Strapline - "This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you."

Theme Tune - Wu-Tang, "Severe Punishment"

Rakdos the Defiler is a very naughty boy. When he attacks it is like cutting off half your arms, but when he hits it is like cutting half the arms off your opponent. Annihilator: half-your-shit is a pretty crippling hit to most peoples' strategies!

So the temptation in building the deck is to add in a hell of a lot of redundancy such that half your permanents are expendable, or to somehow turn all your permanents into demons. The problem with these tactics is that they are both super-fragile and labour-intensive - permanents that come by the dozen are easily wiped out, while combos that make all your stuff into demons are few and very vulnerable to a well-timed bit of spot removal of almost any kind.

Nonono my friend, the name of the game here is to have stuff that has a kind of synergy with losing half your shit, including the ultimate synergy: losing all your shit with the Hellcarver Demon! In for a penny in for pound I say.

So the basic idea of the deck is to have some ways of generating ghetto mana, cheating stuff into play, and negating your opponents' ability to take advantage of your shitty boardstate by limiting their hands and resources. The subtheme (i.e. the real point of the deck) is to set up devastating Hellcarver Demon swings by manipulating the library to create super-beatdown combos and win with hilariously precarious landless boardstates. Obviously the chances of this coming off clean are not great to say the least, but you can have some great fun trying!

So you have all the grave-raiding stuff you normally associate with black-red. : Animate Dead and Living Death being the pick of the bunch. But you also have your resource cheating cards - Bolas's Citadel, Burnt Offering, Dark Ritual, Simian Spirit Guide, Spoils of Evil, Treasonous Ogre and Aetherworks Marvel. These are useful for getting them cast triggers out of your Eldrazi.

Then you got your negative stuff: Rite of Ruin, Pox, Kozilek, the Great Distortion, Void Winnower, and Sire Of Insanity, in addition to the commander himself, of course. Casting one or more of these off the Hellcarver Demon trigger can help even the odds if you cannot finish your opponents off.

And finally, your library manipulation cards: Sensei's Divining Top, Library of Leng, Gravepurge, Dead Reckoning, the always useful Scroll Rack, the potential game-enders, Insidious Dreams and Doomsday, and the rarely useful but sometimes indispensable Mirror of Fate. These are the cards that really make the Hellcarver Demon pop off. They also have some very nice interactions with Bolas's Citadel and Aetherworks Marvel.

Other star players are Savage Beating, aka the reason you always float two mana on the Hellcarver trigger, Mob Rule, which is obviously great for a hungry demon like Rakdos or the Hellcarver, It That Betrays, which holds out the faint hope that you could actually get back some of the stuff you throw away, and Emrakul, the Promised End, which is super-fun against anyone who runs Hijack effects (give 'em a swing with Rakdos or Hellcarver - oh dear...).

Oh and yes, you are reading it right: there are only 24 lands in the deck. And you know what? That is actually no problem! There is so much ramp, deck manipulation, ghetto mana and reanimate in the deck that you almost never get stuck. The lack of land also makes Hellcarver Demon, Bolas's Citadel and Surveyor's Scope work super-well. I have started games with no land but a Sol Ring and Surveyor's Scope in hand, done nothing for three turns, then bam! You draw a land and you're on six mana turn 4 with some disgusting reanimation targets in the yard. Very gratifying.

Rakdos the Defiler himself is actually a pretty good commander in the deck despite Big blocker, free sack outlet (yeah kind of a blunt instrument but still, haha), excellent spot removal magnet to take the heat off the Hellcarver. And importantly, great game leveler when one opponent is on the point of going off and the chips are down. Yeah it screws you up, but the deck is full of ways to compensate, and other opponents are sometimes sufficiently grateful to let you get your shit back together.

There is a little demon subtheme in there, mainly to take out your opponents' blockers so that your main men can get traction, so Blood Speaker is a hard worker in the deck.


There are many weird and wonderful things that can be done with this deck, whether is be a Cauldron Dance with It That Betrays and Malfegor, or a Scroll Rack with Bolas's Citadel or Demonlord Belzenlok, but the ultimate juice is ya boy the Hellcarver...

Hellcarver Demon attack, with...

...Doomsday, or...

...Insidious Dreams...

...From here it is pretty straightforward to get some kind of super-loop that can result in endless attack phases and a whole bunch of other lovely bastardry. You work it out. Oh alright I'll give you a clue... It involves Doomsday, Mirror of Fate, Savage Beating, Vessel of Endless Rest, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, and any other dirt you want to throw into the mix, going round and round in an exile/graveyard/board tumble-dryer while Hellcarver swings in repeatedly with doublestrike. I call it the "Doomsday Scenario", and long story short, it allows you to win the game with no cards in hand, one permanent on the board, and basically no library or graveyard. If there is a shittier board/deck/hand-state that can win the game outright against any life total, I'd sure like to see it!

Now of course, you can do this loop without Mirror of Fate, but this card is vital for bringing other cards into the mix that serve to take out any pesky defenses your opponents might have up, such as Chaos Warp, Overseer of the Damned or Mob Rule. This loop can in fact overcome any static defenses, but it is highly vulnerable to instant-speed responses, so you gotta pick your moment!

Early Win Hands...

Swamp, Sol Ring, Dark Ritual, Simian Spirit Guide, Treasonous Ogre and Sire Of Insanity, for turn 1 everyone discards their hand and you have 25 life and a Swamp, Sol Ring, Treasonous Ogre and Sire Of Insanity in play. If you went first that is an insta-scoop right there.

Insidious Dreams, Simian Spirit Guide, Dark Ritual, Anger, and Hellcarver Demon, Swamp, Mountain, for turn 1 (in the opponents' end step) Dark Ritual, Simian Spirit Guide, Insidious Dreams, tossing the Hellcarver, Anger and whatever you just drew to search for three and put them on top of the library. Then turn two draw Animate Dead, play it on the Hellcarver Demon, then swing to cast It That Betrays and Rite of Ruin (resolved in that order) to sack the Hellcarver but get 1 creature, 2 artifacts and 3 lands (if anyone has somehow got that many) off each opponent, plus of course having It That Betrays and whatever nonlands from the four cards beneath it in play. Barring Swords to Plowshares that's scoopytime!

All in all the deck is not super-powerful but it is borderline competitive and super-fun. You may not win, but you will damn well ruin somebody (possibly yourself) and have a ball doing it! Most importantly, the deck is interesting to play, both for you and your opponents. It always interacts, and notwithstanding the remote possibility of your doomsday combo coming off, you almost never win (or lose) in the same way twice.

Comments and Questions welcome!


Updates Add


Date added 3 years
Last updated 5 months

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

10 - 0 Mythic Rares

33 - 0 Rares

25 - 0 Uncommons

21 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 4.26
Tokens 0/1 Kobold, 2/2 Zombie, 1/1 Harpy, 3/3 Golem
Folders Uncategorized, 2-Colour Decks, Classic Decks, Shogun Decks - Nonlegendary Legends Series
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