One of the strongest color combinations at the moment for new players is black and red, the Rakdos guild that focuses on the sacrifice synergy. This type of deck is also commonly known as Aristocrats, named after an older deck archetype built around [c]Falkenrath Aristocrat[/c]. If you enjoy aggressive decks that also gets value from sacrificing your own creatures, then read on! In this deck guide we will go through with you the basic strategy of the deck, card choices and sample decks for upgrades.
As mentioned in our budget deck guide, the decks here do not use rares or mythic rares in these decks, unless they are part of the New Players Experience decks (view the original Cult of Rakdos deck here) that you get as you progress your Account Mastery.
4 Cauldron Familiar (ELD) 81 4 Footlight Fiend (RNA) 216 2 Knight of the Ebon Legion (M20) 105 4 Mayhem Devil (WAR) 204 3 Fireblade Artist (RNA) 172 1 Midnight Reaper (GRN) 77 2 Mask of Immolation (M20) 151 2 Light Up the Stage (RNA) 107 1 Judith, the Scourge Diva (RNA) 185 1 Dreadhorde Butcher (WAR) 194 4 Claim the Firstborn (ELD) 118 3 Angrath's Rampage (WAR) 185 4 Witch's Oven (ELD) 237 1 Spawn of Mayhem (RNA) 85 7 Mountain (XLN) 273 10 Swamp (XLN) 269 1 Blood Crypt (RNA) 245 2 Rakdos Guildgate (RNA) 255 2 Dwarven Mine (ELD) 243 2 Witch's Cottage (ELD) 249
This deck is an aggressive deck at its core, using small, cheap creatures to get you started and dealing damage to your opponent where you can. The real strength of this deck lies in the power of Cauldron Familiar and Witch's Oven, hence the name of the deck.
These two cards on their own allow you to recur the cat over and over, while you get additional value from sacrificing the cat (or other creatures) and the Food token via Mayhem Devil or Judith, the Scourge Diva. If you have multiple ovens, things get even more annoying for your opponent as you can do it more than once per turn. You can even sacrifice your creature in response to your opponent’s removal spells. This makes the spell fizzle, especially relevant for Adventure cards such as Murderous Rider or Legion's End so they cannot exile.
Claim the Firstborn is great for stealing your opponent’s creatures, as it removes a blocker and acting as an additional attacker on your side, which you can then sacrifice it to Witch's Oven. This is a very potent line of play that allows you steal big creatures occasionally such as Hydroid Krasis and Voracious Hydra or tokens such as the ones created by Nissa, Who Shakes the World. Mask of Immolation is an additional way to sacrifice the stolen creatures, or Angrath's Rampage can do the trick if you really need to get rid of it.
With this budget version, you must play more aggressively as it will be harder to play the long game without more card draw such as Midnight Reaper, so some of the more aggressive cards are added such as Fireblade Artist, rather than removal spells that do not really fit in the gameplan such as Shock or Bedevil.
Upgrading the Deck
You will have a lot of fun as you upgrade this deck increase its powers! The core of this deck is based on the strongest performing Standard metagame decks below:
- Rakdos Sacrifice by Gonzalo Valdenegro – MagicFest Sao Paulo 2019
- Rakdos Aristocrats by Stefano Vinci – Mythic Championship VI
- All Rakdos Sacrifice decks
We will go over the primary upgrades for this deck, in rough order of importance below:
- 4 Midnight Reaper: This card lets you refuel your hand and allows you to draw cards with the cat and oven sacrifice loop as well. Replace with 2 Light Up the Stage, 1 Fireblade Artist.
- 2-3 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame: Chandra is tailor made for this deck, and interacts well with the Priest and Mayhem Devil. Remember you can even reuse spells like Claim the Firstborn and Angrath's Rampage in a pinch.
- 2-4 Gutterbones: This card is not as important as Cauldron Familiar, but the fact that you can get it back from your graveyard for minimal cost makes it good, and it fits with the aggressive nature of the deck. Replace with Foodlight Fiend.
- 2-4 Priest of Forgotten Gods: How good this card is largely depends on whether your opponent’s deck has creatures. It works well with Chandra, Acolyte of Flame and Gutterbones to use excess mana. It is another good sacrifice enabler that is suited for a more grindy metagame.
- 4 Fabled Passage: Substitute for Witch's Cottage and Dwarven Mine for mana consistency and the sacrifice synergy with Mayhem Devil.
- 2 Rankle, Master of Pranks: A very nice evasive, aggressive, flexible card. As a curve topper it is not absolutely essential to the deck’s success but it can mean the difference between a victory or a defeat in some cases. Replace with Spawn of Mayhem and Dreadhorde Butcher.
- 2 Castle Lochtwain: Substitute for 2 Mountains for card advantage. You may find your hand empty pretty quickly and this will help you refuel along with Midnight Reaper.
Other noteworthy mentions that can be used depending on the metagame:
- Dreadhorde Butcher: This guy has been living in the sideboards for now due to its ability to get through Gilded Goose and random creatures that get in the way. It is particularly strong against slower decks especially if they are running something like Teferi, Time Raveler. You can use these instead of Priest of Forgotten Gods.
- Cavalier of Night: Card advantage and sacrifice engine, as well as being a big creature on its own that may be awkward to deal with.
- God-Eternal Bontu: Similar to Cavalier of Night, but is more resilient and has a higher ceiling for card advantage.
Building a Sideboard
If you want to delve into best-of-three (BO3) matches with this deck, luckily its components are not too expensive to craft.
- Duress or Drill Bit: Perfect against control decks that want to disrupt your gameplan and allows you to protect your key cards such as Mayhem Devil.
- Noxious Grasp: Great for the green-heavy metagame, it can hit the big creatures thay really get in your way such as Questing Beast and Lovestruck Beast.
- Embereth Shieldbreaker: Primarily used against the opposing Witch's Oven, but also useful against Embercleave (though the damage would have been done already) and The Great Henge.
- Scorching Dragonfire or Lava Coil: Each has their different uses, for example Lava Coil is better against Questing Beast but Scorching Dragonfire can hit planeswalkers.