Is Rakdos Sacrifice Primed For A Resurgence In Historic?

With Kaldheim entering the Historic mix, what’s the deck to play? Five SCG creators share their thoughts and decklists.

Mayhem Devil, illustrated by Dmitry Burmak

Welcome to What We’d Play! With the arrival of Kaldheim, many are unsure what they’d play in Historic. That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it. Hopefully this advice aids in your decision making for your next Historic event!

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa — Gruul Aggro

There are some cards in Kaldheim that will probably see play in Historic, but right now it doesn’t look like the metagame is changing too much to me; we should still expect a healthy amount of Sultai Midrange, Jund Sacrifice and Gruul Aggro. I think they are the three best decks, but I think there’s a chance that, since Jund Sacrifice did so well in the MPL Split, many people revert to playing Four-Color Midrange with a splash for Yasharn, Implacable Earth. Because of this, I’d choose Gruul Aggro again (plus, I think I have a good build).

I’m still down on Collected Company in this deck, as I think the more proactive four-mana plays are better in Game 1. In fact, I’d rather play Hellrider than Collected Company in the maindeck. Because of this, I’ve moved all Collected Companies to the sideboard, and then you can bring them in when the games slow down versus Sultai. I’ve also incorporated Martin Juza’s Ahn-Crop Crasher technology as a way to attack past Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath; Doom Whispererl and opposing Scavenging Oozes. 

As for the new cards, I think there are some good ones from Kaldheim that can be added to other decks in the format, but honestly nothing seems to be a good fit for Gruul, so I’m not playing any in my deck.

Shaheen Soorani — Sultai Midrange

Sultai Midrange is basically a control deck, using the mandatory value creatures of the Simic Combine in conjunction with premier disruption.  It has become non-negotiable to play decks without Uro where applicable, with its lifegain, ramp, card advantage, and resilience above all others in its class.  I yearn for the days where this monstrosity did not exist and the world made sense, but the competitor in me knows what must be done.

Historic is a continuously evolving format.  Since there are limited sets involved, anytime a new one enters the mix, a shake0up is on the way.  I’m still playing this list in the new format until I figure out which Kaldheim cards need to be included, but at this point, the list is sound and efficient against the metagame.  There are simply no other decks in the format that can match the level of consistency Sultai Midrange has, and with Thoughtseize and Uro at the helm, I am confident that this will remain the best deck in the format.

Ari Lax — Mono-Red Goblins

I originally loaded Goblins up as a quick way to churn through quests since all my Kaldheim drafts seem to involve basic Plains, but I’ve quickly become enamored with the deck. Not much is different here from Autumn’s Zendikar Rising Championship deck, just moving the Mind Stones to a couple of proactive cards, but that points a bit to what I’ve been enjoying about the deck.

I’ve been winning a lot of my matches without Muxus, Goblin Grandee. Being a Muxus ramp deck is often exploitable by cards like Aether Gust or Tale’s End. I just want my Goblins deck to be the leanest, most proactive thing possible to punish hands that are too skewed against Muxus, and then rely on cards like Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Herald’s Horn to incidentally push me to Muxus if my opponent has too many cards pointed the other way. I can see the appeal of being more ramp-heavy if the mirror, Jund Sacrifice, and Gruul Aggro are bigger concerns than Sultai Midrange, but lately the format has felt like a bowl of Uro soup.

Autumn’s primer still holds up perfectly. The only micro-disagreement I have might be due to the uptick in Gruul Aggro since then, where Redcap Melee as a tempo-positive play in small amounts is great. I might be missing out a bit on another Irencrag Feat, but it’s also a fairly conditional card you don’t always want to draw.

Autumn Burchett — Gruul Aggro

Before Kaldheim released I believed that if you’re playing Historic and you want to win as much as possible you should be playing either Burning-Tree Emissary or Mayhem Devil. How Kaldheim changes Historic remains to be seen, and I could certainly see Rakdos Arcanist benefiting greatly from the printing of cards like Valki, God of Lies and Blightstep Pathway, but until the full impact of Kaldheim is more clear I want to just fall back on that same metric I was using previously.

Jund Sacrifice and Rakdos Sacrifice are certainly great decks, but I’ve not had a huge amount of practice with them yet, so were I playing a tournament tomorrow I would absolutely be registering Gruul Aggro. Gruul put up an excellent showing at the most recent MPL and Rivals League Weekend, seeing a lot of play and putting up an impressive win-rate. I played Gruul at that League Weekend myself, though I wasn’t terribly happy with some of the details of the list I registered.

It’s surprising quite how many options you have when it comes to building this archetype, and of all the Gruul lists played during the aforementioned League Weekend the two that impressed me the most were Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa’s and Martin Jůza’s. Amusingly these lists are dramatically different from one another, but you can see how coherent the thought processes were that went into building them. The list I would choose to register would look very similar to Paulo’s, except I want access to Elder Gargaroth and The Akroan War out of the sideboard as The Akroan War has been very good for me in the mirror matches I’ve played, and conversely Elder Gargaroth was devastating when Brian Braun-Duin resolved it against me in a mirror match also.

Cedric Phillips — Four-Color Midrange

With the noticeable impact of Blightstep Pathway and Valki, God of Lies increasing the quality of Rakdos decks in Historic, I believe the following is going to take place:

  • An increase in the number of Rakdos Sacrifice and Rakdos Arcanist decks in the format.
  • A decline in the number of Gruul Aggro decks, as those decks struggle against what the above Rakdos decks bring to the table (though I don’t expect them to disappear entirely).

Assuming both of these things take place, I believe it’s time to go back to Yasharn, Implacable Earth in Uro-based Midrange strategies as the hammer that knocks these decks back to earth. Yasharn is generally game over in Game 1 against Sacrifice-based strategies while still being totally passable against Rakdos Arcanist and being a big body against the leftover Gruul Aggro players.

While I think Mengucci’s list above is a great place to start, I also think it’s time to make some other changes to these Sultai-based Midrange decks in a general sense given where I believe the metagame is going:

  • Cut Extinction Event in favor of Languish. While exiling is undeniably powerful, with the various Sacrifice decks, Rakdos Arcanist, and Gruul Aggro all wanting a large battlefield presence, I want to sweep away everything 100% of the time. There are some creatures that can live through Languish (mostly thinking of Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger from Rakdos Arcanist) but that problem can be solved other ways.
  • Moving on from Tale’s End in favor of Aether Gust. I think the time and place for Tale’s End to shine has come and gone. It was very impressive on its incline through Historic, but with the expected influx of Rakdos-based strategies, I’d rather have access to Aether Gust in my maindeck. Toss in that it’s still good against Gruul Aggro, Mono-Red Goblins, and the Sultai-based Midrange mirrors, and this decision seems like a no-brainer.

There are others changes that can be made around the fringes (increasing the numbers of Fatal Push, moving Doom Whisperer back to the sideboard, more copies of Elder Gargaroth in the 75) but the biggest change to be noted here is that it’s time to go back to The Big Pig™!