It turns out that EDH is a thing and lets you pick one of those fancy legends you own and turn them into a shiny general giving them purpose were otherwise they might have none. Rakdos, Lord of Riots as it turns out meets all the requirements, he is a magic card, he is a legend and as a plus he has a flaming Mohawk. These are all things I carefully consider before carelessly beginning my drunken spiral down into the mad, mad world of Rakdos.
I would love to say I am an original when it comes to Rakdos as an EDH general but I have met at least one other Rakdos player, but I likely did it before them which makes me the winner. Aside from hipster bragging I have come to wonder why my favorite EDH general seems so unloved. He is aggressively coasted and has a ludicrous ability on top of sold power and toughness. Even his draw back amuses me to no end and presented a much more interesting challenge then I ever imagined when I began to build the deck. On top of that he is red black and if you do not like red black then your likely into some other colors, good for you.
You can not really talk about the strengths of Rakdos unless you are ready to talk about the issues he brings. The first and for most being, you can only play Rakdos if an opponent loses life on your turn. This one issue will shape your entire deck, because a solid Rakdos deck needs its general to swing out to start laying down the pain. Its all about that reduction to the cost of creatures spells from life loss. This means three mana and lower is your most crucial time. You need cheap ways to deal the damage you need to play him. Many may think that a lightning bolt or a chain lightning will do and it can but I find consistent free damage to be the best way to go. Two reasons, first being everyone is going to shoot Rakdos dead so to be able to hurt your foes over and over is key, two the less mana you spend bring the big guy out the more you have to cast monster spells. Early on when you really need him every mana will count. To wit I propose things like Prodigal Pyromancer, Lim-Dul’s Hex and Lobber Crew. You should have 5 to 7 of these cards give or take to insure consistent Rakdosing in every opponents diet.
Your second issue, or at least my second issue was learning to play like a crazy person. Rakdos is the Lord of Riots and even without intending it my deck became almost as dangerous to me as it was to my enemies. There is no holding back and no brakes on the Rakdos party bus, and if you can’t win you can die by your own hand in a blaze of glory (Ideally). Phyrexian Arena, Havoc Festival, Heartless Hidetsugu, Kothophed, Soul Hoarder are some of the great pain cards you can run. Rakdos is high risk high reward and if you are not bleeding out as drag everyone down with you, then you sir or lady should use another general.
Next we move away from the draw back and into the obvious, you are red black, bring tons of murder spells! When things are going poorly or you just can not get your general out just kill everything you can. Kill spells also insure your damage gets through which is key. I mean do I need to cover this? Why not! Chaos Warp, Terminate, Dreadbore and flesh bag marauder, I mean go nuts, paint everything red. I ended up not running any straight red zap spells but there is no reason you should not try some out. We can also cover another quick point… attack more! World at war, aggravated assault and insurrection are tones of fun. Drop down a bunch of heavies and swing out again or better still invite all the neighbors to the party.
We have talked a lot about what should happen in a Rakdos deck but now we cover the hole reason for the season. Big honking creatures, insert any massive creature that is either red, black or colorless and you will travel. This comes down to taste really but some winners for me are Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, Molten Primordial,Purphoros, God of the Forge and Maga, traitor to mortals. Getting things that are indestructible helps a lot because people will want to kill your big nasties as fast as they can. This point is pretty straight forward really cast huge monsters for next to nothing and kill everyone. These huge creatures often come with huge effects that can change the face of the battle field in a heart beat. Nothing is better then watching your foe’s crumble as you empty a legion of nightmares beyond anyone’s imagination onto the table in one go. Any huge creature your sick little mind wants to invite to the hoe down is likely a good idea so knock yourself out champ.
So if I can just put my soap box aside for a moment now that I think all my points have been clearly made, I’ll just wrap this one up. Your old uncle Rakdos is your agro buddy and he will never tell you to stop lighting things on fire. Rakdos is a deck that erupts to life without warning and dies away just as fast. He’s a roller coaster and everyone on board has a flame thrower they are required by law to use. He is a hard nut to crack, finding the balance among all the insanity but if you can, boys and girls you are sure to have a blast.
Rakdos, Lord of Parties
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