One of my plans in the new year was to rebuild my EDH decks that weren’t performing the way I wanted them to. Thus far, I’ve rebuilt several of my decks; I started with my Necra deck, which was transformed from Ghave, Guru of Spores into Doran, the Siege Tower here. Next, I’d renovated my Boros list, changing Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer into Brion Stoutarm here. Finally, the lovely Angela had changed our Dimir deck from Vela the Night-Clad to the new and exciting Lazav, Dimir Mastermind here.
And now, it was time to finally settle on a Rakdos deck. Coincidentally, I was building around Rakdos, Lord of Riots — time to get rowdy and aggro people’s worlds!
Ordinarily, black/red is a fine color combination. Red loves to burn creatures and players, and black loves to kill creatures. Put the two colors together, and you get decks that are normally great for one-on-one games, but terrible in multiplayer due to their suicidal nature. Black and red also share a common weakness: a lack of enchantment removal. The Rakdos keyword, hellbent, is even all about getting rid of the cards in your hand; normally a losing prospect in longer games, where you want as many options and cards as possible.
So far, I’ve tried to build several Rakdos decks for my EDH Project, with varying levels of success. I started with Lyzolda, the Blood Witch, who just didn’t do enough in multiplayer, so she got cut. From there, I tried Olivia Voldaren — tribal Vampires, Malfegor, and finally the spiteful Kaervek the Merciless, with lots of punisher cards to harm all your opponents.
None of these decks quite did what I wanted them to, so it was time for a change. So, what Rakdos generals are there?
There’s a number of R/B generals that are interesting and fun, and much like the Dimir generals, there are also a large number that also suck. Pavel Maliki, Tor Wauki, Rohgahh of Kher Keep, Rakdos the Defiler, Lady Orca, Boris Devilboon, Barktooth Warbeard, and Axelrod Gunnarson are all Rakdos generals, and all do a lot of nothing.
This leaves us with a few cool generals that can be built around. Bladewing the Risen, which would be built as a Dragon tribal deck; Malfegor (built much as I’d built it before… lots of hellbent cards and card drawing); Wort, Boggart Auntie (this would be built as recurring Goblin tribal); and the newest general, Rakdos, Lord of Riots, who would be a scaling aggro deck with lots of creatures whose casting costs can be reduced by dealing damage.
Of these possible generals, the most aggressive looking general was Rakdos the Second, so… Rakdos, Lord of Riots is what we shall build!
Rakdos II is an interesting general to build around. When I put together my first draft of this deck, it looked much different than what I finally ended up with. Here is my first draft of a Rakdos II deck:
Rakdos, Lord of Riots - Original decklist
There’s a number of things going on here, mostly stemming from laziness. When I put this list together, nearly all of the spells were ported over from my Kaervek the Merciless EDH deck (which was my previous B/R EDH deck before this one).
Kaervek was an interesting deck. It was suicidal to the extreme, and had a ton of ‘punisher’ cards that just wanted people to feel the pain for every move they made in a multiplayer game (ie. things like Parallectric Feedback, Anathemancer, Wound Reflection, and so on). It also featured a number of painful enchantments and creatures that could drastically shorten games (ie. Heartless Hidetsugu, Painful Quandary, Repercussion, etc).
While this suicidal approach was fun to play every once in a while (and certainly made the games much, much shorter than normal) it didn’t often win. Kaervek’s defining moment came in the first round of The EDH Battle Royale, where Kaervek pulled out an upset win against two other (much better) EDH decks, Skullbriar and Azami (which you can see here).
Thus, when I made the switch from Kaervek to Rakdos II, I did initially port all of the spells over, to give the deck the same sort of suicidal approach to a multiplayer game. It didn’t take me long to realize that that wouldn’t really work with Rakdos II; he plays a completely different type of game.
Rakdos, Lord of Riots wants you to be very aggressive. He’s an interesting general indeed; first, he wants you to cause at least one of your opponents to lose life, so that you can get him into play. This is a potential drawback (since you have to be able to damage someone before you can even cast your general), but it demands that the Rakdos II player be very aggressive in the early game, which I’m quite fine with. Next, Rakdos II reduces the cost of creatures you play depending on how much life your opponents have lost on your turn — again, an ability that makes you keep attacking (or looking for alternate ways to cause your opponents to lose life, and reduce the casting costs of your creatures). All in all, he’s an excellent aggro general.
There were several issues with just porting over all the spells that I’d had in the Kaervek deck. Most of these spells quite honestly didn’t work with Rakdos II. Rakdos II demands that you play a lot of creatures at all points of a casting cost curve (a Rakdos II deck wants early-game creatures that you can attack people with, so that you can play Rakdos II; he also wants huge, game-ending monsters, so that he can reduce their casting costs for you). This initial draft that I’d done up just didn’t have the giant monsters that I needed to make Rakdos II work, and indeed, I was actually creature-light. I needed more guys.
It was time for a change. It was time to add… more monsters!
Rakdos, Lord of Riots - Current decklist
(The land is the same as the first deck, of course).
Feb 19, 2013
+ Comet Storm - Repercussion + Grave Betrayal - Baneful Omen + Decree of Pain - Painful Quandary + Staff of Nin - Skull Rend + Skirsdag High Priest - Sword of War and Peace + Rakdos Guildmage - Hex + Psychosis Crawler - Promise of Power + Lord of the Void - Blood Artist + Darksteel Colossus - Infectious Horror + Blightsteel Colossus - Stuffy Doll
Now this, this is a Rakdos II deck! It has forty monsters, rawr!
This deck goes by what I said above. The casting curve starts with lots of 2-casting creatures, so you can start attacking early and often. The basic game plan is to hit someone on turn 4 with a creature (someone is always open in multiplayer, so that shouldn’t be an issue) and drop Rakdos, Lord of Riots. From here, each time you deal damage or force an opponent to lose life, Rakdos II will reduce the casting costs of your creatures. This can be a huge, game-ending tempo boost, especially if you ever get to cast something like Darksteel Colossus or Blightsteel Colossus for free.
Here is how the casting costs break down:
Early creatures: There is one creature that costs 1, there are seven creatures that cost 2, and six creatures that cost 3. This ensures a number of early-game creatures, which will let you connect with someone’s face on turn 4 and cast Rakdos II that turn.
Late creatures: The top end of the curve is filled with seven creatures that cost 6, four creatures that cost 7, four creatures that cost 8, and two giant Colossi that cost 11+. Once Rakdos II is in play, you can cast these creatures for far cheaper than WotC ever intended them to be, leading to some awesome blowouts.
(I haven’t had a chance to cast Blightsteel Colossus for free yet, but when I do, it’ll be awesome!)
The gameplan for this deck is simple, as I’d mentioned above. Connect with some of the early creatures as quickly as possible, and drop Rakdos II on turn 4. Hit someone with Rakdos II the next turn, and suddenly the casting costs of all of your creatures is reduced by 6, which is crazy! Casting a Bloodfire Colossus for RR is pretty strong, and a Darksteel Colossus for 5 is insane! Since the casting costs of all creatures you play is reduced, you should be able to dump a lot of guys into play, and overload your opponents with giant monsters before they can deal with your board.
Creatures that are missing: There’s a bunch of creatures that are on the list to test in the next while, to see what works the best in here. Bogardan Hellkite, Hellrider, Urabrask the Hidden (and other ways to give haste), the trio of creatures to steal your opponents’ creatures — Conquering Manticore, Zealous Conscripts and Molten Primordial, Maga, Traitor to Mortals, Furyborn Hellkite, Sepulchral Primordial, It That Betrays, Knollspine Dragon, and possibly Shepherd of Rot. It’s going to take a lot of work to tune the deck, and figure out the right mix of guys to run.
Conclusion: This deck is a lot of fun to play, and is very aggressive (so it fits my playstyle). I’m looking forward to tuning it over the next while, and making it as aggressive as it can be.