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Consultation Kess: a Primer

Commander / EDH UBR (Grixis)


Consultation Kess: a Primer

Grixis MAN (Midrange Ad Nauseam)

A brief primer on Consultation Kess by Redshift from the playEDH Discord. Please feel free to comment with any questions or suggestions!

This list is based off a list by Nakhla. Find it here. You can find a more flexible list with cards considered core by Nakhla, Wedge-cEDH and myself plus a sideboard full of cards you might want to fill the rest of the list with here.

  • This deck falls into the Midrange Ad Nauseam (MAN) category. Although we are running a fairly high density of fast artifact mana, rituals, and tutors, we almost never want to go for the fast win. Our safest and most efficient paths to victory involve having Kess, Dissident Mage on the battlefield with a cantrip (less important now that we have Jace, Wielder of Mysteries!) and ideally some countermagic in hand; a situation that turns Demonic Consultation or Tainted Pact into 1 card win conditions, but takes time to develop.
  • As previously mentioned, our primary win condition is highly resilient to much of the hate in the format. Furthermore, having access to Grixis colors as well as reliably being able to recur spells from our graveyard with Kess gives us access to some powerful lines of play. Notably;
  • Notion Thief + Timetwister / Windfall / Wheel of Fortune. Going for an early wheel is often a solid play, and tutoring early for a wheel can be as well. Kess allows us to reuse a wheel later if we find Notion Thief, or potentially reuse the tutor and the wheel to assemble this combo.
  • Intuition is amazing with Kess on the battlefield, and gives us a potentially game winning pile with Laboratory Maniac, Demonic Consultation and Unearth/Reanimate.
  • Ad Nauseam.
  • We run LOTS of countermagic: the most flexible form of interaction. We still need to be very critical in our threat assessment and interact efficiently with the late game in mind.
  • Being able to run Cursed Totem and recast wraths such as Toxic Deluge, Pyroclasm and Rolling Earthquake allow us to asymmetrically pressure creature-based decks and combos. We also run Cyclonic Rift, and can run Vandalblast and Rebuild. We CAN pay overload costs for cards we are casting from our graveyard via Kess!
  • Our overall card quality is very high.
  • The combo package is so lean that the core of the deck leaves a lot of slots for customisation according to your meta and playstyle.
  • Null Rod / Stony Silence / Collector Ouphe shut down our fast artifact mana. They don't interfere with our win conditions directly but they can be problematic. Think carefully about the impact they are having on other players, not just us, before removing.
  • Similarly, Rule of Law style effects, sphere effects and other stax hinder us but don't necessarily shut off our wins.
  • Our opponents are likely to recognize that we are on an Ad Nauseam strategy and will put pressure our life total with incremental combat damage. Fortunately Kess blocks well as a 3/4 and her ability allows us to reuse wrath spells; however, our creature wrath spells also use our life total as a resource.
  • Without an infinite mana outlet in the command zone or white we can't win directly off any of the format staple A+B 2 card combos.
  • Sometimes Laboratory Maniac, Jace, Wielder of Mysteries or whatever we've had to choose will be in the top 6 when we name it with Demonic Consultation (6.66% chance of it being in the top 6 of a 90 card library), and our opponents will laugh at us, and we will feel bad when this happens.
  • The deck runs a comprehensive suite of stack-based interaction, wrath effects and a small number of synergistic proactive hate pieces in Cursed Totem, Notion Thief and Stranglehold. The aim is to use these resources to disrupt faster decks, playing control in the early game. Control is notoriously difficult in cEDH due to the number of opponents and threats - it is extremely difficult to go card for card against 3 opponents. Threat assessment is crucial to ensure the most efficient use of our resources and our survival until the mid to late game.
  • To help keep resources high and support our interactive, control-based game plan the deck runs a number of draw engines in Dark Confidant, Mystic Remora, Necropotence, Rhystic Study and Ad Nauseam as well as a high density of cantrips and Sensei's Divining Top for card selection that double as combo pieces.
  • After surviving the early game, likely by disrupting an early win attempt and hopefully establishing a draw engine along the way, we want to cast Kess, Dissident Mage. From here we can grind value from our earlier spells and continue to accrue resources and disrupt opponents as we work towards a Laboratory Maniac/Jace, Wielder of Mysteries win, often via Ad Nauseam or Notion Thief and a wheel.
  • The sorts of things we are looking for in our opening hand include:
  • Lands. 2-3 is gravy.
  • Persistent fast artifact mana. We really want to see those rocks early. Spraying a few rocks into an early wheel is one of the best starts we can have.
  • Interaction. We often need to disrupt faster decks in the early game. Counterspells are the most flexible. As always we'll need to have a look at what our opponents are up to and mulligan appropriately.
  • Draw Engines / Selection. Mystic Remora, Dark Confidant and Necropotence are all good cards to see early. Cantrips and Sensei's Divining Top are good too.
  • Tutors. Early tutors are often spent on Mystic Remora, Mana Crypt, an answer, a wheel or Ad Nauseam. Intuition is an all-star in this deck.
  • Consultation Kess is a great choice if your meta features other midrange, control and stax strategies, and it does a great job of hating on creature based strategies and combos. However, it can be demanding in terms of threat assessment, making it tricky to pilot, and not being able to win directly off any of the format staple A+B 2 card combos limits the speed of the deck.


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