This past weekend I played red-based Rakdos in Los Angeles. I felt like the deck was pretty good, but it really wanted a better three-drop than Rakdos Keyrune. I'd never considered Hellhole Failer, which Ian Kendall used to win the tournament, so I had to try it today.
I'm mostly using his list as a guide but am trying a few slight changes. I'll be playing:
- 4 Ash Zealot
- 4 Falkenrath Aristocrat
- 4 Hellhole Flailer
- 2 Hellrider
- 4 Knight of Infamy
- 4 Rakdos Cackler
- 4 Stromkirk Noble
- 2 Thundermaw Hellkite
Seven four-drops feels a little heavy to me, even with only two fives, and I'm curious about Olivia Voldaren in the sideboard after my experience in SCG Standard Open: LA where I generally wanted to become more controlling against the Naya decks that were fairly popular. I think it's a potentially powerful unexpected line of attack at the moment.
Many embarrassing things were said, but I think my plays were right despite that and that I eventually caught most of my mistakes. I'm pretty confident in how I sideboarded. Although I haven't actually played Olivia in this kind of deck, it definitely felt like it would have been good in game 3 if it had been needed.
The keep for game 1 was slightly ambitious, but I think my draws were only slightly above average at best and it certainly worked out. If I'd had one less one mana spell, I'd definitely have mulliganed that hand.
Game 3 I think did a good job of showing why beating a good hand from Rakdos is so hard. The "hate cards" for some draws just don't do much against the draws that happen to go bigger, and as I did in this matchup, you can certainly sideboard in such a way that you're very likely to go bigger so that small amounts of life gain don't accomplish all that much.
Game 1 his deck worked so poorly that I couldn't tell what he was (double mulligans will do that). The Duresses should have been much more of a flag than I gave them credit for, and not completely reevaluating when he played Evil Twin (or even the Cavern of Souls) was just stupid.
Game 2 I really felt the loss of Mizzium Mortars from the 75 that I've been accustomed to playing with since I had so few answers to Olivia.
Game 3 his removal was too slow, so I was able to get him low enough that he couldn't get control (even if he'd played correctly).
In hindsight, game 1 I definitely needed to Pillar him to make him use his Dissipate and hope he didn't have a second one for the Thundermaw. By waiting, I let him use Sphinx's Revelation to ignore the Pillar instead of spending a counter on it. That play was horrible and a result of not having played enough burn decks against decks with both counterspells and life gain since I'm usually on the other side.
Game 2, going back and watching it again, I obviously would have been much better off with Searing Spear instead of Olivia, a card I could never cast, but it wouldn't have been enough to win the game. Rhox Faithmender is a huge problem when you don't have enough removal for it (which is one of the reasons I played four Ultimate Price in LA).
Both of my hands in this match were pretty bad. The first one was a little close; I'm not sure if I should keep hands like that, but I think so. The second one I really needed to mulligan on the play. There's too much advantage to be gained from being the aggressor and too many ways that kind of draw can go wrong, especially since drawing into Falkenrath Aristocrat isn't going to do much with a hand like that, so I have very few big spells to draw into after I buy time. Burn spells are there to help with races, not to play a control game. That keep was just terrible.
For the most part, the losses were largely under my control. I like where this maindeck is at, but I don't know about the sideboard. I'm not sure Vampire Nighthawk is better than Mizzium Mortars. I don't know if Cremate or Duress are necessary at the moment, and if that kind of effect is necessary, I'm not sure Cremate is the best way to do it.
Overall, I'd say the maindeck is an A-. I don't think it's perfect. I'm not in love with Hellrider, and I think Stonewright is worth considering, particularly in small numbers. The sideboard is a B-, and my play was a C.
Thanks for watching,
@samuelhblack on Twitter