The Kitchen Table #358 – Reinventing Heavenly Inferno

Abe Sargent takes the Heavenly Inferno (R/W/B) Commander deck product and revamps it to focus around Tariel, Reckoner of Souls.

I hope that your play with the new Commander decks and cards has been as much fun as mine has! Almost all of the cards are strong enough to go into
Abe’s Deck of Happiness and Joy. Thirteen of the legendary creatures and twenty-three of the monocolor cards make the cut. (Plus Homeward Path,
for a total of 37 out of 51 making the cut.)

In such a strong set for multiplayer in general, and Commander in specific, I can find a lot of good. Out of all of New Phyrexia, 42 cards made the cut
to my deck. Many of those were not the splashy and fun Praetors but good solid foundation cards like Tezzeret’s Gambit, Beast Within,
Geth’s Verdict, and War Report. In this set, the added cards are almost exclusively the sexy bombs.

In the forums for my last article, it was suggested that I take one of the preconstructed decks and modify it. As it happens, I was also looking to
Heavenly Inferno for just that purpose. Of all of the three-color combinations in Magic-dom, I feel that the wedge of Black/White/Red gives you the
strongest trio for multiplayer. (The number two is Blue/Black/White, and I would certainly accept an argument that it’s number one instead.)

The problem is that green doesn’t add anything that black and white can’t already do. They are clearly the heavies of multiplayer magic. In
this day and age, the mana ramp abilities of green look weak beside colorless abilities (plus white ones such as Tithe and Weathered Wayfarer work
pretty well).

On several occasions, I’ve written about my W/R/B multiplayer decks and how I’ve used them to dominate multiplayer tables. Today, I want to
take Heavenly Inferno and revamp it with some new cards, while still keeping the deck the same. Since I’ve played many multiplayer decks with the
color combination (and even wrote up my personal Oros Commander deck for SCG back in 2009, find it here), I am very familiar with it. What I
want to do is keep the Heavenly Inferno deck idea, but to focus it. Right now, these decks are a bit scattered, so I want to tune them to the right

Which creature do I want to focus on? Since Oros has been my general in the past, I want one of the new standard-bearers of the color combination. Of
them, I think I want to rock Tariel, Reckoner of Souls. I love the design of both it and Kaalia of the Vast, because they each feel exactly like their
color combination should feel. While I really respect Kaalia, I feel it would be a bit easier to build around. I just add Demons, Angels, Dragons, and
stir. Here comes Akroma the white, and here comes Bogardan Hellkite, and here comes… well, you get the idea.

By pulling Kaalia and the tri-tribe theme, I can also remove creatures that went with her focus and instead look to Tariel as mid-game general that
reliably comes down to start recurring my foes’ creatures.

Let’s start by giving you the full decklist for Heavenly Inferno, before I make any changes.

I have the whole deck in front of me, open and ready to make modifications. The cards are spread out by type and casting cost. There are some good
cards here, and some that I think are very upgradeable. Let’s take a look at our Commander—Tariel, the Reckoner.

Tariel is a 4/7 fligilance creature (flying + vigilance). She has a tap ability that works well with vigilance. You can attack and block numerous
times, and then tap to use the ability. In this case, you will bring a random creature from an opponent’s graveyard right into play under your
control. That means we are going to need to add some ways of getting creatures in graveyards. In the colors with the three strongest creature removal
cards, that should not be difficult.

The first thing I want to do is to remove the creatures that I feel are in this deck only because of Kaalia. Pulling Kaalia and those creatures will
open a nice hole for me to work in:

-1 Kaalia of the Vast
-1 Dragon Whelp
-1 Furnace Whelp
-1 Fallen Angel
-1 Malfegor
-1 Oni of Wild Places
-1 Bladewing the Risen

While several of these creatures are perfectly good for multiplayer, by weakening the tribes, they are reduced in value. Bladewing the Risen is amazing
in a deck with a Dragon contingent, but as I remove its tribe-mates, the power it rocks fades.

This frees up seven slots for creatures, including some early game dudes. Let’s take a look at my earliest and obvious additions.

+1 Commander Eesha
+1 Lieutenant Kirtar
+1 Reya Dawnbringer
+1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath

These four white legendary creatures are all of super high quality. I swear by Commander Eesha in any deck that has white at a multiplayer table. She
can block almost anything and survive; she soaks up four damage from any trampler she blocks; she can swing for two damage, unblockable; and she is
immune to creature-based removal. Everything works, and this is a fine home for her. As you will find out with the Soul Snare in this deck, having a
permanent that says, “Don’t attack or you lose your creature,” is a fine warning signal. You’ll want more; trust me. Reya
Dawnbringer fits the theme, and I’m a bit surprised not to see her in the deck when it had Kaalia because it’s on theme for both Tariel and
Kaalia. Finally, Akroma the First is just too good not to play. She’ll be your beater of size and significance.

That leaves me three other slots for creatures that I really like for a Tariel deck. Here are the ones that pop into my head:

+1 Shriekmaw
+1 Nekrataal
+1 Flametongue Kavu

We are in the three heavy removal colors, and yet our removal is intermittent. These three give me an opportunity to shore up our weakness by adding
creatures that can remove another. Because I added two expensive creatures in the first group, I wanted to keep these under six mana. Remember, we want
to get creatures into opposing graveyards. We need removal for that.

Now I want to make a few obvious upgrades:

-1 Avatar of Slaughter
-1 Archangel of Strife
-1 Lightkeeper of Emeria
+1 Avatar of Woe
+1 Scythe Specter
+1 Sheoldred, Whispering One

In each case, I am upgrading the creature base to a stronger one. Sheoldred fits the recursion theme; Scythe Specter will put cards in the graveyard
for it; and Avatar of Woe is just much better than Avatar of Slaughter. I feel Avatar of Slaughter is more of an expensive and awkward Overrun than
anything else, and this deck doesn’t want that.

Most of the remaining creatures rock the block. Voice of All may be an Angel, but she’s great at playing defense or offense. Anger is awesome.
Angel of Despair, Angelic Arbiter, Reiver Demon, Mana-Charged Dragon—these are all hits.

There are a few creatures that I want to pull. They fit, and they could stay, but pulling them leaves me opportunities for more additions.

-1 Serra Angel
-1 Razorjaw Oni
-1 Boros Guildmage
-1 Orzhov Guildmage
-1 Gwyllion Hedge-Mage
+1 Liliana’s Specter
+1 Skinrender
+1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
+1 Weathered Wayfarer
+1 Sunblast Angel

There’s nothing wrong with Serra Angel, but I find it a bit underpowered for a five-drop these days. Razorjaw is a great surprise, but I have too
many good black creatures that I may want to block with, and I don’t want to hose myself. Both of the guildmagi lack the oomph that I want. The
Boros one I almost left in because I do like its threat when you have the mana untapped. Just two mana untapped forces your foes to act as if all of
your creatures have first strike. While Duergar Hedge-Mage is very good for this deck, the Gwyllion one is underwhelming.

Now, looking at the cards I added, I’m sure you can see why I went the way I did. Three of them are various forms of creature removal; one is
mass discard; and the last is card advantage/land retrieval. With this suite of creatures, I feel that we are much closer to unleashing the true power
of this color combination and Tariel.

This isn’t a science, but an art. If you wanted to add Visara the Dreadful, Glory, Withered Wretch, Puppeteer Clique, Doomed Necromancer, or even
Tahngarth, Talruum Hero—well, that would be fine with me. This is all about how I view multiplayer, Your views are different, so your card
evaluations differs too.

Let’s look spellwards.

-1 Pyrohemia
-1 Earthquake
-1 Evincar’s Justice
-1 Sulfurous Blast

I have no idea why this deck has a minor Pestilence theme. I also have no idea why Earthquake was deemed better than other options in color (such as
Jiwari, the Earth Aflame or just a simple Wrath of God). None of these cards works in a deck themed on Tariel.

+1 Rout
+1 Life’s Finale
+1 Mogg Infestation
+1 Urza’s Rage

This deck needs mass removal badly. You are in the colors, and yet lack the power for it. Currently, as printed, it has Akroma’s Vengeance and
then these weaker cards I just pulled. By strengthening these cards, we make the deck better. Normally, I’d put a Hallowed Burial or perhaps a
Final Judgment in here, to permanently end reanimation tricks. However, since we want those tricks, I have included the instant Rout, Life’s
Finale—which will give you more targets for Tariel, and Mogg Infestation. It will leave someone with a bunch of Goblin tokens, but take out their
major threats and leave them open. Urza’s Rage can be played early or late, and has a lot of power and use in either place.

-1 Death by Dragons
-1 Cleansing Beam
-1 Master Warcraft

Each of these cards is coming out for different reasons. Without things like Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund, I just don’t like Death by Dragons that
much here. Does it have places elsewhere? Sure. It is an event when it gets played, and I’m pulling it, but it’s more fun than powerful
here. I’ve found that the radiance cards often don’t do what you want, and play more often like just really expensive removal spells.
Master Warcraft is getting pulled because it’s going to get misplayed a lot. While it does allow you to choose attackers and blockers, it does
not allow you to choose whom to attack with what creatures. So, I can choose Steve to attack with everything, but he can attack me, George, a split, or
Sarah vs. Sarah’s Liliana Vess. It’s not nearly as powerful as you think. I’ll add a similar card that’s much better.

+1 Fight to the Death
+1 Swords to Plowshares
+1 Demonic Tutor

Fight to the Death works similar to Master Warcraft and will serious punish some folks. Swords to Plowshares is an obvious end to a major problem, and
Demonic Tutor is power in a two-mana package.

-1 Righteous Cause
+1 Debtors’ Knell

I’m not sure where this minor life gain theme is coming from. While I left in some of them (Congregate, Shattered Angel), I feel this is very
weak. If we are going to pay a lot for an expensive enchantment, let’s play one in theme.

-1 Bathe in Light
+1 Junktroller

I need to start emphasizing the theme. I want to hit opposing graveyards when they get something nasty in there. I don’t want someone to discard
Genesis to my Liliana’s Specter. Plus, I can remove weak creatures to increase Tariel’s chance of hitting something good. There’s
nothing wrong with Bathe in Light, although I’d prefer a different way to protect all of my creatures (Prismatic Strands, for example). I just
need space. On that note, I am making a change that I really don’t want to make.

-1 Vow of Duty
-1 Vow of Malice
-1 Vow of Lightning

I adore the Vows, and I was hoping to keep them in, but I need the space. I want cards that fit my theme.

+1 Reito Lantern
+1 Profane Command
+1 Cauldron of Souls

Just as Junktroller helps keep things at the right level for Tariel, so does Reito Lantern. Profane Command fits the reanimation theme, can go to
someone’s head, kill a creature, or give your team fear. Its versatility is very powerful here. Cauldron of Souls can protect your creatures,
keep them alive through one mass removal spell, and fits the deck very nicely.

There’s one more spell I need to add. With just Return to Dust, Mortify, Duergar Hedge-Mage, Wrecking Ball, and Orim’s Thunder as ways to
potentially take out an artifact or enchantment, I need one more. As I look out on what to pull for one more card, my answer is obvious, but a bit sad
as well.

-1 Strangehold
+1 Vindicate

Vindicate is great as an answer to so much. It’s vital. Stranglehold is very good too, but a bit too much of a griefer and could get you
targeted. Pulling it is not a major loss, and adding another way to take out a land, Planeswalker, creature, artifact, or enchantment is quite

Let’s look at the lands!

-1 Zoetic Cavern

I like Zoetic Cavern a lot, but I don’t get why it’s here.

+1 Volrath’s Stronghold

We can’t use Homeward Path, since it will hurt our deck. We aren’t drawing enough cards for Reliquary Tower to have much value. This is
absolutely a deck for the Stronghold though.

-1 Plains
-1 Mountain
-1 Swamp

+1 Drifting Meadow
+1 Polluted Mire
+1 Smoldering Crater

The cycling lands have some serious value here. We don’t have a lot of raw card drawing, so they help to sift through the deck. They turn
Weathered Wayfarer into a card-drawing engine. I absolutely feel they are important here.

-1 Molten Slagheap
+1 Terramorphic Expanse

I’m not sure why it’s missing, but it’s a better choice than Molten Slagheap.

-1 Plains
-1 Swamp
-1 Mountain
+1 Sacred Foundry
+1 Blood Crypt
+1 Godless Shrine

While it’s unlikely that you would have the old dual lands, the new ones are quite obtainable, and cheaper than many think. Adding them is a
great way to shore up your mana base.

I’m sad that I’m missing Wheel of Fortune, more good card drawing, especially black card drawing, more tutors, Kor Haven, Liliana Vess, and
more. I think that this deck is pretty good though. Let’s take a look at the full decklist:

Updated Heavenly Inferno

1 Akoum Refuge
1 Barren Moor
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Boros Garrison
1 Command Tower
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Forgotten Cave
6 Mountain
1 Orzhov Basilica
6 Plains
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Rupture Spire
1 Secluded Steppe
6 Swamp
1 Vivid Meadow
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Blood Crypt
1 Godless Shrine
1 Drifting Meadow
1 Polluted Mire
1 Smoldering Crater
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Volrath’s Stronghold
1 Akroma, Angel of Fury
1 Angel of Despair
1 Angelic Arbiter
1 Anger
1 Basandra, Battle Seraph
1 Dread Cacodemon
1 Commander Eesha
1 Lieutenant Kirtar
1 Reya Dawnbringer
1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
1 Duergar Hedge-Mage
1 Mana-Charged Dragon
1 Mother of Runes
1 Oros, the Avenger
1 Reiver Demon
1 Shattered Angel
1 Tariel, Reckoner of Souls
1 Voice of All
1 Junktroller
1 Liliana’s Specter
1 Skinrender
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Weathered Wayfarer
1 Sunblast Angel
1 Avatar of Woe
1 Scythe Specter
1 Sheoldred, Whispering One
1 Shriekmaw
1 Nekrataal
1 Flametongue Kavu
1 Akroma’s Vengeance
1 Armillary Sphere
1 Boros Signet
1 Comet Storm
1 Congregate
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Mortify
1 Orim’s Thunder
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Path to Exile
1 Rakdos Signet
1 Return to Dust
1 Sol Ring
1 Soul Snare
1 Syphon Flesh
1 Syphon Mind
1 Terminate
1 Wrecking Ball
1 Rout
1 Life’s Finale
1 Mogg Infestation
1 Urza’s Rage
1 Reito Lantern
1 Profane Command
1 Cauldron of Souls
1 Vindicate
1 Fight to the Death
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Debtors’ Knell

There we are, all nice and pretty. It retains many of the cards from the original deck (it kept 14 creatures out of 29, and 20 spells out of 33 spells
plus 12 out of 14 non-basic lands). Now I’m going to shuffle up this bad boy, and we’re going to play it a bit. Wish me luck!

Until later,
Abe Sargent