Just kidding, it’s another Rakano list. I’ve found myself stagnating a bit on ladder recently and without a deck in front of me for experimentation, I decided to try a throwback to Chrno’s original Plate Rakano list, utilizing Rakano Artisan for value and running high curve weapons like Stonescar Maul. The list failed abysmally but I did discover a number of important facts. One, ladder is divided entirely into aggro and control at the moment. There are very few midrange decks floating around, almost all of which are Combrei. Two, Silverwing Familiar + Weapons is incredibly effective against both aggro and control. I now knew where I wanted to be.
For those of you expecting a stock Rakano list with four Silverwings thrown in, I bet you’ve been a little surprised. I’m doing a number of things differently here – for one thing, there are NO one drop units. Not twelve, not eight, not even four token Pyroknights. Zero. The low health of every non-Sparring Partner one drop Rakano can run has turned me off to them, as they all need assistance to break through even something as simple as a Minotaur Grunt. They also dilute your draw power in the midgame, even a 4/3 Oni Ronin isn’t impressive when you’re facing down a Sandstorm Titan or a Steward of the Past. As a result, I decided to go quite heavy on the two drops, playing choosing to play twelve units. Rakano Artisan has 16 weapons to buff, which is a pretty good number. His 1 health means he falls prey to all manner of removal, but that’s okay. He’s a unit you’re happy to trade off early and he draws cheap removal away from your valuable Aegis units. Aside from the Artisan, the remainder of the units in the deck do not fall to Lightning Storm, which is a primary reason for Rakano Outlaw’s absence.
Crownwatch Paladin is a threat that control players have been griping about for months. Aegis + Warcry is a potent combination, especially when backed up by weapons to enhance her combat effectiveness. Champion of Glory is an extremely powerful 2 drop, though vulnerable to silence and requires a power based tuned to play him effectively. In the three drop slot, aside from the aforementioned Silverwing, the omnipresent Enforcer and the Sword of Icaria, I decided to include two copies of Brightmace Paladin. Why did I include a draft card in my constructed deck, you ask? For whatever reason, whenever I play this deck I often end up playing a Rakano mirror. Aggro matchups as they often come down to racing, so having additional sources of lifesteal help give this deck the edge over stock Rakano/Jito lists. It’s not a great card unbuffed, but even a single warcry turns it into a potent threat.
In the four slot I’m playing exclusively weapons. None of the four cost Rakano units have impressed me, and the weapons have immediate board impact when you play them. Hammer of Might is a horrifying card to face down as an unstablized control player as it ensures that the next card you draw is going to be an immense threat. Auric Runehammer is a more subtle inclusion. It’s a removal spell that can also threaten your opponent’s face in the absence of units, but it puts your opponent in a difficult position once you’ve played it. We don’t care about face damage or card advantage so we will use it to remove our opponent’s next blocker, and this forces them to play differently, perhaps by attacking to clear the Runehammer, using a torch on it, or simply making inefficient use of their power to play blockers.
Reach is something most modern Rakano decks lack. If you are out of Torch range and can stop the Rakano player’s units from actually hitting you, you’re usually going to be okay. Not against this deck. Both Obliterate and Deepforged Plate offer this deck ways to push the last points of damage through. Deepforged Plate is a very powerful card, offering huge stat boosts, Overwhelm to break through, and Endurance to break stuns or play defense. However, it is expensive to play, both in power and influence, which is why we only play two copies. Obliterate is a card I find myself including more and more in Fire decks. It’s a removal spell that kills Sandstorm Titan or your opponent directly, and Overwhelm means you don’t lose face damage for removing a smaller blocker. As an additional removal option, this deck plays three copies of Vanquish. Three is a lot, but you really do want to draw them against Midrange, and even in the other matchups there are uses. Vanquish has become an important part of the Rakano mirror, answering weapon boosted threats, and Control decks have started to favour units as actual blockers instead of spells. Rounding out the list we have the omnipresent Torch and curve fixer Gilded Glaive, which see plenty of mainstream play and hopefully need no explanation.
I’d like to end this article by discussing the power base of the deck. 27 power is a lot for a deck, especially an aggressive one. However, we’re playing eleven cards that cost 4 or more plus four Gilded Glaives, so we’d actually like to draw enough power to cast those cards on curve. That’s simply not a realistic prospect playing only 25 power. While playing Seek Power is a consideration, and perhaps the route I should have chosen, this is still a deck that relies on curving out and making efficient plays from turn two onwards. The powerbase is additionally interesting, as it is slightly Justice skewed and includes not only seats and banners, but also Diplomatic Seals. Influence is incredibly important for this deck, and having access to JJ on turn 3 and 4 is important for many of your cards. While this would ordinarily mean more Justice sigils, you still need FF for Champion of Glory and Deepforged Plate, which combined with having no turn 1 plays makes the added flexibility preferable.
I understand that this is a Rakano deck and we’re seen these before now, but hopefully the no one drop higher curve strategy is different enough to feel like a unique deck rather than a rebrand. I feel that the deck is well positioned at the moment, especially if you find yourself embroiled in Rakano mirror. As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Happy laddering!
4 Gilded Glaive (Set1 #125)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Champion of Glory (Set1 #314)
4 Crownwatch Paladin (Set1 #139)
4 Rakano Artisan (Set1 #312)
3 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
2 Brightmace Paladin (Set1 #147)
4 Silverwing Familiar (Set1 #152)
4 Sword of Icaria (Set1 #315)
4 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
3 Auric Runehammer (Set1 #166)
3 Hammer of Might (Set1 #170)
2 Deepforged Plate (Set1 #317)
3 Obliterate (Set1 #48)
7 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
8 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
4 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
4 Rakano Banner (Set1 #427)
4 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)
21 Rares, 2 Legendaries
Total Shiftstone cost (excluding power): 27600