MTG Commander Deep Dive: Herigast, Erupting Nullkite

Who’s hyped for Modern Horizons 3? Bennie Smith honors the upcoming Magic set with ideas for building around preview card Herigast, Erupting Nullkite.

Herigast, Erupting Nullkite
Herigast, Erupting Nullkite, illustrated by Lucas Graciano

Modern Horizons 3‘s debut stream is this Tuesday, kicking off the official preview season, and if past is prologue, there will be a ton of sweet stuff for us Commander fans! We’ve already gotten a sneak peek at a handful of cards, and one card in particular is very interesting to consider as a commander: Herigast, Erupting Nullkite!

Herigast, Erupting Nullkite

The emerge mechanic debuted in Eldritch Moon, and very cleverly captures the horror of a monster bursting forth from inside another creature.  I recall Elder Deep-Fiend making a big splash on the Standard tournament scene. Wizards of the Coast (WotC) has revisited the mechanic where it makes sense, like Cresting Mosasaurus from the Jurassic World Collection and Adipose Offspring from Doctor Who Commander.

Elder Deep-Fiend Decimator of the Provinces Distended Mindbender

Cresting Mosasaurus Adipose Offspring

Notably, there was never a red card with emerge until the upcoming Herigast, and it makes up for lost time by giving emerge to all your creature spells, many of which will indeed be red creatures, once it hits the battlefield.

Emergent Behavior

Emerge is a neat way to cheat on the mana cost of expensive creatures by making a down payment with a cheaper creature you can then sacrifice to help pay the cost. So, for instance, you can cast a four-mana creature on Turn 4, and then sacrifice it on Turn 5 to emerge Herigast. It does cost you a card for the creature you’re sacrificing, so we’ll want to play a good number of creatures that give you a benefit when it enters the battlefield, or a benefit when it dies. Or in some cases, both! 

Herigast does offer you the option of getting three fresh new cards on its cast trigger at the expense of exiling your hand, but if you’re sacrificing creatures to emerge big creatures, there are likely to be times when that card draw will be quite handy.

Okay, let’s dig into the sort of cards we might want to play in our Herigast deck!

Expensive Creatures

Flayer of Loyalties Triplicate Titan Myr Battlesphere Molten Primordial Kozilek, Butcher of Truth Artisan of Kozilek Void Winnower Kozilek, the Great Distortion Cavern-Hoard Dragon Desolation Twin Angrath's Marauders Dragon Mage Cityscape Leveler Blast-Furnace Hellkite Tyrant's Familiar Knollspine Dragon Sandstone Oracle Stalking Vengeance Cybermen Squadron Maelstrom Colossus Hamletback Goliath Su-Chi Cave Guard Myojin of Roaring Blades Themberchaud Conduit of Ruin Skitterbeam Battalion Sunbird's Invocation

We’ll want a good number of big, powerful, and mana-expensive creatures worth the effort of cheating onto the battlefield with the emerge ability. And what’s bigger than Eldrazi titans such as the different versions of Kozilek? I personally prefer Kozilek as the most Commander-friendly of the titans because neither of them are indestructible, and thus they allow interaction, plus they help replenish your hand of cards. Flayer of Loyalties is another powerful Eldrazi that can let you take control of the biggest threat on the battlefield, attack with it, and then even sacrifice it to emerge another creature.

Triplicate Titan is another awesome high-mana threat with built-in resistance to battlefield sweepers. If you’re playing enough artifact creatures, then Cybermen Squadron becomes a sweet card to cheat out. Su-Chi Cave Guard is a neat card to emerge out early, and then you can sacrifice it to emerge another big creature and have eight colorless mana for a second big play.

Stalking Vengeance is a great way to turn all your emerge shenanigans into a win condition, especially if you can chain several sacrifices in a turn. Sunbird’s Invocation is a great support enchantment; given the high mana you’re cheating when casting with emerge, you can potentially dig up another big-mana creature with Sunbird’s trigger and cast it for free!

Cheating Large Creatures Onto the Battlefield

Ilharg, the Raze-Boar Sneak Attack Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded Deathrender Ancient Stone Idol Quicksilver Amulet Oxidda Golem

Cheating these large creatures onto the battlefield for much less mana than to cast them means you can use them to emerge another, perhaps bigger creature onto the battlefield.  Ilharg, the Raze-Boar only needs to attack, while Sneak Attack just needs one red mana, and Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded just needs three mana. Deathrender has long been a favorite of mine. For two mana, you can equip the creature that’s going to feed your emerge cost, and then when it’s sacrificed, you’ll get to put a creature card from your hand onto the battlefield… also equipped to Deathrender to continue the shenanigans!

Oxidda Golem is a slam dunk for this mono-red deck. All the basic Mountains mean this card will usually be cast for a huge mana discount and can easily be used to emerge something massive.

Creatures That Return From the Graveyard

Immortal Phoenix Shivan Phoenix Rekindling Phoenix Skyfire Phoenix Flayer of the Hatebound Hound of Griselbrand Pyreheart Wolf Thunderblust Furystoke Giant

Remember I mentioned Stalking Vengeance can be a win condition? If we somehow get both Immortal Phoenix and Shivan Phoenix into the mix, they can emerge from each other over and over to get a bunch of triggers from Stalking Vengeance and anything else that cares about a creature dying or entering the battlefield. Skyfire Phoenix is handy emerge fodder, since it will eventually come back from the graveyard the next time you cast your commander.

I also like creatures that come back to the battlefield after their first death, such as those with undying, like Flayer of the Hatebound and Hound of Griselbrand, or those with persist, like Thunderblust and Furystoke Giant.

Getting Back Dying Creatures

Cauldron of Souls Resurrection Orb Nim Deathmantle Lifeline

Speaking of persist, Cauldron of Souls seems perfect for this deck. Resurrection Orb and Nim Deathmantle are a little expensive to bring creatures back from dying, but given that we’re saving mana with emerge, it might totally be worth it. Lifeline is a bit risky due to its symmetry, but this deck might be better able to fully exploit it than your opponents.

Enters the Battlefield Triggers

Solemn Simulacrum Filigree Familiar Circuit Mender Clone Shell Warstorm Surge Dualcaster Mage Terror of the Peaks Purphoros, God of the Forge Meteor Golem Combustible Gearhulk Duplicant Godo, Bandit Warlord Trumpeting Carnosaur Emrakul's Hatcher

Solemn Simulacrum, Filigree Familiar, and Circuit Mender are fantastic early cards for our gameplan, since all of them do stuff when they enter the battlefield and when they die, especially since they draw a card for your troubles. Combustible Gearhulk is going to draw you three cards most of the time, since it should be quite obvious that you’re playing a critical number of high-mana creatures that could just kill somebody if you mill enough of them.

Terror of the Peaks is another win condition if you can chain enough emerge creatures together, such as the two Phoenixes I mentioned above.

If we’re playing one or more of the Equipment cards I’ve talked about, we should definitely run Godo, Bandit Warlord to go find them; cast it with emerge so you’ve got enough mana available so that, when you emerge with Godo, you can pay to bring it back with the Equipment – and go find another Equipment!

Dies Triggers

Skullclamp Wurmcoil Engine Atsushi, the Blazing Sky Ryusei, the Falling Star Junk Diver Workshop Assistant Ruin Grinder Matter Reshaper Cavalier of Flame Treasure Keeper Hoarding Dragon Vicious Shadows Weatherlight Compleated Scuttling Doom Engine Dross Scorpion Anger

Skullclamp is a great Equipment for Commander creature decks, and it’s super-cheap to equip to whatever creature you plan to sacrifice for emerge, drawing two fresh cards in the process.

Atsushi, the Blazing Sky and Ryusei, the Falling Star provide nice dies triggers to take advantage when you use them to emerge. And of course, Anger is a creature you really want in your graveyard, assuming you have a Mountain on the battlefield!  Ruin Grinder is awesome both to cheat out with emerge and then to sacrifice to emerge, letting you refill your hand with seven new cards.

Vicious Shadows is another enchantment that strongly supports our gameplan, dishing out big chunks of damage to opponents based on how many cards they have in hand each time a creature dies – and not just our own! Weatherlight Compleated might be sweet to run, since it accumulates value from creatures you control dying.

Copying Creatures

Mirrorpool Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker Feldon of the Third Path Delina, Wild Mage Fable of the Mirror-Breaker Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink Rionya, Fire Dancer Calamity, Galloping Inferno Helm of the Host Nexus of Becoming Mimic Vat Jaxis, the Troublemaker Felhide Spiritbinder Flameshadow Conjuring Lithoform Engine Twinflame Molten Duplication Heat Shimmer Flamerush Rider Hate Mirage

Copying creatures is another way to create emerge fodder without costing you a real Magic card, particularly if you’re copying something with a sweet enters-the-battlefield effect. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker is perfect, especially since it has haste and can be used right away. Fable of the Mirror-Breaker takes a little time to set up, but eventually Reflection of Kiki-Jiki will bring the same reusable value. Calamity, Galloping Inferno can make not one, but two copies of whatever creature you’ve saddled it with. I also love Feldon of the Third Path, which can copy any creature you have in the graveyard, and when you’re emerging, your graveyard should be pretty well stocked with sweet creatures.

Stealing Creatures

Seize the Spotlight Zealous Conscripts Mob Rule Insurrection Song-Mad Treachery Furnace Reins Act of Aggression Eldrazi Obligator Spreading Insurrection The Akroan War Word of Seizing

If you play with a cutthroat bunch of Commander players, you can make use of red’s many ways of temporarily stealing opponents’ creatures and then sacrifice them with emerge to never have to give them back. How evil of you! The one card I think should go in even a more laid-back version of this deck is Seize the Spotlight. If you’ve got your commander on the battlefield, your opponents will be loath to let you take control of one of their creatures, so it should mostly let you draw cards and get Treasures. If they let you take a creature you can emerge with, well then, they made that decision, right?

High-Cost Commander Matters

Cactus Preserve Imposing Grandeur Visions of Ruin Hellkite Courser Geode Golem

Even though we’ll rarely be paying that whopping nine generic mana to cast our commander, we can take advantage of having a high-cost commander with cards that get more powerful because of it. Imposing Grandeur lets you draw a whopping nine cards, and emerge means you can easily deploy some of the big creatures you’ve just drawn. Visions of Ruin’s flashback cost is only going to be two red mana! The color-fixing of Cactus Preserve isn’t going to matter in a mono-red deck, but being able to turn into a 9/9 creature for just three mana can deal some serious damage after a battlefield sweeper – and the creature has reach, so it can play defense if you need that instead.

Hellkite Courser is fun in this deck, letting you deploy Herigast with haste for the turn, and then you can immediately sacrifice the Courser to emerge a creature from your hand. Geode Golem can do something similar if it’s able to deal damage to an opponent, and Herigast doesn’t have to leave the battlefield at the end of your turn.

What other awesome cards would you consider adding to your Herigast deck? What’ll be your favorite high-mana creature to cast with emerge?

Talk to Me

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and start conversations about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  You can also find my LinkTree on my profile page there with links to all my content.

I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do Commander, Brawl, and sometimes other Magic-related streams when I can.  If you can’t join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.  You can also find the lists for my paper decks over on Archidekt if you want to dig into how I put together my own decks and brews. 

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

Visit my Decklist Database to see my decklists and the articles where they appeared!



SCG CON is coming to Baltimore, MD on July 26-28, 2024! The world’s premier trading card game convention features three full days of Magic: The Gathering, Flesh and Blood, Disney Lorcana, and Star Wars Unlimited action:

  • Magic: The Gathering Bloomburrow Prereleases all weekend long, Modern $10K, Legacy $5K, cEDH $5K, Commander Celebration, and Regional Championship qualifications
  • Flesh and Blood Pro Quest + events
  • Disney Lorcana Core Constructed $2K and $1K events
  • Star Wars Unlimited Premier Constructed $2K and $1K events
  • Side events all weekend long

And so much more!

Plus, meet fan-favorite special guests and artists!

Make your plans for SCG CON Baltimore!