Herigast, Erupting Nullkite "I've got an Affinity for Dragons" - Plot Twist #10

Jeff Girten • June 13, 2024

Herigast, Erupting Nullkite by Lucas Graciano

Welcome back to Plot Twist, the series where we build a Commander deck that looks like it'll tell one kind of story only to throw out a twist for our opponents mid-game. If you're joining us for the first time, welcome! I'd encourage you to check out the previous articles in the series to get a sense for the types of stories we're looking to tell.

Last time, we built a hybrid Voltron-spellslinger deck featuring Lilah, Undefeated Slickshot that cared about casting multicolored spells to plot them away for a big, swingy turn later on. This week, the Eldrazi are back (Well, not yet officially, but spoiler season for Modern Horizons 3 is all done, so it certainly feels like they're here already), and from what I've seen, they look to be more powerful than ever. One of the first cards previewed, Herigast, Erupting Nullkite, caught my eye because it uses the emerge mechanic from Eldritch Moon that allows us to cast creature spells for a discounted rate by sacrificing a creature and paying the difference in their mana values. The card pool for emerge has always been too shallow to really do much with it in commander, but Herigast gives all our creature spells emerge, so we can take our deck in the sort of interesting directions we love on Plot Twist.

How Does Herigast Work?

Herigast, Erupting Nullkite has flying and an emerge cost of six generic and two red mana, meaning we can sacrifice a creature as we cast Herigast for its emerge cost to reduce the amount of mana we have to pay by the sacrificed creature's mana value, so if we sacrifice a creature with a mana value of six, it would reduce Herigast's emerge cost to just two red mana. Since we're still casting the spell, note that the commander tax will still apply if we cast Herigast with emerge, but that means that we can sacrifice creatures with higher mana values to offset the commander tax as the game goes on.

When we cast Herigast, we may exile our hand in order to draw three cards, which is a great way to refill our hand later in the game if we want to and happens regardless of whether Herigast resolves or not, and for its final ability, Herigast also gives other creature spells we cast emerge, so we can sacrifice our creatures to help pay for other, more expensive creatures. In taking a look at Herigast's EDHREC page, we can see that this ability is what brewers seem to be tinkering around with during spoiler season with expensive Eldrazi, like It That Betrays, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, appearing in around 50% of Herigast decks alongside cards like Atsushi, the Blazing Sky, Feldon of the Third Path, and Solemn Simulacrum that support a sacrifice theme, so when we sit down to play our Herigast deck, our opponents will likely be expecting us to cast lots of Eldrazi and have plenty of ways to cheat them out.

Doing the Twist

Of course, here on Plot Twist, we like to take things in a different direction, so I immediately thought about what we could do with the non-Eldrazi part of Herigast, Erupting Nullkite, since Herigast is also a Dragon. Dragons can be rather expensive to cast, especially if we're limiting ourselves to just red ones, so we'll want to find ways to reduce their casting costs. Since Herigast gives each creature spell we cast emerge, we can use our other creatures to pay for part of the expensive Dragons' mana costs. 

If our opponents are at all familiar with Herigast, then they'll likely expect us to be playing lots of brand new expensive Eldrazi, like Kozilek, the Broken Reality, Ulamog, the Defiler, and Emrakul, the World Anew, when we sit down across from them. It'll certainly throw things for a twist when instead we lead on a variety of artifact-producers, like Academy Manufactor, Curse of Opulence, and Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith, before following them up with big expensive creatures, like Blast-Furnace Hellkite, Cavern-Hoard Dragon, and Mycosynth Golem, because this deck is secretly about getting big creatures into play at a reduced cost and then using them to cast Herigast, Erupting Nullkite or other game-ending creatures at a discounted cost.

Discount Chonky Creatures

If we're really hoping to take advantage of Herigast's ability to give all our creature spells emerge, then we need to have a handful of creatures we can cast for free or discounted prices. Myr Enforcer, Oxidda Golem, Slag Strider, and Sojourner's Companion all have some version of the affinity mechanic, while Mycosynth Golem gives all of our artifact creatures affinity. Once we've gotten enough artifact tokens (or Mountains, in Oxidda Golem's case), we should be able to reliably cast these creatures for free. Avatar of Fury, Cavern-Hoard Dragon, and Metalwork Colossus are all big threats themselves that we can cast for two or less mana under the right circumstances. I particularly like Metalwork Colossus since we can use it to reduce the cost of something we cast with emerge by 11 mana, then return it to our hand by sacrificing two of the plentiful artifact tokens we'll be making. Slag Strider also gives the deck a mana sink for later turns where we can turn those same artifact tokens into damage to pick off a creature or finish off an opponent whose life total has gotten low.

Did You Know Red Can Make a Lot of Artifacts?

While it comes as no surprise that cards like Academy Manufactor, Curse of Opulence, and Descent into Avernus are good at making lots of artifact tokens in a hurry, the well of red cards that synergize with artifacts and that make tokens is quite deep. Hit the Mother Lode seems fantastic because, as we discover 10, we'll either hit one of the many expensive creatures in the deck or hit something that costs less and get a few Treasure tokens to use as we see fit. Threefold Thunderhulk does a great Myr Battlesphere impression by making four artifacts for seven mana, but then makes more each time it attacks and gives us yet another mana sink that will repay us with 1/1 Gnome artifact creature tokens. I also want to call out Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith as an awesome card to play in any red deck that cares about artifacts. While the individual Rock tokens Toggo makes are a little clunky, getting one any time a land enters under your control is a great way to build up a small mound of them over the course of the game. Toggo is the kind of card that will quietly win us games, leaving our opponents to wonder if they should spend a removal spell on it in future games.

Get to the Dragons Already, Jeff!

I know, I know, you came here to see a Dragon deck, so let's get to it. With Herigast, Erupting Nullkite in play and a few discounted chonky creatures thanks to our mass of artifact tokens, we're ready to start cheating a bunch of Dragons into play. Blast-Furnace Hellkite has its own cost-reduction mechanic and rewards players for attacking anyone other than us, something we've done on a previous edition of Plot Twist with our Aurelia, the Law Above deck, by giving their creatures double strike. Utvara Hellkite and Lathliss, Dragon Queen are staples of Dragon decks because they help us build an army of flying Dragons while going about our gameplan, something we can hopefully do all in one turn with Herigast in play. Hellkite Igniter and Hellkite Tyrant both care about us having a lot of artifacts in play, so we'll be rewarded for something we were going to do anyway. I've yet to win with a Hellkite Tyrant trigger, but it's the kind of card that makes every game I cast it in feel epic. Lastly, I want to shout out Balefire Dragon, Scourge of Valkas, and Wrathful Red Dragon for being Dragons that fill the role of removal spells in this deck. I always love when I'm able to find a creature for one of our decks that can help me chip away at opponents' life totals and their boards at the same time.

Utility Artifacts

If you look at the maybeboard of this deck on Archidekt, you'll see just how many options for mana rocks and other utility artifacts we have for this deck. Carnelian Orb of Dragonkind, Cursed Mirror, Dragon's Hoard, and Glittering Stockpile are all mana rocks that cost three mana but will generate a lot more value in this particular deck than staples like Arcane Signet or Fellwar Stone. In particular, I like that Carnelian Orb of Dragonkind, which gives our Dragons haste, and Cursed Mirror, which can become a hasty Dragon itself for one turn only, can give us a hasty attacker when we need to push through the last bit of damage against an opponent. Throne of Eldraine is an amazing mana rock for mono-colored decks that also allows us to draw cards if we find our hand empty later on, and while Inspiring Statuary doesn't make mana itself, it lets us use all of our artifact tokens to pay for nonartifact spells. I know that Inspiring Statuary requires our deck to balance the number of artifacts and nonartifacts we have, but I think we've done it with this deck since we have more than 20 artifacts (plus more cards that produce artifact tokens) and 30-plus nonartifact spells in the deck.

I've come to discover that playing unusual mana rocks like these in our Plot Twist decks is a great way to give our games a unique feel and ensure they tell interesting stories when we play.

A Few Additional Twists for Good Measure

It's fascinating to see that even when we're building around such well-trodden themes as Dragons and artifacts, we were still able to find some novel and exciting cards to play in this edition of Plot Twist. Hoarding Dragon feels like a tutor that's perfect for this particular deck and won't elicit groans from your opponents when you cast it, while Transmutation Font is packed with potential but does have a very specific set of hops we need to jump through to get its payoff. I'll be curious to see how well Transmutation Font plays out now that I've added it to my Armix/Akiri artifact tokens deck. Saheeli's Directive is the kind of splashy card that can help us snatch victory from the claws of defeat, and since it has improvise, we should be able to reliably cast it for X = 10 or greater with the number of artifact tokens we're making. I imagine casting Saheeli's Directive for a healthy amount and flipping over a Steel Hellkite and a Cursed Mirror that becomes yet another Steel Hellkite to hit our opponent for lethal damage or destroy a problematic permanent will be a story we'll retell for years to come. 

Rain of Riches in combination with Herigast, Erupting Nullkite's emerge ability seems like a great way for us to turn one big chonky creature into TWO big chonky creatures (in case you didn't know how math works), and I love the sense of anticipation that cascade can create in a deck like this that isn't specifically built around it. Rose, Cutthroat Raider is a relatively new card from the Fallout decks, but feels perfectly at home here since it can give us a bunch of Junk tokens that we can use to 'draw' an extra card on our turn or use with any number of cards in the deck that care about the number of artifacts that we control. Gerrard's Hourglass Pendant looks like a more expensive, colorless Heroic Intervention and can counter extra turn spells if they happen to be plentiful in your meta. I run it in my Yeva, Nature's Herald deck, so I was happy to add Gerrard's Hourglass Pendant to this deck that might utilize it even better. Finally, I really like The Brothers' War as a card that can buy us a little extra time in an artifact deck and then potentially hit two opponents for massive damage the next turn.

Here's the full decklist for you to peruse:

Herigast, Erupting Nullkite "I've got an Affinity for Dragons"

View on Archidekt

Commander (1)
Creatures (32)
Lands (36)
Artifacts (16)
Instants (6)
Sorceries (3)
Enchantments (5)
Planeswalkers (1)

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View this decklist on Archidekt

Roll the Credits

I hope you enjoyed reading the latest edition of Plot Twist featuring Herigast, Erupting Nullkite. Next time you sit down for a game of Commander, see what sort of plot twists you can add to take the game's narrative in a new direction.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's deck and what cards could find a home in it in the comments below or on Archidekt. The Maybeboards of my decklists are always filled with cards I thought could work but didn't make the final decklist.

You can find me on Instagram at @girtenjeff and you can check out my other articles here or see what decks I'm currently playing here

Stay tuned to see what other twists and turns are headed your way in the next edition of Plot Twist.