Rakdos Discard Control – Theros Beyond Death Standard Deck Guide
I’m back, and with the new set release we have a ton of new cards to play with. Today’s deck – Rakdos Discard Control – features one of the more anticipated cards in THB: Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger. I hope you like it as much as I do!
Rakdos Discard Control Deck Overview
In current Standard, Rakdos has access to a ton of very flexible removal at low converted mana costs, and was just given enchantment removal and a new, powerful board wipe. These cards, in addition to Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, pave the way for a brutally efficient Rakdos Control deck that makes the opponent discard most of their options, wipes the board, then finishes the game with huge life swings and powerful planeswalkers.
Yeah. Kroxa gets its own section of this guide. Kroxa is a disgusting powerhouse of a card. When the titan first shows its ugly face it forces your opponent to discard a card for BR, but if they don’t discard a non-land card it also smacks them in the face for three. After that, Kroxa disappears to the graveyard awaiting its true moment. For those that don’t know, Kroxa allows you to bring it back to the battlefield as a 6/6 for BBRR as long as you exile 5 cards from your graveyard. What’s more, Kroxa does not get exiled when it dies after escaping and instead just goes back to the graveyard to escape again. This means that every time you pay Kroxa’s escape cost you’re either +2 on cards (one for Kroxa, one for the discard) or +1 on cards and you’ve bolted your opponent’s face, or both! Plus, that’s not even considering the fact that they still have to use removal on it. Kroxa is easily the best card in the deck. It’s a grindy card advantage engine and a finisher all wrapped up into one card. 4 Copies.
This deck’s strategy in the early game is usually to face-tank a couple of hits while we whittle the opponent’s options down with discard. Besides Kroxa we have two discard spells in the deck:
First we’ve got 4 copies of Agonizing Remorse. This card more or less plays like Thought Erasure, but instead of surveiling you can choose a card in the opponent’s graveyard and it exiles whatever you take. The 1 life you lose is negligible compared to snagging the opponent’s best card, and picking out the hard-to-answer threats is of key import in the early game.
The other discard we have is Carnival//Carnage. Against aggro decks this card is often used simply to ping a 1-toughness creature in the early game, but upon reaching 4 mana it deals 3 damage and forces a double-discard. Most non-control decks only have two or three cards left in hand at this point, so Carnage serves to empty the hand and clear the way for phase 2.
One of the greatest strengths of this deck is that all of the spot removal is flexible. This is important because once we have put our opponent into top-deck mode what we want is to make sure that we have answers to whatever they draw. All of our answers pulling at least double-duty helps tip the scales in our favor.
First we have 2 copies of Angrath’s Rampage. This one forces a player to sacrifice one of a permanent type of your choosing, chosen between Artifacts, Planeswalkers and Creatures. It’s cheap, good in the early game, bypasses indestructibility and hexproof and is incredibly flexible. It gets only 2 copies because it’s sorcery speed.
Next is a full playset of bedevil. This is an instant speed, targeted version of Angrath’s Rampage. For the low-low cost of 1 extra black mana it shores up Rampage’s weaknesses, allowing you to target and do it at instant speed, but being a targeted destroy effect means it doesn’t bypass indestructibility or hexproof.
Our last bit of spot removal is a playset of Pharika’s Libation. A new card that was introduced in THB, for 2B it allows us at instant speed to make our opponent sacrifice either an enchantment or a creature – our choice. The primary purpose of Pharika’s Libation is that it allows us to kill gods. Often times the gods are the only enchantments on the battlefield, so Pharika’s Libation kills them at instant speed for 3, bypassing their indestructible nature.
Worth the tiniest footnote at the end of the spot-removal section is our playset of Shock. It kills 1-drops. That’s all there is to it. There’s enough aggro in the meta that this typically has a good target, and when it doesn’t you just fling it at face and use it to cast Kroxa from the yard.
Sometimes though, spot removal isn’t enough. For the grindy aggro matchups our best source of card advantage and stabilization is a board wipe. This deck runs 6. There are a lot of choices for board wipes in aggro, I’m going to go over them all.
Storm’s Wrath: This one comes with a 5-star review and a strong recommendation from me. New to THB, it deals 4 damage at sorcery speed to all creatures and all planeswalkers for 2RR. I strongly prefer this to Ritual of Soot for its ability to hit planeswalkers and kill tons of 4-drops. Bear in mind that it does hit our own planeswalkers, so cast this at times where you have none or you don’t really care. The reason I strongly prefer this to Ritual of Soot is that it hits and kills Nightmare Shepherd, Gray Merchant of Asphodel and Questing Beast, to name a few. Plus it weakens or destroys small planeswalkers in control matchups that Ritual would be useless in.
I do still have to talk about Ritual of Soot, though. When you’re choosing a 4-mana board wipe you do have to consider what meta you’re likely to be in. Ritual of Soot kills Lovestruck Beast and Rotting Regisaur, both of which Storm’s Wrath misses. Wrath also misses the two new Titans once they’re on the battlefield. It’s worth noting that Storm’s Wrath kills all of the 1/1s that might be fueling the Beast but those are still some seriously notable misses and illustrate that there is some flexibility in the 4-mana board wipe spot.
Flame Sweep’s two primary advantages are its simpler casting cost, needing only 1 colored mana, and its instant speed. This is the stronger choice when you might be using it as emergency removal against a single creature like a Brineborn Cutthroat. It also occasionally lets you squeeze a little more value out of it without letting your opponent get another hit in if they decide to play a hasty creature pre-combat.
Cry of the Carnarium is the weakest choice of the three, I think, but it’s worth considering. It trades the instant speed and flexible mana cost of Flame Sweep for one distinct advantage: exiling instead of destroying. This makes sure recursive threats like Gutterbones don’t come back and stops you from fueling your opponent’s escape cards.
Finally we have Witch’s Vengeance. It’s the same cost as Cry, and the same speed but instead of giving -2/-2 to everything it gives -3/-3 to everything of one creature type. This is better against tribal decks like Knights or Elementals, obviously but worse against goodstuff aggro decks like Gruul Aggro. It also doesn’t exile, so that’s something to keep in mind.
For now, I’ve got 3 copies of Storm’s Wrath and 3 copies of Witch’s Vengeance in the deck, but that very well could shift with the meta and if you don’t have copies of those cards you can substitute as necessary without hurting the deck too terribly much. We really are spoiled for choice.
The Rest of the Deck
Only 5 non-land slots remain in the deck after all of our discard and removal is taken into consideration. I’ve filled them with planeswalkers!
First we have 3 copies of Chandra, Fire Artisan. Rakdos is a little light on decent card draw and Chandra is close enough. Every turn she gives us an extra card to work with and because our removal is so flexible it’s all likely to be useful. If we find an answer it’s pretty likely to match up with something that we need to remove. Any time we use the card Chandra exiles it’s just pure card advantage.
Finally we have 2 copies of Liliana, Dreadhorde General. She’s our alternate finisher when the opponent hasn’t died to Kroxa yet. She functions as a mini board wipe when she lands sometimes, or can throw blockers in the way of our opponent’s non-trample creatures and draw us cards. Finally, her ultimate pretty much just ends the game. She’s a good fit for the very tippy-top of our curve.
I’ll just briefly mention the manabase here. Being a two-color deck that wants RR by turn 4 and BB by turn 3, it’s just a pretty even split. Temple of Malice from THB is a definite include and 4 copies of Blood Crypt are a given. You could substitute some amount of these for Fabled Passage without too much trouble if you don’t have playsets of both. The only other notable lands are the pair of Castle Locthwain for some extra card draw when we’re in top-deck mode.
Due to having 17 cards castable with 2 or less mana, mulligans don’t have to happen too often with this deck. Its major weakness is that most of our removal is dual-color, so if you get a hand that’s lacking in one color it will probably straight-up cost you the game. Snap-keep anything with 3 lands, both of the colors and a piece of spot removal. Prioritize hands that have 3 lands and a Kroxa.
Who’s the Beatdown?
Obviously this deck is usually the control deck. So much of the deck being dedicated to board wipes and spot removal makes any deck that plays a lot of creatures into the beatdown immediately. This can be tough to figure out in the control mirror, though. On the one-hand, we have 6 cards that blow up planeswalkers and 3 board wipes that damage them, so against many control decks we have an advantage, but on the other hand 4 copies of Kroxa make a strong case for aggressively casting and swinging with it against other control decks. The amount of discard in the deck allows us to cast Kroxa through counterspells.
Rakdos Discard Control is a brutal deck that relies on flexibility of answers and the grindy and powerful nature of Kroxa. With an emphasis on having as few dead draws as possible and giving your opponent as many as possible, this deck frustrates the opponent to death – which I find quite fun.