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Against the Odds: Rakdos Fireherd Devotion (Modern, Magic Online)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 170 of Against the Odds. Last week, it finally happened: after more than a month of coming in second place, Din of the Fireherd came in first on the Against the Odds poll! As such, we're heading to Modern today to see if we can make our opponent sacrifice a bunch of creatures and lands with the Rakdos sorcery, with a deck we're calling Rakdos Fireherd Devotion! The main plan of the deck is to ramp into Din of the Fireherd—hopefully with some red and black creatures on the battlefield—and trust that the sorcery will make our opponent lose enough lands and creatures that it will win us the game! What are the odds of winning with Din of the Fireherd in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Rakdos Fireherd Devotion (Modern)

The Deck

Din of the Fireherd is a tricky card to build around. On one hand, it requires a bunch of ramp, since it costs a ton of mana, but it also wants us to have a lot of black and red creatures on the battlefield to power it up, and black and red creatures aren't really known for their ramping prowess. While every color can ramp with things like mana rocks, mana rocks don't help power up Din of the Fireherd, which puts the card in a weird place. After a bunch of brewing, I finally realized that the best option might be a Rakdos Devotion shell using Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx combined with a bunch of hybrid red-black creatures to get the mana we need for Din of the Fireherd, with some powerful ramping planeswalkers as a backup plan.

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Din of the Fireherd is a pretty high-variance card. Its floor is we make a 5/5 and our opponent sacrifices a creature and land for eight mana, which isn't a great deal in a format as powerful and fast as Modern. On the other hand, its ceiling is a one-sided Armageddon combined with a Plague Wind that happens to leave behind a big Elemental, which is actually a pretty absurd card. In building around the sorcery, we need to separate things: enough ramp to actually cast the eight-mana Din of the Fireherd in a timely manner and enough red / black creatures to make it more of an Armageddon / Plague Wind than a souped up Diabolic Edict

The Ramp

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Challenge one of Din of the Fireherd is getting to eight mana before we're dead, which is tricky in a Modern format where multiple decks can kill on Turn 3 and many more can by Turn 4. Our main plan here is Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx along with a bunch of mana-intensive creatures, which we'll talk about in a minute. In theory, if we can get enough red-black hybrid and black / red mana symbols on the battlefield, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx along with just two other lands can give us the mana to cast Din of the Fireherd all by itself. Meanwhile, Veinfire Borderpost does double duty in our deck. It has mana symbols to help support our devotion plan; plus, we can always cast it naturally for three mana to go on the mana-rock ramp plan. Together, these cards help speed up our Din of the Fireherd by at least a couple of turns, hopefully making our namesake sorcery fast enough to be relevant in Modern.

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Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Jaya Ballard are our backup ramp plan. Not only do both of our planeswalkers add mana (with Jaya Ballard being an especially strong source of ramp, since it ramps us from five mana to eight mana for Din of the Fireherd all by itself), but they both offer additional upsides. Chandra, Torch of Defiance doubles as a source of card advantage or removal, while Jaya Ballard is great for digging through our deck to find Din of the Fireherd. Oh yeah, and they both put a lot of red mana symbols on the battlefield, so they help power up Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx as well!

The Creatures

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Demigod of Revenge is the most devastating creature in our deck, offering five red-black hybrid mana symbols for Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx while also counting as both a red and black creature for Din of the Fireherd. Thanks to Jaya Ballard and Faithless Looting, we have plenty of ways to get extra copies of Demigod of Revenge in the graveyard, so sometimes we end up getting two or even three copies for just five mana, which is a pretty solid deal. More importantly, if we have even a single copy of Demigod of Revenge on the battlefield, we almost certainly have enough mana to cast our Din of the Fireherd with the help of Nykthos, making it a weird hybrid ramp spell plus our best finisher, as hasty five-powered fliers close out the game quickly, especially if we manage to blow our all of our opponent's creatures and lands with Din.

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Apart from Demigod of Revenge, we have a bunch more Rakdos hybrid creatures to help power up our Din of the Fireherd. Fulminator Mage might look a bit weird in the main deck, but blowing up a land is a good way to slow the opponent down while we are waiting to get enough mana for Din, and it can be especially devastating against decks like Tron, which need specific lands to function. Meanwhile, Olivia Voldaren is either our best or worst creature. Olivia Voldaren is insane against opposing creature decks, requiring our opponent to have an immediate removal spell or risk Olivia Voldaren growing into a huge threat that kills or steals all of their creatures. On the other hand, Olivia is mostly just a flying Hill Giant against spell-based combo, which isn't very exciting in Modern. Finally, we have Murderous Redcap, which gives us a bunch of removal attached to a body, and thanks to persist, it can chump block and still remain on the battlefield as a red and black creature for Din of the Fireherd. Altogether, this gives us nine creatures that count as both red and black for Din of the Fireherd to help make sure our namesake sorcery is more Armageddon plus Plague Wind than Stone Rain plus Diabolic Edict

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Rounding out our creature base are two copies of Goblin Chainwhirler and three Young Pyromancers. The downside of both is that they are only red, so they don't force our opponent to sacrifice an additional creature to Din of the Fireherd, but in reality, blowing up our opponent's lands is typically more important than killing all of their creatures, and Goblin Chainwhirler and especially Young Pyromancer are helpful in this regard. Goblin Chainwhirler is mostly in the deck because it helps power up Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx by adding three red mana symbols to the battlefield, although it's also a good way of clearing away X/1s on our opponent's side of the battlefield, which in turn forces our opponent to sacrifice bigger, better creatures when we do resolve Din of the Fireherd. Meanwhile, Young Pyromancer occasionally makes a lot of 1/1 red Elementals as we cast our spells, which helps make sure that when we resolve Din of the Fireherd, we're blowing up most or even all of our opponent's lands!

Other Stuff

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Faithless Looting keeps us churning through our deck to find our Din of the Fireherd while also synergizing with some of our other cards (by getting Demigod of Revenge in the graveyard and making Elemental tokens with Young Pyromancer). 

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Finally, Fatal Push, Collective Brutality, and Dreadbore give us some ways to interact with our opponent in the early game, dealing with creatures and, in the case of Collective Brutality, also working as a Duress to attack our opponent's hand. Having some amount of removal and interaction is important, since Din of the Fireherd is so expensive—having ways to stop the early onslaught from our opponent means there's at least some chance we will live long enough to resolve our namesake sorcery.

The Matchups

Thanks to Din of the Fireherd itself, the matches for Rakdos Fireherd Devotion are pretty straightforward: we want to play against creature decks, especially midrange creature decks, which give us time to ramp into Din of the Fireherd. In these matchups, we have tons of good blockers and removal, along with Din of the Fireherd to eventually wrath away our opponent's board and win the game. Meanwhile, spell-based combo decks are our worst matchups, since Din of the Fireherd is too slow to really matter, and our random Rakdos creatures don't really do much to stop our opponent from comboing off on Turn 3. Control falls somewhere in the middle: our resilient threats and planeswalkers give us a chance, although getting a Din of the Fireherd hit by Remand is brutal. 

The Odds

All in all, we played six matches with Din of the Fireherd and ended up winning five, giving us an 83.3% match win percentage. We also won 11 of our 15 games, giving us a still-solid 73.3% game win percentage, making Rakdos Fireherd Devotion significantly above average for an Against the Odds deck. As for Din of the Fireherd itself, we did have some games where we won without it, but we also picked up a flawless victory (after ultimating Jaya Ballard, of all planeswalkers) and got a reasonable amount of value from it in other matchups as well. While it was sometimes a bit too slow, the combination of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and our planeswalkers meant we were able to cast it with some regularity, and just about every time we cast the sorcery, it ranged from good to game ending!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No Against the Odds poll this week, which means next week will feature a special episode! 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestion in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com!


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