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Golgari: Creep and Conquer
|“||The Golgari Swarm are the ultimate scavengers, finding the utmost value in every life and in every death. This deck puts that philosophy into action, making the most of every creature on the battlefield and every creature card in your graveyard.
Your first mission is defense. Although the deck has removal spells like Tragic Slip and Ultimate Price to make that job easier, your primary weapon will be wave after wave of willing blockers to trade with your opponent's creatures. Creatures with the scavenge ability, like Slitherhead, Drudge Beetle, and Dreg Mangler are key to this effort. Also consider blocking with Dawntreader Elk even if it's not powerful enough to take down the creature it's blocking: you avoid taking damage, and you can sacrifice Dawntreader Elk to get an extra land.
Once you've blunted your opponent's initial assault, it's time to start attacking. Remember all the scavenge creatures that ended up in your graveyard? Now that you have some breathing room, you can start piling up +1/+1 counters on Daggerdrome Imp and Vampire Nighthawk, which are both flying creatures with lifelink. Your opponent will have a hard time winning a damage race against them. Creatures with the soulbond mechanic, like Trusted Forcemage, Druid's Familiar, and Wolfir Silverheart, also contribute to your plan to turn your creatures into strong offensive threats.
Korozda Guildmage provides useful support at all stages of the game, whether you're trying to stabilize, on the attack, or locked in a standstill. Its first ability not only lets one of your creatures sneak past potential blockers but can also deter your opponent from attacking by threatening to make your creatures bigger. Its second ability turns a big creature into a number of 1/1 Saprolings that you can use as desperation blockers or to outflank your opponent's creatures on offense. Korozda Guildmage's abilities can even work together: giving a creature +1/+1 before you sacrifice it gives you an extra Saproling!
When it's time to sideboard, think about your opponent's strategy. If your opponent is killing all your creatures, bring in Strangleroot Geist. Its undying ability makes it twice as difficult to get rid of. If your opponent relies on returning cards from the graveyard, Vile Rebirth will muck up those plans while providing you a surprise attacker. Your main deck has plenty of creature removal, but if the major threats against you are planeswalkers, artifacts, or lands, turn to Bramblecrush, Duress, and Ghost Quarter instead.
The "Creep and Conquer" deck excels at creating battlefield advantages through a mix of resilient, reusable creatures and efficient creature removal. If you prefer the creature angle, Vorapede (from the Dark Ascension set) and Jarad, Golgari Lich-Lord are both strong threats with built-in defense mechanisms. If you like having answers for your opponents' best threats, look for Abrupt Decay and the planeswalker Vraska the Unseen.
Rakdos: Wrack and Rage
|“||The Cult of Rakdos spreads pain and mayhem wherever they go, and this deck has the same singular focus. The show kicks off with quick, aggressive creatures that make a brutal impression on your opponents. The second act is a display of fireworks, a flurry of burn spells pointed at players and creatures alike. And for the grand finale? Watch the curtains close on the smoldering battlefield.
The unleash mechanic is a crucial weapon in the Rakdos arsenal. It lets you trade the ability to block for a +1/+1 counter, and that's a trade this deck is willing to make. A first-turn Rakdos Cackler leading into the monstrous Hellhole Flailer really puts the screws to your opponent. Just try not to laugh maniacally when your opponent attacks you back in an ill-fated attempt to race.
Many of the deck's creatures amp up your damage output on the turn they enter the battlefield. Rakdos Shred-Freak has haste, and Lightning Mauler shares haste with another creature while it's paired. Stonewright is another soulbond creature, and the ability it grants will convert all your spare red mana into damage! And no matter what else is going on, Rix Maadi Guildmage gleefully piles on extra life loss.
The rest of your spells advance the general plan of raining fiery death and destruction. Early on, while blockers are few and easily removed, point spells like Pillar of Flame and Brimstone Volley at any creatures that might get in the way of your attack. Nightbird's Clutches and Mizzium Mortars are both excellent at clearing out a large number of blockers. Save them for turns when you can force through the most attackers and the most damage. Later in the game, point your burn spells straight at your opponent and finish the job.
Your main deck is so focused that you won't swap out many cards while sideboarding. If you're facing a bunch of 1/1 tokens, replace some of your Pillar of Flames with Electrickery. If hard-to-kill fatties are giving you trouble, turn to Murder and Ultimate Price to clear them out of the way. Brimstone Volley can punish decks with lots of creature kill. And you can always bring in Faithless Looting to replace any card that isn't pulling its weight.
After playing with this deck, you may have a favorite side of it that you want to develop further. If brutally efficient creatures are your cup of tea, look for the Dark Ascension set's Falkenrath Aristocrat. If you prefer eliminating anything that moves and finishing off your opponent with whatever tools you have left, try Dreadbore, a sorcery that reads simply "Destroy target creature or planeswalker." And Stensia Bloodhall from the Innistrad set is a land that can help you deal critical damage to your opponent.