Kiora's a strange Planeswalker. She was created right in the midst of the "Boring Planeswalker" run from about 2014-2018, and doesn't have much in terms of mechanical or even flavorful ties.

That sounds like a problem. And in many circumstances within this project, it would be. But Kiora's blandness gives us a great excuse to explore design space at will, unshackled to the tethers of a Planeswalker's flavorful constraints.

For this Kiora, Master of the Depths, we're going to explore the Simic Combine.

The Simic Guild is a fascinating group of cards. Super interesting stuff, and I recall the powerful wave of nostalgia with the +1/+1 counters (little blue and green glass beads at the time) flying all over. But most of the Simic stuff didn't make it to Constructed play, other than one or two specific cards too strong on rate. I don't recall much graft making it, and I don't have any memory of evolve or adapt except for Cloudfin Raptor or Pteramander. So there's probably some hidden gems to excavate from the archives.

Let's get to digging:

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Kiora, Master of the Depths by Andy Hurst

'Kiora, Master of the Depths' - 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: $24.70

Cards

Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $3.49

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235542_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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Essence Capture

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183208_200w.jpg

Counter target creature spell. Put a +1/+1 counter on up to one target creature you control.

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Merfolk Skydiver

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.24

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188172_200w.jpg

Flying
When Merfolk Skydiver enters the battlefield, put a +1/+1 counter on target creature you control.
{3}{G}{U}: Proliferate. (Choose any number of permanents and/or players, then give each another counter of each kind already there.)

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Simic Basilisk

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/13943_200w.jpg

Graft 3 (This creature enters the battlefield with three +1/+1 counters on it. Whenever another creature enters the battlefield, you may move a +1/+1 counter from this creature onto it.)
{1}{G}: Until end of turn, target creature with a +1/+1 counter on it gains "Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a creature, destroy that creature at end of combat."

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Hindervines

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67584_200w.jpg

Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn by creatures with no +1/+1 counters on them.

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Sauroform Hybrid

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183177_200w.jpg

{4}{G}{G}: Adapt 4. (If this creature has no +1/+1 counters on it, put four +1/+1 counters on it.)

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Adaptive Snapjaw

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67471_200w.jpg

Evolve (Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, if that creature has greater power or toughness than this creature, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature.)

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Simic Charm

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227375_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn.
• Permanents you control gain hexproof until end of turn.
• Return target creature to its owner's hand.

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Plaxmanta

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/108014_200w.jpg

Flash
When Plaxmanta enters the battlefield, creatures you control gain shroud until end of turn. (They can't be the targets of spells or abilities.)
When Plaxmanta enters the battlefield, sacrifice it unless {G} was spent to cast it.

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Urban Evolution

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227381_200w.jpg

Draw three cards. You may play an additional land this turn.

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Aeromunculus

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182213_200w.jpg

Flying
{2}{G}{U}: Adapt 1. (If this creature has no +1/+1 counters on it, put a +1/+1 counter on it.)

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Cloudfin Raptor

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67339_200w.jpg

Flying
Evolve (Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, if that creature has greater power or toughness than this creature, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature.)

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Capture Sphere

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.01

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215861_200w.jpg

Flash (You may cast this spell any time you could cast an instant.)
Enchant creature
When Capture Sphere enters the battlefield, tap enchanted creature.
Enchanted creature doesn't untap during its controller's untap step.

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Stomp and Howl

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/13963_200w.jpg

Destroy target artifact and target enchantment.

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Bred for the Hunt

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.31

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/166750_200w.jpg

Whenever a creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it deals combat damage to a player, you may draw a card.

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Zameck Guildmage

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67360_200w.jpg

{G}{U}: This turn, each creature you control enters the battlefield with an additional +1/+1 counter on it.
{G}{U}, Remove a +1/+1 counter from a creature you control: Draw a card.

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Kiora, Master of the Depths

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $3.87

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/104871_200w.jpg

+1: Untap up to one target creature and up to one target land.
−2: Reveal the top four cards of your library. You may put a creature card and/or a land card from among them into your hand. Put the rest into your graveyard.
−8: You get an emblem with "Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, you may have it fight target creature." Then create three 8/8 blue Octopus creature tokens.

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Plaxcaster Frogling

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $1.00

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/236295_200w.jpg

Graft 3 (This creature enters the battlefield with three +1/+1 counters on it. Whenever another creature enters the battlefield, you may move a +1/+1 counter from this creature onto it.)
{2}: Target creature with a +1/+1 counter on it gains shroud until end of turn. (It can't be the target of spells or abilities.)

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Simic Growth Chamber

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $1.00

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/236344_200w.jpg

Simic Growth Chamber enters the battlefield tapped.
When Simic Growth Chamber enters the battlefield, return a land you control to its owner's hand.
{T}: Add {G}{U}.

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Give // Take

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67920_200w.jpg

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Aether Mutation

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/8055_200w.jpg

Return target creature to its owner's hand. Create X 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens, where X is that creature's mana value.

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Vigean Hydropon

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/13982_200w.jpg

Graft 5 (This creature enters the battlefield with five +1/+1 counters on it. Whenever another creature enters the battlefield, you may move a +1/+1 counter from this creature onto it.)
Vigean Hydropon can't attack or block.

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Wilderness Reclamation

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $2.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212521_200w.jpg

At the beginning of your end step, untap all lands you control.

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Rapid Hybridization

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $2.34

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/236308_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature. It can't be regenerated. That creature's controller creates a 3/3 green Frog Lizard creature token.

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Creeping Mold

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/123106_200w.jpg

Destroy target artifact, enchantment, or land.

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Galloping Lizrog

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183186_200w.jpg

Trample
When Galloping Lizrog enters the battlefield, you may remove any number of +1/+1 counters from among creatures you control. If you do, put twice that many +1/+1 counters on Galloping Lizrog.

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Unexpected Results

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.51

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67450_200w.jpg

Shuffle your library, then reveal the top card. If it's a nonland card, you may cast it without paying its mana cost. If it's a land card, you may put it onto the battlefield and return Unexpected Results to its owner's hand.

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Renegade Krasis

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.34

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67905_200w.jpg

Evolve (Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, if that creature has greater power or toughness than this creature, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature.)
Whenever Renegade Krasis evolves, put a +1/+1 counter on each other creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it.

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Experiment Kraj

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $3.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/13861_200w.jpg

Experiment Kraj has all activated abilities of each other creature with a +1/+1 counter on it.
{T}: Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature.

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Sporeback Troll

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.23

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/13957_200w.jpg

Graft 2 (This creature enters the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters on it. Whenever another creature enters the battlefield, you may move a +1/+1 counter from this creature onto it.)
{1}{G}: Regenerate target creature with a +1/+1 counter on it.

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Forest

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.37

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235548_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {G}.)

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Aether Tradewinds

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.01

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/122640_200w.jpg

Return target permanent you control and target permanent you don't control to their owners' hands.

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Warped Landscape

Market Price: $0.47

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/171457_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{2}, {T}, Sacrifice Warped Landscape: Search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle.

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Skitter Eel

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183380_200w.jpg

{2}{U}: Adapt 2. (If this creature has no +1/+1 counters on it, put two +1/+1 counters on it.)

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Simic Guildgate

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227312_200w.jpg

Simic Guildgate enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {G} or {U}.

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Frilled Mystic

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183056_200w.jpg

Flash
When Frilled Mystic enters the battlefield, you may counter target spell.

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Fathom Mage

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227367_200w.jpg

Evolve (Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, if that creature has greater power or toughness than this creature, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature.)
Whenever a +1/+1 counter is put on Fathom Mage, you may draw a card.

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Experiment One

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.64

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/107949_200w.jpg

Evolve (Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, if that creature has greater power or toughness than this creature, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature.)
Remove two +1/+1 counters from Experiment One: Regenerate Experiment One.

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Thrive

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/98854_200w.jpg

Put a +1/+1 counter on each of X target creatures.

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Woodland Stream

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227288_200w.jpg

Woodland Stream enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {G} or {U}.

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Disdainful Stroke

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230900_200w.jpg

Counter target spell with mana value 4 or greater.

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Applied Biomancy

Color Identity:G,U

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183350_200w.jpg

Choose one or both —
• Target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
• Return target creature to its owner's hand.

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The Game Plan

We're looking to create, manipulate, and move +1/+1 counters around until our army is formidable enough to crush the opposition. By creatively moving counters around, we can make the most of our graft and evolve creatures to add maximum value to the board.

I'm not sure it's correct to call our threats "efficient," because it'll be based entirely on our draws and sequencing. Deploying our threats in the correct order is important here. Evolve creatures are a priority, as are the grafters. Once those are down, we can start to milk the +1/+1 counter shenanigans.

And while we're thinking about moving counters around, keep in mind we have some evasive creatures that make ideal storage units for these counters. So Cloudfin Raptor, Aeromunculus, and Merfolk Skydiver are our best options. Galloping Lizrog tramples, so that makes for a fine option too.

Our removal isn't great and also not plentiful, so only break glass in case of emergency. Rapid Hybridization should only be used if we're otherwise going to die, we're going to win if we cast it, or we're scared of a giant bomb rare. Most of the time, when we're trying to rid opposing creatures—we'll want to use our tricks., and our tricks are pretty great! Hindervines, Simic Charm, Applied Biomancy... these are gamebreakers in the right circumstances. Make them count.

The Rares

We're really hoping to evolve this guy. Once we get him evolved a few times, he'll throw around so many counters our board will be a mess of dice. And a mess of dice is bad news for our opponent.

Sure, we hope to evolve this guy several times as well. But it's more important we get counters on him any way we can, because that's how we'll get extra cards. And those extra cards will be critical to a victory. We're happy to take any cards we can get.

The OG Simic Monster. We'll make more use of his size and ability to distribute counters than his ability to copy other abilities. But it'll be nice to have redundancy from Experiment One and Sporeback Troll for some extra protection.

This card is a big gamble, and there's a fine chance we hit a card that isn't better than the four mana we're spending to cast this. But hey, when it comes to the Simic Guild, you never really know how the next experiment will go. Sometimes you get the Experiment One, sometimes you get the Experiment Kraj.

Unsung Hero

When Plaxcaster Frogling first made his debut, my friends and I were ecstatic. You gotta remember—it wasn't terribly common back then for efficient creatures that were 100% upside. Our awesome creatures of the day were things like Psychatog, which could end the game in one shot, but needed heavy feeding. Plaxcaster Frogling shows up as an aggressive body, contributes to the team—only if you want to of course—and offers protection to your entire team! For only three mana, and it doesn't suck up a rare slot. Blue/green wasn't an elite color combination back in OG Ravnica block (can you even imagine a world where blue/green wasn't overpowered?), so Plaxcaster Frogling didn't get a ton of shine the first time. But upon revisiting, he's got the potential to be an elite option.