Heavenly Inferno - Kaalia Precon Upgrade

Kaalia Precon Redux

Hello again, precon devotees! We’re back with another installment of Precon Redux, the series where we take an old precon commander and reimagine it in a new precon for the modern era. Today we’re raining death from above with Heavenly Inferno, from the first set of Commander precons, starring Kaalia of the Vast.

Kaalia’s Inferno

Kaalia is a 2/2 Human Cleric with flying for four mana, and when she attacks an opponent you can put an Angel, Demon, or Dragon from your hand into play tapped and attacking that same player. This is an extremely powerful commander (and certainly a popular one, with over 15,000 decks), since she can cheat out very expensive creatures for free, with none of the drawbacks we see with similar creatures like Ilharg, the Raze-Boar and Hans Eriksson.

Our plan is simple: fill the deck with big, bad flyers. Creatures that provide additional benefits, like card advantage or creature removal, are premium.

The backup commander for the deck is Tariel, Reckoner of Souls, a seven mana 4/7 Angel with flying and vigilance that you can tap to grab a random creature out of an opponent’s grave. It’s a neat trick, but nowhere near the power level of Kaalia. I’m happy to keep it in the deck, though. The other new legend from the original precon is Basandra, Battle Seraph, a 4/4 Angel for five mana that prevents players from casting spells during combat. This is a great creature for the 99 of this deck, since she helps prevent opponents from interfering once we’ve entered the fray with our creatures.

Here’s the original deck list for Heavenly Inferno:

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What We’re Keeping in Our Kaalia Deck

Before we get into the new deck, let’s recap the rules of Precon Redux. Wizards of the Coast clearly has some unspoken guidelines about how to build their precons. Since our goal is to reimagine this as a new precon that Wizards could create, we’ll need to establish and (mostly) adhere to the rules as we understand them, based on observations of recent precons.

  • Value of the deck is no more than $120, excluding the original legends (some have gotten pricey)
  • Value of the land package can be no more than $10 (IYKYK)
  • Aim for two or three high value ($10+) reprints
  • Keep all new legendary creatures from the original precon in the deck
  • Stay close to a typical 10/10/10 build (10 ramp spells, 10 card draw, 10 removal)
  • We don’t have to tie into a specific set, as precons have been doing since Commander 2020
  • Universes Beyond cards are off-limits if they couldn’t be reprinted as Universes Within with the same name. For instance, we won’t include The Balrog, Durin’s Bane, Horn of the Mark, and Bloodcrusher of Khorne. They’d be good in this deck, but their names preclude us from using them 

Here’s the handful of nonland cards that are sticking around for the new deck:

We’re mostly keeping ramp cards here. Also, Lightning Greaves is crucial for protecting Kaalia, and Earthquake just fits beautifully with our flying army.

Themes and Strategies We’ll Expand On for Heavenly Inferno Redux

The original precon had 29 creatures, including Kaalia, but only 21 of those were either Angels, Dragons, or Demons. That’s a fifth of the deck that can be cheated out with Kaalia’s ability. This isn’t an awful number, but we can definitely do better. In our updated precon, we’ve got the same total number of creatures in the deck, but now only two don’t fit with the three types. And one of those is Kaalia herself. The other?

With a commander in Mardu colors that has one of the best attack triggers in the game, we’d be fools to not include Isshin, Two Heavens as One. With Ishiin on the board, we can drop two creatures into combat with Kaalia every turn. What’s not to like about that?

But for any of this to be worthwhile, we have to make sure we always have a full hand. After all, Kaalia doesn’t do much if you don’t have creatures in your hand, right? Thankfully, there are several Demons who love to trade cards for life. So we’ll add in Bloodgift Demon, Burning-Rune Demon, Demonlord Belzenlok, Kothophed, Soul Hoarder, Rune-Scarred Demon, and Vilis, Broker of Blood.

Since we’ve got Demons handling the card draw, let’s look to our Angels and Dragons to handle other Commander necessities. For removal we’ll throw in Angel of Serenity, Angel of the Ruins, Balefire Dragon, and Drakuseth, Maw of Flames. For protection we’ve got Aegis Angel and Sephara, Sky’s Blade. And we’ve even got some recursion, with Liesa, Forgotten Archangel and Reya Dawnbringer. The synergy with Liesa is fantastic, because putting those creatures back in hand gets them exactly where we want them for Kaalia.

So we’ve got the bones of the deck. But how does it win? That’s a silly question, reader. Obviously this precon wins by smashing faces, and then smashing them again. Good old-fashioned combat is Kaalia’s raison d’etre, so we’re not gonna try to get fancy with combos and alternate win conditions here.

Flying creatures make up almost our entire army, so we’ll easily unleash our inferno from the sky. The one non-flyer worth adding, in addition to Ishiin, is Mirror Entity. While this Shapeshifter, who has all creature types, won’t do much in the early game (most of our creatures are already large), it’ll really help us pack a punch for that late-game alpha strike when we have a ton of mana. We’ve also got Gisela, Blade of Goldnight to double our damage dealt, Angelic Skirmisher to provide some keyword abilities to our crew, and Bloodthirster to give us some extra combat phases. The Demon is especially brutal if we’ve got creatures with vigilance on the board, which can be provided by Angelic Skirmisher and Angelic Field Marshal. And to make our army a bit wider, we’ll toss in a spicy, high-value token maker: Ancient Gold Dragon.

May your beatdowns be ever plentiful.

I’ll Kaalia Back

Here’s the list for Heavenly Inferno Redux:

Heavenly Inferno Redux

View on Archidekt

Commander (1)
Creatures (28)
Artifacts (12)
Enchantments (2)
Sorceries (11)
Instants (6)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (39)

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
View this decklist on Archidekt

With this new precon, we’ve made one of the most butt-kickingest decks ever designed for mass consumption. We’ve managed to stay within the precon confines, while still delivering a deck that can hold its own in a strong pod. And we snuck in some pricey pieces to get seasoned Magic players to crack their wallets, with Ancient Gold Dragon, Bloodthirster, Balefire Dragon, Vilis, Broker of Blood, and Flawless Maneuver.

Is this a realistic precon? Like with Zedruu, we definitely made a deck that people would want to buy and play. Can I say the same is true for every precon? Definitely not. But I see no reason why this deck couldn’t exist in the real world.

Now it’s time to hear from you. What do you think of this reimagined precon? Did I do Kaalia justice? Did I miss any good cards? Which precon commander should I tackle next? Hit that comments section with your spiciest takes, and don’t forget to check back often for more precon fun, here on EDHREC.

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Andy's been playing Magic on and off since Fallen Empires. He loves to travel, drink, eat, and spend time with family and friends.

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