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Turning Their Creatures Into Yours With Kethek, Crucible Goliath



It was a cute little monkey who got me interested in playing with Aladdin again, which is fitting if you remember Aladdin had a cute little monkey sidekick named Abu, which is a thing I remember from 1994. 10 years later, I was unable to remember the names of 3 of the 20 amino acids despite spending hours looking at flash cards the night before and writing down all of the lyrics to "A whole new world" did not get me any partial credit. If your memory is kind of good for bad things like mine is, you'll remember that delightful Kibo deck I came up with, but if not, here it is again so you can see what got me so hyped up.

I do a little bit of "threatening" in my deck-building - no other builder has wedged Captivating Crew into so many decks that could barely justify its inclusion. However, there was a time where I wasn't putting Bazaar Trader into my decklists despite Bazaar Trader being capable of letting you keep a creature you had borrowed and were due to return at the end of the turn. However, a lot of this wasn't due to Bazaar Trader's ineffectiveness, but rather because I wanted to use that deck-building space to make sure I had other payoffs for Threatened creatures. I didn't want to pay mana or mana and a card to borrow something only to have to give it back if they removed Bazaar Trader before the end of the turn. However, I noticed that we got a Commander in the right colors and with the right ability that will live in our command zone and make it feel safe to play Bazaar Trader alongside Captivating Crew. I give you our commander du jour - Kethek.

Kethek, Crucible Goliath

Suddenly we have a way to make sure we can get a ton of value from a borrowed creature. Our commander gives us access to not only a reliable, mana-free sac outlet, it also gives us card advantage, trading the life of a terrified captive for a creature to assail your opponents with, and I made it a little too real and now I'm sad. You will use their cardboard to get your own cardboard, both a description of events that's a little less horrifying but also a great bargain for you. I have said many times, including here (one of the articles I'm proudest of) that if you take a creature from the board, you're up 2 points in the zero-sum game of "board presence" but if you can remove their creature forever and get an upgraded one of your own, you didn't just break parity, you broke parity's will. Keeping something after gaining control of a creature feels very Blue but I've said for a while that Rakdos plays more like I wish Blue decks played.

The reason I bring any of this up is that Kethek is sort of perfect for a package built around Captivating Crew. If we're playing Red, we won't just want to add Captivating Crew because we have access to Red, which gives us access to Aladdin. Is it worth it just to jam Aladdin in this deck? Well, it would be better if you were guaranteed some targets. Liquimetals, both of the Torque and Coating variety, make sure Aladdin can take what he wants, and Joven and Chandler (I am being 100% serious right now) benefit from that sort of package as well. Bazaar Trader can go in this pile as well, and all of a sudden, you're looking at a package of cards that painlessly slots into a pretty standard Kethek deck but which makes it play entirely differently. We don't have to go quite as far into the Bazaar Trader shenanigans this time - we're not going to play the same way Kibo did so we won't, for example, try to use Bazaar Trader or Harmless Offering or Gauntlets of Chaos to give them Bronze Bombshell. We will, however, want to keep some of the creatures our myriad Threaten effects provide us with, and a little bit of effort in the form of including cards that are fun to play anyway means we can do that. What does such a deck look like? I'm so glad I pretended you asked!

Deathing Pod | Commander | Jason Alt

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This looks like a lot of fun and it doesn't function all that differently from a regular Kethek deck. It is, however, by my math, a million billion percent more fun.

If you don't think we have enough sac outlets, I left out some great ones, including my favorite of all time - Helm of Possession. I didn't want to add too many "cute" cards like that because we're not exactly hurting for sac outlets. That said, borrowing their second best creatures and using it to sac to Helm to keep their best creature is fun and you should find room for Helm in this deck. Goblin Bombardment is another good one, and I usually include Altars of the Phyrexian and Ashnod's variety. With Skullclamp in the deck, always having an instant-speed sac outlet is important in case they try to kill the creature you were hoping to sac.

This deck may very well need more Threaten effects, and the ones that come on creatures aren't ideal always. I didn't include Kiki-Jiki to go with the Zealous Conscripts but with no tutors, you easily could and it wouldn't be a problem that often. That combo ends annoying games where no one can stop anyone from doing anything and those are the best kinds of games to end. However, if your deck is 97 cards that are standing between you and putting those two cards together, maybe don't. That behavior taken to its natural conclusion is you realizing that all decks that aren't Dimir are just slower versions of Thassa's Oracle and Demonic Consultation and then that's all you do. But then again, I'm advocating putting Kiki-Jiki in here because you won't draw it that often. Your mileage may vary, and if your playgroup gets bummed out by that combo, swap in something else.

I wanted to make this feel like it's not a stock list but also like it's not a stock Jason Alt list. I have a tendency to fall back on pet cards and "pet packages" and while that could become a crutch, I have really enjoyed doing some shenanigans like making my Omnath, Locus of Creation deck into a clones list. 2023 is the year I go for it with my building, and that means letting go of crutches. Remember I said this if I try to make another Aladdin deck next week. Speaking of next week, that does it for me, readers. Until next time!

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