Last updated on April 27, 2022

Kenrith, the Returned King - Illustration by Kieran Yanner

Kenrith, the Returned King | Illustration by Kieran Yanner

I’ve written more than a few EDH deck guides in my day, but I’ve yet to do a simple 5-color good stuff list. It’s an underrated strategy that’s often employed by many Magic players as their first deck, and for good reason. It doesn’t require you to order cards offline, you can take a lot of creative liberties when deckbuilding, and it gives you an opportunity to play your favorite pet cards.

That’s why today I’ll be going over my take on Kenrith, the Returned King as the commander for a casual 5-color good stuff Commander deck. I’ll give you a rundown of the deck including what cards I’ve included and why, some unique combos and interactions in the list, and some budget options so you don’t break the bank playing this awesome commander.

Let’s get started!

The Deck

Cyclonic Rift - Illustration by Chris Rahn

Cyclonic Rift | Illustration by Chris Rahn

Commander (1)

Kenrith, the Returned King

Creature (34)

Etali, Primal Storm
Biomancer’s Familiar
Felidar Sovereign
Zirda, the Dawnwaker
Notion Thief
Clever Impersonator
Progenitor Mimic
Blazing Archon
Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded
Niv-Mizzet, Parun
Faeburrow Elder
The Gitrog Monster
Samut, Voice of Dissent
Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy
Avenger of Zendikar
Bringer of the Blue Dawn
Marchesa, the Black Rose
Muldrotha, the Gravetide
Meren of Clan Nel Toth
Fallen Shinobi
Drannith Magistrate
Damia, Sage of Stone
Seedborn Muse
Agent of Treachery
Platinum Angel
Spark Double
Birds of Paradise
Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
Nyxbloom Ancient
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Avacyn, Angel of Hope
Craterhoof Behemoth
The Scarab God
Consecrated Sphinx

Instant (4)

Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Heroic Intervention
Cyclonic Rift

Sorcery (8)

Unexpected Results
Vandalblast
Winds of Abandon
Eerie Ultimatum
Ruinous Ultimatum
Blatant Thievery
Traverse the Outlands
Tooth and Nail

Enchantment (12)

Fires of Invention
Greater Good
Wilderness Reclamation
Mirari’s Wake
Zendikar Resurgent
Bear Umbra
Leyline of Anticipation
Omniscience
Fiery Emancipation
Training Grounds
Rhystic Study
Smothering Tithe

Artifact (8)

Talisman of Resilience
Talisman of Curiosity
Arcane Signet
Sol Ring
Fellwar Stone
Chromatic Lantern
Helm of the Host
Chromatic Orrery

Land (33)

Plains
Mountain
Swamp
Island x2
Snow-Covered Plains
Forest x2
The World Tree
Command Tower
Exotic Orchard
Snow-Covered Mountain
Snow-Covered Swamp
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Spire of Industry
Reliquary Tower
Woodland Cemetery
Fabled Passage
Hinterland Harbor
Flooded Grove
Wooded Bastion
Stomping Ground
Hallowed Fountain
Temple Garden
Twilight Mire
Overgrown Tomb
Watery Grave
Bountiful Promenade
Field of the Dead
Breeding Pool
Mystic Gate
Flooded Strand

I’ve decided to go a little casual with this version of Kenrith, the Returned King since I was inspired by my friend Ethan’s list. He plays Kenrith at our local game store’s Monday Night Commander and goes on an absolute tear with his 5-color good stuff deck which I took some inspiration from.

The deck has no clear theme or strategy, it’s literally just some of the best cards in Commander in all five colors, thrown together under one roof. It feels like exactly what Commander is supposed to be as a format. A cool legendary creature in a deck built entirely of cards you think are cool that you’ll actually get to play since the games go so long. What other format lets you play Omniscience, Tooth and Nail, and Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded in the same deck?

But don’t be mistaken; just because this deck has no clear theme like “angels” or “Birthing Pod combo” doesn’t mean it isn’t very powerful. Underestimating Tooth and Nail or even a simple Consecrated Sphinx is a great way to lose, and it honestly seems like players love to lose.

The Commander

Kenrith, the Returned King

Kenrith, the Returned King is a toolbox through and through. It gives you options and the ability to play five colors, which is about all you need from it anyway. It has five unique abilities that do different things in varying severities, and while they’re all powerful some are far better than others.

Kenrith’s first ability costs and gives all creatures trample and haste. That’s pretty big considering it hits everything, but luckily it only lasts until the end of turn so it effectively only hits your creatures. This works great with Craterhoof Behemoth since it doesn’t give haste and your opponents often forget about this ability when calculating damage.

The second ability is a little less potent. For you can put a single +1/+1 counter on a creature. This is okay, but it’s only ever used if you have some kind of infinite combo or need to spend some mana. For you can gain five life or force somebody else to gain five life. This is actually pretty sweet and can keep you alive in some otherwise deadly situations, especially if you have 9 to 12 mana to sink into it.

Kenrith can also force any player to draw a card for . This is a great way to get some card advantage by spending it on your opponent’s end step, but it’s also a great infinite mana outlet to win through mill or Omniscience.

Lastly, Kenrith can actually reanimate any creature in any graveyard for . This is a very powerful ability and comes in handy later in the game when your expensive creatures have inevitably been killed off. The deck has plenty of reanimation targets, and there’s nothing wrong with reanimating something small like Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy either.

Interaction Package

Path to Exile

Having access to all five colors of Magic gives you the best of the best when it comes to what interaction is available to you. There’s no need to settle for things like Murder when things like Path to Exile are around.

Swords to Plowshares and Winds of Abandon make up your single-target removal on top of Path. These are all premium pieces of removal and are able to successfully remove anything without hexproof.

Cyclonic Rift, Vandalblast, and Blatant Thievery are your spells that go big. These are great ways to purge the board and come out on top. Unless you’ve never been in a game with the card before, you know that resolving a massive Rift late into the game is an almost guaranteed victory.

Board Wipes

Cyclonic Rift

There’s no shortage of board wipes in this list. Cyclonic Rift is front and center in this deck. In fact, I think I’d always go with Rift if I could only play one blue card in this entire list. It’s just too good. Resolving it on a packed board state lets you do whatever you want for two or three turns and have all your opponents immediately debate conceding.

Ruinous Ultimatum

Sometimes bouncing nonland permanents isn’t enough and you need them gone for good. That’s where Ruinous Ultimatum comes in. This card will get rid of everything your opponents have minus their lands. Most people don’t have reanimator engines either, at least not to the degree that they could be playing all these cards again as if they were just Cyclonic Rifted.

Big Boy Bombs

In case you didn’t immediately notice, this deck’s mana curve is high. The average mana value, accounting for lands, is 4.59! That’s a pretty steep curve, but believe me, there are some major payoffs for getting there.

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

One of the most popular cards in the deck is Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. This Phyrexian Praetor immediately shuts down all decks that stay low to the ground while turning your mediocre board state into the most formidable force in the game. This is just one of the best creatures, period.

Bringer of the Blue Dawn

Bringer of the Blue Dawn is a whale at nine mana that can be cast with an alternative cost of . That’ll be pretty easy for you to achieve with this deck, especially if you get Chromatic Lantern out. This creature isn’t exactly a fighter, you basically just want it alive as long as possible since getting a half Ancestral Recall each turn is absolutely incredible.

Consecrated Sphinx

Consecrated Sphinx is another expensive blue creature that draws you more cards than you could ever want. This is the ultimate lightning rod in EDH. If anyone can remove this they usually do it instantly before you have a chance to draw two cards. That said, if you do manage to draw some cards with this you’re going to be in a great spot and easily able to refill your board once it eventually dies.

Progenitor Mimic

Progenitor Mimic is a great way to make something out of mostly nothing in this deck. A single Craterhoof Behemoth or Avenger of Zendikar isn’t usually enough to close out the game. But getting another one each turn usually is.

Speaking of Avenger of Zendikar and Craterhoof Behemoth, these two work incredibly well together. So well, in fact, I’ve included a copy of Tooth and Nail that can tutor both of these out and into place at once. Avenger of Zendikar supplies the creatures and Craterhoof Behemoth supplies the damage and trample. Then just activate Kenrith, the Returned King to give them haste for and suddenly you’re killing the entire table.

Potent Enchantments

Omniscience

While the list doesn’t have an enchantment subtheme there are certainly some powerful inclusions that can turn the tide of any game. The first I’d like to mention is Omniscience which lets you play cards in your hand for free. This card is amazing and probably one of my favorites in all of Magic. Just make sure you have Kenrith out or another way to consistently draw some cards to keep the engine running.

Fiery Emancipation

Fiery Emancipation is basically just red’s version of Omniscience. It’s a super expensive and very red enchantment that triples all damage. This can obviously blow up in your face sometimes, but you should be able to adequately take advantage of it as long as you don’t play it immediately after somebody else cast Cyclonic Rift.

Zendikar Resurgent

Zendikar Resurgent is a great green enchantment for your mostly creature deck. It effectively doubles your mana output while also making all your creature spells card neutral. You might only get to play one or two additional creatures in a given turn thanks to your very high curve, but that’s pretty good given the power level of the average creature in our deck.

Smothering Tithe

While not as expensive as some of the other enchantments, Smothering Tithe isn’t to be underestimated in any fashion. You have a high mana curve and getting this out early and generating even a few Treasure tokens is worth it. You’ll likely be accelerated beyond anything that the others at the table can stop if you’re lucky and somebody feeds you. Don’t miss out on this card.

Mirari's Wake MH2

Lastly you have Mirari’s Wake. This classic Selesnya () enchantment is just perfect for your high-end creature deck. The +1/+1 is a great buff but the double mana is what you’re really here for. Playing twice as many cards is effectively like taking an extra turn, minus the combat step, and who doesn’t want that?

Stax Pieces

Stax is an awesome strategy, as long as you’re the one playing it. I’ve included a few pieces in this list because they help you pull ahead while slowing your opponents down so you don’t fall too behind with your high-curve deck.

Drannith Magistrate

Drannith Magistrate is one of the more effective ones in the list. It prevents casting of any spells from anywhere but your hand. But that doesn’t just hit commanders. It also includes cards that exile other cards for a turn, like Urza, Lord High Artificer. People hate playing against Drannith, so it’s a great way to bait out some early removal at worst.

Rhystic Study

Rhystic Study was also bound to make an appearance today. This is a classic blue stax piece that, while not directly limiting what your opponents do, draws you plenty of cards if they choose to ignore it. You’re getting value from this card whether they pay the or not.

Smothering Tithe

Smothering Tithe is in a similar situation to Rhystic Study. It gives you mana whenever somebody draws a card unless they pay . Getting Treasures is great, but if you’re successfully setting a toll whenever somebody draws a card that’s great too.

The Mana Base

Lands

Your deck is very diverse when it comes to mana costs. You have a lot of different colored cards that all cost things like , , or . This can be a problem at times, so I’ve tried to build a diverse mana base that can accommodate these cards as consistently as possible.

The World Tree

First you have a copy of The World Tree. Getting this card out with enough lands to turn it on solves all your problems. Period. I’ve also included some basics to make sure you can fetch them from other cards or group hug effects and be immune to nonbasic stax pieces like Back to Basics.

I’ve also included a few fetch and shock lands to round things out. There’s also some mana fixing lands like Mystic Gate and Twilight Mire to keep the costs down while also allowing you to be versatile in how you pay for cards.

You’ll notice not every fetch and shock land is in the deck and that there are more Islands and Forests. I did this to better fit the distribution of mana symbols on your cards. 37% of the cards in the list have green mana in the cost so I’ve tried to match that by having 42% of the mana base produce green. Similarly, only 15% of nonland cards are black so only about 18% of the lands produce black. This makes for a smoother game while also keeping the overall cost down.

Accelerants

While Birds of Paradise is the deck’s only mana dork, it doesn’t fall short in the mana rock category. Chromatic Lantern is by far the most powerful and important one since it fixes your mana perfectly on top of generating one of any color itself.

Sol Ring

A Sol Ring is also present. It wouldn’t be a Commander deck without one, and you have more than enough ways to put it to use including your commander.

Since blue and green are your most common colors in the list you also run Talisman of Curiosity and Talisman of Resilience. These can help fix your mana but also provide in case you don’t need the colored mana or don’t want to lose one life.

Arcane Signet and Fellwar Stone also make an appearance and help to make sure you can cast all the cards in your hand.

Chromatic Orrery

You also have a copy of Chromatic Orrery which is basically just an overpowered Chromatic Lantern. The Orrery immediately fixes all mana problems you might have and gives you colorless which is effectively any color thanks to its first ability. It also has a bonus activated ability that costs and will draw you a card for each color among permanents you control.

The Strategy

Omniscience - Illustration by Jason Chan

Omniscience | Illustration by Jason Chan

The strategy employed by this deck is one that’s as powerful as it is easy to carry out: you’re just playing your lands and mana accelerants and whatever bombs you draw along the way including your commander. It’s a surprisingly effective strategy and it’s why “5-color good stuff” was widespread enough to get Golos, Tireless Pilgrim banned in the first place.

Commander is very similar to Limited in that the first player to start resolving threats without answers is usually the one to win. This deck has plenty of ways to deal with your opponent’s threats and just about every other kind of card is a threat itself. You may not have too much to do the first three or four turns but you’ll be sitting pretty with your monstrosities against whatever pathetic creatures your opponents deck runs the entire rest of the game after that.

Card advantage? Strategy? Who needs that when you have Platinum Angel?

Combos and Interactions

There aren’t any infinite combos in the list but there are some interactions worth mentioning so you’re not caught off guard or ignorant to them on the first go around.

Most notable is Tooth and Nail searching for Avenger of Zendikar and Craterhoof Behemoth. This 2-card combo powered up by Kenrith, the Returned King’s activated ability to give all your creatures haste can usually kill the entire table assuming you have enough lands.

Rule 0 Violations Check

There aren’t any hyper-efficient tutors or counterspells to get you in trouble with this deck so you’re pretty much in the clear when it comes to Rule 0.

The only interaction that may get you in trouble is the previously mentioned Tooth and Nail line grabbing Avenger of Zendikar and Craterhoof Behemoth. But even that isn’t an infinite combo and you still need nearly a dozen lands to kill players through blockers.

I’d recommend feeling out your opponent’s deck and seeing if it’s something you even need to bring up in the first place. If they’re playing 100% preconstructed decks, then maybe it is. Otherwise you’re good to go.

Budget Options

Smothering Tithe - Illustration by Mark Behm

Smothering Tithe | Illustration by Mark Behm

Now to everybody’s favorite part: removing the overly expensive cards from the deck! I tried to keep a budget-oriented mindset when putting this list together, and while I succeeded in that regard with the mana base some of the creatures are racking up the cost as well.

If you’re looking to make some cuts, the thing I’d remove Flooded Strand from the deck. This is the only fetch land and I included it because it has the ability to get white for the commander, blue for the Islands, or to grab Watery Grave and Hallowed Fountain. Regardless of how utilitarian it is, its price is getting to around $40 now and that’s a huge chunk of the deck’s cost. Bye!

After that the next target is Smothering Tithe. This is actually one of the most expensive cards in the deck. Even if it’s also one of the most powerful, you need to cut this card if you need to cut the budget.

But I’d recommend removing Consecrated Sphinx first. It’s at a similar price point and Smothering Tithe is a bit harder to remove not to mention more powerful.

The Scarab God can also go. It isn’t particularly amazing but it has an amazing cost.

Other Builds

Zendikar Resurgent - Illustration by Chris Rallis

Zendikar Resurgent | Illustration by Chris Rallis

Kenrith, the Returned King is an incredibly versatile commander which means there are plenty of ways to play the card. Pod and politics are the most popular, which is why I’ll give them each a short rundown today. But don’t be shy about looking into something more off the beaten path like lifegain or human tribal.

Pod

Pod is a pretty simple strategy that works well with Kenrith, the Returned King because it can reanimate your previously-sacrificed creatures for extra value later on. It’s also five colors which means you have access to the best creatures in Magic and aren’t limited to Golgari () or Simic ().

Like any good pod deck you want some exceptionally value-oriented creatures, ideally having an ETB or LTB ability. If it has both, even better. You can build a pod deck however you want with whatever combos and graveyard recursion aspects you’d like, but here are some staples at various mana values that I’d recommend including regardless:

Politics

Another viable strategy with Kenrith, and one that I find to be particularly fun, is politics! With this strategy you’ll be taking kickbacks, making deals behind closed doors, and selling your soul all for meager amounts of power.

Politics doesn’t just refer to making deals with your opponents in the slimiest ways possible, but also playing many cards that have the “will of the council” mechanic, which requires all players to vote on an effect. It’s most commonly found on cards like Council’s Judgment which can result in just one threat being removed. Or four.

It’s a strategy that emphasizes making deals and working with your enemies. It’s a very unique and interesting way to play Magic, and I’d recommend you try it at least once in your Commander career.

Commanding Conclusion

Ruinous Ultimatum - Illustration by Chase Stone

Ruinous Ultimatum | Illustration by Chase Stone

That concludes everything I’ve got for you today! I loved putting together this list, almost as much as I enjoy losing to it every week. Something about losing to somebody playing Consecrated Sphinx on an empty board is soothing.

What did you think of the list? Do you think this melting pot of cards is a fun way to play Magic, or do you like more hardline and structured strategies? Don’t hesitate to let me know what you think in the comments or over in the official Draftsim Discord.

Thanks for reading and until next time. Stay safe and stay healthy!

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