that I often have more cards in hand than the rest of the table, so recurring Pulse is a bit tricky. May return if I find myself wanting some more filtering, but I like the ability to flash back See the Truth for value.
  • Withered WretchKarazikar, the Eye Tyrant - Wretch may return if I find myself wanting more grave hate (or I may swap to Tymaret, Chosen from Death), but Karazikar is 'dance, puppets, dance!' incarnate. Watching my opponents fight to the death for my amusement is pretty much the entire goal of the deck, after all.
  • QuickenDouble Vision - testing. A cheaper way to copy spells is certainly appreciated, and I don't have that much synergy for Quicken - it doesn't do anything special when cast off Kess, since she only works on my turn.
  • Order of Midnight // Alter FateFeed the Swarm - I really like Order's interaction with Kess (infinite Raise Deads!), but I don't have a lot of creatures in this deck to recur. Testing out Feed the Swarm as an option for enchantment removal (or creature removal, if necessary).
  • Go for the ThroatHeartless Act - a minor upgrade, since artifact creatures tend to be more common than creatures with counters.
  • Dark PetitionCleansing Wildfire - lack of combos means tutors go down a bit in value. Cleansing Wildfire is another cantrip that can also deal with obnoxious lands.
  • Surveyor's ScopeArcane Signet - Scope may return if I want more ramp, but this deck is usually pretty good at hitting land drops due to all the cantrips. Signet is a bit more consistent.
  • IslandSilundi Vision // Silundi Isle - testing. Silundi Vision should usually hit at least one option, and MDFC lands provide some nice flexibility.
  • IslandRiptide Laboratory - testing. Kess is the only wizard in the deck, but protecting her seems like it would be nice. May be a bit too mana-intensive though.

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RowanKeltizar
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Post by RowanKeltizar » 1 month ago

Kess usually has some cross over with Niv, so i like to compare notes. I maybe should give Double Vision another chance. And i actually like Cleansing Wildfire quite a lot. The cantrip makes it fantastic IMO

In general, i would try to run as many instants and sorceries as possible to synergize with your commander. running less permanents means you can maindeck some great boardwipes without fearing as much collateral damage. I would also take a look at your curve. I know this isn't exactly a spellslinger list, but you have quite a few high cmc spells and not a lot of discard or wheel effects to mitigate that.

The next thing i would highly recomend is that you take a look at the instant and sorcery based rituals. Dark Ritual Pyretic Ritual Mana Geyser Jeska's Will Unexpected Windfall and others. Kess being able to recur these make them better than a lot of mana rocks in my opinion. I've really had a lot of success with them but i think they would be even better here. Drawing a signet lategame isn't going to do much for you.

I've always thought Firestorm would be great for Kess, but you might not have enough bulk handsize to make it consistent. Same with Scorched Earth .

No Faithless Looting or Careful Study ? Also if you are able to slot in more discard maybe Rielle, the Everwise could be useful? I also like Prismari Command and Thrill of Possibility

Rites of Refusal can be a decent counterspell and a discard outlet, as can Forbid

Im a bit surprised to not see Mystical Tutor here, especially since you wanted to be casting Cruel Ultimatum specifically.
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Mookie
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Post by Mookie » 1 month ago

RowanKeltizar wrote:
1 month ago
Kess usually has some cross over with Niv, so i like to compare notes. I maybe should give Double Vision another chance. And i actually like Cleansing Wildfire quite a lot. The cantrip makes it fantastic IMO
Sounds good! Yeah, I'm looking forward to testing out Cleansing Wildfire, which seems awesome with Kess - cantrip + disruption is an excellent combination. I've generally been happy with my spell-copying effects (Swarm Intelligence and Primal Amulet // Primal Wellspring) - they're obviously quite expensive, but the explicit goal of the deck is to copy giant spells, so they're sort of necessary.
In general, i would try to run as many instants and sorceries as possible to synergize with your commander. running less permanents means you can maindeck some great boardwipes without fearing as much collateral damage. I would also take a look at your curve. I know this isn't exactly a spellslinger list, but you have quite a few high cmc spells and not a lot of discard or wheel effects to mitigate that.
Yeah, I've been trying to fit in more board wipes, but using Kess to flash them back often feels a bit awkward. Could probably run one or two more though. On the other hand, I have a ton of spot removal to double-dip on with Kess, which means that individual large creatures usually aren't a big issue.

Ha, the curve could definitely use some work. I haven't noticed myself having many issues with mana, but the deck can certainly be a bit slow to get going. It's usually good enough as a control deck to slow things down until I can start slinging big stuff, but can definitely be tempo'd out.
The next thing i would highly recomend is that you take a look at the instant and sorcery based rituals. Dark Ritual Pyretic Ritual Mana Geyser Jeska's Will Unexpected Windfall and others. Kess being able to recur these make them better than a lot of mana rocks in my opinion. I've really had a lot of success with them but i think they would be even better here. Drawing a signet lategame isn't going to do much for you.
Mmmm, that's probably a good call. I've held back on ritual effects a bit because I intentionally didn't want to be a storm deck (I already have Mizzix). Still, probably worth running a few, if only to get to my topend a little quicker - it's hard to find a window to drop the more expensive artifacts / enchantments.
I've always thought Firestorm would be great for Kess, but you might not have enough bulk handsize to make it consistent. Same with Scorched Earth .... Im a bit surprised to not see Mystical Tutor here, especially since you wanted to be casting Cruel Ultimatum specifically.
I generally stick to a pretty low budget, so no Firestorm or Mystical Tutor here. I don't think I've ever actually seen Scorched Earth before, but I think I'll pass - this deck usually doesn't keep lands in hand. As a side note, this deck's desire to cast Cruel Ultimatum is sort of a joke, so don't take that too seriously. I'll pretty much always do so if I have the opportunity, but that goes for pretty much all the big spells.
No Faithless Looting or Careful Study ? Also if you are able to slot in more discard maybe Rielle, the Everwise could be useful? I also like Prismari Command and Thrill of Possibility
Hmmmm, maybe. I've decided to go with cheap cantrips (Ponder, Mental Note, etc) instead of looting effects - they actually generate card advantage when cast off Kess. Honestly, my main reason for not running them is that my build is pretty light on graveyard synergies other than Kess, so there isn't much inherent value in discarding. That could obviously change if I were running something like Spelltwine or Mizzix's Mastery (or just more reanimation), but I generally view discarding something to cast later off Kess as a negative, not a positive (especially since grave hate and Kess removal are things).

....the addition of Ignite the Future and See the Truth have made discard effects go up in value slightly though.
Rites of Refusal can be a decent counterspell and a discard outlet, as can Forbid
See above. I'm fine with running a bit of countermagic, but I don't currently have any explicit need for discard outlets. The fact that Kess only works on my own turn also makes countermagic go down a bit in value relative to other instants/sorceries, since they're less likely to be cast on my turn.

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RowanKeltizar
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Post by RowanKeltizar » 1 month ago

My friend actually has a Nicol Bolas, the Ravager // Nicol Bolas, the Arisen deck with a similar theme but he goes a lot harder on the discard effects and runs a lot of a cards that punish people for discarding, like you might find in a Nekusar, the Mindrazer. Symmetrial discard is also strong with Kess in my experience.

I played around with a Crosis, the Purger for a while that had an archenemy theme but didn't work out very well for obvious reasons. Too high cmc, and he just gets hated out without any protection or evasion.

Lynde, Cheerful Tormentor has also intrigued me lately. Card draw in the command zone is always good but you gotta run all the curses of course.

I guess the main reason i mention the discard effects is that you do have a lot of high cmc spells that you don't want to be drawing into early. Casting Aminatou's Augury or Blatant Thievery in the first 5 turns or so isn't likely to happen. The looting effects let you utilize your commander's ability of playing some of those instant/sorcery cards later in the game, while trading the high cmc cards for cards you can actually cast in those early turns. The biggest reason to run Kess imo is the card advantage of casting things from your graveyard. Just my 2cents
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Mookie
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Post by Mookie » 1 month ago

Ha, very fair. Yeah, Kess definitely works well with discard - Sire of Insanity has consistently overperformed in this deck. I don't think I would run wheels in this deck, since they're a bit counterproductive to the control strategy. Still, I don't hate the idea of running some more looting. Chart a Course and Compulsive Research were actually in an earlier version of the deck, and I don't entirely recall why I cut them - I think it was because the cantrips were already generating sufficient card advantage, and I wanted to run some higher-tempo plays.

On the note of asymmetric discard, I'll call out Painful Quandary and Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger as two on-theme cards that I would be running if not for price. I could also definitely see an alternate build that runs a bunch of looting to turn on reanimation effects for villainous cards like Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur and Sheoldred, Whispering One.

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Post by Mookie » 5 days ago

Just got back from an exhausting 3+ hour game against Heliod, Sun-Crowned, Feather, the Redeemed, and Orah, Skyclave Hierophant. The bulk of it was effectively a 1v1 game between myself and Heliod - my boardwipes and Sire of Insanity meant it was difficult for the latter two decks to really get things going, but the Heliod deck gained enough (100+) life to stop my primary gameplan of winning through damage. The game eventually got called as a draw due to the store closing, but I do think I was in a good position to win - Feather had needed to leave earlier and I drained Orah out with stolen extort cards, and I only needed three more attacks to take Heliod out via Kess commander damage, which they didn't look to have a way to stop. This deck is definitely set up for grindy games - my one regret was not having any easy combos or win conditions to close things out a bit quicker.

....that said, I do think copying Blatant Thievery a few times, or sticking Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker for a few turns would have done the job, if I had ever drawn them. Maybe that's a sign that I should add a tutor or two to the deck? Hmmm.... Alternatively, I could just add another big threat to the deck - I'd love to run Sheoldred, Whispering One / The Scarab God / Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh to the deck, but they're all out of budget. I'll probably need to do some research for what else to add - in an earlier build of the deck, Grusilda, Monster Masher and Baron Von Count were two of the better heavy hitters, but I haven't really replaced them. Maybe Ob Nixilis Reignited?

Anyway, the other thing I'll call out is the anti-synergy between Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant and Sire of Insanity, since I had both out for a large portion of the game (and I didn't draw any other creatures). I suppose they still worked fine - Karazikar's cards got discarded, but I could still flash them back with Kess - but it was a bit awkward.

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