Power Sink - K is for Kenrith

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Welcome to Power Sink, the article series where we dive into the ABCs of commanders that aren't as easy as 1 2 3. This time we're learning about Kenrith, the Returned King.

Kenrith is the second most popular five-color commander on EDHREC and is ranked eighth overall on the site. Having access to the entire card pool is already powerful, but Kenrith's suite of activated abilities sets him apart from others in his identity. He can make creatures huge by placing counters on them and can make them evasive by giving haste and trample. He can also keep you in the game with his life gain, card draw, and reanimation effects. These abilities require only mana, so Kenrith makes an excellent outlet for infinite or near infinite mana, and if you happen to have enough blue mana, you can just make your opponents draw out. Being a 5/5 isn't bad, either, as he can tussle with quite a few creatures and come out on top.

While Kenrith's abilities can synergize - and even combo - with quite a few cards, he doesn't really suggest any particular build path. In fact, his main page only has three high synergy cards, meaning there aren't a lot of cards he plays that don't show up elsewhere. This means you'll do well putting him at the head of just about any deck. The themes on his EDHREC page are all over the place, with a generous number of decks for disparate strategies such as Humans, Group Hug, and Lands. There's even a Royalty theme page with 47 decks! That variety even carries over to the competitive end of the format, with Kenrith having five separate entries on the cEDH decklist database. This means the average deck is going to be less helpful to parse out what you can expect from Kenrith, but we can still find a few common threads.

Kenrith - Average Deck

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Commander (1)
Creatures (26)
Sorceries (10)
Instants (11)
Planeswalkers (1)
Enchantments (8)
Artifacts (9)
Lands (34)

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With 25 nonland cards that can be considered ramp, it's clear that Kenrith decks are looking to stockpile mana. Cultivate, Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, and Faeburrow Elder all make sure you have the mana to utilize the commander's abilities. The mana production is supplemented with cost reducers like Biomancer's Familiar, Training Grounds, and Zirda, the Dawnwaker. These trivialize the cost of Kenrith's abilities and allow for infinite combos if you can reduce costs enough. I've seen a Kenrith player sacrifice and reanimate Dockside Extortionist over and over again for the win. Untap effects, such as Seedborn Muse and Wilderness Reclamation, let you put your mana to work on your turn and have it ready to go again for your opponents' turns.

Once we get past the mana, removal, and tutors, the average deck goes off the rails and we start seeing cards that seem to suggest different directions players are taking the commander rather than a unified theme. For instance, new from March of the Machine Commander is Sidar Jabari of Zhalfir, alluding to the 284 Knight decks led by Kenrith. Thassa's Oracle and Opposition Agent speak to the many competitive builds this commander helms. It's clear that no matter what you want to do, putting this king on the throne of your deck will give it some power.

Mainly on the Plain, or Mountain, or Island

It may seem like Kenrith reigns supreme no matter what you do. Luckily, I've got a plan to rein him in.

K is for King

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Commander (1)
Lands (74)
Creatures (11)
Instants (1)
Enchantments (5)
Artifacts (4)
Sorceries (2)
Battles (1)
Planeswalkers (1)

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We're going back to school and packing alphabet soup for our lunch by brewing a deck with 26 nonland cards, each starting with a different letter of the English alphabet. Aside from having a deck of mostly lands, this restriction keeps the power level in check by forcing us to choose between cards we otherwise wouldn't have to simply because they start with the same letter.

While this deck will rely heavily on the commander, we're also jamming some lands to help with the plan. With the ability to put counters on creatures and give them trample, we want to make use of lands that provide creatures. It's mana-intensive, but we can put counters on lands that turn into creatures, like Creeping Tar Pit, Inkmoth Nexus, and Hall of Storm Giants. We can also make tokens with Kher Keep, Den of the Bugbear, and, of course, Field of the Dead.

Our commander draws cards, but in his absence, we can draw with Arch of Orazca, Castle Locthwain, and Mikokoro, Center of the Sea. We're supplementing our removal with lands such as Boseiju, Who Endures, Blast Zone, and Arena. We even have a recursion package in our land base with Academy Ruins and Hall of Heliod's Generosity.

Finally, we're running all the Gates. They help fix our colors, but we can also get big mana with Baldur's Gate, boost a creature with Basilisk Gate, and naturally we're running Maze's End to grab that victory. All these Gates and utility lands will result in a lot of lands coming in tapped, but it's not like we have many spells we need to cast on curve anyway. Despite the section title, this deck has no basic lands. Normally I wouldn't advocate that kind of greedy deckbuilding, but I think this deck is just going to lose to Blood Moon or Back to Basics whether you add basics or not.

Now that we've covered the lands, let's learn the ABCs of this deck.

Now I Know My ABCs

A is for Abundance. With this we can filter right down to the nonland cards we really want.

B is for Beledros Witherbloom, to untap our lands and give us extra blockers and we can offset that life payment with our commander.

C is for Conduit of Worlds to replay our lands and the occasional permanent.

D is for Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, which fixes our mana and gives us more land drops.

E is for Eidolon of Rhetoric. We're probably not casting multiple spells in a turn, so why should anyone else?

F is for Felidar Retreat, to make tokens or power up our creatures.

G is for Ghirapur Orrery. With the extra land drop and so many lands in the deck, we stand a good chance of getting the draw effect from this one

H is for Horn of Greed. Sure, it helps opponents, too, but we should be able to take better advantage of it than they can.

I is for Invasion of Kaldheim. We wheel our hand of unneeded lands when we play this, and once it's flipped, we can turn lands in hand into direct damage.

J is for Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios, though truthfully we're using this for the backside.

K is for Kenrith, the Returned King, our commander.

L is for Life from the Loam, to retrieve our most important lands.

M is for Meteor Golem, because we need removal, and our commander can get it back, since it's a creature.

N is for Nine-Fingers Keene. She can help us find our Gates, and a creature with menace and ward is a great place to put +1/+1 counters.

O is for Oracle of Mul Daya, so we can play lands off the top of our deck, and extra ones, at that!

P is for Proteus Staff, so we can convert our tokens into creatures out of our deck.

Q is for Quartzwood Crasher. Our commander can give everything trample, so we'll have no trouble making token dinos.

R is for Radha, Heart of Keld. Playing lands off the top is nice, but she can dish out some serious damage with the kind of land counts we'll have.

S is for Seismic Assault, to turn lands in hand into damage

T is for Trade Routes, to pitch our lands for cards or to pull them back to hand for other uses.

U is for Utter End. Not the most efficient removal spell, but it's the kind of thing you use when you have to consider the first letter of a card name in deckbuilding.

V is for Vanishing, a hidden gem of a card to protect the king.

W is for Wrenn and Seven. Lands to hand, lands to the battlefield, potentially giant tokens with reach, this has a lot of what we want on one card.

X is for Xanathar, Guild Kingpin. With so few to cast of our own, why not make use of our opponents' spells?

Y is for You Find a Cursed Idol. Just one more way to deal with pesky artifacts and enchantments.

Z is for Zirda, the Dawnwaker, to reduce the cost on our commander's activated abilities as well as the ones on our lands.

C You Later

This ended up being a fascinating (albeit time-consuming) deck to build. I'd expected certain letters to have more options, but I was surprised that I found myself avoiding great cards simply because I needed that letter spot for something I wanted more. Anguished Unmaking is a fantastic card, but do I want to spend my "A" slot on it instead of Abundance or Ad Nauseam? I'd be curious to see what a deck built with these restrictions look like in another language, where you could have different distribution among card names, or even a different alphabet entirely. If you're looking to dive more into the data of card distributions by letter, check out this article by fellow EDHREC writer MtGDS.

That's all I have for this time. Did this deck land? Or was it too elementary? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

Lenny has been in an on again off again relationship with Magic since Fallen Empires. He fell in love with Commander in 2010 when his friends forced him to build Niv Mizzet, the Firemind and has been with the game ever since. When he's not turning cardboard sideways or trying to justify using bad draft commons in EDH decks you can find him playing something from his massive board game collection or practicing the Brazilian martial art Capoeira. Follow Lenny on twitter @LennyWooley

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