60 to 100 - Kykar, the Heir to Shu Yun's Token Throne
Kykar Goes Ky-KAW!
Greetings everyone! Welcome to the latest entry in the 60 to 100 series, where we take a 60-card deck from another format and port it into our favorite 100-card singleton format! This week we’re getting into a deck that I’m personally extremely excited about, as the commander is going right into the driver's seat of one of my own current decks. It also happens to be quite patriotic too, which is fitting as we just recently celebrated Independence Day in the United States, and the U.S. Women’s National Team just won the World Cup! There can’t be a more perfect storm of circumstances in which to write about the new Jeskai goodness that Core Set 2020 has graced us with: !
Let’s start off as always with a deck for inspiration. This one comes to us from a recent Grand Prix tournament and looks primed to welcome a certain legendary Bird Wizard into the fold.
Colors and theme are right on point. Play some creatures, maybe some protection, and go to town. Using to recur your protection spells and keep your hand full is a very powerful effect, as evidenced by her leading the pack as the most popular commander from War of the Spark. She’s a veritable stud in multiple formats, a real Alex Morgan, if you will.
This Jeskai Feather lineup is very similar to what my EDHRECast co-host Joey Schultz brewed up in our Brew Battle when War of the Spark first released. Protecting important creatures like Feather doesn't just keep your plans intact, but keeps opponents off of theirs as well. Feather and Kykar are a match made in Jeskai value heaven, with Feather making sure you don’t run out of spells to cast, and Kykar rewarding you for riding that train.
These decks are historically pretty powerful, and since we’re bringing the deck into Commander, we can only expect the deck to get more powerful with even better protection spells, better support cards, and - since we’re planning on adding to the mix - the inclusion of more blue spells, which I hear are usually pretty good.
Connecting the Dots
The pathway to our bigger and badder deck is pretty clear, so it's going to be less about, "Well what do we do now?" and more about, "What do we want to do with this?" As it turns out, my friends, there's plenty to do. Taking a look at the typical deck, we have a good start to a spell-slinging and recursive value deck.
The top three cards here all have a common theme: drawing a card and targeting our creatures. This makes lots of sense with 's ability to bring those cards back, meaning that there will always be plenty of cards in your hand in addition to drawing plenty of other cards in the deck. and -type effects make sure that even though Feather has a huge target on her back (and rightfully so), she's able to stick once she's hit the field. Just like the Jeskai build in Standard, keeps her just pumped up enough and hard to kill over and over again. It's quite the synergy to pair with , as every spell Feather lets the player recast will cause Kykar to fill the board with more and more Spirit tokens!
While we don't have a great deal of information on the new Jeskai Bird Wizard yet, we do have some early returns that I think can help us direct the deck once we merge with the some of the typical Feather tools. Peeking into the top cards in 's first hundred decks on EDHREC, this pair of legendary creatures seems to become even more perfect.
With Feather making sure that we always have a spell to cast, Kykar will be flooding the board, closing the game out in short order. I really like in these lists, since doubling up on tokens will always present a real threat to the board. If you've seen at the table recently, you'll know that it's quite the powerful effect, especially considering that the tokens generated by some new format all-stars, such as , also get doubled! (Confession time, I may have missed that interaction the first few times I had those cards out together. Don't make the same mistake I did! Enjoy the riches to come.)
Scrolling a bit deeper through Kykar's page, we find a few more options for the Birdman, but they don't line up nearly as well as the ones presented with the gameplan we have here. For example, Spirit tribal seems to be quite the fun deck idea for Kykar, and it's a very real Modern deck in its own right. Playing some recent additions like and gives you the option for a powerful tribal aggro deck in Jeskai colors, which can be backed up by the flood of tokens your commander makes and the hand kept full by some staples like and all of blue's cantrips.
While the directions the deck can go are numerous, I won't cover them all. The Command Zone did a fantastic job of enumerating the various directions, so I'll direct you to them if you're wondering what some other fun things are to do with Kykar. My tangent here is simply to showcase how diverse and open-ended this commander is, so make sure when you're building a deck that you pick a specific path; the infinite directions can sometimes cause decision paralysis and interrupt the brewing process.
For now, I'm very excited about pairing Feather and Kykar for spellslinging goodness, so let's explore that some more!
Meshing the Mish-Mash
One of the reasons I am so excited about this new Jeskai commander specifically is because I have had a deck just waiting for an improvement in the commander department. Jeskai tokens was a deck from Standard several years ago around Khans of Tarkir days. This deck was all about making tokens and casting spells... that make tokens. This deck was the bane of my Standard-playing days, to the point where I just had to make a Commander deck to pay homage to it. Thus, my deck came to be. As soon as I saw , though, I knew that Shu Yun's days were numbered and it would only be a matter of waiting for the newest Jeskai legend to arrive.
Goodbye, old friend.
What the deck did aligns perfectly with what the new Feather decks are doing in Standard these days. Lots of non-creature spells to trigger Prowess, Shu Yun's triggered ability, and many other bonkers cards like the original list here if you feel so inclined. With a few slight tweaks, we can have a powerful blend of mass token making with paired with 's ability to recur all of our protective noncreature spells, making our own little hurricane of value.. You can check out
Since we need to find a critical mass of spells that target our own creatures, I plugged in some searches on Scryfall to dig deep. I found some incredibly powerful synergies I wasn't expecting. One of the most underwhelming mechanics in my mind is Radiance, from the original Ravnica: City of Guilds block, which dishes out effects to all creatures of a specific color. Radiance just never got there in the minds of many players, but here we have a real chance for it to shine.
Since we're making a huge number of tokens of any given color, whether it's white tokens from , blue with or , or even red tokens with , we are able to leverage some of these formerly underplayed Radiance spells to great effect. is a wonderful protection spell that also happens to target our creatures, meaning we can not only use it defensively to save a chunk of our army, but can also use it offensively to push damage through. In the same way, can turn the army we just produced into a lethal, hasty attack out of nowhere.
I'm also very excited to try out as well. If we attack all-out and give the appearance that our shields are down, then untap our army and damage to and from our wide army of blockers... well, I think that has the chance to really catch a few people off-guard. Arc also happens to target any number of creatures, meaning we can use it to untap our own creatures and potentially to untap other players' creatures, making it a nice political option if we leverage it well. Triggering with it is just the cherry on top, returning it to our hand for repeated usage. This is a card I think anyone playing Kykar decks should be sure to take a close look at.
So what does it look like when we finally pull that Standard Feather Jeskai deck into Commander? A little something like this:
Kykar, Heir to Shu Yun
Some final observations before I leave you:
I am blown away by the number of token decks that are not currently running. In decks that care about going wide, this seems like such a great inclusion, especially considering it's basically a sorcery version of 's -3 ability. In terms of mana cost, it's a much cheaper option than as well, but will usually have the same effect. I'm interested to see if it ever picks up.
Every single time I've castit has been especially hilarious. Picking off two or three troublesome artifacts and creating some tokens of your own isn't the most efficient way of going about it, but I'll be darned if it isn't one of the silliest ways to accomplish both goals.
. The floor is very low, but the ceiling is incredibly high. My personal best is getting 14 tokens from it. I'd love to hear if anyone else has had any success with the card.
There it is folks, a very exciting deck with a very exciting commander that I am very excited to play with very excitedly soon. Are there any other Core Set 2020 commanders you're jonesing to play with? Do you have a deck already lined up to play it, like I did with my former Shu Yun list? Let me know! I'd love to hear about them. Core Set 2020 is lined up to give the format a few new quality commanders, so I'm sure a that year from now we'll be talking about it being the best core set in a long while. Thanks as always for coming by, and we'll see you next time!