• derek

Rakdos Burn - Standard

So, about a month or so ago I had posted a Rakdos burn list called Primal Punishment. It did about as well as I expected; posting a winning record, but just barely. Unfortunately for us, we were still waiting on a few key pieces to really make it shine. However, fortunately for us, with Ravnica Allegiance, we've been blessed with some powerful additions to the deck, making me completely rethink it's build, and in my opinion, a much scarier, more competitive list.


In this list, we completely swap out the creatures for a brand new package. We are running 4 Ghitu Lavarunner and 4 Viashino Pyromancer. In my original list, we were running cards like Guttersnipe, and while it can be a very effective card, having the ability for early aggro within this burn list, especially when it comes to Viashino Pyromancer (as it also shocks an opponent when it enters the battlefield), is extremely important. Ghitu Lavarunner is also a great turn 1 play, with the possibility of swinging in for 2 on the following turn after dealing 6 points of burn, effectively putting them down to 12 life by turn 2, not to mention if your opponent has shocked themselves for a turn 1 play. Lavarunner also provides for some surprise damage; having a hasty threat come in the mid game after your opponent has over committed to an attack can be just what this deck needs. I know these creatures have seen play in other burn lists, but there is a reason for it, they are powerful and they are very effective.

The Burn.

This is the exciting part. We have, effectively, 16 lightning strikes (or better) in Standard at the moment. And we are playing a play set of each: 4 Wizard's Lightning, 4 Skewer the Critics, 4 Lightning Strike, and 4 Sovereign's Bite.

Wizard's Lightning is the other main reason we changed up both of our creatures. For 2R we get an instant that deals 3 damage to any target, and if you control a Wizard (which both of our creatures are) then it costs two generic less to play, effectively turning it into a Lightning Bolt. Speaking of Lightning Bolt, we have our new one with Skewer the Critics, a 3 mana sorcery that becomes a sorcery speed bolt if an opponent has lost life this turn (yes another reason for more low to the ground, aggressive creatures.) Lightning Strike and Sovereign's Bite fulfills the other 8 slots of bolt damage. It is important to note that Sovereign's Bite is the only burn spell that does not damage any target, instead it forces your opponent to lose 3 life and you gain 3, so it may be what you want to cut against decks with Super Friends.

How do we win with all of this burn? Simple. Throw it at the face. All the time. You don't want to be killing their creatures if you don't have too. The only time I can see you killing a creature is if it will reliably make more creatures (like Hero of Precinct One), or if it would gain them life (Like Emmara). Instead, continually put pressure on your opponent's life total. Especially, since it helps us with our next section:

Card Advantage.

We have another complete swap out from our original punisher list. In RB Burn, we are running a play set of the familiar Risk Factor, but dropping Sword-Point Diplomacy down to 1, and in its place running 3 Light Up the Stage. Often times, Light up the Stage will fire for a single red due to its spectacle cost, instead of its normal casting cost of 2R, and with the added ability of being able to play the cards until our next turn, we can feel a little bit better about paying full price for it. Sword-Point Diplomacy was lowered to a single copy because in testing with the Primal Punishment deck, I often times held it in hand waiting to cast it.

So, I'd rather play a spell that I don't feel like I need to wait to cast, but it can still be a tremendous burn spell early or great card advantage late in the game. You want to wait to cast Risk Factor or Sword-Point Diplomacy when your opponent's life total is low, forcing them to let you refill your hand. Your early card advantage is Light up the stage and the next card we are going to talk about.

The other reason I dropped Sword-Point Diplomacy down to 1 copy was because we are also completely swapping out the original engine in the first take of the list, Primal Amulet. The initial idea was to double or triple up our punisher effects with a flipped amulet or two. While Primal Amulet is exceedingly powerful, it is slow and can be hard to provide reach against control. So, we are completely swapping out all 4 copies with a play set of Theater of Horrors.

Theater of Horrors is a very powerful enchantment. I still feel like it will mainly be a sideboard card against control; however, in this deck, where we need as much card advantage as we can get, it fits perfectly. For 1BR, we get an enchantment that has us exile the top card of our library. We can then play any card exiled by Theater of Horrors so long as an opponent lost life this turn (like what will happen naturally by playing a burn deck). The card also fuels itself as it has an activated ability of 3R to ping an opponent or planeswalker. And with most of our spells being instant speed, it can provide a great end of turn response if we don't feel too threatened by our opponent, or if we have nothing better to do that turn. It definitely deserves its slot.

The Twist.

We are also running a pair of Electrodominance in the deck as well. Not only does it provide late game reach, but it also allows us to do crazy things like pay 5 mana to bolt our opponent and then play a Theater of Horrors or Risk Factor for free, all at instant speed. The fact that Electrodominance allows us to skirt past timing restrictions makes this card extremely busted. I'm sure that it will see some fun homes in with Zacama ramp strategies, but for now it has a fun place in this deck.

The Sideboard Plan.

So far, this deck has been fairly cut and dry: play a land, fling fire at your opponent's face. But the sideboard offers some opportunity to tune our deck against hard to win match ups.

Against control we are running a pair of Banefire as a direct swap out with Electrodominance. We also have 3 Duress to catch your opponent's early spells. For aggro lists, we are running 3 copies of Fiery Cannonade, 2 Copies of Pestilence Spirit, and 3 copies of Bedevil. Bedevil is an extremely powerful card, allowing us at instant speed to destroy a creature, artifact, or planeswalker. So, it can also fit well in a match up against control decks running planeswalkers as their finishers. Fiery Cannonade is there to deal with the Mardu onslaught or the surprise tokens lists. Pestilence Spirit is our answer against mid game creature threats, as it gives all of our burn spells deathtouch. Not to mention being a 3/2 deathtoucher with menace, you can almost guarantee it is swinging in for damage every turn, forcing a removal spell or a two for 1 block. Either way, its great for you. Lastly, we are running a pair of Sentinel Totem. Phoenix decks aren't going anywhere. Neither is Golgari or other graveyard shenanigans. So, having a couple of ways to deal with graveyards will be imperative. Plus, that scry 1 is great.

Possible Changes.

If you are in a control heavy meta, I'd recommend swapping the Electrodominance in the main deck for 2 more Banefires. The ability to make a burn spell uncounterable is extremely satisfying. Another swap could be running a couple Squee the Immortal in place of the Pestilence Spirit, as you'll always be able to have a threat swinging in on the board.

Against more creature heavy metas, consider running either more copies of Pestilence Spirit and Fiery Cannonade but also hard board wipes like Ritual of Soot. If Mono Blue tempo or Mono Blue Control is seeing a ton of play in your meta, also consider running Lightning Mare as it can't be countered and can swing past your opponent's blue creatures freely, plus it is pumpable threat, in case your opponent is locking down your hand. Also, if you don't feel comfortable running Sentinel's Totem as your Phoenix hate, you can also run Lava Coil or Scorchmark to exile them directly.

In Conclusion.

All in all, I'm pretty proud of this one. I love burn decks, and I think this one hits the nail on the head. In initial testing, I was dealing huge swaths of damage in the early turns, even fighting through life gain. If you are looking for a list to bring to #FNM tonight, consider this list. I have a feeling your opponents will feel the burn.