Rakdos Charm - Illustration by Zoltan Boros

Rakdos Charm | Illustration by Zoltan Boros

The original Ravnica block may not have invented 2-color combinations in Magic, but it definitely typified their core identities. To this day, we still refer to 2-color combinations by their Ravnican names.

Of course, there have been variations and alternative interpretations for each of the color pairs. The original Rakdos in Ravnica had a strong focus on mindless action: you were rewarded for not having cards in your hand. The second iteration had a stronger focus on reckless attacks and forgoing your defenses in favor of an overwhelming amount of power. In our latest return to the city-plane, we got a Rakdos Cult with a strong focus on sacrifices.

These core ideas get replicated in other factions bearing the black and red colors. Even with varying strategies and mechanics, these impulsive and self destructive themes are at the core of Rakdos’s color identity.

This is a color combination of recklessness, speed, spectacle, violence, and relentlessness. If we ever get a Magic set designed around musical subcultures, Rakdos could be nothing other than punk and hardcore. Let's go ahead and look at some of the best cards in Magic’s wildest guild.

Table of Contents show

What Are Rakdos Cards in MTG?

Bladewing, Deathless Tyrant - Illustration by Antonio Jose Manzanedo

Bladewing, Deathless Tyrant | Illustration by Antonio Jose Manzanedo

The name Rakdos is used to refer to cards within the black-red color combination. The name comes from Ravnica’s guild of the same colors, but it can be used to talk about cards in any set and plane that’s those two colors.

While you could consider any card with the Rakdos watermark as a Rakdos card or even some mono-colored cards that have mechanics that fit Rakdos decks perfectly, I’m only going to talk about cards that are specifically both black and red. Disrupt Decorum may feel like a very Rakdos card thematically, but it won’t make it onto this list because it’s ultimately a mono-red card.

#48. Bloodtithe Harvester

Bloodtithe Harvester

Bloodtithe Harvester is a key part in one of Standard’s most fun decks: Rakdos Anvil. It can easily find a place of its own outside of that in vampire and Blood token decks.

#47. Rakdos, the Showstopper

Rakdos, the Showstopper

I don’t consider Rakdos, the Showstopper to be a particularly strong card, but it’s definitely a fun one. Whether you’re playing it in a demon, imp, and devil typal deck or in a coin-flip one, it makes for a really fun card to play and rejoice in the chaos it creates.

#46. Bladewing, Deathless Tyrant

Bladewing, Deathless Tyrant

Bladewing, Deathless Tyrant’s effect can turn your board into a huge threat very quickly. Rakdos decks usually have their graveyards pretty full, either from attacking recklessly, sacrificing their own creatures, or discarding cards from their hands, so this card won’t have any issues creating massive zombie armies.

#45. Mishra, Claimed by Gix

Mishra, Claimed by Gix

Mishra, Claimed by Gix rewards you for attacking by both hurting your opponents and gaining you life. Any card that pushes combat and interaction is a good card in my book.

There’s also the other side to this card: Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia. Getting this melded card can be a bit hard, but its triggered ability more than makes up for it.

What leaves this card (and others like it) so far down this list is its lack of versatility. You pretty much need to build a deck around this card to truly take advantage of it.

#44. Tor Wauki the Younger

Tor Wauki the Younger

Tor Wauki the Younger makes for a really fun casual commander. There are some fringe cases in which you can place it among the 99 in other decks, but its ideal place is at the head of a casual burn deck.

All this card’s abilities heavily reward you for playing spells that deal noncombat damage to opponents, which pushes it as a great way to power up a strategy that doesn’t necessarily shine in EDH.

#43. Havoc Festival

Havoc Festival

If nothing else, Rakdos is a very egalitarian color pair: everyone must suffer equally. There may not be all that many decks that can truly benefit from running Havoc Festival, but if you’re playing an unhinged enough deck, this card swiftly brings your opponents’ life totals down while you put pressure on them through combat.

Goad decks are a great place for this card because you’ll be forcing your opponents to attack each other, making Havoc Festival’s effect less of a danger to yourself.

#42. Vial Smasher the Fierce

Vial Smasher the Fierce

It could be argued that Vial Smasher the Fierce should be higher in, but that would be when it’s properly paired up with some of the partner cards that truly bring out its potential. On its own, this card makes for a really fun chaos commander. Chaos tends to play cards with pretty big mana costs so you’ll be consistently dealing large amounts of damage at random, having fun with all the chaos.

#41. Sire of Insanity

Sire of Insanity

Sire of Insanity forces everyone to discard their hands at the end of each end step. This is a major drawback for everyone, but control and mid-range decks suffer way more than anything Rakdos plays.

This card pairs up pretty greatly with madness decks as well as decks helmed by Prosper, Tome-Bound since you rely more on your exiled cards than your actual hand.

#40. Garna, the Bloodflame

Garna, the Bloodflame

Garna, the Bloodflame is a card that fits considerably well in sacrifice decks. If you need to sacrifice any number of creatures but would rather bring them back, playing this card ensures all those cards return to your hand.

The biggest issue with this card is it’s considerably circumstantial, so while it’s pretty good, it won’t always be the most useful card to have in hand.

#39. Lagomos, Hand of Hatred

Lagomos, Hand of Hatred

Manos, the Hands of Fate… err, I mean, Lagomos, Hand of Hatred makes for a pretty fun card to have in aristocrats and sacrifice decks. Getting a free expendable creature each turn means a free sacrifice fodder.

This card also has a second ability that’s pretty good but can only be used if five creatures have died this turn. This makes it absolutely ideal for sacrifice decks where you can more consistently use this ability.

#38. Oni-Cult Anvil

Oni-Cult Anvil

Oni-Cult Anvil was the face of a pretty strong deck in Standard and Limited not too long ago. This card essentially gives you a repeatable sacrifice outlet for artifacts that also creates its own sacrificial fodder. This isn’t a game-ending card, but it’s a pretty solid tool to have around.

#37. Kaervek the Merciless

Kaervek the Merciless

Kaervek the Merciless has a pretty steep mana value but it more than makes up for it by thoroughly punishing your opponents for each spell they play. Probably one of the most tax-style creatures in Rakdos, this card can be really hard to deal with for your opponents.

#36. Vampire Socialite

Vampire Socialite

Innistrad’s vampires are highly combat-oriented, and that aggro theme for the type has bled (pun not intended) into other depictions of vampires in Magic. All of this makes Vampire Socialite a great addition for vampire decks since it reinforces an attack-oriented strategy by improving your vampires relatively consistently.

#35. Spiteful Visions

Spiteful Visions

Rakdos is usually more group-slug than group-hug, but sometimes you can be both. Spiteful Visions gives each player an additional card each turn, but it also punishes them for drawing cards. This can be quite good paired up with some very Rakdos cards that make your opponents discard their hands consistently, not allowing them to properly take advantage of the extra card they’d draw each turn.

#34. Immersturm Predator

Immersturm Predator

One pretty weird thing about Immersturm Predator is that it looks like a game-ending threat, except it shines when it’s allowed to remain on the battlefield for a few turns.

If left unchecked for a few turns, this card can turn into a massive threat. Luckily, it comes with a built-in way to protect itself from dying, so you can ensure it’ll last for a couple rounds.

#33. Olivia Voldaren

Olivia Voldaren

Playing Olivia Voldaren requires a pretty high sink of mana, but it can become a pretty big annoyance. Its combination of abilities allows you to pretty much steal almost all your opponents’ creatures if you have enough mana and time. But it’ll definitely work for stealing away their biggest threats and commanders.

#32. Anje Falkenrath

Anje Falkenrath

Anje Falkenrath is a really fun card and is what essentially made madness viable in Commander. It can play out in pretty great ways since it allows you to play any card with madness at pretty much any time.

The biggest issue with this card is that it’s not very versatile. It can pretty much only be played as a commander for a very specific deck, fun and good as it may be.

#31. Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury

Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury

Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury is a great addition to any dragon typal deck. It makes your creatures grow exponentially stronger for each attacking dragon you control. But in addition to that, you can also cast it for its dash cost, basically ensuring you can trigger any possible ETB effects you have each turn.

#30. Garna, Bloodfist of Keld

Garna, Bloodfist of Keld

Rakdos is a color pair that doesn’t particularly care if its creatures die in combat. If anything, it probably wants them to, and Garna, Bloodfist of Keld is a perfect representation of that.

#29. Kolaghan’s Command

Kolaghan's Command

Kolaghan's Command’s mana value can be a bit too high for each of its individual effects. However, since it allows you to pick and choose two of them, it can turn into a solid instant to put some pressure on your opponents.

#28. Rivaz of the Claw

Rivaz of the Claw

There are plenty of great dragons in Rakdos, and Rivaz of the Claw can make a great commander for a dragon typal deck. It serves as mana fixing to cast your dragons as well as being a way to bring them back from the graveyard whenever necessary.

#27. Mogis, God of Slaughter

Mogis, God of Slaughter

If I’m being entirely honest, I think Mogis, God of Slaughter could be better. It’s not bad by any means, but when compared to some of the other two-colored gods from Theros, it feels underwhelming.

It’s still a pretty strong car, but you’re ultimately gonna have your opponents choosing to just lose 2 life and move on. It’s a good way to push some unavoidable damage on your opponents, but it could definitely be better.

#26. Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger

Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger

Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger was an absolute beast in Standard not too long ago. It’s fast, strong, and versatile, and it punishes your opponents pretty strongly. The necessity of casting it by its escape cost if you want it to remain on the battlefield can make it a hazard in EDH if you somewhat depend on your graveyard, but it’s a risk worth taking.

#25. Judith, the Scourge Diva

Judith, the Scourge Diva

Our third visit to Ravnica was when the sacrifice theme for the Rakdos Cult was properly cemented. And at the head of that was Judith, the Scourge Diva. The character may likes taking center stage, and her card can also shine pretty bright.

This card can be a decent commander for sacrifice decks, but it can also fit right into the 99 of most Rakdos decks.

#24. Theater of Horrors

Theater of Horrors

I’ve mentioned already that the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms precon led by Prosper, Tome-Bound is one of the most fun precons I’ve played. Theater of Horrors is part of that deck and every time I play it, I know it’ll pay off sooner or later.

This card essentially gives you an additional card each turn, building you an alternative hand in exile that you can only access by dealing damage to your opponents. This would be good enough already, since cards exiled with this card can be played at any time, but it also has a built-in way to deal damage to your opponents.

#23. Blood for the Blood God!

Blood for the Blood God!

We’ve already established that Rakdos is a color combination that’ll have creatures dying almost constantly, either its own or its opponents’. This is relevant for cards like Blood for the Blood God! since it means you’ll be casting it for a reduced cost more often than not.

#22. Xantcha, Sleeper Agent

Xantcha, Sleeper Agent

Xantcha, Sleeper Agent could easily fit into my list of favorite designs in Magic. It’s complex yet easy to understand. It’s unique in what it does. It’s incredibly flavorful and fits the character (at least her origins) perfectly.

This card may not be the strongest, but it can fit into almost any Rakdos deck as a somewhat chaotic tool to use against your opponents.

#21. Fevered Suspicion

Fevered Suspicion

Yes, this is yet another card from the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Rakdos precon. Fevered Suspicion is pretty much a gamble. It has a pretty high mana value, but it can potentially net you some game-ending spells. Even at its worst, it’ll still give you six spells on the lapse of 2 turns, which means a ton of value more often than not.

#20. Dreadbore


There was a time when Dreadbore was possibly one of the best spot removals, even at sorcery speed. This card was very relevant when it came out because it allowed you to target planeswalker cards at a time when planeswalkers were a huge threat. We were just exiting the Jace, the Mind Sculptor era.

Planeswalkers have somewhat lost their relevance and strength over time, and even though this card is still really good, it’s not as meta as it once was.

#19. Olivia, Crimson Bride

Olivia, Crimson Bride

Olivia, Crimson Bride’s ability is extremely fun as well as being really flavorful. This card fits perfectly in pretty much any vampire typal deck since it’ll keep bringing your dead creatures back. Plus you’re bound to have a number of legendary vampires in the deck that’ll help keep your creatures on the battlefield even if this card is removed.

#18. Rakdos, Lord of Riots

Rakdos, Lord of Riots

I adore the design of Rakdos, Lord of Riots. It fits the character perfectly, it balances the card’s power level and casting costs pretty well, and it can ultimately be broken in really absurd ways.

In most decks, this card is simply a powerful card that enables tons of advantages, but there’s also a very specific deck helmed by Rakdos, Lord of Riots. Its second ability essentially makes it so that, with enough damage, you can play any Eldrazi for free in a single turn. Pair that up with haste and it’s one of the most brutal ways to end a game in a single turn.

#17. Stormfist Crusader

Stormfist Crusader

Yet another Rakdos card that simultaneously rewards and punishes everyone equally. I personally like that Stormfist Crusader makes your opponents draw at the beginning of your turn instead of theirs. I don’t truly have any statistics to justify saying this is better than having them draw on each of their own turns, but it somewhat gives me a bigger sense of security.

#16. Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant

Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant

Oops! It’s yet another card from the Forgotten Realms precon. And not the last of them either. However, it’s worth noting that Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant is at its best when it’s not in that specific deck and strategy.

This card is essentially one of the best commanders for a goad deck. There are some arguments against a strategy like that, especially because it relies on your opponents’ creatures more than your own. But I think it’s ultimately a fun strategy that can end up being pretty powerful, and it’s one of the best alternatives for a political play-style in Rakdos.

#15. Hurl Through Hell

Hurl Through Hell

Look, I probably should’ve just talked about how cool the Prosper, Tome-Bound deck is instead of making this list, considering so many of the cards in here are from that deck. That said, Hurl Through Hell is an amazing card.

This card has a relatively high mana value, but it can turn a threat like Craterhoof Behemoth or Blightsteel Colossus into a win condition for you.

#14. Valki, God of Lies / Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor

Valki, God of Lies Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor

Just to be fair, I’m only gonna talk about the Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor side of this card, since the other side isn’t technically Rakdos but mono-black. And I want to celebrate Tibalt finally getting an actually good planeswalker card after being hailed as one of the worst planeswalkers out there.

This card synergizes greatly with a ton of Rakdos cards, but even on its own it can prove itself as a force to be reckoned with. The turn this card hits the battlefield you can already start exiling your opponents’ decks and playing their cards. Not to mention you can target specific threats in a pinch to steal them away.

#13. Stromkirk Captain

Stromkirk Captain

Sometimes a good card is a simple card. Stromkirk Captain is an absolute must-have in any vampire typal deck. Lord effects are already really good on their own, but giving first strike to pretty much every creature you control (if you’re playing a typal deck) means your board immediately becomes a much bigger threat.

#12. Bladewing the Risen

Bladewing the Risen

Bladewing the Risen’s mana value may be a bit daunting at first glance when you consider it’s just a 4/4 with flying. But its ability immediately makes the high value completely worth it. Whether you played a big threat that got removed, or you strategically discarded a dragon you didn’t have the right mana to play, this card cheats it back into play with absolutely no drawbacks.

#11. Kalain, Reclusive Painter

Kalain, Reclusive Painter

I personally think this card would be great even with a somewhat higher mana value. But the low value is justified because you need a larger strategy to make this card truly work. That said, Kalain, Reclusive Painter still has a great effect.

#10. Master of Cruelties

Master of Cruelties

What can I even say about Master of Cruelties that hasn’t been said already? This is an absolute beast of a card. It essentially takes down anything it connects with. Even in a worst case scenario, first strike and deathtouch makes it one of the best possible blockers you could want to have around. But we all know that’s not what makes this card great.

Pair it up with Rogue's Passage or Whispersilk Cloak to effortlessly leave your opponents at death’s doors one by one.

#9. Florian, Voldaren Scion

Florian, Voldaren Scion

Florian, Voldaren Scion’s ability gives you a huge amount of control over your own deck. Being able to pick and choose what card to exile makes it so that you’ll (almost) never be exiling something you can’t play at that time and would actually hate losing. You can either choose something you can actually play, or you can pick something that you don’t mind losing anyway to simply thin out your deck a little bit.

#8. Juri, Master of the Revue

Juri, Master of the Revue

I really like Juri, Master of the Revue as a commander for sacrifice-oriented decks. It synergizes perfectly with the strategy, and you won’t really suffer having to sacrifice it if needs be. It’s worth noting that since its mana value is relatively low, you can sacrifice and recast your commander repeatedly before it truly starts to become an issue in terms of mana.

#7. Chainer, Nightmare Adept

Chainer, Nightmare Adept

Look, I’m a big fan of nu metal and industrial music, and Chainer’s design has always felt like it was pandering to that particular crowd and I love that. But leaving silly musical aesthetics aside, Chainer, Nightmare Adept makes for a really fun card. It was first printed in Anje Falkenrath’s Commander precon, and it fits that deck perfectly since it gives haste to any creature you cast with madness.

#6. Kardur, Doomscourge

Kardur, Doomscourge

Kardur, Doomscourge is another great option as commander for a goad deck. It forces your opponents’ creatures to attack and then punishes them if those creatures die. This can be especially rewarding against players with death and taxes-style strategies, since their creatures are usually tools to push that strategy forward.

#5. Prosper, Tome-Bound

Prosper, Tome-Bound

Is anyone surprised I’d add Prosper, Tome-Bound to this list? But hey! At least I didn’t put it first. In all seriousness, this is one of my favorite Rakdos commanders by far. And I’m saying this as someone who’s been a mainly Rakdos player for the past 12 years.

Prosper, Tome-Bound allows you to build around a particularly unique strategy, working as a one-card tool to gain both mana and card advantage. But it’s not just a great commander. You could easily add this card in any Rakdos deck since it essentially only needs itself to work well enough, but it also fits wonderfully in decks like Anje Falkenrath madness or any other mechanic that technically plays things from exile. It’s a card that brings nothing but value to your side of the table.

#4. Mahadi, Emporium Master

Mahadi, Emporium Master

I think it’s clear that Rakdos strategies tend to have creatures dying a lot, either your own or your opponents’. Mahadi, Emporium Master consistently rewards you for either killing or sacrificing creatures by creating tokens, allowing you to ramp in a color pair that can sometimes struggle with ramping and mana.

#3. Mayhem Devil

Mayhem Devil

Before you say anything, I’m aware that seeing Mayhem Devil over some of the last cards I mentioned can be pretty weird. It’s a pretty simple and straightforward card that won’t end games or heavily impact the boardstate. Unless….

What makes this card earn this spot is how well it fits into Magic’s current meta. Think of all the sacrificable tokens we have right now. Food, Clues, Blood, Treasures, Gold. Not to mention decks that run one or more sac outlets, regardless of if they’re actually a sacrifice deck or not. All of this makes this card a huge unexpected threat. Not to mention you should obviously be playing it in a deck that revolves around sacrifices and Treasures for peak profit.

#2. Rakdos Charm

Rakdos Charm

Almost all the cards in the guild charm cycle are pretty solid cards. They’re amazing designs that very elegantly encapsulate what each of the guilds aims at doing while being very clearly design to either benefit their own guild’s strategies or hamper opposing guilds’ specific strategies.

Rakdos Charm works perfectly against two very prominent strategies in Commander: go wide and graveyard recursion. There’s a very specific evil kind of pleasure that comes with playing this card in specific situations. Whether you use a go-wide player’s creatures to kill them off or you exile a graveyard-recurssion player’s graveyard, you’ll get to enjoy yourself while everyone else hates you for a bit.

#1. Bedevil + Terminate

I placed these two cards in the first place because each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages. Both Terminate and Bedevil are some of the best targeted removal in the game, and by far the best targeted removal in Rakdos. They’re swift, inexpensive, and efficient.

They share a spot because Terminate has a more limited range of targets (only creatures, basically), but it only costing 2 mana makes it easy to cast without having to leave too much mana untapped in your turn. Bedevil, on the other hand, is a bit more costly but makes up for it by allowing you to pick from a variety of different targets, making it more versatile.

Best Rakdos Cards Payoffs

There are some very specific strategies and archetypes related to Rakdos that you can build around. Depending on which of those strategies you’re looking to build around, it’ll change what cards can really work as payoffs.

In the case of a cast-from-exile strategy (yes, I’m talking about Prosper, Tome-Bound once again, bear with me) you have tons of possible cards, especially in red. Whether it’s cards like Light Up the Stage or Reckless Impulse to exile cards from the top of your library or Wild-Magic Sorcerer to profit from playing those cards, there’s tons of support for these kinds of strategies.

Keeping in line with one of Prosper’s abilities but also expanding to a more widespread archetype for Rakdos, we have treasures. With so many Rakdos cards that feed into a treasure archetype, cards like Xorn, Goldspan Dragon, and Marionette Master make for great additions to these Rakdos decks.

Blood Artist

With Rakdos having so many powerful vampires, you also get tons of payoff cards for those strategies. Blood Artist not only works perfectly in vampire typal decks but also sacrifice-based decks, which are also incredibly common in Rakdos.

The list could honestly go on forever, but to make it quick, some of the strategies that work best in Rakdos include: madness, goading, sacrifice, demon, devil, and imp typal, dragon typal, and chaos.

What Is Rakdos Good At in MTG?

I think it’s worth making a difference between 2-player and multiplayer formats for this. While some strategies can work great in both situations (like sacrifice), others work almost exclusively in one or the other.

In the case of 2-player games, Rakdos can be a great color pair for aggro decks. Way back when I used to play a Rakdos aggro deck that, in a particularly good hand, was dealing 15 to 20 damage on turn 3 or 4. This is thanks to the mixture of high-speed creatures that both red and Rakdos have access to, red’s burn, and a splash of black’s targeted removal. A lot of aggro decks have a hard time picking up after a relatively strong blocker has been played, but that stops being a problem if you can Terminate anything that gets in your way.

Arguably the only strategy that works exclusively in multiplayer Rakdos decks is chaos. This is pretty much a casual strategy only, since it can find itself having a hard time finding a proper win condition. You usually depend on your opponents’ wincons; and the more opponents you have, the more likely you are to find something that’ll win you the game.

Rakdos is great at very aggressive and symbolically self-destructive gamestyles. It has tons of support for strategies that like rushing in, being reckless, and profiting from it. Sacrifice strategies are extremely common in Rakdos, and they keep getting tons of support, expanding their utilities with things like treasures to help them ramp up.

Wrap Up

Bedevil - Illustration by Seb McKinnon

Bedevil | Illustration by Seb McKinnon

I could honestly keep going on and on about Rakdos cards and strategies, but I don’t want to overstay my welcome. This color identity is pretty much responsible for getting me hooked on Magic when I was a kid thanks to an old black-red deck with a bunch of Phyrexian cards my sister used to lend me when we played. I could actually point to Cinder Shade and Shivan Zombie as two of the cards that got me hooked on Rakdos’ aesthetics.

But enough about what I think. What are your favorite Rakdos cards? Do you think I missed any on my list? What’s your favorite strategy for Rakdos decks? Should I shut up about Prosper, Tome-Bound already? Leave a comment letting us know! And while you’re here, make sure to pay our Discord server a visit. There you’ll find an amazing community of MTG fans to share your hobby with!

That’s all from me for now. Have a good one, and I’ll see you next time!

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