I’ve made a terrible oversight.
Clearly Scrapheap Scrounger and Bomat Courier are strong enough to impact Historic. I went searching through the various Rakdos cards and cobbled together a few different decks, some of which were better than others. For whatever reason, I didn’t think that adding Scrounger to Rakdos Sacrifice would make much of a difference.
I was very wrong.
Why Rakdos Sacrifice? Isn’t Collected Company worth splashing? It’s certainly one of the most powerful things you could be doing in the archetype, at least when you hit two creatures. One of the main issues is that having only 26 hits for Collected Company is relatively low. Jumping through a ton of hoops only to hit one creature is a disaster.
The other problem is how Collected Company influences your sideboarding. In order to maintain a relatively high number of creatures for Collected Company, you can’t afford to sideboard many noncreatures. You’ll find that the noncreatures make stronger sideboard options than creatures, especially in a color combination that’s primarily Rakdos.
Splashing isn’t free either, although that’s much less of a concern. The real question is whether or not you need Collected Company to stay on the same power level as everyone else. Especially with the new additions, the answer is no.
With that out of the way, we can safely start building Rakdos. These cards are locked:
- 4 Cauldron Familiar
- 4 Priest of Forgotten Gods
- 4 Mayhem Devil
- 2 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 2 Woe Strider
- 4 Claim the Firstborn
- 4 Witch’s Oven
- 4 Blood Crypt
Of course, things like Priest of Forgotten Gods and Claim the Firstborn could be much weaker in certain metagames. If that’s the case, you probably wouldn’t want to play Rakdos Sacrifice. There are some cards, like Fabled Passage and Woe Strider, that people might assume are automatic four-ofs but that isn’t the case.
Is Stitcher’s Supplier actually worth playing or simply inertia? Given that the deck has Woe Strider and Cauldron Familiar, and also wants creatures that don’t mind being sacrificed, it’s possible. Perhaps the real question is whether Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger is worth playing, as it’s the strongest argument to playing Stitcher’s Supplier.
Kroxa doesn’t fit with the main plan, although it’s a way to get some longevity from your maindeck, similar to what Collected Company would provide. It’s not the worst card to include but I wouldn’t without a good reason. Stitcher’s Supplier makes it far more palatable, but is there a better option?
Bomat Courier is being overlooked. Even though Bomat Courier doesn’t provide value when sacrificed to a Priest, it can sacrifice itself if you don’t have the engine fully up. You play Fabled Passage to get some extra utility from Mayhem Devil and Bomat Courier does the same thing.
The coolest part of Bomat Courier is how it helps fix the mana. When all of your cheap cards cost black mana, you’ll have turns where you need double or triple black in the early game, which isn’t always realistic. That means you have to play as many black sources as possible, which also makes Fabled Passage an ineffective two-color land. By removing Stitcher’s Supplier, you rarely run into those issues.
Cards like Blood Artist don’t belong in this deck. You don’t go as wide as you might expect a sacrifice-based deck to do. With Priest of Forgotten Gods, Witch’s Oven, Bomat Courier, and Mayhem Devil, you’ll often build up to three or four creatures, sacrifice a few for value, and then rebuild. You’ll usually have some sacrifice fodder and a payoff or two on the battlefield. In those spots, Blood Artist is neither.
Call of the Death-Dweller is a card that shows up in decklists but I don’t like it. You will almost certainly run into graveyard hate, which means you’ll likely have to side out Call. I like Agadeem’s Awakening in general but it has similar issues. You can spend your life on better things, like Thoughtseize and Midnight Reaper.
Given all that, this is my current decklist.
- 4 Bomat Courier
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 3 Midnight Reaper
- 4 Priest of Forgotten Gods
- 4 Mayhem Devil
- 4 Cauldron Familiar
- 3 Woe Strider
The biggest question mark surrounding Rakdos Sacrifice is whether or not it can beat sideboard hate, typically Grafdigger’s Cage or Yasharn, Implacable Earth.
To beat Yasharn, you need things that will remove a four-mana 4/4, which is easier said than done. Most players playing Sacrifice decks tend to be light on ways to kill it, despite it being a popular card in one of the most-played decks. The reason is because there aren’t many ways to deal with it profitably. Those cards usually aren’t great against the rest of the format.
Noxious Grasp can kill Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, so that makes the deck. Now we have a great answer in Chandra, Torch of Defiance but it’s not without its issues. Double red can be difficult, which is one of the reasons I’d prefer not to play Kroxa.
Ideally, we’d have more ways to kill Yasharn maindeck and maybe that’s something that will have to addressed in the near future. For now, I’m satisfied by having plenty of answers in the sideboard.
Grafdigger’s Cage and the like are much easier. We’re not playing Collected Company and only have a few cards that get shut down by Cage. Scrapheap Scrounger and Woe Strider are luxuries. Cauldron Familiar can be an important part of the strategy but I typically expect to face some amount of hate for Witch’s Oven or the graveyard. Opponents can also try to attack the Mayhem Devil aspect of the deck by loading up on interaction to keep you from reaching a critical mass.
In those cases, you can move away from the sacrifice engine of the deck and focus more on the attrition aspects, which is where Bomat Courier truly shines. It doesn’t care about the graveyard and will typically allow you to outvalue decks that are trying to win the war of attrition. On the other hand, Stitcher’s Supplier tends to play into those weaknesses.
Sadly, Rakdos probably has the worst manabase in Historic. It’s an allied-color pair, which means they don’t have a Concealed Courtyard variant, nor did they get a Pathway. Azorius is in the same situation but control decks still get Irrigated Farmland, which you can’t really utilize here.
Shatterskull Smashing and Agadeem’s Awakening are obviously both fantastic cards but are they worth playing? Standard has Castles, so there’s already a give-and-take when choosing which lands you should play. Historic also has Dragonskull Summit, so that issue is further exacerbated.
Fabled Passage works with Mayhem Devil, fills your graveyard for escape, and fixes for Dragonskull Summit, so we should automatically play four copies, right? It seems like everyone does that but I’m less convinced that it’s correct. Lands that enter the battlefield tapped aren’t ideal, so I wouldn’t be shocked if I shave a copy at some point.
A single Phyrexian Tower is close to a freeroll. Since we’re not going super-wide, it’s not like we’re activating it every turn, but it’s a nice option to have.
VS Rakdos Sacrifice
This mirror match is incredibly volatile. If one person gets ahead with Priest of Forgotten Gods or Mayhem Devil, it spirals quickly. For that reason, having spot removal (or disruption) is key, as is not using removal on inconsequential targets.
Bomat Courier can get brickwalled easily and could eventually die to Mayhem Devil. That said, having sacrifice fodder for Priest can be important but you’d rather kill the Priest outright.
VS Four-Color Midrange
There are some matchups, like Four-Color Midrange, Azorius Control, or Dimir Control, that have plenty of removal spells to keep your engines in check. You tend to play a nickel-and-dime game against them, rarely doing broken things with Mayhem Devil. Against decks like that, it’s okay to shave a Mayhem Devil or two, since it’s usually mediocre.
If they have copious amounts of graveyard hate, you can move away from Witch’s Oven and Cauldron Familiar as well. Usually, the only thing that matters is keeping Yasharn off the battlefield and your leaner engine will be superior. That said, this is your worst matchup on paper.
VS Azorius Auras (Lurrus)
Your only goal should be to stop them from getting Kor Spiritdancer or Sram, Senior Edificer online. That will typically involve baiting out protection spells. It will be difficult to develop early when you’ll be forced to spend mana reacting to what your opponent is doing, which is why I cut several creatures when sideboarding. Once the threat is contained, you can win with whatever leftovers you have lying around.
VS Azorius Control
They’ll have Grafdigger’s Cage, typically maindeck. After sideboard, it’s more of the same and you’ll probably win some easy games by massively outdrawing them with Bomat Courier, Midnight Reaper, and Castle Locthwain. If they can’t get any traction, they won’t be able to keep up.
VS Mono-Red Aggro
Honestly, my sideboard plan is lacking in this matchup. Noxious Grasp could be something like Heartless Act if you wanted more cards for Mono-Red Aggro but it’s much weaker against Four-Color Midrange, which is the more difficult matchup.
VS Mono-Red Goblins
I’m not convinced Witch’s Vengeance is necessary but it does make things much easier. Goblins is popular again, so they stay for now. If and when that changes, you can use those slots for matchups where the sideboarding plans are weaker, such as the above Mono-Red matchup.
VS Colorless Ramp
Honestly, it doesn’t take much to beat this deck. Some hand disruption and artifact removal will go a long way. They can’t really interact with you and rely on keeping permanents on the battlefield, which you’re very good at removing.
If you want a deck that’s incredibly fun, highly customizable, intricate, and powerful, Rakdos Sacrifice is it. Your mana curve is low, your deck is powerful, you have some of the strongest cards in the format, and you rarely run out of things to do with your mana. Overall, it’s a recipe for the best deck in the format and I wouldn’t consider playing anything else.