Mono-Blue Commander Deck Tech: Kefnet the Mindful, God of Knowledge
32 Colour Combinations – The Premise
What exactly is this “challenge”? In short, the idea is to build a Commander deck for every colour combination. That means a deck for each mono-colour (including colourless), each Ravnica Guild, each Shard/Tarkir clan, each Nephilim combination, and of course WUBRG (or “five colour”).
The challenge appealed to me on two levels. Firstly, I love brewing for Commander. Building decks is just so much fun, whether it’s “Good Stuff” decks or decks with a theme or even just a sub-theme, something about it is so relaxing.
Secondly, I love the challenge that it provides. From choosing an interesting general for each deck to trying to make them play differently and enjoyably. There are so many things to think about when building for Commander.
Instead of just building these lists and leaving them to gather dust in my Tappedout folder, I decided to write an article about each one. I highly recommend you try this out too. I’m only about halfway through the decks and have enjoyed it immensely.
I am not planning to do these articles in any particular order so I hope that they don’t get too confusing!
Building Kefnet the Mindful
Though Kefnet’s followers feverishly searched his last words for some final riddle, they found only the gurgles of a dying god. – Tragic Lesson Flavour Text
Just like the acolytes of Kefnet I try to look for the riddles, but not for the trial of knowledge. Instead I like to look at the riddles around building unique decks and different experiences. Mairsil, the Pretender is one of the biggest deckbuilding riddles I’ve had to work out but was also one of the most interesting and enjoyable experiences I’ve had since I started writing about this format.
While the flavour text of Tragic Lesson implies that Kefnet is some kind of Riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma the deckbuilding process was actually very simple.
Step 1. Cast Kefnet the Mindful
Step 2. Get 7 cards into your hand
Step 3. Attack
Step 4. Profit
Unlike a lot of Commander decks, this one fell together quite easily, being broken down into three cards types that match the outline of the way the deck is supposed to be played. I picked up all of the mana rocks and card draw spells I own, picked up Kefnet, jammed them all together and hey presto! I had a deck.
Knowing that Kefnet was going to be the core win condition of this deck I knew that there had to be a big focus on keeping the God alive. This is partially solved with Kefnet’s own keywords. Being indestructible is big game in a format that has a very heavy focus on Wrath of God effects. Knowing that I wouldn’t have to worry about those, it became my focus to protect my Commander from cards like Swords to Plowshares, Cyclonic Rift and Merciless Eviction.
It became apparent to me that if the deck was going to focus on combating all of these different threats I would need a number of cards that could do that. Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves came to mind initially but I realised that they would only solve the issue with spot removal, cards like Swords to Plowshares, Hero’s Downfall, the list goes on. Because these would only combat one of the three types of removal that I would likely encounter, I realised that I would instead have to turn to the Mono-Blue favourite: counterspells.
I went with some universal counterspells, some that counter only specific spell types, and some that fill a multitude of rolls. The magic number for the converted mana cost of counterspells has always been 2, stemming from the original Counterspell itself, so I decided to run with that. Commander is the format of big powerful spells so I decided to add the Tarkir allstar Disdainful Stroke to deal with the majority of threats in the format as well as Memory Lapse to deal with graveyard strategies and Negate to deal with the other control decks in the format as well as tutors and card draw that so many Commander decks rely on to piece together their game winning combos.
Infect decks, which previously ran rampant in Modern, focused on playing one creature and protecting it using a combination of counterspells, Vines of the Vastwood and Spellskite. This Kefnet deck has a similar plan: playing a simple creature and using it to dominate the game, taking down opponents one by one.
Knowing that I would not be running Swiftfoot Boots or Lightning Greaves, I would need a good way to protect Kefnet from spot removal. I decided to include Spellskite, being able to a pay 2 life to protect Kefnet from Path to Exile or protect my artifacts from Nature’s Claim is a big deal.
Filling up your Hand
Probably the most important element of the deck, even moreso than other control decks, is the ability to keep 7 or more cards in your hand. Like the other Gods in the cycle such as Standard staple Hazoret the Fervent and Modern combo piece Rhonas the Indomitable, Kefnet also has an activated ability that a helps ‘turn it online’ and allow it to attack and block. Being able to draw cards at will is a very powerful mechanic, the fact that it allows you to also return lands with enter the battlefield effects like Halimar Depths or protecting important utility cards like Reliquary Tower from your opponent’s removal.
Like any good control deck, as well as being able to draw cards (using Kefnet’s ability), this deck has a large focus on gaining card advantage and using it to whittle down your opponent’s life total. Unlike other control decks, which often rely on incremental card advantage, this deck thrives on being able to fill up your hand very quickly. So, X spells and cards that let you draw a whole hand’s worth are great choices. Probably the two best non-Sphinx’s Revelation X spells are probably Blue Sun’s Zenith (because it’s potentially repeatable) and the relatively new Pull From Tomorrow (because its initial cost, not including the X, is less than Blue Sun’s Zenith and Stroke of Genius).
As well as the X spells, the new bulk mythic Overflowing Insight from Ixalan is perfect for this deck because it draws you to the number needed for Kefnet to attack and block. Another two cards that get better and better the longer the game goes on are Recurring Insight and Flow of Ideas. Recurring Insight allows you to not only match the number of cards your opponents have but to double them thanks to Rebound, while Flow of Ideas is fantastic as a way of turning excess land drops into more gas. But card draw isn’t exclusive to instants and sorceries, Rhystic Study, Mystic Remora, Kumena’s Awakening and Howling Mine allow for a constant stream of cards each turn. While this isn’t the most efficient way of getting your hand to the magic number of 7, it does mean that if Kefnet dies you still have card advantage to grind out your opponents.
Other Ways to Win
Of course, resolving Kefnet isn’t the only way to win. As with any deck that wins by drawing cards I had to add Psychosis Crawler, a grindy win condition that allows you to sit back, relax, and say “draw…go” until all of your opponent’s life totals are 0. The only issue with Psychosis Crawler is that as soon as it hits the table you become public enemy number 1, and for good reason, anyone who’s lost to this card understands.
To mitigate this I decided to add Golden Guardian, one of the new flip lands from Rivals of Ixalan. This card is great because it’s a land that can win you the game (just like Valakut, the Molten Pinnalce) so it’s very hard to interact with. You can also force the golem to fight Kefnet, whose Indescructable ability gives you an easy way to forceably kill Golden Guardian and turn it into a two mana land that makes 4/4 beaters.
Lastly is Worldslayer. Just like Zurgo Helmsmasher, the ability to attack relatively safely with an indestructible creature makes your threat into a one-sided board wipe that leaves you with the ability to lock down the board and quickly kill all of your opponents. Unlike Zurgo, Keftnet has evasion and the deck has more ways to keep both Kefnet and the sword alive. The biggest threat is Krosan Grip since Split Second makes you unable to stop it in any way. If green is a prominent colour in your playgroup I recommend Willbender, Stratus Dancer or Kheru Spellsnatcher as ways of dealing with that spell.
I threw the deck together from cards that I had lying around, so there are a number of cards that would improve the deck. The most obvious are Force of Will and Mana Drain. With recent reprints these powerful counterspells are fantastic enhancements to the already powerful suite of counterspells such as Cryptic Command and Admiral’s Orders.
I’d also argue that while I’ve included a large number of mana rocks, the mana doubling cards like Caged Sun and Gauntlet of Power would also be large improvements. Giving you access to huge amounts of mana for Kefnet’s ability and the expensive draw spells make it so easy to fill up your hand for Kefnet. As well as the extra mana, Training Grounds is another fantastic way to make Kefnet’s ability more affordable while also reducing the cost of any other activated abilities cheaper.
The Commander staple Consecrated Sphinx is another great way to draw more cards. If you’ve ever played with this card you’d understand why it is the perfect fit for this deck (also casting Blue Sun’s Zenith on another player with Consecrated Sphinx in play feels real good). Another win condition I’d recommend is Laboratory Maniac, another card that only gets better the more card draw your deck has, and in this case the more mana you can spend on the Commander’s ability.
Kefnet is not a particularly popular in Commander, with only 163 recorded decks on EDHREC at the time of writing. Other Mono-Blue decks seem to be more impactful or to fit the format better, such as Azami, Lady of Scroll or Braids, Conjurer Adept respectively. However, I think the combination of the control/voltron shell with uncommonly used, volatile cards like Worldslayer make this an interesting take on Mono-Blue and something that plays in an interesting way. (Warning: playing Worldslayer may lead to a loss of friends)
I hope that you have enjoyed this take on Mono-Blue in Commander and stay tuned for more deck techs coming in 2018
Check out the other Commander decks that I have written about as part of the 32 Commander Challenge below:
Thanks for Reading,