Outlaws of Thunder Junction - Kellan, the Kid Deck Tech

(Kellan, the Kid | Art by Magali Villeneuve)

With previews forĀ Outlaws at Thunder Junction beginning with the preview stream kick-off, we were treated to a TON of exciting new legends. There were many to pick from, but one that got my attention right away was the new version of a known character: Kellan, the Kid.

For those of you that missed it, Commander's Herald has a great summary of the stream here. Today though, we're focused on this new Bant legend ready to give us all sorts of fun value plays.

Breaking Down Kellan

So let's breakdown this new legend a bit. A 3/3 with flying and lifelink is a fine rate, but we're not playing a beatdown style strategy here. Kellan, the Kid comes with a gnarly ability that is built to capitalize on the many keywords to build value. Kellan's new ability reads:

Whenever you cast a spell from anywhere other than your hand, you may cast a permanent spell with equal or lesser mana value from your hand without paying its mana cost. If you don't, you may put a land card from your hand onto the battlefield.

Right away, it's easy to be blown away by the raw amount of value you're going to accrue with Kellan. The obvious parallels for Kellan, the Kid are Chulane, Teller of Tales and Rashmi, Eternities Crafter, with their base green/blue engines with easy-to-trigger reward systems. Kellan, the Kid sides with Rashmi, Eternities Crafter in that it provides a pseudo-Cascade type of value engine with lower mana value cards getting the boost. Kellan's payoffs are required to be played from your hand, which makes a small difference. This however does take some of the randomness and potential whiffs out of the equation. Either way, both of these other legends give us a chance for some serious inspiration to direct our decks here.

Kellan, the Kid also brings a unique twist to this type of setup, requiring you to cast spells from anywhere other than your hand. This means anything cast from exile, graveyard, or even straight from your library will all trigger Kellan's ability. Thankfully we have a plethora of keywords on cards already that set up any Kellan, the Kid deck with ways to trigger that ability, along with the new Plot keyword we're getting support for with new Outlaws at Thunder Junction cards.

Since we don't have many cards previewed yet, it's hard to plan around Plot as an early way to build into Kellan, the Kid decks. You can almost be assured that a few Plot spells will be powerful enough for your decks. Any ability letting you cast spells for free at some point is sure to stir the pot a bit.

Keywords to Capitalize

The next question to answer is what keywords we need to search for in the deck. Thankfully we have a ton of options with mechanics casting from all the zones that will trigger Kellan's ability. Simple Scryfall searches give us more options than we can possibly fit into one deck. The results of these searches really are staggering too:

Flashback: 89

Rebound: 26

Adventure: 67 with 17 cards that play into Adventures

Retrace: 7

Suspend: 56

Foretell: 34

So we can see that we have options. This doesn't even count any of the cards with the new Plot keyword starting with Thunder Junction and non-keyworded cards! All we need is a little direction with how we want to flavor the deck.

Another glimpse into Plot cards

Plot as a keyword gives us a ton of flexibility. As we learned from the official preview stream Plot is a pseudo-Foretell type of mechanic. A big difference between Foretell and Plot is the discounted cast from Foretell versus free cast with Plot. Plot has more up-front costs, so you'll want to keep in mind the timing of when you're paying the mana for your spells.

An Adventure in Building

The mechanic I personally keep coming back to with a Kellan, the Kid deck is Adventure. Previous versions of Kellan's character showed up as an Adventure, but there are a couple other reasons I like this approach.

To begin with, Adventure cards have a nice balance to them we need in a deck like this. Kellan's second ability lets us cast spells for free as long as the second spell has an equal or lesser value from the spell we cast outside our hand. This means that casting the non-Adventure side of any given card is going to trigger the ability. Even if the non-Adventure side is a little over-costed, it gives headroom for the free spells in our hands.

The main appeal to having Adventures in the deck is how they let our mana curve be a little unique. Normally, putting six and seven mana spells in the deck means you're not casting them until later. On the other hand Adventures let us cast spells early while putting big spells on layaway. This comes in especially handy with cards like Beanstalk Giant ramping us early or Sapphire Dragon giving us a Negate that provides a body later. Having early game interaction with late game beaters means we're always going to have spells to cast.

Time for Rebound to Rebound

Kellan, the Kid also makes me want to dust off an old mechanic that hasn't gotten much love in Commander lately. Rebound hasn't been in a mainline set since Khans of Tarkir, and I think it's primed for some love. Profound Journey may not be the best rate, but through the lens of what Kellan, the Kid wants, it has a chance to shine. The same goes for even simple cards like Sight Beyond Sight; the rate isn't great, but triggering our commander and keeping card selection coming is a huge boon.

Additional Engines

Another category of cards to make room for is beyond what is keyworded. This is Commander after all, where cards like Diluvian Primordial have been casting spells from beyond the hand for years. I think this is a wonderful chance to bring out some cards from another commander you may not think of right away that overlaps a lot though: Tasha, the Witch Queen. Tasha decks bring some fun cards to steal from your opponents and cast spells from outside your own hand.

An unlikely source of inspiration

The deck page for Tasha, the Witch Queen right away has two high synergy cards that have a chance to stand out in Kellan, the Kid decks. Chaos Wand and [Rod of Absorption[/el] both give us a chance to use our opponents' best spells against them. Chaos Wand gives an instant speed way to trigger Kellan's ability, and will surely create some hilarious moments in games. Rod of Absorption also offers utility with incidental graveyard hate sending instants and sorceries to exile rather than graveyards. For another version of this effect we also have the newer River Song's Diary from the Doctor Who set.

Not Kid-ding Around

Wherever you choose to take your Kellan, the Kid deck, you're sure to have plenty of options. If I were to run out a deck today with cards we know about, this is where I would start and feel confident about having a good time with it.

Kellan the Kiddo

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Commander (1)
Instants (8)
Sorceries (20)
Artifacts (7)
Creatures (24)
Enchantments (3)
Lands (37)

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With all that said, what do you think the typical deck for Kellan, the Kid will look like? Sometimes it can be hard to think of any surefire staples for the deck right away since it's so open ended, and this feels like one of those moments. What do you think folks will lean towards in their deck lists once decks start getting built? Let me know in the comments what you think of this new version of Kellan. Until next time, happy brewing!

Read more:

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Matt is a member of the EDHRECast, representing the 60-card formats and the Timmy's alike. He appreciates bad wordplay as much as a good alpha strike. A diverse nerd, you might also see him maining Lux support in League of Legends as well or on the deadlift platform at the gym.

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