Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Return to Ravnica EDH Set Review, Part 3: Rakdos

Let it be known that I am very much NOT a Rakdos player, by default. I've played, at some point, virtually every color combination and archetype under the sun, but when I do occasionally drift into B/R it's rarely the type of deck Rakdos as a Guild promotes. I'm just being upfront about my bias before going into this review, just so you know...

I can't deny that this is a better design than the original version, which basically sucked balls until Kaalia was printed, then went from being unplayably bad to antisocial dick move in 0.6 seconds.

That said, this feels like a bad Animar rip-off, and while it's a cool build-around-me sort of ability, Animar has taught us that A) making creatures cheaper leads to linear, repetative and combo-ish deckbuilding, and B) dropping Eldrazi for free, or close to it, is Not Fun.

If someone finds something else to do with this, great, but I don't see it.

Deathtouch is such a quirky juxtapostion with Unleash that it's hard to tell if this card's design is brilliant or horrible.

Either way, tiny Deathtouch guys only get played in EDH as rattlesnakes/blockers, so Unleash is virtually useless on this guy. Furthermore, Vampire Nighthawk exists, which makes this guy virtually unplayable by comparison.

This is one of the few cards that would get me excited to play Rakdos in Limited. It's a great threat for it's cost and rarity. That said, I'd be even happier to have this guy as a finisher in a solid Izzet build. Cross-Guild drafting is a key to success in Ravnica limited.

Anyway, this is mediocre-to-awful in EDH. Not even a Stonebrown Trample-themed deck would want to run this, but it could serve as filler in that deck if your card pool was shallow.
This is also terrific in Limited, but it's a Rare, so that's almost always true. Rares tend to be either unplayable or huge bombs in Limited, with very little middle ground.

But this is supposed to be an EDH set review (can you tell I'm jonesing for some Limited action?). Unlike the Uncommon above, I might play this creature in a Stonebrow deck, except my six-mana slot is already pretty full and this isn't really better than what I'm currently running.

 Let's face it - if you're playing this in EDH, it's because this is a two-headed nightmare horse called "Carnival Hellsteed". Regardless of actual power-level concerns, I could never criticize such reasoning.

Playability-wise, it's yet another card that might be playable, if only the six-drop slot wasn't so damn crowded with amazing, fantastic creatures that stuff like this that is more in the realm of "acceptable" or "decent". Will likely never see "real" play, but you get mad cool points for running anyway.

Holy greifer, Batman. The mother of all Group Slug cards has arrived. As much as I might not be a greifer OR a Rakdoss fan at heart, this card is so deliciously evil that I want to rebuild my Kaervek deck just to include this.

Even if you don't see too many planeswalkers in your group (they're exceptionally popular in mine), I can't imagine having a second Terminate would be unwanted. I'd basically play this anywhere I could.

That said, it's in colors that are already good at dealing with things like Creatures and Planeswalkers, so if this winds up being an expensive chase card, I'm 99% sure you can live without it.

It's a card that, if you have it, you should basically be happy to run it, but if you don't have it, you won't miss it too badly.

Meh. If this were a zombie, it might play a little better in a Sedris deck with Mikaeus, but even then it'd be incredibly janky. As is, it seems like a mostly dead card in the format.

Predicted breakdown of usage:

1. Destroy artifact = 1%
2. Kill whoever just cast Storm Herd = 4%
3. Nuke a graveyard from orbit = 95%

Graveyard hate is essential enough that this will get played for that reason alone.

Lifelink just looks so damn weird on a B/R guy.

Overcosted Limited fodder. Avoid in EDH. Need lifegain? Play Kokusho.

Everything from the creature type line on down looks great. It'd be a fantastic early-game drop for B/R. But at six mana, this is horribly unplayable. I guess if your strategy involves intentionally making worse plays than everyone else at the table, then give this a go.

Very powerful, very playable. My only issue is the politics of it. As EDH is, by default, a multiplayer format, I strongly dislike cards like this, where you basically have to pick one opponent to screw way harder than the others. Occassionally, one player will be so far in the lead that this is a fair-ish play, but usually casting a spell like this simply ruins the game for one player and makes you the villain that everyone else comes after.

If you can get away with being this cutthroat, then by all means, play this and enjoy. I'll save it for 1v1 play, though.

Not nearly as awful as the original Rakdos Guildmage, but I still wouldn't even come close to playing this in EDH. Ever.

This thing reads like a Greatest Hits of B/R discard. It evokes Unnerve, Blightning and Hymn to Tourach all at once, without ever really being any of those. Five mana is a bit steep, yes, I can't argue that point. But I've found Unnerve to be perfectly acceptable at four mana, so let's see what the extra R in the cost gets you:

2 damage to each opponent? In a 40-life format this is marginal at best, probably downright insignificant.

The discard is random? Okay, yeah, THIS is the part worth paying a mana more to get. I would absolutely, unquestionably, play Unnerve for 5 if it said "random" on it.

Be warned, though, casting this is likely to make you very unpopular.

These Lobotomy/Cranial Extraction variants are basically unplayable in EDH. I see no real reason why this might be an exception to the rule.

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