The Kitchen Table: The Next 100 With Kaalia

In this installment of the Next 100 project, Abe illustrates how a Kaalia of the Vast deck can be built without using Commander’s greatest hits.

In the world of Commander, we often see some commanders more than others. We often notice some card stock more than others too. Have your Commander nights become a mixture of the same cards over and over again? Are you seeing too many of the same cards, strategies, and commanders?

That’s where the Next 100 steps in. The goal of this project is to take a commonly played commander and build a quick First 100 deck using all of the best cards. This is a deck you can expect to see when you shuffle up for a game at your local card store. We are going to pimp the deck with the best of the best!

And then I set it aside and build the Next 100 without using any of the cards in the first deck. This gives me several benefits:

  • Not everybody owns every card. If your deck stock lacks a lot of Commander’s greatest hits, then this shows you how to still build a great deck
  • In a similar vein, if you have a bunch of Commander decks already built, you may be out of Insurrection, Solemn Simulacrum, Mimic Vat, and Vindicate. This will help you build your 33rd deck
  • This reveals how to flesh out the cards in your metagame without compromising the power of your deck.   
  • It’s a fun deckbuilding challenge—who doesn’t like those?

I’ve already built decks around Purphoros, God of the Forge; Rhys the Redeemed; Glissa the Traitor; Prime Speaker Zegana; and Sygg, River Cutthroat.  So let’s unpack a Kaalia of the Vast deck and see what we can uncover!

Kaalia of the Vast
Abe Sargent
Test deck on 04-28-2014

Here is a solid pimped-out First 100 for Kaalia with many of the usual suspects. From Akromas to Avacyn, the deck has the heavy Angels. Then with Rune-Scarred Demon, Steel Hellkite and a lot of Dragons and Demons for fun, we have many of the expected bodies. This deck spares no expense for mana, backup plans in case of Kaalia failure (Sneak Attack, Quicksilver Amulet), and some of the strongest Commander cards in white, black and red. It’s designed to be a typical Kaalia deck.

So what happens if I have to build a Kaalia deck with none of those cards? What would it even look like?

Kaalia of the Vast
Abe Sargent
Test deck on 04-28-2014
Magic Card Back

And here is our Next 100 all nice and snug! Let’s explore this vista and see what we’ve got when we can’t use cards from the First 100.

In my opinion, the best Angels of all time trump the best Dragons and Demons of all time in this format. Angel of Despair; Akroma, Angel of Fury; Akroma, Angel of Wrath; Avacyn, Angel of Hope; Iona, Shield of Emeria; Gisela, Blade of Goldnight; and more are a better list than the top Dragons or Demons can muster. The first deck leans a bit heavily on these powerhouses, and the second deck has just four Angels as a result (five if you count Changelings).

So there are a lot more Dragons and Demons in this deck. We have powerful bodies that offer little else, such as Demon of Death’s Gate and Dragon Tyrant. These just represent pure nasty hitters that will leap down from your hand tapped and smashing folks.

We still have some strong tricks. Spirit of the Night may not be Akroma, but it’s a great Demon Spirit nevertheless. Stronghold Overseer is virtually guaranteed to get in a swing turn after turn but won’t block anything. We have Ob Nixilis, the Fallen and Rakdos, Lord of Riots, who doesn’t always have to worry about being hard cast. The best Demon might be Kuro, Pitlord, who has a hefty upkeep but can also be used to cleanse the board of a hefty amount of chaff.

I leaned into Dragons even more. There are enough Dragons in here to warrant Bladewing the Risen—twelve Dragons in all (including Taurean Mauler). The best Dragons of all time are featured here. You can drop massive flyers all over the board. I included fun stuff from Oros, the Avenger to Flameblast Dragon. We can also blow up or steal artifacts with our draconic ardor.

Note that this deck has a decided lack of ground creatures. You could run Earthquake and such with a lot of value. I chose Thunder Dragon to hit the smaller chaff. Plus Ryusei, the Falling Star’s death will also assist in cleansing the ground of annoying mid-sized stuff.

We also have great options, such as playing Relentless Assault and activating Aggravated Assault for the smashing, as well as hasted options like Hammer of Purphoros and Sword of Vengeance.

There are also a lot of removal options left in our colors even after using the best before. Sure, we ran stuff like Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile, but we can still find space for Crib Swap, Into the Core, and Silence the Believers. The First 100 runs Hallowed Burial and Terminus. The next uses Decree of Pain and Plague Wind.  Both have useful places in these decks.

The Next 100’s tutor effects are more mana hungry but powerful. The First 100 has Tempt with Immortality and Unburial Rites; the Next 100 runs Fated Return, Living Death, and Obzedat’s Aid. The First 100 has Vindicate; the Next 100 has Chaos Warp. The First has Phyrexian Arena; the Next has Underworld Connections. The First has Bojuka Bog; the Next has Nihil Spellbomb.

As you can see, the First tends to have the better stuff, but it’s not a blowout. You can win games with Underworld Connections, Into the Core, Unexpectedly Absent, Diabolic Revelation, Profane Command, Living Death, Crypt Incursion, and Crib Swap.

Please note that if you feel some cards in the Next 100 deck would be in your personal First 100 list for Kaalia, that’s great. It also proves the point. There are amazing cards that you can run in Commander beyond the First 100. And if we have a healthy debate about which is better—Admonition Angel or Dragon Mage, Terminate or Silence the Believers—that illustrates just how deep the card pool is for these decks.

So you can build a Next 100 of any legendary creature that gets a lot of play in your group, and it doesn’t have to look the same. You can build another deck with the same cardstock you already have. You don’t need Solemn Simulacrum or Lightning Greaves.

A lot of cards were not even used for the Next 100. Consider mass reanimation like Twilight’s Call. We could run Exsanguinate; Warstorm Surge; Vampiric Tutor; Reiver Demon; Damnation; Wrath of God; Lord of the Void; Rakdos Charm; Earthquake; Angelic Arbiter; Blinding Angel; Knollspine Dragon; Linvala; Keeper of Silence; Gild; Sire of Insanity; Mordant Dragon; Twilight Shepherd; Darksteel Plate; Swords of X and Y; discard; Dreadbore; Oblation; True Conviction; Sorin Markov; Amulet of Vigor; Sunforger; Order // Chaos; Iroas, God of Victory; and a lot more.

And that’s a quick amount of brainstorming. You can build powerful versions of virtually any commander by steering clear of the path most travelled. Imprint your own image on your decks!