Kaalia, Zenith Seeker "Certified Air Raid Material"

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RowanKeltizar
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Post by RowanKeltizar » 5 months ago

Certified Air Raid Material


It's definitely going to take me a minute to get used to the new site, yikes!

I'm posting my list here for feedback. My intent is to theorycraft and workshop the deck here before I purchase the first draft. Then I will make changes based on real experience. I am very excited to be building this deck because it's a bit unorthodox and utilizes some themes, combos, and cards I've been wanting to try for a while. I am also purposefully choosing to explore this route of hand hate and value engines because it is uncharted territory for me. I wanted my newest commander deck to do things that none of my other decks did.

Kaalia, Zenith Seeker asks for a very different type of build than you might pursue with Kaalia of The Vast. The main difference being that you can no longer reliably cheat 6cmc + creatures into play turn after turn. The strategy here instead is to select efficiently costed ADD (Angels, Demons, and Dragons - 5cmc or less being the rule) and flood the board with them or create value over time. Sneak Attack, Heartless Summoning, and Rakdos Lord of Riots are there to support this gameplan as is the robust reanimation package. It is also preferable to have a effect from an ADD body so that Kaalia can dig it up for us. I am still determining what the ideal concentration of ADD is in the deck, but generally I feel that the more we can get away with the better.

Instead of mana denial I have elected to try hand hate instead since I feel that it is more synergistic with Kaalia's ability. It is also a pretty viable strategy against our blue opponents. Sire of Insanity, Ill-Gotten Gains, and Words of Waste are some of the main players here, but I am definitely in need of more support and discussion in this area, These effects are of course preferable on an ADD body, but enchantments or artifacts next, then instants or sorceries as a last pick. Help appreciated here! We can turn the discard effects to our advantage with reanimation.

There is a strong ETB theme here which I feel gives us a lot of value over time. Because our commander sports an ETB ability we can comfortably maindeck support for it. For example, attaching Gift of Immortality to Kaalia, then getting Ravenous Demon into play means that we will be using Kaalia's ability at least once each turn for free! You can also replace Kaalia in this combo for another ETB creature, or the demon for another sac outlet, for example Phyrexian Tower.

Something else I would like to explore as an alternative to an ETB trigger is a death trigger as we have a lot of sac outlets and reanimation effects, but I haven't been able to find too many ADD that fit the bill.

I also have support for the Worldgorger Dragon combo. The reason being is that it works so well with our commander. As long as we have at least one other creature in our graveyard, after we have all of our ADD in hand with infinite mana at our disposal, we can simply target that other creature in our graveyard with Animate Dead, thereby ending the loop. We should be able to then cast all the creatures in our deck with haste. Dragonlord Kolaghan is specifically there for this reason, over another haste enabler. I think this combo is possible as early as turn 3, correct me if I'm wrong.

As a side note, even without Animate Dead, WGD also works nicely with Sneak Attack as a battlefield blink for R. One of my goals for the deck is to further streamline the consistency of this combo or the usefulness of WGD without Animate Dead in hand. Help appreciated there as well. I'm not favorable to slotting in Necromancy or Dance of the Dead simply because my other reanimation effects are stronger. I'd rather tutor or draw into Animate Dead. Many of the self discard effects are there to help get WGD into my graveyard if I dig him up with Kaalia. At the same time, I'm not really interested in pushing this deck into cEDH territory... I am merely trying to create something that is strong, consistent, and also enjoyable to play and play against.

Some choices are there for budget reasons which is why you don't see a Vampiric Tutor or some of the more expensive lands.


Decklist

LAND:


Basics


5 Swamp
4 Mountain
4 Plains
Approximate Total Cost:


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benjameenbear
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Post by benjameenbear » 4 months ago

I'm not sure how I missed this decklist, @RowanKeltizar , but welcome to MTGNexus!

I'm interested to see that you have 0 Signets in your decklist and are running Mox Amber. Why is this?
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Post by RowanKeltizar » 4 months ago

I've actually went ahead and purchased most of this list. In my paper list I've added all 3 signets, and don't have the Amber yet. My theory with the amber is that Kaalia should see a lot of battlefield time. We also have quite a few legendary creatures in the list. It should enables a pretty consistent turn 4 creature of 5 cmc.

The Worldgorger combo is pulling off the most consistent wins for me. Final Parting is helping a lot toward this end. This is something that feels pretty awesome to pull off, especially with Kaalia in play, but also is relatively consistent. I think it's worth building around.

In my playtesting, I actually feel I might have an over saturation of creatures. I find that it is more important to have creatures that give me a lot of value even if they are higher CMC. I am thinking of adding: Knollspine Dragon, Angel of Despair, and Rune-scarred Demon as they have some of the best ETB effects.

I also find that if I am able to abuse Kaalia's trigger, I can dig up quite a few ADD pretty quick, therefore lessening the need for so many.

I also feel that I need more regular draw power. While ADD that can give me this ability are preferred, I am also looking at some alternative sources that can be tutored for.

While the discard lockdown strategy was good in theory I am struggling to do it consistently. Not sure what can be done here or if it is really worth building for.

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Post by benjameenbear » 4 months ago

Meh, I think that a dedicated Discard strategy isn't particularly effective for Kaalia, unless it's Sire of Insanity. Kaalia likes to have fuel in hand for her trigger and a Discard strategy is antithetical to this purpose.

I'd recommend a Stax strategy. The Kaalia Primer I have in my sig has been very effective in the games that my wife has played and Smothering Tithe/Alms Collector + Wheel effect = Glory, as a suggestion for additional Card Draw engines you could explore.
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Post by Isabelle » 4 months ago

@benjameenbear to be clear this is a Kaalia, Zenith Seeker list, which is going to shape up much differently than a og Kaalia list.

I'm thinking about putting together a Zenith Seeker list, just trying to decide what direction I want to take it. Right now I'm thinking that etb's are the most important, so getting as much of them as possible is what matters. This lends itself to blink and reanimation which is perfect for the colors we are in. Reanimation points towards discard and also Aristocrats which works well with the theme of Angels Demons and Dragons considering cards like Butcher of the Horde or Harvester of souls.

I think the direction I want to take this list in is trying to bury our opponents in card advantage value, while being resilient as possible to interaction.

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Post by 3drinks » 4 months ago

If its draw power you want, I'd recommend looking to an astral slide build. It's so powerful and an easy way to coast into late game, can retrigger Kaalia, and disrupt theft and people reanimating from our graveyard.
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Post by Isabelle » 4 months ago

While the cycling route seems interesting I really think there is an Aristocrats deck in here somewhere.

With ADD we get access to a few free and instant speed sacrifice outlets: Butcher of the Horde, Fallen Angel, Krav, the unredeemed, Reaper of flight Moonsilver.
As well as some slower limited sacrifice outlets: Demonic Taskmaster, Demonlord of Ashmouth.

There are also a few token generators: Militant Angel, Rakshasa Gravecaller, Rapacious Dragon, Lathliss, Dragon Queen. As well as some other more expensive options.

Good payoff cards for sacrificing our dudes: Demon of Dark Schemes, Adarkar Valkyrie, Harvester of Souls, Requiem Angel.
Aristocrats decks really benefit from Pact and Dictate, and being in white allows us access to enchantment tutors. Though she is not an ADD Academy Rector is great here.

Also gives us some cards that want to be sacrificed: Boneyard Scourge, Hoarding Dragon, Soulcage Fiend, Soulstinger, Kokusho, the Evening Star, Ryusei, the Falling Star, Yosei, the Morning Star.

We abuse etb/death triggers with mass blink/reanimation: Eerie Interlude, Wake the Dead, Second Sunrise.

We also have access to ADD which blink/reanimate: Angel of Condemnation, Angel of Serenity, Emancipation Angel, Karmic Guide, Restoration Angel, Swift Warkite, Wispweaver Angel.

There are about 13 single target blink/reanimate effects such as: Cloudshift, Flicker, Undying Evil, Abnormal Endurance.
There are also a couple Heat Shimmer effects in Red.
This may be enough to start looking into incorporating Feather, the Redeemed into the deck.
Feather also points towards Mirrorwing Dragon both of witch are ADD which seems good.

While the aristocrats deck may not be the most obvious I feel this list comes together in a pretty clean way.

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Post by RowanKeltizar » 3 months ago

I do like quite a few of those cards. I think instant speed sac outlets are strong and we definitely have some good payouts for that effect. With Gift of Immortality, you have a very nice blink engine.

I would like to give the Feather and Mirrorwing combo a try, but it takes a lot of building around to make it happen just like Astral Slide. I think with enough tutors, *cough cough* Insidious Dreams, it might work. I am just leery of adding in too many instant/sorcery blink effects. I hesitate to invest too much into Feather when she isn't in our command zone and we have to tutor for Mirrorwing to get the engine going.

I played a few games with the deck, and overall I was happy with how it was doing even as gimpy as mine currently is. Definitely missing many dual lands some of the better cards that the deck needs to function well.

One thing that keeps bothering me is the lack of explosive card draw. I think Knollspine Dragon should help a lot with that as we have a lot of support for him. I think the effect definitely justifies the cmc, especially when we should be able to cheat him into play fairly reliably.

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Post by Isabelle » 3 months ago

RowanKeltizar wrote:
3 months ago
I do like quite a few of those cards. I think instant speed sac outlets are strong and we definitely have some good payouts for that effect. With Gift of Immortality, you have a very nice blink engine.

I would like to give the Feather and Mirrorwing combo a try, but it takes a lot of building around to make it happen just like Astral Slide. I think with enough tutors, *cough cough* Insidious Dreams, it might work. I am just leery of adding in too many instant/sorcery blink effects. I hesitate to invest too much into Feather when she isn't in our command zone and we have to tutor for Mirrorwing to get the engine going.
Yeah those are my concerns as well as far as feather/mirrorwing dragon go. I think initially I'm gonna build a pretty grindy aristocrats/reanimator shell and see how far I can go with that. For that list I'm suuuper into Insidious Dreams (thanks for the suggestion) and have ordered it along with a bunch of other cards for the list. Sadly I ordered them to my college address on accident (home with my parents for a couple more weeks). So I won't be able to start testing for a little while. Overall though I'm super excited to put this deck together and start testing.
RowanKeltizar wrote:
3 months ago
I played a few games with the deck, and overall I was happy with how it was doing even as gimpy as mine currently is. Definitely missing many dual lands some of the better cards that the deck needs to function well.

One thing that keeps bothering me is the lack of explosive card draw. I think Knollspine Dragon should help a lot with that as we have a lot of support for him. I think the effect definitely justifies the cmc, especially when we should be able to cheat him into play fairly reliably.
I think for my list I'm gonna air more on the side of lower cmc grindy card advantage. It seems like your deck is more combo oriented which feels like it can support Knollspine better and is rewarded more for explosive card advantage vs grindy card advantage.

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Post by 3drinks » 3 months ago

I'm still looking over the Feather stuff. I'm not entirely sure on the Mirrorwing package too since it is as you said a lot of slots and it does take away from the slide package and everything else.

Hmm. This is some tricky balancing indeed. OG Kaalia never demanded this much puzzle work 😂
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