Magic: The Gathering - Kaalia Of The Vast Commander Deck Guide (2024)

Quick Links

  • The Commander

  • How To Build A Kaalia Of The Vast Commander Deck

  • The Creature Base

  • Sample Decklist

Angels, Demons, and Dragons are three of the most powerful and popular creature types in Magic: The Gathering, and players love to build typal decks to represent them. But what if you can't choose just one? What if you want to use all three?

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Kaalia of the Vast is an older commander, but one that remains popular because she enables you to play all three types together in a fun, aggressive playstyle in which you overwhelm your opponents with a heavenly inferno of divine, diabolical, and draconic powerhouses. Grab your best creatures, it's time to build with Kaalia.

The Commander

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Kaalia of the Vast is a popular commander originally printed in the 2011 Heavenly Inferno precon, which still holds up as a solid deck despite over a decade of power creep. While players frequently mistake her for an Angel due to her wings and flying keyword, she does not belong to any of the creature types she supports.

Kaalia of the Vast is a 2/2 flying Human Cleric that costs one each of red, white, black, and generic mana. She has the unique ability that allows you to put an Angel, Demon, or Dragon directly into play attacking whenever she attacks herself. This allows you to cheat in powerful creatures for free much earlier than you would otherwise be able to play them, and to use combat tricks to empower and protect them.

Unlike many later commanders, Kaalia does not have any built-in protection such as hexproof or ward, making her an easy target for removal. This means that the easiest way to shut her down is just to kill her, forcing you to pay more through commander tax each time you want to replay her or to run multiple protection options to keep her alive and kicking.

Thankfully, flying allows her to attack safely into at least one opponent in most pods, allowing you to build up an army by attacking one player over and over until they're eliminated, and you can overwhelm your other opponents through sheer force.

How To Build A Kaalia Of The Vast Commander Deck

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Kaalia is potentially a really powerful commander, but she needs two things to be effective: First, she needs to be able to survive your opponents' attempts to get her off the board, and second, she needs you to have the appropriate cards in your hand to be able to cheat into play.

Outside those two requirements, Kaalia needs just a little bit of mana acceleration and a backup plan: Kaalia can be a bit of a monolith commander, with her deck becoming unplayable without her on the board unless you have another way to get your big bad beaters into play without hard-casting them.

Ramp

Mardu (red, white, and black) decks don't have access to any of the land ramp available when a deck includes green, so your options for mana acceleration are pretty limited. Red and black both have creatures that can be sacrificed for mana acceleration, such as Skirk Prospector, but you'll want to limit those creatures in favor of more reliable mana sources and larger creatures that Kaalia can take advantage of.

You'll definitely want to include the standard mana rocks, Sol Ring and Arcane Signet, but you'll also want some of the less-used 2-mana rocks. Mind Stone produces colorless mana and can be sacrificed to draw a card once your mana base is well established, while Fellwar Stone can make mana of any color an opponent's land can produce. Since you're building in three colors, you will likely be playing against at least one opponent who can produce the mana you need, making this a generally useful mana rock.

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You should also include all three guild signets that you can fit into your deck: Boros Signet, Orzhov Signet, and Rakdos Signet. They always produce two mana in a combination of your commander's colors, but you need to pay one generic mana to get two colored mana back out. This isn't ideal, but in Mardu you need to take what you can get.

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The Talisman cycle is useful for both fixing and accelerating your mana base: Each of the three in Mardu colors (Talisman of Conviction, Talisman of Hierarchy, and Talisman of Indulgence) can be tapped for one colorless mana, or you can tap and pay one life for mana of one of the two colors it can produce.

In commander, you have a lot of life to work with, allowing you to take that ping damage pretty safely while generating the mana you need early, then switch to colorless later once your mana base is more robust.

Smothering Tithe is practically a staple in white decks, and fits well here to amp up your mana production while potentially slowing down your opponents. It may be a little slow, costing as much as Kaalia herself, but it also offers mana fixing in case you get stuck without one of the colors you need.

Myriad Landscape is one more option, allowing you to turn one land into two basic lands of a single type. Usually, this would be used in a landfall deck to get more land drop triggers, or as a deck thinner to remove a couple of basic lands that you would otherwise draw. Here, though, you're using it to get an extra land into play on the next turn.

Finally, don't sleep on rituals, instants (and, rarely, sorceries) that trade a card in your hand for a quick burst of mana. These aren't usually great options for commander decks outside of being used to build up storm since they're one-shot effects, but you may need them to get ahead with Kaalia.

Dark Ritual is the most well-known ritual, providing three black mana for one to cast it, and Seething Song provides a similar two-mana boost for three. But perhaps the most powerful one to consider is Mana Geyser, which produces one mana for every tapped land your opponents control. Later in the game, this can provide a huge surge of mana, enough to hard-cast a couple of your biggest creatures.

Draw

Most of your best draw options will come from the black side of Kaalia's color identity. Black has traditionally been happy to trade life for cards on just about a one-to-one basis. In 60-card formats, this is a fine deal, but in commander where you have 40 life to start with, it's an incredible trade.

Several one-shot spells such as Night's Whisper will provide you with additional cards for a quick life drain, while red spells such as Faithless Looting and Thrill of Possibilities will help you trade less useful cards in your hand for more beneficial ones. However, the better option is probably recurring card draw.

Phyrexian Arena and Necropotence are two classic black card draw enchantments. Phyrexian Arena draws you one extra card during each of your upkeep steps, at the low cost of one life. This cost is practically meaningless in commander, so feel free to slot Phyrexian Arena into every black deck you build.

Necropotence is an even more powerful card. It forces you to skip your draw step, but allows you to pay any amount of life to "draw" that many cards at the end of your turn. Technically, you're exiling the cards and then placing them in your hand, bypassing draw triggers for effects like your opponents' own Smothering Tithe.

Staying Alive

In order to be effective, Kaalia needs to both attack and survive. Having flying helps, because it will frequently allow you to attack at least one opponent safely every turn, but she doesn't have anything to keep her from being targeted or killed by a surprise blocker. Thankfully, there are several options in Mardu to keep her safe.

Reconnaissance is a classic white enchantment which allows you to remove your creatures from combat for free. Removing them from combat this way doesn't remove triggers caused by attacking, allowing you to attack with Kaalia into a dangerous set of blockers, then remove her from combat after getting her attack trigger.

Flawless Maneuver isn't quite Heroic Intervention, but it does allow you to make all of your creatures indestructible for one turn, and it's free to cast as long as you control Kaalia.

You can use this to protect Kaalia and her friends after an opponent flashes in a bunch of blockers, attacks into your army with a bunch of deathtouch creatures, or in conjunction with your own Wrath of God to clear your path to victory.

Teferi's Protection is one more option that will protect both yourself and all of your permanents. By phasing everything out, you'll dodge all the spells and abilities that could set your game back, and protect yourself from lethal damage for one turn.

Phasing doesn't trigger enter-the-battlefield (ETB) effects, so this won't allow you to get a bunch of extra damage triggers off of Terror of the Peaks. Sorry!

Kaalia benefits from being aggressive, so summoning sickness is her enemy. One or more of the boot equipments find their way into most commander decks, and Kaalia can benefit from the three that provide both haste and some kind of protection against your opponents' spells. Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots will make her immune to being targeted by your opponents' effects, while Lavaspur Boots provide her with the small but useful ward 1 ability.

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Finally, Haystack provides recurring phasing, allowing you to protect Kaalia almost indefinitely as long as you keep two mana free.

Plan B

Kaalia is a bit of a monolith commander, which means that the deck doesn't work well without her. This is dangerous without a lot of protection, but another strategy is to include some backup plans so that the deck can still perform without her in play, even if only in a limited capacity.

Sneak Attack allows you to place a single creature into play from your hand with haste for just one red mana, but you need to sacrifice it at the end of the turn. Still, this provides a lot of options to hit a problematic opponent hard when they're tapped out, or to take them out of the game if they keep you from getting Kaalia in front of her army.

Use Sneak Attack with effects like Terror of the Peaks to turn all of your creatures into souped-up Lightning Bolts with bodies.

Bolas's Citadel is like having an extra card in your hand that you can only play by paying life. Since you have 40 to work with (maybe more, since Lifelink is a common keyword among Angels), this allows you to cheat a lot of big creatures in for free, leaving your mana available to protect them or soil your opponents' plans.

If you have a land on top of your library, use Bolas's Citadel to play it as your land for the turn, freeing up the next card.

Quicksilver Amulet allows you to put any creature into play from your hand without the drawback of sacrificing it at the end of the turn, but you can only use it once per turn and it costs four generic mana. This is still a pretty good deal, considering how many Angels, Demons, and Dragons cost six or more mana. It also gets around Kaalia's attack requirement, in case you find yourself unable to swing with her.

The Creature Base

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With the deck's shell out of the way, all that's left is to fill it with all the best Angels, Demons, and Dragons that you can find.

Heavenly Hosts

Angels are predominantly white, with some leaning into black or red. With over 250 different Angels in print, it can be tough to narrow it down to the best. Luckily for you, we've picked out some of the best fits for a Kaalia deck.

Gisela, Blade of Goldnight is like a Furnace of Rath stuck on a 5/5 flier, except that instead of doing damage to everything, she only hurts your opponents and their permanents. Meanwhile, she'll prevent half of all damage assigned to you and your permanents. She's both a sword and a shield, and can swing the whole tide of battle.

Avacyn, Angel of Hope is another shieldmaiden, making all of your creatures and other permanents indestructible while bringing an 8/8 flying body to the battlefield. This offers Kaalia an important layer of protection against both damage and direct destruction, and sets you up to use bombs like Wrath of God and Armageddon as asymmetrical board wipes.

If you're using Quicksilver Amulet, Gisela and Avacyn are good to keep in your hand to surprise your opponents in response to an attempted board wipe like Plague Wind or Blasphemous Act.

Akroma, Angel of Wrath comes with half a dozen keywords, making her a force to be reckoned with in any deck. Akroma doesn't bring any real combat tricks, but she's practically a force of nature without any need for equipment or buffs.

In addition to attacking, some Angels can also provide some support, turning the game in your favor. Aurelia, the Law Above, for example, is only a 4/4, but allows you to draw a card each time any player attacks with three or more creatures, and deals damage to your opponents and heals you whenever a player attacks with five or more creatures. This may discourage opponents from attacking with everything, but it will also reward you for being more aggressive.

Angelic Arbiter forces your opponents to choose between attacking and playing important spells, providing you with a minor pillow fort effect. This can give you a few extra turns to take out a problematic opponent. This is another excellent creature to keep in your hand to spoil your opponents' plans.

Keep an eye out for ETB effects, like the one on Angel of Despair, who brings a Vindicate into play with her. By filling your deck with Angels, Demons, and Dragons with these types of abilities, you can free up slots that you would use for instants and sorceries with the same effects, getting them for free with an attacker instead of casting them.

Infernal Legions

Demons are the opposite of Angels, centering on black and tending to be more aggressive than their heavenly counterparts. They're also prone to having some kind of drawback, in order to justify low mana costs for their power level and match the black theme of paying any cost for power. There are fewer Demons in print than Angels, but still plenty to choose from.

Joining Gisela in bringing the pain, Bloodletter of Aclazotz doubles the loss of life your opponents experience during your turn, including life loss from damage. With both Bloodletter and Gisela on the field, damage is quadrupled for all practical purposes.

Lord of the Void mills your opponent's library into exile each time it deals combat damage, and then pulls a creature from the milled cards and puts it into play under your control. This growsyourarmy while denying your opponent the opportunity to use some of their important creatures.

Since Lord of the Void is triggered by combat damage, look for ways to give it double strike.

Cheating in Bloodthirster with Kaalia can get you a second combat phase, allowing Bloodthirster and any creature with vigilance (like many Angels) to attack again, once per opponent. Bloodletter can keep triggering each turn, but can't untap Kaalia by itself.

Reconnaissance can be used after attacks are declared or after combat damage is assigned to untap Kaalia and all the rest of your creatures in order to get more attacks and triggers.

Demons are also great at refilling your hand. Rune-Scarred Demon has an ETB Demonic Tutor attached to a 6/6 flyer. It replaces itself with whatever card you need next, including any creatures you want to cheat in with Kaalia the next time she attacks.

Bloodgift Demon is a backup Phyrexian Arena, but can also be applied to other players if you need to ping them for the last couple damage or want to make a deal to help someone draw a couple more cards. Vilis, Broker of Blood offers much stronger draw, forcing you to draw cards equal to the life you lose, including from damage. It also allows you to pay one black mana and two life to give a creature -1/-1 and draw two cards.

Draconic Disciples

Dragons are some of the most popular creatures in Magic, with over 300 unique cards in print, making up a little over one percent of all Magic cards ever printed. Most are red, but there are plenty representing other colors, as well. The deep card pool means that you have a lot of options, and can choose powerful or unique options to round out your deck.

Terror of the Peaks is a must-have card! It turns all of your other creatures into direct damage sources, dealing damage equal to their power to any target when they enter the battlefield. Getting Terror of the Peaks out early means that you can burn your opponents or their creatures consistently, often destroying creatures before they can block.

Balefire Dragon offers another form of control: Each time it deals combat damage to a player, it deals the same amount to all of that player's creatures. This can keep your opponents from getting their strategy off of the ground, especially if they plan to go wide with a lot of small creatures like Elves, Goblins, or Squirrels.

Balefire Dragon is even more overwhelming when paired with Blast-Furnace Hellkite, which gives all creatures attacking your opponents double strike. Not only does this double your own combat damage triggers, it also encourages your opponents to attack each other to reap the same benefits!

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Drakuseth, Maw of Flames doesn't hit all of your opponent's creatures like Balefire Dragon, but it can spread the love between all of your opponents or creatures they control. Better yet, Drakuseth triggers when he attacks, not when he deals damage, allowing you to clear out blockers during the attack step, before blocks can be declared.

Hellkite Tyrant presents an alternate win condition, simply giving you the game during your upkeep if you control at least twenty artifacts, while also stealing artifacts from any opponent it hits. Your opponents are likely to have a lot of artifacts already, but pairing Hellkite Tyrant with Ancient Copper Dragon puts the game on a short countdown, usually ending in just two more turns.

Sample Decklist

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To help you build your own Kaalia of the Vast deck, we've compiled a sample decklist. Feel free to use this list as the basis for your own deck, swapping out creatures and spells to meet your own needs.

Commander

Kaalia of the Vast

Creatures (30)

Akroma, Angel of Wrath

Ancient Copper Dragon

Angel of Despair

Angelic Arbiter

Aurelia, the Law Above

Aurelia, the Warleader

Avacyn, Angel of Hope

Balefire Dragon

Blast-Furnace Hellkite

Bloodgift Demon

Bloodletter of Aclazotz

Bloodthirster

Drakuseth, Maw of Flames

Drana and Linvala

Giada, Font of Hope

Gisela, Blade of Goldnight

Giver of Runes

Hellkite Tyrant

Isshin, Two Heavens as One

Liesa, Forgotten Archangel

Lord of the Void

Mother of Runes

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled

Platinum Angel

Rakdos, Patron of Chaos

Rune-Scarred Demon

Sephara, Sky's Blade

Steel Hellkite

Terror of the Peaks

Vilis, Broker of Blood

Sorceries (4)

Night's Whisper

Promise of Power

Ruinous Ultimatum

Wrath of God

Instants (8)

Anguished Unmaking

Boros Charm

Crackling Doom

Deflecting Swat

Flawless Maneuver

Path to Exile

Swords to Plowshares

Teferi's Protection

Artifacts (17)

Arcane Signet

Bolas's Citadel

Boros Signet

Fellwar Stone

Haystack

Lavaspur Boots

Lightning Greaves

Mind Stone

Orzhov Signet

Quicksilver Amulet

Rakdos Signet

Sol Ring

Strionic Resonator

Swiftfoot Boots

Talisman of Conviction

Talisman of Hierarchy

Talisman of Indulgence

Enchantments (5)

Dragon Tempest

Phyrexian Arena

Reconnaissance

Smothering Tithe

Sneak Attack

Lands (35)

Blood Crypt

Bojuka Bog

Command Tower

Escape Tunnel

Evolving Wilds

Exotic Orchard

Godless Shrine

Luxury Suite

Maze of Ith

Mountain (4)

Myriad Landscape

Nomad Outpost

Plains (7)

Rogue's Passage

Sacred Foundry

Savai Triome

Seraph Sanctuary

Shattered Landscape

Spectator Seating

Swamp (4)

Terramorphic Expanse

Vault of Champions

Vault of the Archangel

Next

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Magic: The Gathering - Kaalia Of The Vast Commander Deck Guide (2024)
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