Black is in my blood (I should probably get that checked out by a doctor, to be honest).
It’s my favourite colour ever since I started playing Magic during the Urza Block. I spent a good portion of my teenage years casting Phyrexian Negators with first turn Dark Rituals and I’ve never regretted anything, even when it’s come back to bite me in the ass.
Aggressive decks focusing on fast beatings, rampant discard, and siphoning life have been my specialty, so when I saw that Rakdos’ Grinning Malice was among the decks that were coming out with the expansion DLC I knew that I had a shiny new toy to play with.
I’ve played Grinning Malice enough to unlock all of the cards, and I must say that I’m quite pleased with what the deck can do. It certainly lives up to the aggro pedigree nicely, while still providing
a good deal of mid-to-late game presence with the proper build … of course in a lot of cases you may not need a late game presence if the deck has done it’s job properly.
This deck is built to dominate the early game, but can easily stall out if you’re not careful. Generally speaking, the longer that a game goes, the less beneficial it is for you. You should almost approach
this deck with the mindset of a cat burglar: get in, get done, get out. If a match is dragging then it gives opponents more opportunities to answer your threats with bombs of their own, and while this deck does have a decent amount of removal, it’s best to try and strike like lightning: quick and merciless.
As always, decklists are a work in progress. The tweaking is never really done, and what works today might not work tomorrow. That being said, I’ve had a lot of success with this list, with slight variations from time-to-time.
Rakdos Grinning Malice Decklist
- 1 Bloodchief Ascension
- 2 Reanimate
- 2 Stabbing Pain
- 1 Demonic Tutor
- 2 Goblin Deathraider
- 2 Sootstoke Kindler
- 3 Terminate
- 2 Blightning
- 2 Blood Cultist
- 1 Lyzolda, the Blood Witch
- 2 Rockslide Elemental
- 2 Ashenmoor Liege
- 1 Blazing Specter
- 2 Hellhole Rats
- 3 Wrecking Ball
- 2 Bituminous Blast
- 4 Demigod of Revenge
- 1 Defiler of Souls
- 1 Massacre Wurm
- 4 Evolving Wilds
Rakdos Grinning Malice Card Breakdown (by cost)
Evolving Wilds 4.0
As with any of the multicolour decks, mana fixing is a big deal. I run four Evolving Wilds because I maindeck Massacre Wurm at nearly all times (more on him later). However, two or three of these lands should be seeing play in any version of the deck you can think of. It helps thin your deck, and also gets you what you want or need for the future. Depending on the tempo it might be a difficult decision as to when to drop these. For this build it’s not an issue for a first turn drop, but for the decks that do run Typhoid Rats or Vexing Devils it’ll be a bit of a chore from time to time.
Dragonmaster Outcast 1.5
This 1/1 with a cute ability is meant for the lategame. Having a free 5/5 flier every turn once you hit six lands might be nice, but until then it’s just a 1/1 that’s easily chumped or ignored. There might be times when you can drop this and get at least one dragon before a response, but it seems mostly unlikely.
Another one drop, this morose looking fellow gets you life whenever creatures take a dirt nap. This guy can be useful sometimes, especially with Reanimate in the deck, but as an aggressive deck build
Rakdos isn’t often aiming to gain life. It’s a take it or leave it card, all things told.
Typhoid Rats 2.5
One black for a 1/1 deathtouch? Fairly good for stalling in the late game, when it’ll see use as a blocker for deterrance more than anything else. Like I said though, this deck aims to win as quickly as possible. Even without the one drops I think that it runs smoothly enough, but I would begrudge no one for including these vermin in their build.
Vexing Devil 3.0
This card is probably one of the most meta cards in the deck. Often times you’ll drop it just to see how they will react to it. It can be telling if they choose to take the four damage, because it might mean that they don’t have the means to deal with it. If they let it go, then they probably have a blocker or removal. Treating this guy as almost a burn spell is often the best way to play him, he’s mostly a play it and forget it kind of card.
Bloodchief Ascension 4.0
It’s always worth including at least one of these maindeck, although putting in all three might be overkill. Doing three damage in one turn is a modest price for a counter, and once this enchantment gets activated its incredibly painful for a great number of decks. Suddenly Red decks can’t burn as effectively, Black decks have to worry about throwing out removal. Green decks have to be more careful about creatures. Anything that makes your enemies’ life harder is good in my book.
This one cost revival does come with a high price depending on what you want to revive, but it’s the only resurrection the deck has and can nab a juicy creature that you’ve just killed or forced your opponent to discard. Automatic maindeck inclusion for me.
Stabbing Pain 3.5
Decent weenie removal at instant speed, this card can also serve as a nasty trick if they have a big fatty that you don’t need breathing down your throat for a turn, or a blocker that you want to slip past. Remember that this card doesn’t need to kill the creature that it targets in order to be useful.
Goblin Deathraiders 3.0
3/1 trample for two. Expect this to trade or at least draw some removal. If an opponent already has a tim on the board then you’re better off not playing this. This card becomes a horror show if you
have an Ashenmoor Liege (or two) in play.
Onyx Mage 1.0
It’s a 2/1 for two that can give other creatures deathtouch. This is another card that can be decent in the late game, but there’s often going to be better things that you can be spending your mana on,
especially in the early game when this ability might be useful for trading.
Sootstoke Kindler 2.5
These guys are in my maindeck, but can easily be switched around with a Vexing Devil or two if necessary. Their ability doesn’t cost anything to play, and there’s no creature in the deck that isn’t a
valid target for it. This card would be more valuable if so many of the creatures in the deck didn’t actually have haste already.
Spiteflame Witch 2.0
2/1 body with a life loss ability. You can activate this multiple times in a turn, but of course unless you’re leading the life total or believe that you have something that can easily put you in the lead it might not be such a good idea. Again, this creature is a decent mana sink, but appears in a deck where mana sinks shouldn’t be necessary.
Demonic Tutor 5.0
There is no reason to ever leave this out of your maindeck, ever. The only problem this card ever poses is what you’ll fetch for a criminally undercosted two mana.
Quick, mana efficient creature removal. As with all spells of this nature, you’ll have to judge what the biggest threat on the board is, and whether they have bigger ones just on the horizon.
Ashenmoor Gouger 1.5
At 4/4 for three this guy is beefy, but he’ll never be able to block for you. There’s a few too many combat tricks and traps to make this guy worth playing, at least in my eyes. Expect this guy to be chumped every turn by disposable creatures until they get something that’ll squash it like a bug.
Avatar of Dischord 2.0
I cannot tell you how much it pains me to give this card such a low evaluation. It really does. 5/3 flying for three? This thing should be auto-maindeck. The thing I cannot get around though, is the discard. More often then not, you’ll play this, and then your opponent will Pacify/bounce/burn it. BAM! Three card disadvantage for you. That’s not a position that I want to be in. Sure, there will be times when you draw the dream hand that has this, a Reanimate, and two Demigod of Revenge, but that’s not going to happen often enough to make it worth it.
Blood Cultist 3.5
Although the tim ability of this spine wearing weirdo can only target creatures, the fact that it gets a vampire-esque ability makes up for it. Sometimes you have to get inventive, such as pinging your own about to die creatures, or pinging something right before you Terminate it, but this card can quickly escalate out of control, and as you can imagine, two on the board only makes things worse for your unlucky adversary.
Hissing Iguanar 2.0
The ability on this guy is interesting, but he’s awfully fragile and unlike Blood Cultist he doesn’t have much potential to get bigger, and he’s never going to survive combat with anything. His ability is nice, but it’s more of an extra than a must-include, so there are better choices for three drops.
Lyzolda, the Blood Witch 3.5
Although her ability requires you to sacrifice creatures and her one toughness makers her incredibly fragile, the fact that she’s one of the few ways that the deck can get extra draws, while having the added benefit of laying down damage as well in most cases. This adds up to making Lyzolda is a solid inclusion in any build.
Rockslide Elemental 4.0
First strike is always a nice ability to have, and when paired with a Blood Cultist soon this guy is way too big to bowl over. This card forces removal early, and draws it away from some of your game
winners. That being said, it’s a tough choice for the opposition, because if left alone for too long, this guy becomes a game winner in his own right. It’s often a toss-up between including these guys, or
Scavenger Drakes, but since these come out a turn earlier and can survive blocking a one toughness creature even off the bat, I prefer them.
Three damage and two cards out of your foe’s hand, there’s nothing not to like! Perhaps the only downside to this card is that it’s not an instant, but that would put it completely over the top. This card is often better played early, but sometimes you’ll want to hold back, just to judge if there’s something in their hand that they want to play, but can’t afford to yet.
Chaos Warp 2.5
I’m on the fence about this card. As the name implies this thing is apt at causing chaos, but the question is for who? Sure, it’s a way to remove an annoying creature, artifact, or enchantment, but you run the risk of them getting something even better every time you use it. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose, big time. But that’s the nature of Red. Of course, you can always use it on yourself too, if you’re a gambler…
Heat Shimmer 2.0
This is a cute trick for some extra damage, and can give some of your guys a boost, depending. Still, it can’t conjure a blocker, which somewhat mitigates its usefulness. Still, it can force a decent trade off in some cases, and also doubles in some instances as a way to take down a troublesome legend on their side of the field, if you haven’t drawn any other removal.
Pain Magnification 3.0
A neat little enchantment that’s better played early than late. The more turns that go by the less useful this card becomes, mostly because people are often trying to empty their hand as soon as
possible, especially once this thing hits the field. This thing gives Blue decks fits, but good luck trying to get it into play without it being countered.
Ashenmoor Liege 4.5
This is a creature that no one wants to be staring down if they can help it. I wouldn’t normally advocate having a creature with such tenuous toughness around, but the fact that if they want to make him go away it’s going to cost them four life means that if nothing else this guy will draw removal and get in damage in a roundabout way. Add to that the fact that he gives every other creature in the deck +1/+1 and often +2/+2 means that he’s always worth the spot.
Blazing Specter 4.0
Since it has haste this card can often force a discard as soon as it hits the board. An annoying creature for the other person to deal with my only problem is that there’s only one of this card in the deck.
Hellhole Rats 4.0
Another great multipurpose card. Even if the discard you force only hits a land, it still deprives them of resources which is always a good thing. It’s not that beefy of course, but it still makes a decent
blocker and can even get in for two if you’ve kept the board clear to the point of playing it.
Scavenger Drake 3.5
I only rank this guy a little lower than Rockslide Elemental because he comes out a turn later. Flying is a nice form of evasion and he has basically the same ability. It’s really more up to personal preference as to which of the two you include in the deck. Flying is probably the better ability, but First Strike and one turn sooner make me choose the elemental.
Singe-Mind Ogre 2.5
For a 3/2 with no persistent abilities four mana might be a bit much. The comes into play ability is random, sometimes getting you a nice juicy six or eight cost card, other times getting land. You have to remember that the card is only revealed, not discarded. Hellhole Rats seems a strictly better choice, even though the discard isn’t random.
Wrecking Ball 4.0
More creature destruction that under certain circumstances can become a key hose factor as well. If the person sitting across from you is suffering from a mana drought or colour screw, then this card really ruins their day. Worth running at least a pair of at all times.
Demigod of Revenge 5.0
The mainstay of the deck, without a doubt. This guy is big, mean, and often a guaranteed five damage the turn it hits the board. Plus he’s a real pain in the ass to get rid of, because if you have another one in your hand then all the ones in your graveyard are back on the field and swinging in no time flat. It’s tempting to play as many copies as you have, but remember that it’s important not to over extend and let your opponent punish you for it.
Bituminous Blast 3.0
A somewhat curious card; some would argue that five for a four damage creature only burn spell is quite overcosted, but the fact that this card is almost guaranteed (in this build at least) to hit something that you can then instantly play makes it worth it. Add a little of the good kind of chaos into your life, after all, you might hit a Demigod of Revenge, or and Ashenmoor Liege, or some other card that’s going to make a bad situation worse for your unlucky adversary.
Capricious Efreet 3.0
This card mostly stands as a big beater with a potentially interesting ability. If you’re aiming to have late game presence then this is probably one of the best choices. Considering that you can choose two permanents that are giving you problems from them, and one of your throwaway ones, it’s a “chaotic” card that has the chaos strictly in your favour.
Deathbringer Thoctar 1.0
If this card were one or two less mana it’d be dynamite, but on turn six this guy’s ability isn’t going to see a whole lot of pertinent usage for the most part. Overcosted and underwhelming.
Defiler of Souls 5.0
One of the best late game drops. Not only is this a 5/5 flier, but his ability is absolutely devastating to almost every other deck out there, even the other multicoloured guild decks! Since he forces a
sacrifice, that means that he can get past hexproof, colour protection, and even indestructibility. If not immediately dealt with this guy will win you games in almost any given situation.
Grave Titan 4.0
Even though I’m not fielding these myself I have to admit that they make great choices. More creatures on the board can fuel the effects of your army quite nicely, or at the very least give you some throwaway blockers when you may need them.
There are extremely certain circumstances when you’ll draw this card and thank the heavens above because it’s exactly what you needed. However, I think that those times would be few and far between. Other than that it’s just a big beater in a deck that shouldn’t have needed one at this point in the game if all’s gone well.
Massacre Wurm 4.5
The only reason this guy isn’t a solid five is because at three black mana there’s going to be times when you simply can’t cast him. However, like in Obedient Dead, this card is in an of itself often a
walking win condition. Against weenie decks this card might as well have text that reads “your opponent dies”, and his passive utility condition makes him a threat even if he’s sitting there doing nothing. Add to that a beefy body for attacking and blocking and you’ve got a great choice … when you can actually cast him.
Rakdos the Defiler 2.0
The big man himself doesn’t fare too well in the deck that bears his name and is inspired by his guild. As with Avatar of Discord, the problem here is that there are way too many combat tricks to make his ability worth playing. If you try to swing in and an they bounce, prevent damage, destroy him, or just plain manage to block all of it then you’ve wasted half your permanents for absolutely nothing. Sure, he’s flashy, but flashy doesn’t mean good.
Kaervek the Merciless 2.5
Kaervek is a great late game drop that will probably mean the end if not dealt with quickly. However again even though his ability is dynamite he’s coming into the game so late that he’s often more of an “I win harder” card than anything actually useful. If you were in a bad position, then Kaervek is unlikely to be able to really help.
Avatar of Slaughter 1.5
At eight not only is this guy expensive, but he also robs you of any blocking you might want to do. Sure all your creatures get double strike, but there’s probably not going to be very many situations
where having double strike will win you the day when you’d have otherwise lost. Any card that takes options away from you needs to be looked at extremely carefully.
Vampiric Dragon 3.0
If the game has dragged on long enough to cast this beast, then he’s not a bad choice. His ability is a little underwhelming unless you have a lot of mana or there are a lot of 1/1 wieners just hanging around. Still, a 5/5 with a decent vampiric ability is alright.
Din of the Fireherd 3.0
This is a card that can quickly end a stalemate, if nothing else. If for some reason you have a deadlocked army then the secondary resolution of this spell is absolutely nasty and probably a game winner in and of itself. However, at a hefty eight mana this is more often than not just going to be sitting in your hand, seeing little to no use. It’s good for what it does, but somewhat a card of last