[C17] Kess, Dissident Mage



  • Huh... I think this is really a possibility for Oath. Especially a grindy, control oriented Oath build (OathStill anyone?). Notice that unlike JVP or Snapcaster, you don't even have call your shot ahead of time. You can cast counters out of your yard in a counter war... Oath into this dumping Mana Drain into your yard and then just cast something and dare your opponent to start a fight? Not to mention passing Dig, Cruise, Ancestral, Demonic, or Time Walk... oh god, the Time Walks!

    Still not sure it's better than a Gris... but you can really cast this. And Oath runs a ton of 5 color lands as we know, so the colors don't seem too hard. Annnnnnd this lady pitches to Force? (Crap, did I just assume a gender again...? Lemme stare at the folds of that robe and make sure this isn't the Olivia situation all over.) This could be good!

    (This is better than Greenwarden. It flies over tokens. It's more castable. It pitches to Force.)



  • If I were getting my teeth kicked in playing Grixis already I might jam one just for fun. It's a free JVP activation every turn. Seems fine.


  • TMD Supporter

    @mediumsteve One thing that distinguishes this from JVP is the ability to always do it every turn, not every other for JVP. The other thing is a 3/4 body with flying isn't nothing.

    Yes, clearly more limited than JVP no question, but that is a pretty high bar for playability. I think in a world where Grixis is a reasonable deck (which has happened many, many times in vintage), this guy gets tested for sure. I don't think he single handedly makes the deck viable, but if it is already reasonable there is a chance.

    @Topical_Island For oath, I don't see it, but this is usually due to my normal problem which is, why not just Griselbrand if you are trying to value out your opponent? There are certainly situations where this guy might work out better than the GDaddy, but I imagine that equation works the other way far more often.


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    @garbageaggro I think the "Why not Griselbrand?" isn't quite solid here as it usually is. A lot of the non - Griselbrand value dudes people try to run cost 6 or more. True castability (and along with it, Cage-resistance) is an advantage this card has over Griselbrand, even if it's typically going to be worse on the board than Griselbrand is (and it will)

    The castability argument is easy to ignore, because so many people use it on cards that are really not that easy to cast... But four mana is a different story, I think. This will be easier to cast than Salvagers in some lists. (okay, not many though)

    That said, Griselbrand is still something you want to be able to do in an Oath deck, and I'm not sure I like Oath for this card more than Grixis Control


  • TMD Supporter

    @brass-man I would point out that this card is adding a 4th color to an oath deck so "castability" is a little bit hard to totally buy. I grant that there might be something to the castability, however, there was also an (admittedly small) amount of time where people ran combo oath with eternal witness, which is more castable (though clearly less powerful). To me, the castable piece has diminishing returns, at some point, is the cost of playing oath (meaning no support creatures) worth the "tutor-ability" only? Cheating on costs for more than 1-3 mana seems like it is part of the power of the card.



  • What I like about her is that she dodges targeted graveyard removal and that you can play instants anytime, even upkeep (something like Vamp or Mystical on your upkeep is doable).
    A great scenario is something like when she's on the table and you want to resolve a spell, say a PW. You have FoW and Ancestral in your graveyard. You can cast the PW and, if you need, use FoW to protect it. If you don't, cast Ancestral. Not having to commit beforehand is great.



  • I really want this to be good in oath just because it's so darn cute. It is less cage resistant than Auriok Salvagers though. Her ability is shut off completely by cage so it comes down to a 3/4 flying vanilla vs a 2/4 which can get infinite mana under the right circumstances. Either way you're probably playing a colour you wouldn't otherwise need to play. I'm going to pick one up regardless but I would really love it if this were good enough to see a maindeck slot in the pre-cage game plan to flash back a Yawgmoth's Will (Along with many other awesome potential plays).



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  • This chick with time walk and preordain is enough to try at least as a one-of in GrixisThieves.
    At first glance I thought, "this effect, again?" But once she sticks, much like Jtms, it's gg.



  • I'd probably jam this in a burning oath deck for fun.



  • Just released on mtgo, I think it might be bugged since it was letting me play a spell from gy on opponent's turn, which, unless I'm reading the card wrong, shouldn't be doable? She seemed really nice in the games I got to cast her, though (grixis thieves shell).


  • Administrators

    So excited that the card is on MTGO! ... That bug definitely makes the card way better, but I guess the ethical thing to do is just not play spells on your opponent's turn :)

    I played a Kess-based deck at EW. My main-event performance was weak but the deck felt great and I'm excited to play it online.



  • I also don't believe you can use alternate casting costs while it's in the graveyard - wasn't able to gush without paying 5 or pay FoW's alternate cost instead of mana, regardless of which turn it was. However, when I selected the option to pay alternate costs, it had me pay the mana AND exile a blue card/lose life.


  • Administrators

    @thermia Ouch, that one is going to hurt, using alt costs was something I built all of my Kess lists around.



  • I don't play MTGO but i hope for you guys it gets fixed very soon.

    @Brass-Man What was your list at EW (or general composition)? I played Kess as well (4c control/value).

    Kess was great every single game i resolved her. In the span of the entire weekend i got to do everything you want, especially Time Walk Time Walk, or Demonic Tutor Time Walk and then next turn do the same thing.

    The instant value you get on the free draw spells like Gush and Probe make casting her on curve occasionally much more valuable, but just having a Force or Mental Misstep in the yard also lets you safely cast her on curve as well. I was scared she was always going to be a '5 mana' card but casting her on turn 3/4 with no mana up was usually not problematic.



  • Damn, thats pretty awesome to read that this card sees some play. I didn't really expect it to be Vintage playable to be honest.


  • Administrators

    @sovarius said in [C17] Kess, Dissident Mage:

    @Brass-Man What was your list at EW (or general composition)? I played Kess as well (4c control/value).

    I think I might paste the full list and a sideboard guide later sometime, but the gist of it was a Mentor deck that's Grixis instead of Jeskai. Cantrips, Pyromancers, Counters, Removal. I loved playing the list and I look forward to Kess being fixed online.

    but just having a Force or Mental Misstep in the yard also lets you safely cast her on curve as well.

    I'm not sure I follow this bit. You can't use Kess on your oppoent's turn, so if you tap out with a have a Force/Misstep in your yard, your opponent can safely wait until their own turn to play removal or something threatening.



  • @thermia said in [C17] Kess, Dissident Mage:

    I also don't believe you can use alternate casting costs while it's in the graveyard - wasn't able to gush without paying 5 or pay FoW's alternate cost instead of mana, regardless of which turn it was. However, when I selected the option to pay alternate costs, it had me pay the mana AND exile a blue card/lose life.

    Unless text forbids it, there is no reason you can't use alternate casting costs. I'd say this is more than likely a bug in mtgo.



  • @khahan Yeah thats what I was insinuating - the card is severely bugged in multiple ways at the moment. You CAN cast cards during an opponent's turn (and use phyrexian mana for it, so every misstep etc. in the yard is live, but you CANNOT cast spells for their alternate costs and if you try to (when you right click to cast you can choose to pay mana or alternate costs), it will have you pay BOTH the alternate cost and the mana cost.



  • @brass-man said in [C17] Kess, Dissident Mage:

    I'm not sure I follow this bit. You can't use Kess on your oppoent's turn, so if you tap out with a have a Force/Misstep in your yard, your opponent can safely wait until their own turn to play removal or something threatening.

    This is true, it's not strictly 'safe', i should say 'more safe'.

    Making them wait is a decent tempo play and even if you have 5 to leave one for Fluster, having a free counter in the yard when you anticipate removal is fine. It is not as great as envision in practice i bet.


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