by Robert

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There are certain Commanders that are more beloved than others; when there are only a handful in the color combination, it can seem that you only see that one Commander over and over again. There are three Commanders in the “Oros” arc.

Oros, the Avenger, was the first Legendary Creature to have this specific color combination. Oros has a potent and in-color triggered ability that sweeps all the smaller creatures off the board. It’s pretty nifty, but like the other dragons in his cycle, you have to connect and then spend mana, which makes him fairly underwhelming.

Tariel, Reckoner of Souls was the new alternate Commander in the Heavenly Inferno Commander deck. Her ability is useful and cool, but her casting cost tends to keep her from seeing as much play as the other Commander included in that deck.

Kaalia of the Vast was the featured Commander in Heavenly Inferno, and one of the more popular Commanders to come out of the precons, as evidenced by her inclusion in the Commander’s Arsenal. She allows you to play, for free, three of the most beloved–and most expensive to cast–creature types: Angels, Demons, and Dragons. Unfortunately, as debatably the coolest and most powerful Commander in her colors, Kaalia sees more than her fair share of play, and the linear deck style that she plays in further lends itself to boring decks.

The easiest way to build a Kaalia deck is to just cram as many awesome Angels, Demons, and Dragons into your deck as you can. The support cards can certainly vary, but you generally want some ramp to cast Kaalia early, some protection for her frail form, and some card draw to make sure you always have a hand stocked with big fatties.

Therein lies the problem, though. Sure, Kaalia lets you play with awesome and popular creatures, but her linearality stifles your creativity and personal expression as a deckbuilder.  I’d like to explore some alternate routes that Kaalia can lend herself to.

Cleric Tribal

What is this--I don't even...

What is this–I don’t even…

There are other Legendary Clerics out there, and there are even ones that lend themselves better to a Cleric theme. This could be just a subtheme or an entire deck. Things like Edgewalker and Akroma’s Devoted both let Kaalia do her thing more easily,

Edit: the following paragraph does not actually work, as an astute commenter pointed out. I’m leaving it in because it would still be awesome if it did work.

A cool if convoluted little Cleric combo that’s only possible with all three of these colors is Skirsdag High Priest, High Priest of Penance, Lyzolda, the Blood Witch, and Order of Whiteclay. You tap the High Priest of Penance and Order of Whiteclay to the Skirsdag High Priest, sacrifice the High Priest of Penenace to Lyzolda to destroy a permanent, and then untap the Order of Whiteclay to bring back the High Priest of Penance. Ridiculously win-more? Yeah, especially considering that this takes mana, but it’s still nifty.

Also, going Cleric tribal gives you a chance to play with Marble Priest! I have no idea what the flavor of this thing is supposed to be, but he’s so weird that he must be played. Must!

Land Destruction (w/ optional Creature Sweepers)
This is obviously a touchy area, and one that should be approached carefully, but these three colors have access to the lion’s share of mass and targeted land destruction. Armageddon, Jokulhaups, Decree of Annihilation, Sinkhole, Rain of Tears, Stone Rain, and more can all be at your disposal. Kaalia doesn’t really need lands once she’s out and protected, so theoretically you could run a sort of soft control game. Don’t be a douche, mind, and kill people quickly once you’ve destroyed all the lands.

It’s also nice to remember that these three colors are also the best at sweeping all the creatures off the board. Wrath of God, Damnation, Blasphemous Act, Cataclysm, Obliterate, and Life’s Finale can all help keep the board clear so that Kaalia is the only one standing when you wipe out all the lands.

Racist Creatures

If all my creatures are Demons…

Try building Kaalia with Angels or Demons or Dragons, but only one of the three. It can make your deck distinct and interesting. White is denied Demons, but otherwise the three creature types are available in all three colors.

Kaa-Blade
Kaalia makes a terrific and unexpected Voltron Commander. Stick a Sword of War and Peace or what-have-you in her hand, and you’re swinging in for some significant hurt, typically earlier than other Voltron generals would be online. With the suite of removal available and the fact that you can cheat fat blockers and allies into play with her ability, she’s more than capable of killing a player or two with Commander damage, or even regular damage when you factor in her friends.

Black has unconditional tutors that can help get you the right toolboxy creature or equipment for whatever it on the board, and white adds enchantment and artifact tutors as well. Red can help keep the board clear, not to mention keep your hand full with wheel effects.

The amount of modification required to make this deck from a “standard” build is pretty simple. More emphasis is required on protecting Kaalia and beefing her up, but in exchange you can afford to run less big creatures. It isn’t essential that you cast one for free every single turn, because Kaalia will be attacking regardless.

I hope I’ve provided some ideas for your deckbuilding pleasure. If you have a Kaalia deck, or ideas that you’d like to share, please leave a comment. Next week I’ll discuss a few Commanders that are great jumping-off points for new Commander players.