Last updated on May 23, 2023
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer | Illustration by Simon Dominic
Mono-colored commanders' popularity in the format is rising. Braids, Arisen Nightmare specializes in sacrificing permanents to turn them into card advantage. Today it's our beloved monkey, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer’s, turn to have a deck built around it and make some monkey business.
Curious to see what this pirate is capable of? Let's find out!
Mutavault | Illustration by John Avon
Ancient Copper Dragon
Magda, Brazen Outlaw
Grenzo, Havoc Raiser
Birgi, God of Storytelling
Captain Lannery Storm
Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge
Magus of the Moon
Hazoret the Fervent
Cavern of Souls
Desert of the Fervent
Mouth of Ronom
Snow-Covered Mountain x21
Throne of the High City
This is a deck with multiple subsets of cards that have their role inside it, like dragons or Treasure makers, but with the same goal in common: winning the game by attacking and killing your opponents.
It may sound very straightforward, but red is known for being deadly simple.
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is one of the few commanders with the dash ability. This ability is affected by the commander tax, meaning it costs an extra for each previous time the player cast it from the command zone.
This deck runs multiple ways to remove your opponent's creatures.
This deck runs the likes of Experimental Frenzy to help you from running out of gas.
Believe it or not there are very powerful planeswalkers in red that fit perfectly on the deck.
Chandra, Pyromaster makes your attacks easier.
This deck runs a lot of dragons that also perform exceptionally well in the deck on top of being bulky beaters.
There are other cards in the deck that have a different role from the ones I’ve already mentioned. They’re somewhat a staple of every mono-red Commander deck.
Some creatures have some specific role in the deck, like Xorn doubling the number of Treasure tokens you generate.
Or if you just want to punish your opponents you have Mindsparker.
Mycosynth Lattice is a potent card when paired with artifact removal.
Sensei's Divining Top helps you smooth your draws.
The Mana Base
Throne of the High City puts a target on your head and provides you the much-needed card advantage red decks want to avoid running out of resources.
This is an aggressive deck, meaning that your main goal is playing creatures with evasion that enjoy engaging in combat. But this kind of strategy tends not to work very well at a four-person table since everyone can disrupt you, and targeting one player in particular probably isn’t the best idea.
This is why you need to hit whoever you can and try to win with the go-wide plan in the long game. This is usually with your dragons, planeswalkers, or pseudo-Treasure token theme.
Combos and Interactions
This deck doesn't run as many combos as other commander decks. Its plan is a straightforward beatdown. But it still has some cute synergies when things align.
Sword of Hearth and Home and Dockside Extortionist is a cute combo where you “blink” your Dockside Extortionist to get more Treasure tokens per hit. In theory you can also replace Ancient Copper Dragon from the first combo with these two cards to get the same effect if you can create at least five Treasure tokens per “blink.”
If what you’re looking for is a cheap way to make your monkey unstoppable, Goblin Tunneler makes sure it happens.
March of Reckless Joy is an interesting card if what you’re looking for is card advantage. The only downside is that you only get to cast two of the spells revealed with it, but it can be used as a pseudo-tutor if you use a lot of mana.
Swiftfoot Boots is another option aside from Lightning Greaves to protect your commander, and other creatures in general. The benefit here is that you can attach other things to it without needing to move the equipment.
I haven’t tested Jaya, Fiery Negotiator much because it's still a somewhat new card to me, but it looks promising to the point that I’d highly encourage everyone else to try it.
Arcane Signet and Fellwar Stone are cheaper options compared to the other ones the deck already runs. They’re significantly less powerful but the effects are about the same, and you’ll barely note the difference if your table is slow.
Red has some nasty combos that can be implemented in this deck thanks to how fast Ragavan starts acting, and it's solely used as more ramp to cast spells earlier. One of these involves Imperial Recruiter, Goblin Recruiter, and Conspicuous Snoop winning the game based on which cards you can stack.
Another route is to be more artifact-centered and run cards like Blightsteel Colossus, Daretti, Scrap Savant, and Scrap Mastery to cheat powerful artifacts in play and send the ones from your opponents to the graveyard.
Blood Moon | Illustration by Tom Wänerstrand
Mono-red decks are known for being very straightforward and this deck isn’t the exception. I tried to make a pseudo-competitive version by adding half of the combo pieces that make it broken. This version is potent and terrifying on its own when it manages to keep momentum, leading to very oppressing play patterns.
What do you think? Do you feel Ragavan is broken, or is it a fine commander? Did you like the decklist or a card? Let me know in the comments below or join the discussion in the Draftsim Discord.
That's all for now. As always, take care, and let's keep brewing!
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