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Budget Magic: 2 Mythic/2 Rare Rakdos Party Aggro (Standard)


сәләм, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! One of the challenges of making Budget Magic in the era of Arena is that the economy of Arena is so much different from paper or Magic Online that decks that are super cheap in paper / MTGO end up being somewhat expensive on Arena. Well, today's deck is super cheap everywhere, coming in at under $50 in paper and featuring just two rares and two mythics on Magic Arena: Rakdos Party Aggro! As a party deck, the primary plan is to play a mixture of party tribes (Clerics, Wizards, Rogues, and Warriors), which will allow our creatures to power each other up. As our backup plan, we have a light reanimator package, with Lurrus of the Dream-Den as our companion and Call of the Death-Dweller to return our cheap party creatures from our graveyard to play! Is it possible to throw a good party in Standard? Can a deck with just two rares and two mythics actually compete in the format? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Rakdos Party Aggro

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The Deck

Rakdos Party Aggro, as its name suggests, is an aggro deck. We're looking to close out the game quickly with combat damage by playing a mixture of party tribes, which will allow our creatures to power each other up. As a backup plan, we have some light reanimator synergies that work well with the efficient creatures in our deck, with Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Call of the Death-Dweller allowing us to return creatures from the graveyard to play. Perhaps the best way to break down the deck is to start with our companion / reanimation package, move through each of the four tribes that make up a party, and then finish with our utility spells.

Reanimation

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In all honesty, we aren't built heavily around reanimating creatures. In fact, our only way of intentionally filling the graveyard is Village Rites and the rummaging enters-the-battlefield trigger of Fissure Wizard. Instead, we're mostly playing Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Call of the Death-Dweller as a way to make our deck more resilient and fight through our opponent's removal. Lurrus of the Dream-Den is mostly a free-roll since our aggro deck wants to play all cheap creatures anyway. Meanwhile, Call of the Death-Dweller gives us a way to get back our one Lurrus if it dies, while also potentially reanimating two of our party creatures, all of which cost either one or two mana. One of the downsides of our deck is that our creatures are small and tend to die to removal. These cards give us a way to rebuild after a wrath and, thanks to some powerful enters-the-battlefield party triggers, which we'll talk about in a minute, adds some extra reach to the deck for closing out the game after the board gets clogged up with creatures.

Party Tribe 1—Wizards

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Fissure Wizard is likely the weakest creature in our deck, but it does serve two purposes. First, and most importantly, it's a Wizard, so it helps to power up our more important party creatures, like Grotag Bug-Catcher, Acquisitions Expert, and Malakir Blood-Priest. Second, its rummaging enters-the-battlefield trigger allows us to discard cards that we would rather have in the graveyard so that we can get them into play with Lurrus of the Dream-Den or Call of the Death-Dweller. The bad news is that it's just a 2/1 for two, which is below the curve, and it doesn't have party abilities (other than being a Wizard to increase the number of members in our party).

Party Tribe 2—Clerics

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We have two Clerics in our deck, and both are quite strong for different reasons. Archfiend's Vessel is one of our best creatures to reanimate with Lurrus of the Dream-Den or Call of the Death-Dweller because it comes back as a 5/5 flying Demon rather than as a 1/1 dork. With the help of cards like Village Rites and Fissure Wizard to get Archfiend's Vessel in the graveyard, we can use Call of the Death-Dweller to make two 5/5 fliers as early as Turn 3! Meanwhile, Malakir Blood-Priest is one of our best late-game party creatures, as a weird, mini, party version of Gray Merchant of Asphodel, typically draining our opponent for three or sometimes even four life with its enters-the-battlefield trigger. This gives us a way to close out the game without attacking and is especially powerful with Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Call of the Death-Dweller in the late game, when we can potentially cast Malakir Blood-Priest from hand to drain for three or four, sacrifice it to Village Rites, and then reanimate it to drain for three or four more to finish the game.

Party Tribe 3—Warriors

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As far as Warriors, we have one filler tribe member and another extremely powerful tribe member. Fireblade Charger is honestly pretty medium in our deck. We don't have equipment or ways to grow its power, so it's basically just a 1/1 for one that pings for one when it dies. However, it is important because it gives us a cheap way to power up our party cards. On the other hand, Grotag Bug-Catcher is extremely impressive if it lives. By itself, it's a 2/2 trample for two when it attacks, but if we can get the party going, it can potentially attack for five with trample, which is great for a two-drop! Even with just one other party member on the battlefield, it's decent, and with two or three, it's great.

Party Tribe 4—Rogues

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Finally, we have Rogues, which are represented by Acquisitions Expert (which is basically a Burglar Rat with the upside of potentially turning into a painless Thoughtseize, if we can get a party assembled) and a single Robber of the Rich. Robber of the Rich is quite strong, especially in slower, more controlling matchups, where it can draw us a card from our opponent's deck each turn. But thanks to the extreme budget restrictions of the deck, we only have one copy. 

Other Stuff

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Speaking of one-ofs, the second of our two mythics is a single copy of Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger, which does two things in our deck (apart from being a very powerful creature if we ever manage to escape it into play). First, Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger combos with Lurrus of the Dream-Den, allowing us to cast it from our graveyard each turn to empty our opponent's hand and possibly Lava Spike our opponent's face with its enters-the-battlefield trigger. Since casting Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger with Lurrus isn't escaping it, it will end up back in the graveyard, and we can repeat the process the next turn. The other important purpose of Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger is keeping our graveyard empty, thanks to its escape ability. Outside of Omnath, Locus of Creation decks, Rogues are one of the most played decks in Zendikar Rising Standard at the moment, and for Rogues to work, they really want our graveyard to be filled with cards to power up things like Soaring Thought-Thief and Nighthawk Scavenger. Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger gives us a way to exile cards from our graveyard, power down our opponent's Rogues, and potentially let us steal the win.

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Last but not least, we have Village Rites, which is an absurd source of card advantage—drawing us two cards for just one mana—that can also get creatures like Archfiend's Vessel in the graveyard so we can return them to play with Lurrus or Call of the Death-Dweller. Meanwhile, Feed the Swarm and Deadly Alliance give us some removal to answer our opponent's threats, with Deadly Alliance specifically often being great in the deck since it often costs just two or three mana thanks to our party, which is a solid rate for a Hero's Downfall

The Mana

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The mana of Rakdos Party Aggro bears mention for two reasons. First, it's where we find the last of our two rares, with a single Castle Locthwain for card advantage. Second, it's one of the weakest parts of our deck. Since we only have Bloodfell Caves as a dual land, we are prone to get hands that are missing one of our colors, which we then have to mulligan. While the current mana base is functional for an ultra-budget deck, the easiest way to improve the deck is by adding cards like Temple of Malice and potentially Fabled Passage to help increase consistency. The bad news is that Rakdos doesn't have a Pathway (yet—one should be coming in Kaldheim this winter), and a Pathway would be perfect for our deck since we really want our lands to come into play untapped, if possible.

Playing the Deck

One of the most important notes on playing Rakdos Party Aggro is that unlike some aggro decks, where it's best to try to measure your threats to play around sweepers, in general, we're okay with aggressively dumping our hand onto the battlefield. Even if the worst happens and our opponent sweeps our board, cards like Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Call of the Death-Dweller allow us to rebuild from our graveyard. The goal of the deck is to be aggressive, so don't play scared! 

Keep in mind the potential of janking out a free win or two with Archfiend's Vessel, although be aware of the matchup. Against decks that are mostly leaning on red removal, making a quick 5/5 by putting Archfiend's Vessel into play from the graveyard is often a great way to win the game. On the other hand, the plan is much weaker against decks with cards like Brazen Borrower that can deal with the Demon token easily. 

One of the weird challenges of the deck is figuring out the best way to sequence our party creatures. Do we hold onto Malakir Blood-Priest to try to build a bigger party and maximize its enters-the-battlefield trigger or just run it out to grow our board? Do we Acquisitions Expert on Turn 2 as a [[Burglar Rat] or hold it until we get to choose the best card from our opponent's hand? The answers to these questions depend on the matchup and the game state, but these small choices do matter. One thing I know for sure is that getting down Grotag Bug-Catcher early is usually correct. Getting in a big hit or two before our opponent can block it effectively makes it much easier to close out the game with cards like Malakir Blood-Priest in the late game. 

Finally, when it comes to Lurrus of the Dream-Den, if possible, try to wait and play it when you have enough mana to immediately cast something from the graveyard so that even if Lurrus dies to removal, we will have gotten some value out of it. Along the same lines, when it comes to Call of the Death-Dweller, if Lurrus of the Dream-Den is in our graveyard, it's almost always correct to reanimate it and then use Lurrus of the Dream-Den to cast something else from the graveyard. The end result is mostly the same—we get two creatures from our graveyard to the battlefield—but we also get the upside of having a Lurrus, which, if it lives, can keep casting party creatures from our graveyard turn after turn.

Wrap Up

All in all, I played seven matches with Rakdos Party Aggro and ended up going 4-3 (although not every match ended up in the video). The deck was a lot more powerful and synergistic than I had imagined, especially for its super cheap price. On the other hand, many of our losses came not from a lack of power but because of our clunky ultra-budget mana leaving us color-screwed. If you want to play a version of the deck that is still cheap but not quite as cheap, adding Temple of Malice to the mana base over basic lands will go a long way toward making sure we can actually cast our spells every game. 

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, there really aren't many. While there are some good upgrade options, they all require adding more rares or mythics to the deck, which is something I'd like to avoid. 

So, should you play Rakdos Party Aggro in Zendikar Rising Standard? If you're looking for a deck you can build with very close to zero rare or mythic wildcards, I think the answer is yes. While the inconsistent mana keeps the deck from being truly great, it is good enough that you should be able to slowly rank up with it on the ladder, especially at the lower ranks, which, in theory, will earn you enough rewards to either upgrade the deck once you get to higher ranks or potentially build a top-tier deck to fight with at Platinum and Mythic.

Ultra-Budget Rakdos Party

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It doesn't get much cheaper than two rares and two mythics, but if you want to try to save even more, you can replace Robber of the Rich and Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger with Stonework Packbeast and replace Castle Locthwain with Evolving Wilds to get the deck down to just one rare (Lurrus of the Dream-Den, which you shouldn't cut under any circumstances). 

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Finally, our non-budget Rakdos Party Aggro list. The biggest upgrade is to the mana base, where we get Fabled Passage, Temple of Malice, and Castle Locthwain replacing Bloodfell Caves and basic lands, which should increase both consistency (by giving us more dual lands) and power (thanks to the card advantage that Castle Locthwain generates). Otherwise, we get some small changes to the sideboard and Magmatic Channeler over Fissure Wizard, which gives us a more repeatable way to fill our graveyard along with (potentially) a bigger body in the late game. Otherwise, the deck stays mostly the same. While it is possible to build a more midrange version of Rakdos Party, we'd have to cut Lurrus of the Dream-Den as our companion, which I'm not sure is worth it since Lurrus felt extremely strong in our matches.

Conclusion

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



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