Welcome to part 1 of 10 of 10 Guild’s of EDH. When Gatecrash was released, I originally planned to make and write about an EDH for each guild using the new Legendary creatures, but alas, life got in the way and I didn’t have enough time to dedicate to my blog. But now I am back to doing nothing important so I will be updating much more regularly! This is the first in a series of 10 blog posts, each one a new EDH deck for a different guild using the Legends from Return to Ravnica block.
First up is Rakdos. For Rakdos, I will be using... Rakdos. Rakdos, Lord of Riots that is. Exava, the Rakdos guild champion, is very aggressively costed and is sure to make waves in standard, but it lacks the real power that Rakdos, Lord of Riots brings to EDH. Rakdos lets you cheat out creatures for much cheaper, if you can get him to stick around, and can rack up general damage very quickly.
Aims of the Decks
This deck tries to cheat out creatures in multiple ways. Firstly, by dealing damage and casting creature with Rakdos, Lord of Riots on the battlefield. Rakdos can reduce the cost of casting creatures greatly to get you big creatures out easily. Secondly, it cheats them out with Sneak Attack. Sneak Attack is a powerful enchantment that lets you put a creature onto the battlefield for R but you have to sacrifice it at the end of turn. By utilising Sneak Attack to get value out of creatures enter the battlefield effects and then attack with them we can really abuse it. The last way is through reanimation. We can reanimate creatures that have died, been discarded to wheel effects, or after sacrificing them after cheating them in with Sneak Attack. The win usually comes from beating down with big scary monsters!
Decklist - Rakdos, Rakdos.
Artisan of Kozilek
Disciple of Bolas
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Staff of Nin
Seal of Fire
Cavern of Souls
Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Ashes to Ashes
Decree of Pain
Promise of Power
Reforge the Soul
Wheel of Fate
Wheel of Fortune
Into the Core
Rakdos, Lord of Riots
I like decks that play differently most games, decks with different options on how they play out, depending on who you are playing against and what your opening hand looks like. My favourite thing about this deck is that there are so many ways it can play out.
The Rakdos Route
If you opening hand has some small creatures or ways to get out early damage, you can happily play out small creatures and try to get Rakdos out turn 4/5. If Rakdos sticks around, you can abuse his ability to play big creatures for cheap. Cards like Wheel of Fortune and Knollspine Dragon can help refill your hand with big creatures, or cards like Phyrexian Reclamation can return them from your graveyard. To go down the ‘Rakdos Route’ , you just need a way to deal some damage and then cast your general. This is how the deck will normally play out, though against decks with lots of counter and removal, it might be hard to get Rakdos to stick around very long. Some ways of dealing damage early are off small creatures like Goblin Fireslinger, or enchantments like Goblin Assault and Bitterblossom. Sometimes Entomb’ing Bloodghast to get a turn 4 Rakdos can go a long way.
The ‘Reanimation Route’ works best if you have a way to get a large creature or creatures into the graveyard early. Entomb and Buried Alive can both get creatures out your library and into your graveyard, or Wheel effects can let you discard them and hopefully draw into some reanimation. There is lots of reanimation in the form of Animate Dead, Reanimate, Necromancy, and Artisan of Kozilek. You are very likely to hit threashold with this deck, so Stitch Together can be great cheap reanimation too. The ‘Reanimation Route’ can be blisteringly fast, but is also susceptible to graveyard hate. The creatures you want to reanimate will often be different in different matchups, but Sheoldred, Rune-Scarred Demon and Kokusho are all often safe bets.
The Sneak Attack Route
Sneak Attack is a great way to cheat big creatures into play cheaply, and repetitively. It works wonders with creatures with enter the battlefield effects, particularly Knollspine Dragon to refill your hand or Rune-Scarred Demon to tutor for whatever you need, or just a big creature. When combined with Phyrexian Reclamation, you can repeatedly ‘sneak’ out the same creatures each turn. The ‘Sneak Attack Route’ is powerful early game to cheat out big creature, and powerful late game to abuse enter the battlefield effects, especially when combined with reanimation or Phyrexian Reclamation.
Once you have an army of big monsters from any of the above techniques, you can start beating face. Make sure every time you connect with Rakdos, you remind your opponents they just took a huge D to the face.
There are three types of creatures in this deck, the big scary monsters you will be beating face with, the utility creatures that provide your deck with things it needs, such as removal or card draw, and the little critters to cast early to help deal the damage needed to get Rakdos out.
These are the big monsters you will be cheating into play. A lot of the creatures I play are really down to personal preference. Some of these can be changed to whatever creatures you want to play, or whichever work best in your meta.
Artisan of Kozilek - A big creature that reanimates another creature, with added annihilator. If I had read the card properly the first time, I'd have noticed it triggers when you cast it, so this doesn't reanimate something else when you cheat it into play unfortunately.
Balefire Dragon- A big dragon that can clear the way of puny creatures, especially good with haste
Bogardan Hellkite- Removal when it enters the battlefield
Dragon Mage- Refills your hand when it connects, especially good with haste
Kokusho, the Evening Star- Massive life gain in larger games, very powerful with repeated reanimation
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth- Huge creature that wins games on its own
Rune-Scarred Demon- Tutor on a huge dragon!
Sepulchral Primordial- Reanimate your opponents creatures when it enters the battlefield
Sheoldred, Whispering One- Reanimation every turn, and makes your opponents sac a creature.
Steel Hellkite- Removal whenever it connects, can often play for free when Rakdos is out.
Wurmcoil Engine- A big beater that can often be free.
Cheap creatures to get out early and deal damage so you can cast Rakdos.
Bloodghast- Cheap, recurrable, great with Skullclamp, easy to get onto the battlefield early to deal damage and get Rakdos out.
Goblin Fireslinger- Cheap, repeatable removal for small utility creatures, or just damage to get Rakdos out.
Tormented Soul- Unblockable damage to help Rakdos.
Decent creatures with added utility to help the deck run smoothly. These are great normally, and even better if made cheaper from Rakdos.
Bloodgift Demon- Card draw is always nice.
Disciple of Bolas- Card draw and a sac outlet, works well with Sneak Attack
Duplicant- Removal in creature form, can be free with Rakdo too
Fleshbag Marauder- Cheap creature, can help get rid of opponents creatures
Graveborn Muse- card draw!
Shriekmaw- Removal, cheap to evoke, can cast it if you need a creature on board
Solemn Simulacrum- Ramp, card draw, can be free, what else do you want!
Zealous Conscript- Steal your opponents best permanent, always useful (except on an empty board)
Ambition's Cost and Promise of Power are both card draw at the cost of life. We also have Wheel of Fate, Reforge the Soul, and Wheel of Fortune to refill our hands. Wheel of Fate can be annoying being delayed by a few turns, but this can also give us time to cheat out our creatures. Reforge the Soul is great if you can cast it for its miracle cost, but still good otherwise. We also have Phyrexian Arena for repeated card draw.
Vampiric Tutor is instant speed tutoring for whatever you need for just 1 mana. Demonic Tutor is another powerful cheap tutor. Increasing Ambition, while more costly, can be flashed back to tutor for 2 more cards. These can get you whatever card you need, be it removal, utility, or just a big creature.
Animate Dead and Necromancy are just your average reanimate enchantments. Dread Return, Reanimate and Stitch Together make up the rest of our reanimation suite. Dread Return is great as you can sac tokens or Bloodghast to flash it back. Stitch Together will very often be cheap reanimation as hitting threshold is fairly easy.
To get creatures in the graveyard in the first place, Entomb and Buried Alive are here. They can either be used to get a big creature in the ‘yard to reanimate, or to get a Bloodghast to get Rakdos out early.
Chaos Warp acts as removal for any problem permanents, though there is a chance of giving them something better instead. This is one of red’s best removal spells.
Ashes to Ashes is an excellent removal spell that exiles instead of just destroys. Exiling creatures is quite important if anyone else is play reanimator, so Ashes to Ashes more than does its work. For articacts we have Into the Core which exiles, and Vandalblast which can either be use to destroy one problem artefact, or ‘overloaded’ to destroy them all. For board wipes, we have Blasphemous Act, Decree of Pain and Damnation. These are useful to clear the board if you need too, Blasphemous Act even gets cheaper the more you need it. Decree of Pain can be cycled to get rid of small creatures like token swarms if needs be.
Oblivion Stone is a nice wrath in artifact form, you can also play it and activate its other ability so when you do wrath with it some of your permanents stick around
These speak for themselves, they provide mana ramp, and colour fixing. Rakdos Keyrune can also become a creature in a pinch to block or deal extra damage.
Other mana rocks are: Chromatic Lantern, Darksteel Ingot, Rakdos Keyrune, Rakdos Signet, Sol Ring
Bitterblossom and Goblin Assault both come down early to make tokens to help deal early damage for an early Rakdos. They can help create token swarms and are often quite deadly on their own if not dealt with. Late game, the tokens can help for flashing back Dread Return, or to use with Skullclamp as a draw engine.
Seal of Fire can also help deal early damage, or be used as removal for utility creatures.
Lightning Greaves gives a creature haste and protects it, it’s useful with any of your big creatures really. Skullslamp is our other equipment, it works well with our small creatures and tokens we use to get Rakdos out early and gives them a purpose late game. Its particularly efficient with Bloodghast.
With all the Wheel effects, we need some graveyard hate. I opted for Tormod’s Crypt, though any graveyard hate is fine.
Staff of Nin is a useful artefact to ping opponents to help get Rakdos out post wrath, and to help draw into more creatures. Its super useful late game, particularly after the board has been wiped a couple times.
Stranglehold is just a really efficient hate card that can help shut down certain strategies.
Sneak Attack is obviously included for the reasons stated before, with Phyrexian Reclamation included for its awesome interaction with Sneak Attack, as well as just being able to recover creatures after they have gone to the graveyard.
Every deck needs a sac outlet to stop your opponents gaining control of your creatures, and this deck is no different. Goblin Bombardment is useful for this, but can also be used to sac a creature and deal the damage necessary to cast Rakdos too.
The lands is a pretty basic suite of lands, with lands that tap for both R and B for colour fixing. The original dual and a full set of R or B fetchlands have been excluded for budget reasons. While they are great additions if you have them, they aren’t as necessary in a two colour deck where you are likely to have enough fixing as is, though more fetch lands would definitely help being able to cast Rakdos on turn 4 reliably.
Colour Fixing lands are -Blood Crypt, Bloodstained Mire, Command Tower, Dragonskull Summit, Graven Cairns, and Sulfurous Springs.
Bojuka Bog - Useful to exile someones graveyard
Cabal Coffers- can produce a lot of mana, especially when combined with Urborg
Cavern of Souls - Can make your creatures uncounterable
Phyrexian Tower - Sac outlet to produce more mana
Piranha Marsh - Can deal the damage needed to get Rakdos out
Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace - Useful utility lands, can disrupt opponents
Strip Mine- Useful for destroying annoying utility lands
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth- Great for fixing mana and powering up Cabal Coffers
Volrath's Stronghold- Great way to recur creatures
Winding Canyons- Can cast your creatures at instant speed!
Possibly Additions and Noticeable Exclusions
The suite of creatures could be changed to suit your liking much more. Some of the creatures like Dragon Mage work so well with other parts of the deck, like the whole Sneak Attack plan, that I don’t suggest changing them.
Creatures like Bogarden Hellkite and Wurmcoil Engine could easily be changed to make room for any other big creatures. Perhaps if your meta is being plagued by swarms of tiny tokens, then you could make room for Massacre Wurm, though watch out for Massacre Wurm eating your own tokens.
Grave Titan and Inferno Titan could definitely be included as big dumb beaters, just as Wurmcoil is. I chose Wurmcoil over the two titans as it can sometimes be cast for free however.
The small creatures could be changed to make room for any other little creature you want in the deck, like Nether Traitor or Reassembling Skeleton if you would prefer them.
The utility creatures could much the same be juggled around, say if instead of Fleshbag Marauder you wanted Anger. The creature suite of this deck is very flexible to fit your play style and you playgroup. Withered Wretch is an excellent utility creature to consider including if you feel you need more graveyard hate.
Stranglehold is a nice hate card, but it could easily be replaced with something like Leyline of the Void if you are more afraid of graveyard decks than extra turns and tutors
Most notably excluded is Kozilek, Butcher of Truth. While I did want to include both legendary Eldrazi, having them shuffle your graveyard into your library when they die can be quite a pain when you are often going to be cheating them into play with sneak attack, and you want to be reanimating more creatures from your graveyard after. You can’t use your graveyard as a resource if its shuffled away! I included Ulamog due to his indestructibility.
Maga, Traitor to Mortals is also notably missing. His ability works very well with Rakdos’s ability, able to make him a very large creature and drain your opponents for a bunch of life. I opted to not include him as he doesn’t work well with the Sneak Attack plan or the Reanimation plan however.
This list could include a few more utility lands, though it does need to have RRBB on turn 4 if possible, so diluting the number of lands that tap for R and B isn’t ideal.
There is an argument to be made that Necropotence should be in any deck that can support it, and while getting triple black to cast Necropotence isn’t to difficult in a 2 colour deck, I think this deck has enough card draw as is with the Wheel effects. Necropotence stops you being able to discard big creature with Wheel effects to reanimate later as well.
Notes, Changes, and How it performs
I’ll be updating this section to more I play with the deck. So far it has performed very well, being able to play out differently if you can predict what kind of decks your opponents are playing, which is fairly easy with a lot of commander decks. Running out a turn 4 Rakdos to bait a counterspell so you can hopefully stick your turn 5 Sneak Attack feels good. I’m pretty happy with the deck list as it stands, though it is very flexible and can be adapted to fit a known meta if it needs to.
This is an immensely fun deck to play, and a deck you can happily play multiple times in one sitting and have it play out differently each time. After game one your opponents may keep an eye out for an early reanimate, but then be caught off guard when you get Sneak Attack out. There are some fun interactions to be found while playing this deck, and its much more than the average ‘cast Rakdos, cast big dumb creature’ decks that many Rakdos decks appear to be at first sight.
The decklist is very flexible, so if you get bored of casting Sepulchral Primordial and Balefire Dragon, you can easily mix it up and add in some other big creatures instead.
Its a fairly easy deck to pick up and play, and still perform well with it, though quite difficult to master, especially knowing when to cast your wheel effects, and how to not overextend, but still apply pressure in a multiplayer game. You also have to know when to tutor for another big creature, or use your tutor for removal. I think the hardest part of this deck is tuning it for your meta, as there are many cards that can be changed around while having the deck still perform just as well.
Interestingly, I didn't add any Dragon’s Maze cards to this decklist, but that was unintentional. There simply were no cards I wished to add! Sire of Insanity, while it may prove to be very powerful in certain decks, it doesn't work well with all the Wheel effects in this deck. Master of Cruelties is another nice creature for EDH, but there will be few times when this deck will be attacking with him and only him. He does work well if he comes in off of Sneak Attack unexpectedly, but its not worth including for the one time in a hundred that you can sneak him in when your opponent has no blockers. I’ll probably get a copy and put him in just for how hilarious this would be, but then take him out after it happens once so I have a story to tell, but I’m not playing bad cards in my deck!
Thanks for reading! I hope to bring you updates a lot more regularly now. Check back next Friday for Guilds of EDH part two, Simic! Or check back after this weekend for my review of Dragon’s Maze in EDH!