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Working with friends on a deck is some of the most fun you can have in Magic. As both a game designer and a Magic player, I am obsessed with iteration. Testing, theorizing, changing, and testing again to improve is just a satisfying flow. With KCI, I got to perform this beautiful process with Andrew Baeckstorm, Ben Weitz, and Sam Pardee.

We started a couple weeks before Grand Prix Phoenix with Shaheen Soorani’s Pro Tour list. The list was already solid, but we had a few things we wanted to change early on.

KCI

Collective Brutality was pretty clearly not a main-deck card, so that was an easy cut. Sanctum of Ugin had its uses, but it felt like it was mostly a win-more card. Late in the process, we found Buried Ruin, which felt like a much higher value land. It can return Wellsprings mid-combo and return KCI in matchups where they discard or destroy it like Jund.

We also added more answers to counterspells in the sideboard, as that was one of the few places we struggled. Guttural Response felt like good technology, as it can also counter Gifts Ungiven vs. Storm, which is one of the tougher matchups. We cut Blood Moon, as turning off our value lands was pretty annoying, and it didn’t feel like it was pulling its weight. Here’s where we ended up for Grand Prix Phoenix:

KCI

The list performed admirably, propelling me to a Top 4 finish, and my three friends to 11-4. That said, Humans taking down the GP was a little scary. A number of our losses came against Humans, since they have a lot of pressure backed by disruptive creatures, and we needed to figure out a way to add more answers to those. Andrew Baeckstrom did some good work here, taking this list to a 6-2 finish in a MOCS:

KCI 2.0

The combination of additional Engineered Explosives, Pyrite Spellbomb, and sideboard Galvanic Blasts (suggested by Owen Turtenwald) helped swing the Humans matchup to very close.

I didn’t change much from BK’s list for Grand Prix Hartford, but I did make a few small tweaks to give even more respect to Humans with an extra Galvanic Blast and extra Aether Grid. Here’s the list:

KCI 3.0

GP Hartford is where all the iteration really paid off. I managed to take down the GP, including beating a Humans deck along the way thanks to the extra removal.

Tips and Tricks

  • Let’s start with a list of loops (every loop involves KCI and Scap Trawler, so I’m not including them):
    • Two Myr Retrievers + anything with converted mana cost 2 or less. The Retrievers get to return each other and something else.
    • Myr Retriever + extra Scrap Trawler or extra KCI plus Opal. Retriever returns the expensive card and Mox Opal, and the expensive card returns the Retriever.
    • Myr Retriever + two 1-cost cards. This is the trickiest loop. It relies on the fact that when paying costs for something you can use mana abilities essentially simultaneously. Sacrificing Scrap Trawler and Retriever this way allows them to return each other. The trick here is to announce one of the 1-drops, sacrifice Retriever, Trawler, and the other one to cast it, and then loop this way, either sacrificing a Chromatic Star or Terrarion to draw cards or sacrificing a 0-cost card along with the loop to make mana.
    • Myr Retriever + Chromatic Star or Sphere + Mox Opal. Announce your intent to sacrifice Chromatic Star for mana, then pay the cost using Krark-Clan Ironworks, Retriever, and Mox Opal (making seven mana). Ironworks returns Retriever, Retriever returns Star and Ironworks, and Star returns Opal, so you end up with everything back in your hand. Replay everything for 7 over and over drawing a card every time.
  • Scrap Trawler also does some really cool tricks without KCI. My favorite is when you draw Opal, you can keep sacrificing Stars and Spheres to return your legend-ruled Opals.
  • Ghirapur Aether Grid is generally good for beating Stony Silence or killing off 1-toughness creatures, but it also can be used as a win condition when you combo off.
  • You can also loop Wurmcoil Engine as a way to win the game if Spellbomb is Surgicaled.
  • KCI is an engine deck, which means that you always have to be cognizant on whether you’re tight on mana or cards. With most engine decks, it’s about half the time for each. With KCI, cards are almost always what you’re short on. This means, for example, if you can either cast KCI and follow up with an extra Mox Opal to generate more mana, or use a second Opal to cast KCI and leave a Mind Stone activation, Inventor’s Fair activation, Buried Ruin activation, or an extra land drop available, you should play the second Opal the vast majority of the time.

Sideboarding

Sideboarding with this deck is tough, as you don’t want to dilute your deck too much. The go-to cuts are Terrarion or Chromatic Sphere, Mind Stone, one Myr Retriever, and Engineered Explosives.

Humans

Out

In

I may board out more Mind Stone on the draw.

Hollow One

Out

In

Mono-Green Tron

Out

In

Affinity

Out

In

Burn

Out

In

Storm

Out

In

Jund

Out

In

That’s all I’ve got on KCI. This good stretch of GPs put me in a great position to reach my goals of making Platinum and Worlds for the first time. Until next time, good luck looping Pyrite Spellbombs to victory.