Magic The Gathering Arena Rakdos and Jund Manabase Guide

by awkward silence

With Ravnica Allegiance spoilers rolling out over the next few weeks, it’s finally time to start crafting some potential manabases for the upcoming standard format. Formats are a function of the strength of individual cards, but also the ease with which one can cast them. With the addition of the final five shocklands, all of the two and three color combinations are finally within our reach.

Today, we begin with Rakdos and Jund. This will be the first of six posts. I will cover each of the RNA guilds and five of the newly-supported shards and wedges. The sixth post will revisit the five shards and wedges that I previously covered, as well as 4 and 5 color manabases.

A quick note on methodology: The manabases below are meant to be general recommendation based on Frank Karsten’s updated article. These are not meant as gospel or hard-and-fast rules, but rather guidelines to get you started in your brewing process. Most of the recommended manabases will get you to casting your spells on time with at least a 90% certainty— or higher, for expensive spells. However, it may ultimately be correct to run more or less of a given mana source than it seems on the surface, given cantrips, fixing, gameplay considerations, etc. Let your testing results be your guide.


Level 0: I want to run Bedevil

If you played during Theros standard a few years back, you’ll remember that Hero’s Downfall was a flexible and powerful answer. Since then, we’ve had some sorcery speed variants, but Bedevil is a return to instant-speed form. If Rakdos, Jund or Mardu become popular, you can bet this card will be staple of the format. You might snag an artifact now and again. But most of the time, I’ll be pointing this at Teferi while making squealy-devil noises. But how badly will this card Bedevil our manabases?

There are a number of powerful three drop creatures and planeswalkers worth destroying on-schedule, so lets shoot for a turn 3 Bedevil. In a straight Rakdos manabase, we want 19 black sources, 12 red sources and at least 23 total RB producing lands. Here’s a general 23-land Rakdos manabase that might support casting Bedevil on turn 3 with a high degree of certainty:

4 Blood Crypt
4 Dragonskull Summit
11 Swamp
4 Mountain

I should note that Kartsen recommends slightly more demanding requirements for gold cards than he did in his previous article. But given that the lands will primarily produce black, you might get away with 11 red. This is also enough to run Vraska’s Contempt, which requires just 16 black sources.


Level 1: I want to run Bedevil and Rekindling Phoenix

Let’s talk midrange for a second. If we want double red by turn 4, and double black by turn 3, the manabase starts looking a little more challenging. Bedevil asks us for 19 black sources in a split manabase, and Rekindling Phoenix wants about 16 red sources. Given that we are curving out to at least 4 mana, we can shoot for 24 lands. Here’s what this might look like:

4 Bedevil
3 Rekindling Phoenix

4 Blood Crypt
4 Dragonskull Summit
1-2 Rakdos Guildgate
8 Swamp
7-8 Mountain

Guildgates are ugly, but helpful for midrange decks trying to stretch their colors. This manabase cheats a little on a turn 3 Bedevil, since you’d otherwise have to make room for 2 more black sources. If you want that certainty, drop a mountain for a Guildgate. Adding more lands is another solution, and for each Guildgate you cut, you can add a pair of basics to replace it and wind up with the same total number of sources.

I should note that you could cut the Guildgates and just accept a slightly lower percent chance that you’ll have your colors on time here (3%-4%). I’m just giving you a conservative estimate. This manabase also supports Rakdos Firewheeler, and pretty much any other RR spell that costs 4 or more.

But what about Chainwhirler and Bedevil? This came up in a thread earlier in the week. The triple red in the casting cost is quite an obstacle. You need 23 red sources to cast Chainwhirler on turn 3 with a high degree of certainty. That’s nearly every land in your deck. If we do this by-the-numbers with Bedevil and Chainwhirler, the manabase looks like… well, see for yourself:

4 Goblin Chainwhirler
4 Bedevil

4 Blood Crypt
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Rakdos Guildgate
1-3 Cinder Barrens
2-4 Swamp
8 Mountain

This is a really loose attempt, going to 21 red sources and 17 black sources. Things are still looking a little difficult. You could add more Swamps or Cinder Barrens to hedge having your Chainwhirler vs Bedevil casting on time. But honestly, I think that’s just too ambitious. It’s here if you want to try it, though.


Level 2: I want to run Rakdos Chainwhirler Aggro

Is there another possible Rakdos Chainwhirler deck, though? The mono-red decks from the last standard were a really powerful option early on. Rix Maadi Reveler is a card that could make a light black splash in our Chainwhirler decks worthwhile. Chainwhirler requires 23 red sources, and the Spectacle on the Reveler requires 10 black sources. In a pinch, if you don’t have the black, the Reveler is still castable, which helps. This looks absolutely do-able.

4 Rix-Maadi Reveler
4 Goblin Chainwhirler

4 Blood Crypt
4 Dragonskull Summit
0-1 Rakdos Guildgate
14 Mountain
1-2 Swamp

If you don’t like the Guildgate in your aggro deck, don’t run it and just run a Swamp. You go down to 22 red sources, but that’s still a 91% chance to hit Chainwhirler on time. Pretty good odds. Bedevil isn’t really an option here unless you want to run a million taplands.


Level 3: I want to run Rakdos Burn

Early in GRN standard, a Rakdos Burn deck popped up in the first batch or two of 5-0 magic online lists. The deck likely wants to slam 1 drops like Fanatical Firebrand, and the earliest black spell that you need to cast is probably Sovereign’s Bite. It’s actually a cool deck, using Sword Point Diplomacy and Risk Factor to recharge when your opponent is low on life. The mana is mostly easy here, with 14 untapped red sources for turn 1, and 13 black sources:

4 Fanatical Firebrand
4 Sovereign’s Bite

4 Blood Crypt
4 Dragonskull Summit
10 Mountain
4-5 Swamp

This is 22-23 lands. I think it’s probably correct to run 22 in this deck, so you can probably accept a slightly lower chance (2%) of a turn 2 Sovereign’s Bite by going to 4 Swamp. If you want Goblin Chainwhirler in here, you could try…

4 Fanatical Firebrand
4 Sovereign’s Bite
4 Goblin Chainwhirler

4 Blood Crypt
4 Dragonskull Summit
13 Mountain
0-2 Rakdos Guildgate
1-3 Swamp


Level 4: I want to run Rakdos Pirate Tribal

One of the most powerful lands we have access to in standard is Unclaimed Territory. There were overt tribal themes in Ixalan, Rivals, Dominaria and M19. But we can also use Unclaimed Territory as a catch-all fixer for various races and classes that don’t have specific tribal support, like Gruul Warriors and Mardu Humans. Pirates have never really had their time in the sun, but a blisteringly fast Rakdos pirate deck has become possible with the newly printed Blood Crypt. We can even run both sets of red and black one drop pirates!

4 Daring Buccaneer
4 Grasping Scoundrel
4 Lightning Strike

4 Unclaimed Territory
4 Blood Crypt
2 Dragonskull Summit
6 Mountain
6 Swamp

Just be aware that casting heavy RR or BB non-pirate spells will be a pain with this manabase, as Unclaimed Territory doesn’t count as a red or black source.


Level 5: I am in doubt, and want to Jund ‘em out

Jund is more than just a three-color combination. Jund is a way of life. Do you want powerful threats? Do you want flexible answers? Do you want to go 51% against the field? You may be a Jund player. Right now, standard Jund has a few directions to go. The most obvious is the natural extension of the current Golgari decks. The combination of Assassin’s Trophy and Bedevil is a powerful removal package that can handle most threats at instant speed.

2 Vivien Reid
4 Bedevil
3 Assassin’s Trophy

4 Stomping Ground
4 Blood Crypt
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Woodland Cemetery
4 Dragonskull Summit
0-1 Golgari Guildgate
2-3 Swamp
2 Forest

This 18-19 black sources, 14 green sources, and 12 red sources. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. You could try adding some red sources for something like Rekindling Phoenix, or some other RR spell, by taking out 2 Forest for 2 Rootbound Crag. District Guide is also an option, if you cut a forest for a mountain. Llanowar Elves are possible in this list, but be aware that you only have 10 untapped G sources for the turn 1 elf. Not horrible— almost 80% likelihood of a turn 1 untapped green source.

If you want to run Jadelight Ranger and Bedevil, though, things start looking difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Take a look:

4 Jadelight Ranger
4 Bedevil

4 Stomping Ground
4 Blood Crypt
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Woodland Cemetery
2 Dragonskull Summit
2 Rootbound Crag
3 Golgari Guildgate
1 Swamp
1 Forest

Trying to use Jadelight and Bedevil is a good example of the breaking point of the manabases of the format. You can technically do it, but you start running into all sorts of problems when you want double pips by turns 3 AND a third color splash. You have to run taplands, which isn’t fatal, but that means that your checklands start looking worse. You’ll have games where you have a cascading failure of lands entering the battlefield tapped because you don’t have the right basic land type. If you choose not to run the taplands, then you’ll have games where you just don’t have your colors on time. Over the course of a 15 round tournament, that’s bound to come up and bite you. You can’t get everything you want, even with 10 shocks and 10 checks.


Level 6: I want to run Jund Monsters

Slanting in a more aggressive direction, what if we want a robust Gruul deck that splashes black for Assassin’s Trophy? Llanowar Elves are a must for this strategy, as slamming a Gruul Spellbreaker on turn 2 sounds like everything I want to do in standard.

4 Llanowar Elves
4 Gruul Spellbreaker
3 Assassin’s Trophy

4 Stomping Ground
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Blood Crypt
3 Dragonskull Summit
3 Mountain
6 Forest

If you really want Bedevil, you need 7+ more black sources, so your Llanowar Elves will probably get worse. Something to consider.

4 Llanowar Elves
4 Gruul Spellbreaker
3 Bedevil

4 Stomping Ground
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Blood Crypt
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Woodland Cemetery
2 Rakdos Guildgate
2 Forest


Level 7: I want to run Chainwhirler with Status//Statue

Now that we have the correct set of red shock lands, we finally might be able to pull off the Status/Chainwhirler combo. For the uninitiated, if you give Goblin Chainwhirler deathtouch with the Status half while the ETB trigger is on the stack, it turns into a one-sided board wipe. The colors for this combo are a little funky— because of the hybrid nature of Status, you can count both green and black sources as potential ways to cast it. This gives you a lot of flexibility to cast Chainwhirler off of R/x shocks and checks.

4 Goblin Chainwhirler
4 Status//Statue

4 Blood Crypt
4 Stomping Ground
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Dragonskull Summit
0-1 Overgrown Tomb
7-8 Mountain

This manabase gives you 8 green and 8 black sources, which should get you to a turn 4 statue about 88% of the time. But that’s a total of 16 “status” sources for the combo on turn 4, so you’re good to go on Chainwhirler mass murder. If you want to increase the Statue odds, you can cut a mountain and add a few Overgrown Tomb. I don’t think it’s strictly necessary, but the option is available to you. I would rather have all my lands produce red for my Chainwhirler. You could also go down to 10 or 11 total GB sources if you want to maximize the consistency of the red mana and don’t care about casting Statue ever.


Level 8: I want to run Jund Dragons

If you read my last series of posts for Guilds of Ravnica standard, you’ll know that my love for Sarkhan, Fireblood knows no bounds. He’s filtering. He’s mana fixing. He’s a game-ending threat. Basically, he frickin’ rules. We even got a sweet new 5 drop dragon, Skargan Hellkite, to replace the thoroughly medium Demanding Dragon.

Jund Dragons seems like a straightforward fit. There are a few black dragons in standard, and black removal can help keep Sarkhan ticking. Sarkhan’s fixing is somewhat reliable for draconic purposes, so we can cheat on some of the numbers. Here’s what Jund dragons might look like:

4 Llanowar Elves
4 Sarkhan, Fireblood
1 Vaevictis, the Dire
1 Darigaaz, Reignited

4 Stomping Ground
4 Overgrown Tomb
2 Blood Crypt
4 Rootbound Crag
2 Forest
8 Mountain

Or, alternatively:

4 Sarkhan Fireblood
1 Vaevictis, the Dire
1 Darigaaz, Reincarnated
4 Bedevil

4 Blood Crypt
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Rakdos Guildgate
3 Stomping Ground
3 Overgrown Tomb
3 Mountain
3 Swamp


That’s an opening salvo for Rakdos and Jund. Please let me know in the comments if any of my numbers are off, or if there is an obvious potential manabase that I’ve missed. I’ve also been known to confuse the names of the shocklands and checklands with relative frequency, but that’s mostly R&D’s fault.

If some more key cards are spoiled (༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ give new Domri ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ) I’ll update this post accordingly. EDIT: They revealed Domri, but he’s super easy to cast at 2RG. You just need 11R and 11G. Most of the Jund manabases above can cast it.

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