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Feature: Rakdos Unleashed

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"My rank order is... Selesnya and Azorius about the same. Then some other guilds. Then Rakdos. I hate Rakdos."

This article is not about Kenji Tsumura's preferences in Return to Ravnica draft. In fact, it's about almost exactly the opposite. While the little master is looking to be all white on the night, there are plenty of others who have been putting together wins with the most aggressive of the guilds as we return to the city where it all happens.

Ben Stark's view on drafting Return to Ravnica is that the most important thing to do in the format is make sure that you are in a guild, and have a clear plan -- and that in doing so, you read what is going on around you such that you don't find yourself in some kind of a guild civil war with your neighbors. This being the case, it makes sense to understand the ins and outs of each of the options in Return to Ravnica, including the Rakdos party.

The Rakdos mechanic is unleash, and it very quickly suggests one way of looking at drafting Rakdos; going for the throat at every turn with creatures whose only involvement in the red zone is on the offensive. Gore-house Chainwalker, Dead Reveler, and Splatter Thug can create a very scary start, and at common they are widely available.

The low cost unleash creatures allow an aggressive Rakdos player to come out of the gates swinging.

The goal of the more aggressive Rakdos decks is to take the idea of a really fast start, and to more or less make sure that the really fast start becomes a fast conclusion. There are some handy tools to make this happen. Creature enchantments are a very real part of this. A timely Deviant Glee or Pursuit of Flight can make an already scarily fast creature into one that is very hard to deal with. Part of the reason for this is that the key strategies that make the aggro Rakdos plan work less well typically involve getting a creature down that has 4 toughness. Rakdos can have trouble getting past walls and larger creatures, and the right auras can fix this problem. Stab Wound is also definitely not just a spell for killing creatures with 2 toughness. In the Rakdos deck, it can be a late game plan for getting through the final points of damage.

With this idea of getting through final points of damage, we come on to the other side of Rakdos, the scarily inevitable killing machine. Sometimes you'll have a Bloodfray Giant crashing through and all will be well, but in other cases, you'll have to go a little deeper to find an endgame plan. Lobber Crew or Tenement Crasher begin to hint at late game options that create damage out of nowhere. My personal favourite though is Treacherous Instinct. By both removing a blocker, and adding a substantial amount of attacking power, the red sorcery can really set up a rough position for opponents who think that they have stabilized.

Getting in a few beats is one thing, but making sure you have a game plan after those early turns is very important.

Every Rakdos deck should be able to get the first 10 damage in pretty handily. The area where you need to have a great plan is the second 10. It may even be that Goblin Rally is the right option – especially given that Dynacharge can easily throw off combat math in such a way as to end things.

Fast kills are always a thrill. So be a smarty and join the Rakdos party!

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