Epic Experiment - Kalemne Angel Tribal

(Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas| Art by Jason Chan)

Epic Preparations

Hello, EDHREC fans! I’m Bernardo Melibeu, and this is Epic Experiment, a series where we throw all common sense aside and experiment with some unusual strategies, changing how we normally build our deck. Is it going to work? Who knows?! We’re making science here. When you’re an Izzet mage, blowing things up is half the fun.

Today let's talk about the most underplayed experience counters commander out there. She's quite the late-game threat, and had she been in a color combination that supported her kit, she could've been one of the strongest aggro commanders out there: Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas.

Double strike, vigilance

Whenever you cast a creature spell with converted mana cost 5 or greater, you get an experience counter.

Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas gets +1/+1 for each experience counter you have.

Observation 1:

Kalemne got the short end of the stick with the whole experience counter mechanic. Her ability is both the most restrictive and the least powerful of the bunch.

Observation 2:

Even though she's underpowered when compared to her peers, we can't sleep on a double striking commander, especially one that gets permanently bigger.

Observation 3:

Haste would give her a much better impact.

Observation 4:

Boros does have access to plenty of good, expensive beaters, but it lacks the late-game capabilities that the other color combination have, which means our late-game abilities may lack consistency.

The Old Formula

Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas is a Giant, an underplayed tribe that doesn't really have a lot of support that cares about casting other big creatures, which makes her the go-to Giant tribal commander. The biggest problem with the tribe for Kalemne is that most of them are just expensive bodies without any kind of ETB value, or even haste.

The Epic Ingredients

It's no secret that Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas's kit has some deckbuilding costs attached to her. Because of that, I do think that we should be trying to maximize the effectiveness of all those creatures, and tribal is a good place to start.

Dragons are a great red-based tribe, with plenty of great 5-CMC creatures and multiple support pieces for our commander. However, they tend to lack in the ol' utility department, with most of them being either efficient beaters or beater generators. Angels, on the other hand, are a tribe that doesn't really have all that much in support, but they are much more utility-based than their firebreathing counterparts.

As an aggressive deck that relies on its high end of the curve, we can't afford to just play beaters. This is a losing battle, as the imminent threat of board wipes will destroy our creatures and, since they're so expensive, we don't have the time to play defensive support spells and then deploy them. This is where cards like Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Sephara, Sky's Blade andArchangel Avacyn come through.

While Angels tend to have lower stats than Dragons, we do have some great threats that can put us into overdrive: Aurelia, the Warleader and Gisela, Blade of Goldnight are two of the most powerful creatures that Boros has to offer, and Lyra, Dawnbringer, Archangel of Thune, and Angel of Invention are some great, supportive threats that have the potential to beat face.

We have plenty of utility-based creatures within our tribe: Angel of Finality is much-needed graveyard hate, Angel of Jubilation and Linvala, Keeper of Silence are great at slowing down our opponents' plans, and Angel of Sanctions and Sunblast Angel are removal on a stick.

The Mixture

Sunforger is usually, to me, one of the main selling points for playing Boros, and this hammer can do some work in this deck! Our evasive bodies do love the power boost, and our commander is quite a scary threat if she goes unblocked. And that's just the least important part of the card. It can also get us spells! Our two main targets are Teferi's Protection and Boros Charm, which both protect our expensive field against board wipes. We also get access to most of our removal suite, which can help in a pinch. The real spice, however, is in the addition of Chance for Glory, the ultimate haymaker, and a card only to be used to push out some unexpected damage.

We are packing a lot recursion pieces since they're somewhat important for this strategy. Our card quality is high, but being in Boros, we don't have access to that many draw effects, so recursion helps shore up that weakness. Sword of Light and Shadow is a cheap, constant way to get things back from the graveyard. Angelic Renewal and Adarkar Valkyrie are some "preemptive" ways to get some recursion, and they're a great way to curve out.


This deck plays out as an aggressive Boros mid-range deck, trying to develop and control until the mid game when we start dropping bombs. As such, our ideal opening hands are pretty much your average rocks and early plays.

Our early game is pretty weak and we want to pretty much speed our way through it by playing mana rocks. We do have some early aggressive creatures, like Angel of Vitality, that can act as early threats, but they're usually just fillers for mana rocks.

The mid game is where things start to get interesting for us, but knowing how to curve out is still a bit tricky (and punishing if done wrong). We've got the mana and cards to start playing some creatures. However, time is not on our side, and the lack of reliable draw sources really hurt this deck's longevity. This is where our commander truly shines, as she's a readily available threat that we can use to test the waters before committing any of our cards.

In the late game we're either avoiding board wipes and are in a commanding position, or we're grasping for some air going into dig mode. If the former is true, great! Otherwise, there're still things that we can do to come back, such as playing our commander with some experience counters (especially post-board wipe with a Lightning Greaves), having one of our bigger reanimation spells like Bruna, the Fading Light or Karmic Guide).

Epic Results

This deck idea was conceived some time before the Iona, Shield of Emeria ban, otherwise it would have had a bit more on the lock department. Cards like Blood Moon, Chancellor of the Annex, and even Rule of Law-type of effects could help us slow down the game after we've played our threats.

Adjusting the Sunforger package to your local meta is always a necessity. Need to fight through counterspells? Red Elemental Blast. Lots of enchantments/artifacts? Return to Dust is an interesting option.

We could also add some planeswalkers to add more protection against board wipes. Elspeth, Sun's Champion and Elspeth, Knight-Errant are both great as different kinds of threats. Nahiri, the Harbinger is a good way to filter cards, and her ultimate is pretty good as a way to tutor for creatures.

That’s it for this Epic Experiment! What do you think about this list? Do you have any questions about the deck? Which cards did you like? Which didn’t you? Was the Epic Experiment a success? Please let me know in the comments below!

Bernardo has been playing(on and off) since portal and somehow manage to survive mirrodin block while being a total casual(beast tribal ftw?). He loves all the shades of blue and being the one saying "nope", while holding a full grip of cards in hand.