Historic Rakdos Delirium Deck Guide: Abuse the Broken Cards
Hello everyone! Today I’m bringing you what seems to be the most popular deck coming out of Jumpstart: Historic Horizons: Delirium. I’ve seen a lot of different builds of the deck on ladder between Rakdos, Grixis, or Mardu and all seem very viable. That being said, I’ve always been a sucker for a clean mana base so when I first built this deck I opted to go just Rakdos. Let’s take a look at the first version.
So my theory when approaching the build of this was that I wanted to trigger Delirium ASAP to get the most play out of my cards so I built it in a bit of a wonky way to accomplish that. I wanted a solid mix of permanent types to start with and then I got creative by adding Bomat Courier for an artifact, Brain Maggot for an enchantment, and the Cycling lands to increase the odds of getting a land into the graveyard. I knew the Delirium mechanic was powerful, but likely needed some help to get there.
After playing a bunch with Delirium, I realize I overestimated how difficult it would be to get a good mix of card types in the graveyard. Dragon’s Rage Channeler is just a messed up card and can allow builds that hardly build towards getting Delirium achieve it with relative ease. With that, a lot of decks excluded Bloodbraid Marauder so their need to achieve Delirium quickly was much less important. As I played a huge amount of mirrors yesterday, I got to see a wide breadth of what other players were building towards in Delirium which gave me great insight into the archetype as a whole. With that knowledge, I had to decide whether I would stick to my guns or branch out into a different direction. Let’s see what I ended up with.
(Before anything else, I somehow forgot to put in Dragonskull Summit so that was a funny realization!)
Call me stubborn, but I think my build was a lot closer to what the archetype wants to lean towards than others. I really like the 3 color options or the Death’s Shadow variants, but having clean mana and being able to consistently hit Delirium early made the power level of the Delirium cards significantly higher while giving up very little to do so. I’m not purporting this is definitely the best build, but it did feel like the best build for me.
As a quick aside, the Grixis version of this deck is also very interesting as Expressive Iteration is another messed up card, but I think that list needs to be fleshed out more.
As I keep reiterating, this is first and foremost a Delirium deck. I think everyone knew that Dragon’s Rage Channeler and Unholy Heat were busted in conjunction with Lurrus of the Dream-Den so that will always be the Delirium base. Channeler is just a way better Delver of Secrets that also self enables Delirium, Unholy Heat can kill most things early and then functionally anything late, and Lurrus is a no brainer as you mostly want to be casting cheap spells anyway.
With that, functionally every version is going to have more early interaction as a means to get Delirium quickly and just because it’s good. Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek are two great cards that help achieve this by disrupting the opponent while giving you a Sorcery in the yard. After this base of 5 cards though, this is where most lists start to predominately diverge.
Although I’m giving up a little bit of power to help out the Delirium plan, I’ve really liked including my utility cards. Bomat Courier is just a generally powerful card, a vital artifact for Delirium, and a means of card advantage both early and late in the game. Brain Maggot is definitely going to raise a few eyebrows, but it’s been performing reasonably well. I board them out a good amount, but game 1 tends to be dominated by being proactive so it generally has a much better chance of living while the opponent is still in the main deck configuration. Plus between Maggot and the other discard spells, you can absolutely dismantle any deck that’s looking to play towards the late game.
I decided to play one Soul-Guide Lantern main as a value card against the mirror and other graveyard decks while not being embarrassing against your average deck. Lastly, I play 2 Cycle lands and 23 lands (compared to the original 24) and admittedly I have to play them out most of the time so I’m still on the fence on whether or not they’re worth it. I like having the option to cycle them if I draw them in the late game or I need Delirium, but the deck is also pretty good at utilizing it’s mana. I’ll leave that determination up to you.
I go through all this trouble for Delirium to make Channeler and Unholy Heat better, but I’m also a big Bloodbraid Marauder fan. I know it never sees play in Modern, but Historic feels extremely grindy now with all the Delirium mirrors and getting a 3/1 that can nab you another high impact spell has been really good for me. It does make graveyard hate a bit better against this build, but a 2 mana 3/1 Can’t Block isn’t the most embarrassing card to play. Plus, the opponent would have to preemptively exile your graveyard since if you put this on the stack with a stocked graveyard, the Cascade trigger would immediately go off.
Lastly, I have a few odd and ends to tie the deck together. I love Knight of the Ebon Legion as the card is just a huge threat by itself and gives you another thing to do with excess mana. I like playing 3 Heartless Act right now as it’s hard to have too much removal, but this can really be any removal spell you like. I went down to one Kolaghan’s Command as it’s much better in the late game when it can rebuy something like Lurrus and also force a discard or kill something rather than having it turn 3 and not many good modes. Finally I moved a Call of the Death-Dweller main as having a main deck way to recur Lurrus or 2 other creatures seems like a steal in the late game.
MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING
Since the metagame is so new, I’m going to have way less concrete boarding advice than usual but I’ll lead you through my thought process on how you can develop your boarding style on the fly. I’ll also give a rough overview of how I’ve been boarding so you can try to combine those 2 elements to make the plans that work best for you.
CARDS YOU NEVER CUT
For starters, never touch your Dragon’s Rage Channeler, Unholy Heat (unless they’re completely dead but that’s functionally never the case, even Jeskai Control you can kill Teferi, Hero of Dominaria or Shark tokens), Knight of the Ebon Legion, and Inquisition of Kozilek (unless they’re on Keruga, the Macrosage or something wild like that). Everything else is more or less fair game, but you want to be mindful of your card type balance so you don’t mess up your chances of getting Delirium.
WHEN TO CUT CERTAIN CARDS
Against other aggressive decks, decks that are going to end the game quickly, or decks that can profitably block this
I wouldn’t cut this most of the time, but if the opponent has a boatload of graveyard hate AND the 3/1 body is bad, I could see trimming/cutting it. You can also shave some copies against aggro decks if you really need the room.
I’ll trim/cut this against proactive decks that are going to bring in a lot of removal, the most prevalent example being the mirror.
Against decks where you don’t need an excess of removal like Jeskai Control.
I never really cut this as it’s pretty versatile, but if you really need space it’s not like this is vital to the deck’s plan.
You don’t want this against decks that really pressure your life total. I’m up in the air about whether or not you want this in the mirror as it’s the best answer to an opposing Lurrus and nabbing a key piece of interaction could be a life saver, but traditionally you want to board lower on discard spells in grindy matchups like that. I lean towards boarding them out in the mirror, but I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to keep them.
Take these outs in matchups where you won’t have time to cast it or against an absurd amount of graveyard hate.
If their graveyard doesn’t matter.
Most players are too afraid to board out a land on the draw. Feel free to take out a Cycling land if you really don’t know what to take out on the draw, but as I said, this deck does make pretty good use of it’s mana so it may be less correct here than it would be in other decks.
VS THE MIRROR
Against the mirror how I board is really impacted by what version they’re playing. In terms of board outs, I tend to nix all of the Brain Maggot and then some amount to all of the Thoughtseize depending on what I’m looking to bring in. I like inherently increasing my removal density so I’m pretty much always boarding in the Fatal Push and Legion’s End. Furthermore I want to go a bit grindier, so the second copy of Call of the Death-Dweller also tends to come in. Beyond that it’s really dependent on their version.
Dead Weight can be great against the Mardu/Shadow version as it nabs Adanto Vanguard when most other removal doesn’t while still hitting Knight of the Ebon Legion, Esper Sentinel, and a pre Delirious Channeler.
Abrade is a fine board in depending on if you prioritize having more removal or more hand disruption in that matchup.
The last card I would consider is Soul-Guide Lantern if they seem highly reliant on their graveyard, but bringing in an extra copy just to mess with their Lurrus also seems like a fine plan.
VS THE AGGRO DECKS
The game plan is pretty straight forward, don’t die and grind them out. We’re generally taking out the clunky or inefficient cards like Thoughtseize, Soul-Guide Lantern, and Brain Maggot. Generally I just board in as much removal that’s good against these decks as possible. If you can keep the board clean, it’s very easy to kill them with a random threat.
VS THE CONTROL DECKS
Here’s another pretty easy board plan as you really only have to get rid of Heartless Act and perhaps Soul-Guide Lantern if they’re not playing Torrential Gearhulk. Duress obviously comes in against the Control decks so that’s an easy one. Bedevil is a versatile removal spell so you can consider boarding that in as well. Call of the Death-Dweller is a great grindy option assuming the opponent isn’t playing a million Rest in Peace. The last consideration is Soul-Guide Lantern which is excellent against the Gearhulk decks, but you can bring it in if you have the space.
VS THE COMBO DECKS
There’s a lot of different types of Combo decks in Historic so I’ll separate them into two major categories: heavy creature based combo and light/no creature combo.
For creature based combo (think Elves, Goblins, or Vesperlark), you’re going to be boarding very similarly to how you would against Aggro decks, but you’re likely looking to keep your hand disruption. You can still cut into your Bomat Courier, Soul-Guide Lantern, and Call of the Death-Dweller giving you 6 easy spots right there. If you need more room then that, generally I start trimming Bloodbraid Marauder to make room.
Non-creature combo isn’t the most aptly named as a lot of these combos may still involve creatures (think Creativity strategies or Reanimator) so you’ll have to board accordingly. Against these decks, I tend to trim a lot more as your removal still tends to be solid and you may even want more pieces like Bedevil or even Abrade depending on what you’re facing. Duress is generally good against these decks as is all hand disruption so that should functionally always come in. Soul-Guide Lantern is obviously good against decks looking to use the graveyard. Use your best judgement when approaching these decks.
TIPS AND TRICKS
If you want to crack multiple Bomat Courier, make sure you hold priority, activate one, then activate the other with the trigger on the stack. Discarding the hand is a cost so you can keep of all of the cards!
If you want to block or you just played out Dragon’s Rage Channeler, sandbagging the card that will enable Delirium can be a great play that can make the opponent’s turn much harder to make. You could also use this as a solid bluff if they’re afraid you can eat their attacker with your 3/3. Be mindful if they play Shock effects though as you don’t want to get cute just to have a creature that could’ve been out of range to a burn spell die.
I tend to pretty aggressively activate Knight of the Ebon Legion even if my other options are decent. I would tend not to do it over developing, disrupting my opponent, or getting Lurrus, but activating it over playing one ok spell is generally pretty good.
Bloodbraid Marauder‘s Cascade ability immediately goes on the stack if you have the right amount of cards in your graveyard so opponents can’t disrupt your yard to fizzle it. However, be careful if you’re bringing this back with Lurrus and you don’t have another creature in your graveyard.
Kolaghan’s Command is at it’s best bringing back a Lurrus and forcing the opponent to discard right before or after they drew a card. Make sure to set that upkeep stop!
Always cast Inquisition of Kozilek before Thoughtseize. In a similar vein, if you’re in the Lurrus mirror, try to sandbag one of these so you can nab a Lurrus when they go to get it. On the flip side, if the opponent has been holding a card in hand for awhile and you haven’t gotten back Lurrus, I tend to start holding lands so they feel pressured to cast it before I get Lurrus back.
Sequencing is everything in this deck. Make sure you always consider what lands you’ll need when to dictate your plays.
Thank you for reading!