Behind the Scenes of Rakdos Augermage

Terry Soh’s Invitational card, Rakdos Augermage, has recently been revealed on MagictheGathering.com. Previous Invitational cards have sometimes been stellar – take Meddling Mage, for example – while others have been received with a little less enthusiasm. So, what does Terry himself think of the R&D spin on his creation? What strategic impications does it have on the upcoming Standard? And just how did Terry come up with his original submission? The answers are a simple click away…

Finally, my card is out!

BDM did a preview on my card last Friday at MagictheGathering.com. I received several messages from my friends… They were mixed.

“Terry, your card is awesome!”
“Terry, your card is much worse then the original.”
“That doesn’t looks like you at all…”

I was in class at that moment, but I could hardly wait to spring out of my chair and rush to the computer to check “myself” out.

But wait.

Before we continue, I’d like to share with my faithful readers how the card was created, and share the ideas of making a discard creature as they first happened.

Initially, a friend (Hew Jun Wei) and I held long discussions over this card. Hew Jun Wei gave me the Goblin list that qualified me for Nationals. Through Nationals I went to Worlds and made Top 8, which qualified me to PT Nagoya where I made Top 4… and the rest is history.

Here’s a transcript of our discussions on the matter:

Jun: You managed to get in? Nice!
Terry: The R&D team voted.
Jun: Now it’s time to start brainstorming wacky decks.
Terry: I have no idea what deck to play.
Jun: Well, do you want to do well, or have a good time?
Terry: Of course I want to make my card. I’m thinking of creating a Black card, since Invitational cards are usually Blue.
Jun: Black? Why Black? There’s been 3.5 Blue cards, 0.5 White cards, a Red card, a Black card, and an artifact… they need a Green card. 🙂
Terry: Sylvan Safekeeper is a Green card…
Jun: Oh, that’s right…
Terry: Probably something 2-4 mana.
Jun: The lower, the better.
Terry: here’s what I think. Two-mana creature = one ability attached. Four-mana creature = two abilities attached. Would you rather be a four-mana guy or a two-mana guy?
Jun: Two mana. More chance to see tourney play that way.
Terry: But it’s less interesting that way…
Jun: Meddling Mage was pretty damn good.
Terry: Solemn Simulacrum enjoyed lots of success last season.
Jun: That’s because it was in a slow format… it’s not played in Extended though. Don’t forget, they’ll probably adjust your casting cost anyway.

Terry: Two mana… I’m thinking maybe hand destruction, or damage, or card advantage.
Jun: I love skill-testing cards. What color?
Terry: I’m trying to avoid Blue.
Jun: Red?
Terry: You can’t make a “two-mana, draw a card” Red creature, nor one that destroys a land…
Jun: Goblin Interrogator; RR, 1/1. RR, Discard 3 cards at random: Draw 3 cards… … … Wait, that kinda sucks.
Terry: You know something? I don’t think I want to be a Goblin. I’m trying to figure out an interesting card, because I plan to get it printed through votes!
Jun: Unfortunately, all the interesting cards are enchantments
Terry: ????
Jun: Look at the Banned list… how many creatures are there? 😛
Terry: I don’t mind making an enchantment…
Jun: But you don’t get to swing with yourself… How about “Peacekeeper Pro; 2WW, 2/2; Creatures cannot attack, Protection from Red, Protection from Black.”
Terry: I don’t like the idea of “Creatures cannot attack” at all…
Jun: Okay, your opponent’s creatures cannot attack.
Terry: Dismiss it… I want something Black.

Building a better tomorrow

Jun: My favorite cards from a design standpoint are Fact or Fiction, Cabal Therapy, and Meddling Mage, since they are skill-testing. I suggest trying of think of something that forces an opponent to interact. Even something like “At the beginning of your upkeep, reveal your hand, and an opponent Coercions you. Then draw two cards.” That might work… but I think that’s too similar to Maher’s card.
Terry: We want something interesting, something the public would vote for. We want ours to cost two mana, be a 1/1, 2/1 or 2/2… it’s just that the abilities have to be interesting.
Jun: It needs to be concise, too.
Terry: How about “BB 2/2; discard a card at random, duress your opponent. Use this ability only once each turn. Can only be played as sorcery speed” Makes sense?
Jun: Hmm… a bit too powerful. What about “B: Each player Coercions the other. Play only once a turn, as a sorcery.”
Terry: Maybe… How about taking the Black mana out of the activation?
Jun: The thing is, once this is in play, both players know the other’s hand. What if you draw a bomb? You don’t want to lose it, obviously… but to play it, and then “cast” Coercion would be a bit too powerful.
Terry: True, one Black mana is pretty fine, actually. But I’m still thinking of discarding a random card, instead of trading directly.
Jun: If you want to shake things up, change Coercion to Blackmail… but maybe that’d take up too much space.
Terry: How about I downgrade it with “discard a card, then opponent gets Blackmailed.”
Jun: Isn’t that just a Spellshaper?
Terry: Hmm… maybe a comes-into-play effect… but there’s already too many of them right now. Discard, draw a card, destroy land, destroy creature… they have them all already.
Jun: I really like something simple, like Meddling Mage
Terry: It’s been created already. How about “BB, 2/2; When it comes into play, Duress. When it leaves play, I discard a card.”
Jun: Nah, that sounds like you just glued two cards together.
Terry: I’m out of ideas. I like the idea of the first one, discarding at random…
Jun: I frown upon random.

That’s the end of the History of Rakdos Augermage. Here is where it is born. I tinkered around with the initial idea a little and come out with Jin, Master of Disruption. I personally think that the initial card is fine. I’ve heard a rumor that R&D is not altering any of the Invitational card this year, since they allowed the public to vote as long as they approved the submission of the card.

But unfortunately…

Here’s the card that’s coming out.


Now, compare it to the original:


Where did that [card name=

I was disappointed. I felt so down when I saw the card. They not only added an additional mana, it was added an additional Red mana! My initial plan was to make it mono-Black so that every other Black aggro deck can fit it in, but now…. hardly.

To make things worse, they put those bizarre goggles on me, which means the card doesn’t look like me at all! I mean, there have been eight Invitational cards created in the past, and there are people who wear spectacles (like Darwin and Jens Thoren), but they never draw something that covers most of the face… They want to show people that the card is based on an actual person… but mine

Anyway, what’s done is done. I can’t change the outcome, so it’s time to think positively about how to utilize my own card.

The Red looks kinda bad at first, but I think now with the painlands, dual lands, and Tendo Ice Bridge, you shouldn’t have much difficulty in playing three- or even four- color Black, just like in the past. As BDM mentions in his article, Sensei’s Divining Top is a nice compliment with “me.”

In the past, Dark Confidant itself has not warranted spending a few slots on the Divining Top, but if you were to play a Black aggro deck with Dissension I’m pretty sure both Bob and I would slot into the same build. This makes the Top much better, and gives more interactions to play with.

The First Strike addition is a nice one, as your opponent will need to use removal on him. You can’t really get pass him on ground, which makes him good against aggro. Against control, he’s also pretty good because of the ability. You basically attack for the first few turns until you’ve played most of your good spells, then you start trading your redundant cards for his good ones. The good thing is this: you get to control the flow of quality cards that both players can access. You can always cast the best spell in your hand, and then activate “me” to trade your other spells for the best spells in your opponent’s hand. And don’t forget… discard in the past could not grab land, but this one does! You might just win because you grab away his duals, meaning he can’t get to cast his big and powerful spells, while your deck has cheap and powerful card manipulation like Top, Confidant, and Augermage. Combined with good old Hippies, Ravenous Rats, Jittes and some sort of Red/Black removal, you have the backbone of a RB discard aggro. I mean, G/B has Putrefy and B/W has Mortify… what will the R/B spell do?

The fact that R&D added a Red mana is a bad thing, but an additional +1/+0 and First Strike suddenly changes the versatility of the card a lot. It had certainly downgraded its power against control, but it balanced out for the matchup versus creatures because of the aggressive nature. He might be a food for Helix, Char, Mortify, Last Gasp and many more, but there is only so much you can ask from a creature.

My goal for this year is to win the Invitational for the second time. No man had ever done this, despite winning multiple Player of the Year and Pro Tour awards. If I can break the record, that’s gonna be awesome. I understand that there are a lot of good players in the Invitational, but that does not mean I stand no chance.

After all, the Invitational is all about having fun… and winning is the most fun you can have in the game!

Until next time, have fun cracking your Dissension boosters!

Rakdos Augermage Terry Soh