by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos
Every now and then I like to harken back to the old days when one tried to build somewhat of an original Magic: the Gathering deck. Then I come to the realization that it would require me to invest a lot of time and testing to make something even remotely solid. I usually remember snipets of certain deck ideas/combos discussed at the local game shops and ponder about their Type 2 feasibility (usually when utterly bored, most likely on the bus or the subway).
We were at a local sports bar watching randomness on the TVs when one of my friends started trying to brew a deck from scratch. He was somewhat stumped and then exclaimed that it was ‘much easier back in the old days of Magic’. He mentioned something about there being a lot of cards in Standard right now.Then I corrected him by pointing out that it’s quite the opposite. It’s the smallest Standard format for now:
M13, Innistrad Block and Return to Ravnica.
5 sets out of a possible 7.
We bounced random ideas off of each other. He seemed to be especially fond of Creepy Doll, but I dissuaded him from such a venture. His being a student of finance lead to a discussion on the similarities between MTG and the stock market. He discussed risk-taking among other things which led me to joke about coin flipping… and this card:
That’s right! We went there!
I recalled back to when one of the local players here had mentionned something about it comboing with…
You would sacrifice the Rig to Trading Post potentially dealing damage, if you haven’t already dealt Trample damage with the Rig itself that is. It would then meet the requirement to cast Rakdos, which in turn would maybe allow to cast artifact creatures (ie: another Rig) on the cheap. Then you would have this odd recursion going where you could potentially ‘wrath’ the board save Rakdos. Well, potentially… It seemed ok.
Then we browsed some artifact creatures:
Oooook… nothing too great!
Of course the best of the bunch is Stuffy Doll. He does combo with the random 4 damage ‘drawback’ of Volatile Rig. That’s kind of cool right there! He can end the game quicker than expected. However, he can also be cast for next to nothing as well with Rakdos‘ second ability. Not too shabby!
Finally, he can allow us to actually cast Rakdos via his own pinging ability. It also meant that you did not require to actually ‘maybe combo’ to make decent things happen.
Stuffy is after all a good answer to an opposing Thragtusk. Volatile Rig will kill a Thragtusk if it blocks it and deal a point of trample damage. This will cause its ability to trigger a first time. If it dies, it will result in a second coin flip, potentially dealing 4 damage to everything.
However, if it survives the first coin flip, both it and Thragtusk will die. The Rig’s controller’s trigger will go on the stack first followed by the Thragtusk’s controller. This means that the Beast token will be on the battlefield at the time the coin is flipped to check if the Rig deals 4 to all.
Warning: This may cause insane value!
Disclaimer: It also may not.
Now, I know what you are all thinking: “This is going to be some dumb coin flip deck with zany combos and whatnot”
That’s actually where most of the weird stuff ends. You see, we decided the rest of the deck should kind of well, make sense.
Being in Rakdos colors, we decided to basically be aggro and have this Volatile Rig ‘engine’ be somewhat of a mid to late game plan. We opted to borrow a lot of elements from the established RB Aggro list.
You can do a few neat things by sacrificing your Gravecrawlers or Messengers to bring back Volatile Rig and maybe blow stuff up. It felt like it was maybe lacking zombie fodder. I then suggested to maybe play Highborn Ghoul over Knight of Infamy.
It does seem very questionable at first but you gain a few benefits from it. It can actually negate Thragtusk lifegain over time and still attacks through Centaur Healer (as did Knight of Infamy). It’s a Zombie that allows us to buyback our Gravecrawler if need be. We can then sac the Crawler to Trading Post and recover another Post, Stuffy Doll or Volatile Rig (seeing as how some of those might be in our graveyard on account of having been countered or died). More importantly, it can be a constant source of damage due to its intimidate ability. This can allow us to cast Rakdos if we draw him later on or if he got bounced back to our hand and we need to cast him again.
We needed to be a bit more old school Suicide Black so we found this little guy:
Did someone crack open a window? It feels a little drafty in here.
You should probably be having the same reaction as most people right about now: Huh? I do so love having cards in my decks that require my opponents to pick them up and read them and still scratch their heads. It turns me onnnnnn! Just kidding!
He is an aggressive little guy and his inclusion is quite logical I assure you. On turn 3 you are probably casting Geralf’s Messenger, but in case you aren’t – this will do. It’s nothing amazing but he does setup a turn 4 Rakdos quite nicely. Block or no block. Not many little red-colored guys can do that. The constant potential damage output is what motivated us to go with black as the main color in this deck.
Also, he shares a creature type with Rakdos, so it makes Cavern of Souls less awkward. Both Stuffy and Rig require NO color, so they are not really affected by Caverns negatively.
Well, this is interesting …
It appears these two share some lineage. Not too shabby! It’s nice to know that Cavern choices will not be all over the place. It will be nice knowing that Stuffy Doll can go uncountered in certain matchups.
We also probably want to play some burn spells as removal and/or ways of being able to cast Rakdos. Pillar of Flame can be very lackluster in a lot of matchups, so I opted for Searing Spear. Neither will be killing off Restoration Angels anyhow, but Spear wins out on versatility. We are usually the aggressive deck, so the chance that Pillar will be good maindeck are not great. I say maindeck because I did in fact include a few in the final sideboard.
Rigsk Management version 1.0
4 Diregraf Ghoul
4 Highborn Ghoul
4 Geralf’s Messenger
3 Soulcage Fiend
4 Volatile Rig
2 Rakdos, Lord of Riots
2 Stuffy Doll
4 Searing Spear
3 Trading Post
1 Rakdos Keyrune
2 Bonfire of the Damned
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Blood Crypt
4 Rakdos Guildgate
4 Dragonskull Summit
3 Pillar of Flame
2 Underworld Connections
2 Zealous Conscripts
4 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Stuffy Doll
2 Appetite for Brains
The sideboard may seem a bit uninspired with the whole Trading Post/Volatile Rig thing going, but I opted for something more similar to an RB Aggro one. Pillars in the side are nice versus the other weenie decks (zombies,humans,etc). Just don’t try to get a Volatile Rig to pop by hitting it with Pillar of Flame. It won’t work since it will end up getting exiled due to Pillar’s wording.
I maxed out on Vampire Nighthawks because we might actually lose a little too much life in certain matchups and it might come in instead of the Soulcage Fiends. While the deck tends to play out a bit like an old school ‘Suicide Black’ deck from back in the day, Standard is still a creature-filled format. The Nighthawks can keep bigger guys at bay or dive in to widen the gap between life totals.
Stuffy Doll is there if you face more Green/White or Jund Style decks. The lone Blasphemous Act is something I wanted to try out with the maindeck Stuffy Dolls and all. There is also the slight possibility the board will get clogged and you’ll need to clean it up. You can also cause massive damage with a Rig and a stuffy doll.
Warning: May cause draws
Volatile Rig might indeed cause the game to end in a draw, much like Earthquake before it. You may need to be careful…unless it gets you out of a situation where you would have lost anyway. It’s actually even more of a draw when Soulcage Fiend gets involved. So if you’re both at like 7 life and you don’t see yourself surviving the next turn, just take a gamble.
A ‘maybe draw’ is still better than a ‘for sure loss’. It may just be kind of bad if your local game store’s rounds are less than the usual 50 minutes.
You can even try to ‘Miracle’ a Bonfire of the Damned with Trading Post‘s last ability:
I would love to go on about the decks other ‘strategies’ but I don’t think that’s really necessary. It will usually play out more like a Red/Black Aggro deck with a few tricks/twists. I will be giving this deck a whirl at a few local card shops around Montreal. Wish me luck! Judging by the potential coin flips to come, I’ll need it! I’ll be able to post some tweaks and revisions based on what worked and what didn’t.
As always, if you have any comments, questions or concerns, just reply to this blog post or me up on Carte Blanche Hobbies Facebook page.