Kresh Play-By-Play

In this Commander play-by-play, Sheldon details a game in which he battled with his Kresh the Bloodbraided deck versus some Armada regulars with relatively new decks.

I don’t really play Kresh all that much anymore. Despite it being a "signature" deck of mine and having a sweet alter done by my friend Aaron Duval as part of a Kresh versus Thraximundar mural, as I further give in to the madness of building more and more decks playing any one of them a great deal doesn’t happen much. Check out this picture and note the fact that Aaron (at least when he gave it to me for my birthday last year) had just started doing alters.


I recently had the opportunity to play him with some of the Armada regulars, and friend of the show Apple volunteered to record the play-by-play to share with you all. All of the other decks are relatively new. I’ve played with Jesse’s Animar a few times, but Chris’ Ghost Council only once or twice and Shawn’s Ulasht not at all.

The Commanders

Chris:  Ghost Council of Orzhova

Me:  Kresh the Bloodbraided

Shawn:  Ulasht, the Hate Seed

Jesse:  Animar, Soul of Elements

Turn 1

Chris:  Plains.

Me:  Taiga.

Shawn:  Forest.

Jesse:  Breeding Pool.

Turn 2

Chris:  Taps Plains for mana, casts Sol Ring, drops Orzhov Basilica, and bounces the Plains. Since the League has a penalty for playing T1 Sol Ring¸ we made a gentleman’s agreement to not play one on T1. Chris honored that agreement despite having it in his opening grip.

Me:  Swamp.

Shawn:  Kher Keep, Survival of the Fittest.

Jesse:  Command Tower.

Turn 3

Chris:  Plains, Mortify on Survival of the Fittest. Shawn, aware of the Can’t Complain List, doesn’t complain.

Me:  Tainted Wood, Mimic Vat.

Shawn:  Mountain.

Jesse:  Hinterland Harbor. Casts Cultivate, putting a Mountain into play and an Island in hand.

Turn 4 

Chris:  Snow-Covered Swamp. A discussion ensues about playing Snow-Covered lands without taking advantage of them, like by using Extraplanar Lens. Casts Increasing Ambition, which we’ll find out next turn is Cathars’ Crusade, a fine (meaning slightly scary) card in a Ghost Council deck.

Me:  Exotic Orchard. My start is slow. Fortunately, no one other than Chris is really doing much either.

Shawn:  Forest, Master of the Wild Hunt.

Jesse:  Forest, Animar.

Turn 5 

Chris:  Cathars’ Crusade.

Me:  Forest, Kresh. I’ve decided to make it the play in this deck to cast Kresh as soon as possible. The only time I’d probably not cast him as soon as mana is available would be for some ramp, or like in this case, if something juicy was going to get blown up to go under Mimic Vat, like maybe a Solemn Simulacrum.

Shawn:  Upkeep gets a Wolf, then keeping with the theme, drops Kessig Wolf Run then Genesis. Battles Chris with Master (37).

Jesse:  Primeval Titan, getting Temple of the False God and Reliquary Tower. Guess he has all the colors he wants.

Turn 6

Chris:  Increasing Devotion, gets five 6/6 dudes. The heat suddenly got turned up.

Me:  Twilight Mire, Demonic Tutor for the only thing that I have against Chris’ token army (an acknowledged weakness of the deck), Pernicious Deed.

Shawn:  Gets another Wolf on his upkeep. Drops Oran-Rief, the Vastwood, then casts Ulasht, which comes in with four counters.

Jesse:  Taps Temple of the False God among other lands to cast Soul of the Harvest. Drops Simic Growth Chamber, bouncing the Temple. Battles Chris with Animar (two counters), who can’t block and goes to (34).

Turn 7

Chris:  Casts Ghost Council and drains Jesse for one (39). Battles Jesse with two 7/7s (25) and Shawn with two 7/7s. Shawn responds by making a token with Ulasht and blocking one with it and blocking the other with Genesis. I put Genesis under the Mimic Vat. At EOT, I make a Genesis token even though I really have nothing to grow.

Me:  Kessig Wolf Run. Battle Chris with the token (31). Cast Pernicious Deed. Keeping up mana for the Deed will determine how the next several turns play out for me.

Shawn:  Wort, the Raidmother, gets two 1/1s.

Jesse:  Replays Temple of the False God. Casts Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, using its -2 targeting Chris to draw four cards. Casts Riftsweeper. The only valid target is the Genesis under the Vat, which is no big deal. Draws a card off of Soul of the Harvest, which is Hellrider. He casts it and draws another, ticking Animar up to four counters. The protection from white is going to keep Chris at bay somewhat, so he just passes. 

Turn 8 

Chris:  Plains, Necrotic Sliver. Battles two now 8/8 guys at Jesse, who blocks with Riftsweeper and Animar, one at Tamiyo, who gets crunched, and two at Shawn, who blocks with the Goblin tokens. Kresh gets nine counters. I like this plan.

Me:  Forest, Solemn Simulacrum, getting a Mountain.

Shawn:  Gets another Wolf, makes a token with Ulasht. At EOT Jesse flashes in Voidmage Husher just to draw a card.

Jesse:  Casts Etherium-Horn Sorcerer, bouncing the Husher and cascading past Izzet Boilerworks to get to Peregrine Drake. Floats two blue and a green, and when everything resolves, he untaps lands and draws two cards. Casts Intet, draws another. Casts Shardless Agent, cascading past Mountain, All Sun’s Dawn, and a few other things, finally getting to Noxious Revival, targeting Riftsweeper. Draw cards, then casts Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. As I’m saying, "Really Jesse?" Chris responds with Consume the Meek. Shawn activates Master of the Wild Hunt, and Jesse casts Voidmage Husher to draw more cards. Stuff dies, Kresh goes to +54, and Necrotic Sliver goes under the Mimic Vat. Plays Spearbreaker Behemoth to bounce Husher and draw a card. Plays Forest and Exploration. Attacks Shawn with Prime Time and gets Yavimaya Hollow and Izzet Boilerworks, bouncing a Forest. Shawn blocks with a Kher Keep token, but the Trample plus the Hellrider get him down to (34). Lays an Island for his second land.

Turn 9 

Chris:  Yosei, the Morning Star. Now it’s really on.

Me:  Swamp. Jesse mentions it’s getting late and he needs to clock in soon, so I battle him with Kresh. I tell him he’s getting enough out of hand that I’d probably kill him anyway. Chris sacrifices Yosei to tap Jesse’s things (Kresh now +63), which he didn’t really need to do since I have Wolf Run. Jesse dies. At EOT, Ghost Council comes back targeting me (39).

Shawn:  Gets a Wolf. Casts Explosive Vegetation, which he Conspires with his tokens, and ends up with two more Forest and two more Mountain.

Turn 10

Chris:  Plains. Attacks me with Ghost Council. I block with Jens. He casts Corpse Dance with buyback on Yosei, Blinking Ghost Council. At EOT, I make a Necrotic Sliver and blow up Cathars’ Crusade.

Me:  I don’t untap, so I just lay a Forest and pass.

Shawn:  Wolf, Raging Ravine, casts Woodfall Primus targeting my Wolf Run, which is probably the right play.

Turn 11

Chris:  Massacre Wurm. Shawn activates Master of the Wild Hunt to kill Ghost Council. After Wurm resolves, goes to (28). Kresh goes to +73.

Me:  Skyshroud Claim getting Bayou and Forest, Rune-Scarred Demon to get Vesuva (fun play as opposed to best play). Vesuva copies Shawn’s Kessig Wolf Run. Battles Chris with Kresh, who blocks with Massacre Wurm. At least it’s at the top of his graveyard instead of Yosei (in this, graveyard order matters).

Shawn:  Gets a Wolf, casts Mana Reflection then Skullmulcher, which eats Woodfall Primus and a Wolf. Woodfall Primus persists and targets Vesuva. This seems an opportune time to Fling Kresh at Shawn, killing him.

Turn 12

Chris:  Angel of Despair blows up the Vat. Although I’ve saved my Vesuva, Chris isn’t staring down a giant Kresh at the moment.

Me:  Recast Kresh. Battle Chris with Rune-Scarred Demon (27).

Turn 13

Chris:  Ghost Council, targeting me (37), Chris to (28). Battles with Angel (32). Casts Victimize targeting Yosei and Massacre Wurm. Victimize sacrifices the guy on resolution, not as a cost, so it seems like my only reasonable play here is to Deed so that he doesn’t have a guy to sacrifice. I Deed for seven, and Chris sacs the Angel to Blink Ghost Council. At EOT when it comes back, Chris to (29) and me to (31).

Me:  Only reasonable play is Kresh. Also drop a Swamp.

Turn 14

Chris:  Corpse Dance with buyback on the Angel kills Kresh, a play I momentarily had neglected. Won’t make the same mistake again. He swings with both, taking me to (22). The Angel then goes to the Ghost Council, so Chris (30), me (21).

Me:  Kresh again, wondering if he’ll continue the plan of blowing it up with Angel. I don’t really have anything else aggressive or offensively minded, so it’s not really much of a choice.

Turn 15

Chris:  Snow-Covered Swamp. Corpse dance with buyback for the Angel, but assuming he’s momentarily safe from Kresh being of any size, chooses to blow up Vesuva-turned-Wolf Run. He battles again, but I have Spore Cloud. He repeats the Angel trick, going to (31), me to (20). Without an answer here, I’m in some trouble. Kresh does get +5. 

Me:  Topdeck Madrush Cyclops, attack with both. Chris casts Corpse Dance without buyback (afraid of…?) to kill Kresh. I respond with Momentous Fall, drawing eight cards and going back up to (28). Angel blocks and kills the Cyclops. From what I drew, I play Swamp, Devouring Swarm, and Greater Good. Without mana to do anything with, the Angel is exiled at EOT. I think Chris got a little unnecessarily panicky right there. He knows my deck, and he knows that I don’t really have anything to buff up Kresh that doesn’t involve sacrificing other stuff. Even if I eat the Cyclops, it’s only eleven.

Turn 16

Chris:  Sun Titan, getting back Sol Ring. Casts Spelltithe Enforcer. It’s late enough in the game that it doesn’t matter. Attacks with Ghost Council. With no blocks, I’m at (24) with eight general damage.

Me:  Forest, Kokusho, pay the extra. Malignus, pay the extra. There’s no need to sacrifice KK right now since I have Greater Good. I’m pretty sure that this swings the tide. Battle with Devouring Swarm, Chris to (29).

Turn 17

Chris:  Flash backs Increasing Ambition. Okay, maybe it’s not over yet. He drops Cabal Coffers (taps for nine). Beacon of Unrest on Yosei, and then Sever the Bloodline on Malignus. I sacrifice it to Greater Good, and one of the three I discard is Big Game Hunter (along with Urabrask and Mountain). I play the BGH, sacrificing a Forest to kill Sun Titan. Chris sacrifices Yosei, tapping down my whole board with the exception of Greater Good. I float the mana. When he declares attacks, I cast Tangle before my mana pool empties. At EOT, GC comes back. Chris (30), me (28).

Me:  Pull Tormod’s Crypt off the top, cast it, and sacrifice the Big Game Hunter. Drop a land to cast Sol Ring. Use it to cast Sol Ring, sacrificing a Swamp. Activate Crypt while he’s tapped out and discard a bunch of stuff.

Turn 18

Chris:  Keeps the comeback alive with Martyr’s Bond and casts Requiem Angel. Battles with Ghost Council, taking me to (21) with twelve general damage.

Me:  Pretty sure I have him now. Cast Garruk Wildspeaker, sac a Swamp. Equip Skullclamp to Kokusho. Chris responds by sacrificing Spelltithe Enforcer to Ghost Council. I sacrifice Devouring Swarm to Martyr’s Bond. Cast Stalking Vengeance, and with Garruk untap Taiga and Mountain. Cast Victimize, targeting Malignus and Hamletback Goliath. It resolves, so I sacrifice Kokusho, Chris now at (25), me at (27). Chris then goes to nineteen from the Stalking Vengeance trigger. When I Makeshift Mannequin back KK, he realizes it’s over because of the Stalking Vengeance triggers I have.

So how do we assess Kokusho’s value in that game? It was certainly the finisher. With Stalking Vengeance having resolved, I think the end is inevitable without Chris pulling an immediate answer, because on the next turn, I can recast Kresh and sacrifice stuff to Greater Good to make Kresh big enough to deal the last bits of damage. As it was, I think Kokusho definitely got me there with some immediacy instead of needing another turn or two. The operative in the game may have been having Spore Cloud and Tangle back to back to stave off those attacks.

The only other news from Kokusho testing is that it came up once in the "Murder Rofellos" game I mentioned last week, where I was playing Karador. I had kept a pretty greedy hand of two lands, Elvish Visionary, Wood Elves, and Birthing Pod. Like a boss, I peeled runner, runner, runner, and I was in business. When it came to fetching a six-mana creature, I needed to sacrifice Archon of Justice to get Duplicant to keep someone from dominating the game—so there’s another instance of KK not necessarily being the right answer in every situation.

Unfortunately, I’m writing this before the League’s Week 7 action since I’m headed off to GP Columbus (hope you tuned in for all the great coverage on GGS Live!), so any further reports will have to wait until next week—when, by the way, DCI Tournament Manager Scott Larabee, Level 5 Judge Toby Elliott, and Original Virginia EDH Group member Justin Norris will all be visiting for a week of Embracing the Chaos, culminating in them all playing in Week 8: the final week of League #15. Full reports to come!