Sunday, February 24, 2013

My decks #3: Kaalia of the Vast

I love to play any of my EDH decks. Kaalia, though, is an awesome combination of huge creatures that come in early and really fun board control.

One of my favorite things to do when I see someone with a Kaalia deck is I want to compare notes. I play all three of her favorite races in this list (the Demons, Dragons, and Angels, abbreviated as A/D/D) but I've seen Kaalia lists that are based on only one or two of the three,  just to make the choices easier.

I welcome discussion of card choices. When a deck has a clear theme, it makes card selection a lot easier. I've got that theme in other decks, but not this one. So if you tell me that Angelic Overseer is a natural fit, or that Aegis Angel has a great synergy, or that Dragon Tyrant is the end-all of what the deck wants to do, I respect that. I've taken all three out of the deck in the past year.

One thing I really love is that as a Red/White general, Kaalia has access to Sunforger and an attendant package of amazing instants.

I confess that this is the only deck where I looked--hard--to optimize the manabase. I don't have the original duals in any other deck, nor fetch lands. Whenever I see a foreign or foil that fits in here, I go for it.

Without further ado:

Kaalia's Beatdown Express

I'm going to categorize the cards in a slightly different way, rather than just card types.

Section 1: Kaalia's favorite ladies
Weathered Wayfarer
Mother of Runes
Stoneforge Mystic
These three ladies do things that Kaalia really appreciates. Mana fixing, equipment finding, and cheap protection. Wayfarer is a card that I'll skip mana drops to get online, because there's so few ways to find nonbasic lands repeatedly. One or two activations and you can do just about anything. Interestingly, I tend to go find a filterland first, because of the flexibility.

Section 2: Useful Equipment
Swiftfoot Boots
Darksteel Plate
Lightning Greaves
Whispersilk Cloak
Pretty straightforward. Four low-cost, low-equip artifacts that really help Kaalia do her thing. I recently took out General's Kabuto, because the initial cost was just a little too high. Lightning Greaves is the flagship, because of the zero equip. Nothing will get you killed faster than turn 2 Greaves, because of the threat you represent. And taking you out for it is an understandable reaction.

Section 3: Sunforger & its Searchable Spells
Chaos Warp
Return to Dust
Wild Ricochet
Boros Charm

The Sunforger spells are good no matter what. Having the ability to tutor these up when needed--especially Delirium to kill someone who played a Blightsteel Colossus--is a really great set of options. Mistveil Plains is a piece of tech that works fantastically with the Sunforger. Tutor up and cast your spell, then put it on the bottom of your library, ready to be searched up again! Repeat until you have won or the table has destroyed you out of pure envy.

Section 5: Useful Artifacts
Sol Ring
Darksteel Ingot
Quicksilver Amulet

Quicksilver Amulet, and its enchantment cousin Sneak Attack, are excellent cards for a deck like this, which sort of relies on overcosted creatures.  I don't have a Sneak Attack, and I may have missed my chance to get one a while back at $20.  Oh well.

Section 6: Board Control
Merciless Eviction
Hallowed Burial

I know I said I took Brightflame out, but it's just so amazing.  I couldn't do it.  I ended up cutting Bloodgift Demon instead.  Eviction is exactly what most decks want: strong answers to a range of permanents. Hallowed Burial is tremendously amusing to play, especially right after someone kills Kaalia. Void and Vindicate are universal answers, and you can't have too many of those.

Section 7: Awesome Enchantments
Land Tax
Oversold Cemetery
Phyrexian Arena
Guild Feud
True Conviction
Debtors' Knell

Guild Feud is the secret tech in the deck. I've got 33 big creatures, so it's unlikely that it will miss completely. I've expressed love for this enchantment before, as part of a fun mini-game. Sure, it could go badly, but what the heck. My enjoyment is the priority. I haven't had anyone flip an Eldrazi on me...yet. Oversold Cemetery is great tech with Kaalia, because it reloads the creature back to my hand, ready for the attack trigger. Every red deck should at least think about playing Stranglehold. Putting down Fervor or Arena on turn three is a pretty great feeling for the rest of the game.

Section 8: Demons, Dragons, and Angels
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Akroma, Angel of Fury
These two ladies are a given.  I wonder if we'll ever get blue, black, or green Akromas?
Reya Dawnbringer
Iona, Shield of Emeria
Two nine-drops that attract a lot of hate.  Iona is the subject of much discussion--as a frequent Bribery target, she can warp a game quickly.
Lord of the Void
If it had trample, it would be the perfect 7-drop.
Bogardan Hellkite
This is a fun card to drop in with Kaalia, as the 5 damage can take out something that might have blocked and killed her.
Scourge of Kher Ridges
I'm surprised that more people don't run this card.  It can ensure that it's the only creature on the board, given enough mana.
Avacyn, Angel of Hope
Heck yes.
Pestilence Demon
I waffle on this card pretty hard.  I love what it does, as it can keep tokens and planeswalkers in check, but it also kills Kaalia.  Sad.
Angelic Skirmisher
Yes, I'm trying this card out.  I'm not sure yet if it's good enough to keep, so stay tuned.
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
The doubling would be awesome enough on its own, but the halving really makes this shine.  Super-combo-riffic if Pestilence Demon is in play!
Tariel, Reckoner of Souls
There's a few ways for Tariel to have haste in this deck, and to immediately get a creature, even a random one, is amazing.
Angel of Despair
Pure value. Vindicate on a 5/5 flyer.
Platinum Angel
Sure, it's a very fragile body, but while it's in play, you can't lose! Until it's not in play, and then you do. Nonetheless, it's a good time.
Rune-Scarred Demon
More value! Demonic Tutor on a 5/5 flyer!
Angel of Serenity
Useful as a reload, but don't try to get too cute.  Karmic Guide is a fantastic target for her ability.
Rakdos the Defiler
Since Kaalia drops him into play, you skip the pain of making him attack, while the damaged player feels the defilement.  And then he's a great blocker.
Thundermaw Hellkite
This card boggles my mind.  I still can't believe it's real.  And for Kaalia, he's a BFF, coming down the turn after you played her (hopefully she lived) and tapping down any flying blockers they have, clearing the way for her to hit.
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Ryusei, the Falling Star
Yosei, the Morning Star
Just three sets of amazing.  Ryusei especially, as he won't hurt anything in this deck but Kaalia's three girlfriends.
Deathless Angel
It's a steep mana requirement to make things indestructible, but worth it.
Twilight Shepherd
Keep in mind that this returns cards to your hand, not to play, so there may be some discarding going on.
Aurelia, the Warleader
Two attacks means two Kaalia triggers.  Should be game over...or you'll get eliminated out of pure jealousy.
Adarkar Valkyrie
Tremendsouly fun to steal things.  The Valkyrie doesn't need to be in play for the ability to resolve.  They wipe the board, you tap in response, and end up with the creature you want.
Steel Hellkite
Very useful early on.  Be warned--if you blow up someone's early Signets or other mana rocks, they will harbor a deep resentment for the rest of the game.
Rakdos, Lord of Riots
While he's cheap and amazing, he reduces mana costs in your second main phase.  Sometimes that's good enough, sometimes not.
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Not quite Torpor Orb powerful, but still extremely good to shut down some shenanigans people bring to the table.
Basandra, Battle Seraph
I probably love this card a little too much. I like keeping combat clean, but I REALLY like forcing other things to attack.  Remember that they can attack anyone--her ability doesn't require the targeted creature to attack you.
Radiant, Archangel
Sadly, this is likely to come out.  While she is big and vigilant, that's about it.  No trample or cool abilities.  
Karmic Guide
A pretty amazing card, with or without echo.
Hellkite Tyrant
I documented how good I think this can be in my Gatecrash review, and it doesn't disappoint.  Stealing artifact lands feels so good!
Baneslayer Angel
Remember when this was a $50 card, and then the Titans were printed?  Amusingly, she has protection from lots of this deck.  Really funny is that Halo Hunter came out at the same time. 

Section 9: The Just-About-Perfect Manabase

Original dual lands? Check.
Arid Mesa
Bloodstained Mire
Marsh Flats
Three appropriate fetchlands? Yes.
Blood Crypt
Godless Shrine
Sacred Foundry
The three shocklands? Done.
Graven Cairns
Rugged Prairie
Fetid Heath
The "I wish I could fetch these" filterlands? Got them.
Orzhov Basilica
Boros Garrison
Rakdos Carnarium
One each of the bouncelands? Present!
Dragonskull Summit
Clifftop Retreat
Isolated Chapel
All three checklands? Ready!
Cavern of Souls
Reflecting Pool
Command Tower
Two any-color lands and the Cavern, which is almost always set to Human--people love to Hinder Kaalia!
Slayers' Stronghold
Vault of the Archangel
These utility lands are definitely worth it.  Three lands to give haste is very handy, and mega-lifelink can be very swingy.
Mistveil Plains
Bojuka Bog
The Mistveil is here to reload spells with Sunforger. The bog is because I haven't crammed more graveyard hate into the deck.
Thawing Glaciers
Slow, yes, but inevitablly good.
Maze of Ith
Oh yes, you can attack with Kaalia, drop in an A/D/D, and then Maze Kaalia so that she stays undamaged.
Thespian's Stage
I'm stocking up on these once they fall to $1.  
2 Mountain
3 Plains
2 Swamp
Ideally, I'd have three of each so that I could fill mana requirements with just basics, but it hasn't been an issue yet.

And there you have it! My Kaalia deck.  I imagine that many of you are thinking "Why don't you have (name of Angel/Dragon/Demon) in your deck?!  It's amazing!"  You're right to ask, so if you put down the card in the comments, I'll answer your comment.  Believe me, there's no single right answer to "Which A/D/D should I run?" and so a lively discussion is good.

Next time, we're talking colorless lands.  Enjoy!


  1. Nice wrap up,

    a few things i would do differently/have made some good experiences with are:

    Desolation Angel - sure, you don't cheat him in with Kaalia, but for 7 mana you strengthen your board presence and destroy all lands - mostly gg.
    Bonus points for sunforging Boros Charm in response ;)

    If your meta is artifact heavy, Hoard-Smelter Dragon can be a beast.

    As Kaalia usually draws a lot of wraths, if find Cauldron Haze another great way to get out of that more or less unharmed. Plus sunforgable!

    Always enjoy your writing. Cheers

    1. I missed Cauldron Haze. I don't know if I need a second trick, since Boros Charm does it all and more, but it's intriguing. I've had the Hoard-Smelter in the deck for a long while, but it always seemed like his main value was as a preventative. If he was in play, people would hold their artifacts until he was gone.

      I don't like destroying all lands in EDH. I realize it's a part of the game, but it's just not fun to me.