I shouldn't be so shocked about new decks creeping into Standard, but this is a big one. The Kethis combo deck was completely off the radar less than a week ago. After the Mythic Championship Qualifier where the deck earned invites for a handful of ingenious players, the deck has essentially gone viral.
If you haven't seen the deck before, you might be wondering how it actually wins the game.The signature card is Kethis, the Hidden Hand. You either need one in play, or you can copy one in the graveyard with Lazav, the Multifarious. The other card you want to get into play is Diligent Excavator. This allows you to continually mill yourself and create more fuel for your activations. The last piece of the puzzle is Mox Amber, which you can start casting out of your graveyard. You eventually need to find two Mox Amber in order to start netting mana with Kethis, the Hidden Hand.
Once you have access to two Mox Amber, a Diligent Excavator and Kethis, the Hidden Hand, you can mill your whole deck. Post-sideboard, the easiest way to win after milling your whole library is to simply cast Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. Alternatively you can start to mill your opponent after getting your four Mox Amber into the graveyard, and recasting them with extra legendary fuel you still have left in your graveyard after milling yourself. The last way to win is to play a bunch of copies of Oath of Kaya from the graveyard to drain your opponent out. I have won with each of these methods before, but Jace is definitely the easiest.
The list I started with was the Czech version from the MCQ, and that's what I played in the videos. Since then I have made a couple small updates, and this is my current version.
I haven't changed that much: the main adjustment was adding Jace, Wielder of Mysteries to the maindeck. The situation where I ended up timing out and losing the game was my fault, as I could have navigated that turn faster, but adding Jace, Wielder of Mysteries does make killing the opponent much easier. Beyond that it is actually just a good card in the deck, with the only issue being its casting cost. Other than swapping out an Oath of Kaya for the Jace, I added another Cerulean Drake and Legion's End for aggressive matchups.
Honestly, I still think the sideboard isn't that great, I'm just not sure how to improve it. Cards like Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves and The Immortal Sun haven't been that impactful. I do like Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle and could even see a version where it makes it into the maindeck. The manabase I haven't touched. As a four-color deck in Standard, the mana is going to be bad. I've just accepted it, and if you don't want to play a deck with bad mana I wouldn't recommend this deck.
This is the most difficult Standard deck I have piloted in quite a long time. There really are a lot of little things you need to get right. There are lots of different lines, and it's not always clear which one is correct. I love decks like these, but sometimes you look a little silly playing them. Each match I have found myself learning something new, and becoming a better pilot of the deck.
At this point I think Kethis is the most powerful strategy in the format right now. It won't be around for that much longer, with rotation looming. It is a super cool deck to play while the cards are legal though, and I'm excited to play more with it, as I find myself getting better as a player the more I learn about the deck.
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