Today I’m going to show you my favorite new deck. It’s been performing very well in testing, and I think it’s ready for prime time. This article will take into consideration the principles I’ve spoken of this week, and how they can relate to deckbuilding and play-style.
The idea began as this – Rakdos is not a good aggro choice. At least not in the “traditional” sense. That crown goes to Gruul or Zoo. Since we don’t have access to either of the defining one-drops – Kird Ape and Isamaru – then we’ll need to go control.
What’s the first thing you think? I know… four Wrecking Ball, here I come!
But I kept running into trouble. First of all, I was scooping to Umezawa’s Jitte. And let’s not even mention Paladin en-Vec. What’s a deckbuilder to do?
Look for non-targeted removal. Wildfire is a defining card, no doubt, but Izzetron is simply more efficient with that archetype. Their use of signets and card drawing far outweigh a burn and destroy strategy.
In comes Hit / Run. Holy cow. How do I love this spell. I adore Hit. It is a cornerstone that no Red/Black deck should be without. This guy takes care of Umezawa’s Jitte, Paladin en-Vec, Carven Caryatid, Simic Sky Swallower and Loxodon Hierarch. The times in which it catches a Signet is rare indeed due to the meteoric rise in popularity of Karoos, and the times in which it catches players with their pants down is many.
And, lest we forget, it is an Instant. Which means “Hit you at the end of your turn,” is a very respectable phrase. This assures they will give up their countermagic to assure not getting wrecked by Hit, and a free turn of spells for you, or they will take the Hit and reveal their lack of countermagic. They could be bluffing, but if you’re casting Hit it’s usually for a significant amount of damage, they would counter it if they could.
Even if it “just” eats a signet – that’s a mana accelerant they no longer have. But let me show you the list and I’ll tell you more about it:
- 1 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
- 4 Frostling
- 4 Kokusho, the Evening Star
- 4 Ravenous Rats
- 4 Giant Solifuge
- 4 Rakdos Guildmage
I’ll just get it out there: This is one the best decks I’ve ever built. It currently has game against every deck in the format. Whether it’s Izzetron or Ghost Husk, this has what it takes Game 1 to give you a push towards victory.
The Undiscovered Secret
Cry of Contrition is absolutely insane. Two Cry of Contrition and a Frostling in your starting seven is the absolute best opener you could ever hope for.
First turn Frostling via a Sulfurous Springs and/or Blood Crypt.
Second turn Black mana source, Cry of Contrition times two, swing with Frostling, sac Frostling to itself.
That’s four cards they just discarded. The great Richard Feldman said he was tired of using Ravenous Rats because they always took the worst card in the opponent’s hand.
But what if they only have good cards left? The fact that Cry of Contrition is almost always a two-for-one is not something to take lightly. The sort of synergy that this card has with the deck pushes it from good to great.
The Forgotten Guildmage
Rakdos Guildmage solves all sorts of problems. Dark Confidant? No problem. Nantuko Husk? No problem. Kami of Ancient Law? No problem.
He also creates chump blockers for problems such as Loxodon Hierarch, as well as suicide jumpers for the Umezawa’s Jitte.
How The Car Runs
The Engine – Phyrexian Arena
This card fuels your deck and few decks – outside of Godless Shrine decks such as Ghost Dad or Ghost Husk that run Mortify and Kami of Ancient Law – can deal with it. Izzetron has no answer but play-Wildfire-and-win-quickly, which you slow down via Hit / Run and Giant Solifuge which they can’t target. Post-Wildfire you recover just fine, with your own personal Howling Mine.
Engine Type – Tempo
This is a beatdown deck, make no mistake. The best aspect of it the use and abuse of Hit / Run, a debilitating spell that is the best card you could ever hold against an empty board. No matter what they drop, it will die and they will take damage.
Let’s take a look at the most defining cards in Standard again:
Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree
Isamaru, Hound of Konda
This deck can deal with Dark Confidant with Frostling (which also deals with Birds of Paradise, another format-definer). Vitu-Ghazi the City-Tree is a pain, you can usually push through enough damage with Frostling or Umezawa’s Jitte taking care of the tokens so your face-beaters like Giant Solifuge can come online.
Kird Ape is simply chump blocked until our real threats come online. We may have to two-for-one to get rid of him (such as -2/-2 with Rakdos Guildmage while blocking and/or pinging it with Frostling), he’s not something we like to see.
Isamaru, on the other hand, is handled easily with Frostling as well as Rakdos Guildmage, and can be an easy Hit / Run target in the early game.
Remand is simply played around thanks to discard (the enemy of card advantage control decks), and Umezawa’s Jitte is beaten at its own game with my own set.
How Does It Play?
I’ll tell you; right now it plays like a dream. I’ve tested against a variety of decks and the only thing that’s not final is the sideboard. I originally had three Last Gasps instead of the Rain of Gores, but any Loxodon-Fetters decks need to be shut down early. Paying four life for Faith’s Fetters to shut down my Umezawa’s Jitte is a fair trade to me.
Giant Solifuge is one of those threats that always seem to show up right on time. Since he has haste he always gets in a free lick, or he trades well. Loxodon Hierarch for Giant Solifuge is a great trade and Cry of Contrition on what would probably be the destined chump blocker is a great two-for-one when they make the trade.
Hit / Run is absolute gold. I can’t recommend this card highly enough. It is the biggest secret in Standard today. Try it in any deck that could possibly play it. When the boards are empty, the player with Hit / Run definitely has the advantage. In an empty board situation, it’s better than Wrath of God. Hard to say that about any other card in Standard.
Ink-Eyes could possibly go as a two-of, but the deck is fairly stretched on fatties thanks to the full complement of Kokusho, the Evening Star. It’s never a bad thing to draw multiple 5/5 Flying Legendary Dragon Spirits. Ink-Eyes is a fantastic surprise and you usually have enough weenies to slip one past.
Right now I think the worst matchup is with Gruul. But otherwise, the pressure cooker that is this deck is usually too much to overcome. The secret is that your weenies are so killable, and Cry of Contrition is such an advantage that between the two most players can’t keep up. A full selection of Rakdos Carnariums brings home the idea that you really can run four Kokushos in this day and age and live to tell the tale.
I found what I feel is the most powerful Rakdos deck by cutting the chaff that looks good such as Wrecking Ball – which may have a place in the sideboard – and Rakdos Augermage, who is very slow and whom I rarely want to activate.
Instead I choose the best card advantage engine this side of Dark Confidant in Phyrexian Arena, and I use only one burn spell for “Oops, I win” moments and dragon shenanigans (remember Demonfire removes the creature from the game).
Izzetron is a very winnable matchup, with your discard knocking dents in their armor, and while they’re so busy with Tidings and Compulsive Research you’re actually winning.
Ghost Husk tries to put pressure but Phyrexian Arena is, for all intents and purposes, just better than Dark Confidant in the matchup. Your Frostlings wreck all kinds of utility creatures (Dark Confidant and Plagued Rusalka), while hand destruction keeps them without their precious Mortify.
I built this deck with the idea that it would disrupt what it is currently popular (Izzetron and Ghost Husk) as well as show the Magic community there really is a fantastic Rakdos deck out there, and it’s unlike the “obvious” choices.
Thanks for reading. I hope you liked it as much as I did.
Evan “misterorange” Erwin
dubya dubya dubya dot misterorange dot com
eerwin +at+ gmail +dot+ com
Written while listening to Regina Spektor’s “Begin to Hope”