Kelsien, the Plague

Published April 20th, 2020

Hunting beasts and monsters on Ikoria takes a lot of experience and the beast hunter Kelsien, the Plague will take it by force. Kelsien is debatably the favorite of the Mardu Ruthless Regiment deck. He represents the colours very well and becomes an increasingly large threat when not dealt with. Many 1 toughness utility creatures and mana dorks will fall to him and we’re going to make sure he can destroy even larger creatures than that.

//Commander (1)

Kelsien, the Plague

//Lands (38)

Arid Mesa
Badlands
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Bojuka Bog
Cavern of Souls
Clifftop Retreat
Command Tower
Dragonskull Summit
Fetid Heath
Flooded Strand
Godless Shrine
Graven Cairns
Isolated Chapel
Karn’s Bastion
Marsh Flats
Mountain
Path of Ancestry
Plains x3
Plateau
Polluted Delta
Reflecting Pool
Rugged Prairie
Sacred Foundry
Savai Triome
Scalding Tarn
Scrubland
Strip Mine
Swamp x3
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Vault of the Archangel
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills

//Artifacts (17)

Basilisk Collar
Shadowspear
Skullclamp
Sol Ring
Arcane Signet
Boros Signet
Lightning Greaves
Orzhov Signet
Rakdos Signet
Thornbite Staff
Chromatic Lantern
Coalition Relic
Commander’s Sphere
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sword of Fire and Ice
Acorn Catapult
Whip of Erebos

//Enchantments (5)

Animate Dead
Necromancy
Oath of Liliana
Death Pits of Rath
Gift of Doom

//Instants (10)

Enlightened Tutor
Swords to Plowshares
Vampiric Tutor
Liliana’s Triumph
Terminate
Bedevil
Crackling Doom
Generous Gift
Hero’s Downfall
Kaya’s Guile

//Sorceries (5)

Steelshaper’s Gift
Demonic Tutor
Damnation
Wrath of God
Ruinous Ultimatum

//Planeswalkers (4)

Liliana of the Veil
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord
Liliana, Dreadhorde General

//Creatures (20)

Mother of Runes
Serra Ascendant
Bloodghast
Imperial Recruiter
Murderous Rider // Swift End
Plaguecrafter
Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder
Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas
Odric, Lunarch Marshal
Queen Marchesa
Solemn Simulacrum
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Stonehewer Giant
Aurelia, the Warleader
Harvester of Souls
Inferno Titan
Noxious Gearhulk
Sun Titan

Synergies

Card Name: Basilisk Collar. Mana Cost: {1}. Card Oracle Text: Equipped creature has deathtouch and lifelink.Equip {2}
Card Name: Gift of Doom. Mana Cost: {4}{B}. Card Oracle Text: Enchant creatureEnchanted creature has deathtouch and indestructible.Morph—Sacrifice another creature. (You may cast this card face down as a 2/2 creature for {3}. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)As Gift of Doom is turned face up, you may attach it to a creature.
Card Name: Death Pits of Rath. Mana Cost: {3}{B}{B}. Card Oracle Text: Whenever a creature is dealt damage, destroy it. It can't be regenerated.

Basilisk Collar: First and foremost is Basilisk Collar to grant Kelsien deathtouch and the lifelink is just extra. This low cost equipment is incredibly effective no matter what it’s attached to.

Gift of Doom: A Commander set morph card with some high powered keywords. If you have the creature to spare this is a great trick to attach onto any of your creatures not just Kelsien. Indestructible and deathtouch are strong abilities and cause all sorts of trouble for your opponents.

Death Pits of Rath: Maybe you aren’t able to get deathtouch onto Kelsien, fear not because there is an answer. Death Pits of Rath can fell even the largest creature with a simple tap from Kelsien.

Hunting Prey

Card Name: Acorn Catapult. Mana Cost: {4}. Card Oracle Text: {1}, {T}: Acorn Catapult deals 1 damage to any target. That permanent's controller or that player creates a 1/1 green Squirrel creature token.
Card Name: Generous Gift. Mana Cost: {2}{W}. Card Oracle Text: Destroy target permanent. Its controller creates a 3/3 green Elephant creature token.
Card Name: Thornbite Staff. Mana Cost: {2}. Card Oracle Text: Equipped creature has

Acorn Catapult: Alright this one is going to get funny looks but it’s more impressive than you think. In Glissa, the Traitor there were many times when the opponents will not have creature to die and trigger, the case is the same here. In Glissa you could hit the opponent and give them a squirrel then kill the squirrel with Acorn Catapult and give them another squirrel. Kelsien brings the same issue and Acorn Catapult brings the answer. Whether you’re shooting your opponents or their creatures and planeswalkers Kelsien will be able to rack up experience counters by squirrel hunting.

Generous Gift: Again if your opponent doesn’t have a creature we’ll be happy to give them one. This colour shifted Beast Within if effective permanent removal while allowing Kelsien to go elephant hunting.

Thornbite Staff: Now that’s if there were no creatures to take down, now what if there were? Well Thornbite Staff will help untap Kelsien untap and take down more creatures every time a creature dies. With deathtouch or Death Pits of Rath that’s just taking down every opposing creature you’d like and can target on the field.

Hunting Friends

Card Name: Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder. Mana Cost: {2}{R}{W}. Card Oracle Text: Whenever Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder enters the battlefield or attacks, target creature you control gains double strike and lifelink until end of turn.Partner (You can have two commanders if both have partner.). Power/Toughness: 3/3
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: Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas. Mana Cost: {2}{R}{W}. Card Oracle Text: Double strike, vigilanceWhenever you cast a creature spell with converted mana cost 5 or greater, you get an experience counter.Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas gets +1/+1 for each experience counter you have.. Power/Toughness: 3/3

Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder: Since Kelsien starts with vigilance and haste we may as well add on double strike and lifelink to make him even deadlier.

Odric, Lunarch Marshal: Those are some lovely abilities now why don’t you share with your board. Odric is well known for sharing keywords with your team and with Kelsien’s natural vigilance and haste it makes anything you play a big threat for combat.

Kalemna, Disciple of Iroas: They gain experience in different ways but both Kalemna and Kelsien get +1/+1 for each experience counter and it’s hard to tell which one is deadlier.

Torbran, Thane of Red Fell: Sometimes Kelsiens love taps don’t have enough to them especially when lacking deathtouch. Well Torbran is happy to help turn those 1 damage pings into full 3 damage bolts.

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Inferno Titan: There’s a lot of legendary creatures in this section but Inferno Titan may be one of the best hunting assistants. If it gains deathtouch it’s an absolutely terrifying creature and even without it this giant has been able to clear boards all by itself.

Card Name: Torbran, Thane of Red Fell. Mana Cost: {1}{R}{R}{R}. Card Oracle Text: If a red source you control would deal damage to an opponent or a permanent an opponent controls, it deals that much damage plus 2 instead.. Power/Toughness: 2/4
Card Name: Inferno Titan. Mana Cost: {4}{R}{R}. Card Oracle Text: {R}: Inferno Titan gets +1/+0 until end of turn.Whenever Inferno Titan enters the battlefield or attacks, it deals 3 damage divided as you choose among one, two, or three targets.. Power/Toughness: 6/6

Summary

Kelsien is dangerous to a huge variety of decks and it looks like it’ll be an absolute thrill to play him as a Commander. It’s hard to describe him further than by saying he’s a solid choice. His cost, ability, and growth as a threat throughout a game take down a lot of strategies. We’ve put a lot of utility options into his hunting kit and worse case is just try to land a nice Ruinous Ultimatum. An embodiment of a Mardu strategy to aggro, damage, and destroy and then there’s the rest of the deck to go along with it. If you have any opinions on him feel free to share! Is he the best of the Commander 2020 Mardu options? Is there anything you would add or remove? Just don’t say Acorn Catapult, I know already.

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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