Center Stage For Rix Maadi Reveler!

Rix Maadi Reveler may be far more powerful than Ari Lax first gave it credit for! Today he re-evaluates the spectacle card from the Cult of Rakdos, testing every limit he can think of!

After stewing on the initial set of Ravnica Allegiance previews for a while, I think people were sleeping on Rix Maadi Reveler.

Spectacle is closer to the worst of the guild mechanics in Ravnica Allegiance than the best. There’s a huge issue where if your deck starts losing, as all your spectacle cards look really bad.

– Last week’s Fact or Fiction

Myself included.

It isn’t an obvious great rate like Gruul Spellbreaker, a throwback like Absorb, or flashy like Emergency Powers. But once you consider ever piece of what the card has to offer, it’s just as powerful as any of those.

“Rix Maadi Reveler works if it’s the last card played from your hand. The ability of discarding a card happens to the fullest of its ability. Even if you have no cards, the ability resolves. Then the card says to draw a card no matter what.”

– Tom Ross last Friday

Did you miss that part too? Oh, there’s plenty more where that came from.

If you are just playing Rix Maadi Reveler as a Defiant Khenra and a rummage without payoff, I’m not about it. That means we have to exploit something about the card. The options for exploits from top to bottom are:

  • Being a Human Shaman
  • Consistently enabling spectacle in long games
  • Discarding cards
  • The hellbent “draw a card” bonus

Creature Types

Humans and Shamans aren’t quite supported Standard card types. Why would that line of text matter?

Ixalan was flexible. If you have enough creatures of a type, you can make something happen. Shamans are a little sparse outside of Merfolk and Dinosaur payoffs, but Humans can make something happen.

Rix Maadi Reveler is a nice lineup with Unclaimed Territory. Most of the great Humans cards are white, and any aggressive deck featuring the card wants to maximize its untapped land potential. Unclaimed Territory lets you splash Rix Maadi Reveler off fewer Blood Crypts and Isolated Chapels, keeping your one-drops intact.

Boros Aggro is looking for a lot of what Rix Maadi Reveler has to offer. It’s an early drop that smoothes your draws against mana flood, but it’s also a powerful late-game effect that doesn’t sit in your hand if you miss your fourth land.

Odds and ends worth noting:

Legendary permanents are nice with Rix Maadi Reveler as it clears extra copies, and Legion’s Landing scores bonus points on spectacle. The transform into Adanto, the First Fort pushes you towards four mana to pay for Rix Maadi Reveler, and the chain of Vampire tokens makes spectacle easier to enable late in the game game. Healer’s Hawk serves this same chip-shot role in the one-drop slot.

Plaguecrafter just happened to be a convenient black splash off Unclaimed Territory, but the interaction with it and afterlife is worth exploring elsewhere. If your deck wants Hunted Witness already, Plaguecrafter looks really busted. Even the worst case of that combo is a three-mana 3/2 that makes your opponent discard a card.

Cheap Spectacles

Abe Stein did a great job of covering the current state of the spectacle mechanic when it was revealed two weeks ago. I’ll quickly go over some of the deckbuilding points that come out of that article.

To make spectacle reliable, you need reliable ways to deal damage. If your attackers are disabled by Merfolk Branchwalker and Jadelight Ranger, that’s not good. Rakdos currently doesn’t have a hard-to-block creature equivalent to white’s Healer’s Hawk that is worth spending a mana on.

That isn’t to say there aren’t more things on the way. Maybe we get “undergrowthed” and only have one Glowspore Shaman as a good enabler, but there’s probably a fine spectacle enabler somewhere in Ravnica Allegiance.

I think the current reliable way to enable spectacle is to just invest a card. With Rix Maadi Reveler that’s fine because the point of the spectacle is the reload that negates that wasted card. That means Rix Maadi Reveler often is a bit more expensive than it looks to spectacle because you need to pay an extra red to Shock them first.

This also points towards uses of Rix Maadi Reveler in midrange decks. Abe said the card was similar to Champion of Wits, and that comparison seems pretty apt. The front side is much better than Champion of Wits. Later you use an extra Shock, pay a few more mana, and reload three cards. While Champion of Wits was probably best for its more broken self-mill implications, plenty of fair decks still utilized it to churn through extra cards.

Discard a Card

This is an interaction I brought up last week in the context of Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering. Rix Maadi Reveler lets you bin a reanimation target early or discard extra copies of effects you only need one of, like legendary creatures.

Let’s kick off with the basics I outlined there in a Mardu Legends shell.

Wow, we can finally cut stupid Resplendent Angel from our Boros pile.

Rix Maadi Reveler also plays a key role in smoothing out the midrange problems old Boros had. Too many or too few lands? You’re a rummage away from a solution. Captain Lannery Storm plays a similar role in letting your three-land hands miss a turn but still cast Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice just fine. The cost of this fix is a slight downgrade from Lava Coil to Lightning Strike, but the extra haste three-drops make the burn add up to relevant numbers for lethal. It’s not like either of these spells killed Adanto Vanguard anyway.

All three Mardu legendary sorceries show up here, but I might have the wrong ones as the main highlights. Urza’s Ruinous Blast is brutal and the card I want to explore more after this list. Nice Carnage Tyrant, nice Adanto Vanguard, nice afterlife, nice Memorial of Folly trying to get any of this back. There are a few roadblocks in the form of planeswalkers and Niv-Mizzet, Parun, but this feels like the most powerful of the effects available for legendary payoffs.

I don’t want a giant reanimation target for Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering. Killing their creature and making a Lyra Dawnbringer should be enough. There’s no need to make our deck with spell-land inconsistency issues even worse with dead eight-drops.

That said, I keep spinning these lists up and wondering if this card is even better than The Eldest Reborn. Maybe it’s a reference to when sets had two of the same effect with a clear winner. The Eldest Reborn is to Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering as Yawgmoth’s Will is to Ill-Gotten Gains.

If you want to go down the hard reanimation route, it’s worth remembering that you have multiple good two-drop discard outlets now. Dismissive Pyromancer was oddly both impressive and unimpressive through Guilds of Ravnica Standard, but if it gets to flex as removal and a combo enabler, it’s likely to lean towards the good side of things.

Another deck heavy on legends with reanimation effects, based off a Guilds of Ravnica Standard list from Magic Online grinder Malavi. This time I’ve just abandoned the legendary sorceries. Leveraging a filler three-drop for a backbreaking spell is good; needing Niv-Mizzet, Parun on the battlefield and an opponent who hasn’t conceded is just showboating.

An interaction that isn’t win-more is using Nicol Bolas, the Ravager to enable spectacle. Nicol Bolas is just a 4/4 flier once it resolves, and unless you can transform it, you aren’t gaining ground as it sits around. An influx of cards off Rix Maadi Reveler means you are building a tangible advantage or hitting your seventh land to transform into Nicol Bolas, the Arisen for a clean win.

It didn’t make the cut, but a card that popped up in my Gatherer search was Connive. If Concoct is a noteworthy removal spell in an afterlife format, this could be a reanimation spell of choice with Rix Maadi Reveler.

It’s also likely this deck ends up wanting some two-drop game-winning permanent. While Treasure Map is the obvious default with Niv-Mizzet, Parun, Search for Azcanta might be back on the table with Ravnica Allegiance. It becomes significantly easier to transform with Rix Maadi Reveler filling the graveyard, and enchantments are a more exciting card type now that Bedevil exists.

If Shock is the obvious way to enable spectacle with a removal spell, Fungal Infection is the adorable one. For my next trick, you get hit by a mushroom!

If this deck is missing something, it’s a way to mitigate afterlife on a sweeper. You can Fungal Infection down an Adanto Vanguard but none of your cards is good in the heads-up against Hunted Witness and Tithe Taker. Maybe the plan is just to resolve a giant Dragon?

There are other recursion shenanigans with Rix Maadi Reveler I’m waiting on more cards to build.

One shell is just using Reveler as a card advantage source in a fairly streamlined Jund midrange deck. Discarding a permanent lets you Golgari Findbroker on curve for value, or maybe just Find for value a little easier in matchups where Finality is bad.

The other is another deck I mentioned last week: Gruesome Menagerie Aristocrats. Rix Maadi Reveler fuels full value Gruesome Menageries well, is another payoff for hitting lands up to five, and is a reasonable two-drop to recur. There’s a similar synergy with Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants that shows up in the Mardu Humans deck I listed before, but Ajani is probably best off burying people in +1/+1 counters and not as recursion.

Hellbent, Hold the Keyword

If you are hellbent with Rix Maadi Reveler’s trigger, you draw a free card. That’s not a game-breaker, but if you can reliably set the card up for that, you can stretch the value it gives. As mentioned in the Mardu Humans deck, this is all upside on a card that serves to prevent flood and fuel longer games.

And who am I to argue with Tom Ross on a list for a hyper-aggro red deck? At most, I have a couple of nitpicks.

This deck is short some one-drops. This sounds like a “wait for another set of cards” problem. As a result of this issue, this deck is probably a land heavier than it need to be.

Risk Factor is a steaming pile. At best it’s a sideboard card against control decks with no way to punish getting a free turn from you, and have you played against Teferi, Hero of Dominaria or Niv-Mizzet, Parun?

I don’t think Duress is the card you want in the sideboard. Control decks beat red by trading cards for cards, not with single game-breaking effects. When you Duress them, you just traded a mana and a card for none of their mana, which is them turning a profit. If they cut all their creatures and you get to hit their Teferis, maybe this is a fine plan, but again, Niv-Mizzet is still a card.

Playing Vance’s Blasting Cannons over Experimental Frenzy is offensive. Honestly, just not playing Frenzy is offensive, even with Rix Maadi Reveler. You know what’s great when you draw two copies of Experimental Frenzy? Looting one away to find lands or threats.

Spectacular Range

That’s aggro, midrange, and combo we have fit Rix Maadi Reveler into. I wasn’t hoping for the full sweep, as spectacle in control is a hard ask, but the card is extremely versatile. You just have to work a very small amount for it.

If there’s a reason the card won’t pan out, it is that Lightning Strike and Shock end up as less desirable cards outside of true aggressive decks. I guess that means one last tip for the road.

I might be aiming too midrange with some of these lists. Rix Maadi Reveler is a card best in decks trying actively to win the game. Spectacle might be about accumulating small advantages for damaging your opponent, but at the end of the day, if your cards are focused on dealing damage to your opponent, you will be the beatdown a lot.