Herald of Anguish Art by Vincent Proce

Explorer Rakdos Artifacts Deck Guide: Bring Anguish Upon Your Opponents

Rakdos is already one of Explorer's best decks, but is there more than one way to build it? Skura has a new take on Rakdos that is plenty powerful, packed with synergy, and extremely fun!


While Rakdos Midrange and Rakdos Sacrifice already exist as decks, this take is quite unique in that there are very few cards that punish the strategy. It has reach, powerful top end, mini synergies, and card advantage. Most importantly, it does not care about cards like Grafdigger's Cage or Rest in Peace.

RB Artifacts
by Skura
best of 3
6 mythic
24 rare
8 uncommon
22 common
Creatures (12)
Instants (8)
Fatal Push
Deadly Dispute
Sorceries (3)
Artifacts (12)
Blood Fountain
Oni-Cult Anvil
Enchantments (4)
60 Cards
Voltage Surge
Heartless Act
15 Cards

Deck Tech

Let’s start off with the creatures. Voldaren Epicure is our one-drop creature of choice and it performs a few functions. It provides early ping and minimal pressure thanks to the trigger and being a body, it can chump block bigger attackers, creates an artifact, provides end game reach with its ping, and is sacrifice fodder for Deadly Dispute. That’s a lot for a one drop.

Bloodtithe Harvester is Voldaren Epicure’s older Vampire brother which also creates a Blood token upon entry. It’s a two-drop with 3 power so it puts pressure very well. Curve on the play — Epicure into Harvester can be surprisingly effective in lowering opponent’s life total. In addition, Harvester is a removal spell on a stick and, what’s particularly worth noting, you do not lose the Blood tokens when you activate Harvester — it merely looks at the number of them.

Our end game threat and the reason to try this shell is Herald of Anguish. It’s a 5/5 flyer which makes the opponent discard a card at the end of your end step every turn. It’s already scary as is. On top of that, it has a removal attached with its activated ability and can turn Blood tokens into Disfigure.

Last but not least, in this deck it can be cast for just {B}{B} thanks to Improvise. If you cast it for four mana total, it’s already a good deal and anything less is game-breaking. What’s key is that it does not die to Fatal Push, Play with Fire and most removal in the format in general.

Our interaction package is quite vast for an otherwise linear deck. We play the aforementioned Bloodtithe Harvester and Herald of Anguish, but also Fatal Push as versatile instant speed removal. Half of the deck turns on Revolt so it’s arguably at its best in this deck.

Thoughtseize is a classic all-round great hand disruption and we’ve got ways in the deck to offset life loss.

The Meathook Massacre is very deadly in this deck. First, it cleans up the board which usually favours us with our very powerful synergistic end games. Second, it’s passive ability shines when half the deck allows you to sacrifice or kill creatures. It adds to the ping the opponent to death plan.

In addition to the artifacts in the form of Blood tokens, we play a large swathe of other such effects. Deadly Dispute creates a Treasure token on top of its sacrifice card-drawing effect. It’s an excellent effect to play in response to a removal spell which makes us both blank it and draw two — basically a 3-for-1. It can also help us trigger The Meathook Massacre and Oni-Cult Anvil.

Speaking of, Oni-Cult Anvil is the engine and payoff of the deck. Every turn it drains the opponent for one which is both an offensive and a stabilization tool. It also creates a 1/1 token every turn which can be later sacrificed to the second ability. Multiple Anvils wreak havoc, blank all the removal, can help clog up the ground with tokens and trigger The Meathook Massacre along the way.

Blood Fountain is our best way to create the most artifacts for the lowest possible cost — in this case, 2 artifacts for a single Black mana. All the turbo Herald of Anguish draws will include the Fountain; with two Fountains, Herald will come down as soon as turn three. It’s also a really strong late-game effect which allows us to rebuy two creatures from the yard. They will either be our blood-making Vampires or Herald as the artifact payoff.

Implement of Combustion is our last artifact. It mainly serves as an artifact count helper which can later be cashed in for a card. It can occasionally kill off a planeswalker or combine its chip damage with Voldaren Epicure and Oni-Cult Anvil to create a real clock.

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is a generically good card. The main actual synergy it provides is the token that generates Treasures which are artifacts. In late stages of the game it can copy our Vampires or, for ultimate endgame, Herald of Anguish.

Matchups and Sideboard Guide

Implement of Combustion Art by Efflam Mercier
Implement of Combustion Art by Efflam Mercier

Rakdos Midrange

+3 Ob Nixilis, the Adversary-3 Thoughtseize
+2 Soul-Guide Lantern-2 The Meathook Massacre

A true attrition battle. I side in Ob Nixilis, the Adversary as it’s a sticky threat that can quickly spiral out of control. We can protect it with our Vampires and chump with Oni-Cult Anvil created tokens. I also side in some graveyard hate to hedge their Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger — worst case it’s either a redraw or just a card that ups the artifact count.

I keep in all the Fatal Push as we don’t want to allow them to kill us too quickly, especially with Graveyard Trespasser.

Azorius Control

+3 Ob Nixilis, the Adversary-4 Fatal Push
+1 Duress -1 The Meathook Massacre
+1 Thoughtseize

I side in Ob Nixilis, the Adversary as UW will have barely any ways of removing it, especially since they don’t have any creatures to pressure it. I up the discard count as well. Our best draw would be discard into Bloodtithe Harvester into Casualty 3-ed Ob.

While they can have mass removal, we can rebuild and use Deadly Dispute to mitigate the effect of that Wrath of God effect. Ping damage will truly add up in longer games; put your creaturelands to good use.

Mono Red Aggro

+2 Voltage Surge-3 Thoughtseize
+2 Abrade-2 Deadly Dispute
+1 Heartless Act-1 Voldaren Epicure
+1 The Meathook Massacre

I like siding into Rakdos Midrange of sorts with a lot of removal. We need to stop them in their tracks early, stabilize with lifegain and at some point turn the tide with Herald of Anguish.


+2 Voltage Surge-2 The Meathook Massacre
+2 Abrade-4 Voldaren Epicure
+1 Heartless Act-1 Herald of Anguish
+1 Thoughtseize-3 Implement of Combustion
+1 Necromentia
+3 Soul-Guide Lantern

There are plenty of good cards to side in. We are really zooming in on their game plan and disrupting it between removal, discard, and graveyard hate.

Mono Blue Spirits

+2 Voltage Surge-3 Thoughtseize
+2 Abrade-2 Deadly Dispute
+1 Heartless Act-1 Implement of Combustion
+1 The Meathook Massacre

Similar to the Mono Red matchup, we’re turning into a midrange deck. Their creatures snowball much more to we actually want to kill everything at sight. In addition, our creatures won’t really block theirs. I try to play removal spells in such a way that it’s uncomfortable for the spirits player timing-wise as they play protection spells and countermagic. It might be tough to push through Herald of Anguish. but if you manage to do so, you’re bound to win.

Tips and Tricks

Voldaren Epicure Art by Martina Fačková
Voldaren Epicure Art by Martina Fačková
Card Kingdom - Double Masters 2022
Default image

Also known as Skura or IslandsInFront on Twitter and YouTube, Filip started his career upon the release of Gatecrash and has been passing the turn in all formats ever since. He coaches and creates written and video content, mainly centered around the control archetype. He is passionate about Magic game theory and countering spells. Outside of Magic, he is a fan of snooker/pool, chess and Project Management.

Articles: 16