Standard Rakdos Midrange Sideboard Guide and Deckbuilding Choices

17/01/2023 · 11 min read

The deck

This is my current version of the deck that I used in Sunday's Challenge to make it to the top 8:

Rakdos Midrange by Mogged - Top 8 @ Sunday Standard Challenge
Rakdos Midrange by Mogged - Top 8 @ Sunday Standard Challenge

Rakdos Midrange. Builder: Mogged.MTGA - Magic Arena
Top4 in 17-Jan-2023
Maindeck (60)
Creature [14]
1  Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor   $19.99
2  Sheoldred, the Apocalypse   $74.99
3  Graveyard Trespasser   $1.29
4  Bloodtithe Harvester   $0.29
4  Fable of the Mirror-Breaker   $27.99
Artifact [4]
4  Reckoner Bankbuster   $3.49
Instant [9]
3  Abrade   $0.25
3  Go for the Throat   $0.29
3  Cut Down   $0.99
Sorcery [6]
2  Brotherhood's End   $10.99
4  Invoke Despair   $0.79
Planeswalker [1]
1  Liliana of the Veil   $23.99
Land [26]
1  Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance   $3.49
1  Takenuma, Abandoned Mire   $7.99
2  Mountain   $0.01
3  Ziatora's Proving Ground   $8.49
3  Xander's Lounge   $11.99
4  Sulfurous Springs   $4.49
4  Haunted Ridge   $14.99
8  Swamp   $0.01
Sideboard [15]
1  Jaya, Fiery Negotiator   $1.99
1  Squee, Dubious Monarch   $0.59
1  Abrade   $0.25
1  Liliana of the Veil   $23.99
1  Cut Down   $0.99
2  Unlicensed Hearse   $16.99
2  Brotherhood's End   $10.99
3  Duress   $0.25
3  Whack   $0.25
Buy this deck:

$323.10 Tix @cardhoarder   $8.08 / Week @cardhoarder   $430.51 @tcgplayer   $580.85 @cardkingdom  

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Rakdos Midrange is a Standard deck designed to combat the recent surge in Aggro decks, such as UW Soldiers and Mono-Red Aggro.

Updates on the Current Metagame

Counterspells & Value Generating to Fight the Biggest Threats

Grixis mirror matches have evolved, with players discovering that a more efficient approach is to include fewer removal spells and cutting Sheoldreds. Instead, the key to success in these matches is to utilize powerful counterspells and value-generating engines.

A key to beating a metagame is knowing the current curve patterns that present exploitable weaknesses.

It's worth noting that even cards that are typically considered weak, such as Siphon Insight, have played a crucial role in midrange mirrors.

Siphon Insight
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
57.47 Tix

This has led to lists like the one mentioned below achieving success.

Grixis Midrange By Jaberwocki - MTGO Standard Challenge
Grixis Midrange By Jaberwocki - MTGO Standard Challenge

Aggressive Strategies are back in the game

While it's true that Sheoldred and Cut Down may not be as effective in mirror matches, their removal from the deck can leave it vulnerable to aggressive strategies. Additionally, the ability to sacrifice something cheaper to nullify Grixis' primary finisher, Invoke Despair further weakens the deck against Aggro.

Cut Down
0.01 Tix
Invoke Despair
0.56 Tix

In this metagame , Aggro decks have effectively halted the dominance of greedy Grixis builds and decks like UR Ramp that aim to overpower Grixis. Specifically, UW Soldiers have had great success in various events, and Monored remains a formidable threat.

However, these decks are relatively weak compared to the new-age Midrange tools currently available. The smart play is to give them the respect they deserve and allow them to reach a point in the game where their weak card quality and lack of control over their draws become apparent.

Finding the Right Meta Call: Rakdos or Grixis?

Rakdos Midrange is a viable alternative to Grixis Midrange, with the main difference being Corpse Appraiser and 2-mana counterspells. Even though these options are relatively effective against Aggro decks compared to other options like Graveyard Trespasser and removal spells, they do require a 3-color manabase with Painlands to ensure a smooth curve and avoid color screw.

Corpse Appraiser
0.02 Tix
Make Disappear
0.02 Tix

The goal of Rakdos Midrange is to make the manabase more stable, less painful, and able to support Brotherhood's End better; this results in a deck that is very similar to Grixis Midrange, but better suited for a tournament where Aggro has a big meta share.

Brotherhood's End
8.54 Tix

The comparison of different slots between Grixis and Rakdos Midrange decks can help illustrate the trade-offs and differences between the two. It can show what is gained and what is lost by using one deck over the other, and can help players make an informed decision about which deck is best suited for their playstyle and the expected metagame.

This is one of those times where choosing a fringe or suboptimal deck is a good fit in a specific scenario, something that we already discussed in my previous article about the five pillars of deckbuilding .

Card Choices

Corpse appraiser and Graveyard Trespasser

In summary, the choice between Graveyard Trespasser and Corpse Appraiser in Midrange decks is a trade-off between short-term gain against Aggro decks and long-term value. Corpse Appraiser provides better card selection and value in the long game, but it requires a creature in the graveyard, which can delay its casting and can possibly inflict some damage on casting due to painlands.

Corpse Appraiser
0.02 Tix

On the other hand, Graveyard Trespasser offers a reliable 3-drop with a ward ability that can gain some life on casting/attacking and can be a good option to survive against Aggro decks, but it is weaker in the late game.

Graveyard Trespasser

Counterspells vs Removal

Making disappear and removal are both cost 2 mana and fall under the category of answers, but they have different strengths and weaknesses.

Making Dissapear or using another counter as an answer requires constant mana investment, and its downside is that when under pressure, you might not get a chance to use it, or an opponent can simply play around it. Its upside is that it can stop powerful cards like Invoke Despair and other cards that require multiple answers to be stopped, such as Wedding Announcement.

Wedding Announcement
6.23 Tix

Removal, on the other hand, answers only permanents and it doesn't require constant mana investment. Its downside is that it doesn't stop powerful cards like Invoke or Wedding Announcement, which only counterspells can stop. Its upside is that it's more versatile with its timing; it can be used in any situation, and it doesn't give much of an option to the opponent.

Cut Down
0.01 Tix
0.03 Tix
Go for the Throat
0.03 Tix

In summary, Make Disappear can be a good option when you want to stop expensive cards that require multiple answers to be stopped, but it's less versatile and it requires constant mana investment, which may result in tempo loss. Removal, on the other hand, is more versatile timing-wise and doesn't require constant mana investment, but it's less effective against powerful cards that only counterspells can stop.

Removal spells such as Go for the Throat, Abrade, and Cut Down are very flexible in their timing and can instantly shut down an aggressive start, regardless of the opponent's choices. However, their downside is that they may not be as effective against grindy plans when they only answer part of a card, rather than the entire card.

Brotherhood's End is a key card in the Rakdos Midrange deck, as it can provide powerful board control and card advantage. Even when its main mode isn't selected, its second mode can still be relevant, and it can be cycled away with cards like Blood Tokens or Fable of the Mirror Breaker when the game isn't focused on sweeping the board.

The Current Role of Sheoldred

Sheoldred, too, is a strong card against Aggro decks, as it has 5 toughness and untapping with it will put you out of the opponent's reach, helping to stabilize the board. However, it can be weak against Midrange decks, as it is often answered by a 2-mana card.

The general plan against Aggro decks is to survive first and then start drawing cards later to close out the game.

Against Midrange decks, it's important to be as mana-efficient as possible and sacrifice card advantage for pressure, essentially playing the role of the aggro deck.

Sideboard guide

Grixis Midrange & Rakdos Midrange

This matchup is slightly unfavored; we don't have the option to stay back with mana open and we have to win the early battle. Instead, what we do have are many good, midrange, grindy tools to do that; Duress makes up for what we lack in blue for Game 2.

Note: if the Rakdos mirror shows up just use the same sideboard for this matchup

Azorius Soldiers

This matchup is very favorable; it's all about keeping a solid, interactive hand and just surviving the early game. Our game two is also looking very good, as all of our cards are either answers or good bodies.

Mono-red Aggro

This matchup is favored; we don't care about having interaction as much as we care about having a really fast hand. We can win with either killing their stuff early or just clogging the board early.

Note: Invoke Despair is being kept in to answer Jaya lists, while Abrade should be kept in to fight Thundering Raiju lists.

Mono-white Midrange

Probably the toughest matchup out there; since their threats can either avoid some of our removal or give them a card for their trouble, we need to gain a lot of tempo and simplify the board before they bury us in card advantage or reach a really wide board.

Esper Midrange

A favored matchup, we have cheap removal for all their creatures and the only real problem is their Wedding Announcement.

On the play

On the draw

Mono Blue

It's a really good matchup; we can deploy pressure and have good backup answers to their threats, while still having some incidental graveyard hate. Many of our sideboard cards just happen to be good against Mono-Blue.

Blue Red Artifacts Ramp

A bad matchup; we aren't fast enough, which forces us to jam our threats into their counters and play really badly into Brotherhood's end. Game 2 should be looking a lot better as we get rid of our almost-dead cards and get in some real interaction. Fast-curving hands are better than interactive hands; pressure is our only win condition.

Final words

In conclusion, Rakdos Midrange is a deck that is weaker than Grixis Midrange in a vacuum, but it excels in specific conditions. Specifically, it is very good against Aggro decks, average against Midrange, and weaker against traditional Control, which Grixis would have pushed away if it existed.

Therefore, the current metagame, with a lack of Control decks and a high presence of Aggro decks, makes Rakdos Midrange a fringe but strong choice in the current moment. It's important to keep an eye on the metagame shifts and adjust accordingly.

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones Taking the Modern Challenge with Calibrated Blast: primer and sideboard guide, The Ultimate Guide to Rakdos Midrange in Pioneer, Discovering Legacy Part 2: Non-Blue Decks, Standard Jund Midrange Primer & Sideboard Guide, Beating the Pioneer metagame with Izzet Phoenix

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MTGO Grinder
Mogged is one of the MTGO grinders behind many of the top winning decks across formats. He has the most Challenge top8s and wins in 2021, and is currently leading in Challenge wins in 2022. His articles show a deep understanding of the MTG theory and are great for those looking to improve their gameplay, better understanding the game, and learning how the metagame evolves over time.


Published: 2023-01-17 00:00:00

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