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Kess, Dissident Mage
Legendary Creature - Human Wizard

During each of your turns, you may cast an instant or sorcery card from your graveyard. If a card cast this way would be put into your graveyard this turn, exile it instead.

I know we've had a bunch of 4cmc great creatures that didn't make the cut, but this is probably one of the most powerful I've ever seen. It's probably even a passable Oath target.

last edited by fsecco

4 drops have such a huge bar for playability ... but damn this is a hell of an ability. You get to use it the turn you play it, provided you have the mana. (Gitaxian Probe? Gush, anyone?)

I keep imagining, not combo scenarios, but just super high value situations with cards you're already running. With an empty hand and no graveyard ... topdeck a Preordain? Casting that twice for UU is a pretty dramatically powerful effect. Double Lightning Bolt? ... those aren't even overpowered cards ... untapping with Demonic Tutor is probably just a kill. (Get Time Walk AND Ancestral, cast both of them twice before your opponent gets another turn ...)

Hell... between the time I started writing this post to now, I went from "Cool but no Jace" to "How can I build a Grixis deck in this meta?"

Awesome card with an awesome ability, but I'm not sure if she fits in the current Shops-driven meta. Guessing she'd go into a Grixis Thieves-type build or Grixis Pyro (RIP), neither of which have been a thing in Vintage for awhile.

I want this to be good so, so badly.

likely worse than Greenwarden of Murasa as an oath target (which was fringe playable - you sac it with an oathed Cabal Therapy to double regrowth).

still, this is a ton of value, and it's an interesting card.

I like the "If a card cast this way would be put into your graveyard this turn, exile it instead" clause. You can cast buyback spells from your grave, pay the buyback, and put them in your hand.

to actually evaluate this card -

repeatable graveyard recursion very much reminds me of - guess what? Jace, Vryn's Prodigy! We know that card is very good already.

Kess has a nice advantage of letting you cast something every turn no matter what, and having a 3/4 body, but it ends there.

JVP costs 2 less, has the loot effect, is ONLY blue. These advantages are massive, and the vast majority of decks would rather just play JVP.

They both die to Pyroblast. This also always dies to Swords/Fatal Push, and JVP can dodge creature removal if it flips first. JVP can be attacked, but that is somewhat difficult to do in Vintage.

Overall it is very difficult for me to imagine this card being a significant Vintage player. Maybe it is a 1 or 2-of in a grixis control deck, but unless mentor gets restricted, that will not be a real deck.

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.)

last edited by Topical_Island

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.

@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.

last edited by garbageaggro

@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

@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).

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).

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.

last edited by Thermia

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

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