The End of the World

Posted in Reconstructed on December 11, 2012

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

The end of the world. We've been coming up on it for months now. Everyone has wondered how the world will actually end.

Meteor? Earthquake? Atlantean invasion?

I have my own theories.

You see, the signals are all there. Limited players were the first doomsayers, hollering from the corners of their draft tables. Their usual signs of "looking for one more to draft" replaced with signs detailing the end of the world. We ignored them.

But they were right. First, Limited fell. Constructed was the next target. The tallies in my inbox continued to grow until eventually it was overrun. And that's when I knew what was coming.

This is how the world ends. Not with a bang, but with the clicks of thousands of oversized teeth gnawing on everything in sight.


Pack Rat | Art by Kev Walker

Since the release of Return to Ravnica, I have received multiple Pack Rat decks in my inbox each and every week I allowed for players to submit a deck with it. In my entire time writing this column, this is the only time I have ever seen something come up with such consistency. For a while, it seemed like the requests doubled each week. (How appropriate!)

This week, being Rakdos Week, was no exception. So, in my last chance before jumping headfirst into Gatecrash, let's become part of the rat collective.

This week's deck is by Derrick Dent. Here we go!

Derrick Dent's Rakdos Rats

Download Arena Decklist

The Battle Plan

How lucky! Derrick opened up four Pack Rats in his Sealed pool!

...wait, this isn't Sealed? What's going on here?

Let me explain.

This deck has two primary angles of attack.

The first is as a Rakdos discard deck. While your creatures are mostly inferior to something like Zombies, you have a lot of elements that can strip your opponent of resources. All of your discard allows you to craft the game you want to play. Thragtusks and Sphinx's Revelations got you down? The discard suite available to this deck keeps plans like that under control.

Liliana of the Veil

The second is just as a scrappy black-red deck. This deck is chock full of removal, to take out your opponent's creatures, and attrition elements, like discard, to slow them down. In any kind of stalemate, you have major inevitability with cards like Pack Rat on your side. With all of the burn you have, you can easily burn out your opponent if the game goes long. Often, one place that discard-heavy decks falter is when the opponent plays a bunch of early creatures, and burn gives you a versatile way to deal with creatures, Planeswalkers, and players alike.

Searing Spear
Brimstone Volley

One of the key cards to this deck is Pack Rat. With a single card, you can overcome an opponent who is down on cards by quickly creating an out-of-control swarm of rats. This is often the way you will defeat your opponent.

The one change to this deck I'd like to see is pushing the discard a little heavier. It's crucial you clear the opponent's hand of worthwhile spells, and excess discard spells aren't useless in the long term because of Pack Rat.

In short, remove your opponent's resources, land a Pack Rat, and then start slowly gnawing away.

2{B}, or not 2{B}?

Let's take a look through and see what can be kept around—and what can be tossed to the rats.

Pack Rat

Pack Rat is absolutely one of the deck's key cards. Most of your games are going to involve stripping your opponent of resources and then throwing everything else away to the rats while slowly overcoming your opponent's life total. It can get interesting when playing against decks with Supreme Verdict; often you will want to consider not throwing all of your rats into one basket. Otherwise, this is your primary victory engine.

Interestingly enough, multiples are never really dead. While multiples can impact your opening hand and mulligan decisions, since it gives you a redundant card, you want a Pack Rat often enough that I am fine sticking with four.

Ravenous Rats

Ravenous Rats might seem innocuous, but it provides a few important services to this deck in one card. It gives you a body to attack and block with, and it also makes your opponent discard. If your opponent is playing creatures with 1 toughness, Ravenous Rat can become a two-for-one. To top it off, it's even a rat that pumps up your Pack Rat collective! If you think your opponent might have Loxodon Smiter, I might not consider playing this on turn two, otherwise that is a pretty optimal turn to play.

While Ravenous Rats only helps in small ways, the numerous small ways it assists really add up. Count me in for four!

Deathrite Shaman

Deathrite Shaman is normally a card that I'm a big fan of, and in this deck it seems like it would be a good fit. All of the discard spells provide you with plenty of fuel for the Shaman, and it's another turn-one play.

However, the problem with Deathrite Shaman in this deck is it's only good when your game plan is working and your opponent doesn't do anything to combat it. If you draw too many non-discard pieces, Deathrite Shaman isn't going to do enough. You don't have enough burn to really play on the plan of killing the opponent with only Shaman and burn spells alone, and your other inevitability cards (like Liliana of the Veil and Pack Rat) are better at this.

You can only have so many of these sort of cards, and I'd rather have Pack Rat and Liliana here. I would like to play more cards that contribute to the deck's core game plan, and Deathrite Shaman is a card I can safely remove for that purpose.

Shrieking Affliction

Cards like this are the largest kind of trap in discard decks. While enchantments along the lines of Shrieking Affliction and Quest for the Nihil Stone look attractive, they have a key problem in that they don't actually help unless your game plan is going perfectly and you can maintain it that way. In your opening hand, they're almost useless, and as topdecks often you would rather have something else. While it reads as a card for a discard deck, often more discard spells are actually better.

The number of copies of this card I want to play is exactly one. If I draw one copy at some point later on in the game once my opponent is contained on cards or under a Liliana Lock it can be all right. However, I never want to see this clogging up my early hands. With only one copy, it will most likely come up in the situations where I want to see it most.

Rakdos's Return

I love Rakdos's Return. While Sphinx's Revelation has caught on, it feels like only a matter of time until people start volleying gigantic Rakdos's Returns back and forth as well.

In this deck, it's a nice piece, although four copies is a bit excessive. This deck has a fairly low curve, plus cards that make you discard (like Liliana of the Veil), so in many games you won't be able to do this for more than two. Still, it's strong enough in late-game situations where you have more lands and as something you can play toward that I definitely want some. The number I would like to play is two copies. If I draw one I can play toward it, but I will seldom feel clogged on them.


One-mana discard spells are usually very valuable to decks like these, provided they hit the kind of cards you want. Duress is no exception. While it can't pluck creatures, dealing with Sphinx's Revelations, Farseeks, and removal spells alike will go a long way. You don't have a lot of turn-one plays, but one-mana discard spells are definitely the best and help set up your game. I definitely want to play all four!

Liliana of the Veil

Liliana of the Veil is one of the most powerful cards for a discard-themed deck. Not only can she discard-lock your opponent, and not only can she deal with troublesome creatures that slip through, but she also builds toward her ultimate, which will quickly send the game toward its conclusion.

Making you discard each turn is a small price to pay, especially since you will often have redundant copies of cards in your hand as the game goes on. With Pack Rat in your deck, you can even convert each card you draw into a Rat prior to activating Liliana!

Derrick originally played only three, but I think I would go one step further and play the full four. You can always discard redundant copies to herself, and when she's fighting off creatures having multiples can be quite useful.

The burn suite adds a nice punch to a deck like this, giving you ways to fight off creatures and reach to finish off opponents. Perhaps most importantly—and what a card like Murder or Ultimate Price can't do—is burn can help fight off Planeswalkers such as Jace, Architect of Thought, which this deck would otherwise have problems with.

However, I would definitely like to replace some of these with one unconditional removal spell to clear off major threats. The card to play instead? Dreadbore. Fighting off creatures and Planeswalkers alike is exactly the kind of spell this deck is looking to play with, and Dreadbore is practically custom-made for that purpose.

Out of these three spells, I most want Pillar of Flame. Although it deals the least damage, making Gravecrawler dead-dead instead of merely dead is crucial for a deck based around discarding. It also gives you a turn-one play to fight off mana Elves and slow down the green decks from dumping threats onto the board too quickly.

After that, it's all about mana efficiency for me. Although normally I'd be all for Brimstone Volley's extra damage, the cheaper mana cost is going to go a long way on Searing Spear, since this deck is going to be tight on mana a lot of the time.

I'd like to have about six burn spells plus a set of Dreadbores total, since I want to see them reasonably often but don't want them to disrupt my core game plan. What I'd like is four Pillars, two Spears, and four Dreadbores. That provides a nice mix of removal while opening up some slots to fill with discard.

Improved Gnawing

Now that we've carved out some room, what might we look into playing? Well, there are a few additions. Let's go over them.

Hellhole Flailer

Often, a discard deck can clean up a hand but then will take forever to close out the game. I often like to play a couple efficient, large creatures in the three-mana spot when available to help me do just that. Desecration Demon was another option, but at four mana it was a tad higher than I would like. There are a few different cards you could put here, but in the end I went with the Flailer.

Mind Rot

It wasn't long ago that Blightning was one of the top cards in Standard. While the 3 damage was certainly good, knocking out the two cards was often the most brutal bit. Some of the Jund decks that played Blightning even eventually started to play with Mind Rot to supplement the discard!

While Mind Rot isn't as nearly as much of a staple as Blightning, in a discard-focused deck Mind Rot still gets the job done quite nicely. It cleans up troublesome cards like Thragtusk long before they can hit the battlefield and mess with you. In a deck like this, I am certainly willing to play the full boat of Mind Rots.

Appetite for Brains

As mentioned before, one-drop discard spells are fantastic for decks like this. While Appetite for Brains does risk missing against many decks, it also hits cards like Thragtusk, which are a major hindrance. I'm a little wary about playing too many Appetites, especially since often it will only be the first one that has a target, but I could definitely see main decking more depending on the metagame. I'd start with two to supplement Duress, and then adjust depending on what people seem to be playing around you.


Killing things is good. Killing more things is better.

As I said above, Planeswalkers are one of your major problems so fighting off a pesky Jace or similar in addition to creatures is crucial. Dreadbore does that admirably.

With all of those changes in mind, here's what my final decklist would look like:

Gavin Verhey's Disaster-Rats

Download Arena Decklist

With a highly aggressive Rakdos deck already at the forefront of Standard I wanted to try something a little more unorthodox—and it certainly turned out that way! This deck is still fairly aggressive, but in a different way. Demolish your opponent's hand and then take the remaining path to victory!

If you've wanted to play a unique Rakdos deck that preys upon some of the slower control decks in the format, this is precisely what you're looking for!

Shrieking Affliction | Art by Johann Bodin

Honorable Mentions

What are some of the other Rakdos decks that came close this week? Let's take a look!

Jaz Beetz's Curse Control

Download Arena Decklist

Jethro's Nivmagus Rakdos

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Paul Muncrief's Rakdos Rider

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Abe Satoshi's Rakdos Pit-Dweller

Download Arena Decklist

Jennifer's Rakdos Burn

Download Arena Decklist

John Valentine's Rakdos Control

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Matthew Orletti's Vampires

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Stefan Nordström's Stealing Sligh

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Greg Daugherty's Rakdos Deck Wins

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Danilo Augusto de Oliveira's Rakdos Midrange

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Benjamin Harned's Rakdos Zombies

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Justin Lee's Bad Wolf

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Ikuya Fujita's Turbo-looter

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And, with that decklist, it closes out ReConstructed's first calendar year! Wow. It's hard to believe this is Week 38 of ReConstructed already. It's been a lot of fun to write so far, and I'd love to hear your feedback!

So, what's in store for ReConstructed next year?

Well, mostly more of the same. I'm picturing some articles on Orzhov, Dimir, Gruul, Boros, and Simic in the near future.

Next year will bring one major change: instead of providing the prompts in my article, I'll be providing them weekly on Twitter! This way you guys will have more time to work on them and I can be a little more flexible, choosing the topic when it's actually time for you to submit decklists instead of having to choose it a week in advance when I submit my article. It also gives me the flexibility to run some cool deck-building contests that real-time submissions allow for.

Don't worry—if you're Twitter adverse, you won't need a Twitter account to participate at all. I'll explain this a little more in detail when I return next year, but I wanted to give everyone a heads-up now. The first week back will be a Zero to Sixty preview article, and I'll let you know all of the specifics then.

Otherwise, it'll still be the same Gavin-time, same Gavin-channel. I can't wait to come back—especially because I get to preview one of the most exciting cards in Gatecrash... and on New Year's Day, no less! It's going to be a card you're definitely going to want to see.

In the meantime, feel free to send any feedback you have for me via Twitter or by posting in the forums. It's always great to hear from all of you!

Provided I survive the ratpocalypse, I'll see you on New Year's when I return with a ghost of Ravnica's past.

Have an excellent holidays season everyone!


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