Hello. As you are probably aware, we got a big Ban and Restricted announcement on Monday. 《Omnath, Locus of Creation》, 《Lucky Clover》, and 《Escape to the Wilds》 are now banned in Standard. Finally, after we got rid of those, I can honestly say I enjoy playing magic again. Today I’ll try to show you what I’ve learned in the last few days.
As you may see above, I loved Rakdos Kroxa even before bans. It was a great choice for ladder, as people were bored with 《Omnath》, and refused to play it. During my #1 Mythic grind, I faced the four color monster in less than 10% of my matches. This was the only reason why I was able to hit the ladder’s first place, as the match up was terrible and (at least in my opinion) impossible to fix.
Fortunately, now it’s gone. The only truly obnoxious match up no longer exists. Obviously as soon as Arena got a new patch, I instantly came back to Kroxa, fixed few card slots, and started testing again. I definitely wasn’t disappointed.
Here’s my current list:
4 《Fabled Passage》
4 《Temple of Malice》
1 《Castle Locthwain》
-Land (19)- 4 《Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger》
4 《Mire Triton》
3 《Magmatic Channeler》
4 《Bonecrusher Giant》
3 《Nighthawk Scavenger》
2 《Murderous Rider》
2 《Rankle, Master of Pranks》
2 《Spikefield Hazard》
3 《Heartless Act》
2 《Shatterskull Smashing》
2 《Agadeem’s Awakening》
2 《Hagra Mauling》
4 《Tymaret Calls the Dead》
2 《Liliana, Waker of the Dead》
The Main Game Plan
Rakdos Kroxa is a classic midrange deck in terms of choosing strategy. We usually want to play as a control versus aggro, and as an aggro versus control. Most of the games focus on trading one for one, and gaining slight card advantage due to 《Bonecrusher Giant》 or milling Escape card. Usually we do this until opponent’s board is clear, then bring back 《Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger》 and kill in the matter of two turns.
Always pay attention to what you exile for the Escape cost. There is a relevant decision here. Leaving creatures is good for 《Agadeem’s Awakening》 you can draw later, leaving instant and sorcery cards helps 《Magmatic Channeler》. Try to figure out what’s more important in a given match.
Let’s talk a little about card choices:
Those should be always played in 4 copies. Selfmill fuels your deck for 《Kroxa》. 《Triton》 is a decent creature itself, especially now, when we see a lot of green aggressive decks. 《Kroxa》 is our main win condition, and we want to maximize our chances to mill it.
This is a beauty part of our deck. Worth to note – it’s fully customizable. 《Hazard》 is a weak removal spell, but might be used as a land, which increases its value. Same goes for 《Hagra Mauling》 and 《Shatterskull Smashing》.
I found 《Heartless Act》 to be the best removal in the current meta. It’s cheap, kills most of the creatures in Standard, and what’s the most important – it’s on instant speed. Versus cards like 《Primal Might》, or Rogues coming into play at the end of our turn, we want to be able to interact at any time.
I mentioned 《Kroxa》 and 《Triton》 before, so now I’ll focus of the rest. I put 《Bonecrusher Giant》 here, as it’s more a ‘good creature/bad removal’ to me, while 《Rider》 being ‘premium removal/bad creature’. Anyway, I would always play 4 Giants, as a very versatile card, that can play a defensive and offensive role, depends on what we want.
《Magmatic Channeler》 is a very interesting one. I found it to be VERY good, if we draw just one. It’s more important for our deck as an upgraded 《Merfolk Looter》 than 《Tarmogoyf》, so we really don’t want to draw multiple. That’s why I have 3 copies. I can see playing 2, but I would never go back to 4 again.
《Nighthawk Scavenger》 is here mostly because of how aggro the metagame looks now. Remember that meta changes quickly, so keep an eye on it. If you see more midranges/control, it might be worth to replace some Scavengers with Oxes.
Dimir Rogues – very very very good
Yes, seriously. Probably the most lopsided match up in Standard right now. We have enough removal to stop their pressure, they help us while milling us, and with a huge Escape costs (5 for 《Kroxa》 and 8 for 《Ox》) we can easily keep them away from cards like 《Soaring Thought-Thief》 or 《Drown in the Loch》 working properly.
If you play against 《Lurrus》 version, just exile all your lands first. If it’s more classic version, it’s probably worth to keep 《Zareth San, the Trickster》 in mind, and exile relevant permanents first. Poor 《Agadeem’s Awakening》 :(.
Aggro (Green, Gruul, Red) – good
Classic midrange vs aggro match up, kill everything that’s on the battlefield and win with big finishers. Maindeck 《Scavenger》 is our MVP. 《Shredded Sails》 is always good, as it hits 《The Great Henge》 vs mono G, and 《Embercleave》 vs RG. Also, an additional way to kill 《Stonecoil Serpent》.
Sometimes it might be correct to kill their creatures in your turn, so they can’t cast cheap 《The Great Henge》. There is no easy solution, because on the other hand, if you keep removal, you can blow out their 《Primal Might》 etc. Just try to stay open-minded and figure out which line is the best in given spot.
Mirror – even
Usually a player who mills more cards wins. 《Mire Triton》 and 《Tymaret Calls the Dead》 are the most important cards. If you expect a lot of mirrors in your metagame, you probably should play 1 or 2 《Oxes》 main.
That’s probably obvious, but don’t play turn one 《Lantern》 postboard. Always wait for something relevant to target with ETB trigger (or for 5 cards in their grave, so you know there’s a 《Kroxa》 danger).
Control – probably good, but depends on their build and number of gravehate
It’s hard to say a lot about controls, as we don’t know yet what the best control deck in format will be. In general, we want to use our Escape cards to bring value, and put pressure on them starting as early as possible. This is the only match up, where we want our 《Channeler》 to be 《Tarmogoyf》, not 《Merfolk Looter》.
Golgari Adventures – very bad
This is our 《Scavenging Ooze》 nightmare. They have a lot of card advantage in a form of Adventure cards, with 《Edgewall Innkeeper》 and 《The Great Henge》 on top of it, so we can’t really rely on our ‘one for one’ strategy. 《Ooze》 destroys our ‘let’s use our grave as a wincon’ plan alone. Not much we can do here. Never let 《Innkeeper》 live, and try to be as aggro as possible. Maybe with a little luck you will manage to kill them before they embrace their lategame power.
That’s all I have for you today. I believe Rakdos is a great choice for ladder, as the meta is quite wide right now, and Golgari is the only bad match up I could find. Deck brings a lot of fun. Every match plays out differently, which means you not gonna get bored soon.
As always, if you have any additional questions, feel free to ask me on Twitter (the best place to do this will be the tweet where I link this article). Also, let me know if you like Rakdos Kroxa, or if you have good results with it.
Have a great day, and as always, thanks for reading!
Until next time,