Rakdos the Defiler demon tribal is my favorite deck I have ever built or played, by far.

This demon is just what you need in your life. "But he makes me sacrifice things!" Listen, Rakdos is a six mana eldrazi with annihilator 8+ and trample. He doesn't force you to run colorless like an ordinary eldrazi god would, instead giving you access to tutors, fast mana, removal, recursion and haste. Sure, he's a demon, so there's a steep price for his servitude. But you’re playing with black- no need to play fair. One land is all you need to cast reanimate and bring an It That Betrays , Rune-Scarred Demon , or Hellcarver Demon under your control. I’ve won a game by swinging 8 times in a 6 turn game with Hellcarver Demon. I’ve set my life to single digits with Treasonous Ogre and used Final Fortune to cast Repay in Kind and swing for the win with the pair of demons on board. I’ve mass resurrected my graveyard three times in a single turn. I’ve lost on turn 1 to Demonic Consultation . I’ve won multiple games with Rakdos the Defiler as the only permanent on my field. He's boardwipe, mass land destruction and a three hit kill just sitting there waiting to go. The deck's ability to win out of nowhere keeps it a threat at all stages of the game with little warning to your opponents. Every single game is memorable, the lines of play are as unique as the cards, and the balls to the wall reckless abandon you need to adopt as a mindset is unlike anything else. There will be death, at any cost.

Special thanks to the the primer created by Silenciaco on mtgsalvation. Check out their primer and the comment section for variations on this theme and alternate cards to consider.

I modified the deck by trimming most of the fat and upped the speed and power to remain a threat to current decks I play against (optimized/high power level, around a 7+ to 8). This also meant removing some of the less game winning life loss cards like Cruel Bargain to weather the table hate and make for more explosive winning turns with Doom Whisperer and Treasonous Ogre .

Some tips for modifying the deck to your playgroup- for a faster or more consistent deck, add more tutors and fast mana. Likewise, for a more casual or lower budget group, remove mana crypt, fast mana, and low mana cost tutors and add in cards like Cruel Bargain and Elbrus, the Binding Blade   from the change-log section of the list.

When making your own budget version of the deck, the most important foundation of the deck is to be able to do degenerate things with a low land count, use extra combat effects and double strike to punish multiple opponents in the same turn (especially with Rakdos the Defiler attacks), and build your deck in a way that you’re the only one who has the tools needed to respond to your game plan.

Must haves are the cheap reanimation spells, the mana ritual effects, and the graveyard filling pieces. The only way the deck gets away with swinging with Rakdos the Defiler and not being absolutely useless afterwards is by being able to cheat out game winning threats with only around 3 mana sources left on board. Rituals keep mana in our hands to use for moments of maximum impact, and wheel of fortune effects keep our hands full while disrupting opponents.

A lot of the deck can be down scaled price-wise. I tried to push the deck to be as optimized, efficient, and explosive as possible, but you can absolutely save a ton of money by sacrificing speed. Less expensive/efficient artifact ramp, Magus of the Wheel instead of Wheel of Fortune , etc. Expensive cards like Badlands , Lich , Demonic Tutor and others are completely unnecessary to the core strategy, but are really fun and powerful. Talk to your playgroup about using a 5 proxy rule to allow people to play with some of the old, cool cards that are prohibitively expensive just for the sake of being on the reserve list.

Rakdos the Defiler

  • Simply casting Rakdos, especially with a haste enabler active, can force some generous political deals with other players at the table. Even in positions where actually committing to an attack would lose you the game, just casting Rakdos and making temporary truces can buy enough time to get another land drop or the draw needed to set up a win. Be cautious of players trying to goad you into attacking or are avoiding politics- they likely have instant speed interaction. You will sacrifice your permanents to Rakdos the Defiler on swing, but opponents have to take damage first before they are forced to sacrifice permanents, so enemy instant speed removal will cause Rakdos to rout only your own board state if they respond to his attack trigger. You may find that other players are more than happy to protect Rakdos when attacking a common enemy, and will leave you alone afterwards when they see that your board state was halved after the swing. They may feel like it would be “kicking you while you’re down”, not realizing the deck is designed to operate on little mana and with a mostly empty board state. Take advantage of others’ dismissal of the threat you still possess.

Lich + Repay in Kind =

  • Your life is set to zero without dying from Lich’s effect, then Repay in Kind sets everyone’s life to zero, killing everyone else at the table.

Treasonous Ogre or Doom Whisperer + Repay in Kind =

  • Not an insta-kill, but makes for a quick finish with demons on board to attack with. Treasonous ogre allows for extremely explosive turns in the deck and generates the mana and life-loss outlet for Repay in Kind all by itself. Drawing 20+ cards with Necropotence should also find Repay in Kind or a tutor for it, as well as the mana to play it the following turn.

Doom Whisperer + Living Death =

Gray Merchant of Asphodel + Archfiend of Despair + Living Death or a high B devotion count =

  • Depending on your devotion to black (or the devotion to black in your graveyard with Living Death), this life drain combo can often be enough to kill even moderate health opponents, especially when part of a Hellcarver Demon combo. Hellcarver demon sacrifices your creatures before Living Death is cast in a Doomsday combo, ensuring maximum creature based devotion.

Abhorrent Overlord + Devotion to Black OR Living Death + Abhorrent Overlord and Other Creatures in Graveyard =

  • Lots of harpies means lots of sacrifice fodder for Rakdos, or more damage to close out the game with, especially when combined with a haste enabler and/or extra combat spells. Simply casting or reanimating Abhorrent Overlord with a moderate devotion count (5 to 7 is pretty typical for the deck) enables a very low risk for blowout swing with Rakdos the Defiler .

Rakdos the Defiler + It That Betrays / Tergrid, God of Fright   =

  • Get everything your opponents sacrifice. What's not to love? If this combo is unanswered, it will win the game in a turn or two as your board state shoots ahead and all others fall behind.

Rakdos the Defiler + Savage Beating / World at War =

  • Rakdos hurts your board and destroys your lands, but make sure your opponents get it twice as bad with double strike. Extra combat phases ensure that your suicide missions ruin multiple opponent's days. Many decks fold to a single connection with Rakdos, but a double tap keeps them down. Multiple games have ended with only Rakdos on board with each opponent controlling only 1 or 2 lands and nothing else. The oppressive assault when swinging with Rakdos the Defiler every turn can absolutely win multiplayer games outright by shutting down opponent board state development much like an early eldrazi titan does.

Rakdos the Defiler + Moraug, Fury of Akoum + Fetchland (for double landfall trigger) =

  • Three combat phases allows you to swing once at each opponent to reset all boards, or commander damage kill a player in one turn. Remember to trigger the landfalls in the second main phase, as your creatures will not untap for the “regular” attack phase if the landfalls occur in the first main phase.

Liliana's Contract + 4 Demons =

  • A slower win condition, but important against pillow fort strategies or combat hate pieces like Ensnaring Bridge and Meekstone . This enchantment also refills our hand and adds two black devotion while on field, enabling other devotion based strategies.
Hellcarver Demon + Doomsday / Insidious Dreams Combos

Simply reanimating Hellcarver Demon in the first couple of turns of the game can give you a chance to win big and cheat in huge value early game. However, Hellcarver Demon is twice the fun when you've stacked the deck. Note- optional costs like the entwine cost of Savage Beating can be paid for when cast with Hellcarver Demon's effect.

While the order of the Doomsday pile in the library does not matter, spells must be cast all at once with Hellcarver's ability, so the spell you want to resolve first should be put on the stack last to resolve in the correct order. The following piles have been ordered in the sequence the spells should resolve, not the order they should be cast.

In any of the following combos, if Living Death or Repay in Kind is in the graveyard already, replace it with Mizzix's Mastery . This is actually the better case scenario and will result in even more of a payoff depending on the instant and sorcery spells in your graveyard. If Repay in Kind is in the graveyard, use a Treasonous Ogre , Doom Whisperer or Kuro, Pitlord 's ability to bring yourself to low health before casting Repay in Kind . A neat interaction- as long as you remove at least half of an opponent's life total with Repay in Kind, ending the turn with Archfiend of Despair on the board will kill them.

Insidious Dreams Liliana's Contract Stack:

  • Any 3 Demons, Liliana's Contract , Final Fortune = (Since Hellcarver Demon plus 3 other demons satisfies the contract, you win the game on the extra turn upkeep. This combo will not work using Doomsday, because the draw effect on Liliana’s Contract will lose you the game with an empty library.)

Doomsday Combat Damage Stacks:

Doomsday Gary Stacks:

Doomsday Lich + Repay in Kind Basic Stack:

Variations on the Lich + Repay in Kind Doomsday Stack:

In order to win the game immediately but fake out those who know the deck, replace the last two spells of any of the previous combos with Lich and Repay in Kind. If they think you are going for a different combo, then may use counter spells prematurely, giving you the win.

If they have already seen this trick and are waiting for the Lich + Repay in Kind combo to counter, you still get a potentially winning board state with the following stacks:

No. Of course not. It's demon tribal. The deck isn't focused on cheating out eldrazi with Rakdos, Lord of Riots but instead on going down swinging, dragging the table to hell alongside us. Make enemies, ruin opponent’s chances for victory, and make some truly lopsided demonic deals. Sit in the corner with a Rakdos the Defiler nuke and punish those foolish enough to doubt our crazy.

Rather than pursuing a linear path to victory, the deck limits tutors to on theme tutors and potentially suicidal options like Demonic Consultation . The philosophy of the deck’s card selection is that every single draw should have standalone potential to add a twist or throw a wrench in a plan. Every draw should be an exciting spin of the rakdos roulette. The deck is light on removal, which was a personal choice to force the deck pilot into aggressive swings at the most threatening player with Rakdos the Defiler . Go big or go home with the demon. Reading an opponent's body language and guessing what may be waiting in their hand becomes life or death when risking half our boardstate with a swing. Guess correctly and tear an opponent's game plan and board state to tatters.

Recent changes:

  • Agadeem's Awakening   and Shatterskull Smashing   replacing Blackcleave Cliffs and Foreboding Ruins . Lands that can be spells are better than just lands, and these were the two weakest to cut.

  • Doom Whisperer in, Malfegor out. Malfegor is a bad draw when topdecking and Doom Whisperer does an insane job filling up our graveyard with threats. Can even be used to lower our life total for Repay in Kind .

  • Moraug, Fury of Akoum in, Ill-Gotten Gains out. Ill-Gotten Gains was nice for rescuing spells from the graveyard, but against opponents with available answers, it just put those answers straight back into enemy hands, gaining nothing. Triple combats after playing a fetchland on a reanimatable body is a sweet new addition.

  • Liliana's Contract and Reforge the Soul replacing Cruel Bargain and Infernal Contract . The deck just has more explosive uses for its life between Treasonous Ogre , Villis, Broker of Blood, Reanimate and others to justify the early game draw. It is a shame to lose these for flavor reasons, but the end result is a better deck for multiplayer.

  • Dockside Extortionist replacing Cauldron Dance . Sneak attack from hand and graveyard was always very impactful, but the mana cost kept resulting in me not doing more important things with my mana, such as keeping things permanently on field or winning the game. Dockside Extortionist is the best red ramp spell in the game and hits the board like nitrous.

  • Cathartic Reunion back in, removing Necropotence . Necropotence enabled some massive turns, but it turns off the discard abilities of the deck and made winning with the cards that had been drawn ironically difficult. Cheap, early game discard sets up for impactful reanimation turns and get the deck into a good place without putting up such a blazing “kill me now or die” sign to the table like Necropotence does.

  • Chrome Mox in, Fires of Invention out. We don’t reliably have enough lands for this to pay off. The deck uses a lot of ritual effects and mana rocks to pack mana density higher to offset Rakdos the Defiler ’s sacrifice effect. Early game ramp is more important.

  • Fiery Emancipation in, Archfiend of Depravity out. I hate cutting demons because it make’s Liliana's Contract wins even harder, but this demon rarely gets rid of the creatures you want dead, enables aristocrat decks, and only serves to keep token decks in check. We have other options like Toxic Deluge and Pestilence Demon for those decks. Fiery Emancipation suddenly turns a board with just a couple demons into table lethal the turn it comes down, makes Rakdos commander damage a player in one swing, and is especially nasty when coupled with Archfiend of Despair . It’s also a new combo piece for Doomsday piles, resulting in some VERY silly damage combos.

Kaldheim has been super exciting for the deck. I’ll be adding in:

  • Burning-Rune Demon in place of Rakshasa Debaser . Raksasha is fun, but Burning-Rune Demon wins games.

  • Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire in place of Mana Geyser . Demonic Tutor on a body is much better than a plethora of red mana for shenanigans. The deck is very black mana hungry, so although Mana Geyser occasionally allowed for crazy plays, Varagoth will do that job more reliably as a very flavorful piece of the deck.

  • Tergrid, God of Fright   in place of Insidious Dreams . Tergrid as a second, hard-castable copy of It That Betrays’s effect is absolutely bonkers with Rakdos the Defiler. This effect almost completely offsets Rakdos’s major downside, and turns a suicidal swing into pure profit. Insidious Dreams existed as redundancy for Doomsday , but Tergrid does a better job reliably taking over a game. If Mizzix's Mastery can’t get the job done after failing a Doomsday, we already committed to that strategy too hard to win the game anyways. Insidious Dreams can also two-for-one our hand if it is countered.

  • Tibalt's Trickery in place of Reaper from the Abyss . Stopping enemy instant speed removal when swinging in with Rakdos the Defiler wins games. Reaper has 3 black pips for devotion, which hurts to lose, and is one of the few targeted removal options the deck has, but it is removal that relies on your enemy doing what you want, which is rare. Hitting people in the face with and sending them back to the stone age with Rakdos will win every time.

  • Immersturm Raider in place of Cathartic Reunion . Cathartic has more digging power, but the Raider is still able to get a big fatty into the graveyard early game, is an early blocker, survives swings with Rakdos, and contributes to Liliana's Contract .

  • Dream Devourer in place of Songs of the Damned . Devourer is better early game "ramp" than Songs of the Damned, enabling hard casting of a 7 drop on turn 3 with the assistance of a turn 1 sol ring or mana crypt. Like Immersturm Raider, Devourer is also an early game blocker, survives Rakdos swings, and contributes to Liliana's Contract .

Updates since Kaldheim:


Updates Add



82% Competitive

Top Ranked
  • Achieved #3 position overall 2 days ago
  • Achieved #1 position in Commander / EDH 2 days ago
Date added 3 years
Last updated 12 hours

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

20 - 0 Mythic Rares

48 - 0 Rares

17 - 0 Uncommons

10 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.85
Tokens Treasure
Folders Decks that look good, Uncategorized, Witty Bulger & The Witty Hill Gang, inspiration, Rakdos, Uncategorized, fun, Wants, Commander, Edh decks, See all 14
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