Rakdos Kroxa Midrange Deck Guide: Updated for the New Meta

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Deck Summary

Rakdos Kroxa is a midrange deck – its primary gameplan is to use efficient removal, like Bonecrusher Giant and Heartless Act, in conjunction with midrange threats, such as Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger and Rankle, Master of Pranks. To support Kroxa, Magmatic Channeler, and Ox of Agonas, the deck incorporates self-mill, in the form of Tymaret Calls the Dead, Mire Triton, and Magmatic Channeler’s activated ability, as well as some symmetrical discard effects. The graveyard is also often stocked by the various Mill/Rogues decks, which are currently a significant part of the metagame, which is a good reason to play a deck that has so many ways to make use of it. While the recent surge in Yorion lists has hurt this deck a bit, there are still plenty of Rogues to farm!

Card Choices

The Threats:

Liliana

Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger: Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath was recently banned and, while this titan isn’t quite as broken as its simic counterpart, it’s still quite good. Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger is the primary payoff for the self-mill, and a recursive 6/6 that makes your opponent discard is certainly a good payoff. Casting Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger from hand is significantly less powerful, because while it is card neutral, you’re trading down on mana, and it trades for your opponent’s worst card. You’re really hoping to mill over Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, but casting it is by no means the end of the world, because it ends up in the graveyard. Keep in mind, you can always escape Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger from your graveyard with another one in play, just to get the trigger, and if your opponent is low on life, they could find themselves dead from two or three Lava Spikes, as long as they don’t have many non-lands in hand. 

Rankle, Master of Pranks: A backup midrange threat, Rankle does several things but none of them amazingly well, making up for it in flexibility. A 3/3 flying haste isn’t quite up to par these days, but Rankle, Master of Pranks can turn your random 2/2s into edicts, help fill your graveyard with its discard, and get in some extra damage or draw you action/hit you land drops with the card draw ability. 

Liliana, Waker of the Dead: A rather obscure card that I’m glad is getting to see play, Liliana is a great way to break a board stall, and her failcase is a removal spell that comes with potentially a little lifegain. While there are situations where it is correct not to tick up and just pass the turn, because the card in your hand is especially important, that won’t come up often. Liliana is also a great way to discard an escape card or fill your graveyard for one, while still staying neutral on cards. 

Nighthawk Scavenger: Nighthawk Scavenger, or Vampire Nightgoyf, is a classic undercosted beater: great against aggressive decks, weak against Heartless Act, and often a 4/3 flying lifelink or bigger. Not much more to say, except it’s not great against opposing escape cards. 

Agadeem’s Awakening: Agadeem’s Awakening gets cast rarely, but when you do need it, it’ll be very good. Be careful about exiling creatures while escaping that you may need later for this, and don’t be afraid of running it out early, as three life is a lot in certain matchups. 

Ox of Agonas: The singleton Ox of Agonas is primarily for the Rogues matchup, as escape 8 becomes a huge upside when you’re emptying your graveyard to turn off opposing payoffs like Into the Story and Soaring Thought-Thief. While Ox boasts a cheap escape cost and a great enters-the-battlefield trigger, it does compete with Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, and most of the time escape for eight is large enough to be a big downside.  

Enablers: 

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Tymaret Calls the Dead: This card is the glue that holds the deck together. While it’s not quite History of Benalia, it’s very often two 2/2s, and potentially a couple points of life and some scrying. What really makes the card great, though, is the mill for six. It enables a turn four Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, and the other graveyard synergies as well. Don’t be afraid of playing out Tymaret Calls the Dead without a creature or enchantment already in the graveyard, as the chance to hit is quite high, and the disaster scenario isn’t terrible either. Make sure not to accidentally exile an escape card you’ll need later, as a 2/2 is much lower impact than having access to Kroxa.

Mire Triton: The deck’s backup self-mill card, Mire Triton is no Tymaret Calls the Dead, but it’s cheap, gets cards in the graveyard, and is a decent body against aggressive decks. It does admittedly match up poorly against Bonecrusher Giant, but three cards in the graveyard is close enough to half a card in this deck. 

Magmatic Channeler: This card won’t actually be a 4/4 that often, though it’s certainly not never, so its real strength instead comes from its activated ability. Discarding an escape card or dead land to look at the top two is great, both in the early game to dig for lands or a removal spell, and in the late game as a way to counteract flood. There is some tension between Magmatic Channeler wanting instants and sorceries in the graveyard, and Tymaret Calls the Dead and Agadeem’s Awakening wanting creatures in the graveyard. More often than not, I prioritize leaving one or two targets for Tymaret Calls the Dead, but you should evaluate the scenario based on the game-state and what you have in your hand or in play – how important will a 4/4 Magmatic Channeler be in the current board state?

This is an especially key card in game 1s against Control or Yorion decks, where it mitigates the disadvantage of having so much removal in your deck by simply discarding it and finding new cards!

Removal: 

Heartless Act and Bloodchief’s Thirst: Cheap and efficient removal. Now that attacking and blocking are viable strategies in standard, removal is important. Additionally, having answers to Scavenging Ooze is very important. 

Bonecrusher Giant and Murderous Rider: Bonecrusher Giant is one of the best cards in Standard at the moment: i’s great against creatures, and a 4/3 for three that’s annoying to remove is just barely overcosted as well. Murderous Rider is some extra hard removal for bigger creatures and planeswalkers, but the creature half is significantly worse – enough so that Swift End fizzling isn’t something you need to play around too much.

Spikefield Hazard, Hagra Mauling, and Shatterskull Smashing: These are all overcosted removal spells, but being attached to a land is a very big upside. This deck generates enough value that it’s generally not worth it to create a potentially awkward situation in a later turn by holding these too much.

Sideboard: 

Duress and Agonizing Remorse: These two are in the sideboard primarily for control and slower midrange decks, but Agonizing Remorse can also come in against decks where exiling is relevant, like the mirror. 

Skyclave Shade: Skyclave Shade is good against decks that don’t force you to have blockers and/or don’t have a good answer to a recursive threat. For example, it isn’t good against Golgari Adventures, despite it being a midrange mirror, because of both Scavenging Ooze, and the abundance of 1/1s and efficient blockers. But it is quite good against Azorius Control, because this deck is the beatdown in the matchup, and most of those decks don’t have very many good answers to a recursive threat.

Scorching Dragonfire: Scorching Dragonfire is just more efficient removal against aggressive decks; its ability to exile Anax, Hardened in the Forge and various escape creatures is a great reason to play it.

Soul-Guide Lantern and Cling to Dust: There are a lot of decks that use the graveyard currently, and these cards are great answers to that. They both can cycle, so bringing them in just to combat an opposing Cling to Dust or Lurrus of the Dream Den is totally fine, because you’re never down a card. 

Ox of Agonas: A second copy of Ox of Agonas finds its place in the board, because it’s just so good against Rogues while also being a solid way to refuel against Control.

Shredded Sails: A flexible answer to artifacts, fliers, or both, it’s even good in matchups where there’s only one important target like The Great Henge, because it cycles if there’s no target for it. 

Sideboard Guide

Since the format is still relatively fresh post-ban, lists tend to vary a lot and there are a lot of rogue decks (in addition to all the Rogues decks). For that reason, you shouldn’t follow this sideboard guide blindly; it’s much better to adjust it based on what you see from your opponents. 

Mono Green Food: 

InOut
+1 Shredded Sails
+1 Agonizing Remorse
+2 Soul-Guide Lantern
+1 Duress
-1 Magmatic Channeler
-2 Rankle, Master of Pranks
-2 Liliana, Waker of the Dead

This matchup is all about keeping Scavenging Ooze in check, so don’t waste your removal early and keep in mind that neither Bonecrusher Giant nor Heartless Act answer Scavenging Ooze very well. Past that, try to keep them low on cards, remove high-power creatures to keep The Great Henge from coming down, and try to close out the game before Trail of Crumbs takes over the game. This matchup isn’t great, but it’s very winnable. 

The Mirror:

InOut
+2 Cling to Dust
+3 Soul-Guide Lantern
+2 Scorching Dragonfire
+1 Agonizing Remorse
-2 Liliana, Waker of the Dead
-2 Rankle, Master of Pranks
-2 Nighthawk Scavenger
-1 Magmatic Channeler
-1 Bonecrusher Giant

Game one is all about snowballing with Kroxa and friends, but post-board things get a little more grindy. The symmetrical discard effects get a lot worse, as the opponent’s deck takes advantage of them as well, and Nighthawk Scavenger isn’t very good against escape cards. Soul-Guide Lantern is by far your best card. Don’t forget that Agonizing Remorse can snag a card from the opponent’s graveyard as well as their hand, so you can always get rid of a Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, even if it’s already been discarded or played.

Dimir Rogues:

InOut
+1 Ox of Agons
+2 Cling to Dust
+2 Scorching Dragonfire
+2 Skyclave Shade
-3 Mire Triton
-4 Tymaret Calls the Dead

A very good matchup, largely due to our opponents doing the hard work for us of milling us for escape. Removal and more escape cards come in, and out comes all the self mill, because the opponent is doing it for us. Also because decking is something to be worried about, and Tymaret Calls the Dead in particular makes it too easy to fly too close to the sun. Additionally, we want to keep our graveyard smaller in this than other matchups, so that we can Escape and go under 8 cards to keep their Scavengers small, disable their payoffs, and buy some time.

Golgari Adventures:

InOut
+1 Shredded Sails
+1 Agonizing Remorse
+2 Scorching Dragonfire
+2 Soul-Guide Lantern
-1 Magmatic Channeler
-2 Mire Triton
-2 Heartless Act
-1 Liliana, Waker of the Dead

If Edgewall Innkeeper sticks, the game won’t go in your favor, so killing it on sight is priority number one. The Great Henge is also quite problematic, so avoid letting your opponent untap with a Lovestruck Beast on turn four. Soul-Guide Lantern is mainly for Raise Dead effects, but can snipe a Polukranos as well. Try to hold Shredded Sails for The Great Henge if possible. 

Red, Green, or Red-Green Aggro: 

InOut
+2 Scorching Dragonfire-2 Rankle, Master of Pranks

Aggressive decks tend to be a good matchup anyway, as this deck packs plenty of removal and goes slightly bigger in terms of top end. The biggest threat is by far Embercleave; do your best not to lose to it, and the rest will usually be easy. Finally, if possible, try to play around Bonecrusher Giant, usually by casting a different two-drop than Mire Triton on turn two. 

UW/BW/GW Yorion:

InOut
+3 Duress
+1 Agonizing Remorse
-2 Rankle
-2 Bloodchief’s Thirst

These matchups tend to be hard, but winnable. Trail of Crumbs, Mazemind Tome, and Omen of the Sea make grinding hard, and Skyclave Apparition is quite good against Kroxa. Try to get ahead on tempo and put pressure on your opponent, to ensure they don’t have enough time to set up and start accruing value from their engines. Duress is one of your best cards post-board, as denying them a turn two value engine is very important.

Conclusion

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed my guide! Rakdos Kroxa has remained one of the best decks in the format since Zendikar’s release, with a good plan against both aggro and control. If you enjoyed this article, you can reach me on Twitter, and if you want to see me play the deck, on Youtube and Twitch. That’s it from me, enjoy the rest of your day, and good luck in your matches!

OmriK

OmriK

I’m a 15 year old magic player from the US, I play on MTGA a lot, and I wish more online tournaments weren’t age restricted.

4 Responses

  1. Is your listing correct? You mentioned a second copy of Ox of Agonas in sb but the main deck has none.

  2. VeriAAn VeriAAn says:

    Sideboard is also off. There are 2 Shredded sails instead of 1 and 2 lanterns instead of 3

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