Dragon’s Maze: Playing to your Weaknesses – Rakdos and Boros
Welcome back to my continuing series of articles focusing on which common and uncommon Dragon’s Maze cards will be best in the limited format. I’d like to say thanks to one of my readers, Josh, for pointing out my mistake which boosters you will get in the pre-release. Yes you will get 4 Dragon’s Maze, 1 RTR Guild Booster, and 1 GTC booster, but depending on the guild you choose, you will get an ally color FROM THE OTHER SET. Last time I used Azorius as my example, so I’ll use it again. Azorius was from RTR, so that means your ALLY color will be from Gatecrash. Those guilds are: Simic, Dimir, Boros, or Orzhov. Please keep that in mind as you choose your guild for the pre-release.
Today I decided to feature two of the most explosive guilds in the Return to Ravnica block: Boros and Rakdos. Both are fast Guilds with a lot of direct damage, kills spells, and deadly creatures as well. Borzhov (BGW) was a decent deck in Gatecrash limited, but I think Bordos/Rakros will be even better. First off is Boros.
I’m going to start off Boros with a card that I think the guild needed more than Assemble the Legion in Gatecrash. Assemble the Legion is a good card for limited, but it took a long time to get going, and by turn 6, 7, and 8 when you finally get the tokens going you are either dead or going to win already. I like Blaze Commando because he gives you a beefy 5/3 body to attack with, as well as becoming a token maker whenever you hit your opponent or his creatures with a burn spell. It’s a nice trick, and with a carefully timed Homing Lightning, Boros Charm, or Annihilating Fire, you can take out their only blocker and hit your opponent for 7 the following turn. This effect works great with the Battalion mechanic as well, activating it as soon as you attack with the new 1/1 soldier tokens. Izzet is a great home for this card, but Gruul has quite a few burn spells that could activate this ability as well. If you’re running Boros, take this guy first as your finisher and fill up your deck with burn spells to create an army of tokens.
I tried playing a Boros/Orzhov deck at GP Yokohama and had a horrible time with it. The main reason was that it was getting quickly overwhelmed after the first few turns and had a horrible late game. That’s one of the reasons I like this card. It’s a little steep at 6 mana, but suddenly that one and two drop creature is back in the game and a threat again. Orzhov and Boros creatures tend to be a bit on the puny side, but with this they can compete with the big boys. This would be a good card in a Boros/Azorius deck with Azorius’ flying creatures like the Ascended Lawmage. Izzet has access to flyers as well, but I think Azorius’ tempo cards and Boros fast creatures make for a good combination. In a Gruul/Boros deck, it would still be good but since most of those creatures are big already it’s probably a good idea to put another big creature in the 6 spot instead of this. If you’re card pool is a little on the ‘meh’ side and lacking power, this is a good card to put in the 20th or 21st spot to support the others.
This is a card that will combo great with the Blaze Commando above. For 6 mana you can kill a 3 toughness creature, as well as deal 3 damage to a player. If you have the Commando in play, you’ll get 4 1/1 Soldiers. Even without that combo this is a good burn spell. It probably won’t see any play in a standard mono red deck, but in limited it’s pretty good. Those sealed draft players using Boros, Izzet, Rakdos, or Gruul should definitely pick this up as one of their 23 cards. I think it’s also a good card to pick up in draft, but I wouldn’t take it first.
Another card that probably won’t see too much play in standard but will good in limited is Warleader’s Helix. While it’s a little harder to play than a Lightning Helix from the original Ravnica set, it’s still a great burn spell that also gains you life. I’d take this first in a draft if I was planning to run UWR or BWR or GWR, and the great thing about it is that if you see your colors getting taken in a draft, you can easily switch over to one of the other ally colors for Boros. This is a must play in limited if you’re using these colors.
Holy CRAP! Rakdos is brimming with power in Dragon’s Maze. I can’t believe a card like this is an uncommon. A 4/2 regenerating creature that makes your opponent lose 1 life for each blocker . . . wait . . . it’s bad if you block as well. That COULD be bad for you, but if you’re able to keep the pressure on your opponent and don’t give them any room to breath this card can win the game for you. Boros seems like it would be a good match because it can keep pumping out creatures that your opponent will have to block, but adding in Gruul for a BGR deck is even nastier. In Jund, it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Gruul’s creatures will activate that ability of the Carnage Gladiator a lot more than Boros I think, because nobody wants to take 5 damage to the face. If you’re worried about its side effect, play a Rakdos/Orzhov deck and toss in a few extort cards. It will keep your life up as well as doubling the loss of life your opponent is taking. Definitely use this guy if he’s in your colors.
The best fit for Hired Torturer is probably in a control deck that has Orzhov’s extort mechanic as it strategy. An Orzhov/Azorius deck seems like it would work the best, but you don’t have to pigeon hole him into that one archetype. I’m sure he’d be a good in the 18th card slot for your sealed deck, and he’d be a decent 6th turn pick in draft as well I think.
I wasn’t sure if Maze Abomination fit into Golgari or Rakdos, but the deathtouch ability seems more like a Rakdos power to me. As you can see in the visual spoiler, Dragon’s Maze is full of multicolor creatures. Not only can this card fulfill the role of a finisher, but he’ll also make it really difficult to block your creatures, especially if they are playing defense and trying to do something like mill or extort you to death. Not a high pick in draft, but a solid card to use in a Rakdos or Golgari decks where you have enough creatures to benefit from his ability. He’d still be good in a Dimir or Orzhov deck as well, but I think he’d be less effective.
Again, not totally sure if this goes in Rakdos or Boros, but I decided to lump it with Rakdos due to its high power and low defense (even though the flavor text is Niv Mizzet’s). I’d rank it higher than the Maze Abomination, and think it would fit in a lot more decks as well. This card fits well in just about any red deck, but especially in Gruul. Giving 3/3 Boros soldier haste on turn 7 isn’t anything to get excited about, but dropping a 6/6 like Ruric Thar and attacking with him when he comes into play is. This card will allow you to keep pressure on your opponent no matter which turn it is. Not a high pick in draft, but if you’ve got a good collection of multicolors be sure to pick him up or to slide him into your sealed deck.
I’ve never really used cards like Disentomb (M13) in limited, but Morgue Burst could make change my mind. It’s one part Disentomb, and one part (reverse) Fling. I don’t mind blocking with my 6/3 Maze Rusher this turn if I can bring it back to my hand and deal 6 damage to you or your creature. Even at sorcery speed, I find this a very useful card in limited. It gives you great value by giving you a card as well as taking out one of there’s. This card would shine in Jund (BGR) decks where every creature has a power of 4 or more, but might be better left out in Dimir and other colors where the creature’s aren’t that big. If you have the big creatures though, I’d go for it.
The only reason I included Rakdos Drake in this list is because black has a very small amount of flyers compared to white and blue. In decks that don’t have access to white or blue (GBR for example), this would be a nice addition in the 23rd card slot. Flyers have evasion, and with a 2/3 body your opponent won’t be blocking with their Wind Drake. Not a high pick in draft, but a good card to round out your 23 for a deck (plus land too of course).
He attacks early and does damage then gets outclassed and dies. The piker is a good way to put pressure on your opponent early on in the game, and his first strike should either kill their creatures on turn 2 and 3 or let him pass through unblocked for 4 damage. Best in fast decks like Rakdos and Boros, but if you need more 2 drops, he’s your guy.
Another fast guy that will help to slam your opponent for some quick damage. Three power for 2 mana and haste is pretty good I think. He’ll trade with quite a few cards, and later on he is a good blocker as well against bigger creatures. Not a high pick in draft or a first choice in sealed, but I could see him smoothing out the top 23 cards in a Bordos or Goldos deck.
Cards can be hard to come by in Rakdos, as well as in GBR, and I think this does a good job at emulating a Sign in Blood (M13). I think this card would be a great fit in Grixis (GBU) and Ordos (RBW) too. While I wouldn’t necessarily splash red in a deck for the Trouble side, I think it would be fine to use only the Toil side in a mostly black deck as well. When deciding whether to use this or not, take a look at what you want your deck to do. In a largely aggressive deck with creatures and burn spells, it might be out of place, but in a more control type deck I think it would be great. This isn’t a card I would take early in a draft or include in my top 23 cards, but it’s something to think about.
- Showstopper – Go out with a bang. If you’re having trouble taking out their big creatures, this would be a good card to side in. Works well both on offense and defense.
Coming up Next time
Four guilds are complete, and we’ve seen a little bit of control and a little bit of aggro. Next time I’d like to go over the cards with real power, Gruul and Simic. I’m going to busy all day Thursday, so I most likely won’t have that article done until Friday. Hopefully I’ll get 8/10 of the guilds done by Friday night, so be sure to come back and check out the new articles when I post them.
I think I covered most of the good Boros and Rakdos cards in DGM, but if you disagree with me or think I missed one, please leave a comment like always and let me know. Thanks for reading and check back later for the next installment!