Rakdos Aristocrats in the Local Meta

Updated: Dec 5, 2019

If you've checked the data lately, one thing sticks out: "go wide" aggro decks are as panoptic and successful as they have ever been - with a few exceptions, namely xTron, Dimir Control, and even a recent, 2nd place finish by UB Delver. As a longtime Pauper honk, it's good to see the Insect back among the elite. How long it will last, however, is unclear. With this in mind, I wanted to bring my own version of an aggro deck to a local Pauper event, without hopping on the Boros or Stompy bandwagon.

Even before the guilds were officially identified, B/R was my favorite color combination and was one duo that I have been tinkering with for a while, so that's what I decided to run with. To this event, I wanted to bring something to the table that 1 - I felt good about, 2 - was something I hope the field would be unprepared for, and 3 - was something that, when gone unchecked, could bring me home a pocketful of cash.

Well... here's how that unfolded.

1) Yes, I always feel good about B/R, regardless of archetype.

2) Yes, my assumptions were confirmed by the looks I received from across the table.

3) I went 0-3 on the night, so....

Look, I get bored easily. I'll admit it. Regardless of power and success, by the time I would sleeve up a Boros Tokens, or Mono-Yawn Aggro Whatever, the interest to run it in an actual event would be slim to nil. Researching league and event results, and reading countless Pauper articles is enough to anesthetize me to the meta as a whole, so when I need something spicy, I turn to the colors that are never flavorless. That's where Rakdos Aristocrats steps in to save the day, and my sanity. It's such an active and interesting deck that no doldrums are to be found. Your creatures evolve so quickly that your opponents will be forced onto a fast clock, without many useful answers.

Let's take a look at the list I played before I get into the many problems that unearthed themselves over the course of the night.

Rakdos Artistocrats:

By turn-3, of the very first game, I compared what was across the table from me to what I was seeing in the other games and I knew there was a problem - this specific event was dominated by GW Slivers and I had zero answers when facing 2 or 3 of the broken monsters, let alone a three foot long string of those sideways beasties.

You may think that the above looks a little light on lands and you would be right. Simply put, twenty is just not enough. Perfect example: I lost game 1 in four turns and as we headed to our sideboards, the sinking feeling in my gut only grew when my opponent remarked, "I'm not going to board anything because I don't know what you're playing. I just didn't see anything." That innocuous statement would resonate throughout the remainder of the evening.

Being a sacrifice deck, having only one more creature than lands total was simply not enough either. There were multiple games where I died while only controlling a 2/2 Beetle, or similarly-sized Carrion Feeder, and one random chump. Perilous Myr can be a powerful asset to have, though, as it can not only drop +1 counters on your guys, but can remove a small threat from their board. If you need it to, it can also smack your foe in the face for two damage. It's almost a 3-for-1, in that respect. However, when staring down the barrel of a Sliver shotgun, with seemingly endless amounts of ammo, shocking one dude is just not enough. It was never enough. Are you beginning to see a theme here?

I was able to steal a victory out of each match, but mostly due to dead draws by opponent(s) or an ideal draw on my part. Sadly, and painfully often, those ideals draws came after mulling down to 6 three times and down to 5 twice. It only took four games to realize that my sideboard was essentially useless against the field and, at least once per match, I didn't board at all. What good is a Doom Blade against infinite Slivers? Electrickery is dead in hand against a wide field of 3+ toughness creatures. And so what if I Edict or Flame Slash one of their guys - they'll only make more. Ingot Chewer is always a solid option, but essentially nothing more than a Joker when not a single artifact is to be seen.

The matchup where I found the most success - even though I still ended up losing - was against Goblins! Thanks to Thatcher Revolt, I was able to pump out enough chump blockers, and sac-ables, that I had no real issues with his red army. However, game 3 came down to a top-deck Goblin Grenade, and there is really no way around that. The Grenade is one of my all-time favorite Magic cards and I'm never salty to fall to one. I don't think it is any coincidence that its initials are GG.

In no game did I get to cast Bogardan Dragonheart, so don't ask... *sigh*

Also, Dash Hopes is just hilarious and I love it, so leave me alone.

This may seem like a pretty negative write-up and in no way am I trying to talk you out of giving this list a try because, when everything is firing, it's one of the most fun decks I have played in a long time. There is a lot of room for improvement, though. Heck... there is nothing but room for improvement here, not only to adjust to my local meta, but to the entirety of the format. I would love to hear what your changes would be and in which direction you think the sideboard can be taken.

Changes and improvements:

First and foremost, this list needs more lands. One basic Mountain should be 2-3, Bloodfell Caves can be cut to 2, and I found myself consistently wanting one copy of Rakdos Carnarium. Too often, I was sitting with a grip of red spells and no way to cast them. This isn't a Control deck, so going light on the tapped-lands is key.

Second, a full playset worth of creatures should be added - some productive sacrificials that leave a body on the field after they satisfy my Feeders. Grim Initiate and Doomed Dissenter come to mind and should see the battlefield in the next event.

Third, when this deck actually did what it is supposed to, I was still left without a way to push any combat damage across the frontlines. For that reason, I will be adding two copies of Temur Battle Rage and/or Crash Through. The latter is to add a bit of card advantage into the mix.

Lastly, Swirling Sandstorm is going to be a permanent addition to the sideboard, no matter in what future event I register this deck. Saturday night could have turned out drastically different if I just had that one sweeper. Live and learn.

The Rakdos guild is about pain and suffering and doing whatever it takes to achieve your goals, no matter the cost. I am not above embracing those ideals in order to improve this deck, one game, one match, one event at a time.