Playing Magic: Cult of Rakdos

Hey everybody,
It’s been a long time since I have talked about Magic on my blog, but it’s been something that I’ve been drifting back towards in recent days, so I’ve been looking over some of the decks that I’ve had built over the years. I’ve written quite a few of these “playing Magic” blogs, focusing on a few of the Ravnica guilds such as Dimir and Orzhov, but not yet on the colour combination that I perhaps enjoy more than any other: red and black! So it’s finally time to get to “my roots”, as it were, and talk about the Cult of Rakdos!

Rakdos Lord of Riots

Rakdos is unlike any of the other Guilds on the plane of Ravnica, in that they’re a sort of madcap band of circus-folk who are all bound by their hedonistic worship of the demon, Rakdos. The black and red cult has appeared now in three different sets, starting with Dissension in original Ravnica back in 2006. The guild mechanic here was Hellbent, an ability word that gave additional or enhanced effects to a card if you have no cards in hand.

Return to Ravnica gave us Unleash, a mechanic that allows you to choose when casting a creature to place a +1/+1 counter on it. If you do, it then cannot block, but is obviously buffed for as long as it remains in play. (Indeed, a counter placed from any source will prevent the creature from blocking). As far as the link to Rakdos goes, it’s fairly thematic, given the fact that the creature will only be concerned with attacking.

Finally, Ravnica Allegiance has given us Spectacle, which is a sort of re-imagined version of the ability originally chosen for Rakdos – if an opponent lost life this turn, you can cast the spell for its Spectacle cost rather than its casting cost. It’s also thematic for being so similar to the ability of the guildmaster himself, Rakdos Lord of Riots.

Rakdos

So let’s get down to my deck!

Creatures
Rakdos, Lord of Riots
Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
Spike Jester (2)
Goblin Deathraiders (2)
Rakka Mar
Kiln Fiend
Hellrider
Rakdos Cackler (2)
Rakdos Shred-Freak (2)
Gore-House Chainwalker (2)
Rakdos Drake (2)
Exuberant Firestoker

Instants
Staggershock (2)
Shock (2)
Showstopper (2)
Virulent Swipe (2)
Rally the Forces

Enchantments
Lightning Talons (2)
Deviant Glee (2)
Madcap Skills
Anthem of Rakdos

Artifacts
Rakdos Keyrune (2)
Rakdos Signet
Rakdos Cluestone
Veinfire Borderpost

Land
Rakdos Guildgate (4)
Rakdos Carnarium (2)
Blood Crypt
Swamp (7)
Mountain (8)

There are a couple of things that I’ve considered changing about this deck, but I’ve had pretty decent luck with it so far that I’ve not really done anything about it just yet.

The bulk of the deck is of course Rakdos-centric, which is a lot of attacking power and Haste creatures. A lot of people don’t value Enchantments much, because of the fact that they die with the creature they’re attached to, but I do like to have some in my decks for the abilities they can grant. And I do recall one particularly memorable game where I had the Hellrider deal just one point of damage to my opponent, which let me bring Rakdos himself out, and the pair of them consequently won me the game while equipped with Deviant Glee and Lightning Talons, respectively! By contrast, the only artifacts included in the deck are concerned with mana-fixing, which is probably something that isn’t going to be a problem with the majority of the cards included, but they’re also really on-theme, so I find it hard to argue with that!

I mentioned Hellrider being a useful way to ensure Rakdos comes out, but there are a couple of direct-damage spells (of course!) that can help to ensure I’m able to deal damage to my opponent if need be, as well as the Exuberant Firestoker who, for quite a while, was almost cut from the team. However, even with creatures that have Trample or Flying, I need to make sure I can get the big guy out as much as possible. There are plenty of ways to pump him throughout the deck, which can win me the game if need be – Rakdos with Lightning Talons was a 9/6 Flying & Trample demon badass, but with Virulent Swipe he can be an 11/6 Flying/Trample/Deathtouch nightmare! Add in a Rally the Forces and he’s giving out 12 points of damage in the air – Trample ensures at least some of it gets through, and First Strike will kill off any chumps before they get a chance to kill him as well. If Anthem of Rakdos is added into the mix, there is the potential to one-shot a player! He can be such an incredible threat, it’s worth adding in the additional insurances to make sure he can be cast!

Exava Rakdos Blood Witch

Of course, the deck isn’t entirely about the Lord of Riots. He’s not an expensive card to buy, normally, but his availability has decreased significantly since I first got into the game, it has to be said. So the deck was never going to be a showcase for my favourite cult leader. We’ve got Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch, who acts almost as a focal point for the Unleash mechanic, allowing me to play those creatures on the turn they come out as she gives anything with a +1/+1 counter Haste. There are plenty of creatures and plenty of direct-damage spells that I can still stand a very good chance here, even if the Lord of Riots is stuck at the bottom of my deck. I don’t need him to win, but he’s really great when he hits the table!

I’ve talked before about encouraging the aesthetics of the deck in having cards in the same frame, and so on, and here I wanted to keep that sort of look of the deck as having the pre-M15 frame. I should probably try to make another deck from the new Rakdos cards in the new block, as I’ve got quite a few that I think might go together to make a decent re-imagining of the classic combo of black and red. Might be a blog for another day soon!

Rakdos

Outside of the Ravnica cards, I’ve gone pretty wide this time in the deck, including stuff from original Zendikar block, and even Shards of Alara. I feel it’s worth mentioning here the Borderposts that I’ve included in the deck – I’ve come across a lot of hate for these cards online, as people seem to condemn anything that isn’t a fetchland as worthless. However, it’s worth noting that you can pay 1 generic mana and return a land to your hand to play the card, rather than paying the three-mana casting cost. Turn one, then, being able to play the post provides some immediate fixing on the same speed as a Guildgate. Again, I’m aware that Guildgates are hardly the go-to lands but, playing against a lot of land removal allows me to keep my colour fixing in artifacts like these and the Keyrune etc.

Of course, it’s basically an aggro deck, so there are a lot of creatures involved, with a lot of combat tricks to buff them (and keeping the Kiln Fiend happy!) I’ve been thinking of more stuff like this going into the deck, to have more value coming from casting spells – Guttersnipe springs to mind, of course, but as I’d said before, I’ve had decent success so I’m not in too much of a rush to change things for now. I also have only 9 instant cards in the deck, which I don’t think is enough to consider building a spells-matter strategy into it at this point.

Rakdos

It’s a lot of fun playing these sorts of decks, I find, as you usually don’t find yourself playing for very long, so can get in multiple games and, thus, get to see a lot more of the deck.

There are a lot of great cards that can find a home in a deck like this, although they do tend to lend themselves to a certain type of card as time goes on. I’ve found myself having collected a large number of Magic cards over the years, and so find it a lot of fun to physically go through the collection and build decks that include all manner of weird and wonderful cards and effects. It’s also one of the reasons that I think this game is always going to be around for me – I might not play it anywhere near as often as I used to, but it’s something that has been a big part of my life for quite some time, and will doubtless always remain there, ready for me to come back to it when life allows! I suppose that’s the beauty of the game, in that a deck like Return to Ravnica-era Rakdos (and we’re talking 2012 here) will always be fun to play, no matter what has happened in the game. There’s another reason why I keep coming back to Magic – that timeless quality of it just being a really good game!

The Warhammer Preview!

Hey everybody!
Another weekend, another Warhammer Preview! I suppose it’s been a while since the last one, of course – though those last few Previews did feel a little bit lacklustre when compared with what we’ve seen today!

Let’s start with Necromunda, which has seen the House of Blades for the Eschers go up for pre-order today. The next book in the series, House of Iron, has now been previewed, and is coming out along with some wonderful models! The Orlock Arms Masters and Wreckers box looks amazing, and I’m excited to see the variety of stuff that we’ve seen in the Escher and Orlock boxes – we’re getting juves, which seems to have been the main draw for this second round of releases, but also these champion types, and now crazy animals as well! Makes me excited to see what’s in store for Houses Delaque and Van Saar!

We’ve already got more new Necrons coming out, it’s just crazy how many new things are on the way for this faction these days! Now, I’ve actually been really disappointed with the new Necron models so far, having seen the sculpted battle-damage on those from the Indomitus box that makes even the HQ models look like they’re falling apart. I mean, I get that they’re supposed to be kind of space zombies in an everlasting horde now, but I’ve always tried to have my own army as a kind of pristine force, due to them having that sort of incredible tech and stuff. Anyway! I’m sure, in time, I’ll give them a go and include the new stuff in my army, but for now I’m kinda giving things a wide birth.

Now, this is interesting. Mission Packs for the new Crusade narrative system, which makes it all feel almost like a role-playing game. It all sounds pretty great, although I do wonder how long they’ll continue to support these things for. It’s all shiny and new for the moment, of course, and they’re pushing the Crusade stuff real hard, but we’ll see if it’s still a thing in a year or two, I guess.

Now, I was not prepared for this! Of course, we knew that the Scions of the Flame were still on the way, and while I’d forgotten about them, the Khainite warband had been previewed a whiles back too. The interesting thing about this expansion is that it looks an awful lot like Kill Team: Rogue Trader, with it being very much more a dungeon-crawl type of game rather than the multi-level skirmish we’ve had so far.

The terrain this time around is mainly doors, with the odd bridge and a bunch of scatter terrain – and just the two warbands, no Chaotic Beasts. Whether that means it’ll be a lower price point than the original starter set, which had an MSRP of £100, who knows – I certainly hope so! That said, the Kill Team: Rogue Trader box was £80 MSRP, and would perhaps be a closer analogue, so it might not be that much lower…

I am so obsessed with Warcry right now, I can’t wait for this box, regardless!

I mean, look at it! I think this photo hits the nail on the head, with that “Warhammer Quest charm”, having a bunch of doors and that’s it! Looks like a lot of duplication as well, though, but the scatter terrain is always something I enjoy seeing, so if nothing else, I’m looking forward to it for that. Available in the not-too-distant future, too – I need to start raising some funds!! Though hopefully this might stay in stock for longer than previous boxes have – I’m still sore over having missed out on the Corpsewrack Mausoleum!

The fourth season of Warhammer Underworlds is almost upon us! I’ve still never played a single game, though I do always like seeing the warbands coming out for this game. Hedonites of Slaanesh and the new Lumineth Realm-Lords go head to head, and the promise of a Seraphon warband coming out as well – splendid stuff! Who knows, maybe I’ll actually get to play this game one day soon. Shame my only fully-painted band is the Nighthaunt one from Nightvault! Anyway…

Speaking of Hedonites of Slaanesh – I’m very excited for this box! In the last couple of days, I’ve been thinking again about starting a Daughters of Khaine army, and of course I’ve always wanted a Slaanesh force, so it’s kind of ideal really!

It looks like it’s in the same mould as stuff like Looncurse, with having two opposing armies led by a brand new hero model. Hopefully it won’t sell out in seconds, as I’d like to get my hands on both forces here!

I think it’s especially exciting to see more of the mortal side of the followers of Slaanesh. The new Lord of Pain is a fitting HQ choice for the Hellstriders, although I wish we’d seen an updated Lord on Steed, but hopefully we’ll be getting some more stuff like this in the future!

The finale to this Preview was Broken Realms, what seems to be the AoS equivalent of Psychic Awakening. Does this telegraph AoS third edition next summer? Well, who knows. I’d like to think the world will return to normal soon enough so that I can actually play some more AoS before we lose everything that I’ve been building up so far, though I suppose that could be a little hyperbolic! I’ve only actually played AoS twice, after all, so it would be good to get some more games in!


This Preview was definitely full of some exciting stuff! I’m really looking forward to the new Warcry box, even though it doesn’t seem to compare terrain-wise with the original starter. The AoS battle-box is also going to be an exciting one, as I hope to get started with a new army and all. More Necromunda is always a delight, as well, and I’m really excited to see how this line of miniatures and books continues through all of the House gangs!

Definitely an exciting time to be in the hobby – and definitely time to start thinning out the ranks of the unwanted miniatures!!

Planning! part one

Hey everybody,
It’s time for more rambling thoughts to start your week! After thinking about it a couple of weeks ago, I have now started in earnest on my 9th Edition Black Legion army – and yes, it’s turning out to be quite the army, at that! What has initially started life as a 500-point (ish) Combat Patrol force has now become something far bigger than I’d been expecting!!

To start with, though, let’s talk briefly about how army building works in 9th edition. Rather than receiving a number of command points based on the number of detachments that you’re bringing, instead you get the CP based on the game size, somewhat balancing things in comparison with 8th edition, where one army could be starting the game with something like 17, and another might only have 4. For games of up to 500 points-a-side, such as we’ll be discussing today, you each get 3CP to start the game with. After that, at the start of each round, you get an extra one in your Command Phase, a new phase of the game that seems to have been borrowed from AoS.

Now. Each detachment that you bring costs command points, but if your warlord is in that detachment, you get those points refunded. So the humble patrol detachment costs 2CP, but you then gain 2CP if your warlord is in there. Interestingly, this only counts for the patrol, battalion and brigade detachments – the vanguard, spearhead and outrider detachments cost 3CP each, and don’t refund you even if your warlord is in that detachment instead. So no elite-only armies, for you! Even more interestingly, the Supreme Command detachment doesn’t cost anything, but you get additional command points if your army also includes a patrol (+2), battalion (+3) or brigade (+4), but that Supreme Command must include either a Primarch, Daemon Primarch, or Supreme Commander unit. Interesting to see how they’re sort of pushing those big commander type of units – and even more interesting, considering there is only one Primarch currently in the game. I’m guessing that characters like Abbadon and the Silent King will be getting Supreme Commander keywords in time?

Anyway, I digress.

I’m talking about my Combat Patrol plans for the Black Legion!

I’ve literally only just planned out my starting force for these guys, and then the points changed quite dramatically and I couldn’t fit everything into the same force! Marines in particular were hard-hit, meaning that I’ve had to take out the Exalted Champion and a second Greater Possessed! But anyway.

For this list, then, I get 3 CP to start the game, which isn’t so bad I guess! The Master of Possession is literally only there as the headliner because of the fact that I’ve finished painting him; I think in the fullness of time I’ll be swapping him out for a Sorcerer or maybe even simply a Lord, although I have just today primed the Dark Apostle ready for action!

The Master of Possession is heavily geared towards daemon-support, so the Greater Possessed has stayed in the list simply to give him targets for his abilities! I do want to ally in some daemons, though, and I’m thinking the whole Dark Ritual stuff could be quite fun as well, so it’ll be interesting to see what he gets up to in due course! For the marines, I’ve got the 10-man unit from Shadowspear, and I’m currently working my way through all that trim on those guys… what a detailed task that is!

I’m enjoying my foray into these guys though, even if I haven’t yet been able to come up with an easier way of painting the basic troops! Of course, I’ll be using Cultists when the army grows, so that may prove to be an easier task, although I still haven’t finished painting that batch of Cultists from back in the day…

The Havocs are hopefully going to be great. Again, when I get the army fully off the ground, I’m hoping to get at least one more squad of them, kitted out slightly differently so that I have more heavy bolters for volume of shots. Given that they’re almost as expensive as double the number of regular marines, though, I’m curious to see what else could possibly fit into the list!

I think this is really indicative of how 9th edition is changing things, with fairly big points increases, which in turn are seeing smaller armies. In looking at how I could increase this force to 1000 points, I was looking at some Terminators, though kitted out as I’d like (combi weapons and power fists, with a reaper autocannon in there just because) brings a five man unit to almost 200 points! Added in a second marines squad at 175 and a second Havocs squad at 150, and I basically have no room to manoeuvre! It surprises me, I think, because during 8th edition I was almost always pleasantly surprised as just how many models I could fit into a list. Now, however, I’m finding that my lists are becoming almost elitist given how few bodies I can squeeze in!

In addition, though, I’m also intending to ally in some Chaos Daemons, principally of Slaanesh, given that I have those models already, although I can’t deny that I’d like to get a few more interesting gribblies in as time goes on! I think I might start with a small patrol detachment of these things, rather than relying on Summoning them on, as I feel that tactic might be vulnerable to having the characters removed before they can attempt the Ritual. But who knows? Maybe I’ll try to get my Dark Apostle to summon a Keeper of Secrets, and see what havoc can be caused!

So far, then, I’ve got a small force underway. I’ve recently picked up a couple of Rhinos and a Forgefiend, as I’d like to go bigger with this army as time goes on, but I’m trying my hardest not to go picking up tons of kits and finding myself drowning in plastic! In addition to the Marines, I’d like to get a nice selection of Cultists painted up, and who knows? Maybe 9th edition will answer my dreams, and we’ll get that Renegades & Heretics Codex that I’ve been after since Blackstone Fortress first showed what could be possible with such wonderful miniatures!

Catching Up

Hey everybody!
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Seems like life has been passing me by recently, as I have been focused a bit on work – I’ve got an interview this coming Tuesday for a promotion, so we’ll see what comes from that. More money for plastic crack, maybe?! We shall see!

Speaking of plastic, let’s start with the main topic of the day…

I’m not a big fan of the new Necrons, having now seen them in the flesh, as I wasn’t keen on the sculpted battle damage. For my Necrons, I’ve tried to paint them more like a pristine sort of warrior race, with the advanced tech that means they don’t retain battle damage like that. While I’m not entirely fussed yet on the Necrons, I have been admiring those Space Marines…

However, Chaos has become a major thing for me, considering I’d planned for Genestealer Cults to be my 9th Edition army! I’ve long wanted a force of Heretic Astartes, and having started with the idea of a Cultist rabble, I’ve now moved more into the realms of actual marines in the list. Today has been quite exciting though, as I’ve finished painting the Master of Possession from the Shadowspear box set! Finally!

I’m really pleased with this chap, and have followed the tutorial for the fire in particular from The Brush & Boltgun, which was a godsend! I’ve not had a chance yet to look at the other stuff on the channel, but it looks like a lot of the stuff that I have on the list, anyway, so it might be worth mining that stuff!

Speaking of which, I’ve finally picked up a Chaos Rhino for the nascent force, which I’ve wanted to get a hold of since seeing this wonderful piece of art from another of my favourite instagram’ers, Martin Sivertsen:

I mean, look at it! It’s absolutely beautiful, and I hope mine will come out a mere tenth as good! I’ve actually made an order for a second Rhino, as well as a Forgefiend (which I’ve wanted for a long time, as well) and a Dialogus for the nascent Sisters army!

Have I posted a picture of the Sisters here yet? Can’t remember, so here you go:

Looking forward to getting these painted up, however long they might take!

Moving on to a different game now, though…

My wife and I have been enjoying a few games of Elder Sign in recent weeks, as we’ve re-established Friday nights as gaming nights, and it’s been an absolute blast to be playing once more!

We’ve played a few times with the core set, as we get back into it all, and so last night we played with the first expansion, Unseen Forces, which I thought might be the best one to start with, as pretty much every other expansion has the Gates of Arkham rules and ramps up the difficulty! We had a couple of games with Unseen Forces, and while we managed to save the world from Shudde M’ell with just three locations left to explore per turn, we came under attack from Abhoth and it all went wrong.

It’s great to be back playing games from Fantasy Flight, I’m feeling really quite nostalgic for the whole thing! Of course, we’re slap bang in the middle of GenCon 2020 right now, but it all feels a bit weird with the global pandemic ongoing. FFG have shown off a few Star Wars bits, such as more Clone Wars era stuff for Armada, X-Wing and Legion, and that’s about all that I’ve managed to glean from the internets right now! Of course, it’s always an online event for me, but it feels particularly odd right now, regardless!

What else has been going on?

I’ve read quite a few books since I last came here to provide a review, so will doubtless have some thoughts on them to share with you all! I’ve also been reading the rest of The Flash’s run through the New 52, so will sometime soon get a round-up blog sorted for that! I’ve also been catching up with the DC movies that I’ve not seen, after watching Man of Steel a few weeks ago. So there will be plenty of blogs incoming once I have the time to properly sit down once again!

Okay, so it’s been pushed back, but there’s a Mandalorian novel due next year?! This news has excited me far more than I’d expected! Still very excited to see what season two has got in store for us, even though I’ve been really disappointed how it seems to be heavily leaning into the Clone Wars cartoons with the casting news that we’ve seen. Still, maybe live-action Ahsoka won’t be so damn annoying as to make me want to tear my own face off… time will tell! I think The Mandalorian is about the only thing Star Wars that I’m looking forward to right now, though, so I hope it won’t be disappointing!

Anyway, time to cease my ramblings, I think! Hope you’re all having an amazing Saturday, and stay tuned for more blogs coming as the summer progresses!