The Ultimate Guide to Rakdos Midrange in Pioneer

Alessandro Carvallo
01/10/2022 · 12 min read

About me

Hello everyone, my name is Alessandro Carvallo but I'm better known as Cabezadebolo on MTGO. I'm a very well-known grinder and deckbuilder on MTGO, and it's my pleasure to present to you the definitive guide to Rakdos Midrange.

Rakdos Midrange in the current metagame

I have a love story with this deck; I designed and created it last year and it's the deck that allowed me to take the leap into the competitive Magic Online scene. I hope you enjoy this article and that it's helpful to you all.

Rakdos Midrange is probably the most dominant deck in Pioneer right now. With the release of new sets, Rakdos Midrange just keeps getting better and better, because it's such a flexible deck with a clear plan that it's always able to incorporate new cards into the main 75.

This deck has been highly questioned recently, due to the fact that many players would choose to play this deck even though the Mono G matchup was unfavorable and the UR Phoenix matchup was a 50/50. So the path to victory for Rakdos was to try to be effective against the other decks that were prepared to beat Mono G and Izzet Phoenix, such as UW Control / Mono White Humans // Spirits // RW Heroic. And at this point is where Rakdos becomes a good competitive deck, having high chances of winning against Aggro decks and Control decks, and post-sideboard having the necessary tools to fight against unfavorable matchups.

I feel that Rakdos can always be a great option at any point in the metagame. It's a deck that can be adapted to any situation, having access to black, which is probably the best color in terms of removal spells and discard spells, and red which gives us proactivity.

Last but not least it allows us to play FABLE OF THE MIRROR BREAKER, one of the most powerful cards from the last season. Having access to play it is a real luxury, and it makes you feel that you're one step ahead when you play it on turn 3.

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
43.66 Tix
$23.99
$17.1

3 things that make Rakdos Midrange a Tier 1 deck:

  • It has a very clean and efficient curve
  • It is a deck that has the ability to face the match with different game plans  
  • It is a very powerful post-sideboard deck, there are no cards that directly affect our game plan.

Now I would like to present the list that I have the most affinity for at the moment, I will explain the card choices one by one.

My current version of the deck

This is my current iteration of the deck for the upcoming tournaments

Rakdos Midrange. Builder: Cabezadebolo.MTGA - Magic Arena
1st in 25-Sep-2022
Maindeck (60)
Creature [19]
2  Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger   $23.99
2  Sheoldred, the Apocalypse   $59.99
3  Graveyard Trespasser   $1.79
4  Fable of the Mirror-Breaker   $23.99
4  Bonecrusher Giant   $0.35
4  Bloodtithe Harvester   $0.25
Artifact [2]
2  Unlicensed Hearse   $15.99
Instant [4]
4  Fatal Push   $2.99
Sorcery [8]
4  Dreadbore   $4.99
4  Thoughtseize   $16.99
Planeswalker [3]
3  Liliana of the Veil   $23.99
Land [24]
1  Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth   $39.99
1  Mountain   $0.01
1  Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance   $3.49
1  Takenuma, Abandoned Mire   $7.49
2  Hive of the Eye Tyrant   $5.49
2  Den of the Bugbear   $8.99
2  Swamp   $0.01
2  Castle Locthwain   $2.79
4  Blood Crypt   $18.99
4  Haunted Ridge   $11.99
4  Blightstep Pathway   // $6.49

Sideboard [15]
1  Hidetsugu Consumes All   $2.99
1  Unlicensed Hearse   $15.99
1  Lifebane Zombie   $0.59
2  Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet   $29.99
2  Kolaghan's Command   $2.79
2  Rending Volley   $5.99
2  Extinction Event   $2.99
2  Duress   $0.25
2  Reckoner Bankbuster   $4.99
Buy this deck:

$605.42 Tix @cardhoarder   $15.14 / Week @cardhoarder   $732.46 @tcgplayer   $824.51 @cardkingdom  


Deck Tools: Visual View Similar Decks Proxies Archetype Analysis
Export & Save: Magic online format Apprentice and MWS .dec


I'm testing this feature, if you find any error please report it ;)

Rakdos Midrange Creatures

Rakdos Midrange Creatures
Rakdos Midrange Creatures

Bloodthithe Harvester is an extremely efficient creature in every sense of the word. It's an excellent choice for Agro decks looking to exert early pressure on Control decks. This is the type of card our deck needs.

Bonecrasher Giant is one of the reasons our deck is so good against Agro decks. It's a removal card on turn 2 with a 3/3 body on turn 3. It's simply great.

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse is a new addition to Rakdos Midrange. It's a very oppressive drop 4 that puts a lot of pressure on the opponent. It's a card that's still being explored in this deck, but I think playing 1-2 copies is the right number. I'm going to stick with one copy.

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is the best creature against Agro decks. I would never play less than 1-2 copies in my 75. It's a great card and will continue to be so for years to come.

Graveyard Tresspasser is one of the most significant cards for this deck to reach the level of a tier 1 deck. Recently, the number of copies that should be played has been questioned, but I believe the correct number is 2.

Removal and Discard Spells

Removal & Discard Spells
Removal & Discard Spells

These three cards are what give this deck its solidity, giving us the sufficient tools we need to resolve any board state. There's not much to explain, just the number of copies of each. I feel that x4 Fatal Push and x4 Thoughtseize are non-negotiable, but the number of Dreadbore copies can vary. I would currently like to play x4 copies; it's a key removal in the mirror match and will always be useful in other matchups.

Rakdos Midrange Threats and Tools

Threats & Tools
Threats & Tools

Fable of the Mirror Breaker is definitely the best card in the deck - you should play 4 copies. There's only one word to describe this card: amazing.

Liliana of the Veil is the new addition to this deck, and may be the reason why Rakdos Midrange has become so dominant lately. It meets the requirements of our game plan, and the number of copies of "Liliana of the Veil" will depend on the metagame we're facing. I recommend playing 2-3 copies.

Unlicensed Hearse is a card that I personally really like. This deck is a good home for a couple of copies in the maindeck. Playing at least 2 copies in the maindeck helps you beat the UR Phoenix matchup and also Abzan Greasefang. Not only is it a great card as graveyard hate, but it also becomes a threat as the turns go by - and Rakdos Midrange gives Unlicensed Hearse enough time to win a game.

The mana base

Rakdos Mid. Mana Base
Rakdos Mid. Mana Base

Our mana base is more inclined towards black because our turn one drops (FATAL PUSH and TOUGHTSEIZE) have a high chance of being cast on turn 1. The number of lands this deck needs is very disputed; the ideal number is between 24-25 lands. Many players choose to play 24 + 1 Shatterskull Smashing, but since we have reduced our 4 cmc drops, maybe it's not a bad idea to round it at 24 lands. It all depends on the feeling of each player, but for today I'd stay with 24 lands.

Castle Locthwain
4.49 Tix
$2.79
$2.41

Another point of discussion is Castle Locthwain. For several months now, only one copy has been played, but with the increasing numbers of Rakdos Midrange decks in the current meta, I think it is very important to play 2 copies of Castle Locthwain. Being prepared for the mirror is becoming increasingly important, and the card advantage provided by the Castle is crucial.

Best and worst matchups

UW CONTROL

FAVORABLE 65-30

MONO WHITE

FAVORABLE 70-30

SPIRITS

FAVORABLE 60-40

MONO GREEN

UNFAVORABLE 40-60

UR PHOENIX

EVEN 50-50

ABZAN GREASEFANG

EVEN 50-50

RAKDOS SACRIFICE

EVEN 50-50

Rakdos Midrange is a pretty fair deck; it has a game plan that needs to be built step by step and turn by turn. We'll be hugely rewarded for choosing the right sequence of spells. That is why I always advise taking a few seconds to think about what path we're going to take in the earlier turns.

If you want good results with Rakdos Midrange, you need to have a great read of the game and board status on each matchup you face, because the wrong choice of removal or taking the wrong path on certain decisions would mean the difference between winning and losing. And, since it is a fair deck, those decisions will be even more relevant. Practice and perseverance will bring you good results with midrange decks in general.

A key point of Rakdos Midrange is that it is a deck that becomes more powerful after sideboarding. The sideboard plan we have is very well defined and we always have the necessary tools to fight all the matchups we have in front of us.

Sideboard Guide

I have prepared this sideboard guide against what I believe are the most important matchups for this deck in Pioneer right now. It is worth noting that this sideboard guide is quite intuitive and will depend a lot on the list and cards our opponent is playing. Nevertheless, I present to you my sideboard decisions for this week.

Mono Green Devotion

OUT:

  • - 2 Unlicensed Hearse
  • - 2 Kroxa
  • - 2 Graveyard Trespasser
  • - 1 Fatal Push


IN:

  • + 2 Extinction Event
  • + 2 Kalitas
  • + 2 Duress
  • +1 lifebane Zombie
  • + 1 Kolaghan’s Command

This match is usually quite complicated. Our game plan will be to try to interact early against the mana dorks our opponent plays on turns 1-2. From there, we will take the initiative. It is very important to be as accurate as possible with Thoughtseize. Let's take some time to think about the game plan we want to follow so that our Thoughtseize is as efficient as possible.

Izzet Phoenix

OUT:

  • -3 Liliana of the Veil
  • -2 Kroxa
  • -1 Dreadbore

IN:

  • +1 Unlicensed Hearse
  • +2 Duress
  • +2 Reckoner Bankbuster
  • +1 Kalitas

Our game plan for this match will be to be aggressive from the beginning of the game, try to go for more aggressive lines of play, because Izzet Phoenix becomes very powerful starting on turn 4-5, cards like Pieces of the Puzzle and Treasure Cruise can win the match for Izzet Phoenix, so let's always try to go for the most aggressive lines of play in order to steal the game/match.

UW Control

OUT:

  • -4 Fatal Push
  • -1 Dreadbore
  • -1 Unlicensed Hearse

IN:

  • +2 Kolaghan’s Command
  • +2 Duress
  • +2 Reckoner Bankbuster

Your control matchup is a pretty favorable one for Rakdos midrange; every card we play is a threat for our opponent. In this matchup we'll be aggressive, while always trying to play around Supreme Verdict. We'll also want to sequence our early turns well so that the opponent loses efficiency with their counter spells.

Mono White Humans

OUT:

  • -4 Thoughtseize
  • -2 Kroxa
  • -2 Unlicensed Hearse
  • -1 Liliana of the Veil

IN:

  • +2 Kolaghan’s Command
  • +1 Lifebane Zombie
  • +2 Kalitas
  • +2 Rending Volley
  • +2 Extinction Event

This match is quite favorable for us, we have all the necessary tools to take down Mono White humans, we'll focus on stabilizing in the early turns, almost always prioritizing our removals in early turns to be able to stabilize the board with Fable of the mirror breaker on Turn 3 or Sheoldred on turn 4.


Rakdos Sacrifice

OUT:

  • -2 Bloodtithe Harvester
  • -2 Fatal Push
  • -3 Liliana of the Veil

IN:

  • +2 Kolaghan’s Command
  • +2 Reckoner Bankbuster
  • +2 Kalitas
  • +1 Hidetsugu Consumes All

Rakdos sacrifice is a complicated match. According to statistics, it is a 50-50. The game may be unfavorable because CAT-OVEN can be very oppressive against us. Even more so that we do not carry Kalitas in the maindeck. Arriving to the Mid Game will become inevitable in this matchup. So I try to be as efficient and grindy as possible. And always trying to make their Mayhem Devil the least effective possible. Since even the smallest details (like 1 single damage from Mayhem Devil) can seal the fate of the game.

Mayhem Devil
0.03 Tix
$2.99
$2.99

Abzan Greasefang

OUT:

  • -2 Dreadbore
  • -2 Kroxa
  • -2 Bonecrusher
  • -3 Liliana of the Veil

IN:

  • +2 Kolaghan’s Command
  • +1 Unlicensed Hearse
  • +2 Kalitas
  • +2 Rending Volley
  • +1 Lifebane Zombie
  • +1 Hidetsugu Consumes All

This match is going to be pretty tough. G1 looks pretty good for Abzan since we don't really have any way to answer a turn 3 Greasefang. The closest thing would be Fatal Push, but that would require us to always have mana open on our opponent's turn, which isn't ideal. Post-board our position improves a lot. We have better tools to deal with Greasefang or to come back into the game after a Greasefang-Chariot-Parnrhelion combo.

We're going to play as aggressively as possible throughout the game while also keeping an eye on our opponent's chances to combo so that we can develop our curve normally or keep mana open as necessary.

Thanks for reading! I hope you found this article helpful and good luck at the top tables in your next tournament ;)

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones Pioneer Azorius Control Sideboard Guide, Pioneer Monowhite Humans deck guide, Modern Mono White Hammer Primer & Sideboard guide, Pioneer Bant Humans In-depth & sideboard guide

Sign Up for MTGDecks newsletter

You'll receive a weekly email with more articles like this.
I give my consent to MTGDecks to be in touch with me via email for the purpose of news, updates and marketing.

Alessandro Carvallo
MTGO Grinder
Alessandro Carvallo, better known as Cabezadebolo on MTGO, is a very well-known grinder and deckbuilder on MTGO. Carvallo has been playing Magic: The Gathering for many years and has been involved in the competitive scene since a long time.

Comments


Published: 2022-10-01 00:00:00

Pioneer Azorius Control Sideboard Guide

September 09 | by Oscar Franco

articles

Pioneer Monowhite Humans deck guide

September 19 | by Lucas Giggs

articles

Modern Mono White Hammer Primer & Sideboard guide

September 24 | by Sergio Giménez

articles

Pioneer Bant Humans In-depth & sideboard guide

October 06 | by Jaime Lara - JimmyTo

articles