Today, I’m going to throw back to an original legendary creature. Way back in the set that started the whole supertype, there were a lot of really bad legendary creatures. Some of them are straight vanilla bodies, and are only legendary because multicoloured was brand new. Now, we have non-legendary creatures in four colours, but back in the early days most things were one colour, and that was it.
But with Legends, Wizards created the supertype that allowed our favourite format to exist. At the time, it was just a type – Summon Legend. These have all been errattad, of course, but the old cards still look awesome with that simple typeline. Some of them are great, some are pretty bad, and most are downright awful. One in particular has been on my radar for a long, long time, so now we’re going to look at Rohgahh of Kher Keep.
The obvious includes are so bleedingly obvious that I’m going to get them out of the way. Yes, Kobolds of Kher Keep and Kher Keep are going in this deck. I know I tend to shy away from the obvious cards in this article series, but come on . . . this one is too key to pass up.
Let’s look at the negatives first. This is a 6 CMC 5/5 with a steep upkeep cost (Yes, kids, we often had to KEEP PAYING for our cards, even after they were cast. We had to work at it, while you all get to enjoy your Thragtusks and yourSnapcaster Mages) that pumps only a VERY specific card. And even that is not by much.
Luckily, we can accommodate the high cost by simply flooding the board with creatures in our early turns, so that the extra mana investment will already be worth the investment due to the early board state. Ideally, that early board will be Kobolds of Kher Keep from Kher Keep. The pump he provides is going to be a late-game advantage, albeit one that everybody sees coming. There are better colours for a token strategy, but we’re still going to churn out a lot of bodies.
The upkeep cost is steep, I’ll not lie. Tying up three red mana every turn is going to be a pain. Mana rocks like Gilded Lotus will help, of course, and we actually have a plan to use paying the upkeep cost as part of a kill condition. So, there’s that.
The idea here is to churn out tokens and be enough of a rattlesnake that nobody really messes with you. Then, you get enough Kobolds in play to represent lethal, or near-lethal damage from a Rakdos Charm. Then you just don’t pay the upkeep cost on Rohgahh and give somebody all of your Kobolds, and follow up with Charm. That somebody ideally dies from it, and you get all your Kobolds back. Throw in a little spell recursion in the form of Charmbreaker Devils and you may even be able to do it more than once.
So what we want in this list are ways to make 0/1 Kobolds into effective sources of damage. Cards like Goblin Bombardment, Flame Fusillade, and Furystoke Giant (especially when combined with Goblin Bombardment) are very good at this. Of course, we can always pump up the stats for combat as well, with Coat of Arms, but that seems too goodstuff-y. I would recommend you tailor that choice to your playgroup.
Other Tech and Bits
Besides some upkeep tricks and overwhelming token swarms, we need other things to do with our Kobolds. Thankfully, there are multiple options in black and red. Viscera Seer is a fantastic way to smooth your draws, and when combined with Blood Artist or Zulaport Cutthroat is an effective grind on life totals. Ashnod’s Altar provides some decent mana acceleration and a sac outlet as well. Keldon Warlord can get ridiculously big when your token production is left unchecked, though it lacks any form of evasion or trample, so it can be chump blocked easily.
A late-game Chancellor of the Forge can overwhelm a single opponent with hasty goblin tokens, but again you need to have built a critical mass of Kobolds first. Junkyo Bell provides a constant +X/+X (based on number of creatures you control) effect for a single creature, for the low cost of sacrificing it at the end of the turn. Tears of Rage is a decent alpha strike card to end the game in combat as well. On the other side of combat, Shield of the Avatar essentially makes a single creature unkillable in combat.
Because our deck relies on a few specific cards, we will need some tutors. The standard application of Diabolic Tutor and, if your budget allows, Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor should be sufficient. I like to include Liliana Vess in most black decks for her -2 ability, but that’s mainly because Liliana is my girl. Other than that, we should not really need a lot of searching, or planeswalkers for that matter. Most of the red ‘walkers would not really fit here, but Koth of the Hammer is an obvious exception, what with his ability to recover a Mountain from Rohgahh’s upkeep cost.
We’ll need some ramp and some draw here, too. Ramp in these colours comes mostly from rocks, which I tend to run light on. In this build, however, I would run a little more than my average. Darksteel Ingot, Chromatic Lantern, Rakdos Signet, and Astral Cornucopia would all make it into this list. We want rocks that provide coloured mana over colourless, if at all possible. I usually reserve the Lantern for decks with three or more colours, but here, the heavy requirement of a specific colour warrants a slot. For draw, we need to look at black. No cards do it better in black than Phyrexian Arena and Bloodgift Demon, and honestly those should be all we really need.
So we’re looking at a narrow deck that relies on a very specific theme – Kobolds of Kher Keep. This centers around three cards, none of which is really good on its own. Even combined, the three of them require a lot of work for very little reward. But they do provide the fuel for some interesting things. You can pull some shenanigans with Rohgahh’s upkeep cost, as mentioned, or you can simply build an army that suddenly gets very dangerous with no warning. Or you can enter a battle of attrition with your 0/1 creatures, and be confident in your ability to come out on top. Overall, this is a deck that will likely fly under the radar, and may even steal a few games or you. But the real point here is the mental image of 20 or more weak little kobolds suddenly flexing their muscles and charging at the enemy.
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