Hey guys, and welcome to the first ever Leporatory! If you didn't catch my article last week about the gist of what this column is about, allow me to Reiterate! A while back our own Conley Woods championed an article series known as Deck Doctor, where he would take reader submitted decks, pilot them on MTGO, then give advice on where the decks could use work or how to improve them. The series has been discontinued due to time constraints on Conley's end, but I asked him if he would mind if I started a similar column and he gave me his best wishes.
And thus, the Leporatory was born!
In my last Video Deck Tech article I also mentioned that I was looking for a name for the article. Well, despite a comment from John Moore where he suggests “The Leporatory” getting 76 “likes” at 8:47 AM, the truth is Mike Mollica was the one who originally proposed the name at 8:33 AM! Poor Mike's comment got a mere three “likes,” so while Mike was certainly the creator, I do want to thank John as well for bringing the popularity of the name to the forefront! Thanks guys, and well done!
With the introductions out of the way, let's get started!
Earlier this week, I received a message from reader, Lucas Ferreira Boleli. Lucas had the following to say (and Lucas, if you never intended to be spot lit, I apologize! I just happened to really like the deck, so I hope you can forgive me!):
I just ran this deck to a 4-0 finish in a Magic Online event of 110 players ... I've been testing against all Tier 1 decks and it is really new, nice, and fun to play. Check it out! I'll be here at all times for discussion.
Thanks, Your fan here”
I cleaned up some of Lucas' English; afterall, he's from Uberlândia, so it's pretty forgivable when English isn't your native language. (And how cool of a name is Uberlândia? Wouldn't that loosely translate to, like, “Superland” in German?)
Can I stop for an aside here, and mention how amazing it is to have people from completely opposite parts of the world read and enjoy your work? Like, how humbling is that...that someone in Brazil - or Russia, or Italy, or Thailand - actually cares about Frank Lepore's Magic articles, enough so to send me a message. It's a really rewarding feeling, and it will never go unappreciated, so thank you, guys.
Getting back on track, Lucas submitted to me the following list:
I was fairly torn. This was a list that he went 4-0 with in a Daily Event, so in that respect it was already competitive, but I also really liked it, and had a feeling Lucas would appreciate the exposure of his deck. Well, with this being the first edition of this column, and not having any dedicated way to receive decklists set up beforehand, I figured this deck would be a fine one to go over and analyze. Let's see how it ended up handling!
Rakdos Midrange vs. Junk Tokens
Rakdos Midrange vs. Azorius Midrange
Rakdos Midrange vs. Junk Tokens
As you can see I played Junk Tokens twice and both times I kind of got overwhelmed. We'll get to this in a bit. However it's also worth noting that I played a Grixis Control list and a Jund Midrange list in practice and I went 2-0 against them.
The first thing I noticed immediately - aside from the fact that the deck was already pretty good - was that what we wanted to do in the second game was, against the less aggressive decks, become more of a control deck ourselves.
I mentioned last week that while I liked Pillar of Flame, it just doesn't do enough against too many decks. Some people disagreed with me, and I can see where they're coming from, but this felt true here as well. I think if we're trying to be a little more aggressive in game one, we can benefit from guys like Gore-House Chainwalker. I don't think we want Zombies in here, simply because we don't have enough black, and we seem to like being able to play a Rakdos Guildgate on turn one, so I don't think a card like Rakdos Cackler would benefit us. Basically I think we want more ways to guarantee that on turn four, Rakdos, Lord of Riots isn't sitting in our hand because we have no way to Deal Damage. Two other creatures I could see trying out might be Knight of Infamy, or...bear with me here...Pack Rat. Pack Rat is very interesting, and while it's a 1/1, it gives you something to do with those late game lands and can get out of control quite quickly.
There aren't very many options for good one and two drops in red, which is unfortunate, and the fact that people were amazed that Walking Corpse was a 2/2 for two mana with no drawback says something about what we should expect from black in that area as well.
As far as the manabase goes, there were too many times where I was stuck with cards that cost two black mana in hand (Vampire Nighthawk, Desecration Demon, Rakdos, Lord of Riots), and only one black mana. We definitely want to add another Swamp. I also think, in a deck that curves out at four, 25 lands might be excessive. I shaved one off, and found room for two Rakdos Keyrunes. This not only accelerates us into things like a larger Rakdos's Return (which is still insane), but it helps fix our color issues, and gives us an additional threat and blocker that is very hard to deal with. It can also turn on Rakdos himself, if that interests you.
We made room by, well, cutting the Hellion Crucibles. Unfortunately I found these to be too cute. The deck is extremely color intensive. We want red on turn one for Stromkirk Noble, double red on turn two for Ash Zealot, double black on turn three for Vampire Nighthawk, and double black and double red on turn four for Desecration Demon or Rakdos, Lord of Riots. I feel that with investments like these, we just don't have the luxury of keeping a colorless land in the deck, and to be honest, I think Rakdos Keyrune is going to be the better creature anyway. It's much less vulnerable to sorcery speed removal, and it can keep Thragtusks at bay every day; two qualities which the 4/4 lacks.
The single Thunderous Wrath seems very random and I didn't like it. When you get to miracle it, it might not be useful, and when you don't, it costs six mana. I think there are just so many better cards we're trying to fit into the deck that we should be able to easily cut this interesting inclusion.
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The last question I think we need to ask - and I hate to even do it - is whether or not Falkenrath Aristocrat is better than Rakdos, Lord of Riots, As I mentioned in the videos, sometimes Rakdos's second ability isn't very relevant (my Ash Zealot and Stromkirk Noble will never be cheaper, and my Desecration Demon and Vampire Nighthawk still cost two black!). He is a huge, trampling, flying 6/6 for four mana which is awesome, but he is also legendary, harder to cast, and has a very restrictive requirement. I think based on all of these factors, we should at least try to fit in one or two Falkenrath Aristocrat in place of one Rakdos, to see how they fare. Yes, the Aristocrat has problem of her own (blocked easily, dies to every burn spell) but there's no contesting she's powerful, and if it lowers the chances of drawing a useless second Rakdos, that seems like an okay thing. Besides, we already have a playset of 6/6 fliers for four mana.
Olivia Voldaren is another card worth considering, and you can feel free to try her out as well. I always found her three toughness to be a little fragile, and forces her to cost “six mana” rather than four, but she's still a solid creature.
As for the sideboard, I always liked bringing in Mizzium Mortars. They're great against things like Huntmaster, Olivia Voldaren, Entreat the Angels tokens; basically a ton of cards in the more aggressive decks. While it doesn't kill things like Angel of Serenity or Armada Wurm, we do have things like Sever the Bloodline and 6/6's for that. I also liked Slaughter Games, but I think we would be fine to shave one or two off. I know I boarded all four in at times, but since the card technically doesn't do anything, I think we could have gotten away with three, and we have a ton of more proactive four drops as it is.
Underworld Connections is not only a card I love, but a card I wanted in the maindeck. Every time I played it, I felt like I was able to pull so far ahead, and if I was ever low on life, I would simply stop drawing cards. The card is just fantastic, and if I had the room, I would add a fourth to the sideboard. However, three is satisfying since you don't want to tie up too much of your mana.
I haven't played the final version, but I think it might have a little more game against tokens, and a little more long game against control decks. Either way, I thought the deck was very good to begin with, so we didn't have to “fix” very much.
Now you might realize that this column seems a little similar to Video Deck Tech. By that I mean I take a deck I like, play some games with it, then recommend some changes. Well, that may be true, but there is one large difference. The decks in Video Deck Tech will always be either brews of my own, or decks that have already done well (in Magic Online events or real life events). Sometimes I don't look to improve these decks, I simply look to showcase them and bring them to your attention, while explaining why they do or do not work. That's how I'm able to find them: because their results are posted. The decks in The Leporatory will always come from a reader and I will always give my Humble advice on how to make them a little better.
That's it for The Leporatory this week! Let me know what you guys thought of the column and whether or not you liked the idea. I get a lot of requests each week for help with decks, so I figured this would be a great way for me to try and help out. Again, a big thanks to Mike Mollica for coming up with the title, and John Moore for seemingly getting people to notice it in the comments! And thanks to Lucas for sending me the awesome list! I know I may not always have time to respond to everything you guys send me, but I do make sure to read it all! As usual, I'll be back next week with more Magic and I hope to see ya then!
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