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Commanding Rakdos Tribal with Raphael

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Hello awesome readers! I hope that your day is going incredibly well today! Today I want to build another Commander deck around Battle for Baldur's Gate, around a certain Rakdos Tribal Lord. This is my 4th deck build around a new leader, and then you can find the rest in an Appendix below.

Raphael, Fiendish Savior

Here is my leader! As you can see, this is a five drop 4/4 Devil Noble (with flying) who pumps up (other) Devils, Demons, Imps and Tieflings by +1/+1, gives them lifelink, and then will make a 1/1 Devil token at the end of each end step if a creature card was put in your graveyard from anywhere from your hand, the stack, the deck, the exile zone, or in play. That's up to four Devils a round in a four-player game as long as three happen at instant speed. Don't sleep on that lifelink, it's pretty sweet here and very synergetic. Love it loads here!

In order to make Raphael trigger a bunch, I'll be looking at recursive sacrifice engines, lean on Aristocrat strategies to win and use those triggers (I won't be leaning too far into that direction like Black Market or Dictate of Erebos since I want to push the tribe) I'll also use the occasional cycling and channel dork from your hand instantly, and then a nice fleshed out tribal team of stuff outside of that combo. Ready?

Let's do it to it!

mayhem Devil
Witty Roastmaster

Most of my cards are obvious like Zulaport Cutthroat and Reassembling Skeleton. But these four cards are in my tribe! The first Devil is a 3/3 for three mana, nice. Then when any player sacrifices anything, something takes a damage. Note the synergy of damage with the lifelink from Raphael, and note it works with foes cracking things like Treasures and could be a brake on their use. The second Devil is a 3/2 that shoots all foes (again, lifelink synergies) for a damage when another dork (including tokens) arrives to the battlefield ready to go. This works quite well in a looping strategy.

Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos
Body Dropper

Check out these two sacrifices on a stick. The rare is a 4-drop 4/4 (on curve, yay) with a black to sacrifice a dork and then scry 2, twice Viscera Seer's! Then you can 3 mana tap to exile the top card of your library and then play it this turn, and you shoot a target for damage equal to the casting cost (also note the use of lifelink here). The common is a two drop 2/2 (also on curve) that can spend two mana to sacrifice another dork to give this menace for the turn, and then as you sacrifice any creature, even tokens, you can toss counters of the +1/+1 persuasion into this body, so this can be a win-con over time. I tossed in Rogue's Passage for this.

Cycling

I also tossed in some cycling creatures like Igneous Pouncer and Archfiend of Ifnir. The Pouncer may not be a tribe we care about, but the ability to basic land cycle for a Swamp or Mountain for two mana to keep on the land drop schedule as well as discard it for triggering Raphael on a foe's turn is quite nice and you can just cast this as an admittedly pricey 5/1 with haste. The Archfiend is where it's at, with a 5 mana 5/4 flying, and Demon type, and cycling, and the discard and cycling trigger to -1/-1 counter-ify each foe's dork. That's really powerful here!

Scion of Darkness
Ruin Grinder

Check out another pair of cyclers! The former rare is an 8 mana 6/6 with trample, a bit pricey. When it deals combat damage to a foe you can reanimate one of their dead dorks to your battlefield, which is very powerful over time. You can easily deal that damage with trample, or the Passage mentioned earlier. The latter rare is a 6-mana 7/4 with menace and mountaincycling to keep up the land drops. You can also offer to have everyone to discard and draw 7 when it dies, although that is a may effect. With menace, a 7-powered dork is a pretty fast clock and with that death trigger it can discard your hand (trigger for Rapheal if a creature was discarded) any time on a foe's turn and then draw you a new grip. See also that synergy with Archfiend. Nice here right?

Tribal Dorks and Synergies

Rakdos, the Showstopper
Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire

Let's turn to a pair of tribal dorks. The Stopper of Shows is a six mana 6/6 with two evasive abilities - flying and haste. On arrival to the party, you flip a coin for each non-Demon, Imp or Devil and then it's destroyed if the coin flip is tails. That's pretty strong here but it hits a bunch of your things...enter in Maskwood Nexus to give your stuff all three tribes in one go! The Sire of the Bloodsky is a 2/3 with deathtouch for three mana, probably on curve and can play keep away with its deathtouch. After you swing, you can boast and Demonic Tutor once for a new card from your library. I really like this recursive Tutoring for lands like Cabal Coffers, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth or Volrath's Stronghold.

Desecrated Tomb
Blade of the Oni

Check out this duo of awesomeness. The Tomb makes a 1/1 flying Bat token, which is good evasive value over time. Sacrifice a Skeleton to a Viscera Seer, bring it back for two mana, trigger this, and make a 1/1 Bat, and then keep up the Bat-ification of your creatures. The Blade is a 3/1 Demon with menace with four to equip. When it equips you turn it into a 5/5, menace, and make it a Demon. With your Commander that'll be a 6/6 menace black lifelink, and if it's on a trigger that deals damage rather than a loss of life, like Syr Konrad, the Grim, that can turn those triggers into a game-changing amount of life gain, as well as a better swinger. It'll also save a key win-con threat like a Cutthroat from the Showstopper.

We are running two planeswalkers in my brew. Zariel, Archduke of Avernus is 4 loyalty with +1 to give your team haste this turn, which is key here since we want to get in attacks for Varragoth and then also punches with things out of nowhere to speed things up like the Commander Damage clock and get in punches prior to sacrifices. You can also +0 her to make a 1/1 Devil token, which is a 2/2 with lifelink if you control a certain Raphael. Both work quite nice here.

Ob Nixilis, the Adversary is 3 loyalty with a casualty you will want to use. A copy of it without legendary and with loyalty X will arrive and you will want to +1 them both on arrival to the battlelfield to drain your foes of 4 life each and gain it since you should easily control a Demon or Devil in this brew. That's a lot of attacks that must happen to drop their loyalty and kill them, and you have a number of token makers to block as well as death triggers and Raphael's making of tokens and dying to trigger them that can play defense and win quite quickly with your Nixilis. Powerhouse trio (Zariel, Nixilis,and his copy) here!

Answers and Recursive Card Advantage

Burn Down the House

Every answer suite should have at least one mass removal spell. Enter this flavorful fun time, which can deal 5 damage to each dork and walker of the planes for a nicely priced five mana. See also Mizzium Mortars for 4 to your opposing stuff only. If you don't need the sweeping, you can just cast this for three 1/1 Devils that will be 2/2 with your Commander, nice, with haste and lifelink.

Victimize
Living Death

With all the discarding of dorks and sacrificing, this deck needs some recursive options. Enter in this pair. The first will sacrifice a dork you control (trigger) and then bring back two dorks tapped. It's a cheap three mana and the death will count for Raphael's end of turn caring. Love it loads here. The Death is another mass sweeping card in this deck, and it exchanges creatures in play for those in the graveyard for everyone. That's really strong for you! I am also tossing in Twilight's Call to bring back everything in everyone's graveyard. I do have a trio of ways in my mana rocks and lands to exile opposing graveyards and/or cards within so this pair can sometimes only work for you. I feel like the tribal synergies of this are to lose to run Patriarch's Bidding. Good stuff!

Harvester of Souls
Sin Prodder

Card flow time! Check out these two Demons and Devils. The Black one is a deathtouch 5/5 that costs 6 mana to drop and then will give you a dork each time a nontoken dork dies, including your foes. If you are looping something like the Skeleton or Bloodghast a few times, then this will also draw you a few cards, and it's massive card flow after mass removal like your two damaged based sweepers.

The Red card is a 3/2 with menace (which is on curve, evasive, and a 4/3 with lifelink if you control your leader) and in your upkeep you can reveal the top card of your library and each foe can, if they want, pay life equal to it's cost to put it into your graveyard, or else you'll draw it. If a creature hits the 'yard, that does trigger your leader's end of turn trigger since the creature came from your library. It's a powerful "who will pay the life" game option, and then a nonbo if you flip a land since someone will pay 0 life to put it into your graveyard unless you are mana screwed and sitting at three mana and it's the sixth turn and this is your only permanent. I've seen that happen. Good tandem of synergy.

Bloodgift Demon

Ah yes, the Phyrexian Arena on legs. This 5/4 Demon with flying is a powerhouse, and in your upkeep you (usually...) will lose a life and draw a card. Note that the picture of this looks like he is drinking beer at a frat party, so he has been nicknamed "Bro Demon" by the community.

Rob the Archives
Cut of the Profits

I added in more casualty cards like this duo. The first is an uncommon that can casualty 1 without using any more mana so you can get the sacrifice, trigger your guys and get a Raphael trigger in your EOT, and then exile four cards and then play them all using the rest of your mana, from dropping lands to casting key cards in your engine. The second is a rare X spell that can draw you X cards and lose that X life, and if you want to tap out and sacrifice a bigger dork you'll draw twice the cards, and lose twice the life. Nice pair of card drawing fun times! Shout out to Illicit Shipment which can be a double Tutor with a sacrifice as well.

Big Score
Unexpected Windfall

The typical Rakdos Aristocrat card draw at instant speed is the "Sacrifice a dork you control, draw two cards" which forces you to spend one card you already paid mana for, and then the card itself for two cards. Meh. That is also the way that this deck heads on EDHREC.com, but my card flow is different, here we are using discard to draw in red that also makes a Treasure or two to help with future cards. This also has synergy with Archfiend of Ifnir. These two are instants, commons, cost four mana, and discard a card. If I am going to spend a card to draw two cards, I'd rather discard one I haven't spent the mana for. The idea here is to discard a dork, trigger Raph at the end of the turn no matter what your battlefield looks like or if you need to keep your creatures to block or for triggers, and then make some Treasures for future big turns. I also have the obvious Skullclamp in my brew as well and shout out to Valakut Awakening that can also discard and draw at instant speed and loves Ifnir.

Liliana's Contract

Our deck can win with a bunch of triggers off deaths from your stuff. Or we can swing and win that way. Raphael is a bit of a slower Commander Damage clock, with just four power, but hey we do have Rogue's Passage to help with that. But this can just win the game. When you drop this enchantment you draw four and lose four life. Nice card flow for the cost. And then you can win the game in your upkeep when you control four or more Demons with different names, which wins with Maskwood Nexus and don't forget Mutavault as well as the accidental Demons here and there like Rakdos and Bro Demon. Good stuff to win the game!

Ramp and Lands

Westvale Abbey
High Market

We need dorks to sacrifice, enter the Abbey which can tap for five mana, pay a life, and make a 1/1 dork for your stuff to sacrifce. Then you can sacrifice 5 dorks and transform it into a 9/7 flyer, lifelinker, with indestructible and haste. Nasty! With a few tokens from your leader that's possible, and worth the loss of the land. We also need sacrifice engines in our mana base, enter the Market. It can tap and sac a dork for a life, without costing mana or other resource. See also Phyrexian Tower for a free tap and mana maker.

Takenuma, Abandoned Mire
Geier Reach Sanitarium

Each arrives to the battlefield untapped aand ready to go. The Mire taps for Black and I pulled a Swamp for it easily. You can spend four mana (sometimes it might be less) to discard it from your hand and then mill three cards at instant speed and then Raise Dead a creature or key planeswalker to your hand. This can trigger Raph if you milled a dork. Want a more reliable form of his trigger each turn? Enter the Sanitarium which will loot everyone for a tapped two mana, and then just discard a dork to get his trigger. Love this pair a lot here!

Other Cards from Battle for Baldur's Gate

Lantern of Revealing
Decanter of Endless Water

I have added in four other cards from Raph's set. Note that a 5-drop can come down on the fourth turn with a mana rock that costs two or three, so there's no need to run pain rocks or harder to make mana ones like Rakdos Signet, when we can run better Manaliths. Enter this pair. The first common is a Manalith that can tap for four mana to ramp the top card of your library to the battlefield tapped if it's a land. Don't want it? You can send it to the bottom of your library. Great land ramping and card selection with Rakdos here. The second common is a Manalith that will get a lot of play at the kitchen table. It keeps you from discarding down to 7 in your End of Turn step. It's a new Thought Vessel on Manalith legs, love its power a lot.

Balor
Stonespeaker Crystal

Balor is a powerful flying Demon that made my Top Ten Cards from the set. It's very powerful stuff and scales up in multiplayer. When you swing (or it dies) you can target up to three foes with different abilities. The mana screwed one can draw and discard three each and try to find lands. The one abusing Mind's Eyes or that solo Sword of Feast and Famine can sacrifice it. The player with the big fat hand will take that amount of damage to their face (damage, with lifelink from Raphael, will gain you that amount as well). Then the final card is the Crystal, a tapper of two that can sacrifice to exile everyone else's graveyard at instant speed and draw you a card. I am also running a Manalith called Honored Heirloom that can tap to exile a single card from a graveyard and Bojuka Bog in my land base to hurt just one foe. Love this pair a lot!

Want to see my decklist all ready to rock and roll? Let's do it to it!

Raphael's Devil Dance | Commander | Abe Sargent

For this mana base I ran a bunch of cycling lands for triggers. For a 5-drop leader we don't need a bunch of ETB untapped lands so I didn't push my land base in that direction. Also, that works with the Archfiend of Ifnir. What did you think of my build? Anything I missed or that you love? Just let me know!

Appendix

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