Buckwheat Guest Article – Regarding Rakano

The following is a guest article by top ladder player Buckwheat, providing counterpoint to our standard just-netdeck-Unearthly view of Rakano. Buckwheat is known for his unique gameplay style, and this carries over into a distinct writing style. This article has been presented in its original submitted form in order to best preserve the author’s intended message.

Guest Article – Regarding Rakano

“My reasoning will not be sound a lot of the time but I’ll be damn sure you understand the reasoning itself if that’s what you want.” – Buckwheat, former #1 Masters

After reaching Masters on day 2 of the season using Rakano, making a second climb to rank 1 using Rakano, and holding rank 1 until now using mostly Rakano, I feel qualified to comment on the archetype. My comments will be from the perspective of a ladder player, as I have only played in a single tournament, in which I did not bring Rakano and performed poorly.

Why Rakano?

“Simple, honest, direct…” – George Carlin, stand-up comedian, actor, and social critic

Rakano is simple, honest, and direct. Its game plan consists of playing units then attacking with them. By playing turn 1 Seat of Glory and Oni Ronin, you announce that you will win or lose the game on the board, without abusing any shenanigans. I enjoy this playstyle because it sends the message that I’m not afraid to play a fair game.

If asked to summarize the spirit of Rakano in as few words as possible, I would do so in one: “attacking”. Rakano simply cannot win without attacking with its units. Almost every card in a typical Rakano deck helps its units attack. The cards could be the actual units to attack with, ways to buff the units so they attack more effectively, removal to clear the way for attackers, or ways to save units from dying so they can still attack. Rakano decks value evasion in the form of flying and quickdraw and resilience to removal in the form of aegis, as a unit must survive a turn then avoid blockers to attack at all.

Examining the recent tournament list used by Unearthly, the undisputed Mr. Rakano (https://eternalwarcry.com/decks/details/d8gtJAp-MFs/rakano-plate), reveals that every single card in the deck belongs in one of the four previously mentioned categories, except perhaps the two sideboard Rebukes. Furthermore, every unit except the four Oni Ronin is either evasive, resilient to removal, or both.

If you enjoy a fair game, if you want to fight for the board, if you would rather be asking questions instead of providing answers, and more importantly, if you would like to attack, give Rakano a try. You won’t regret it.

But Why Rakano?

“The longer a game takes with your deck, the higher your win rate has to be to make up for it.”– ManuS, streamer, content creator, and consistent high Masters finisher

So, you don’t care about the flavor, soul, or playstyle of a deck. You’re in the business of winning games and climbing ladder, and you want me to convince you that Rakano is good for that. In that case, I’ll try my best.

Rakano, being Fire and Justice, offers an incredibly strong combination of cards to contest the board. Among them are:

  • The best 1-drop in the game (Oni Ronin).
  • One of the best 2-drops in the game (Champion of Glory).
  • The most efficient burn spell in the game (Torch).
  • The best combat trick in the game, now that Rapid Shot costs 2 (Finest Hour).
  • One of the best conditional removal spells in the game (Vanquish).
  • The most powerful weapons to make units huge (Hammer of Might, Deepforged Plate).
  • Too many Warcry cards to list, each of which reward attacking and add longevity to the deck.

And that was just the quality of the individual cards in the deck. With the strengths of all these cards combined, the deck gets on the board early and hits hard at the earliest opportunity. With all the Warcry and weapons making little units big, the deck can sustain its aggression well into the midgame.

Since Rakano is an aggro deck, its games are fast. This is important if you want to climb as fast as possible. If you achieve a 65% win rate with chalice control and 60% win rate with Rakano, you should probably play Rakano to climb, since it’s the number of won versus lost games, not win rate, that counts.

Being able to afford a lower win rate also means the deck is more forgiving. Throwing a game is less costly in an aggro climb than in a control one, because you end up playing more games that you do not throw to make up for it. If you win more than you lose, you will, in theory, gain MMR and rank up. The sheer volume of games means variance will even out faster than with a slower deck.

Since there are so many good cards in Fire and Justice, you can change your deck to respond to the meta on the fly. Need to race burn? Big Silverwing Familiar. Chalice stalling out the ground? Tinker Overseer. Big Combrei slamming Titans? Add more Vanquishes and Valkyrie Enforcers. Rakano mirrors all over the place? Add relic weapons. Feln control spamming every removal spell? Crownwatch Paladin and Protect. Few decks in the game can claim to have such a versatile set of options with which to respond to meta shifts, which are frequent and sudden in Eternal.

The deck is powerful, its games are fast, and you can hot-swap cards to respond to the meta without building an entirely different deck. It’s a hardcore ladder climber’s dream. Oh, and before I forget…

Ladder is now the Armory playground? Play a different deck.

Building Rakano

“…don’t play Buckwheat decks, he’s like some kind of savant that makes them work. Whenever I pick them up it feels horrible, and then I lose to it.” – VSarius, deckbuilder, tournament organizer, and Eternal theorist

I am known for building bad decks then somehow doing well with them. While I’m still not sure how I do well with them, there is some method to my deckbuilding madness, which I will now share. When building Rakano, I adhere to the following four principles:

Firstly, no matter how far I depart from the correct way to build decks, I never depart from the key goal of Rakano: to attack with units. Every nonpower card in my Rakano deck will be a unit, a pump, a piece of removal, or a way to protect my units, without exception. As many units as possible will have built-in evasion, resilience, or both.

Secondly, I don’t seek to be a part of the metagame, because I try to beat it instead. The vast pool of available Rakano cards means there’s a way to build it to beat almost every meta. I’m not well-read on card game theory so if there is a proper, systematic way to do so, I don’t know of it. Instead, I simply try things until something works, then use that until it stops working.

Thirdly, I’m a big fan of going all-in on one strategy, using all 75 cards in my deck to support a single idea. Although “attacking” is already the main idea of Rakano, I’ve found success also focusing on a secondary theme while building my decks. That secondary theme depends on the meta I’m trying to beat, as the upcoming decklist discussion will illustrate.

Lastly, I believe Rakano should transition into the midgame by making its small units larger, not by trying to race with burn spells and Charge units. There are two ways Rakano can make units bigger: Warcry and weapons. Thus, your Rakano deck should have a high density of at least one of these if you plan to compete in the midgame at all.

I must reissue the disclaimer I have made many times in Discord and on Reddit, that my decks are bad and you shouldn’t use them. However, I hope what I’ve written and will write will help you build better decks than you and I already have.

“Power Starve Rakano”

“This is so wrong. On so many levels.” – ManuS, streamer, content creator, and consistent high Masters finisher

4 Finest Hour (Set1 #130)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
2 Pyroknight (Set1 #16)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Champion of Glory (Set1 #314)
4 Crownwatch Paladin (Set1 #139)
4 Rakano Outlaw (Set1 #20)
3 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
4 Shogun’s Scepter (Set1 #26)
4 Silverwing Familiar (Set1 #152)
3 Sword of Icaria (Set1 #315)
4 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
4 Hammer of Might (Set1 #170)
2 Deepforged Plate (Set1 #317)
6 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
5 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
2 Emerald Monument (Set1 #422)
4 Rakano Banner (Set1 #427)
4 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)
4 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)

Congratulations to Masterbacon for making the finals of this week’s ETS Open using this list, running 4 Inspire instead of 4 Finest Hour in his main deck and with the 4 Finest Hour as his entire sideboard. As a player who has only played the game for two weeks, he has accomplished more than I.

Aside from the hilariously low power count, I consider this deck a normal Rakano build, something I would queue on ladder if I didn’t know what meta I’d be up against. It’s nothing special, not leaning excessively towards any particular theme besides “attacking”.

The two Pyroknights fill the 1-drop slot, allowing the deck to occupy the board about half the time on turn 1 compared to only about a third of the time without them. Their Ultimate is rarely relevant, though Overwhelm is at least nice for holding weapons and pushing damage.

Crownwatch Paladin is in there for 2-drop count and for another Warcry source. I chose her over Tinker Overseer because the deck’s number of weapons and Finest Hours make the low toughness less of a problem, and Aegis is valuable.

The Swords of Icaria and Vanquishes are 3-ofs, because they are good cards so I should run some number of them, yet I don’t want too many of them clogging my hand. As an aggro deck, I’m not usually interested in answering every single opposing unit, because I only need to clear those that are in the way of my attacks.

All in all, the deck has 26 units, 10 pieces of removal, 10 weapons, 4 combat tricks, and a severely disappointing 25 power, with 2 monuments in there for “flood protection”, as if flood protection was important in a 25-power deck that has six cards costing 4 or more. Good luck getting to your plates.

The plethora of early drops ensure consistency in curving out; the Valkyrie Enforcers provide a universal answer to pesky threats; the Vanquishes, Torches, and Swords of Icaria provide answers to more generic blockers that stand in the way of my units. Finest Hour is a nice combat trick against those 2/5 blockers that seem to always present a problem otherwise.

There is a total of 23 Warcry sources in the deck, almost as many as there are units. These, plus the 10 weapons, give the deck the ability to sustain its aggression well into the midgame by turning small units into big threats.

Notice how every unit except the 1-drops either dodge removal or dodge blockers. This is what I want out of my units in Rakano, because attacking is the only way I win.

“All-In Voltron Katana Rakano”

“I dont usually play Finest Hour, Inspire, and definitely not Ornate Katana” – Unearthly, ETS Hall of Famer, invitational points leader, “Mr. Rakano”

4 Finest Hour (Set1 #130)
4 Inspire (Set1 #129)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Champion of Glory (Set1 #314)
4 Crownwatch Paladin (Set1 #139)
4 Ornate Katana (Set1 #23)
4 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
4 Shogun’s Scepter (Set1 #26)
4 Silverwing Familiar (Set1 #152)
4 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
4 Hammer of Might (Set1 #170)
2 Deepforged Plate (Set1 #317)
7 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
8 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
2 Emerald Monument (Set1 #422)
4 Rakano Banner (Set1 #427)
4 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)

I used this list to make Masters on day 2 of the season after trying over a dozen other Rakano variants, even crafting 2 Ijin trying to improve my odds which proved fruitless. This was the only thing that worked.

The 8 cantrips make the powerbase somewhat more presentable than the previous list, but it’s still pretty bad. This appears to be a theme among my creations.

The theme I pursued with this deck, in addition to Rakano’s main idea of attacking with units, was maximizing the ability to make a single unit as big as possible as fast as possible. This was to respond to the day 2 ladder meta, with Stonescar burn running amok, crushing people with 1-power rapid shots and consecutive Obliterate topdecks, and various fast decks trying to go under them. I understood the importance of establishing a big Silverwing Familiar in the environment, but sometimes I would get a bird out and lose because it remained a 1/1. With this deck, that almost never happened. If I drew Silverwing Familiar, played it, and it lived a turn, I won.

In my effort to achieve the Voltron dream as often as possible, I made some sacrifices. Rakano Outlaw was cut for Ornate Katana. Sword of Icaria, being a 3-power Torch, was too slow in the meta and was cut for Inspire and its +1/+1, in an almost comically desperate attempt to increase the size of my units. Vanquish was the one thing I could not sacrifice, and I even increased it to 4 copies, as it was still perfect for answering opposing Impending Dooms, Sandstorm Titans, and Voltrons.

With only 20 units in the deck, I played Crownwatch Paladin over Rakano Outlaw, valuing resilience over evasion. With a total of 18 ways to make units bigger, not counting the Inspires, the deck beats blockers by making its units huge and Vanquishing any blockers of comparable size.

This deck quickly stopped working later into the month when people switched to slower decks that had more removal and started respecting my small units, but it was great fun while it lasted. BTran played it to a 7-0 record on stream and streaked from 0/100 Diamond I into Masters on day 3 of the season. Overall, this was one of my more enjoyable lists that I will not soon forget.

“4-Spell Artisan Aggro”

“I don’t believe in going half moron. I either go full moron or not moron, and one of these is clearly no longer an option here.” – Buckwheat, former #1 Masters

2 Charchain Flail (Set1 #3)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Champion of Glory (Set1 #314)
4 Crownwatch Paladin (Set1 #139)
4 Ornate Katana (Set1 #23)
4 Rakano Artisan (Set1 #312)
4 Shogun’s Scepter (Set1 #26)
4 Silverwing Familiar (Set1 #152)
4 Sword of Icaria (Set1 #315)
4 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
2 Auric Runehammer (Set1 #166)
4 Hammer of Might (Set1 #170)
8 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
6 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
1 Emerald Monument (Set1 #422)
4 Rakano Banner (Set1 #427)
4 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)
4 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)

Sandwhale’s “rise for daggers” list inspired me to build a deck like this, then I cut Inspire out of the deck. I provided the idea to ManuS, but he was too sane to make it work and dismissed my idea, like he did with so many of my other ideas. I did not give up and continued trying things until I found something that worked, which ended up being this.

“Rakano has three 2-drop options besides Champion of Glory, and they’re all wrong.” You can’t only run 4 Champions of Glory in your 2-drop slot as an aggro deck. But Rakano Outlaw dies to removal, Crownwatch Paladin gets blocked by scribes, and Tinker Overseer has no ability. It seems like no matter which options I pick to fill my 2-drop slot, I leave something to be desired.

“If my 2-drop sucks anyway, might as well get something out of it” was my thought when I decided that Rakano Artisan might work, because “buffing a third of my deck” seems to qualify as “getting something out of it”. I’m not sure how playing a 2 power 2/1 is ever a good idea in an aggro deck, but it turned out to be. The 2/1 often trades with an opposing Warcry unit, removal spell, or combat trick, and proved far more relevant than I initially gave it credit for. He can even carry weapons in a pinch, and against Shadow decks that rely on Annihilate, that’s not even half bad. Did I mention he also buffs a third of my deck?

With almost as many relic weapons as armory, I felt confident enough in my removal options to cut Vanquish entirely. In addition to the Torches, the deck has 12 pieces of removal, and excels at removing opposing aggro decks’ small units. Larger units like Sandstorm Titan can prove problematic, but a big enough Auric Runehammer, Charchain Flail, or unit still lets me attack past them. I will put Vanquishes back into the deck if I see more Sandstorm Titans, but I don’t know what to cut for them at this point.

Swinging alternatively with units and my face gives the deck a satisfying, aggro-controlly feel, but it is still an aggro deck. Relic weapons are often used to push damage, especially against an expected Harsh Rule, since the weapon gets in twice if they spend their whole turn casting Harsh Rule. The ability to Charchain Flail for 1 or 2 while still developing a threat on the same turn is invaluable in aggro matchups, and topdecking the 10-attack Charchain Flail for exact lethal against control is just as satisfying.

The deck does not have Deepforged Plate and that is on purpose. I decided that with my all-in weapon buff strategy, I do not need it since my smaller weapons get just as big anyway. This may have been a mistake, but I don’t really miss them right now.

I tried 4 Inspire in the deck, then found that it’s better to just have more actual cards instead. As ManuS stated, too many cantrips in an aggro deck means you’ll often cantrip into nothing instead of gas, stopping your aggression in its tracks. With something other than 25 power this time, I can afford to run only 4 cantrips and still consistently hit my power drops.

Note that even with a list that strays so far from what would be considered stock, that now barely even resembles Rakano, my plan still involves having my units attack and making little things into big things by stacking Warcries and weapons. It just so happens that my plan against blockers is based almost entirely on clearing the way with relic weapons and buffing my units out of range. As long as I maintain my aggression, I will only need to clear the units that actually block mine, which I find quite doable with this deck.

In the end-of-season aggro meta, this deck is significantly outperforming my expectations. I am currently 8-1 with it defending rank 1 today, with the only loss being to a power screw.

Psych! Did I say ManuS dismissed this idea? On the day of this writing, I found out that he did not. The following is the ManuS version of this idea, which is probably better than my version, but I can’t say for sure because I haven’t played it much.

3 Charchain Flail (Set1 #3)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Champion of Glory (Set1 #314)
4 Ornate Katana (Set1 #23)
4 Rakano Artisan (Set1 #312)
4 Rakano Outlaw (Set1 #20)
4 Tinker Overseer (Set1 #138)
4 Shogun’s Scepter (Set1 #26)
4 Silverwing Familiar (Set1 #152)
4 Sword of Icaria (Set1 #315)
1 Auric Runehammer (Set1 #166)
4 Hammer of Might (Set1 #170)
9 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
4 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
2 Emerald Monument (Set1 #422)
4 Rakano Banner (Set1 #427)
4 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)
4 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)

In Conclusion

“I think the game is so new that no one knows exactly how to build a deck. If your deck works, I think you’re onto something.” – Masterbacon, Eternal newbie, ETS Open finalist, Buckwheat deck user

I hope you enjoyed the three decks I have presented. I believe each of them illustrates a different twist that can be put on a Rakano build, while still maintaining Rakano’s overall game plan of attacking with its units and making little things big. As I must reiterate, my decks are bad and you shouldn’t use them, at least not as they are. Feel free to copy them, modify them, take ideas from them, and, if you’re brave and like to ignore warnings, use them on ladder. Happy building!

Regarding Specific Cards

“Drawing the wrong card is the worst misplay one can make. […] If you want to draw good cards, you should put them in your deck.” – Buckwheat, former #1 Masters

Before diving into discussing specific cards, I should restate my point that Rakano is about attacking with its units. “How much does this card help my units attack?” is, therefore, the first and often the only question I ask myself when I evaluate a card. After they leave my hand, there are 4 different conditions one of my units could be in:

  1. The unit is alive, and my opponent cannot kill it or stop its attacks without sacrificing resources. This is the best kind of unit to have. It will attack and win the game for me if my opponent continues being unable to answer it.
  2. The unit is alive, and my opponent must trade resources to kill it or stop it from attacking. This is the second best kind of unit to have, since my opponent has a limited amount of answers to my threats and using them on this threat means they may not be able to answer my next one.
  3. The unit is alive, but cannot attack without dying for free or only trading for an insignificant resource. This is not desirable because I need to attack to win, and I’m probably not attacking with this unit. The only use for this kind of unit is for promoting it into one of the categories above by adding weapons to it.
  4. The unit is dead. It is permanently out of this game and I am no longer able to use it.

I will evaluate some cards that do not see play in all Rakano decks. Cards that do see play in every Rakano deck such as Oni Ronin and Torch will not be discussed, because everyone already knows they are good and why.

Fearless Nomad and District Infantry are the best 1-drops in the game for purely pushing damage. Unfortunately, Rakano is usually not in the business of purely pushing damage from turn 1. Some sort of hyper-aggressive build might want them, but without 1-power Jito, that style of deck now lacks both the amount of initial burst to finish off the opponent and the midgame viability of bigger Rakano.

Pyroknight is a 1-drop filler. Run her if you want to bolster your 1-drop count, but I’ve found 4 Oni Ronin to be enough 1-drops in most of my decks.

Finest Hour is the best combat trick in the game. Whether I run it depends on whether I have another plan to deal with ground blockers with low attack and high toughness, and how many of those I expect to see. The problem with running Finest Hour is threat dilution: a deck with Finest Hour often finds itself out of bodies to put weapons on or out of weapons to put on bodies, because you must have cut something to include them. Still, it is a powerful card that should find its way into many decks.

Protect does what its name suggests, and does it very well. Whether including it is the right choice depends heavily on the meta. When in doubt, do not include this card, as you’ll simply want another threat to run out instead. Even in the most removal-heavy metas, I would only go up to 2 copies.

Inspire used to be a Rakano staple, until people realized having 4 of them does not mean they are excused from running enough power. Now people are running none, and I agree with them. You can still put Inspire in your deck if you have a reason, such as my Voltron list desperately wanting to make units bigger, or a deck with a somewhat awkward curve that would be helped by more 1-cost cards.

Elder’s Feather is a cute idea and saw play back when it was a 1/1 and Sparring Partner was a card. Now it is usually not impactful enough to warrant a slot in your deck, but perhaps one day, someone will make a spicy Oni Quartermaster brew with 4 of these. Time will tell.

Bladekin Apprentice and Brazen Daredevil are good memes, but the other Rakano 2-drops simply outclass them. Build around them if you’d like, but climbing ladder and playing memes are somewhat mutually exclusive.

Crownwatch Paladin was in every Rakano deck back in her 2/2 glory days. Now that she is only a 2/1, many people are cutting her from their decks, to the point where I sometimes feel like the lone holdout. I include her, sometimes even over Rakano Outlaw, because although she has a high risk of falling to category 3, it’s hard for my opponent efficiently put her into category 4. A unit in category 3 can always be promoted later, but one in category 4 is completely useless.

Rakano Outlaw is a powerful unit who exemplifies the “dies to doom blade” problem. The 5 “doom blades” in the game are currently Torch, Suffocate, Permafrost, Annihilate, and Vanquish, and Rakano Outlaw dies to 4 of them. Although Quickdraw makes it hard for her to fall to category 3, a single removal spell puts her into category 4. This is not a risk I am willing to take lightly. If I had the choice to include either Crownwatch Paladin and Rakano Outlaw, I would not choose Rakano Outlaw by default.

Tinker Overseer is an evasive 2-drop that is good in the right meta, but far from being good enough on his own. In a Chalice world, where getting through on the ground becomes close to impossible but the air is wide open, Tinker Overseer shines. You should know what you’re doing before putting these in your deck.

Vanquish is among the most efficient removal spells in the game, one of the game’s “doom blades”. Obviously, you need every copy you can get if the meta is full of Vanquish targets, but the rise of Chalice control made this a lot less often the case. Running too many copies risks getting them stuck in hand, which is very bad for an aggro deck. If you don’t want to bother deciding how many to include, try 2 if you’re on the fast side and 3 for slower builds, but you would really benefit if you observe the meta and figure it out.

Ornate Katana is a little too underpowered to see play on its own. It is better in a deck like Quartermaiden where most of the units have more toughness than attack. Most Rakano units have equal or more attack than toughness, so increasing attack even more without increasing toughness at all is not the most desirable effect. The cycling is nice and the card can work in the right deck built to take full advantage of synergies, but Ornate Katana is far from an auto-include.

Paladin Oathbook was a brilliant tournament meta call by Unearthly, the famed Mr. Rakano, and now I see it on ladder everywhere. I simply do not believe Oathbook is a good ladder card. It requires too much setup and relies on having a board, but if you have more than a single unit, it becomes awkward again. Stacking more than one of these can be fun, but you’ve just spent more than one card putting something on your face instead of into your opponent’s face. It’s just not a worthwhile plan.

Silverwing Familiar is awesome. Rakano desires evasion and resilience, and Silverwing Familiar has both. I would run 4. I would run 4 even if the ladder was full of Swords of Icaria, because I’ll add 4 Finest Hour just to protect these and be content with dropping one on turn 4. The low statline doesn’t matter because making small things big is what Rakano does best. A Warcry on a 1/1 is more relevant than one on a 3/3, especially when the 1/1 has three different keywords.

Valkyrie Enforcer is busted. It sees play in every Justice deck and Rakano is one of them. Solid stats, built-in evasion, and a nice Summon ability, for the low cost of 3 power. The reason not to include him would be so that the deck does not require double Justice influence by turn 3, but Champion of Glory already ideally wants double Justice by turn 2. Think twice before cutting this card.

Sword of Icaria is a 3-power Torch with a minor upside most of the time. Interestingly, relic weapons are the best Warcry targets possible, so I’m interested in running some number of these in a Warcry-heavy deck. Some meta environments go so fast that you cannot afford to spend your entire turn 3 removing a single threat, making Sword of Icaria unplayable. Try to include this, but handle with care.

Shogun’s Scepter is a card I’d run 4 of in every Rakano deck unless I had a reason not to. Rakano relies on Warcries and weapons to buff its units, and Shogun’s Scepter happens to offer both. 4/2 worth of stats, 2 of the attack having charge, is already nothing to scoff at, and the extra body plus synergies with the rest of the deck are just cherries on top.

Hammer of Might is a card I’d run 4 of in every Rakano deck unless I had a reason not to. Rakano relies on Warcries and weapons… well, I think you can figure out the rest.

Crownwatch Cavalry is not a card I like. A vanilla body on turn 4 with no evasion and no resilience to removal does not impress me. In a faster meta, where players tend to drop small units even on later turns, Crownwatch Cavalry can be good by giving an extra blocker immediately, but I haven’t found that necessary even in a fast meta.

Auric Runehammer is usually not a Rakano card. 4 damage on turn 4 hardly clears anything relevant with the exception of unbuffed Silverwing Familiar holding unbuffed Hammer of Might. This specific scenario does not occur often enough to warrant including Auric Runehammers in your deck on its own. You should have a specific plan before using these.

Deepforged Plate is an extremely powerful weapon that often seals the game on its own. Putting it on Silverwing Familiar is ridiculous. I cut it from one of my decks for a very specific reason, and you should only do the same if you had just as good a reason.

Soulfire Drake is a very powerful card, but too expensive to be an auto-include, especially at triple Fire influence. It should only be included to beat control decks in a slower Rakano deck with a higher curve, something I have not really found the need to build.

Obliterate and Flame Blast are generally not necessary in Rakano. If you want to burn your opponent out, play Stonescar. If you must run these cards, I recommend Obliterate before Flame Blast, because Rakano typically curves out quite well and therefore won’t need Flame Blast to fill its curve and Obliterate is only double Fire influence.

Play it Right

“Sucking at something is the first step to not sucking as much.” – Buckwheat, former #1 Masters

I used to suck at this game. I still do, but not as much. See, that quote was true.

Since the whole point of this article is to help you also not suck as much, I should provide some tips to make the process less painful. I won’t present any specific “what’s the play” scenarios, because uninteresting situations are uninteresting while interesting situations often warrant enough discussion for entire articles to be devoted to them. In any case, the following is my advice to players looking to improve, in roughly decreasing order of importance.

Slow down. This refers to physical pace of play. It is easy to play too quickly because some turns are indeed trivial to play. Your worst misplays do not happen because you chose the wrong option out of several, but because you literally did not realize the superior line was possible. Take your time and evaluate all reasonable alternatives so you don’t miss the best one. When I find myself playing too quickly, I sit on the hand I use to hold the mouse until I have planned my turn.

Weapons belong on your units, not in your hand. If you only learn one thing out of this entire article, I wish for it to be this. One of the most effective rules of thumb I have applied in deciding between plays was to ask myself, ”How can my weapons die in my hand?”, then do my best to avoid that outcome. Many people know that getting a unit killed with a weapon on it is card disadvantage. But getting your weapon stuck in hand, with no unit to put it on, is even worse, because the weapon didn’t even attack and deal damage or at least force your opponent to answer a bigger threat.

Let your units attack. This has been discussed to death throughout the article, but it should have been, because it is really that important. Attacking is literally your entire game plan. If you have two alternatives, one of which lets you attack with more units, especially Warcry units, you’ll need a good reason to not choose it. When in doubt, attack!

Value your units. Rakano is the most unit-centric aggro deck in the game, often running no burn except Torches and has no problem dealing the entire 25 required damage in combat. But to do so, the deck needs units on board. Think twice before deciding to trade off your units, especially Aegis units, in even trades. However, wider boards are easier to stall out, so a balance should be sought where the board is narrow enough to not stall but wide enough for you to have options to buff. Finding the perfect balance is a difficult topic that is probably worth its own article. For now, it should suffice to say you should pay attention to it.

Mind your pauses. Many people understand the importance of reading pauses. Just as important, though, is hiding your own. For example, on turn 3, you can play a 2-drop, attack with no power open, then play a power to hold up a 1-power fast spell anyway. You should do so whenever you do not expect to use a fast spell during combat phase whether you have the spell or not. Remember, your opponent cannot see your hand, so let’s keep it that way. You can also bluff by deliberately telling your opponent you have a fast spell even when you could have hidden this information, but if you’re thinking on that level, you probably don’t need my advice.

Play around removal, but only when you can beat it. Rakano sits in a somewhat awkward spot in terms of speed, not being fast enough to finish the game before Harsh Rule and sometimes not going big enough to win after. There are technically four situations to evaluate when deciding whether to play around removal, and you can evaluate each of them: play around it and they have it, play around it and they don’t have it, don’t play around it and they have it, don’t play around it and they don’t have it. In practice, you probably only need to evaluate one: what happens if you play around it and they have it. If the answer is you won’t win anyway, you can’t beat the card and should play into it.

Keep track of known information. Also known as “remember your reads”. I’ve seen many people lose games because they make a read that their opponent has Torch, then die to that exact same Torch later by making a greedy block. Don’t be one of them.

And lastly, play games. The best way to learn something is to experience it yourself. You’ve done all this reading by now, so what are you waiting for?

Closing Thoughts

“three cheers for buckman!” – keystone27, violinist, champion of mono Justice, Buckwheat supporter

For my first article, it feels as if the project I had taken on was a bit too ambitious, and the hype I had built for it a bit too great. I hope you have enjoyed the read and found my advice to be of acceptable quality. I put up my best effort in the time I had. A more seasoned author would probably not hype up their work this much before it was complete, but please believe me when I say that I hyped it so much because that’s how hyped I actually felt.

I appreciate your patience if you’ve read the entire article, as it is longer than most Eternal articles I’ve seen. If you liked the article, I appreciate your support even more. If the article has made you a better Rakano player, or a better player in general, I have met my goal.

Special thanks to AlfInPogForm, keystone27, and BTran for helping me proofread.

Thanks to the Eternal Discord community for being friendly and supportive this whole time.

And lastly, thank you, RNGEternal, for this opportunity to express my thoughts to the world.

Until next time, this is Buckwheat, former #1 Masters, and maybe current #1 Masters too, saying goodbye. Three cheers for the community!


  1. I like this article until this phrase: “Rakano is simple, honest, and direct. Its game plan consists of playing units then attacking with them. By playing turn 1 Seat of Glory and Oni Ronin, you announce that you will win or lose the game on the board, without abusing any shenanigans.”

    Give me a break. Thanx Eternal gods not everybody think the same. ‘Cuz you can’t play a control combo deck don’t mean everybody are shenanigans.

    So cocky and so picky and so poor article at the end.

  2. I loved this article.

    The insight into what matters and why in the deck is really solid and will definitely help my Rakano building and playing.

    And the writing style is awesome! I really get a sense of the writer’s though process and it’s quirky and charming. Off-beat thinking is awesome, but VERY hard to convey. But you did.


  3. @Michael Paige – I disagree. I found it an excellent and informative article. And well written and entertaining, too.

    And redundancy? When teaching, it’s always better to say too much than too little… This community is constantly growing, not everyone brings wih them a strong theoretical understanding of CCGs, there is always something to be learned and something that seems obvious to you may not be so clear to another person.

    So. Yeah. There ya go

  4. I am not really sure what to make of this article. First off, I can honestly say I have no idea who Buckwheat is. That doesn’t really mean much as there are a lot of ppl that play this game. However, this article contains a couple things I really, really, really don’t like to see in articles. The first thing is the way it artificially inflates its length by having a lengthy discussion about far too many cards in the decks and just randomly placed in the article. It makes sense to talk about a variant of a deck and have a brief explanation of a few of the cards that might be different from what people expect. However, some of the inclusions deal with obvious cards and add absolutely no value to the article. For instance you have six lines on Finest Hour. Then the explanation of Deepforged Plate as “an extremely powerful weapon that often seals the game on its own”…..well yah, but most people figured that out Looooooooooooooooong ago. Yer not adding any substance to the article by saying stuff that everyone already knows. This section on cards is not only far too long in my estimation, but in the wrong spot. Talk about a few cards in each deck right after you talk about the deck, not all of them at the end to bloat up the article.

    Secondly, while I am a huge fan of including famous quotes or just quotes in general in articles that are flavorful, I believe it is a big no no for you to quote yourself and you do it not once but at least twice from what I saw.

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing content from some of the top players, I just feel like more effort could have been put into editing this article a bit better.

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