Last updated on January 13, 2023

Florian, Voldaren Scion - Illustration by Justine Cruz

Florian, Voldaren Scion | Illustration by Justine Cruz

Commander is a format of choices, and the greatest decision of all aside from choosing your commander is deciding what colors you want to play. With up to 100 unique cards in your deck it’s important you pick a color or color combo that fits your playstyle and empowers the strategy you find the most rewarding.

Today I’d like to present you with the idea of choosing a Rakdos () commander. I’ll explain just why you should choose Rakdos, list 19 of the most powerful commanders out there, and even provide a sample decklist that I’ve found to be very powerful at my LGS.

Let’s get started!

Why Go with a Rakdos Commander?

Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger - Illustration by Vincent Proce

Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger | Illustration by Vincent Proce

The Cult of Rakdos is a color combination of emotion, power, and deception. Red offers incredibly powerful cards for cheap while black brings excellent removal and card draw. Together red and black is one of the most powerful aggressive color pairs in Magic that gives you the means to do what you want most to the most potent effect possible.

Rakdos holds a special place in Commander as one of the more consistent aggro-midrange color combinations. It provides a threatening early game and can grind out longer matches against control decks. If you enjoy playing with vampires, minotaurs, goblins, or any kind of aggressive creature-based strategy, you’ve found the right colors.

#19. Xantcha, Sleeper Agent

Xantcha, Sleeper Agent

19th place goes to Xantcha, Sleeper Agent, a 3-mana 5/5. As soon as it enters the battlefield, though, you have to pick an opponent to give it to.

Xantcha’s whole deal is that it causes your opponent trouble by attacking other opponents that aren’t you, and can cause its controller (not owner) to lose two life for . I think this card is really sweet because it completely disrupts play and opens up new avenues for player interaction beyond counterspells or Lightning Bolts.

As for the actual deck it’s leading, most players opt to go down the curses route with cards like Curse of Leeches and Curse of Stalked Prey. Not only do I think this is the most powerful strategy for Xantcha, it’s also the most fun and on-theme!

#18. Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar

Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar MH2MH2

In 18th place is Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar, whose name I bet you didn’t read. We’ll call it Asmo.

Asmo is a somewhat straightforward commander that can only be played if you’ve discarded a card, which means it’s going to lead a madness-based deck. Its call to fame, other than being a 3/3 for that can fling Food at people, is that it tutors out The Underworld Cookbook when itenters the battlefield. The Cookbook acts as a discard outlet for your cards with madness while simultaneously fueling your 6-damage abilities with Asmo.

#17. Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger

Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger

Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger is a very strong creature overall as a 6/6 that causes each of your opponents to discard a card or lose three life every time it enters or attacks. The big drawback to Kroxa is the escape keyword, which is why it sits so low on this list.

Luckily for us, Rakdos supplies more than enough ways to support a discard-themed list that can get Kroxa out on curve with numerous discard outlets and engines. You’re going to want to look at a few specific cards when it comes to benefiting from discarding and making your opponents discard.

The first is Geth’s Grimoire, which draws you a card for every discard by an opponent. Second is Painful Quandary, which taxes five life or a card whenever an opponent casts a spell. Last but not least is Leyline of the Void, which shuts down any graveyard shenanigans while simultaneously saying goodbye to anything your opponents discard.

#16. The Scorpion God

The Scorpion God

The Scorpion God has the ability to distribute -1/-1 counters for and then draw you cards whenever a creature with these counters dies. This is decent early game removal, and something that you can take advantage of later on with more mana for bigger creatures. On top of that it comes back to your hand at the beginning of your next end step when it dies, making it effectively immune to the commander tax.

Remember, there’s no reason to have only The Scorpion God as your -1/-1 engine. There are more than enough -1/-1 and synergistic cards to support a general -1/-1 counter strategy. Contagion Clasp, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, and Glistening Oil all come to mind as must-haves, and I’m sure you can think of some more when you build the deck.

#15. Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos

Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos

Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos, a legendary ogre demon from Neon Dynasty, is a sacrifice-based commander that likes to fling damage at your opponents and their creatures by exiling cards off the top of your library. But don’t worry, you can still play them!

Hidetsugu‘s first ability is nice but there are better sacrifice outlets in cards like Ashnod’s Altar. What we’re after is that delicious second ability. Most of the creatures we want to reanimate after sacrificing are pretty costly, so being able to throw around five or six damage at whatever we want is some nice damage-based removal that we’ll never be sick of.

#14. Mogis, God of Slaughter

Mogis, God of Slaughter

The first (but not the last) minotaur tribal commander in today’s rankings is Mogis, God of Slaughter. Mogis has been swinging that axe of his since the release of Born of the Gods and is an increasingly popular commander.

God of Slaughter empowers a “group slug” strategy that aims to actively damage and harm all players at a constant rate, like Purphoros, God of the Forge. Some great cards in this category are enchantments like Fiery Emancipation, Burning Earth, and War’s Toll. If you’re crazy enough you may want to consider running the now-unbanned Worldfire, which is no longer held back from tormenting players by WotC’s gates.

#13. Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury

Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury

Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury is the namesake leader of the Kolaghan faction on Tarkir, and that’s good enough to lead our Commander deck! This creature only has about 100 decks listed online which is a huge mistake in my mind. This is a great dragon-tribal Commander in the Rakdos colors and an excellent choice as a first commander for new players.

Don’t get me wrong, this commander is nothing to seriously write home about, but I think it deserves more attention than it’s getting. Players get too wrapped up in high-power commanders that have a chapter’s worth of rules text and I think the Storm’s Fury is a great but simple commander that anyone can enjoy.

#12. Kalain, Reclusive Painter

Kalain, Reclusive Painter

Kalain, Reclusive Painter is the ultimate Treasure commander for Rakdos. It’s a super straightforward commander that buffs creatures for each Treasure used to cast it.

There are a billion ways to make Treasures and Kalain offers a great way to consistently make use of them. That cheap casting cost of is great too because it allows us to get our commander online early.

#11. Neheb, the Worthy

Neheb, the Worthy

Next up is Neheb, the Worthy, a minotaur tribal commander that buffs all your minotaurs with first strike and +2/+0, and it also draws you cards when it does combat damage to a player.

Minotaur tribal is a very niche tribe to get into, but if there’s a format to do it it’s Commander. There have been plenty of minotaurs to pick through and include in our deck across multiple sets in the last ten years, Theros and Amonkhet specifically. It’s a very straightforward strategy so we’re just looking for good creatures that have the minotaur creature type. Anything more is a bonus.

The ones that come to mind as staples to me are Neheb, the Eternal, Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion, and Mogis, God of Slaughter.

#10. Olivia, Crimson Bride

Olivia, Crimson Bride

Olivia, Crimson Bride is a vampire tribal commander with flying and haste that lets you put a creature into play from your graveyard tapped and attacking whenever Olivia attacks. But the caveat here is that the creature goes into exile if you don’t control a legendary vampire at any point. This sets a huge red target on your legendary vampires’ backs, so make sure to play ample creatures to prevent having to put all your eggs into one basket.

If you’ve played Olivia, Crimson Bride before (or just read the card) then you’ll notice that you can put any creature into play, not just vampires. That includes anything you can target with Entomb.

I like to aim for bomb threats that at the very minimum act as a lightning rod in addition to some enter-the-battlefield effects. Things like Massacre Wurm or Sheoldred, Whispering One come to mind.

#9. Wort, Boggart Auntie

Wort, Boggart Auntie

We’re into the single digits now, and to greet us is none other than Wort, Boggart Auntie. The only thing I like more than this card’s name is its art. Wort is a very simple commander that just brings goblins back from your graveyard to your hand, which means it’s goblin tribal for us!

You might notice the “fear” keyword on Wort, Boggart Auntie’s oracle text. Fear is a pretty rare and unused keyword that makes it so that the creature can’t be blocked except by artifacts or black creatures. This dodges most things you want to get through, but it isn’t like commander damage is your win condition anyway if your opponent has some random black creature.

#18. Juri, Master of the Revue

Juri, Master of the Revue

Juri, Master of the Revue is currently the most popular Rakdos commander, and for good reason. It gains a +1/+1 counter every time you sacrifice a creature which will be very often in just about any Rakdos-sacrifice Commander deck.

Juri’s second ability is where things get interesting. When it dies it does damage equal to its power to any target. This means you can kill any player at will if you can get the number of counters high enough, possibly through infinite sacrifice triggers.

#7. Strefan, Maurer Progenitor

Strefan, Maurer Progenitor

Strefan, Maurer Progenitor is a superb vampire-tribal commander in Rakdos. Its whole deal is that it generates more than enough Blood tokens each turn that you can use them to sneak vampires in, tapped and attacking, from your hand. And there are plenty of ways to generate Blood tokens thanks to Crimson Vow so that you can properly take advantage of Strefan’s second ability the turn it comes in.

Regardless of how you build your deck I’d recommend playing cards like Voldaren Bloodcaster and Falkenrath Forebear to make use of all the Blood tokens you’ll have. Odds are you won’t want or just won’t have an unending number of vampires to put into play and you don’t want those tokens to go to waste.

#6. Anje Falkenrath

Anje Falkenrath

Anje Falkenrath took Commander by storm when it first released thanks to its unique second ability. Anje basically allows you to loot through your deck as much as you want in a given turn as long as the cards you’re discarding have madness.

The thing is that cards you discard with madness can still be played for an alternate cost that’s usually cheaper. When paired with your commander, you still have access to the cards you discard which means you have access to as many cards as your opponents lets you draw through. This is a great engine for Rakdos combo decks and there are more than enough powerful madness cards to choose from, like Asylum Visitor and Bloodhall Priest.

#5. Kardur, Doomscourge

Kardur, Doomscourge

Kardur, Doomscourge has been terrorizing my local game store the past few weeks. It generates chaos by forcing all your opponents to attack one another the turn Kardur enters the battlefield. This can be an extremely profitable exchange because it conveniently leaves you out of it while still letting you help beat down one poor soul at the table.

To top things off, all of your opponents take damage and you gain life whenever creatures die in battle. This forces your opponents to choose between taking the damage or blocking and having everyone lose health together. If they choose the former they’re just that much closer to death. If they choose the latter then everyone is progressively weaker and you’re better off for it.

#4. Chainer, Nightmare Adept

Chainer, Nightmare Adept MH2

In fourth place is Chainer, Nightmare Adept. Black (and red to a lesser extent) have incredible discard-based mechanics that can help take advantage of Chainer’s ability. Not only is it a discard outlet itself, it can help bring back dead or discarded creatures from earlier in the game. This makes for an excellent reanimator commander in Rakdos colors, and one of the best overall.

There are countless ways to benefit from having a full graveyard, like Anger or Phyrexian Delver. I think classic reanimator is the way to go. Reanimate, Animate Dead, and Persist are your best cards here but there are more than enough out there to pick from.

The real customization comes from the actual creatures you want to win with when you eventually reanimate them. Sheoldred, Whispering One is a classic, and great against non-creature-based strategies that usually only have their commander in play. Noxious Gearhulk is a great value target to kill a high-value threat while gaining some nice life.

#3. Grenzo, Dungeon Warden

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden is another commander I view as very powerful but underrated. It’s the fifth most popular commander which is certainly strong, but I think it’s definitely got an edge over something like Anje Falkenrath in second place.

You can get things running very quickly with Grenzo and start to kind of storm off on turn 5 or 6. Its ability depends on power, not mana value, so you can reliably get ultra-powerful combo pieces like Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker out if you can get it to the bottom of your library.

There are surprisingly a lot of ways to get a specific card on the bottom of your library too. It’s functionally much worse than the top of your library or your hand, so it’s kind of thrown around a lot more. The boggart keyword for instance can be a consistent way to do this, and it’s on a bunch of goblin cards you’ll already want to play like Adder-Staff Boggart.

The scry mechanic also works great if you can get the card to the top as well. And don’t forget about the London mulligan either, which can immediately set you up without any knowledge from your opponents.

#2. Florian, Voldaren Scion

Florian, Voldaren Scion

Florian, Voldaren Scion is worthy of the #2 spot and is one of the most underrated, underplayed, and overpowering cards I’ve ever seen in Commander. It brings incredible value to the table for any Rakdos beatdown deck, filling up your hand and helping you filter through the top cards of your deck.

Florian’s ability can also be a great way to find answers to other opponents’ threats or blockers. It’s always fun to find something like Gray Merchant of Asphodel to play on curve, but sometimes you just need Rakdos Charm against your graveyard-playing friend.

I think Florian could also support some kind of Treasure-based pseudo-storm deck in Rakdos. It offers some great filtering for when you need to find that one specific card and there are a lot of great additions in red and black to support it, like Dark Ritual, Demonic Tutor, and Birgi, God of Storytelling

#1. Rakdos, Lord of Riots

Rakdos, Lord of Riots

I think Rakdos, Lord of Riots is heavily underrated and deserves to see much more play across the board. Its discount towards creature spells goes a long way, especially when you build in other ways to guarantee damage to play it on turn 4.

I’ve personally been victim to seeing multiple 10+ mana value creatures come down on turn 6 because my opponent swung with Lord of Riots and one or two other small creatures. You always hope for the best, but you’re better off saving yourself some time and conceding on the spot once Conduit of Ruin, Artisan of Kozilek, and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre all come down on the same turn.

Don’t even get me started on how powerful Florian, Voldaren Scion is in conjunction with Rakdos. You just start flipping off the top cards of your library like it’s nothing, giving you another bomb creature to play for effectively free.

#0. Barktooth Warbeard

Barktooth Warbeard

Finally what you’ve been waiting for. The best Rakdos commander to have ever been printed is Barktooth Warbeard!

This 7-mana monstrosity comes in at a whopping six power and five toughness. Those stats alone speak for Barktooth’s value and competitiveness. It doesn’t even need rules text or any additional mechanics since all that valuable space is taken up by its massive flavor text.

This creature has everything you need from a Rakdos commander. It’s a legendary permanent which signifies its status among the other lowly and weaker creatures of Magic. It has black and red mana, which is twice as powerful as mono-colored cards. Best of all, the art featured on the card is in color.

Wow your grandmother and her elderly friends with this wonder of modern art.

Decklist: Rakdos, Lord of Riots in Commander

Rakdos, Lord of Riots - Illustration by Yigit Koroglu

Rakdos, Lord of Riots | Illustration by Yigit Koroglu

To get your brain running and showcase just how powerful Rakdos can be in Commander I’ve brought you a powerful Rakdos, Lord of Riots decklist.

This Rakdos EDH list is incredibly potent and can explode out of nowhere if you set yourself up correctly. Your goal is to establish some kind of guaranteed damage early on through something like Spear Spewer or Thermo-Alchemist. This helps you play your commander on curve since Rakdos, Lord of Riots requires somebody to take damage in order to be cast. Once it’s in play it helps push extra damage to up your creature discount.

Once you’ve managed to swing with Rakdos and cause some damage in other ways it’s time to get casting. This list has plenty of colorless and high-cost creatures that you can play basically (sometimes entirely!) for free. The included Eldrazi titans (Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth) are the coolest and most powerful, but don’t discount others like Void Winnower or even Meteor Golem.

There’s also a table-wide one-shot combo included (possible Rule 0 violation!) in Blightsteel Colossus and Chandra’s Ignition. It’ll give everyone lethal infect counters since infect is still officially lethal at 10 in Commander.

Commanding Conclusion

Anje Falkenrath - Illustration by Cynthia Sheppard

Anje Falkenrath | Illustration by Cynthia Sheppard

That’s everything I’ve got for you today! I truly enjoyed going through each of the Rakdos commanders and talking about them, and I hope you found it as informative and entertaining as I did.

What do you think of my rankings and the Rakdos, Lord of Riots list? I’ve crushed a few skulls with it at my LGS in recent months and can personally testify to its potency. Let me know what you think down in the comments or over in the official Draftsim Discord.

Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy!

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