Turning Data into Decks - Rocking with Rakdos

(Captive Audience | Art by Dmitry Burmak)

Down With the Establishment!

Hey everyone, Kya here once again! Welcome back to Turning Data to Decks, the series where we take a different dive into the EDHREC site from the typical norm.

Today we're going to stick it to the man! And by 'the man' I mean all those who like telling us that we have to abide by set norms in EDH! I'm sure you've run into them once or twice throughout your EDH experience. They want to impose their vision of how EDH 'should' be played and what belongs where. No more, I say! The true beauty of EDH is that it gives us countless more options in deckcrafting than in any other format available. If you limit yourself to just going with the set standard, you're missing out on some great experiences with yourself and with your various pods.

I have to say, when I was a newer player, the people who really stood out to me were the deckbuilders who made wonky decks that devastated the game. It was rarely the person who won the game that left an impression. A combo of two cards is sort of interesting, but also common. Someone who wins with 20 Clerics, though? Rare and memorable. For me, it was the person who created a goofball level of a board state and still won that impressed everyone in the room.

Sometimes it wasn't even the final play that started people talking. Sometimes it was just an interesting, subtle, or just plain different take on a preconceived archetype or color combination. For example, look at Kristen's newer article to see what she does to keep EDH fresh by shaking up what everyone is used to in the color green!

Rocking Rakdos

In the spirit of rocking the establishment, we're going to shake up one of my favorite archetypes of EDH: we're going to make a Group Hug deck in Rakdos colors! Exciting, right? What other color combination is more perfect for rebelling against the general consensus? Most Group Hugs like to keep it neat in Bant colors, which makes Rakdos the perfect color combination to contrast it.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "Kya, there aren't enough Group Hug cards in black!" That's where you're wrong! We recently got some fun black cards that we can label as Group Hug!

Look at all these goodies! Black is finally starting to see their unique contribution to the theme. Sure, we always had cards like Maralen of the Mornsong, but they were few and far between. Adding to the tutor list gives us one of the strongest methods of "hugging" in all the colors. Not only will anyone be immensely excited to get their own Wishclaw, but we can tutor for even more Hug cards... or for something far more deadly, if we wish!

Now for the surprisingly more difficult part: we've got to find some Group Hug in red. Where do we find such cards?

Well, a while back, Wizards made a four-color Group Hug commander that included red: our mighty Group Hug kings, Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis, who can help us out of this jam. By looking up their EDHREC page, we can find a few red cards that can help us out. Of course, that may not be enough, so let's click on some of those specific cards, like Humble Defector or Guild Feud, to see what synergies we can find on their pages. Red only has a handful of Hug-ish cards, so we gotta dive deep into EDHREC and explore plenty of pages!

The best thing about artifacts, of course, is that we usually don't have to worry about colors. We can look at the Kynaios and Tiro's page or Phelddagrif's page to find a giant assortment of artifacts that will assist with our Group Hug. It's like color doesn't even matter, right? Don't forget to check out the Group Hug Theme section for anything else you could be missing.

"I'm Helping!"

Let's find some unique Rakdos cards to add to our list. What's the point of Group Hug again, readers? To help out the rest of the table, of course! At the end of the day, everyone's goal is to try and win the game and/or stop the other players from doing so. Let's help them do exactly that!

Havoc Festival is a great way to help everyone lower everyone else's life to make them easier to finish off. Does that blue player have too many cards in their hand? Let's help everyone out by throwing down a Sire of Insanity! See, we're helping! Oh, oops... looks like everyone else lost their hand too. Well, it's not fair for them to be selfish and expect that we'll only target one person anyway! We've got a lot of love to go around, and at the end of the day, we did stop one of their opponents from getting out of hand. What a perfect way to exemplify the Rakdos spirit: lavishing our love on our opponents by "accidentally" exploding a few caches of their resources now and then.

A Heartless Way to End the Game

Now for the wincon. After all, every sneaky Group Hug deck should have one. How do we end the game quickly and indiscriminately out of nowhere? We blow up the pod in a blaze of glory!

Yes, double the damage output from Heartless Hidetsugu with an effect like Dictate of the Twin Gods, and everyone goes boom! Finally, the true end worthy of a Group Hug deck. How do we get these pieces in our hand? Look at all the tutors we saw earlier! While our opponents are distracted and gathering their goodies, we're slowly gathering ours too! Isn't it brilliant? Assuming, of course, that they don't win before us. But that's why we play so many powerful equalizing effects, to keep them in line.

Sneaky Lady is Sneaky

Oh, right! We need a commander worthy of our new Group Hug mantle! I completely forgot about that. Obviously we're going to try out Xantcha. Just look at her! The perfect way to tear down the establishment. She infiltrates the hearts of our victims - I mean, friends - and mollifies them with gifts. Plus, I don't have any female commanders at the moment, which is really odd, now that I think about it. You give Xantcha to someone else, which is an automatic hug. Then you let everyone at the table have the option to draw. Now no one should have issues with a poor hand!

Let's build this deck already!

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer


Closing Thoughts

Special thanks to many of my followers, such as @SteveRaffle and @Dinkerbob on Twitter; if you follow me on social media, you know I like to craft and discuss deck ideas before the full articles are published, so thanks to everyone for the amazing suggestions!

What did you think? Were we successful in our quest to make Rakdos Group Hug viable? I think it's kind of neat that it still fulfills the Hug requirements while adding in its own, darker twist. Not quite Group Slug, but enough to both giveth and taketh away! You can definitely mix some good ol' chaos in there as well, and still have it be thematic. You can also raise the bar and really add in some mean cards like Fate Unraveler if you really want to lean into the pain like Rakdos intended!

What sort of decks do you build that go against the norm? Anything that you'd want to see? Let me know in the comments and we might see something wild in my next article!

Until next time,


Never fear! Kya's here! Kya has been a long time EDH player and hobbyist. With an extended history of blacksmithing and 3d printing various MTG related items for fun, she has turned her attention to sharing her mad scientist brews to the public. Although a competitive player by nature, her aim is to provide fun and silly deck ideas to those looking to spice up their play groups. Kya is here to scratch that demented individual's itch for pure chaos and show everyone that a Warp World can be a fun experience! Except when you have a Hive Mind and Eye of the Storm out...