Greetings, readers! In lieu of Christmas being three weeks away, and wanting to save my monthly Let’s Build article for that time, I’ve decided to instead continue on with my Top Soldiers series instead. This segment focuses on my opinions on what the top 10 non-legends and the top 3 legends of each color combination are. This week’s article focuses on the next color combination in the color wheel – the combination of black and red that is Rakdos.
Rakdos is very much about killing things. Whether it be destroying your opponent’s creatures, artifacts, graveyards or life totals, Rakdos’ flavor is synonymous with destruction, so you’ll see a recurring theme in what most of the cards here do.
Arguably, black-red’s multicolor pool is comparably weak to the rest of the color combinations, so you’ll see a bit lower card quality and less flexibility and complexity in the choices, but regardless of that, the choices of the top cards are all solid choices for spells for your deck, in my opinion. Without further ado, let’s begin with:
#10 – Fulminator Mage
Fulimnator Mage has proven its merit in Modern and ye old Extended in sideboards everywhere, but the Mage has a different role in EDH – mostly, its interaction with Mimic Vat. While the card is narrow (in that it only really plays well with recursion engines), it’s still great at what it does.
With the amount of nonbasic lands that people need dead – Cavern of Souls, Boseiju, Who Shelters All, Dust Bowl, Gaea’s Cradle, Reliquary Tower, Cabal Coffers, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Mistveil Plains – basically, the list goes on, and you get the idea. The effect is always very welcome, especially playing well with the likes of Sun Titan, Reveillark, Sheoldred, Whispering One, and other recursion engines that allow you to abuse what the Mage does.
#9 – Backlash
There are certain EDH strategies, such as Varolz, the Scar-Striped, Skullbriar, the Walking Grave, Kresh the Bloodbraided, that lend themselves to making massive monstrosities. A card like Backlash is the perfect answer to these sorts of build-a-bear-style creatures, and it’s a trick few players will see coming.
Obviously, a card like this is easy to counter with hexproof or protection, but the fact that it’s instant-speed means there’s a ton of blowout potential hidden in this card, and in the right metagame, this one’s a deadly roleplayer.
#8 – Master of Cruelties
Master of Cruelties may be a very combat-dependent creature, but he’s a very potent threat in control decks stacking board wipes. Being able to drop this after clearing the board and get in there to set opponents to 1 is a very powerful play indeed, either forcing your opponent to throw every resource they have at it or eating a tuck spell that means your general gets to wreak havoc.
It helps that he’s in red, the color of haste, as well. Pair this with either Fires of Yavimaya, Sarkhan Vol or Akroma’s Memorial for great success. Alternatively, Rogue’s Passage or a Sword of your choice will get him in there to do his glorious work. Suck it, Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice!
#7 – Dreadbore
Dreadbore is a one-line powerhouse when it comes to spot removal. Similar to spot removal you’ll find on the list of later guilds, Putrefy and Mortify, what makes Dreadbore one-up its cousin Terminate, as well as oft-bemoaned card choices such as Doom Blade, Go for the Throat and Murder, is that while Dreadbore is still a 1-for-1 at the end of the day, which isn’t really what you want to be doing in a multiplayer game, however, it has flexibility.
There are certain decks (such as my 5-color Scion of the Ur-Dragon control deck) that are ill-equipped to deal with Planeswalkers. Those decks typically tend to run things like Creeping Tar Pit or similar methods of removal, which are one-upped by both Tamiyo, the Moon Sage and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, among others.Dreadbore is a great fix to silver bullet cards you may find difficult to deal with in your meta.
#6 – Rakdos Charm
I am a long-standing fan of what Rakdos Charm does (though not as much as another Charm most people have become all too used to seeing me use these days), not only due to its sheer flexibility of its first two modes, but as well the hilarious plays the last ability is able to make.
For one, this card absolutely takes a dump on combo. Whether you’re blowing up Cloudstone Curio, exiling their graveyard in response to a Saffi Eriksdotter trigger, or saying “Suck it, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker!”, this card has a bunch of really neat and powerful interactions against combo. If combo isn’t prevalent in your meta, it derfs Avenger of Zendikar and Krenko, Mob Boss pretty hard, as well.
#5 – Din of the Fireherd
I’m not going to lie and say this card is fun to play against. I’m not going to lie and say this card doesn’t take a lot to make work. But I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s not absolutely brutal if you have the right setup.
There’s more than one way to derf the archenemy of the table, but in a black or red token shell (Krenko, Mob Boss alongside Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder, anyone?), this card can absolutely devastate even the most domineering board states. Of course, there are exceptions (notably, Sigarda, Host of Herons), but if you have even 3 red dorks when you cast this, the shenanigans this card alone allows are just dumb.
Also, Charmbreaker Devils is a thing.
#4 – Rain of Gore
Obviously, applications are narrow here, but there’s no denying that in the right setup, this card is stupidly powerful. (I feel like I’ve said that before in this article…hmm…)
Obviously, the card gets insane value against Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice, but aside from its somewhat narrow application, it’s a great card to supplement a deck inclined to be aggressive and fast. (Lyzolda, the Blood Witch comes to mind) The last thing you want your opponent to be able to do is recover from the hurt you’ve put on them.
Another plus this card has is the fact that it can and will draw hate. It may seem like a strange plus, but decks that want this effect will be able to hold off stray aggro while at the same time having a wealth of disgusting enchantments at their disposal to grind opponents out with that can freely wreak havoc when your opponents blow their enchantment removal on this (Painful Quandary, Price of Knowledge, Vicious Shadows, etc.).
#3 – Torrent of Souls
The color combination has plenty of interesting recursion engines, but one that deserves mention is Torrent of Souls. Tacking Zombify and Dynacharge together is actually a pretty insane effect when you consider that decks that want an effect like this either will have the creature tokens to make the mass pump relevant, key players they want on the board (Sheoldred, Whispering One, Grave Titan, etc.), or a creature that synergizes well with the mass pump that’s worth recurring (such as Hellrider).
#2 – Cauldron Dance
Cauldron Dance is very similar to Torrent of Souls, but in many ways, also very different. Regardless of that, the card is insanely powerful if you have the creature base to abuse it with. It’s also a very complex card, so allow me to explain:
The first thing you’re going to do is unearth a dead creature. If it survives combat, you get it back to your hand at the end step. This effect is absolutely fantastic with ETB’s (it’s basically just asking for you to cast this and target Grave Titan), as it lets you get the effect and then get it again when you inevitably cast the creature in question on your next turn.
Secondly, you get to put a creature from your hand into play, attack with it, and then sac it during the end step, similar to activating a Sneak Attack. Again, the effect lends itself to ETB’s, and works very well alongside other recursion engines (notably, Sheoldred, Whispering One).
Overall, the card is a huge beating if enabled properly. (I’ve used it in a 55-creature Rakdos, Lord of Riots deck to great success, myself) It’s very easy to abuse if you dip into other colors (Eternal Witness, Archaeomancer, etc.), and plays extremely well alongside flicker and reanimator alike, making it flexible, surprising and powerful.
#1 – Void
Void, if you’ll believe it, is one of my absolute favorite sweepers in EDH. Despite its narrowness in that there will be board states where it’s a glorified Terminate, there are a number of situations where it can be so much more than that.
For one, it destroys artifacts in addition to creatures. Artifacts are key players in EDH, and at most spots in the curve, there will be a valuable artifact alongside their valuable creatures that will end up being collateral damage to Void. Sol Ring, Mimic Vat and Caged Sun are just a few examples of cards that may just influence what number you may want to choose.
Secondly, it also makes a player reveal their hand and discard. Obviously, this portion of the effect is at its best against hand-heavy control decks such as Rhystic Study shells, but the fact that it targets while sweeping all players can mean that you sweep the aggro player while at the same time disrupting the control player, at the same time, while getting mana rocks, and for only 5 mana. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s kind of insane, don’t you?
The card also lends itself to being a great read for your opponents’ decks. For example, in a control-heavy meta, you may lean on 3 to nab Hinder or Rhystic Study. In an aggro-heavy meta, you may lean on 2 or 4 to get their utility beaters. Against midrange, you’ll want to get 6 to sweep their dumb bombs and silly artifacts and enchantments. Overall, the card has huge potential to strip insane amounts of resources from your opponents, making it unbelievably powerful in the right circumstances.
Now that we’ve gone over my picks for the top 10 non-legends, let’s move on to the legendary creatures. While I picked the three I did for multiplayer purposes, and I am slightly biased in my choosing, I really do have to give honorable mention to Lyzolda, the Blood Witch for being a pretty powerful 1v1 general. Now that that’s been settled, let’s dive straight into the top 3 legends, starting with:
#3 – Rakdos, Lord of Riots
Okay, so maybe I’m a little biased on this one. Rakdos has been a pet card of mine since its inception, when I figured I’d go ham and make a completely all-in 55-creature list and stuff every ridiculous Limited superbomb that I could manage to fit in there. I’ll tell you, though, when Rakdos works, boy, does he do work.
Obviously, enabling him takes priority. My personal favorite early creatures to use alongside him are Goblin Fireslinger and Tormented Soul, but there are other options, such as most Tims (Cunning Sparkmage or Lobber Crew are your best bets if you wish to go that route).
Once Rakdos hits the board, if you get in a hit with him, the gates of Hell themselves will open as you prepare to drop Wurmcoil Engine, Steel Hellkite, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Utvara Hellkite in the same turn. (Obviously, Magical Christmasland plays abound here, but it’s seriously possible if you draw stupidly well)
He’s vulnerable, he’s pretty predictable, and he’s got a few (glaring) weaknesses, but he’s incredibly powerful and can just end people insanely fast if you get the wheels in motion fast enough.
#2 – Kaervek the Merciless
Kaervek is a very powerful and very unique card all the same. Obviously, he’s a gigantic target, and will draw hate the likes of which you’ve never seen, but his ability to command an entire table is undeniable. If he hits the board, your opponents are at your mercy. Go ahead, cast that Blasphemous Act.
Being able to ping anything for every spell your opponents cast is just absurdly good value, it’s unreal. This guy eats utility dorks for breakfast, and when you’re not the archenemy of the table, Kaervek is absurdly good at dismantling whoever is.
Obviously, Kaervek is hindered greatly by his mana cost and the subpar combat stats you get for what you’re paying, but even that is simple to get around with a decent start and jamming enough mana rocks into your deck.
#1 – Olivia Voldaren
Okay, as much as I think Olivia is misrepresented, even I have to pay my respects to the world’s best lady boner and give Olivia the top spot. By herself, she’s an absolutely insane creature, and can commandeer an entire board if left alone or if she’s able to untap.
What I dislike so much is how people view Olivia. While it’s perfectly fine to make a tribal Vampire list around Olivia, it’s also entirely unnecessary. Olivia is no more a tribal general than Tymaret, the Murder King, and yet every single person I’ve ever seen build an Olivia Voldaren EDH deck has shoved every single Vampire creature they own into it and just get pooped on by sweepers.
What people fail to realize with a creature as powerful as Olivia is you don’t need to build around the word Vampire just because the word shows up three times in her card text. For the longest time, I was running a rather successful Big B/R Olivia list that featured just one other Vampire – Guul Draz Assassin. Honestly, the strength of a creature like Olivia is best brought out in a deck that can make full use of her activated abilities as opposed to a deck that just incentivizes your opponents to deplete you of resources entirely by tucking Olivia into your deck and then casting Wrath of God while you proceed to suck your thumb for the next 4 rounds until you draw your Diabolic Tutor.
Perhaps it’s just my distaste from some bad experiences revolving around her closer to her time of print, but I just think Olivia’s place really just lies in a more control-oriented shell rather than trying to jam her in aggro where she might as well gain additional line of text saying “Please kill me 2WW“.
There you have it; those are my picks for the top Rakdos cards of EDH. If you disagree with my choices, or want feedback on other cards I may have overlooked, please let me know. I appreciate any and all feedback.
Next week, we’ll continue on and look at the Gruul clan.
Check out my previous articles here:
Adapting to EDH Metagames:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454
Building on a Budget:
Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:
Hits & Misses of:
Dragon’s Maze -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
Innistrad - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2586
M14 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295
Theros - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2508
Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1606
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1595
Part 3 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2214
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2278
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2303
Part 6 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2310
Part 7 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2323
Part 8 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2336
Part 9 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2341
Part 10 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2525
Part 11 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2617
Let’s Talk M14:
Painting a Target:
Planeswalking and You:
Stacking Up Commander 2013:
The Slippery Slope:
Trial & Error: