Kaalia, Zenith Seeker
Authour's Note: This commander is brand new and of course this deck and Primer resource is as well. It's only natural that the material contained within is a work-in-progress to be continually updated and tweaked as more experience is gathered.
Last Deck Update: 8.3.19 [astral slide alpha]
- My decklists are actual paper lists, and do not take budget into consideration. There are a lot of very expensive cards, reserve list or not, because I strive to acquire only the best of the best.
Her Ability: The irony is not lost on me that Neo Kaalia's power pales in comparison to the original's. That's to be expected however, as the original's ability to circumvent mana costs is the single strongest trait a player can utilize in any given game of Magic. With that said, Neo Kaalia's ability is still one worth pursuing as she can generate an up to plus three in terms of card advantage. In comparison to the original which needed a steady stream of extra cards to maintain it's strategy, Neo Kaalia can get to the mid-game and even late just by virtue of it's own ability keeping it fueled. This ability is not such an easy ability to manipulate however;
"When Kaalia, Zenith Seeker enters the battlefield, look at the top six cards of your library. You may reveal an Angel card, a Demon card, and/or a Dragon card from among them and put them into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order."
In the top six cards, we're looking to be able to pick up half of those while shipping the rest to the bottom. That's great, but the cards are specific – we need one angel, one demon, and one dragon specifically, we can't just grab three angels and call it good! We also must be able to cast the cards, drawing extra cards we can't utilize is an otherwise wasted resource. And since we don't have a cheat mechanism built in to our commander, we must be weary of the mana curve of our deck. That's not to say we have to exclusively curve out at four, of course, but we know that the higher the cost, the more weight those cards need to be able to pull in order to be worth a deck slot.
Other Commanders: I don't believe there are any other commanders offering the niche Neo Kaalia is offering that she should be directly competing with other options you could choose. If you want Sneak Attack on a body, I'd recommend referring to my original Kaalia primer as this deck is far, far different from that.
Reasons you would enjoy this deck:
• You love playing with Miracles.
• You enjoy piloting a deck that can build longterm advantage from the beginning of the game.
• You love original Kaalia but are tired of your friends taking a ball bat to your knee caps.
Reasons you wouldn't enjoy playing this deck:
• You prefer a shotgun blast to the face approach rather than an intrinsic value-over-time engine.
• You would rather beat everybody all at once and at the same time.
• You like decks that actually play more than one six plus converted mana cost card.
Let's be honest, when someone sits down at the table with a Tymna-Thrasios deck, you instantly know the tryhard alert went off around everyone. When original Kaalia sits down, you know she draws legitimate vile and malice from opponents that are afraid of the unknown. Meanwhile, our deck here can make use of a lot of "under the hood" style of optimizations. What does that mean, "under the hood", right? What I mean by that is that this deck will be making use of a lot of basic card advantage theory to increase the average card quality you see in a given game. You know how you resolve a Brainstorm and then follow it up with a fetchland to create an Ancestral Recall? Yeah, those are the kinds of optimizations I'm talking about here. And here's where the name for this deck comes into play (err...enters the battlefield ).
Since our commander cares about our top deck, it's not exactly a huge leap of logic to take on a miracle approach. With cards like Sensei's Divining Top and Scroll Rack, in fact with the Rack especially you can generate immense card advantage with the commander by putting the angels, demons, and dragons from your hand back on top, drawing those new cards, and then blinking or otherwise resolving the commander again to draw those cards right back! And, as an added bonus there was probably some cards you didn't care about that could get shipped to the bottom clear and out of your way! Then as an added benefit to go with all these top deck matters strategies, we can go back to "outplaying our opponent with Vampiric Tutor for Terminus to put them on tilt for the rest of the night!" That last sentence is obviously sarcasm, but the strategy is genuine. A one mana tutour to hard wipe all creatures to the bottom for also one mana when the two cards also fit well into our deck's strategy anyway, is quite the potent game plan.
"Whenever a player cycles a card, you may exile target creature. If you do, return that card to the battlefield under its owner's control at the beginning of the next end step."
"But 3drinks," you ask, "How many cycling cards are actually relevant and not just over-costed niche effects? And how on Earth will we build around one card that doesn't even start in the command zone?" Well as it turns out, there's about sixty or so reasonably playable cards with cycling. Now, of course we're not going to be playing all of those because we have to make room for the actual meat and potatoes of the deck, Slide is just a mechanism to squeeze as much value from the commander as we can. To your other question, fellow reader, cycling is a powerful effect that allows us to both draw through our deck (seeing more cards than anticipated) without actually casting spells which maintains card parity through counterspells. In essence, we get to "cycle" through our deck to find what we need to keep up with any pace of game. To your last concern, how do we rely on one card that isn't our commander. It's simple, for starters we actually do have a functional reprint (though clearly not as good since it doesn't trigger off other player's cycles), but ultimately we are in the colours with the most tutour depth of all, nearing 15% of our deck if we were so inclined. In short, that gives us approximately a raw 17% of chance of the initial 100 to see one of the cards to fetch astral slide, and this chance improves as we cycle through the deck. This number further increases as we play the same "miracles suite" of cards that let us stack or otherwise reorganize our deck for peak efficiency.
That sounds like a lot of bookkeeping. How does it work?
(Excuse the mana base discrepancies. I'm evaluating the need for such a dearth of nonbasic fixing in the wake of a ten-fetch base. A higher basic count may enable stronger utilization of Skred, and other snow effects, while also becoming more resistant to non-basic hosery - a goal which any 3c deck could benefit greatly from. Ideally, the only colourless lands necessary should be Ancient Tomb, Strip Mine, & Wasteland, with Hall as a theoretical inclusion but I'm not totally convinced on it).
"The Grease" (11)
Cycling Power w/ Functionality (18)
Tutours & Card Advantage (8)
Mana "Rocks" (8)
Deck stats for those that don't want to calculate those on their own: http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/miraculous-kaalia/
+1 Static Orb, Land Tax, Mortuary, Nameless Inversion, Crib Swap
Beta changes: -1 Lightning Greaves, Winter Orb, Static Orb, Bloodgift Demon, Angelic Field Marshal, Butcher of the Horde
+1 Haakon, Stromgald Scourge; Entomb, Anger, Anvil of Bogardan, Faithless Looting, Eternal Dragon
Mortuary: We can stack the triggers post wrath with Kaalia on top, draw her, cast for three and get three threats. Even just casting Kaalia from the CZ will ship the top six, meaning the chances of getting locked out of our top deck is nil with this commander.
More to come with real time field play experience.