Last updated on May 20, 2022

Kaalia of the Vast (Double Masters) - Illustration by Scott M. Fischer

Kaalia of the Vast (Double Masters) | Illustration by Scott M. Fischer

Are you tired of long Commander games? Can’t sit still for an hour-plus round while your opponents durdle away, storming off for 30 minutes or building an impenetrable pillowfort? Do you miss playing more than one Commander game on game night?

Fear not, the solution has always been right under our collective nose! Kaalia of the Vast is here, she’s ending the game, and she’s asking, “would you like to go to game 2?”

Let’s jump right in and see just how fast this deck can go!

The Deck

Angel of Serenity - Illustration by Aleksi Briclot

Angel of Serenity | Illustration by Aleksi Briclot

This Kaalia of the Vast deck addresses the one thing I can’t stand about EDH in its current form: long games. It’s a high-powered deck that brutally obliterates your opponents in the first few turns or runs out of steam and flops. There’s no in between.

You want to play Kaalia as soon as you can, load up your hand with your favorite huge angels, demons, and dragons, then swing away! You’re looking to crush your opponents with sheer combat damage and finish games quickly with Liliana’s Contract or Master of Cruelties.

You want to drop a creature every time Kaalia attacks so you run eight angels, seven dragons, four changelings, and a whopping 16 demons. I favored demons over the other two tribes for Liliana’s Contract as a lot of Kaalia players do.

The Commander

Kaalia of the Vast

Kaalia of the Vast is one of the original legendary creatures from the Commander 2011 precons. Kaalia was the face commander for the Heavenly Inferno deck and was quite the powerhouse back then.

This commander’s ability lets you sneak angels, demons, or dragons into play tapped and attacking. This allows for some very aggressive plays considering these are some of the strongest creature types in Magic. Most angels, demons, and dragons have a prohibitively high mana value (which is fair considering a lot of their effects), but Kaalia lets you waltz right past that and into the declare blockers step.

Since Kaalia is key to making this deck “go,” you want to play it and attack as soon as possible, turn 3 or 4 if you can manage it. To ensure its safety give Kaalia Whispersilk Cloak or Lightning Greaves and then swing with reckless abandon.

Angels…

Some of my favorite angels are the keyword-soup beaters Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Akroma, Angel of Fury. Together with Baneslayer Angel they make an imposing trio of threatening angels.

Karmic Guide and Liesa, Forgotten Archangel will return the creatures you’ve undoubtedly lost to removal at some point.

Angel of Serenity

Angel of Serenity punches back with your own removal.

Demons…

The real meat of this deck is its demon creatures. Several have tutor effects, letting you immediately search for Liliana’s Contract and more demons.

Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire and Razaketh, the Foulblooded’s cheap, repeatable tutors make them real stars.

Demon of Wailing Agonies and Demon of Loathing pack a huge punch and take a creature with them on the way out.

Master of Cruelties

You also have a few game-enders. Master of Cruelties is a real nasty combo when put into play with Kaalia of the Vast. Assuming neither are blocked Master’s effect sets your opponent’s life total to on, and then they take two damage from Kaalia and die! This is an insanely quick kill that can come out of nowhere, basically to your crusade against long games.

Archfiend of Despair and Lord of the Void won’t immediately end games on their own but they will up the stakes quite a bit.

And Dragons, Oh My!

Balefire Dragon

Your dragons fill a lot of utility roles in this deck. Balefire Dragon stands in for your typical board wipe.

Obsidian Charmaw MH2

Obsidian Charmaw removes that tricky Field of the Dead or Vault of the Archangel.

Scion of Draco MH2

Scion of Draco is a pseudo-anthem that gives keyword soup to your whole board.

Hellkite Courser

Hellkite Courser is one of the odd cards in this deck that you aren’t looking to sneak into play with Kaalia of the Vast. Instead you want to drop it in the mid-to-late game after you’ve seen Kaalia destroyed once or twice and have refilled your hand with threats.

Changelings

You also have four changeling creatures to double down on your Liliana’s Contract.

You want to keep them cheap and simple. Mirror Entity and Taurean Mauler can become their own threats.

Universal Automaton and Changeling Outcast are just here to cheat that contract.

Conspiracy

There’s also Conspiracy. You use this enchantment to give every creature on your field the demon creature type, a quick fix if you find yourself with a board full of angels and an unfulfilled Contract.

Reloads and Tutors

Kaalia of the Vast needs you to have cards in your hand for its attacks to be effective. Tutors and some cheap draw spells work well to keep your hand full of threats.

Sign in Blood and its sister Night’s Whisper are classic choices. Luckily for you, Liliana’s Contract acts as copies 3 and 4 of Sign in Blood along with your win con.

Underworld Connections

I’ve also been partial to Underworld Connection lately. The consistency of drawing a card each turn for one mana pays off.

You also run Open the Armory almost exclusively to fetch Lightning Greaves, and Demonic Tutor and Profane Tutor for everything else.

Bolas's Citadel

Bolas’s Citadel can accelerate you to victory very early on by skipping Kaalia and just trading life for those huge creatures.

Protection Package

You’ll inevitably see some pushback from your attempt to end the game so quickly. Protecting Kaalia from your opponent’s removal is key so you’ve got Swiftfoot Boots, Lightning Greaves, and Whispersilk Cloak in an attempt to get one or the other in your opening hand.

On the off chance you’re hit with a wrath before clocking a finishing blow you can recur your best creatures with Unburial Rites and get twice as many back with Haunting Voyage. Casting a foretold Voyage while your Conspiracy is on the field can return your entire graveyard to the field.

The Mana Base

Getting your mana right in the early game is essential to playing Kaalia ASAP. You have quite a few mana rocks with Talisman of Conviction and Talisman of Hierarchy, Rakdos Signet and Boros Signet, and “ol’ reliable” Sol Ring.

The Strategy

Night's Whisper - Illustration by John Severin Brassel

Night’s Whisper | Illustration by John Severin Brassel

You’re here for a good time, not a long time. This deck is a swingy glass cannon. You get Kaalia of the Vast on the field and swing for the fences. It has the potential to eliminate players as soon as turn 4 and end entire pods by turn 5. On the other hand, the deck loses steam very quickly if Kaalia is removed so you need to get that alpha strike in if you don’t want the game to go long.

In the early game you want to ramp into playing Kaalia before turn 4 and continue ramping because this deck can become really mana heavy in the mid- and late-game. Drop the Signets and Talismans as you come across them and don’t be afraid to use Demonic Tutor for Liliana’s Contract at this stage.

By the mid-game you’ve swung Kaalia around a bit and played some threats from your hand, or maybe you already defeated one player with Master of Cruelties. It’s important to keep pumping the gas so draw into the demons you can’t search up with your Sign in Blood equivalents. If you’re Liliana’s Contract win has already been shut down, it’s worth it to tutor up Warstorm Surge and change tactics to “beater.”

This deck has whiffed miserably if you make it to the late game. All of your threats have been dealt with or the board has been cleared enough times that you can’t jumpstart your strategy. At this point your hopes lie in a crucial Haunting Voyage or hard-casting your big creatures.

Combos and Interactions

This deck isn’t running any infinite combos. I omitted any extra combat cards (but you could probably stand to include some) and you can’t infinitely recur Karmic Guide for any enters-the-battlefield shenanigans.

As far as brutal synergies go, Master of Cruelties combined with Kaalia of the Vast can instantly take a player to 0.

Conspiracy improves the effectiveness of both Haunting Voyage and Liliana’s Contract.

Rule 0 Violations Check

Listen, this deck is very powerful in its current form. It bulldozes through any precon deck and does the same to any other deck without some disruption. I’d say it warrants a pregame warning at the least, if not a months-in-advance notice so your playgroup has time to respond.

Budget Options

Balefire Dragon - Illustration by Eric Deschamps

Balefire Dragon | Illustration by Eric Deschamps

If you were to purchase this deck right now it’d run about $450. That’s on the high end for Commander decks, so let’s examine some budget options that keep this deck fast and aggressive.

Cheaper

Cutting the fetch lands and shock lands will save you $100 right off the bat. Replace them with basics and tap lands and the deck still runs fairly well.

Next you can trade the pricey tutors, Demonic Tutor and Razaketh, the Foulblooded, out for the slower Diabolic Tutor and Mastermind’s Acquisition.

Finally you can drop Archfiend of Despair and Lord of the Void for some other big demon creatures. Grab an Archfiend of Depravity or get weird with a Lady Orca.

More Expensive

Punching this deck up is easy.

Trade out changelings for more powerful creatures like Avacyn, Angel of Hope and Aurelia, the Warleader. Tossing in a Hellkite Tyrant adds another win condition and Scourge of the Throne’s extra combats mean you’ll be dropping two creatures per turn with Kaalia.

You can also grab even more tutors with a Rune-Scarred Demon.

Other Builds

Liliana's Contract (Secret Lair) - Illustration by ZIUK

Liliana’s Contract (Secret Lair) | Illustration by ZIUK

While this deck focuses on being an all-around Kaalia of the Vast build, other Kaalia decks can run more tuned themes.

Some choose to double down on extra combat steps with Aurelia, the Warleader or Scourge of the Throne.

Others want to build around just one of the three tribes Kaalia references. An only-demons deck would win off Liliana’s Contract much easier and has the added bonus of freeing up space for an army of Shadowborn Apostles.

Wrap Up

Liesa, Forgotten Archangel - Illustration by Dmitry Burmak

Liesa, Forgotten Archangel | Illustration by Dmitry Burmak

Kaalia of the Vast is the iconic Mardu () commander, and one of the best the color combination has to offer. Its ability combine the most powerful tribes in Magic with an attack trigger to give this deck the quintessential Mardu feel. While not the most diverse Mardu commander, Kaalia has been a fan favorite ever since its early days.

What’s in your Kaalia deck? Any big demons I’ve omitted? What would you run in an angels-only or dragons-only tribal deck? Let me know in the comments or over on Draftsim Twitter.

Thanks for reading, and check back soon for more Commander deck guides!

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