I love Standard. I love how this format evolves fast, and Magic Arena has turbocharged that evolution. If last week I was in love with Bant Ramp because of how good it was in a metagame of Esper and Vampires and without Scapeshift and Nexus, now it’s time to change those as Scapeshift is back in business. On top of that, the great Czech and Slovakian minds have found out a new and wonderful deck that crushes Bant Ramp: 4c Kethis Combo!
The deck has treated me incredibly well on Arena, and now I can’t wait to pick up the real cards and play it in the side events at GP Las Vegas!
Today I’m going to walk through how the deck works, and will have a sideboard guide that’s going to redirect you to Ondrej Strasky’s Twitter. Ondrej is a great player and a great streamer, and you should definitely follow him. Both him and Stanislav Cifka qualified for the Mythic Championship V last weekend on Arena with this very same deck.
I’m currently fifth on the ladder with this deck. My losses have been mainly to Vampires and Mono-Red. It doesn’t mean the deck has bad matchup against those, it’s just that if those aggressive decks curve out fast there isn’t much you can do. On the other hand, it easily beat any green slow decks, from Scapeshift to Bant Ramp.
In case you want to see how I killed Simic Nexus on Turn 4 on stream, I recorded the match and then shared my thoughts about it.
How does the combo work? The pieces you need 1 Kethis, the Hidden Hand, at least 1 Diligent Excavator, and at least 2 Mox Amber. Once you have those pieces, you need to aggressively mill yourself, find more legends to exile from the graveyard and find more Mox Amber.
- If you have 2 Teferi, you can loop them with the Mox Ambers, bouncing the Mox, milling 6 each time and drawing a card.
- If you have 2 Ashiok, Dream Render, you can loop them to mill 8 each time.
- If you have 2 Fblthp, the Lost, you can loop them to draw extra cards (to find Mox Amber) and mill yourself 4 each time.
- If you have Lazav, the Multifarious and extra mana, you can cast it from the graveyard and copy a Diligent Excavator.
How do you win?
- Milling your opponent with Diligent Excavator is the easiest answer, and you also have Ashiok to complete that plan even faster.
- If your opponent has Nexus of Fate or you don’t have access to blue mana (for example, if you have Mox Amber in play with just Kethis), then you can also recur Oath of Kaya and Mox Amber to kill your opponent without needing to mill them.
- If your opponent has disrupted your combo, you are very likely to board in Jace, Wielder of Mysteries and aggressively mill yourself and just kill them with Jace’s passive ability (Remember The Immortal Sun doesn’t shut off passive abilities).
How do you stop the combo?
A lot of people look to weak options–I’ve seen Leyline of the Void, Leyline of Sanctity and Grafdigger’s Cage. All of those lose to Teferi. Maybe they work 10% of the time, but most of the time they’re just card disadvantage, like with Alpine Moon against Scapeshift.
Ashiok, Dream Render is good against Kethis because it resets the graveyard, although if we have all the pieces in play, we can easily set up the combo from 0 and go off from an empty graveyard–or even if we don’t go off, we’ll get ahead enough that we can just simply win the game with random threats.
Unmoored Ego on Kethis, the Hidden Hand, Diligent Excavator or Mox Amber does stop the combo, but we are still a planeswalker deck that can function well, so even without the combo the deck can still win.
The best thing to do here is just redirect you to Strasky’s Twitter account where he posted a free sideboard guide with an option to subscribe to his channel for a deeper article. I love that Magic is a place where information sharing is free and you can read all of his sideboard guide here.
I suggest practicing with this deck for a while before playing it in a tournament. Even goldfishing will be good enough, as it is very complicated to get the hang of!