Few of Magic: The Gathering’s color identities are as aggressive and focused on dealing damage as the black and red pairing, Rakdos. Often dealing large sums of damage to every player (including themselves), Rakdos decks are some of the most offense-oriented in the game, resulting in them being rather polarizing for players.
Due to the massive card pool Rakdos has amassed over Magic’s history, you have many viable options to choose from when constructing a Commander deck. Selecting a commander is often a daunting task, as each potential leader comes alongside its own set of pros and cons. So without further ado, we’re going to dive into our list of the best commanders that Rakdos has to offer!
Updated May 17 by Chris Stomberg: Rakdos is one of the most raved about color pairs in all of Magic thanks to its focus on sacrifice effects and use of popular creature types including Demons, Vampires, Dragons, Devils, Imps, and more. Players who are interested in being the bad guy need look no further than this color pair as the way it plays often sees you discarding or sacrificing your own subordinates in order to achieve some kind of greater power. Thanks to this, Rakdos plays in a rather different way from other color pairs and strategies, making piloting Rakdos decks a quite memorable experience.
23 Blim, Comedic Genius
Blim is a commander with a very cool design: albeit one that sometimes doesn’t pan out. The problem with commanders like this is that they don’t offer any immediate value upon being cast. As a result, it’s easy for opponents to gain a mana advantage by simply removing Blim for less mana every time you try and cast him. It doesn’t help that Blim has only three toughness, making him an easy target for even the cheapest removal spells.
All that being said, a deck that has ways to provide Blim protection or give him haste could see success with this effect, especially if you’re playing other cards that force opponents to trade permanents with one another or give them permanents of your own. No doubt, Blim’s triggered effect is incredibly powerful. The problem is ensuring that it triggers in the first place.
As the card’s name suggests, Blim is a commander that’s funny more than anything, as building a deck around giving permanents to other players is rather counterintuitive. That being said, there are some really cool synergies to be had here thanks to cards like Goldnight Castigator, Demonic Pact, Abyssal Persecutor, and many more.
22 Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant
Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant is a commander perfect for those looking to encourage (and force) opponents to attack each other. For five mana, this 5/5 Beholder states that whenever you attack an opponent, you can tap a creature that player controls, goading it in the process.
Not only does this reliably force opponents to attack each other each turn, but whenever an opponent attacks another one of your opponents, you and the attacking player each draw a card and lose one life. This provides you with a benefit from opponents attacking each other whilst simultaneously incentivizing them to do so, even if you aren’t forcing them to through the goad mechanic.
21 Florian, Voldaren Scion
Florian, Voldaren Scion is a unique commander option that allows you to convert damage dealt to your opponents into card selection, allowing for key cards in your deck to be more reliably accessed. A 3/3 Vampire Noble with first strike for three mana, at the beginning of your post-combat main phase, you can look at the top X cards of your library where X is the amount of life your opponents lost that turn.
You can then exile one of those cards, gaining the ability to play that exiled card that turn. When dealing significant damage to opponents, Florian can dig deep into your deck, meaning you’ll be more reliably able to access specific types of cards, even without the need for tutors.
20 Mahadi, Emporium Master
Mahadi, Emporium Master is an incredibly underrated option for a Rakdos Aristocrats commander. Reasonably cost at three mana, this 3/3 Cat Devil states that at the beginning of your end step, you create a treasure token for each creature that died this turn.
While Mahadi can provide substantial mana ramp through the use of powerful sacrifice outlets, if it’s cast in the wake of a devastating board wipe, it can convert an entire board state of creatures into a massive pile of treasure tokens! Now that’s a good deal.
19 Raphael, Fiendish Savior
Raphael, Fiendish Savior is a commander that synergizes with several fiendish creature types, providing other Demons, Devils, Imps, and Tieflings you control with +1/+1 and lifelink. While this simultaneously provides an offensive benefit and access to additional life, Raphael can make great use of powerful sacrifice outlets like Ashnod’s Altar. This is because at the beginning of each end step, if a creature you controlled died, you can create a 1/1 Devil token.
Not only can sacrifice outlets be used to create Devils but if these Devils are sacrificed, they can be used to deal one damage to any target, potentially serving as removal for opponents’ utility creatures. Get enough of these creatures on the board and blocking quickly becomes an absolute nightmare for opponents.
18 Rivaz of the Claw
Recently printed as part of Dominaria United, Rivaz of the Claw is an excellent option for a Rakdos Dragon tribal commander, simultaneously offering mana ramp and recursion. For the efficient cost of three mana, this 3/3 Viashino Warlock can be tapped to produce two mana in any combination of colors.
While this mana may only be spent to cast Dragons, this is an impressive mana ramp for a color combination not well-known for mana accelerants.
Furthermore, Rivaz states that once per turn, you may cast a Dragon from your graveyard, not only providing your Dragons with an insurance policy but also turning your graveyard into a potential source of card advantage as long as it’s stocked with potential Dragons to cast.
17 Valki, God Of Lies
Valki is a unique commander, in that he functions as a creature that can provide information about opponents’ plans and potentially slow them down from playing creatures in the early game, while offering extreme value as a planeswalker in the late game. Thanks to Valki’s enter the battlefield trigger hitting each opponent, a turn two Valki cast lets you know what everyone’s holding in their hand.
This can be extremely useful information in a game of Commander, as it lets you know what everyone’s up to in the very first turns of the game. Additionally, you can use this information to try and influence opposing players into attacking one another.
In some cases, you may even be able to barter with the information. A last thing to note is that since Valki allows you to see all of your opponents’ hands, he lets you know when it’s “safe” to cast himself as you become aware of whether people have removal in hand.
16 The Scorpion God
One of the three forgotten Gods of Amonkhet, The Scorpion God is a commander who synergizes with -1/-1 counters. While you can’t play more than a handful of games of Commander without stumbling upon numerous +1/+1 counter synergies and decks, -1/-1 counter decks are few and far between.
When it comes to commanders who benefit from inflicting -1/-1 counters upon your foes, The Scorpion God is one of the best. A 6/5 for five mana, The Scorpion God draws a card for its controller each time a creature with a -1/-1 counter on it dies. This ability both works well in conjunction with effects that place -1/-1 counters on opponents’ creatures, as well as your own creatures that enter the battlefield with these counters on them already.
While a Scorpion God deck would likely be constructed to contain numerous effects that put -1/-1 counters on creatures, in case one is ever in need, for three mana, The Scorpion God can put a -1/-1 counter on a creature at any time.
15 Chainer, Nightmare Adept
A relatively straightforward graveyard-oriented Commander, Chainer, Nightmare Adept is a commander who enables and incentivizes its controller to cast creatures from their graveyard. A problem that some graveyard commanders run into is a lack of consistent access to their graveyard. Chainer fixes this problem immediately, but allowing its controller to discard a creature in order to be able to cast a creature from their graveyard that turn.
This simultaneously fills the graveyard while utilizing it for value. Additionally, non-token creatures that enter the battlefield that entered from somewhere besides the Chainer player’s hand gain haste, further incentivizing the use of the graveyard.
14 Olivia Volderen
Rakdos’ premier option for a Vampire commander, Olivia Volderen is perhaps one of the most flavorful Vampires to ever be printed on a Magic card. A 3/3 Vampire for four mana, Olivia’s controller can pay two mana at any time to have Olivia deal two damage to any other creature, turning it into a Vampire in the process, and putting a +1/+1 counter on Olivia.
While biting opponents’ creatures and turning them into vampires is well and good, for five mana, Olivia can gain control of any other vampire. When working in conjunction with other vampires that buff other Vampires, such as Captivating Vampire, Olivia decks are capable of stealing creatures and making them more powerful than they were under their owner’s control.
13 Xancha, Sleeper Agent
An overtly political commander, Xancha, Sleeper Agent is a fun commander who incentivizes cooperation from other players. As Commander is a multiplayer format, it’s important for players to remember that other players can be utilized as an alternative resource through mind games and deals. Xancha is a 5/5 for only three mana, who upon entering the battlefield, is put under the control of an opponent. While this ability may appear inherently terrible, Xancha’s other abilities more than make up for it.
Firstly, Xancha attacks each possible combat, but cannot attack her owner or planeswalkers they control. This means that Xancha will be causing problems for other players at the commander table regardless of whose she’s attacking. Additionally, Xancha has an ability that any player can activate which draws that player a card and causes Xancha’s controller to lose two life, making the possession of Xancha more of a curse than a blessing.
12 Judith, The Scourge Diva
As Rakdos decks are often associated with quickness and damage, it’s no surprise that among the ranks of potential Rakdos commanders lies Judith, the Scourge Diva, a commander who incentivizes her controller to attack as frequently as possible.
A 2/2 for three mana, Judith does not care whether one’s creatures survive, only that they are attacking, dealing damage, and dying. This is reflected in her ability of providing +1/+0 to all creatures under her owner’s control. Additionally, whenever a nontoken creature under the control of her owner dies, Judith deals one damage to any target. Judith synergies well with cheap and quick creatures and those capable of returning themselves from the battlefield.
11 Olivia, Crimson Bride
The central antagonist and bride of the wedding of Innistrad: Crimson Vow, Olivia, Crimson Bride is a great option for a Rakdos reanimator deck. A 3/4 with flying and haste for six mana, when Olivia attacks, you can put a creature from your graveyard onto the battlefield, tapped and attacking.
While that card is exiled if you don’t have a legendary Vampire in play, Olivia can be a great way to cheat massive high-impact threats into play if your deck has an easy way of putting them into the graveyard.
10 Obosh, The Preypiercer
Obosh, the Preypiercer is a five-mana commander printed in Ikoria that offers a simple yet very effective ability that can greatly increase its controller’s damage output. A 3/5 hellion horror for five mana, Obosh states that if a source under your control with an odd mana value would deal damage to a permanent or player, it deals twice as much damage instead.
This allows efficient one-mana spells such as Lightning Bolt to deal six damage rather than six, and higher-mana creatures that cost three, five, and seven mana to deal absurd amounts of damage.
9 Kardur, Doomscourge
Printed in Kaldheim, Kardur, Doomscourge is a 4/3 Demon Berserker for four mana that can cause one’s opponents to deal massive amounts of damage to each other. Upon entering the battlefield, your opponent’s creatures must attack on their next turn if able, and they must attack a player other than you if possible.
In an effect reminiscent of goading, this effect not only forces player to use their resources to deal damage to each other, but it temporarily protects you from harm. Kardur can even provide additional value from these forced attacks, causing each opponent to lose one life and its controller to gain one life whenever an attacking creature dies.
8 Juri, Master Of The Revue
Juri is a commander that synergizes with the most prominent subtheme in Rakdos: sacrificing permanents. Consequently, it could be said that Juri is the commander that best embodies Rakdos as a color pair. Thanks to Juri’s low mana value, it’s easy to cast him from the command zone again and again in order to rack up sweet sacrifice value.
While Juri can work great as an attacker once you’ve got a sacrifice engine going, his true power comes from the damage he deals when he dies. Since this damage can be pointed at any target, you can use it to take care of opposing creatures, planeswalkers, battles, and even go upstairs and finish off opponent’s life totals. That’s the kind of versatility we like to see in a commander.
7 Strefan, Maurer Progenitor
Though it will be hard to dethrone Edgar Markov as the definitive choice for a Vampire commander, Strefan, Maurer Progenitor makes a solid case for those looking to build a Rakdos Vampire deck. For four mana, Strefan is a 3/2 with flying that creates a Blood token for each player who lost life that turn at the beginning of its controller’s end step.
While Blood tokens are normally solid, Strefan provides a stellar alternative use for them. Whenever this commander attacks, you can sacrifice two Blood tokens, putting any Vampire from your hand onto the battlefield tapped and attacking if you do. This allows you to cheat the biggest and baddest Vampires in the game out onto the battlefield for a negligible cost.
6 Kroxa, Titan Of Death’s Hunger
Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger is one of the most unique Rakdos commanders to ever be printed. Only two mana to cast, Kroxa essentially functions as a sorcery capable of being cast from the command zone. This is due to its ability that causes it to be immediately sacrificed as long as it wasn’t cast from the command zone.
Upon being cast, Kroxa causes each opponent to discard a card, dealing three damage to those who chose to discard a land.
Additionally, Kroxa can be cast from the graveyard for four mana, as long as five other cards are exiled from the graveyard as he is cast. This means that, after initially being cast, Kroxa’s controller will never be required to pay Commander Tax, as Kroxa can merely be cast from the graveyard.
5 Mogis, God Of Slaughter
Theros’ black and red God, Mogis, God of Slaughter, is meant to represent the violent and morbid aspects of war.
Costing four mana, after being cast, Mogis immediately becomes a taxing plague upon the rest of the commander table. At the beginning of each opponent’s upkeep, Mogis presents a choice: that player either sacrifices a creature or they take two damage. While taking two damage may initially appear inconsequential, this damage quickly adds up and begins to take its toll, growing increasingly noticeable as a game progresses.
4 Grenzo, Dungeon Warden
While there are numerous cards throughout Magic that manipulate and care about the top card of a player’s library, Grenzo, Dungeon Warden has the distinction of being one of the few cards in the game to care about the bottom of a player’s library.
A 2/2 for two mana, while being cast, you can pay any amount of mana. You then put that many +1/+1 counters on Grenzo. Not only does this allow Grenzo’s size to scale with when it is cast in the game, it synergizes very well with this Goblin’s second ability, by ensuring Grenzo has a higher power than the creatures on the bottom of your library.