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Budget Commander: Rakdos, Lord of Riots ($40)

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Ain't No Party Like a Rakdos Party

Blue / White control players can be a total buzzkill at a party. You're with your friends having a good time when suddenly Control shows up (late) with a laundry list of complaints: the music is too loud, he's allergic to all the food, people aren't listening to him, and on and on and on. Before you know what happened, the music is lowered / changed to Celine Dion, the beers are replaced with decaf espresso, and all other conversations are hushed while Control goes on a rant about how Jurassic World is full of scientific inaccuracies. The mood of the party shifts to sullen compliance, watching Control suck up all the fun in the room like a sponge. How do we save the party?

Rakdos is our answer: here are the tools to cut loose and go wild, blow stuff up, and get everyone involved again. No more politics, no more awkward staring contests while biding time and doing nothing; the party has been cranked up to 11, so you either get up and dance or get trampled underfoot. Welcome to the Rakdos party!

This is the Rakdos way. Your blow up everyone's permanents. You make people discard their hands. You deal damage to everyone indiscriminately, forcing them to stop durdling and defend themselves or else lose. Your sweet fattie creatures get hasted and swing for big damage. Games end fast. It's exciting, it's fun, and it gets people involved.

Welcome our commander, Rakdos, Lord of Riots. He's a simple, straightforward kind of demon: all he wants is an opponent's life totals to go down. Do that and you get an undercosted 6/6 flying trampler for only 4 mana that also ramps your creature spells. Accelerating out your creatures is amazing and it's what keeps the deck chugging along and keeping up the pressure.


How It Plays

Play a cheap pinger, like Shepherd of Rot, and you can cast Rakdos, Lord of Riots. Then the real fun begins: the more damage you deal, the bigger discount Rakdos gives on your creatures, the more threats you can drop at a time. Blow up stuff, make people discard, draw cards, deal more damage, drop more creatures... things can get out of control fast, and I mean that in the best way possible.

I caution not to go all-in with Rakdos however. Our commander is very powerful, and understandably he's a lightning rod for our opponent's removal spells the moment he hits the table. He will die a lot so don't build your deck full of 6+ cmc creatures relying on Rakdos to accelerate them out, otherwise you'll be left in a poor position if Rakdos is hated out (and he will be). Instead, build a fairly typical mana curve and treat Rakdos' acceleration as a nice bonus that happens occasionally.

Instead of going over all the card choices, I'll instead focus on just the cards that specifically benefit a Rakdos, Lord of Riots deck.


Get The Party Started

We need some reliable ways to deal damage to our opponents so Rakdos, Lord of Riots can be cast and we can get the ball rolling. While any creature can deal damage just by swinging in, these cards are notable enablers for our commander.

Goblin Fireslinger, Lobber Crew, Plague Spitter, and Shepherd of Rot are easy ways to get Rakdos out on turn 4. Abilities that hit each opponent are great, because doing 1 damage to 3 opponents means creature spells cost three less colorless mana to play when Rakdos is out on the field.

At a little higher cmc we've got Crypt Ghast, which both doubles our mana generated from swamps and lets us drain all our opponents. Palace Siege, Pestilence, and Pyrohemia are also excellent pingers costing a bit more mana to get going, but have the added benefit of being enchantments and thus harder to remove than creatures.

While not actually an enabler on its own, Vedalken Orrery is a powerful addition because it lets us take advantage of our opponent's life loss on any turn, not just our own. Our opponent cracking a fetchland or dealing combat damage suddenly enables Rakdos without any work on our part. Plus casting everything at instant speed is really sweet.

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Turn Up The Heat

With Rakdos in play and the party in full swing, it's time to kick it up a notch:

These damage-dealers bring the heat to your opponents, enabling big Rakdos plays and quickly deplete your opponents' life totals. 

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The Best Creatures In Life Are Free

You've done gross damage to your opponents this turn with Rakdos, Lord of Riots on the field giving you a massive colorless mana discount on creature spells this turn. What are the best creatures to play? Colorless creatures of course! With enough damage dealt (not difficult to do), these creatures are essentially free to play with Rakdos on the table.

We've got two varieties of colorless creatures: artifacts and Eldrazi. Cards like Burnished Hart and Solemn Simulacrum provide sweet ramp, while Steel Hellkite and Pathrazer of Ulamog swing big and blow stuff up.

Imagine this common scenario: you've got Rakdos, Lord of Riots on the field along with Pestilence and Hammer of Purphoros. You pay BBB to activate Pestilence 3 times, dealing 9 damage total to your opponents. Rakdos gives you a 9 colorless mana discount for creatures this turn so you cast Ulamog's Crusher and Wurmcoil Engine for free, then immediately swing in with your three hasted fatties for tons of damage. Brutal!

While not quite free, possibly the most abusive card to cast off a big damage Rakdos turn is Maga, Traitor to Mortals. There will be times where you've dealt 20+ damage across all opponents on a turn and cast Maga for X=20, killing an opponent outright and leaving you with a huge fatty on the field. Heartless Hidetsugu is his BFF!

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I Wanna Go Fast!

Haste is very important for a Rakdos deck. We've got a lot of fat creatures that want to start swinging asap like Artisan of Kozilek and Inferno Titan — damage keeps this party going.

Luckily for us, Red is king of Haste enablers. Here's a short list of great ones: Anger, Flamekin Village, Hall of the Bandit King, Hammer of Purphoros, Fervor, In the Web of War, Ogre Battledriver, Urabrask the Hidden

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The Party Doesn't Stop

You can end up dumping your hand pretty fast with Rakdos, so it's important to have multiple ways of refilling your hand. Thankfully, Black has plenty of ways to do just that:

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Take the above cards and mix in ramp, disruption, graveyard recursion, lands, and boom! Awesome Party Mix #4: Rakdos' Greatest Hits.


Upgrades And Fiddly Bits

I feel the biggest upgrade to the deck are the top-tier colorless creatures to really abuse Rakdos' ability. After that, upgrade whatever you feel the deck is lacking. Remember not to go too heavy on the top-end drops, as relying on Rakdos to always be around to accelerate you will lead to bad times.

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Vote For The Next Budget Commander!

Pick which commander will be the next topic by voting hereJalira, Master Polymorphist returns in this round of voting because she was a close second in the last polling. Joining her are new requests: Purphoros, God of the Forge and Selvala, Explorer Returned.

Follow me on Twitter @BudgetCommander for notifications on when the next article is up, updates on future decks, and input for what to work on next. Thanks for reading!

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