Kathril, Aspect Warper

Published April 4th, 2020

Ikoria introduced a very interesting mechanic for a more permanent way to grant keywords to creatures in the form of keyword counters. Kathril, Aspect Warper is a Commander embodiment of that and its effect is completely based on needing these counters. Without proper set up Kathril could just be a 3/3 for five mana, but with a stacked graveyard your board becomes an incredible threat.

Commander (1)

Kathril, Aspect Warper

Lands (37)

Arid Mesa
Bloodstained Mire
Bojuka Bog
Cavern of Souls
Command Tower
Fetid Heath
Flooded Strand
Forest x3
Gavony Township
Godless Shrine
Isolated Chapel
Marsh Flats
Misty Rainforest
Overgrown Tomb
Path of Ancestry
Phyrexian Tower
Plains x2
Polluted Delta
Reflecting Pool
Strip Mine
Sunpetal Grove
Swamp x2
Temple Garden
Twilight Mire
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath
Wooded Bastion
Wooded Foothills
Woodland Cemetery

Artifacts (12)

Mana Crypt
Sensei’s Divining Top
Sol Ring
Arcane Signet
Lightning Greaves
Nim Deathmantle
Ashnod’s Altar
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sword of Fire and Ice
Birthing Pod

Enchantments (6)

Animate Dead
Survival of the Fittest
Sylvan Library
Mirari’s Wake
The Eldest Reborn

Instants (4)

Enlightened Tutor
Vampiric Tutor
Kaya’s Guile
Return of the Wildspeaker

Sorceries (5)

Demonic Tutor
Buried Alive
Wrath of God
Rishkar’s Expertise

Planeswalkers (7)

Liliana of the Veil
Vivien, Champion of the Wilds
Garruk Wildspeaker
Kaya, Ghost Assassin
Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord
Liliana, Death’s Majesty
Liliana, Dreadhorde General

//Creatures (28)

Serra Ascendant
Stoneforge Mystic
Sylvan Caryatid
Drana, Liberator of Malakir
Eternal Witness
Faeburrow Elder
Glissa, the Traitor
Leyline Prowler
Mirran Crusader
Rhonas the Indomitable
Vampire Nighthawk
Woe Strider
Disciple of Bolas
Odric, Lunarch Marshal
Oketra the True
Questing Beast
Thrun, the Last Troll
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Sigarda, Host of Herons
Carnage Tyrant
Grave Titan
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Noxious Gearhulk
Wurmcoil Engine
Sun Titan
End-Raze Forerunners
Razaketh, the Foulblooded


Odric, Lunarch Marshal: To increase the size of Kathril with +1/+1 counters you want to balance giving counters to other creatures. That is a balance that can be tipped with Odric where he can share all these abilities each combat to all your creatures.

Survival of the Fittest: We need to fill our graveyard with keyword creatures and Survival is the best way to do that while tutoring for more creatures to pitch or answers for whatever situation you may be in.

Kaya, Ghost Assassin: Kathril is an enter the battlefield effect for having a way to blink is helpful for getting more counters on board during your next turn. Kaya is a great planeswalker as well with a draw/discard effect and a bit of gain/drain for life besides her blinking.

Card Name: Odric, Lunarch Marshal. Mana Cost: {3}{W}. Card Oracle Text: At the beginning of each combat, creatures you control gain first strike until end of turn if a creature you control has first strike. The same is true for flying, deathtouch, double strike, haste, hexproof, indestructible, lifelink, menace, reach, skulk, trample, and vigilance.. Power/Toughness: 3/3
Card Name: Survival of the Fittest. Mana Cost: {1}{G}. Card Oracle Text: {G}, Discard a creature card: Search your library for a creature card, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library.
Card Name: Kaya, Ghost Assassin. Mana Cost: {2}{W}{B}. Card Oracle Text: 0: Exile Kaya, Ghost Assassin or up to one target creature. Return that card to the battlefield under its owner's control at the beginning of your next upkeep. You lose 2 life.−1: Each opponent loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.−2: Each opponent discards a card and you draw a card.


The best creatures to run in this deck are ones with multiple keywords but there are certain keywords that we really want to be able to use. Let’s see what our loadout is like.

Hexproof: The most impactful, resilient, and useful creatures that can function even without considering Kathril were Carnage Tyrant, Sygarda, Host of Herons, Thrun, the Last Troll, Sylvan Caryatid. All solid choices for the deck to get some hexproof counters on board.

Card Name: Carnage Tyrant. Mana Cost: {4}{G}{G}. Card Oracle Text: This spell can't be countered.Trample, hexproof. Power/Toughness: 7/6
Card Name: Sigarda, Host of Herons. Mana Cost: {2}{G}{W}{W}. Card Oracle Text: Flying, hexproofSpells and abilities your opponents control can't cause you to sacrifice permanents.. Power/Toughness: 5/5
Card Name: Thrun, the Last Troll. Mana Cost: {2}{G}{G}. Card Oracle Text: This spell can't be countered.Hexproof (This creature can't be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control.){1}{G}: Regenerate Thrun, the Last Troll.. Power/Toughness: 4/4

Indestructible: Oketra the True and Rhonas, the Indomitable were my two choices out of all the options available. Their secondary keywords besides indestructible, double strike and deathtouch, are very helpful combat keywords. If they make it to the battlefield they are both targets to give counters to and Oketra can give more targets to give counters to while Rhonas acts as power boost.

Card Name: Oketra the True. Mana Cost: {3}{W}. Card Oracle Text: Double strike, indestructibleOketra the True can't attack or block unless you control at least three other creatures.{3}{W}: Create a 1/1 white Warrior creature token with vigilance.. Power/Toughness: 3/6
Card Name: Rhonas the Indomitable. Mana Cost: {2}{G}. Card Oracle Text: Deathtouch, indestructibleRhonas the Indomitable can't attack or block unless you control another creature with power 4 or greater.{2}{G}: Another target creature gets +2/+0 and gains trample until end of turn.. Power/Toughness: 5/5

Available Keywords: We’ve been through hexproof and indestructible but rather than pointing out individual creatures and abilities what are the total available keyword counters available in this deck? Well hexproof, indestructible, trample, flying, menace, first strike, double strike, lifelink, deathtouch, and vigilance. That’s everything except reach though flying does what we need it to and that was considered with World Breaker. Kathril is filled with possibilities to create an absurd number of creatures with keywords they wouldn’t normally have.


We’re doing a lot with this deck from filling the graveyard to building a board so what else is in this deck? The previous sections touched on a couple of handy cards but there’s more to the deck than the keyword strategy.

Buried Alive: The quickest spell to tutor multiple creatures into your graveyard. My selection for the three creatures while testing has been Oketra, the True, Carnage Tyrant, and Vampire Nighthawk for a combination of double strike, indestructible, trample, hexproof, flying, lifelink, and deathtouch.

Reanimation: Just because you need them in the graveyard doesn’t mean they need to stay in the graveyard. Once the keyword counters are on your creatures we can bring the creatures to the battlefield. Animate Dead and Necromancy are two of my go to spells but Liliana, Death’s Majesty is great at it as well and her +1 gets you a 2/2 Zombie while helping to fill your graveyard.

Utility Creatures: Eternal Witness and Disciple of Bolas fit this description the best I think. I’m a fan of Sidisi, Undead Vizier and Razaketh, the Foulblooded as tutor creatures though. We have mana ramp with Faeburrow Elder and Leyline Prowler. Our recurring landfall friend Bloodghast comes in for another body to target and Stoneforge Mystic can grab a nice Skullclamp for it. There are sacrifice outlets like Woe Strider and whether they are utility or win conditions Kokusho, the Evening Star, Grave Titan, and Sun Titan are some solid cards to run.


Kathrid has a high focus on keyword creatures to support it, of course it does there would be no reason to run it otherwise. When built around this strategy your board can become incredibly threatening and hard to deal with. Keeping track of all the keywords and making the choices of which creature get what abilities is going to take some learning though and good judgement on the board state.

If you like that kind of stuff though Kathril may be for you. The Abzan colour combination is no stranger to graveyard strategies and heavy amounts of keywords. The Symbiotic Swarm deck is very straightforward in it’s strategy but complicated to build around. We’ll see how well these keyword counters hold up with more testing.

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Article by Cascade.Cascade

The editor-in-chief and creator of Command Beacon. They started playing Magic during the Scars of Mirrodin block and hasn’t been able to stop since.

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