Kaima, the Fractured Calm really captured my interest as soon as I saw it. A commander that incentivizes putting Auras on other peoples’ creatures? Sign me up! I already did something like this with Tuvasa once, but Kaima has a different goal: chaos. Kaima’s similarity to Tuvasa is that he gets big as the goading continues, but we’ll need to build him a little differently to maximize his value.
When brewing up this Kaima list, I had these goals:
- Build up a core of Auras that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to play on my opponents’ creatures. Ideally, they would be good ways to help them beat up opponents, but they shouldn’t be so strong that they become dangerous if the creatures somehow end up not being goaded. Also, they should largely be cheap.
- Avoid the problem inherent to “deck full of cheap Auras” with a solid suite of Enchantress-style draw effects.
- Back up Kaima with some other threats that get big based on our enchantment count as well as some other goad effects.
- Find ways to get our large creatures over the top and protect them from harm.
- Shore up weaknesses to flyers, mass removal and hexproof/shroud.
Let’s get started with that core of Auras! First off, we have some obvious inclusions: auras that goad (or kind of goad) opposing creatures.
Even though Kaima doesn’t get extra +1/+1 counters from these, I thought it would be good to play some Auras that cause chaos at the table even when Kaima’s not around. The Vows don’t force combat, so Kaima does at least add some value to them, but the Impetuses already get the goading going by themselves.
Since we already know we’re going to build an Enchantress draw suite, we want Auras that we can play over and over again. That means we’ll be including a few Auras that we can pay to return and replay as much as we like.
The two Firebreathing Auras here don’t actually give the creature’s controller any way to use the ability, meaning we can juice the enchanted creature up if and when it benefits us to do so. Whip Silk doesn’t really bother us as (spoiler alert) we’ll have one flying creature in our deck at the end of this process.
But there are more ways to get an Aura back and replay it, aren’t there? Some Auras just come back repeatedly on their own.
These three come back from the graveyard with very little friction. Escape Velocity is the only one that actually requires a non-renewable resource, and even then, there are plenty of spells/creatures/lands that are okay to exile for the escape cost. Oh, I’m missing an obvious card in this category, you say? Keep reading – I promise we’ll get there.
See? We got there. What do these Auras have in common? Well, they all give trample, which means you’re probably interested in attaching them to Kaima sometimes once he gets huge. That said, they’re totally fine to put on opposing creatures as well – Rune of Might and Setessan Training both replace themselves, which makes them feel frictionless, while Rancor and Talons both self-recur, making it easy to use them on opposing creatures first and then put them on a large Kaima later. Hooray for cards that fulfill multiple goals at the same time!
Smoke Spirits’ Aid may not be an aura per se, but it is going to be responsible for some hilarious combats. Put aura tokens on as many opposing creatures as you can, watch the waves crash into each other as the goading begins, and reap the rewards via some treasure. If you’re going to return a card from your graveyard to your hand, it’ll often be this one.
Finally, we have some weird ones. Fruit of the First Tree is just a fun card that I never get to play, but I like the idea of putting it on something big and hoping it dies in combat. I expect I might want to cut it after playing the deck for a bit, but I like it enough to want to give it a try. Keen Sense and One with Nature prey on opponents who don’t want to block these goaded creatures, while Lure makes blocking fun for the whole team. Kenrith’s Transformation turns off some annoying creatures and forces them to participate in the group activity (combat). Rune of Speed is mostly here to draw a card and occasionally to put on our own Loxodon Warhammer. Finally, Mark of Fury takes advantage of the timing of Kaima’s trigger – just have Kaima’s ability resolve first to goad the enchanted creature, then return the Mark to your hand. You can also use it to haste up your own creatures or just draw an extra couple of cards a turn with Enchantress effects.
Speaking of Enchantress effects, here’s what I’m looking at:
Setessan Champion is the favorite here and fits nicely into my next category, but Eidolon of Blossoms pulls serious weight as well. Why are those two better than the other three? Well, aside from Setessan Champion’s stat increases, they both draw you a bunch of cards off Smoke Spirits’ Aid. There aren’t a lot of opportunities to put enchantments into play without casting them in this deck, but I’ll take extra value, especially in huge quantities.
Let’s move on to some backup for Kaima in the “huge creature” department.
Destiny Spinner is the only one here that isn’t carrying the banner on its own, but at least it has the fun side effect of making our best spells uncounterable. Aura Gnarlid is going to mostly be better than Yavimaya Enchantress in this deck, as the few non-Aura enchantments we have are counterbalanced by the sweet ability. Kami of Transience’s trample and recursion abilities make up for its likely smaller stature.
Disrupt Decorum, Geode Rager and Vengeful Ancestor pick up the banner for goading alongside Kaima, with the Ancestor doing some solid comedy work in the “have fun attacking someone else, also take three damage from this weird effect” department. Frontier Warmonger doesn’t goad, but it does make combat even more hilarious – all attackers pointed in good directions will be rewarded with menace, further dropping the life totals of our opponents.
Of course, if we have big creatures, we want them to make a difference, and aside from our trample-granting Auras, we have a little extra support there. Chandra’s Ignition can clear the board in a hurry, even deleting low-health opponents, and imagine what it can do when combined with the Warhammer. Xenagos is a little win-more, but it’s fun to get devotion off your auras and make your big creatures bigger, so I want to give it a try.
I started with more protection effects in this deck but pared it down. Depending on how much interaction exists at your average table locally, you should be willing to modify how much of this you play. Talk to your friends about how the interaction vs. protection line should be walked to avoid frustration!
Moving on to shoring up weaknesses, let’s talk about how to deal with flyers. I’m sad that Vengeful Ancestor will get caught in the crossfire, but it’s a price worth paying. Of course, the best way to deal with flyers is to enchant them and make them attack other players, but that doesn’t work on a horde of flying tokens or someone who is really determined to get you out of the game. Silklash Spider helps keep existing boards in check for long periods of time, while Nylea’s Intervention does double duty as a cheap Hurricane and a way to pull up utility lands like the new Boseiju, Skarrg, Scavenger Grounds and more when necessary.
When the board gets destroyed, many of our precious enchantments will be lost! Sure, some are recursive, but some aren’t, and that’s where these cards come in. Creeping Renaissance naming Enchantments is going to be a fun play, and the rest of these are just generally useful.
Need to get rid of hexproof and shroud? Good news – these lighthomes will do the job! What’s that, Microsoft Word? “Lighthomes” isn’t a word? Too bad. These are lighthomes now. Deal with it.
Phew! Now that we’ve met all our goals, let’s fill out the deck list with some general purpose effects and land.
The Enchantress draw engine is all well and good, but sometimes you need a lot of cards right now. It’s possible we only need one of these effects, but I’m starting with two.
Powerful and widely applicable pieces of interaction, you say? Sign me up.
I think this deck draws a lot of cards, which is why we have so much ramp, but I’m starting to wonder if I’m wrong. Only time will tell – I’m going to be building this deck once I do some more sorting of the cards I have in my collection, so I’ll report back eventually!
It’s fun to use these to push a big Kaima through into the red zone, but of course, using these on opponents’ goaded creatures is much more hilarious. That said, I expect Skarrg to be the most used for that as it’s the cheapest to activate.
It’s hard not to play these cards – from a deckbuilding standpoint, they’re fairly free, which is both cool and frustrating.
As usual, I made sure to include some cheap ways to deal with nonbasics and graveyards here in the mana base. Be careful not to wreck yourself with Scavenger Grounds, though!
Some various utility lands. If you’re playing against a totally creatureless deck, you’re probably in a power level mismatch, but sometimes you need to generate creatures to enchant. When those times come, Forbidden Orchard is what you want. Reliquary Tower helps out when we draw too much, Witch’s Clinic helps us benefit from a big Kaima, and Yavimaya makes it easier to play some of these other utility lands and still have enough green mana.
Fetchlands help Escape Velocity (not the old awesome Mac game, the card) while making sure we can generate enough of each type of mana.
There are just so many good dual lands these days, aren’t there?
Round it out with basics and you’ve got yourself a deck!
Hopefully this little walkthrough helped you understand how I approached building this Kaima list. If you’ve got your own Kaima brew, share it in the comments or with me on Twitter at @RagingLevine. Here’s the full deck list for copy/pasting ease – enjoy, and I’ll see you next time!
Kaima's Auracular Spectacular by Eric Levine