Out of all the spoiled gods, Kefnet appeals to me more than anyone else, much to your surprise, I'm sure. There's a ton options with Kefnet and I'm unsure what I want to do given all the possibilities. Not only does this make spells cheaper, it effectively lets you draw a card. The issue with slower cards in the past have been their inability to survive until the next turn, but Kefnet is aggressively costed and the gods have an incredible resilience. Being able to come back from almost every form of removal makes life difficult for your opponents. 'Dodging' a wide range of removal spells from Conclave Tribunal to Vraska's Contempt to Mortify, these gods demand a quick clock to mitigate their resilience. While I could delve into the other gods, I'm going to stick with discussing Kefnet; however, to sate your curiosity, here is my official Standard power rankings for the gods.
It seems kind of weird that I would write about Kefnet when I think Boar is the one who is likely to make the highest impact in Standard, but Boar is limited in what it can do (putting big idiots or creatures with fantastic etb abilities like God-Eternal Rhonas or Ghalta) while Kefnet's range is massive.
Should we Nexus of Fate for five mana?
Or maybe for cast Ral's Outburst?
Chemister's Insight for sounds incredible.
There's a wealth of options available building with Kefnet and I'm going to start with some obvious ones.
Izzet Drakes | War Standard | Rudy Briksza
With the harder exception of Spell Pierce and the softer exceptions of removal and Dive Down (necessary ingredients for success in this style of deck), every spell is proactive. Izzet Drakes is fantastic at controlling the board and turning a corner quick to win the game. The deck's issues have often stemmed from running out of gas in the mid to late game. Kefnet and Ral's Outburst here provide solid ways of recouping from early flurries of spells. Being proactive with draw spells and burn means we're fairly likely to bury opponents in the mid to late game and even potentially reverse how bad the Esper matchup is. I doubt it's going to completely flip the script, but it will certainly make games a lot closer. Out of the decks I'm going to cover I think Drakes exemplifies what I really want to be doing with Kefnet. The deck is reactive but also does a fantastic job of being proactive, and with Kefnet that's where I want to start, especially at the start of a new format. At the start of the last format Brad Carpenter took an Izzet Drakes deck to Top 8, and though he lost to Azorius Aggro I think Kefnet's ability to create extra removal could help swing the race. As a 4/5 Kefnet also clocks in as a fantastic blocker or attacker to end games quickly.
On the flip side, what if we tried to use Kefnet in combo form? The Nexus decks have always been very spell based and moving toward Kefnet means we could actually have an alternate win condition while making it easier to combo off with Nexus. Finding a Nexus of Fate with Kefnet's ability (with at least six lands in play) means you'll generally be taking at least two turns upon resolution. The rest of the deck is built to just find your combo pieces, and to that end Kefnet can be a rewarding venture. While it doesn't get a big bonus for seeing Growth Spiral, it can help draw plenty of cards to fuel a powerful combo turn and keep gas flowing. In a new set of high power cards, another one I have my eye on for this kind of strategy is Bond of Flourishing. Being able to ensure land drops, find your planeswalkers, or Wilderness Reclamation means you'll be able to hit your combo a bit easier and the life gain is anything but irrelevant. Without testing I'm unsure exactly whether I want to lean in with Bond of Flourishing. Is it something we play a lesser amount of in order to just ensure hits down the road or do we go hard in the paint with a full set and play more permanent based win conditions as well?
Simic Nexus | War Standard | Rudy Briksza
- Planeswalkers (1)
- 1 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales
- Instants (23)
- 1 Blink of an Eye
- 2 Sinister Sabotage
- 4 Chemister's Insight
- 4 Growth Spiral
- 4 Nexus of Fate
- 4 Opt
- 4 Root Snare
- Sorceries (2)
- 2 Bond of Flourishing
Tamiyo, Collector of Tales provides a way to win through removal on an early Krasis (not Vraska's Contempt) and can also protect you from Thought Erasure or re-buy destroyed Searches or Reclamations. In the mid to late game you realistically only want to find a couple cards and Tamiyo can help ensure we find those cards. Perhaps Tamiyo will prove to be even better and I'll want more, but for now I think filling the deck with 4-drops is going to be more devastating than it will be helpful. Having more Bond of Flourishings means we are more likely to hit land drops, and that's something that can't be ignored and is potentially just as good as having Augur of Bolas that misses less often!
Now, you might be asking why we aren't playing Kefnet in a deck like Esper, and the answer mostly lies in the inability for Esper to make use of it thanks to all the reactive spells. Finding removal CAN be useful, but you'll mostly be hitting Absorbs, and Kefnet's trigger is little more than a coin flip on whether you'll hit the right spell. Really the only card that it makes sense with is Thought Erasure but that doesn't excite me and lead me toward building that kind of strategy. Because of this I'd like the deck to be filled mostly with cards that are useful at any point in the game. There's likely way more options to build with Kefnet but these are my starting points!
Join me next week when I review my picks for the best cards in the set.