Rakdos Midrange [Standard]
I'm back into Standard after taking a break while the format was Mono-Ramp. Currently working with a Rakdos-Midrange deck which I've tweaked around and found a good configuration I'm happy with. Since the last dedicated Rakdos discussion post was about 13 days ago I figured I'd post a new one as the deck has solidified more in that time. Old thread My current Rakdos deck visual MTGGoldfish deck link
//Creatures (20): 2 Murderous Rider 2 Rankle, Master of Pranks 4 Robber of the Rich 4 Mire Triton 2 Ox of Agonas 4 Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger 2 Skyclave Shade 4 Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp //Non-creature Spells (21): 4 Tymaret Calls the Dead 2 Eliminate 3 Bloodchief's Thirst 3 Hagra Mauling 4 Shatterskull Smashing 1 Spikefield Hazard //Lands (19): 6 Swamp 4 Mountain 1 Castle Locthwain 4 Fabled Passage 4 Temple of Malice //Sideboard (0): 2 Blacklance Paragon 2 Agonizing Remorse 1 Cling to Dust 2 Pharika's Libation 3 Storm's Wrath 2 Soul-Guide Lantern 2 Shredded Sails 1 Duress
Since the last thread the biggest change seems to be people are moving away from Magmatic Channeler. I tested it and arrived independently at the conclusion the card is hot garbage in this deck. It was never a card advantage engine when I needed it to be, it was never a big body when I needed it to be, it doesn't really fill the graveyard and when you empty the graveyard it gets worse. I was just never in a spot where I was happy to be playing it and since I've seen less and less of them showing up in decklists the past few days I think most people agree. Anyways let's talk card choices.
Mire Triton, Tymaret Calls the Dead, Kroxa Titan of Death's Hunger, Ox of Agonas : The core of the deck. I can't imagine running less than 4 Triton/Call/Kroxa or less than 2 MD Ox. This is the package that fuels your graveyard and lets you grind out late games.
Bonecrusher Giant : Most lists run 4, I've seen a few with 3. Just a great 2-1 value card that lets you be aggressive or grindy depending on the situation. Exactly what you want to be doing in a BR midrange deck. Don't be timid to skip the adventure and just drop the 4/3 as it's often the correct play.
Rankle, Master of Pranks: Most lists are on 2-3 Rankle. Just an all around great card that will steal many games when used wisely. I actually find myself using his draw option the least. Rakdos will absolutely crush most decks when both players are in topdeck mode because of your escape options. Some people new to this deck will likely be a tad too eager to use the draw mode when discard/no draw is correct more often in my experience, so just a heads up.
Bloodchief's Thirst: One drop removal on curve or 4 cmc removal later that hits anything. Most list run 2-4. I settled on 3 because the 4 drop slot is a little packed already.
Eliminate and/or Heartless Act: You're going to want some instant speed removal for 2. A lot of lists run some kind of split. I started with a 3-2 split and eventually whittled down from 3, 2, 1, to zero Heartless Act mostly because my 3/4 drop removal + Thirst handles everything it does and more. The biggest knock against Heartless is it doesn't kill Scavenging Ooze which is a card you always want to answer immediately and RG is probably the top deck to beat right now.
Murderous Rider: Good 2 for 1 value and (very importantly) kills Planeswalkers and creatures at instant speed. If you face mono-red do not be shy to drop this as a 2/3 lifelinker if it keeps you on curve though it's usually incorrect in other matchups to do so.
Robber of the Rich: The newest addition. Honestly I'm not in love with this but I've been testing it MD after seeing others run it. Count on it almost always just being a 2/2 haste creature as your opponents top deck is rarely better than your other options. This card comes out in sideboards more than any other but it existing in the MD just improves control matchups so much at this point it's hard to justify moving it to the SB.
Skyclave Shade: I've seen 0-4 MD. It seems like a lot of people have moved away from MD Shade as it's usually abysmal in Aggro matchups. I'm currently running 2 MD just because it's so great at grinding out games if you aren't on the back foot where you need a blocker. Always cut along side Robber in aggro matchups though I usually keep these for midrange where Robber comes out. If you aren't running MD Shade I would suggest at least 2 in the sideboard. It's a difficult to manage recursive threat that can be a free roll out the graveyard that your control/midrange opponents will be unhappy to see more often than not.
Liliana: Okay so I realize a lot of lists run 2x Lili. I tried her and was not at all impressed. Most often she was a sorcery speed removal spell that could randomly be turned off if your graveyard isn't fat then she would immediately die. I don't think this is a popular opinion at this point judging from decklists, so draw your own conclusions. I don't see myself adding her back to the maindeck in any situation and currently don't even run her SB. I run the Shades in what I guess is her spot and I'm happy with that. Someone please tell me what the appeal is here because I don't see it. Spell Lands
Hagra Mauling, Spikefield Hazard, Shatterskull Smashing, Pelakka Predation, Agadeem's Awakening: Most lists are running 6-9 spell lands along with 19-20 regular lands. Shatterskull is the MVP of the bunch IMO. Vs slower decks you can afford to bolt yourself to play it untapped and vs. Aggressive decks it can be a mid/late game 2-for-1 that swings the entire match. Anytime you are playing as midrange and you can get a 2-for-1 option in a land slot I'd take it. Some lists run as few as 2, I moved up the ladder from 2 to 4 after much play testing and don't anticipate going back. The next in line is likely Hagra Mauling which I've seen as low as 1 but more commonly 2-3. I landed on 3, just because it's a great removal card and I need the black spell lands. Spikefield Hazard and Agadeem's are likely tied for 3rd/4th best. Agadeems can be randomly great and has the bolts into play untapped option, the main issue is most lists run no 1 drops and are light in non-2 drops in general. It's also not the best synergy with escape eating your graveyard, which you will be doing constantly. If I moved to a list where I had a more varied cmc on my creatures or some 1 drops I'd be much more excited about this. Still even just randomly returning a Kroxa your opponent didn't think you could fuel can be big game so I could use more testing with this, I currently run 0. Spikefield seems much worse than Agadeem's and it certainly would be in a different meta. Fact is it's just great vs. some of our harder and more important matchups, namely GR and mono-red. Having a 1 drop instant speed answer for the many X/1s in red based aggro decks is big game, since it gets you to the later game with a higher life total where you are favored and the floor is CIPT land when that's not important. I've gone from 3 to 1 and could see going to 0 or back up to 3 as the meta shifts. Pelakka Predation, IMO just not where you want to be right now. I'm already having good matchups against any deck where I would want this type of effect and 3 mana often means taking a turn off the cast it, which is not where you want to be. I've seen people running it but less and less as time goes on. Other lands
Castle Locthwain: You definitely want one. I could see 2 but be warned we are light on swamps and heavy on CIPT lands and since we are escaping cards being empty handed with nothing to do with our mana is less common than with other decks.
The rest of the land base needs no explanation.
My current sideboard
2 Blacklance Paragon: Great vs. RG and Mono-Red. I was running Nighthawk Scavenger's too but I'm just seeing less and less Mono-Red so I cut those.
2 Agonizing Remorse: Our Thoughtsieze variant, you know what time it is. The exile and graveyard option is clutch in this format. Comes in vs. the mirror and control/Ramp decks.
1 Cling to Dust: Usually comes in when opponent is bringing in cling or vs. the random decks where it makes sense.
2 Pharika's Libation: I'm mainly testing this slot for the G matchup as an answer to the G God and Akroan War. Of course that matchup is usually a grindy one from our end so the sac effect can be useful as well.
2 Shredded Sails: Answer for Embercleave that cycles. That's about all there is to say. It hits fliers too but I've never brought it in unless I was expecting my opponent to play a Cleave.
3 Storm's Wrath: Vs aggro decks I'm often on the grind them out plan post board and this is a key part to that plan. This card is especially important in my RG postboard where it cleans up most problem creatures outside of Lovestruck Beast or a Scavenging Ooze who's overstayed his welcome. It even cleanly answers Vivian the turn after she comes down. I bring these in vs aggro and most midrange but I don't bother with it vs. Rogues. Winning that matchup is usually more about putting on pressure until they break than sitting around trying to out control them.
2 Soul-Guide Lantern: Vs. the mirror and random graveyard jank engine decks I see from time to time.
1 Duress: Figure it out.
So currently I'm very happy with the deck. Favorable Matchups
Rogues/UB Control : They can't really get anywhere without filling the graveyard which means they are fighting the battle on two fronts. It's not an easy matchup but if you play tight and don't stumble on mana it feels very favorable.
Yurion decks: They just have a lot to react to and I'm able to start applying pressure early then keep the pressure coming into the late game with the graveyard plan which makes it hard for them to stabilize.
Temur Ramp: I put on pressure early and they don't have much interaction until late in the game. By that point they don't have much of a life buffer to defend with. Note my build having 2/2 haste creatures MD is a big reason I feel a lot of these slower matchups are so favored.
Golgari Adventures: I don't think this is a great deck to be playing right now anyways but their 1-for-1 removal plan is not where you want to be against a grindy graveyard engine deck. Roughly even matchups
GR Adventures: I feel like they may be slightly favored by a couple % against my specific build but with some adjustments that favor could be shifted back to my side. The biggest issue is the G god, which has no clean answers. This is just another one of those cards that make me wonder what R&D is smoking and why they though RG of all colors needed an unanswerable life leaching graveyard hoser. I'm testing Libation here after losing a string of close games almost entirely to getting drained for 10+ life by Klothys which conveniently put my opponent just outside of a life total I could kill them at before dying. Yay color pie. No early Klothys and it's usually just a matter of trading resources and grinding them out. Bad matchups
Mono-Red: With my current configuration this is pretty abysmal but it could get better with some tweaks. I've just seen less and less Mono-Red as I think it's outclassed by RG so I'm less worried about it and adjusted accordingly. Borderline Unwinnable Matchups
Cycling: Without a ton of luck you aren't sliding out of this one alive. Luckily this deck is pretty trash vs. top tier decks so it's not very common.
submitted by Sad_Settings
Let's Talk About The Elderspell
Before we get started, let's read the card that you probably aren't playing but definitely should.
The Elderspell - BBSorceryDestroy any number of target planeswalkers. Choose a planeswalker you control. Put two loyalty counters on it for each planeswalker destroyed this way.
Okay, so straight up, I wouldn't touch this with a 10 foot pole in any other format, including Modern. In Modern, Planeswalkers just aren't that common outside of the occasional Teferi and W&6, but in Pioneer? With the exception of some odd decks like "Oops, All Spells," there is not a single list in Pioneer with 0 Planeswalkers in the 75, not off the top of my head anyway. Niv-to-Light plays Nahiri, Yorion Piles play Narset, T3feri is prevalent in any deck that supports his colors, hell, even RDW has Chandra, Torch of Defiance. So yeah, Planeswalkers are pretty important in this format, so decks need ways to fight them, and, well, enter The Elderspell.
The Floor: The worst this spell can be is a simple 2cmc destroy target planeswalker at sorcery speed. All things considered, while that's not the best rate, it's far from the worst. 2 mana, destroy target planeswalker, no questions asked? Not bad. Sorcery speed? A.) does it really matter with T3feri everywhere? B.) Does it really matter with Planeswalkers in general? Sure, if you're a draw-go strategy, casting spells on your own turn rather than your opponent's can sting, but Planeswalkers kinda laugh at instant speed removal. They come down, opponent maintains priority, then they use it and get value, and then you get the chance to Swift End the sucker. So, yeah, waiting until your turn to deal with a walker isn't the end of the world unless you are really looking to hold up mana for interaction. So all in all, 2cmc destroy target planeswalker, sorcery speed. Not the best rate in the world, but dammit, it's far from the worst, but the floor isn't what we're really here to talk about.
The Ceiling: Oh-My-God! The ceiling on this card is limitless, literally limitless because it can destroy any number of Planeswalkers! So Assuming your opponent has two Planeswalkers out, this is already a 2cmc 2 for 1? Now that is some good rate right there! 3 planeswalker? Get out of here! Yorion Fires is still a deck btw, popping this sucker off against a board flooded with walkers on your opponent's side is probably enough value to end the game or in the very least reset the playing field for your opponent.But it doesn't stop there, oh no, it doesn't stop there guys, because there is still one last line of text this sucker has on it: "Choose a planeswalker you control. Put two loyalty counters on it for each planeswalker destroyed this way." Assume the following. You played Nissa, Who Shakes the World last turn and plused her to 6. Your opponent untaps, and plays a Narset, Parter of Veils. Now, when you untap, you can Elderspell their Narset, put 2 counters on Nissa, putting her to 8... and the ultimate her and flood the board with indestructible forests. Assuming you killed one Planeswalker because it's two for each planeswalker destroyed this way, so the more the merrier. And this isn't too unrealistic, if every deck in the format is playing Planeswalkers then I'm 99% sure that means that you're playing planeswalkers.
So yeah, IMHO, The Elderspell is just way too underplayed and underrated when it comes to Pioneer considering how many Planeswalkers are running around in the current meta.
EDIT: I realize that my post makes it sound like this is a MB card, which it ofcourse isn't, I'm advocating for it as a SB card, sry, I should have specified.
submitted by Emuron5