I received 2 messages over social media that my Rakdos Control deck helped them get 3-1 and 4-0 runs in Standard Showdown and MTGO respectively.
I tweaked the deck and turned it to a midrange deck in anticipation of very grindy match-ups and I wanted to have more win conditions that just Belzenlok and Chandra. The Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Gonti didn’t impress me but having a resilient creature that comes back and never gets tired of blocking is super attractive. Take note that it also costs 4 so Belzenlok will trigger again if he reveals this with his ETB ability.
Here’s what the deck looked like yesterday which bagged a 3-1 finish.
I also took the deck for a spin and got 2nd (3-1 record) with the following match-ups yesterday (May 10).
UW Control: 2-0 – the opponent didn’t draw the right counter spell for my cards and I managed to hit him with a Fight with Fire on the first game. Game 2 went to turns but he was already down to 3 and I have an active Chandra on the board.
Mono-green Monster: 1-2 – the games which I won were games that didn’t have the Llanowar Elf-into-Steel Leaf Champion. Choosing to mainboard Magma Spray over Fatal Push to deal with Scrapheap Scrounger and Khenras, I paid the price and had problems removing a 5/4 creature on Turn 2. Add Blossoming Defense into the equation and it was a struggle.
BW Vehicles: 2-1 – I lost the first game because I got mana screwed and couldn’t come back from back to back knights. Game 2 and 3 was all about packing as much removal and siding in Abrade over Cast Down (first build before Moment of Craving) because apparently, Heart of Kiran is a Legend! Rekindling Phoenix and Demonlord Belzenlok helped me get back into the game with card advantage. Arguel’s Blood Fast also helped me gain back some life by ETB-ing Belzenlok, and sacrificing it to avoid dying from its trigger while my life dwindles at 1.
Mardu Vehicles: 2-0 – Game 1 my opponent mulled to 5 and just fell behind the game from the get-go. Game 2 was close with him playing a bunch of creatures and I was beginning to run out of removal. I was able to stabilize with Rekindling and Belzenlok much later in game at 2 life and my opponent had a Chandra at hand waiting for his second red source.
Lesson’s I took from these matches is that I often win my games while barely staying alive myself. The combination of Belzenlok’s ability and Dark Bargain’s life loss is extremely taxing. There are points in the game I cannot cast Dark Bargain because I’d be dead.
Incorporating as much removal in the deck is key to winning the creature match-ups. But having life gain incorporated into these cards virtually gives us 2-cards worth of effects in one.
Jaya Ballard was the centerpiece of the deck when I designed it.The ability to add 3 red mana and just tap 1 black to cast a Dark Bargain was my sought after play sequence. Discounting a huge Fight with Fire the turn right after is also a fiery way to clearing the board off of creatures, walkers and sometimes the player.
The cons of playing Jaya is that it takes your turn away and you can either pitch your hand but have no mana left to cast it. The only way a turn 5 Jaya is good is when you have a Sweltering Sun to cast off of the 3 free red mana and clean the board for disgusting plays next turn. I have never actually managed to ultimate Jaya but if I ever did it would surely be an awesome experience.
I have been thinking about using Karn as well in the deck to improve my match-up against control decks in game 1. The card draw is super relevant and sometimes, Karn’s -2 ability might generate formidable threats if you have spare treasures lying around from the 4 (now 3) Treasure Maps we’re playing.
The main deck is not really an issue for me now. I expect the meta to still be composed of Mono Red, RB Aggro, BW knights/vehicles, Mardu Vehicles, Vampires and Mono-Green mostly. What I hate getting paired against is UW control that plays Torrential, Karn and Lyra. Because I have no ways to deal with Cast Out and Ixalan’s Binding, I need to find alternative targets for them to hit and spare my own Planeswalker.
Out of the 15 card slot for the sideboard, I think 5-6 slots dedicated for hand disruption is enough. I used to run 8, 4 Duress and 4 Doomfall but I now thing this is excessive. These become useless when they already managed to resolve a Teferi. Besides, we can’t discard what’s not in their hand and they usually draw these off of Azcanta or an end of turn Glimmer.
Sorcerous Spyglass was in my Antiquities War deck which I sideboard against UW so why not in this deck too. Not only does it shut down opposing walkers but it also shuts down Hazoret, Scarab God, Ballista and gives us a peak which is always nice.
I didn’t realize this card was actually quite good on top of Arguel’s Blood Fast. We may not be able to flip this consistently but the deck has ways to at least try. It gives us card advantage without spending any mana unlike Arguel. It also makes us draw less lands to make sure we net some playable cards when we tick up Chandra or Karn.
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner is looking to be a better sideboard card and can take the slot of Sweltering Suns against the control match-ups. We won’t be running Aether Hubs to draw off of Siphoner the turn after we play it but we should be able to draw incremental cards from it if the opponent decides to take out his Seal Away and Settle the Wreckage on game 2.
Another card that moved from the main into the side is Gonti. In certain match-ups he gives us a secondary angle of attack by using our opponent’s best cards. It’s also a great spell to lure a counter spell in fear of losing a great card to Gonti.
Here’s my current rendition of my Red Black Midrange which I plan to study further for GrandPrix Singapore.
4 Rekindling Phoenix
2 Demonlord Belzenlok
3 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1 Jaya Ballard
1 Karn, Scion of Urza
3 Magma Spray
3 Moment of Craving
3 Essence Extraction
3 Sweltering Suns
2 Fight with Fire
3 Vraska’s Contempt
3 Dark Bargain
Artifact & Enchantment: 4
3 Treasure Map
1 Arguel’s Blood Fast
4 Canyon Slough
4 Dragonskull Summit
1 Field of Ruin
1 Arch of Orazca
3 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
2 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
1 Vraska’s Contempt
1 Vance’s Blasting Cannons
1 Karn, Scion of Urza
Thanks for reading,