Welcome back to the best little pioneer article series: Play Dumb Decks, Win Dumb Prizes. Today we are diving into a fresh take on Rakdos Midrange, a take that mainstream control players don’t want you to hear about. English professors may hate me, but that’s unrelated. Let’s dive into Rakdos Improvise, a deck for those brave few players that want to run grindy value engines AND giant 5/5 demons. For those that want to frustrate Rakdos Midrange players, and lose to Karn.
Disclaimer: THIS DECK FOLDS OVER TO MONO GREEN! If monogreen is heavily played in your local area, I still suggest you continue reading but prepare for a bad time. However, you will have a great time against all other matchups. That being said, let’s get into the blood makers in the deck. Four copies of Voldaren Epicure and Bloodtithe Harvester. Harvester is a mainstay in Rakdos providing removal, a beatstick, and card selection. While epicure isn’t as exciting, the residual chip damage and very sacrificable 1/1 body can be put to a great use (more on the deck’s engines later). Now we get extra spicy with one of copies of both Blood Fountain and Sanguine Statuette. With how important the deck’s artifact count is, playing two for one artifacts like these is as key as maintaining a hoard of blood tokens. The fountain’s activated ability can come up from time to time, but it’s normally just artifact fodder. Statuette on the other hand is a hasty 3/3 beater whenever we sacrifice a blood, and it doesn’t even care how it’s sacrificed.
To add on to the fodder pile, the deck plays two copies of Terrarion and three copies of the outstanding card advantage engine, Experimental Synthesizer. Both are one drop artifacts that will replace themselves when sacrificed, but Synthesizer will replace itself with an impulse draw coming or going. Note it says “Leaves the battlefield” this means that if exiled by March of Otherworldly Light or Rest In Peace it will still give an impulse draw. As an extra tip, try avoiding playing a synthesizer on turn one or post land drop unless needed. This helps ensure lands don’t get lost in the exile zone forever. Now, with all this fodder we need engines and payoffs to feed them to.
Let’s start with the oni in the room, four copies of Oni-cult Anvil. This card has soooo much text on it, and all these words spell value. Note once again that Anvil doesn’t care if our artifacts actually die, so once again RIP doesn’t slow us down. Oni-cult is a one card Cat-Oven combo. As long as there is one other artifact in play, players will have an infinite once per turn drain one since the token made by Anvil also triggers Anvil. Of course, Anvil can sacrifice itself to make an emergency blocker in a pinch. And if there are ever more than one active Anvils, the ground game can be quickly ground to a halt with all those construct tokens.
By now, readers already know how much value Oni-cult Anvil is. Let’s get to the real reason to stack all those artifacts little and blood tokens, Herald of Anguish. This seven drop 5/5 flyer is a house in its own right. Won’t die to push, stomp, even Power Word Kill can’t halt this demon. In the Rakdos Midrange matchup, only the sorcery speed Dreadbore will get this terror off the board. Which will put us up in cards as our opponent must discard during each of OUR endsteps. If that’s not enough, if given the chance to untap with this monster, players can convert their fodder to -2/-2’s at their opponent’s board. All of this for just two black mana….ok, there is a hoop of getting artifacts into play, but even at three or four mana this demon brings the thunder.
Our last big threat payoff is the big man himself, Mr. Ob Nixilis, the Adversary. Ob is a bit picky, he won’t take any normal artifact, only creatures for the mob kingpin, but those epicures and anvil tokens are a prime to pay casualty. When playing Ob into tapped mana, I suggest making a devil with the original then plus on the token. If your opponent has open mana they can react to your first activation, so I suggest activating the token first into open mana to prevent it from getting picked off by a brazen borrower or a shock/stomp before getting the chance to activate it. No control deck can handle the pressure of two Ob pluses a turn, and most midrange decks will also fold under the unrelenting damage and discard.
One last pay off for playing so much sacrifice fodder is the four copies of Deadly Dispute. Dispute is an amazing tool, for two mana it can sac a creature or artifact for two cards and a treasure, with an active Anvil in play it’s basically cast with zero downside. Dispute can be played to dig for answers and threats on our turn, but it really shines when we get to blank a removal spell by casting it in response to a fatal push or better a stomp from our opponent. This card isn’t too flashy but it’s really the glue, and the ancestral recall, that holds the deck together. Turning our opponent’s one-for-ones into two-for-ones if our favor is what this deck is all about. Speaking of one-for-ones, let’s look at our own midrange package.
Midrange and Removal
Since Rakdos plays home to plenty of the best removal and midrange cards in Pioneer, so let’s run some. Two copies of Fatal Push and the real all-star removal spell Voltage Surge. This instant can hit planeswalkers for four damage, we will almost always have a spare artifact around to sac for extra value, and it picks off small threats in the early game. Next, four copies of Thoughtsieze, it’s the best piece of removal and information in the format. Thoughtsieze as always is the great skill testing card. Analyzing your opponent’s hand, taking the right card, and leveraging the information gained will take a lot of practice and game knowledge. As a side note this deck has lots of lines, choices and decisions to make. Practicing with a friend or just picking up casual games pre-FNM will be the key to mastering the deck.
To round out the deck we play two copies of the best saga Fable of the Mirror Breaker. So many creatures we play have ETB’s that we can abuse with our flipped Mirror Breaker. You can even copy a Herald of Anguish and stack its end step triggers so your opponent will discard as you sac the demon. Finally we have a single Kroxa. It’s Kroxa, the only card that cares about our graveyard and seeing it in game one will make any player reach for graveyard hate, graveyard hate that only stops our one of Kroxa.
We only have to play twenty lands in this deck due to our low mana curve and high card Velocity. That being said we need mana fixing above all else, so we don’t get to play as many utility lands as a typical 24-25 land rakdos deck. This means only one copy each of Den of the Bugbear and Hive of the Eye Tyrant, while leaving the Castle Locthwain at home. We need to play all four copies of Blood Crypt, Haunted Ridge, and Blightstep Pathway. But yall dont care about lands you want sweet sideboard tech.
So the first five cards are just extra removal. Sometimes we just need extra removal since we only play five kill spells in the main plus Thoughtsieze…..which is kinda removal, but for the future. Anyway Feed the Swarm lets us answer anything, even weird things like enchantments. Extra copies of MVP Voltage surge which are our only hope against walker heavy decks. Two copies of Battle at the Bridge are a godsend in any aggro matchup, especially against spirits or mono red. Allowing us to tap all of our artifacts to gain as much life as possible while killing our opponent’s beefiest threat. Make note this card is hard to land against specifically mono-U spirits, so wait for them to tap out or bait the Rattle Chains before battling. A single copy of Necromentia helps against any deck that get named after a card i.e. Lotus Field, Greasefang, Winot- oops. One Sorin the Mirthless to bring some extra midrange and diversify our threats. Two Graveyard Trespasser and a Soul-Guide Lantern help against Phoenix or other graveyard decks. Two Go Blank to beat out midrange, control, or any deck that wants to hold cards in hand and play slow. They’re also good against Phoenix too. We round it all off with two Dampening Sphere, this card hates even more on Phoenix and Lotus field. However, do be warned that while it shuts down Nykthos, this really isn’t too much of a silver bullet against Mono-Green.
So is this the best rakdos deck? No, but it’s the spiciest, and the best rakdos deck you aren’t playing. I think if your meta is dominated by aggro and midrange decks, this will set you up to stomp people left and right. Mono Green is an abysmal matchup and Phoenix, even without Iteration, is difficult to race in game one. Play this deck if you like to gain very small amounts of value with every card you play, you like navigating very complex boards to find an optimal way to deal 2 damage and pass, or if you want to drop the coolest boss monster in Pioneer: Herald of Anguish. Another thing to note is that this deck is not cheap, but if you already have Rakdos midrange it costs maybe an additional $10 bucks. If you can master this impressive pile of value and sac your way to victory, you’ll be rolling in prize packs. Of course, if you do play Dumb Decks please @ me on discord or Twitter and share the Dumb Prizes you win!