Hello everyone! Today I’m going over one of the cooler midrange decks that I’ve tried in Crimson Vow: Rakdos Dragons! Funny enough, I got the idea for the deck when I was writing an article before Crimson Vow’s release, the Premium Winners and Losers of Standard. If you have Premium or you’re interested in getting it, you can check out the link below.
So in the article I said midrange decks didn’t get much from Crimson Vow (which I still stand behind), but I brewed this deck up just as an example of a midrange the could be possible with Crimson Vow’s release. With that, I finally had some time to actually test out the concept despite me slating it as one of the deck’s that didn’t get much going into the new set, and it turned out to be pretty strong! The base was reasonable to begin with so all it took was some fine tuning to get it to a spot I was happy with.
As the name implies, this deck has an emphasis on the Dragons it has. With that, the only new card we’re using for this deck is one of the strongest cards printed in Crimson Vow: Manaform Hellkite. Admittedly I don’t use Manaform to it’s full potential in this deck, but it’s still been pulling it’s weight very well. Making an illusory Dragon for the turn every time you cast a spell can make combat really difficult for your opponent as either you can get a surprise attacker or blocker every time you cast a spell. We don’t have many expensive spells, but 4 Shatterskull Smashing gets used to their full effect when you have a Manaform out and it’s really easy to create insanely swingy turns with it. Beyond Manaform, we have our second 4 drop dragon in Moonveil Regent. Moonveil has been quite good all around as well since it can provide card advantage later in the game as well as block well with its death trigger. It’s been the weakest of all the Dragons, but still fine. Finally, we have Goldspan Dragon and I don’t think you need an explanation on why this card is so good.
With the Dragons, we get access to two Dragons matters cards in Orb of Dragonkind and Dragon's Fire. Orb of Dragonkind is a coveted 2 mana ramp spell that only works for Dragons, but is also a fine top deck later in the game as you can find more pressure with it, and with seeing 7 cards, it’s very unlikely to whiff. Dragon's Fire is a classic 2 mana deal 3, but with 11 Dragons it’s pretty much always a deal 4 which makes it an instant speed Thundering Rebuke and extremely well positioned as 4 toughness is the magic number in Standard right now between Smoldering Egg, Lier, Disciple of the Drowned, Old-Growth Troll, and Esika's Chariot.
Beyond the Dragons part of the deck, we still have plenty going on. Valki, God of Lies is a creature that’s been vastly underutilized outside of Sultai Ultimatum, but it’s been very strong for me here. Either a semi-disruptive 2/1 or a Planeswalker in the late game is a pretty good deal for a slower midrange deck like this one. Kalain, Reclusive Painter is another ramper for our top end that can also buff the creatures we cast off it, and considering most of our threats are beefy fliers, it’s even better than it normally is. For my sole 3, I decided to opt for Florian, Voldaren Scion. I was stuck between Florian, Reckless Stormseeker, and Nighthawk Scavenger and realistically any of them would be viable, but Florian excels in combat, is easy to cast (compared to Scavenger), and provides card advantage so I opted for it.
Finally we’re left with the interaction of the deck. Beyond the Shatterskull Smashing and Dragon's Fire which I already covered, we have Spikefield Hazard as additional lands and a hedge against small creatures, Infernal Grasp as an all around good removal spell, and Soul Shatter as a Hero's Downfall analog that’s easier to cast.
Overall, this deck fits the very traditional midrange paradigm that many decks haven’t been able to use in awhile of solid early game, good interaction, and good mid to late game threats which makes this a fun deck to play.
However this isn’t just limited to my Bo3 friends, I would argue this deck may be even better in Bo1 as we can more easily outscale the smaller creature decks that are very popular in Bo1 while still being solid against the slower decks. If you want to run it there, I would change it a bit to fit the meta, so here’s where I landed.
NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS/POTENTIAL INCLUSIONS
Fine if you want more small removal, but likely unnecessary.
Solid board card if you want more Monowhite hate.
If Dragons aren’t a popular creature type you can slot this in over Infernal Grasp.
I would play this over Soul Shatter is our mana was a bit cleaner, but I think it’s a bit of a risk right now.
I really like this card but I think the other Dragons are simply better suited for the deck’s game plan.
Could play some amount if you like the card, but I am personally a little low on it.
Although it’s an interesting Dragon, it’s not one I’m excited to play.
This could be a decent 1 of in theory, but there’s too many bounce spells to justify a 6 drop with no ETBs.
An excellent Dragon that we lack enough sacrifice fodder for to truly make it shine.
|+1 Abrade||-3 Valki, God of Lies|
|+1 Cinderclasm||-3 Orb of Dragonkind|
|+3 Burning Hands|
|+1 Infernal Grasp|
The boarding here is a tad awkward since we’re not removing any cards that are actively bad in the matchup, but that’s just how it has to be sometimes. We have the bigger threats so it’s all about playing the Control role and running Monowhite out of threats until you can kill them with one of your Dragons. Try not to play the MDFCs out if you can help it as both are going to do a lot of work for you, but obviously don’t miss critical land drops in an attempt to hold them.
MONOGREEN AGGRO/TEMUR TREASURES
|+1 Abrade||-1 Valki, God of Lies|
|+3 Burning Hands||-1 Moonveil Regent|
|+1 Infernal Grasp||-3 Orb of Dragonkind|
This matchup is much harder than Monowhite as their threats are larger and Blizzard Brawl is a huge pain, but I don’t think you’re significantly unfavored. Keep their scariest threats off of the board when possible and try to fly your way to victory.
|+3 Skyclave Shade||-4 Kalain, Reclusive Painter|
|+4 Duress||-1 Infernal Grasp|
|+2 Go Blank||-4 Dragon's Fire|
Initially I thought this matchup would be pretty bad for Rakdos, but I’ve found it to be much closer than anticipated. The goal is to keep them off steady with a lot of pressure then hit them with hand disruption on key turns. Try to keep threat heavy hands as you need to tax their permission spells and not give them time to set up if possible. Furthermore I like casting Duress on 1 as a lot of the time the opponent will foretell Epiphany on 2 so nabbing it before they can do that is ideal.
|+1 Cinderclasm||-3 Valki, God of Lies|
|+4 Duress||-1 Kalain, Reclusive Painter|
|+2 Go Blank||-3 Infernal Grasp|
This matchup is pretty rough as you’re both midrange decks but their threats are harder to deal with than yours. Furthermore they can make a lot of annoying blockers between Eyetwitch and Lolth, Spider Queen to stall which can make your Dragons a lot less effective. Ideally you can tag their top end or interaction with hand disruption and eventually break through their blockers, but that’s easier said than done.
This is somewhat close to a mirror so you don’t need many tools beyond some more removal. THey don’t play much removal themselves so you can spend a lot of the time taking out their threats then worry about deploying your own. Your threats will generally matchup up pound for pound, but you do want to be wary of Esika's Chariot, Goldspan Dragon, and Wrenn and Seven (if they play it) specifically. Those are the most likely to kill you so try to remove them ASAP.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- Don’t be afraid to block with Valki, God of Lies if you can get a good trade out of the deal. It ay be tempting to keep the creature you stole locked up as long as possible, but that’s not always the right play.
- Kalain, Reclusive Painter gives a creature a +1/+1 counter for each mana spent on it using Treasure, so if you have Goldspan Dragon out as well you can make huge threats like 8/8 4 drops. Furthermore, be careful when you have Kalain out as autotapper will prioritize spending Treasure when casting creatures.
- I know it’s on the card and is probably obvious, but if you want to activate Florian, Voldaren Scion‘s ability, you need to cast it main 1. I keep casting it main 2 for whatever reason and losing out on cards.
- Manaform Hellkite tokens get exiled at the beginning of the next end step so if you wait until the end step to cast spells, you can start the turn with some Dragon Illusions.
- Consider holding Kalain, Reclusive Painter in hand later in the game if you don’t need it as it works really well with Moonveil Regent to discard your hand and draw 2 cards.
- Generally you want to play your MDFCs as lands and only use the spell half if you have an excess of mana or it’s a really opportune time.
- When you have Orb of Dragonkind out, try to hold up Red as often as possible so it can’t be killed for free by Skyclave Apparition, Abrade, Prismari Command, etc.
Thank you for reading!