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Budget Magic: $100 (42 tix) Rakdos Kroxa Discard (Standard, Magic Arena)

WĩmwegaBudget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Right now, Standard is overrun with powerful midgame threats like Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Fires of Invention. How can a budget deck keep up? By making the opponent discard their big finishers before they get a chance to hit the battlefield! Our deck today is Rakdos Kroxa Discard, with our main goal being to make our opponent discard a card every turn until they are empty-handed and then finish the game with a huge Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger or with the help of Nightmare Shepherd, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, and some sweet sacrifice synergies. How good is Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger in Standard? Can Rakdos Discard compete in the very powerful Theros: Beyond Death Standard format on a $100 budget? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Rakdos Kroxa Discard (Pioneer)

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The Deck

Rakdos Kroxa Discard is basically a Rakdos Midrange deck with a few plans for generating advantage and eventually winning the game. Our primary plan is to make our opponent discard a bunch of cards, making it difficult for our opponent to get their powerful finishers onto the battlefield. Backing up our discard are some Aristocrats self-sacrifice synergies and even a devotion-based finish in Gray Merchant of Asphodel to help us quickly close out the game after we clear out our opponent's hand with our discard.

The Discard

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Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger is the centerpiece of our deck. On Turn 2, it's basically a weird discard spell since it sacrifices itself when it enters the battlefield. But then later in the game, it becomes an insane finisher (especially since we can often get our opponent empty-handed, which means Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger is consistently hitting for nine damage thanks to its attack trigger. As a 6/6, it's also big enough to deal with various Cavaliers and other popular threats in Standard. In the worst case, if Kroxa dies, we can always escape it into play against after we fill our graveyard, making it hard to permanently deal with outside of graveyard hate or exile-based removal like Eat to Extinction or Banishing Light. Basically, Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger is fine on Turn 2 as a discard spell and then insane as a finisher later in the game, making it one of the best cards in our deck.

As for Tymaret Calls the Dead, it's in the deck to enable Kroxa's escape from our graveyard. One of the odd aspects of our deck is that most of our discard comes attached to creatures (which somethings end up sitting out on the battlefield) rather than spells, which means we can occasionally have a hard time getting five cards in our graveyard to pay Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger's escape cost. Tymaret Calls the Dead takes care of this all by itself, milling us for six cards and ended up in the graveyard itself after a couple of turns, providing the escape fuel we need for Kroxa while making a couple of bodies along the way (with 28 creatures in our deck, we should rarely whiff on hitting one in our top three cards). If we get a bit lucky, we can even mill a Kroxa with Tymaret Calls the Dead and then escape it back into play as a weird source of card advantage. 

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Backing up Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger are four Burglar Rats and four Yarok's Fenlurkers, as additional ways to make our opponent discard (or in Fenlurker's case, exile) a card starting on Turn 2. While neither is especially powerful as a creature, as 1/1s for two, they can chump block and occasionally trade off in combat, and then we can exile them from the graveyard to escape Kroxa or to get a token copy with Nightmare Shepherd. Most importantly, these cards add redundancy to our discard plan. Forcing an opponent to discard a single card doesn't have that much value, but when we can force our opponent to discard a card every turn, we can quickly get them empty-handed before they have a chance to land their finishers. 

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Rounding out our discard is one Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage. In the best case, Davriel can force our opponent to discard two or three cards for just three mana, while also pinging in for some damage once our opponent is low on cards, but the floor of Davriel is forcing our opponent to discard one card and then having it immediately die in combat, which happens often enough that it's hard to play too many copies of Davriel in our deck. The planeswalker is great against control but weak to anything playing creatures. That said, as an additional discard spell, it does offer a decent amount of value and upside, especially in the matchups where it sits on the battlefield for two or three turns.

Sacrifice Stuff

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Apart from our discard, Nightmare Shepherd is one of the most important pieces of our deck, allowing us to reuse our cheap discard creatures when they die, while also enabling a combo-like finish to close out the game with the help of Gray Merchant of Asphodel and a sacrifice outlet to double up Gary's drain, all while coming attached to a solid 4/4 flying body. 

One of our best ways to take advantage of Nightmare Shepherd is Woe Strider, which allows us to sacrifice our creatures for free at instant speed. Along with being essential to the Gray Merchant of Asphodel combo finish, one of the best tricks we can do with Woe Strider is to empty our opponent's hand with our discard, start sacrificing things like Burglar Rat and Yarok's Fenlurker on our opponent's draw step to get them back in Nightmare form thanks to Nightmare Shepherd, and make our opponent discard the card they drew for their turn. With enough copies of Burglar Rat, Yarok's Fenlurker, and Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger, we can use this synergy to lock our opponent out of the game for several turns, which is hopefully long enough for us to close out the game by beating down with our motley crew of discard creatures.

Finally, we have Plaguecrafter, which does a couple of important things in our deck. First, thanks to two-drops like Yarok's Fenlurker and Burglar Rat, we can play it on Turn 3, sacrifice an underpowered discard creature, and hopefully force our opponent to sacrifice a more powerful creature (or even a planeswalker like Teferi, Time Raveler or Narset, Parter of Veils). Second, Plaguecrafter is insane with Nightmare Shepherd in the late game since we can play it, sacrifice it to itself, get it back in token form, and sacrifice it again, which essentially makes it a double Diabolic Edict for just three mana that can also hit planeswalkers!

The Finish

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Rakdos Kroxa Discard wasn't set out to be a Gray Merchant of Asphodel deck, but after building the deck, it became clear to me that Gary was the ideal finisher. Thanks to our discard creatures, we naturally have a lot of black mana symbols sitting on the battlefield, and we want Woe Strider and Nightmare Shepherd in our deck for our discard synergy tricks, so Gray Merchant of Asphodel became an easy inclusion. Apart from helping us stabilize against more aggressive decks by gaining some life, the main upside of Gary is that it allows us to quickly close out the game, in conjunction with Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger. Traditionally, one of the downsides of Burglar Rat / Yarok's Fenlurker strategies is that while they are good at cleaning out the opponent's hand, they are bad at actually killing the opponent, which means the opponent has a lot of time to draw into a Hydroid Krasis, an Edgewall Innkeeper, or another card-advantage spell to undo all of our work. The addition of Gary to the deck, along with the incredibly fast clock of Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger, means that Rakdos Kroxa Discard is not only great at cleaning out the opponent's hand but also a fast and powerful way to finish off the game after the opponent is empty-handed, which makes it much, much harder for the opponent to draw their way out of our discard in time. Oh yeah, we also sometimes win the game just by casting a Gray Merchant of Asphodel with a Nightmare Shepherd and Woe Strider on the battlefield, allowing us to sacrifice Gary and get it back as a 1/1 Nightmare to double the drain to potentially lethal levels.

Other Stuff

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Rounding out our deck are one copy of Bolas's Citadel for some card advantage along with two copies of Drag to the Underworld as instant-speed removal, to make sure we don't get janked out by things like Embercleave


When I built Rakdos Kroxa Discard, my main goal was to beat up on decks like Nissa Ramp and Fires, which struggle with being hit by a discard spell every turn, with the assumption that aggro might be a harder matchup. Well, we played five matches with the deck and featured various flavors of aggro in four of them and ended up going 4-1, beating aggro every time and losing to UW Control, which is supposed to be one of our better matchups! Magic is weird, but the overall record was good, and if our supposed bad matchups aren't actually bad, that is a pretty good sign for Rakdos Kroxa Discard.

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, there's a slight error in the mana base. Initially, I had Bloodfell Caves over Evolving Wilds but ended up switching it since Evolving Wilds puts an extra card in our graveyard for Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger. The problem is we only have one Mountain in the deck, and we had a couple of games where we really wanted Evolving Wilds to find a second red source for escaping Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger from the graveyard. If you pick up the deck, swap a Swamp for one more Mountain.

All in all, I was pretty impressed with Rakdos Kroxa Discard. The deck was surprisingly strong against aggro and should eat decks like Fires for lunch, which seems like a solid place to be in Theros: Beyond Death Standard. If you like forcing your opponent to discard cards with some fun sacrifice and devotion synergies thrown in, give Rakdos Kroxa Discard a chance!

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Sadly, it isn't really possible to get Rakdos Kroxa Discard down to $50. Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger itself is $35 a playset, and even if we cut back everything else as far as possible, the deck is still about $75. Cutting Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger is probably possible, but considering it's our namesake card, it would be an entirely different deck (basically a discard-heavy Mono-Black Devotion list). The list above is as cheap as I could get the deck while keeping Kroxa. If you don't mind cutting Kroxa, here's a very cheap mono-black build that keeps the same basic plan.

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Meanwhile, the non-budget build of Rakdos Kroxa Discard mostly gets upgrades to the mana base. Another possibility would be to go Grixis, which would open up cards like Thought Erasure, sideboard counterspells, and Lazav, the Multifarious to combo with Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger by copying it from the graveyard early in the game. The problem with going into Grixis is that it might just be better to play a more typical Grixis Midrange deck with planeswalkers and more removal rather than the discard package, although some sort of hybrid build could be possible and maybe even powerful.


Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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