I really enjoyed Kaya as a Magic phenomenon. I've beat this dead horse plenty, and will no doubt continue to, but the Magic community at large seems to have more trouble evaluating planeswalkers than any other type of card. I remember players looking at Kaya when the set came out with a quizzical look. That, "What was R&D thinking?" look. That, "Why on God's Green Earth would I ever play this?" look.

Turns out it was pretty solid! It immediately got second place at the first ever Mythic Championship, allowing its Esper Control pilot the ability to pick off cheap threats from the Mono-White/Mono-Red/Mono-Blue decks, gain some life to keep its caster alive, and provide a resilient long term game winner against other control decks. Not bad for a, "What were they thinking?"

That was cool, but for me, it was just icing on the cake—I really dig the flavor. Even though I had to wait to get the whole story from weekly emailed chapters of the failed book, it was pretty fun! Learning that Nicol Bolas had paid Kaya, Orzhov Usurper to deal with the Obzedat Ghost Council. But in doing so,had to take over the Orzhov—despite the fact she didn't want it, and her new friend Teysa Karlov did. That's pretty neat! And since we've gotten to know several different variants of Teysa, and had several different trips to the Orzhov Syndicate… I think I have a good idea of where this deck was headed.

Check it out:

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Kaya, Orzhov Usurper by Andy Hurst

'Kaya, Orzhov Usurper' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Andy Hurst

Event:

Rank:

Freeform (Casual)

Market Price: $22.41

Cards

Aura of Silence

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $4.88

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/107894_200w.jpg

Artifact and enchantment spells your opponents cast cost {2} more to cast.
Sacrifice Aura of Silence: Destroy target artifact or enchantment.

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Crypt Incursion

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.35

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67970_200w.jpg

Exile all creature cards from target player's graveyard. You gain 3 life for each card exiled this way.

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Knight of the Last Breath

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183328_200w.jpg

{3}, Sacrifice another nontoken creature: Create a 1/1 white and black Spirit creature token with flying.
Afterlife 3 (When this creature dies, create three 1/1 white and black Spirit creature tokens with flying.)

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Field of Ruin

Market Price: $0.23

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/248181_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{2}, {T}, Sacrifice Field of Ruin: Destroy target nonbasic land an opponent controls. Each player searches their library for a basic land card, puts it onto the battlefield, then shuffles.

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Blind Hunter

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/13659_200w.jpg

Flying
Haunt (When this creature dies, exile it haunting target creature.)
When Blind Hunter enters the battlefield or the creature it haunts dies, target player loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.

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Basilica Bell-Haunt

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183035_200w.jpg

When Basilica Bell-Haunt enters the battlefield, each opponent discards a card and you gain 3 life.

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Final Payment

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183355_200w.jpg

As an additional cost to cast this spell, pay 5 life or sacrifice a creature or enchantment.
Destroy target creature.

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Zealous Persecution

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/118658_200w.jpg

Until end of turn, creatures you control get +1/+1 and creatures your opponents control get -1/-1.

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Witch's Cottage

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.29

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/198390_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)
Witch's Cottage enters the battlefield tapped unless you control three or more other Swamps.
When Witch's Cottage enters the battlefield untapped, you may put target creature card from your graveyard on top of your library.

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Teysa, Orzhov Scion

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $5.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/13795_200w.jpg

Sacrifice three white creatures: Exile target creature.
Whenever another black creature you control dies, create a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying.

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Ethereal Absolution

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.46

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183209_200w.jpg

Creatures you control get +1/+1.
Creatures your opponents control get -1/-1.
{2}{W}{B}: Exile target card from an opponent's graveyard. If it was a creature card, you create a 1/1 white and black Spirit creature token with flying.

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Despark

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.28

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/243983_200w.jpg

Exile target permanent with mana value 4 or greater.

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Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/236419_200w.jpg

Vigilance, protection from creatures
Whenever a creature deals combat damage to you, destroy that creature. Create a 1/1 white and black Spirit creature token with flying.

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Basilica Guards

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67336_200w.jpg

Defender
Extort (Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay {W/B}. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.)

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Drifting Meadow

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212384_200w.jpg

Drifting Meadow enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {W}.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Absolver Thrull

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/13649_200w.jpg

Haunt (When this creature dies, exile it haunting target creature.)
When Absolver Thrull enters the battlefield or the creature it haunts dies, destroy target enchantment.

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Orzhov Euthanist

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/13741_200w.jpg

Haunt (When this creature dies, exile it haunting target creature.)
When Orzhov Euthanist enters the battlefield or the creature it haunts dies, destroy target creature that was dealt damage this turn.

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Blood Tithe

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/35532_200w.jpg

Each opponent loses 3 life. You gain life equal to the life lost this way.

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Syndicate Messenger

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183394_200w.jpg

Flying
Afterlife 1 (When this creature dies, create a 1/1 white and black Spirit creature token with flying.)

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Imperious Oligarch

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182206_200w.jpg

Vigilance
Afterlife 1 (When this creature dies, create a 1/1 white and black Spirit creature token with flying.)

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Debtor's Pulpit

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67487_200w.jpg

Enchant land
Enchanted land has "{T}: Tap target creature."

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Midnight Charm

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/14762_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Midnight Charm deals 1 damage to target creature and you gain 1 life.
• Target creature gains first strike until end of turn.
• Tap target creature.

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Basilica Screecher

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67533_200w.jpg

Flying
Extort (Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay {W/B}. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.)

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Cremate

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/66543_200w.jpg

Exile target card from a graveyard.
Draw a card.

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Ministrant of Obligation

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183187_200w.jpg

Afterlife 2 (When this creature dies, create two 1/1 white and black Spirit creature tokens with flying.)

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Kaya, Orzhov Usurper

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $3.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182951_200w.jpg

+1: Exile up to two target cards from a single graveyard. You gain 2 life if at least one creature card was exiled this way.
−1: Exile target nonland permanent with mana value 1 or less.
−5: Kaya, Orzhov Usurper deals damage to target player equal to the number of cards that player owns in exile and you gain that much life.

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Ill-Gotten Inheritance

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183424_200w.jpg

At the beginning of your upkeep, Ill-Gotten Inheritance deals 1 damage to each opponent and you gain 1 life.
{5}{B}, Sacrifice Ill-Gotten Inheritance: It deals 4 damage to target opponent and you gain 4 life.

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Price of Fame

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.24

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222574_200w.jpg

This spell costs {2} less to cast if it targets a legendary creature.
Destroy target creature.
Surveil 2. (Look at the top two cards of your library, then put any number of them into your graveyard and the rest on top of your library in any order.)

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Tainted Field

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/236449_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{T}: Add {W} or {B}. Activate only if you control a Swamp.

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Endless Obedience

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222553_200w.jpg

Convoke (Your creatures can help cast this spell. Each creature you tap while casting this spell pays for {1} or one mana of that creature's color.)
Put target creature card from a graveyard onto the battlefield under your control.

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Purge the Profane

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67568_200w.jpg

Target opponent discards two cards and you gain 2 life.

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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215720_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Vizkopa Confessor

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67406_200w.jpg

Extort (Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay {W/B}. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.)
When Vizkopa Confessor enters the battlefield, pay any amount of life. Target opponent reveals that many cards from their hand. You choose one of them and exile it.

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Mortify

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.28

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182129_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature or enchantment.

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Exhumer Thrull

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/13684_200w.jpg

Haunt (When this creature dies, exile it haunting target creature.)
When Exhumer Thrull enters the battlefield or the creature it haunts dies, return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.

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Knight of Sorrows

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.03

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183376_200w.jpg

Knight of Sorrows can block an additional creature each combat.
Afterlife 1 (When this creature dies, create a 1/1 white and black Spirit creature token with flying.)

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Orzhov Racketeers

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183188_200w.jpg

Whenever Orzhov Racketeers deals combat damage to a player, that player discards a card.
Afterlife 2 (When this creature dies, create two 1/1 white and black Spirit creature tokens with flying.)

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Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/242996_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

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Consecrate // Consume

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183063_200w.jpg

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Teysa Karlov

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $3.00

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182955_200w.jpg

If a creature dying causes a triggered ability of a permanent you control to trigger, that ability triggers an additional time.
Creature tokens you control have vigilance and lifelink.

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The Game Plan

This is kind of a midrange deck. There are some cheap drops, but there's no need to be overly aggressive—but this deck excels at getting the maximum value from its creatures. Our small battery of extorters should see play immediately. Once they're on the board, we can start the nickel-and-diming. We've got a few creatures with haunt, so don't be afraid to trade those off, or our creatures with afterlife triggers. We've also got a few payoffs for sacrificing our own stuff, so don't be afraid to send our troops to the woodchipper.

With death triggers aplenty, it's far from the worst thing in the world for some of our own guys to die. If our opponent is constantly forced to trade cards not only for our creatures, but also for the after effects of our creatures dying, we'll quickly run them out of cards. Top end threat Knight of the Last Breath (amazing name, by the way) encapsulates the value this deck can provide.

Our removal is on the higher side of quality for these decks. Final Payment is cheap and effective, and our other cards substantially mitigate its drawbacks. Zealous Persecution can help take out the trash, and also swing an important combat step. Despark and Mortify are pretty great one-for-ones that'll more than likely take out opposing rares. Price of Fame is likely a little too pricey, but in certain cases (almost certainly against rares) it'll provide a great discount, and surveil is excellent card filtering. Debtor's Pulpit and Consecrate // Consume(Consecrate) are strange and occasionally underwhelming, but their niche value can come up huge in the right circumstances (think green decks).

The Rares

Most remember this fondly as an original titan of the fledgling days of EDH. We're not playing the Painter's Servant that would give us infinite creature removal, but that's ok—we don't need that many kill spells. I included 11 other black creatures that'll give us some extra flyers, and we've got a bunch of white creatures to sacrifice as well for a clutch removal option. Keep in mind that Teysa, Orzhov Scion doesn't care about token vs. nontoken, and our Afterlife tokens are both black and white. That'll be fantastic for us.

Another Teysa Karlov! I'm gonna be 100% honest with you, since I put this in a deck with a couple Haunt creatures I should know how that works, but I don't. I hope we get double triggers, but who knows. Maybe a helpful, compassionate judge out there could help a deckbuilder out? In any event, the third Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts is mostly here because I've already got the other two we have several afterlife triggers that'll be great to hit again. And the little bonuses for our creature tokens will assuredly be helpful.

Goodness Gracious! Even more Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts! And this one is an absolute truck. She's substantially more expensive, but she makes up for it with stats very difficult to deal with. She plays offense and defense flawlessly. And if our opponent tries too hard to go around her, their board will be decimated, and we'll be left with even more tokens that combo super well with the cheaper Teysa, Orzhov Scion. You come at the Queen, you best not miss.

I've heard this was the best Limited card when Ravnica Allegiance was out. I totally buy it. Can you imagine beating this card?! Let's make sure to remember to ask our opponents. This thing turns our crappy creatures into relevant threats, shrinks the opponent's army, and makes any trade into a trade-up. And the art features our Planeswalker and our other three rares hanging out, being buds. Honestly cannot ask for more than that.

Unsung Hero

I alluded to this already, but this wins the prize of Best Name in the Deck. Just very evocative and cool. It's expensive, but it can dominate a game. I'm pretty much just waiting for the game state where I can sacrifice something like Ministrant of Obligation to get an army of flyers, or trigger haunt whenever is most convenient. And if they kill it somehow, I get an additional army of flyers. Sure, it costs seven mana—which is a ton in these decks—but at least we can be quite confident we're getting a bang for our buck.