Top 8 Rakdos Cards
I don’t usually go for theme weeks, but I do like telling stories, and Rakdos Weeks seems to be a good enough excuse for me to tell a few. I also really like making lists, much like Liam Neeson. This isn’t necessarily a list of the most powerful Rakdos cards—they’re just ones that I have personal connections with, so keep that in mind before you start making the obligatory what-about-card-X? comment. It’s not the list, it’s my list.
Let’s get this party started!
8 – Sarkhan the Mad
These days, most of the times I have a Sarkhan the Mad out it’s been because it’s in my Cube deck, but I really do appreciate the design of this card. Most planeswalkers follow the same kind of cookie-cutter formula, so I love it when they take a risk and shake things up.
7 – Terminate
Terminate is like the basic land of kill spells. There are always other cards that do kind of the same thing or give you other options, usually at an increased cost. Your whole mana base could be nonbasics if you wanted, but almost every deck out there has some number of basics, just there, keeping it real. Sometimes, you just want to play a Mountain and tap it for
Lim-Dul's Paladin evokes a lot of those memories for me. First, the art is amazing. He reminds me of the Dragon Highlords from Dragonlance, a series of books I was really into at the time. His abilities were unique and interesting. Upkeep drawbacks were nothing new, but they usually had you paying mana or sacrificing a creature, but discarding cards was a novel concept. If your opponent doesn’t block, he takes 4, but if he does block, it becomes a six six. This was back when I thought Craw Wurm was among the best creatures in Magic because “it’s freakin’ huge, man!” A 6/6 trampler for 4 mana was just unreal.
I always try to find room for Lim-Dul's Paladin in my Cubes, and I still become excited any time someone attacks with it.
5 – Olivia Voldaren
Olivia has been seeing some Modern play since Yuuya Watanabe’s singleton copy at the Magic Players Championship was one of the defining moments of the finals. She’s become one of the more important Jund mirror-breakers, and as long as Modern is around, you’ll have to face her wrath.
4 – Demonfire
There’s no way I can top Gerard Fabiano’s Demonfire story:
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a Rakdos's Return, you know how much of a blowout it can be. Though it might be overshadowed by Sphinx's Revelation, this bastard offspring of Fireball and Mind Twist is proving to be a powerhouse in Standard. Take former U.S. National Champion Ali Aintrazi’s Top 16 deck from Grand Prix: Charleston:
"Ali Aintrazi’s Five-Color Door"
Angel of Serenity, Griselbrand, and Garruk, Primal Hunter in the same deck? Geez, I haven’t seen mana this sketchy since I played Cryptic Command and Cloudthresher in the same deck. Chromatic Lantern certainly helps a lot, I supposed. I can’t stay mad at any deck that plays a Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, which has long been a pet card of mine.
Ali’s deck doesn’t have any counterspells, but if a control deck ever taps out against him, boom! Rakdos's Return! Lose your hand and kill your Jace, thank you very much.
Return to Ravnica has scarcely been out for three months, but Rakdos's Return will no doubt feature prominently in many decks for as long as it’s Standard legal.
I’ve gone on record a few times saying that I think Rakdos has the best Guildmage. Selesnya may have the late-game inevitability, but Rix Maadi Guildmage dominates the early game like nobody’s business. Before I went busto on Magic Online, Rix Maadi Guildmage was a big reason I won any Drafts at all. Martin Juza’s Draft deck from the Top 8 of GP: Philadelphia featured no fewer than three copies of the powerful Shaman:
"Martin Juza’s Rakdos Draft"
This is among the best Rakdos Draft decks I’ve ever seen, and I think Juza easily had the best deck in the Top 8. Not to take anything away from Shuhei Nakamura, but he happened to have a really good anti-Rakdos deck while Juza was stuck on three lands in Game 1.
Even though I’ve more or less rage-quit Return to Ravnica Limited, I still look back fondly on Rix Maadi Guildmage.
Since I typically like to play control decks at Friday Night Magic, I lived in fear of Demigod of Revenge the whole time it was in Standard. Obviously, I had among the best blue cards ever, Cryptic Command, as a four-of in every deck I played, but that wasn’t always enough to defeat this menace. Your margins of error are pretty darn slim when you have to play around the possibility that your opponent might draw his third Demigod and smash you for 15 after you wipe the board. I don’t know what kind of planet you live on where you have time to leave 4 mana up after wrathing against a Rakdos aggro deck, but it sure as heck isn’t mine. I’ve definitely lost my share of games to an onslaught of Demigods from beyond the grave. Take a look at David Larsson’s GP-Copenhagen-winning deck:
"David Larsson’s Hybrid-Red Aggro"
The success of this deck was single-handedly responsible for me stockpiling Snow-Covered Mountains like they were going to be the currency of a post-nuclear apocalypse. I stockpile bottle caps for the same reason. In a Rakdos deck that can reliably cast it, Demigod of Revenge is a scary way to close out a game against pesky blue mages (like me) who think they’re safe at a measly 10 life.
1 – Bituminous Blast
"Crazy Cascading Ketita"
This was probably among the most fun decks I’ve ever played, mostly because all your cascades were insane. My favorite cascade story involved casting an Enlisted Wurm, which cascaded into Bituminous Blast, which cascaded into Ajani Vengeant. It’s incredibly exciting any time someone casts a Bituminous Blast, and for that reason, it’s my number-one Rakdos card.
Cube Drafts are coming back to Magic Online later this month, so for fans of Drafting with Big Nass, I’ll definitely be recording a few of those. I’m curious to see how many non-first-pick Sol Rings I end up seeing. As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you guys next time.
arcticninja on Magic Online