If you’re going to give yourself a challenge, you might as well make it really difficult, right?
That’s the mindset I took into building the next 99 for Kaalia of the Vast. The original build is mostly Demons (the cool, original kind that can hurt you, not these soft, sensitive 21st-century Demons), so it makes sense then to have this build be all about Angels.
Complicating the entire process is that I slipped some really good Angels into the original build, and one of the promises I made when I originally proposed the Do Over Project is that I wouldn’t remove cards from the original just so that I could put them into the Do Over version. That just seems kind of cheaty. But how bad could it be? It’s a Demon deck, after all; which Angels could have possibility gotten in there?
It seems like I let things slip away from me…
I’m so screwed.
But we’re going to do this thing. It’s been my experience that Kaalia of the Vast decks can be some of the most uninteresting and oppressive decks in the format. They either do their thing right away and dominate or just sputter out after the first Wrath of God. We’ll want to figure out a way to mitigate that, but the first stop along the way is figuring out which good Angels are left to us. It turns out that there are plenty. Then we’ll have to figure out how to mitigate the Mardu Problem, which is mana production, especially since many of the good mana rocks are in the original version. Let’s look at a list.
- 1 Blinding Angel
- 1 Weathered Wayfarer
- 1 Karmic Guide
- 1 Baneslayer Angel
- 1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
- 1 Wall of Omens
- 1 Angelic Arbiter
- 1 Sunblast Angel
- 1 Suture Priest
- 1 Aegis Angel
- 1 Angel of Jubilation
- 1 Herald of War
- 1 Angel of Serenity
- 1 Angelic Skirmisher
- 1 Luminate Primordial
- 1 Archangel of Thune
- 1 Heliod, God of the Sun
- 1 Erebos, God of the Dead
- 1 Ashen Rider
- 1 Iroas, God of Victory
- 1 Avacyn, Guardian Angel
- 1 Angel of the Dire Hour
- 1 Archangel of Tithes
- 1 Emeria Shepherd
- 1 Oreskos Explorer
- 1 Archangel Avacyn
- 1 Flameblade Angel
- 1 Bruna, the Fading Light
- 1 Gisela, the Broken Blade
- 1 Subjugator Angel
- 1 Exquisite Archangel
- 1 Winged Shepherd
- 1 Angel of Condemnation
- 1 Urza's Incubator
- 1 Quicksilver Amulet
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Ambition's Cost
- 1 Patriarch's Bidding
- 1 Decree of Pain
- 1 Wayfarer's Bauble
- 1 Reflect Damage
- 1 Crackdown
- 1 Belbe's Portal
- 1 Gauntlet of Power
- 1 Sudden Spoiling
- 1 Austere Command
- 1 Armillary Sphere
- 1 Dreamstone Hedron
- 1 Faith's Reward
- 1 Merciless Eviction
- 1 Read the Bones
- 1 Surveyor's Scope
- 1 Commander's Sphere
- 1 Comeuppance
- 1 Hedron Archive
- 1 Fumigate
- 1 Oketra's Monument
- 1 Vanquisher's Banner
- 1 Herald's Horn
- 1 Pillar of Origins
- 1 Radiant Destiny
Instead of breaking down the card choices by permanent type, I thought it would be a nice change to break them up into relatively large groups: the Angels, the Stuff That Gets Angels onto the Battlefield, and Other Stuff. The Angels seems obvious. The second group is full of the things that either make Angels cheaper or provide extra mana to cast them. It also includes a few things which will put them directly onto the battlefield. The final group is the catch-all for the other utility cards in the deck.
Aegis Angel: Clearly the choice here is for this to be the first thing which Kaalia drops onto the battlefield, since sometimes Kaalia as a 2/2 is outclassed in every corner of the battlefield. If you don’t have to worry that she’ll get killed, you can just pile in.
Angel of Condemnation: This Angel is one of the reasons there’s a vigilance sub-theme in the deck. That way, we can attack with it and still be able to use the activated abilities, whether that’s to save one of our own creatures or get rid of something temporarily troublesome.
Angel of Jubilation: We don’t sacrifice creatures to do stuff. Neither should you.
Angel of Serenity: My problem playing Angel of Serenity is always if I want to put one or more of my own creatures under it, so that I can rebuild after a Wrath of God. Generally, that involves judging the battlefield state and our read on the opponents.
Angel of the Dire Hour: Could be a huge beating for someone to get their team exiled. Too bad it doesn’t work with Angel of Condemnation (someone in R&D probably had the good sense to make sure that didn’t happen).
Angelic Arbiter: Officially the Commander card that causes the most cursing, since people will frequently forget. I play it and I forget.
Angelic Skirmisher: Although it’ll frequently be vigilance in this deck, the option to choose lifelink is also quite nice.
Archangel Avacyn: I’ll be playing her because of the first ability, but I’m sure there’s a situation or two in which the transform part will suit us quite well.
Archangel of Thune: There’s a little lifegain elsewhere in the deck, but since Archangel of Thune has it built in, this is a no-brainer—especially if we can make Kaalia large enough to not get messed with.
Archangel of Tithes: Another reason to play the vigilance sub-theme. A little protection from attackers goes a long way.
Baneslayer Angel: It’s only fitting that Baneslayer Angel has protection from the two other creature types which Kaalia likes.
Blinding Angel: Shutting down someone’s combat step is huge in the games we play. Makes me wonder if I should have put something in the deck that makes my stuff unblockable.
Emeria Shepherd: I was quite happy when I saw that this was available. The deck doesn’t have any other recursion in it, so having a little bit every turn is quite something.
Exquisite Archangel: Sure, you only get to use it once, but that once is always worth it. It’d be better if it had flash, but what are you gonna do?
Flameblade Angel: A nice way of keeping creatures off your face, no one is going to want to run themselves into a bunch of damage.
Herald of War: This could obviously also go in the Stuff That Gets Angels onto the Battlefield section. Also, helps with recasting Kaalia since she’s a Human Cleric.
Karmic Guide: No broken Karmic Guide plays in the deck. It’s all about value here. Delicious, delicious value.
Subjugator Angel: The obvious thing that happens with Subjugator Angel is clearing the way for a big attack. It directly suggested putting Crackdown into the deck as well. Of course, if there were a white (or black or red) Tooth and Nail, the choice would be Subjugator Angel and . . .
Sunblast Angel: I’ve always worried when I play Sunblast Angel that someone was going to use Turnabout to blow me out, but so far it’s never happened.
Winged Shepherd: Techy play here would be to have Emeria Shepherd on the battlefield, cycle this, draw a non-Plains land, and be able to do it again.
Avacyn, Guardian Angel: If I recall correctly, I was initially a little cool on this card. Having played it in another deck, I can report that it has saved my bacon multiple times.
Bruna, the Fading Light: There might be a situation in which I let Kaalia go to the graveyard so that Bruna can bring her back, but I suspect most of the time the target card here will be Karmic Guide.
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight: Opinions are divided on whether or not this is an offensive or defensive card. I’ll support it being both at the same time, as it discourages people from attacking you, meaning they’re more likely to attack an opponent and thereby double up the damage on them. Seems like winning all the way around. I’ve played in a game in which Clones were involves and all four players had copies of this version of Gisela, creating some kind of math I couldn’t even fathom.
Gisela, the Broken Blade: Bruna is a fine card on its own, but you really have to play this if you’re playing that. It’s not bad on its own, a nice value at four mana, but it really unleashes the inner Timmy in all of us when we have a 9/10 with flying, first strike, vigilance, and lifelink.
Linvala, Keeper of Silence: It seems so simple—yet it can be so strong. If they’re playing mana creatures, they might not be too upset, but if they’re playing Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, you might have wrecked their day.
The Stuff That Gets Angels onto the Battlefield
Armillary Sphere: Moar lands. We always need moar lands.
Belbe’s Portal: Choosing Angel, obviously. It’s especially worth it if you consider that many of the Angels cost 6 or more to cast, so dropping the Portal on Turn 5 saves you a fair amount of mana over the course of the game.
Commander’s Sphere: Still waiting for this to be made into a foil. Waiting.
Dreamstone Hedron: Playing the deck will bear out whether this slot might be better served with a lower cost thing which provides only one mana.
Fellwar Stone: The original best mana rock in the format, Fellwar Stone never disappoints. Someone is always playing the right color.
Gauntlet of Power: This is a card I haven’t actually run in that many decks, to my surprise, since it’s so freaking good. This might be one of the few three-color decks that you’ll see it in, but truth be told, this is a white deck with a splash of black and a splash of red.
Hedron Archive: After occasionally being disappointed with Dreamstone Hedron, I was happy to see its little sibling made. Amazing what adding some card draw to a card can do; nobody ever really played Sisay’s Ring.
Herald’s Horn: Twenty-plus Angels in the deck means hitting more than a quarter of the time, which isn’t bad consider the other benefit of the card.
Oketra’s Monument: I don’t really have any use in mind for the 1/1s save for chump blockers. I initially thought I could use Knight-Captain of Eos, but that needs Soldier tokens, not Warriors.
Oreskos Explorer: Mardu decks are always behind on lands. Get those lands with Oreskos Explorer and eventually we’ll have enough Plains to make Emeria, the Sky Ruin worth it.
Pillar of Origins: I actually thought of this before I thought of Cavern of Souls, which I suspect exposes some deep flaw in my character.
Quicksilver Amulet: Right. Onto. The Battlefield. Neat play: wait for an attack and use this to drop Gisela, Blade of Goldnight.
Surveyor’s Scope: I’ve seen locally other non-green decks make lots of hay out of Surveyor’s Scope, so I trust it’ll do the same for us.
Urza’s Incubator: Nothing wrong with a little old-schoolin’.
Vanquisher’s Banner: Or new-schoolin’ for that matter.
Wayfarer’s Bauble: There needs to be like three differently-named versions of this for the non-green decks.
Weathered Wayfarer: It’s important that Weathered Wayfarer gets any land. Early, use it to get a fetchland. Later, get one of the bomb lands like Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx or Emeria, the Sky Ruin.
Ambition’s Cost: Just a little more card draw.
Ashen Rider: It’s not an Angel, but we needed a little bit of removal. Exiling something on the way in and the way out is worth every drop of mana you put into this thing.
Austere Command: We’re a little slower than other decks, so sometimes we’ll need something to catch up creature-wise. Of course, the card’s flexibility is legendarily good.
Comeuppance: What do I keep saying? Stay in school, play your Fogs. Sometimes, play your Fogs that completely wreck the person who attacked you. I don’t think I’ve ever yet had it prevent damage from much more than creatures, but I’m waiting for the day when someone has Repercussion on the battlefield and casts a big Comet Storm that they spread out to seven or eight creatures.
Crackdown: With next to zero nonwhite creatures in the deck, it seemed only right to have Crackdown in the deck. Sure, it doesn’t tap anything, but there are other ways to do that.
Decree of Pain: You probably don’t need me to remind you how huge Decree of Pain can be. It can get you right back into a game that you weren’t in because your battlefield state was weak and your grip was nearly empty. It’s a problem-solver.
Erebos, God of the Dead: Deck needs some card draw, and there aren’t too many better card drawers than Erebos.
Faith’s Reward: Rewarding faith since 2012, this card is always huge value in our local games. Especially when you have higher-cost stuff, you want to have a way to protect it. The only issue is letting the presence of Faith’s Reward in your hand slow you down—do you commit more resources to the battlefield, or do you hedge against a battlefield wipe? Again, that’s all about reading the other players.
Fumigate: Wrath of God is in the original build, so we needed other options here. One mana for damage seemed okay, and the fact that creatures can regenerate from it not that big a deal, since who regenerates anyway?
Heliod, God of the Sun: Solely here for the ability that gives our creatures vigilance, in the unlikely circumstance that we have extra mana to sink, I suppose we’ll get a little bonus.
Luminate Primordial: I knew I wanted to play either this one or Sepulchral Primordial (does anyone else just call them “Primordial of the [color]” instead? We sure do!) and since I play the black one in lots of other decks, I figured I’d give this one a chance.
Merciless Eviction: I need to exile your stuff so that you don’t pull some of the same shenanigans that I’m going to with Emeria, the Sky Ruin.
Patriarch’s Bidding: Go ahead, kill my Angels. They’ll be back.
Radiant Destiny: Pretty sure I can get the city’s blessing (just like I’m pretty sure most Commander decks can), so this becomes a very nice value card.
Read the Bones: Look at the Bones!
Reflect Damage: If your uppance doesn’t come, your damage will get reflected. Still remembering the day long ago when artist supreme Eric Klug activated Heartless Hidetsugu and I had this in my hand.
Sudden Spoiling: The last of the Fog-ish effects, Sudden Spoiling is nearly always a blowout for the other player. I suppose it’ll be really nice to have it when we transform Archangel Avacyn into Avacyn, the Purifier.
Suture Priest: We need a little something to do with the early turns. Suture Priest in this deck will be more about dealing out bits of pain as opposed to gaining life.
Wall of Omens: Simple card draw on a simple card.
The Kaalia Do Over is a deck that’s going to take one of the features of Kaalia of the Vast and turn it into value without creating an overly oppressive game. Because of the other cards which help make Angels easier to cast, it should be able to function without the Commander in case she gets killed enough times to be prohibitively expensive to cast (something I try to always build into decks). This is the kind of deck which helped popularize the format—big, battlecruiser effects without taking the game away from the other players.
As is always the case with a Do Over feature, this week’s Deck Without Comment is the original build, Demons of Kaalia.
- 1 Exalted Angel
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Platinum Angel
- 1 Lord of the Pit
- 1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
- 1 Karmic Guide
- 1 Angel of Despair
- 1 Teysa, Orzhov Scion
- 1 Darien, King of Kjeldor
- 1 Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder
- 1 Knight of the White Orchid
- 1 Xathrid Demon
- 1 Emeria Angel
- 1 Admonition Angel
- 1 Abyssal Persecutor
- 1 Pestilence Demon
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 Tariel, Reckoner of Souls
- 1 Rune-Scarred Demon
- 1 Reaper from the Abyss
- 1 Bloodgift Demon
- 1 Ravenous Demon
- 1 Requiem Angel
- 1 Restoration Angel
- 1 Avacyn, Angel of Hope
- 1 Harvester of Souls
- 1 Blood Artist
- 1 Deathpact Angel
- 1 Crypt Ghast
- 1 Lord of the Void
- 1 Shadowborn Demon
- 1 Burnished Hart
- 1 Butcher of the Horde
- 1 Demon of Wailing Agonies
- 1 Exquisite Archangel
- 1 Rampaging Ferocidon
- 1 Wrath of God
- 1 Land Tax
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Aura of Silence
- 1 Holy Day
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Akroma's Vengeance
- 1 Decree of Pain
- 1 Grab the Reins
- 1 Phyrexian Reclamation
- 1 Boros Signet
- 1 Orzhov Signet
- 1 Rakdos Signet
- 1 Return to Dust
- 1 Batwing Brume
- 1 Phyrexian Rebirth
- 1 Black Sun's Zenith
- 1 Gruesome Encore
- 1 Pristine Talisman
- 1 Martyr's Bond
- 1 Boros Charm
- 1 Whip of Erebos
- 1 Crackling Doom
- 1 End Hostilities
- 1 Mardu Banner
- 1 Mastery of the Unseen
- 1 Marchesa's Decree
Check out our comprehensive Deck List Database for lists of all my decks:
Purple Hippos and Maro Sorcerers; Kresh Into the Red Zone; Halloween with Karador; Dreaming of Intet; You Did This to Yourself.
THE CHROMATIC PROJECT
Heliod, God of Enchantments; Thassa, God of Merfolk; Erebos and the Halls Of The Dead; Forge of Purphoros; Nylea of the Woodland Realm; Karn Evil No. 9.
Lavinia Blinks; Obzedat, Ghost Killer; Aurelia Goes to War; Trostani and Her Angels; Lazav, Shapeshifting Mastermind; Zegana and a Dice Bag; Rakdos Reimagined; Glissa, Glissa; Ruric Thar and His Beastly Fight Club; Gisa and Geralf Together Forever.
Shards and Wedges
Adun’s Toolbox; Angry, Angry Dinos; Animar’s Swarm; Borrowing Stuff at Cutlass Point; Ikra and Kydele; Karrthus, Who Rains Fire From The Sky; Demons of Kaalia; Merieke’s Esper Dragons; Nath of the Value Leaf; Rith’s Tokens; The Mill-Meoplasm; The Altar of Thraximundar; The Threat of Yasova; Zombies of Tresserhorn.
Yidris: Money for Nothing, Cards for Free; Saskia Unyielding; Breya Reshaped.
Tana and Kydele; Kynaios and Tiro; Ikra and Kydele.
THE DO-OVER PROJECT
Adun Oakenshield Do-Over; Animar Do-Over; Glissa Do-Over; Karador Do-Over; Karador Version 3; Karrthus Do-Over; Kresh Do-Over; Steam-Powered Merieke Do-Over; Lord of Tresserhorn Do-Over; Mimeoplasm Do-Over; Phelddagrif Do-Over; Rith Do-Over; Ruhan Do-Over.
If you’d like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that’s been alive since 1987) which is just beginning the saga The Lost Cities of Nevinor, ask for an invitation to the Facebook group “Sheldon Menery’s Monday Night Gamers.”