Monday, 17 April 2017
Radkdos Madness Deck Wins
Rakdos has always been a limited colour pairing with few archetypes and fewer still good ones. There are some obscure combo decks you can make work in Rakdos but those are not usually supported in cube which leaves only Reanimate/Sneak Attack style decks in that vein. There is also the Rakdos component in Grixis Delver, Grixis control and Jund builds. Lastly there is RDW as in Rakdos deck wins. This last thing was never something you wanted to go into, it was something that occurres when your red deck is bad and you need the support of a second colour. There are actual good reasons to splash white, blue or green into a base red aggressive deck. When you go into black it is because you don't have enough playables in mono red and it is the only thing open. Black and red have pretty poor synergy with each other. Neither can kill enchantments, both have a tendency to hurt you and there just isn't that much one colour wants from the other in the more conventional creature based decks. The best cards just work badly with each other, do you run Vortex, do you run Dark Confidant or do you just cross your fingers and run both?
With Amonkhet came two new red one drops, three new black ones and a selection of good supporting cards in those colours a little higher up the curve. Black and red got more love in one set than you typically get from two years worth of cards. Sufficiently so I think to turn Rakdos Decks Wins into a tier one archetype you might choose to go into rather than being forced that way out of necessity. Not only did Rakdos get a pile of new cheap and potent tools to play with but it also began to form a sort of synergy or theme to work with not unlike the introduction of prowess and the rise of Izzet tempo. The theme is discarding cards, something black and red were both already pretty good at. There has always been some things that are beneficial to discard, recurring creatures, flashback stuff, madness stuff etc. but it wasn't quite enough things of quite enough power to be worth forcing a synergy around them. With the support from Amonkhet that too seems like it might change.
This is an example list of what I think the archetype will roughly want to look like. I haven't tested any of the new cards yet with Amonkhet not being out yet. I have kept it low to the ground as that is typically a good way to start out investigating an aggressive archetype. I have also refrained from playing any exotic things that are unlikely to be found in most cubes. There are piles of great cards you can work into this kind of list but most are pretty narrow. Some of those cards may make an entry into the cube if this archetype proves its worth but to do that it needs to be a viable thing with only the synergies from the cards that are stand alone good enough. I didn't even include all the best new cards for these colours from Amonkhet, notably Harsh Mentor. I thought it best to keep the unknowns down and focus more on the synergy cards as a starting out point.
Heir to Falkenrath
Wheel of Fortune
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Ruthless Sniper and Flameblade Adept are the two new big cards you want to enable with discard. The Battlefield Scavenger and to a lesser extent the Bloodfury Militant help enable them. Dread Walker is just a fine dork that happens to have some synergy with discard mechanics. I also threw in Bone Picker, more because I want to test it out and to show an example of the kinds of places it can be good. It does not have any specific synergy with the deck beyond being cheap and aggressive.
There is a lot of wiggle room in the design space for this deck, mostly I have filled potential spaces with solid stand alone cards like Dark Confidant, Dreadbore and some burn. These could be replaced with madness cards like Stormkirk Occultist and Fiery Temper if you had access to them and wanted to push the synergies even further. There are plenty more potent things you can use to enable any extra synergies you might add such as Smuggler's Copter. You can go deeper down the rabbit hole and play things like Flamejab, Deathspark, Circling Vultures, Squee (Goblin Nabob), Insult // Injury. Mox Diamond, Forgotten Cave, Barren Moore, Pale Rider of Trostad, Pack Rat, and so on and so on. Some of these cards are far from cube worthy, some are but they are a little more work to include or perhaps a little polar. A lot depends on how the deck works out. It might just want good stand alone cards or it might only be worth doing if you push the synergies. My guess is that the former is the best route to go and so we won't be adding narrow graveyard synergy cards just yet.
In terms of play this should be somewhere between a RDW list and an Izzet tempo list. It has a higher threat density than both but it likely not as quick as the RDW due to less burn. It makes up for this with much more longevity courtesy of the recursive stuff and other card advantage effects on the go. Broadly this is just another aggro deck that wins by having good cheap tempo cards but it does have some slightly better matchups than RDW or white weenie or any other variant of such decks. Not only will this be a real chore for control decks to control but it will also be very effective against other decks running lots of little creatures. Not really intentionally but a lot of the things that work well in this deck are good in the mirror. The removal spells and effects get value or tempo or both and the threats are more dangerous or more resilient. Another advantage of this kind of deck is the ability to hedge. In a RDW list you do not want any fluff, it all wants to be damage and good cheap threats. In this list there is so much utility from discarding cards that you can afford to run cards like Dreadbore and Wheel of Fortune.
As a two colour aggro deck it will never be as consistent as the mono coloured versions unless they are really bad and have only a couple of one drops. That being said this seems incredibly consistent. It may not quite have the same level of card quality as an Izzet tempo list but it has way more redundancy and robustness which should more than make up for that. In the Izzet lists you have to take a tempo hit to play a Serum Visions or something so as to have the things you need. In this Rakdos list your synergies just kind of happen as part of what you are doing. There are also just a lot more good one drop threats for this Rakdos list than there are for Izzet tempo.