Rakdos Arcanist is On Top of Historic
Historic is in a spot right now where we have a few tier one decks, and I consider Rakdos Arcanist to be
one of them. A few months ago we might have considered the deck tier two, but as the Histroric format
has continued to evolve, so has this deck. The winner of the last Set Championship, Jan Merkel, played
this list: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/archetype/historic-rakdos-arcanis#paper
I’m going to talk about this list, and some of the recent additions that stand out, as well as cards that are
noticeably absent, that you might have expected to see here.
We see the full 8 hand disruption spells here, which is maybe one more copy of a turn one discard spell
than is typical in Rakdos Arcanist. However, this allows you to maximize your chances of having a draw
that allows you to play a discard spell and follow it up with a Dreadhorde Arcanist, which is the best
opening this deck can have.
There is one additional Duress, in the sideboard as well, since there will be times Inquisition of Kozilek
isn’t able to grab the card you really want to take out of the opponent’s hand. Besides picking and
choosing what to make the opponent discard, the deck also plays Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, Go
Blank, and Kolaghan’s Command, some of which come out of the sideboard. When playing Rakdos
Arcanist you force your opponent to topdeck in many games, since the deck attacks cards in hand so
This deck wants a lot of one mana spells that can be flashed back with a Dreadhorde Arcanist, and it also
turns out two of the best removal spells in Historic cost one mana. Fatal Push and Unholy Heat make
total sense, though we don’t see Flame-Blessed Bolt, Cling to Dust, or any other one mana removal
spells. Sometimes Rakdos Arcanist lists will mix up the one mana spells, but here the list is very
streamlined. The deck doesn’t have as easy a time as a deck like Izzet Phoenix getting Delirium, but it
can certainly do it.
Molten Impact is the only removal spell we see that costs more than one mana, and is a nice way to get
some card advantage out of a two mana removal effect. After sideboard there are a couple more
options in terms of removal, as this deck is very focused on being able to take opposing threats off the
It should become clear how the deck has been recently changing, as the threat base includes four copies
of both Unlicensed Hearse and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. The Unlicensed Hearse provides graveyard
disruption, so that you don’t need cards like Soul-Guide Lantern anymore. Unlicensed Hearse makes life
difficult for many decks in Historic, because most of the format utilizes their graveyard in some way, and
this vehicle gets large very quickly. The only annoying thing is sometimes the Rakdos Arcanist deck can’t
easily crew Unlicensed Hearse.
We know about Dreadhorde Arcanist being able to flashback one mana spells, but when it comes to
threats there is a huge emphasis on looting. Due to the high density of removal spells and discard spells,
you will often find yourself in a situation where there is something not very useful you would like to loot
away. This could mean a discard spell drawn later in the game, or removal against a control deck.
Seasoned Pyromancer is the card we are used to seeing, but now there are also four copies of Fable of
the Mirror-Breaker, a card that has really been over performing in many decks.
After that there isn’t much room for any other creatures. We used to see Magmatic Channeler, and
more copies of Kroxa. I like that the deck has cut down on Kroxa though, as it has often been awkward
for me, in a format where there are a lot of fast decks, the card is quite slow. There are some
Planeswalkers here, though not having any Chandra, Torch of Defiance main, and playing two Sorin the
Mirthless is a bit surprising to me. We often see more planeswalkers and Legion Warboss out of the
sideboard, and those cards aren’t present in this list.
So, you can see how much the Rakdos Arcanist deck has shifted over the past few months, but how does
it stack up against the other top decks in Historic? As an Auras player I hate playing against Rakdos
Arcanist, as the combination of discard and removal is very challenging to deal with. The Izzet Phoenix
matchup is now better because of the addition of Unlicensed Hearse. The scariest matchup for Rakdos
Arcanist is Golgari Food, but another new card, Hidetsugu Consumes All, actually makes Rakdos Arcanist
a favorite in that matchup after sideboard.
Many players call Rakdos Arcanist a 55% deck. What I mean by this is it’s pretty good versus most things,
but a lot of the games are quite close, and most decks you aren’t going to be crushing. There isn’t
anything that is that great against Rakdos Arcanist though, so this will remain a mainstay at the top of
Historic moving forward.
Thanks for reading,