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Deck of the Week: Modern Rakdos Blitz

Deck of the Week: Modern Rakdos Blitz

I've made no secret of my current disliking of New Standard. From the slow, grindy games to one of the three playable tournament decks ringing up at around $700.00, I've decided to sit out this years standard. Sadly, my taking a sabbatical from tournament standard has created a bit of a problem in House Pumpk1n; my fiance and I don't have much to play together.

Faced with this issue, I was faced with a few options. Invest in the shittiest standard environment in more than five years, convince both of us to play more commander or convince him to play the purest form of magic in Modern. It goes without saying that I can be very persuasive.

Combined, our collection is pretty expansive. Spanning more than a decade, most competitive modern decks are not that far out of reach. I say that not as a manner of bravado, but as an illustration that there are enough cards for myself to have three decks on standby, and still have enough for Zach and Chris Stachiw to dabble in Modern. However, like most magic players, the pockets are only so deep.

We needed to build a deck that not only fits Zach's play style, wouldn't drain the pocket book and compliment Zach's inexperience with Modern. Combo decks typically require some knowledge of not only your own weapon of choice, but of the meta game as a whole. This hurdle also knocks blue out of the running. However, just because we shouldn't play blue, doesn't mean that we can't play a control deck.

Well... maybe not a control deck in the traditional sense, but one that attempts to control the board by controlling the source of most threats; your opponent's hand. A deck like the one listed below follows a very simple, but powerful strategy. Chip away at one's hand then lay out a Phyrexian Obliterator or a Master of Cruelties.

Elysiun's Rakdos Blitz

Creatures (5)

3Grim Lavamancer
2Master of Cruelties
2Phyrexian Obliterator

Planeswalkers (4)

3Liliana of the Veil
1Chandra, the Firebrand

Artifact (1)

1Batterskull

Other Spells (25)

4Wrench Mind
4Blightning
4Inquisition of Kozilek
4Lightning Bolt
4Terminate
3Thoughtseize

Lands (25)

4Lavaclaw Reaches
4Blackcleave Cliffs
4Blood Crypt
3Dragonskull Summit
2Bloodstained Mire
4Swamps
4Mountains

One of the first things any modern player will notice is the mana base will simply not work in a format as fast and complicated as Modern. As Zach's first attempt at building a deck, the inexperience shows in the mana base. This is an illustration of how different tournament formats are from the kitchen table. Take a peek at a Jeskai Black Mana Base and you'll find your answer; 2 fetchlands are simply not enough.

Take a peek at a sample hand using this decklist

Sample Hand

1Lavaclaw Reaches
1Dragonskull Summit
1Thoughtsieze
1Wrench Mind
1Phyrexian Obliterator
1Blightning
1Lightning Bolt

Two turn one plays and no way to play it. That's no bueno. While this is certainly a worst case scenario, with a mana base like this, this is not outside the realm of possibility. Considering that in most games of Modern, you may see less than 40% of your library in your hand, stacking a deck with fetches is rarely the bloodbath that you may think it would be. Although going to 15 to cast Thoughtseize turn one kinda hurts, ten fetches will give us the fixing we need without needing to worry about losing too much life.

Lavaclaw Reaches in my opinion is also an easy cut. Although Manlands are effective in most control builds, I wouldn't recommend running a full set here for an important reason; speed. Speed if your best weapon in a deck such as this one. While the idea of having four lands that can swing in to an open board may sound appealing, when you need that red mana for a Blightning and your only land comes in tapped, you're gonna have a bad time. I'd recommend running Reaches as a one or two copy if not cutting it all together.

The spell suite here is pretty standard for a burn/control hybrid deck such as this. Although we'd love to run a fourth Thoughtseize, somehow we only own three, a situation that PucaTrade will assist me in fixing soon in the form of a Lorwyn foil. I really only see one thing that I would like to cut and that is Chandra, Pyromaster. The primary reason is that recurring spells in a deck like this isn't going to get us anywhere.

After cutting lands down to 23 and removing Chandra, we are left with three open spots. Filling those slots are two Bump in the Nights and a little known creature from Conflux; Nyxathid. With any luck, our attack of Wrench Mind, Blightning and Thoughtsieze will keep our Nyxathid as a 6/6 or hopefully a 7/7.

However, after six playtesting games against Ad Nauseum, Burn and Fish, I noticed something happening in each game... I was still drawing too much land. With Master of Cruelties our “flair” piece of the deck it stands as a bit of a sacred cow currently, so no further cuts can be made there, leading us back to the mana base. We have a bit of a problem.

Do we cut the mana down to a reasonable 21 and risk Master of Cruelties becoming a dead draw or cut Master to one, cut the land and add in more attack power on the front end. I am drawn to follow the latter. Our mana curve is already incredibly low, most games seeing Phyrexian Obliterator cast on turn four or five as a closer. If we were to drop the lands, I'm convinced we could still operate smoothly on three or four lands.

But what do we fill up those empty slots with? We're looking for something that not only attacks the hand, but could deal a bit of damage to the face as well. Actually, if this particular card destroyed a pesky Aether Vial or recurred a creature, that would be tits as well. If only...

DecisivePumpk1n's Ballroom Blitz

Creatures (7)

3Grim Lavamancer
1Master of Cruelties
2Phyrexian Obliterator
1Nyxathid

Planeswalkers (3)

3Liliana of the Veil

Lands (21)

4Bloodstained Mire
4Blood Crypt
3Wooded Foothills
3Polluted Delta
3Smoldering Marsh
2Swamp
2Mountains

Artifact (1)

1Batterskull

Other Spells (28)

4Wrench Mind
3Blightning
4Inquisition of Kozilek
4Lightning Bolt
4Terminate
4Kolaghan's Command
3Thoughtseize

You may notice that Bump in the Night is absent. I was wrong. In most games I played, I found myself almost regretting casting the black version of Lava Spike. Unlike my Naya Burn deck, hitting someone for three doesn't get us further along in the game, especially when they have cards in their hand. Adding the Rakdos command gives us a layer of defense that the deck otherwise lacked.

This is a perfect deck for something looking to get an intro into one of the deepest forms of Magic. Our path to victory is direct, but each game is sure to be different. Add in a very customizable sideboard, and you've got yourself the makings for your first steps into a brand new Magic career.

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