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Mastering Rakdos Scam: 5 Essential Lessons

Lucas Giggs
22/01/2024 · 9 min read

Quick Intro

Recently, I played in the MTGO Modern Showcase and finished just a few steps shy of the top 8. I used a Rakdos Scam decklist from Rastaf, one of the best grinders on Magic Online.

Today, I will talk a bit about what I've learned from playing with this deck, as well as discuss some specific situations from the tournament where I could have improved my results with it.

Reference Decklist

Rakdos Evoke. Builder: LucasG1ggs.MTGO - Magic Online
(6 - 3)
in MTGO Modern Showcase Challenge #12603863 [343 Players] 06-Jan-2024
MTG Decks Maindeck (60)
Creature [23]
4  Dauthi Voidwalker   $14.99
4  Fable of the Mirror-Breaker   $17.99
4  Grief   $29.99
1  Magus of the Moon   $10.99
4  Orcish Bowmasters   $59.99
4  Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer   $49.99
2  Sheoldred, the Apocalypse   $99.99
Instant [11]
2  Fatal Push   $2.29
1  Kolaghan's Command   $1.99
2  Lightning Bolt   $1.29
4  Not Dead After All   $0.69
1  Terminate   $0.69
1  Undying Evil   $0.79
Sorcery [6]
2  Molten Collapse   $1.29
4  Thoughtseize   $16.99
Land [20]
4  Blood Crypt   $18.99
4  Bloodstained Mire   $32.99
2  Marsh Flats   $18.99
1  Mount Doom   $5.99
1  Polluted Delta   $44.99
3  Swamp   $0.01
1  Takenuma, Abandoned Mire   $12.99
1  Verdant Catacombs   $19.99
3  Blackcleave Cliffs   $4.49
Sideboard [15]
2  Blood Moon   $7.99
2  Bonecrusher Giant   $0.79
1  Hidetsugu Consumes All   $3.49
1  Kolaghan's Command   $1.99
2  Legion's End   $0.79
2  Chalice of the Void   $69.99
2  Engineered Explosives   $15.99
3  Leyline of the Void   $3.49
Buy this deck:

$378.62 Tix @cardhoarder   $9.47 / Week @cardhoarder   $1,211.92 @tcgplayer   $1,501.11 @cardkingdom  

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As said, the list is the same that Rastaf has been using. I have been playing for some time with this deck, including a lot before the bans of Fury and Up the Beanstalk, so I have some experience with it. But even so, we learn new things every day, and with this deck, it is no different, especially with a list that can no longer make a 4/4 double strike creature on turn 1.

The 5 Things I Learned

1. No More Aggressive Mulliganing

The deck is no longer so "all in", even though it still does unfair things in the early turns, with Grief being the main one. It is a midrange that can combat any deck in the format with a fairer game, with interactions and early game plays, also having a very good late game. The fact that you can play Grief on turn 1 doesn't mean that the deck needs to do just that, it's a resource that you have the option to use if the necessary combination of cards comes up. Let's look at some hand examples with this deck:

None of them make Grief turn 1, but all are very playable. Of course, Ragavan turn 1 on some of them helps a lot, but even our dear little monkey lost much of its strength as the format evolved and decks adapted (Orcish Bowmasters, Wrenn and Six, numerous removals, Young Wolf). The point is to say that the deck has become more of a midrange deck than a two-card combo (Grief/Fury + undying effect) and for that, it also needed to adapt.

2. Dropping Fury from the Deck Has Made it More Balanced,

(But it's still a strong contender in the meta)

It was a bit frustrating to bring Fury into any state of the game, with undying effects some matches were simply too easy, like Yawgmoth for example, which has now completely changed and I would even say that it became a bad match for the deck, or at least much less favorable. This was also present in the mirror, since a Fury on turn1 was often enough to quickly finish the game, and you were forced to have your own or find the removal in a few turns. Even in the late game, with the board established, a Fury from the top, in combination with undying effects or Reflection of Kiki-Jiki, became a desperate situation. Without its presence, sometimes games are decided with a turn1 Grief, but this happens much less frequently, making the game much more interactive and fragile to certain types of hate (for example, it becomes much more dangerous to rely on a plan involving scamming in case the opponent opens with Leyline of the Void).

I believe this is beneficial for the game itself, taking away some of the deck's power and making it fairer in relation to other decks in the format.

3. Several Matchups Have Become Less Favorable.

As mentioned, Fury's presence significantly improved certain matchups, such as those against Yawgmoth. Having a "wrath" effect in the main deck could synergize with the undying effects while also leaving a 4/4 double-strike creature on the field. Additionally, with the help of Dauthi Voidwalker, you could completely clear the opponent's board. Now, we struggle more with the swarm factor when facing many creatures on the field, and the deck must adapt accordingly. Cards like Brotherhood's End, Anger of the Gods, and even Legion's End, which are included in Rastaf's list, have become more necessary, at least in the sideboard. The loss of the "free Game 1" advantage that Fury provided is something we have lost, and we need to keep that in mind when playing.

4. Fable of the Mirror Breaker Is Even More Relevant Now

Losing half of the turn 1 scam factor from the deck made it much more of a midrange, like in Pioneer, with discards, interactions, removals, and creatures that dominate the board. And for a midrange game, Fable of the Mirror Breaker becomes much more important, having abilities that are totally relevant to your game plan. The Goblin token by itself is already a threat, but cycling useless lands/cards and copying creatures make a triad that dominates many games. It is one of the best cards released in recent times and now that the deck has become much fairer, its presence is even more necessary.

5. Key Cards Updated

Before the ban, the 75 cards were almost unanimously among players, with just a few slots having changed from one list to another. Now, the deck can use cards that are very important in matches that, in fact, were even worse off before. I believe that one of the clearest examples is Sheoldred, one of the best cards against decks that generate a lot of card advantage and that dominates the board if not answered quickly, especially against The One Ring decks. In this list, in addition to a larger number of the praetor, Rastaf also opted to use Magus of the Moon, even replacing the previously more utilized Blood Moon, which now finds itself in the sideboard.

I believe that one of the arguments is that, despite being more susceptible to removals, against matches where Blood Moon would really be more important, like Amulet Titan, it is a hate that doesn't get stopped by Boseiju, Who Endures. Another card that has returned to the main deck is Kolaghan's Command, a good, versatile card, which has many targets in the format, one of the main ones being Agatha's Soul Cauldron.

Bonus: Three Mistakes to Avoid!

Finally, I will go over with you 3 situations that could have changed my outcome in the last Modern Showcase. I believe it is important as a player's evolution: to identify your mistakes so you can avoid them in the future.

Nº 1. Thoughtseizing the Wrong Card

In game 3 against Rhinos, I faced the following situation:

I chose Violent Outburst, but clearly I should have chosen Flame of Anor, which, with Tishana and Mutavault being mages, could give a great advantage to the opponent and for having the answer to the Rhinos he would make with Legion’s End, even with a turn at a disadvantage. Or I could have forced a second discard by invoking Grief, leaving him with just a Tishana, but I would also be "just" with a Dauthi, depending on the next draws. Obviously I lost the game (rightly so), as the Flame of Anor found many cards that swallowed me up, even leaving my Legion’s End doing nothing against Endurances and Murktide.

Nº 2: Leyline & Sideboarding

Leyline of the Void has become one of the most present cards in Rakdos Scam sideboards, being useful in multiple matches, especially in the mirror. But the use or not of the Leyline also ended up leaving some players with a doubt: whether to keep the undying effects post-sideboard or not? This question was on my mind in game 3, and I ended up opting to remove them, imagining that the opponent might think that I could have the Leyline (I had shown it in game 2) and therefore, remove their undying not to run the risk of having dead cards in a game that became so grindy. And then, here I am, with the following hand in game 3, already having mulliganed to 6.

Maybe I could have mulliganed one more time, but having Ragavan and an answer for the opposing Ragavan made me keep. But the most curious detail is having Legion's End in hand, which I brought in instead of the Leylines, guessing that my opponent might have given up on the turn 1 Grief plan, fearing a card that he had already seen before. Well, here's what happens: he keeps 7 with the following play:

My Thoughtseize hit a Thoughtseize, alright, leaving him with a Lightning Bolt and a Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, still giving me a chance in case he didn't draw the red land or another undying effect. I even drew my land, but so did he, and you can imagine the rest. If it had been a Leyline instead of the Legion's End, I would have left him with a much worse hand, relying heavily on the Fable to develop his game.

Nº 3: Which Card to put at the Bottom During a Mulligan.

Also in game 3, against Creativity, I was involved in the play with the following han after mulliganing.

I chose to put down Terminate because I thought it wasn't very good, as responding to an Archon on the field was already not very advantageous. But I made a mistake, I should have had at least one answer for it, to at least have the possibility of continuing to play depending on the board. And that's exactly what happened: I managed to hit an Archon from his hand with Dauthi in play, resolved my own Archon, and left him in topdeck mode. Because he topdecked Creativity, leaving me without an Archon and with dead Fatal Pushes in my hand. If one of them had been a Terminate, there might still have been a game, because right after I drew a Blood Moon, which could drag the game out for a few more turns. Without being able to respond to the Archon, I simply lost the match and the chance to get into the top 8.

As said, I think it's important for you to be able to identify your mistakes, and this is something I do frequently, after big tournaments: could I have done something to change my result? In this case, I could have done 3 different things and I believe everyone should do the same: rethink their choices and see how they can improve. Magic Online's replay is a great tool for that.

Final words

Today was a different article, I hope you liked it and, depending on the feedback, I can write more articles like this. I believe that everything is valid to evolve as a player and I hope this can contribute in some way with my game vision in some situations.

See you next time!

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones Pauper Mono-blue Faeries Deck & Sideboard Guide, Pioneer Boros Convoke Guide, Oops All Spells cheatsheet and sideboard guide, Standard Domain Ramp - Deck & Side Guide

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Lucas Giggs
MTG Streamer
Hi, my name is Lucas de Almeida Hervás. I'm 31 years old, married, and I live in Indaiatuba/SP, Brazil. I've been playing Magic the Gathering since 2009, but I've been making a living off of it since 2019 through leagues and tournaments on Magic Online. For those who don't know me, I'm 2.17 meters tall, hence the nickname "the tallest Magic player in Brazil."


Published: 2024-01-22 00:00:00

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