Rakdos Pests Strixhaven Standard Deck Guide: When Draft Filler is OP
Hello everyone! Before I get into the article, I wanted to announce that this will be the first article in a series of written guides by me with accompanying videos by DanyTlaw! That means you can read the guide on how to play the deck, then watch gameplay in action!
Today I’m bringing you one of the coolest takes on the Sacrifice archetype I’ve seen in awhile, Rakdos Pests! Created by uebelst4r, he brought this list to two second place finishes over the last weekend in the CFB Showdown and the Keep 7 tournament! You may think you know what to expect when you hear Rakdos Sacrifice, but take a look at this list!
At first glance, this just looks like a weirder version of the known Rakdos Sacrifice archetype. Instead of playing more copies of the high impact cards like Bonecrusher Giant or Rankle, Master of Pranks, we’re playing draft cards! I can understand that sentiment as we do lose out on some traditionally powerful cards, but the synergy that these cards provide is absolutely crucial to the overall game plan of the deck.
The major differences between this list and traditional Rakdos Sacrifice all revolve around all the new cards from Strixhaven. Let’s start with the Learn cards: Eyetwitch and Hunt for Specimens. Eyetwitch definitely doesn’t look like a Constructed all star in any sense, but when it’s a 1 mana creature that draws a decent card when it dies, it plays a lot better than it looks. Furthermore, with a deck that can really leverage it’s small creatures, Eyetwitch is secretly one of the best cards in this deck. Hunt for Specimens, even as uebelst4r admitted, was kind of just a worse Eyetwitch. He commented that he would play 7-8 Eyetwitch if he could, but he has to go with a different Learn card to leverage the sideboard as much as possible. With that, let’s talk about all the Learn cards in the sideboard.
This is going to be your most common hit. Pest Summoning is a cheap and proactive spell that lets you start flooding the board with creatures, something this deck very badly wants to do. Uebelst4r said that if you don’t need one of the other cards specifically, you should functionally always get this first.
The Bone Splinters variant for this deck. Cards like this have always been on the cusp of playability, but the power level is a bit low and drawing it at the wrong time can be devastating. However, when you can get it from the sideboard for free, it’s way more powerful of an option and there’s never a situation where you can draw it when you don’t want it.
By nature of Sacrifice archetypes, the games will go long, but a lot of your spells are pretty cheap. Eventually, you’re going to draw a lot more lands than you have any need for if the game goes long enough, so this is insurance for that.
Although uebelst4r said Exhibition may be too cute, it’s a functional Trostani’s Summoner that you can get from your sideboard for free! Most games probably don’t go long enough for this to matter, but it’s a nice target to have, especially for Bo1.
You thought we were done with the new cards? Not even close, that was just the Lessons section! Beyond the Learn cards, the main payoff this deck has is Extus, Oriq Overlord, but we’re really after the Awaken the Blood Avatar half. Awaken gives you an amazing sac outlet for all the little critters you’re going to be playing and it’s not that uncommon to get this out turn 4 or even as early as turn 3! If you don’t believe me, check out the video above!
To round out the new cards, Plumb the Forbidden is our card advantage engine. At first glance, Plumb looks like a Village Rites that’s sometimes better, sometimes worse. Not the most exciting, right? Well, uebelst4r corrected me when I asked that saying not only was it good, but it was the best card in the deck. I underestimated how wide the board can get and Plumb can easily refuel your hand in the midgame and create a situation your opponent couldn’t come back from.
MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING
MONO RED / WINOTA
|+2 The Akroan War||-2 Forbidden Friendship|
|+1 Claim the Firstborn||-1 Plumb the Forbidden (Mono Red)|
|-1 Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger (Winota)|
Similar matchups require similar game plans. Since we only have really 8 sideboard slots because of all the lessons, a lot of the cards in the sideboard are highly targeted and obvious when we want them. All the steal effects are obviously great against the creature decks and this deck utilizes them well with a full 17 ways to sacrifice creatures in this list. We can grind these decks out in the long game, so make sure you do whatever you can to stay alive in the interim.
|+2 The Akroan War||-2 Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger|
|+1 Claim the Firstborn||-1 Plumb the Forbidden|
Similar deal to Monored and Winota, Monowhite gives up a bit on speed for a greater emphasis on board presence. We definitely do better on this front as trading creatures will generally benefit our strategy far greater than theirs, and they are very soft to something like an Akroan War. Like the other creature decks, focus on grinding down their resources and you should be able to find a random way to kill them.
|+2 The Akroan War||-1 Serrated Scorpion|
|+1 Claim the Firstborn||-2 Forbidden Friendship|
We generally don’t mind facing midrange decks, but Temur can be particularly scary as their capacity to go over the top of us is definitely concerning. That being said, they don’t interact very well so setting up a really strong board state before they can start casting their high impact spells is not that unreasonable. The Great Henge is easily the scariest card for us so try and not let them untap with a Lovestruck Beast or Kazandu Mammoth when possible.
|+1 Claim the Firstborn||-4 Extus, Oriq Overlord|
|+1 Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger|
Rogues hate to see a lot of Escape cards, and we already play 4 good ones naturally (and another Kroxa in the board). Beyond that, a lot of our spells are cheap and we have a lot of ways to naturally accrue value. It’s hard for Rogues to ever be an amazing matchup for any deck as Rogues can have it’s busted starts, but this deck does have an excellent plan for dealing with the Rogue menace. Keep flooding the board, keep grinding, hope they don’t draw too many Into the Story before you mill your Escape cards.
|+2 Duress||-3 Claim the Firstborn|
|+1 Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger||-2 Forbidden Friendship|
|+2 Roiling Vortex|
This matchup is going to be a race, pure and simple. There are definitely grindy elements to it as you can counter their removal spells with timely Village Rites and Plumb the Forbidden, but no late game is realistically going to beat an Emergent Ultimatum so you need to get under them. Keep the pressure on and pray they don’t draw a Shadows' Verdict to ruin your day.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- Although this deck is mostly after the Awaken the Blood Avatar half of Extus, Extus is a really good blocker against creature decks and can be used in the late game to recur a bunch of creatures as well. Extus also combines really well with Plumb the Forbidden as it counts copied spells too!
- This is a well known interaction, but you can hold priority when a non-escaped Kroxa resolves and sacrifice it to Village Rites, Plumb the Forbidden, Kazuul’s Fury, or Woe Strider.
- The 0/1 Goat from Woe Strider has a huge amount of utility in this deck compared to older builds of Rakdos, don’t be as eager to sacrifice it for a scry as you may normally be with Rakdos.
- Immersturm Predator is an amazing threat, but can also be used as a way to repeatedly eat the graveyard, even without attacking. If there’s a board stall, you can always sacrifice creatures just to tap it for the trigger.
- This may be obvious but you can just cast Plumb the Forbidden and not sacrifice any creatures for a functional cycle. You don’t always have to hold it hoping you’re going to get an amazing turn with it.
- Prioritize Black mana early as Pest Summoning needs double Black, you only need a few red sources to operate.
- Racing math is extremely important in this deck so you have to keep track of how much damage you’re dealing and life you’re gaining to play this deck optimally. Every game is going to be a puzzle of sorts.
- Necrotic Fumes exiles both your creature for the casting cost and the opponent’s creature so it won’t trigger Bastion of Remembrance.
Thank you for reading! Special thanks to DanyTlaw and uebelst4r for making the video content to go along with this guide! The link to our social medias are below.