Why Basri Ket Is More Versatile Than You Think

White’s newest planeswalker hasn’t been turning many heads, but Michael Majors is here to change that!

Basri Ket, illustrated by Kieran Yanner

Core Set 2021 features the introduction of a brand new planeswalker to the multiverse.  With Gideon gone (RIP), Basri Ket is ready to take a crack at filling the shoes of one of Magic’s most iconic characters.  So how does Basri shape up?

Basri Ket

At first glance, Basri looks a bit one-dimensional — attack, attack, attack.  Let’s break down his abilities a little bit more in-depth before we get to some decks though.

3 Starting Loyalty

A “normal” amount of loyalty on a cheap planeswalker. Basri can survive most attacks from creatures on-curve, but is particularly susceptible to Questing Beast for a turn cycle.  

[+1]: Put a +1/+1 counter on up to one target creature. It gains indestructible until end of turn.

Relatively straight forward. Basri can build up a large advantage over time by investing in a creature that can freely attack every turn with indestructibility.  This is a fairly sizable advantage for a +1 ability on a three-mana planeswalker.  Additionally, on a stable battlefield, this can effectively gridlock the game if combat is what was the relevant portion of the game. That said, spending multiple turns investing in a singular creature is risky, but this is a sizable amount of impact for the package of mana cost and loyalty increase and can quickly snowball games where a player is ahead. It should also be noted that, as we’ll see shortly with his -2, Basri is completely ineffective if his controller doesn’t have creatures on the battlefield.

[−2]: Whenever one or more nontoken creatures attack this turn, create that many 1/1 white Soldier creature tokens that are tapped and attacking.

This is Basri’s bread and butter. While his +1 is a slow-burn advantage that can turn the tide on close battlefields, Basri’s -2 is the reason to play him — an ability that quickly punishes weak draws from your opponent and can create insurmountable leads. Curving 1-2-Basri on the play is a straightforward plan for pulling far ahead, as if your opponent doesn’t interact they’re under pressure from a vast amount of permanents. 

That said, Basri’s -2 also scales throughout the game the more muddy battlefields get. Further, it can be pretty difficult to stop the onslaught once it gets going. Basri has the potential to make your battlefield incredibly wide — most midrange and control decks can’t possibly hope to contain it on normalized battlefields even if Basri’s controller ends up losing a non-token creature or two in combat.

There’s also the case of synergies. These are Soldier creature tokens, just like Raise the Alarm, so Winota, Joiner of Forces and Basri have a lot of potential to team up together. Additionally, as we’ve covered, since we’re going so wide, cards like Embercleave or the newly returned Glorious Anthem are great for utilizing all the material Basri Ket is creating.  

One could even go so far as direct token synergies with Divine Visitation or Woodland Champion.

[−6]: You get an emblem with “At the beginning of combat on your turn, create a 1/1 white Soldier creature token, then put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control.

As much of Basri’s rate is in his -2, he still has an ultimate worth working for. In some ways, this ultimate and Basri’s package as a whole is reminiscent of Nissa, Voice of Zendikar.  

While Nissa’s +1 is far more defensive (and Basri does lend himself more to attacking in general), Basri looks to have similar potential to stall out a game on a stable battlefield and work towards an ultimate a reasonable portion of the time. Nissa only gave a surge in resources that often resulted in a player being significantly ahead, Basri should inevitably win the game all by himself.  

The Many Ways To Use Basri Ket

Just because Basri’s text box is fairly simplistic doesn’t mean that there aren’t a multitude of packages to slot him into. Let’s start taking a look at the wide variety of aggressive decks that work with Basri.

This deck features a few other cards that are going to be showing up in decklists today. 

Selfless Savior Seasoned Hallowblade Basri's Lieutenant

Selfless Savior is the new-age (and cuter) version of Benevolent Bodyguard.  Together with Alseid of Life’s Bounty they form a critical mass of cheap white creature protection and can be used in a variety of shells to play “protect the queen.”  

Seasoned Hallowblade is largely a spiritual successor to Adanto Vanguard.  An extremely sticky and hard-hitting threat that can make it difficult for  your opponent to get any real leverage on the battlefield.  

Finally, Basri’s Lieutenant is another sticky threat that directly benefits from Basri’s ability to start placing +1/+1 counters on your creatures — creating threatening battlefields that can’t be cleanly removed by Shatter the Sky and other sweepers.  Protection from multicolored means that it can shrug off Teferi, Time Raveler, and go so far as to attack through Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath.

As for the deck, there will be a pretty stable theme today of “this isn’t doing anything too crazy, but…”  Basri gives this deck significantly more staying power against interaction as well as giving you some excellent top tier draws as we discussed previous with his -2.  

Between Basri, his lieutenant, and Seasoned Hallowblade, white aggro in general has gotten a lot more tools for staying sticky. To some extent, that’s what decks like this needed. There are plenty of explosive draws involving Linden, Heliod, and Daxos that result in absurdly large Ajani’s Pridemate and friends.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Speaker of the Heavens too, yet another angle that this lifegain deck has gained as a one-drop that opponents must inevitably respect should it end up spitting out a chorus of Angels.  

Speaker of the Heavens Idol of Endurance Mangara, the Diplomat

The sideboard has a few new cards from Core Set 2021 as well. Containment Priest can shut down opposing Winotas and Lukka’s, Icon of Endurance is another resiliency tool against removal heavy strategies, while Mangara makes it extremely difficult for opposing creature decks to get into combat (as well as supporting the primary lifegain theme).

My favorite interaction in the deck is worth calling out — Daxos can generate a ton of lifegain triggers in tandem with Basri’s -2 to fuel all the other synergies.

As I mentioned in the ability discussion, Basri’s generated tokens are non-Human, giving it ample synergy with Winota, Joiner of Forces. Further, Basri’s Lieutenant is a Human, giving Winota another potent hit.

Admittedly, the Dog package is more “cute” (literally) than something I can endorse directly at this point, but Pack Leader is such a strong pay-off that it might just be worth it.  The ability to attack freely with your Dogs and generate Winota triggers without incurring any risk should also not be underestimated.  

Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner

Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner is another new addition from Core Set 2021, and something worth taking a look at generally in aggressive decks as well.  She can offer a lot of potential reach with her unblockability and grant yet another angle to these types of decks that frequently need to play scrappy normal games in addition to operating like a combo deck with Winota.  

The eight copies of protection creatures are really on display here, protecting Legion Warboss as well as the deck’s namesake in addition to being non-Humans to tie all the synergies nicely together.

Is Conclave Mentor worth fussing around Mono-Green’s mana base?  Right now, it’s unclear, but there are an incredible amount of options to generate +1/+1 counters in this Standard environment. Basri has obvious synergy with the Mentor, but can also pair nicely with Growth-Chamber Guardian for some quick card advantage.  

Conclave Mentor Growth-Chamber Guardian Primal Might

Ram Through has at least proven to be fringe playable in Standard so far, and Primal Might is a massive upgrade that means Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath isn’t just a brickwall for the majority of your creatures. This “green Blaze” makes it incredibly difficult for opponents to tap out against you.

I haven’t even gotten around to mentioning Scavenging Ooze yet. Yes, this card is just as strong as you remember it and know it to be in other formats. A few synergistic interactions is the cherry on top.  

While this deck is giving up a great deal in consistency, it should have a lot of power.

Finally, something a little less Basri centric.

Is this even a good place for Basri?  I’m not exactly sure, but it does go to show the potentially wide-range that the planeswalker can envelop. This is really more of a sacrifice deck that’s trying to abuse Lurrus and Archfiend’s Vessel, but getting in safe healthy attacks with Lurrus or Fiend Artisan in combination with Basri’s +1 certainly isn’t weak. Generating tokens in combat also means that Priest of Forgotten Gods and Village Rites are never going to run out of food.

This is a bit off the beaten path for the card, but the point is that there’s a lot of potential for Basri to show up in a variety of places and really put opponents under pressure.

Ultimately, don’t sleep on Basri.  This isn’t “just a Mono-White Aggro card” and while it is likely to prove its effectiveness in some basic shells, that doesn’t mean that it lacks a range for putting opponents under pressure quickly and effectively as both an aggressive curve-topper and a planeswalker that can be powerful in longer contests as well.

SCG Advertisement