Magic the Gathering Commander Review: Heavenly Inferno

With Counterpunch and Devour for Power out of the way, I’m finally getting onto a deck that isn’t black and green! Heavenly Inferno is an interesting deck designed around summoning demons, dragons and angels and then beating people to death with them! It sounds good in theory until you realize a few parts of this deck really don’t play well together.

Kaalia of the Vast alone holds the forces of Angels, Dragons, and Demons within the palm of her hand. Watch her toss each bone-crushing creature onto the battlefield with merciless glee while your horrified enemies are sliced, diced, and then deep-fried

Oros, the Avenger is the time-shifted dragon legend who really isn’t that exciting. With the ability to burn non-white creatures, he can work out as being some awesome sweeper but in Commander, you’re playing black and red already so his utility isn’t so great. Plus most boards I play on are covered with things bigger than a toughness of 3.

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Tariel, Reckoner of Souls is an interesting angel who perfectly embodies the colors of life, death and chaos. As a 4/7, she can hold off most opposing creatures with relative ease. But what’s most exciting is her reanimation ability. For a simple tap, you get a creature at random from an opponent’s graveyard. I love random abilities and this looks like way too much fun.

Kaalia of the Vast is a completely different kind of general who is just begging to be played around with multiple combat steps. Being able to toss down any demon, angel or dragon is a terrifying proposition. The only problem with this deck is how many demons need to be CAST to be useful! Still, with some tweaking and Relentless Assault like effects, Kaalia can rule the skies and summon a whole army with ease.

The new red and white commander is a terrifying angel who takes control of combat. Basandra, Battle Seraph is equal parts control and chaos and I love it. The evasion is nice but forcing player’s to attack is downright mean – especially when spells can’t be played during combat! It’s a genius design that keeps games moving without grinding them into a stalemate.

The Archangel of Strife is a really weird card that got spoiled early on. The notion of choosing War or Peace is interesting, but it’s something I wish got to be developed more – like have multiple cards that matter without allowing people to repick each time. I mean, if this angel gets Cloned then players can pick both war and peace and that makes no sense! This card will speed up games, and not always in your favor since she’s essentially a 9/6 in the air.

Dread Cacodemon is one of those cards that I want to love but just doesn’t work in this deck. A slightly more terrifying Plague Wind, this demon is decent but needs to be cast – making him useless with Kaalia! Sure, a free 8/8 body is impressive but he’s just so slow and the abilities counter each other. This guy needs a way to get haste and untap all your guys for a finishing blow.

Mana-Charged Dragon may take the award for worst name in the set from a creative standpoint, but I’ve been a huge fan of the Failing creatures from Mercadian Masques and he’s a non-sucking version. The join forces ability is interesting but even if no one pays, this dragon is still a 5/5 flying trampler! Poor Shivan Dragon, that guy needs to be put away for good.

Avatar of Slaughter is one of those cards I can see people really liking or hating because he basically says, “The game ends now.” Essentially a 16/8 for 8 mana, this avatar will make the game end but not always in your favor. Toss in a Serra’s Blessing to really have some fun with your super powered force.

Stranglehold has a very specific purpose: stopping combo players. Censoring everyone from tutoring and banning additional turns is a terrifying proposition. Against many people, this card won’t do a whole lot but I know of plenty of decks this will utterly ruin.

The new uncommons include the originally revealed Death by Dragons which is a card that lets someone know when they don’t have any friends left at the table. Able to generate a lot of goodwill with a single spell, I like the concept of this card and wish more Commander cards explored this path.

The newest Vow is Vow of Lightning which is nice except it (like Vow of Duty) make your opponents creatures into much better defenders. Still, I really like what these cards do – especially with an Avatar of Slaughter on the battlefield!

Syphon Flesh, Vow of Malice, Soul Snare, Vow of Duty and Command Tower are all included as well, but I’ve touched on all of them before. They’re still excellent.

On to the reprints – first up are the two additional mythics! Comet Storm is a great take on Fireball but really serves no purpose as a mythic spell. Still, mass X damage is always fun. The other is Malfegor, the demon dragon legend who eats your hand and then eats a bunch of creatures. Some nice potential for building but both of these cards were promos once! Give us something new Wizards!

The white rares include the cycling Nevinyrral’s Disk in the form of Akroma’s Vengeance which is super dangerous with Planeswalkers and indestructible permanents. Angelic Arbiter feels overpriced, but with Kaalia, she’s easy to eat into play and grinds games to a halt so I hate her. Finally there’s Voice of All who I don’t even consider a rare, a fantastic card though.

Jumping over to black gives us a demon and an angel – Fallen Angel can swing a battle in your favor at great cost and this deck doesn’t seem to provide enough fodder to make her ability useful. Reiver Demon suffers the same as Dread Cacodemon – he needs to be cast! And this guy costs 4BBBB, like that’s going to happen in a wedge deck!

Red provides the always essential Earthquake to keep those pesky groundlings at bay (I would have preferred Fault Line), but it has great synergy with this deck. Also included is Akroma, Angel of Fury who is an amazing card to drop with Kaalia.

The sole rare hybrid is one of my personal favorite multiplayer cards – Master Warcraft. A short term Mindslaver for a discounted price, this card can utterly decimate two forces in combat, even when you aren’t involved. I love that this is getting reprinted. For gold, Angel of Despair is a perfect inclusion as a Vindicate with wings while Bladewing the Risen is another potential “build around me” legend to generate some card advantage on your side.

The uncommons aren’t as exciting to me this time around with a bulk of them being rather unexciting and just begging to be replaced. Some notable white uncommons include Mother of Runes, Path to Exile and Return to Dust – both fantastic ways to deal with threats. Sadly the black uncommons aren’t exciting with just a Diabolic Tutor. Red at least pulls off Anger the incarnation and a bunch of weak dragon whelps.

Gold gathers a much needed Mortify reprint which is fantastic utility in Commander, while the two artifacts are Sol Ring and Lightning Greaves yet again.

The commons are sparse – in fact this deck is seriously lacking on low casting cost creatures. Without Kaalia, it would easily collapse on its own bloated mana curve. Still, Terminate and Wrecking Ball are amazing destruction while Congregate will keep your life total nigh immortal.

For lands, the only little nod I really love is the inclusion of Zodiac Cavern – the land with morph! With Akroma being the only other morph card in the deck, it turns into a very interesting came of what’s underneath. The other lands are more of the same.

As a deck, this one is begging for some new changes like rounding out the mana curve and adding in some early defense. Changelings would go very far and some demons need to be used that don’t need to be cast. But as a starting place, this deck is just teeming with potential.

Heavenly Inferno Decklist

General
1 Kaalia of the Vast

Lands
1 Akoum Refuge
1 Barren Moor
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Boros Garrison
1 Command Tower
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Forgotten Cave
1 Molten Slagheap
8 Mountain
1 Orzhov Basilica
8 Plains
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Rupture Spire
1 Secluded Steppe
8 Swamp
1 Vivid Meadow
1 Zoetic Cavern

Creatures
1 Akroma, Angel of Fury
1 Angel of Despair
1 Angelic Arbiter
1 Anger
1 Archangel of Strife
1 Avatar of Slaughter
1 Basandra, Battle Seraph
1 Bladewing the Risen
1 Boros Guildmage
1 Dragon Whelp
1 Dread Cacodemon
1 Duergar Hedge-Mage
1 Fallen Angel
1 Furnace Whelp
1 Gwyllion Hedge-Mage
1 Lightkeeper of Emeria
1 Malfegor
1 Mana-Charged Dragon
1 Mother of Runes
1 Oni of Wild Places
1 Oros, the Avenger
1 Orzhov Guildmage
1 Razorjaw Oni
1 Reiver Demon
1 Serra Angel
1 Shattered Angel
1 Tariel, Reckoner of Souls
1 Voice of All

Other spells
1 Akroma’s Vengeance
1 Armillary Sphere
1 Bathe in Light
1 Boros Signet
1 Cleansing Beam
1 Comet Storm
1 Congregate
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Death by Dragons
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Earthquake
1 Evincar’s Justice
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Master Warcraft
1 Mortify
1 Orim’s Thunder
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Path to Exile
1 Pyrohemia
1 Rakdos Signet
1 Return to Dust
1 Righteous Cause
1 Sol Ring
1 Soul Snare
1 Stranglehold
1 Sulfurous Blast
1 Syphon Flesh
1 Syphon Mind
1 Terminate
1 Vow of Duty
1 Vow of Lightning
1 Vow of Malice
1 Wrecking Ball