Underdog's Corner — Kefnet, the Mindful

New Year, Same Underdogs

Hello and welcome back to the first Underdog's Corner of 2018! It's a new year, which means it's likely to look a lot like the last year. It's a time for opportunities to reinvent ourselves, make changes to our lives, and generally try to improve upon the previous years in some respective. Despite all of these promises of change, I can still promise you that the Underdog's Corner will be a consistent part of your lives. So what do I have to offer you today? I have a mono-blue legendary creature, and not only a creature, but also a God. Your first thought at that description might be Thassa, God of the Sea, but since this is the indeed the Underdog's Corner, we are going to look at a member of the often downtrodden Amonkhet gods, Kefnet, the Mindful! Coming in with only 159 decks on EDHREC, this ibis-headed god believes in the power of knowledge, puzzling trial-goers, and doing his best not to meet a giant scorpion on a bad day. So let's get started!

Kefnet, the Mindful

Kefnet, the Mindful is one of the five mono-colored gods from Amonkhet, and upon the set release the reaction to the five gods was... less than lukewarm I would say. However, despite the "shortcomings" that some may see in Kefnet, I think that belies the true power behind this god. I think Kefnet brings a potent set of abilities that makes him a viable Voltron commander. If you don't know what a Voltron commander is, it is a commander that intends to win the game by dealing 21 commander damage to an opponent. So why do I think that? Let's break down what this god is made of:

Flying, Indestructible

This is the easiest thing to evaluate, and one of the strengths of our build going forward. Like every god that has been released (well, excluding the gods of destruction from Hour of Devastation), Kefnet carries around the indestructible keyword. This makes him resilient to most forms of spot removal, and it makes him more resilient to wraths than most other commanders. We can drop Kefnet early and begin setting up our game plan without fear that he will fall to the first board wipe before doing anything. Even if Kefnet is removed, it isn't the end of the world as we can easily replay Kefnet since he comes in at a very low cost of three mana.

One of the hurdles of a Voltron commander is having a consistent form of evasion, and lucky for us Kefnet comes stock-equipped with a set of wings that actually work. We can't completely rely on flying to win the day, but it is a great starting point. Along with that, Kefnet is huge for a flyer for his cost. Being a 5/5 indestructible flier for three mana is absurd at face value, but there are some restrictions to wield that power.

Kefnet, the Mindful can't attack or block unless you have seven or more cards in hand.

Here is limiter to Kefnet's power: we have to have a full hand in order for Kefnet to be "online." Surprisingly, I don't think this is too difficult to do. While there are valid concerns that we won't be advancing our board-state enough if we attempt to keep seven cards in hand, we have a giant card pool to mold this limit in our favor. The first of these cards that help is Kefnet himself:

3U: Draw a card, then you may return a land you control to it's owner's hand.

This is where Kefnet begins to shine. Yes, I hear the detractors say, "Four mana to draw a card? That's terrible!" It is a pricey ability, but it's all part of what makes this god tick. Kefnet is a mana sink for drawing cards, and that is exactly what we need. Additionally, we can bounce a land to our hand later in the game (or early game if necessary) to get ourselves to seven cards in hand. This lets us pass our turn with five cards in hand and not be vulnerable to attack. On-board tricks are often forgotten, and I'm sure there will be people who will attack a "defenseless" player only for their best creature to be destroyed by a god. This gives us control over how we approach the game as whenever players attack us, we can use our mana freely for spells.

Zero-Sum Hand

The most important consideration we have to make while building Kefnet is keeping him online. Holding seven cards in hand isn't trivial, but it is possible. A lot of this starts with defining deckbuilding restrictions for our cards. One of my rules is that the majority of cards need to replace themselves in one way or another, and if they didn't do that they most likely needed to create a mana advantage. This keeps our hand at a consistent level throughout the game. Draw spells fit this criteria to a tee, but those are easy to evaluate.

Tutoring is a very strong way to accomplish this goal; not only do we replace our cards one-for-one, but we also gain the utility of grabbing cards we need. Expedition Map is useful for grabbing the very powerful lands like Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx or utility lands such as Reliquary Tower. Trinket Mage can let us find cards like Sol Ring for mana advantage, Sensei's Divining Top for deck manipulation and a free draw, or the previously mentioned Expedition Map.

Trophy Mage can find a number of important three-cost artifacts. The least noteworthy of these are still good cards like Commander's Sphere, but notably it can find Strata Scythe. In a mono-blue deck filled with Islands, Strata Scythe can make Kefnet a must-answer threat almost immediately.

Not only are tutors great for creating advantage, but so are cards that create mana advantage. Most cards that fall into this category are mana rocks, but the few that aren't offer great use to us. Baral, Chief of Compliance reduces the cost of the majority of our spells while also giving us card filtering whenever we counter a spell or ability. Training Grounds is the little engine that could. Most decks scoff at the idea of having this card included, but for some it's an absolutely brutal engine for advantage. It is most well-known as a piece in Tasigur, the Golden Fang decks, but it is just as important in Kefnet. With Training Grounds on the board, our commander becomes a consistently and resilient draw engine.

Knowledge is Power

Since our deck built around draw power and the ability to keep our hand consistent, how do we weaponize that?

Let's look at Empyrial Plate and let that card's text sink into our minds.

Equipped creature gets +1/+1 for each card in your hand.

That is a very powerful line of text for this game. If Kefnet is attacking or blocking while this is equipped, that means Kefnet should be called the Indomitable as he stands at a massive 12/12 in power and toughness. In two swings, Kefnet swings for lethal. Even swinging for twelve later in a game might be enough to send a player straight into the red-zone. Combine this with any other buffs like Inquisitor's Flail, and someone might call you out for being excessive.

Soramaro, First to Dream is basically the prototype version of Kefnet. They both fly, care about cards in hand, and they mirror activated abilities. Soramaro gets to play offense and defense without restriction as well as variable size, but he is also less resilient and more expensive. It's always important for a deck to have a level of consistency, and Soramaro gets to act as a "hidden commander" of sorts for the deck. Sturmgeist is another card to share this effect, but I think you'll be pressed more to make a judgment call on the spirit's inclusion.

Oh look! Another creature like Soramaro! Psychosis Crawler is a grounded version of Sturmgeist, but unlike the spirit our artifact horror gives us a bit of reach that a beater might not. What better way to complement playing and drawing cards than to hit our opponents' life totals while we're at it? Since Kefnet is likely to be our main damage dealer, sneaking in a few points of life loss over several turns is likely to help our position.

Coercive Portal is a card that doesn't appear on Kefnet's primary page, and I'm a little shocked. After using the advanced filters, EDHREC shows that only ONE deck is using it. Well, since I brought the card up, I should explain why I think it deserves a few more inclusions. Coercive Portal has two modes on your upkeep: either you draw a card or you set off a bomb the equivalent of a Nevinyrral's Disk. Most of the time, players aren't going to want to voluntarily set a wrath off, so you'll get to sit back and draw two cards a turn. Considering that Staff of Nin does this primarily for six mana, I think we have a good deal. Even when the table decides that a wrath is in order, we can sit back and smile as Kefnet will still be standing in the aftermath like he is in the poster image for this article.

Drawing to a Close

Since I've talked so much about drawing cards, I thought I should at least talk about a few draw spells that I would include. For Recurring Insight, not much needs to be said. It is one of the strongest draw spells in the format, and it is definitely an auto-include in this blue deck. Even if we're only targeting a player with three cards in hand, with the way our deck is built that should be plenty of cards to turn Kefnet into a beater. Paradoxical Outcome is a bit of a pet card, but because the deck I built is so artifact heavy this card can easily draw us into having seven or more cards in hand. For example, if we have four cards in hand, we only need to return two cards from the field to reach seven. Lastly is Gush. At worst, Gush is still a draw spell even if it is expensive. At it's best, it is a free four cards to add to our hand size. It's a great boon for keeping Kefnet online.

Below is the decklist that I was referencing earlier, and I hoped you've enjoyed learning a bit about the Amonkhet's God of Knowledge.

Thanks for joining me again in the Underdog's Corner!

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