aReNGee returns to his writing desk after a looooong hiatus! It’s been a long time since I’ve felt I had enough unique points to make about a deck to inspire me to write a deckbuilding article, so I’m dipping my toes in slowly by talking about a deck that we’re all pretty familiar with and that I’ve talked about previously a fair amount – Rakano.
It’s also been a pretty long time since Rakano got any new toys. Omens of the Past brought few cards, and the strongest (Groundbreaker) ended up being too influence intensive for most lists. If you want to see Rakano’s last real addition, you’d have to go all the way back to Jekk’s Bounty in January with the mostly-sideboard Copperhall Baliff. Tales of Horus Traver ended the drought, however – Crimson Firemaw is quite the card and a nice addition to any aggressive Fire based deck.
Rakano has always been a deck that you can tune to suit different metagames, but the core of most lists remains the same. I’m going to introduce the core of the deck, then talk about your options for filling the flex slots, then talk about my list in particular. As with all decks, take what is said here with a grain of salt – you’re able to adjust even the core cards to suit the metagame and/or your personal playstyle.
The Core Cards
Oni Ronin, Pyroknight, Torch, Champion of Glory – These are the best aggressive cards in the game, with the first three forming the core of Rakano, Stonescar, and Skycrag aggro decks alike. Champion of Glory has two strong abilities and asks only that you reach influence you needed to anyways. Play these cards!
Vanquish – In a world of Titans and Brokers, you need to be able to clear the way. You don’t always need four, but I wouldn’t leave home without at least two or three in any metagame, and I believe four is correct at the moment.
Valkyrie Enforcer – Efficiently costed flying unit with a valuable silence effect. Holds weapons well and adds flexibility.
Crimson Firemaw – Pure power card. Gives you a superpowerful 4 drop that doesn’t require any other support to be good. The ability is mostly gravy, you’re paying for the 5/4 flyer. Good topdeck if your early aggression is stymied to get you back on track.
Hammer of Might – One of two core weapons, equipping it makes any unit a threat and the Warcry 3 ensures your next unit will be a threat too.
Deepforged Plate, Soulfire Drake – These are your closer cards. Both are powerful cards but influence intensive, and 5 is a long way for an aggressive deck. They give you strong things to do when you’ve flooded out and both can end games on their own. Good insurance for the late game as they give you powerful topdecks.
The Restricted Flex Slots
In my opinion, there are 14 flex slots in Rakano decks, but 8 of them are restricted by curve considerations. Those slots are included in the decklist of core cards above as “any 2 drop” and “any 3 drop”. In order to keep a functional curve, I believe that you need at least four more 2 drops and two to four more 3 drops. While I’m only going to discuss 2 and 3 drops in this section, you’re welcome to choose some of the cards here to fill out your “free” flex slots.
Crownwatch Paladin – Aegis plays well with weapons to allow it to attack. Low stats mean it often trades, but its the safest two drop to hit with warcries. Has warcry as well to boost your deck when it gets to attack.
Rakano Outlaw – Quickdraw plays very well with tricks and allows it to attack through early defenders. Warcry helps keep the ball rolling for your other units.
Tinker Overseer – Just a 2/2 flyer, but the best flying two drop out there. Plays very well with 3 cost weapons like Shogun’s Scepter, and is a good choice when the metagame has gummed up the ground. Not very strong on its own, as it does not have warcry.
Cinder Yeti – His summon helps push damage through, and warp gives you better late game card selection. His stats are a bit underwhelming but Overwhelm means he holds a hammer or warcrys well. Needs more than 1 warcry to really go off, though.
Shogun’s Scepter – The most aggressive of these options, as you need a unit in play to use this card. Can lead to “weapon flooding” where you have the attachments but no units. Pushing 4 damage and warcry 2 on turn 3 is a very good start though, and it brings an extra Ronin for the ride. High upside when it works. Double fire influence cost.
Silverwing Familiar -The best card to put weapons on, flying/lifesteal/aegis is a ridiculous set of abilities. Needs a weapon or many warcry triggers to be truly threatening, however.
Auric Sentry – If you’re feeling defensive, this is the card for you. Attacks easily into many boards and is still back to block. Gives you a steady stream of warcry triggers and tough to stop if he becomes a 3/7 or larger.
Copperhall Baliff – Your best token defense. Mostly just for the summon effect, but warcry means he’s not a dead draw. Worth noting its another double justice card.
Spirit Guide – If you want to grind out aggro this is a way to do it. Turns your huge units into huge life swings, and gives you a pretty good unit to hold weapons. A more middle of the road approach than Silverwing, and you don’t usually run 4. Another double justice card.
Ijin, Imperial Armorer – The best lategame 3 drop, it’s activated ability makes it a must kill for many decks. Good for grinding out games if you don’t want to play too many high cost cards. Usually only 2 to 3 copies are run.
Sword of Icaria – The best defense is a good offense! A hybrid removal spell/threat against control, it clears the way and gives you a warcry trigger for your trouble. Good at snowballing games and a strong topdeck later on with warcry. Not very good against Combrei.
The Power Slot
You can’t run 25 power and 5 drops reliable. It’s unfortunate, but its true. You’ve basically got two major options – 26 power or 25 power and 3-4 Seek Power. If you’re running more high cost cards than those shown here, you may even want 27 power.
Note about power: Unearthly
I personally play Seek Power but wouldn’t run 27, I think you flood out too much.
Seek Power – If you’re planning on playing FFF or JJJ cards, you’re going to want seek power. Three is the minimum and I recommend 4. You don’t need to run more than 25 actual power if you run this.
Emerald Monument – The better option to help you reach 5 and not flood out late. If you play 27 power, play at least one monument for value.
Justice Sigil – If you want undepleted power over late game flood insurance, you want this card.
The Free Slots
The rest of these cards are options to fill out the rest of your deck. Want to play more aggressively? Choose some combat tricks and lower cost cards. Want more top end? Pick up some more five drops. This is a non-exhaustive list of cards not previously mentioned – you can choose free slot cards from those mentioned before, as well, or even something I haven’t thought of.
Most Common Flex Cards
Finest Hour – Best for beating relic weapons and blasting past blockers. Works best with Quickdraw or Aegis units. Good if you’re being aggressive.
Protect – Keep those units alive! Best if you’re facing a lot of single target removal spells.
Paladin Oathbook – Fantastic for snowballing an aggressive start. Works well with all combat abilities and units. Big friend of Tinker Overseer.
Righteous Fury – An interesting trick – it’s the best pure racing card in the game, killing control and swinging games vs aggro out of nowhere. You do need a unit in play and it doesn’t hold warcrys, so handle carefully. One or two are best for potential blowouts.
Fearless Nomad – The best option for one drops number 9 through 12. If you want low to the ground aggression, he offers it, but its not easy to assemble undepleted FJ on turn 1.
Groundbreaker – Spark this card, then play Deepforged Plate. Basically nobody can survive that. Even with Seek Power its tough to have this active on turn 4, especially if you’re also looking for JJ. A powerful if difficult to cast option.
Ornate Katana – Good with Quickdraw and flyers. Helps you cycle through your deck.
Obliterate – This card got a lot worse when Tavrod came out, and it can’t grab Warcrys. Good for ending games and clearing Titans out of the way.
Kaleb’s Favor – If you want to play FFF cards but don’t care about Justice.
Piercing Shot – The ultimate trump card vs other X/2s. Super dead against anything else. Handle with care.
Other Flex Cards
Auric Runehammer – The bigger version of Sword of Icaria. You’ve got some good 4 drops now so this isn’t really necessary for curve purposes, but one or two could be okay. It does kill opposing Firemaws.
Crownwatch Cavalry – Unless your name is Unearthly, move along, this is not a card.
Flame Blast – You can still play it, but it’s not as good. Usually weaker than Obliterate, if slightly more flexible.
Furnace Mage – Your usually more interested in killing your opponent that destroying relics, but this is one of your options. Maindeck Ruin on ladder seems deep.
Navani, Warsinger – Good for playing the long game – except you’re an aggro deck. Not greatly recommended, but Navani into Hammer of Might is something everyone needs to experience at least once.
Rise to the Challenge – Generally not the best option, but if your build really wants plate, this finds plate.
Steelfang Chakram – Nobody actually plays this card, but I hold out hope nonetheless. See Ornate Katana for details.
Tranquil Scholar – RNG the card. Cross your fingers and hope! Most abilities are worse than actually playing a real 2 drop, but it can be fun.
Twinstrike Mentor – Think of the upside!
aReNGee’s Rakano List
I’m going to end us off with talking about my particular build of Rakano and why I made the choices I did. I’ve been happiest with Rakano Outlaw in the 2 slot at the moment, preferring the natural warcry to Overseer’s flying. In the 3s, I went with a split between Shogun’s Scepter and trying out the new card Cinder Yeti. For my flex slots, I went with a greedier deck style and added two 5 drops and four Seek Powers. The resulting deck is a straightforward Rakano deck with no tricks, but a higher and more powerful curve than most. It’s what has worked for me, what will you decide to build?