I’m taking a break from Ixalan spoilers to tackle a special write-in.

Hey Levi,

I’m not sure if you remember me (I’m friends with Aaron). I’ve recently got into commander and am told your the source for all good things. I’m looking for a list for Razaketh, the Foulblooded. I’m looking for an optimum list. Cost is not an issue. Basically I’m looking to be unbeatable until Razaketh is banned. I know I’m a bad person. Here’s what I have currently:

Commander: Razaketh, the Foulblooded

Creatures: Hangarback Walker, Gravecrawler, Bloodghast, Leaden Myr, Plague Myr, Vampire Hexmage, Burnished Hart, Ophiomancer, Palladium Myr, Crypt Ghast, Mindslicer, Bloodgift Demon, Magus of the Coffers, Nirkana Revenant, Rune-Scarred Demon

Artifacts: Mana Crypt, Expedition Map, Mana Vault, Sol Ring, Jet Medallion, Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots, Ashnod’s Altar, Extraplanar Lens, Phyrexian Altar, Helm of Obedience, Thran Dynamo, Whip of Erebos, Gauntlet of Power, Gilded Lotus, Lifeline, Caged Sun

Sorceries: Bubbling Muck, Reanimate, Black Sun’s Zenith, Demonic Tutor, Exsanguinate, Ashes to Ashes, Damnation, Dread Return, Beacon of Unrest, Dark Petition, Army of the Damned, Decree of Pain, Rise of the Dark Realms

Instants: Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Go for the Throat, Dismember, Hero’s Downfall, Sudden Spoiling, Not of This World

Enchantments: Bitterblossom, Gate to Phyrexia, Attrition, Contamination, Leyline of the Void, Black Market, Exquisite Blood, Sanguine Bond

Planeswalkers: Liliana of the Dark Realms, Sorin Markov

Lands: 21 Swamp, Ancient Tomb, Bloodstained Mire, Bojuka Bog, Cabal Coffers, Cavern of Souls, Crypt of Agadeem, Dark Depths, Deserted Temple, Marsh Flats, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Polluted Delta, Thespian’s Stage, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Verdant Catacombs, Vesuva, Westvale Abbey

I appreciate the help if you’re willing. By the way, I enjoy your article series. Thanks.

So, yeah.

This request is coming from the same playgroup that I unleashed Aaron’s Memnarch deck on in my second column at Hipsters, so I figure it’s only fair that I level the playing field a little. If you happen to be part of this group, I’m sorry.

Now, Razaketh is a stupidly powerful card. Most commander players knew that Liliana’s third demon would be nuts as soon as The Foulblooded was previewed, but the question remained as to just how powerful a deck with him at the helm could be. Repeatable Demonic Tutors can ruin games, friendships and entire playgroups. But eight mana is a lot and requiring both creatures to sacrifice and a life payment makes Razaketh more difficult to abuse than say, Griselbrand. So how strong can we make him?

Obviously James’s desire to be completely unbeatable isn’t possible, but how close can we get? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to aim for a table kill on the turn you cast Razaketh. That might seem like a pretty tall claim, but watch and see.

Also, quick aside: I’m making a ton of changes to this deck, so I’ll be going through them pretty quickly.

Combos and Win Conditions


Exquisite Blood, Sanguine BondDark DepthsVampire Hexmage, Helm of ObedienceLeyline of the VoidArmy of the DamnedRise of the Dark Realms

This is basically the section of things you tutor for to end the game after Razaketh comes down. None of them are good enough. Razaketh does heavily push towards what I call A+B combos, but we have much better options at our disposal. Exquisite Blood and Sanguine Bond need an additional life input before the combo starts. Leyline fo the Void and Helm of Obedience can only take out one person per turn cycle. And Vampire Hexmage plus Dark Depths only gets you a 20/20 that would take, on average, another six turns to end the game.

As for Army of the Damned and Rise of the Dark Realms, just no. They’re both huge haymaker cards that usually thrive in this format, but in a deck as streamlined as we’re trying to make this one there isn’t room for an eight-mana card that doesn’t win the game on the spot.


Plague Belcher, Rings of BrighthearthStaff of DominationMikaeus the UnhallowedTriskelionNim DeathmantleGeralf’s Messenger

This section probably looks like it’s a bit all over the place, so let’s walk through it piece by piece.

Plague Belcher teams up with Gravecrawler and Phyrexian Altar to cause infinite life loss. Required tutors: 3. Required mana: 6.

Rings of Brighthearth combines with Basalt Monolith to make infinite colorless mana. Required tutors: 2. Required mana: 8.

Once you have infinite mana through this or one of a few other methods, tutor up Staff of Domination and draw cards until you find Exsanguinate. Alternatively, Staff will produce infinite mana if you have Magus of the Coffers and six Swamps.

Mikaeus the Unhallowed and Triskelion are the definitive two-card table-kill in mono black. It’s a bit expensive to pull off, but this is your best option if you’ve got excess mana and fewer sacrificial creatures to tutor for things. Mikaeus also has the added benefit of adding an infinite mana dimension to the Gravecrawler/Altar combo, as well as letting you get a ton of incidental value off of all of your sacrificial shenanigans. Required tutors: 2. Required mana: 12.

Nim Deathmantle is here for one simple reason: to do broken things with Ashnod’s Altar and Phyrexian Altar. Razaketh’s needs push you to run cheap creatures that either enter or leave the battlefield with additional bodies, which lets you turn Nim Deathmantle into an infinite-loop engine with the mana altars and potentially even net infinite mana.

The best creature for us to loop is Geralf’s Messanger, since you can sacrifice the messanger for two mana, get it back from undying, sacrifice it for another two mana to pay to return it with Nim Deathmantle and reset the loop, hitting an opponent for four in the process. Required tutors: 3. Required mana: 8.

Sacrifice Fodder


Bloodghast, Ophiomancer

Creatures that return themselves are good for this deck, but even under the most ideal circumstances you can only use Bloodghast twice in a turn—and that’s assuming you save your land drop until after Razaketh comes down, which is extremely unlikely.

Ophiomancer seems like it would be great, as a repeatable source of tokens. Problem is, you can never have more than one token from it at a time, which makes it terrible for trying to single-turn combo the table with Razaketh.


Carrier Thrall, Butcher GhoulDoomed DissenterMyr SireSifter of SkullsPawn of UlamogSu-ChiCathodionPriest of GixMarsh FlitterSengir AutocratEndrek Sahr, Master BreederGrave Titan

There’s a few different categories here, so lets hit the broad strokes. Carrier Thrall, Butcher Ghoul, Doomed Dissenter, and Myr Sire are more or less interchangeable, two-mana creatures that can be sacrificed twice, either because of undying or because they create a token upon death.

Pawn of Ulamog and Sifter of Skulls tack tokens onto any sacrifice that you make, giving you extra tutors or mana. It’s worth noting that Pawn gives you a Spawn when it dies, but Sifter only triggers off of other creatures dying.

Su-Chi, Cathodion, and Priest of Gix all give mana either upon death or entering the battlefield, making them ideal for looping with Nim Deathmantle. Su-Chi completely pays for its own reanimation, meaning you can tutor up as many cards as you can afford to pay life for. Cathodion and Priest of Gix aren’t quite that silly, but they can get you infinite mana off of Ashnod’s Altar before getting cashed in for a tutor. Even without the Deathmantle though, Su-Chi and Cathodion can act as Demonic Tutors that give you mana for playing them, which is pretty nuts.

Marsh Flitter, Sengir Autocrat, Endrek Sahr, and Grave Titan and fill out the ranks of your sacrifice fodder by being armies in a can. Each comes with three to eight bodies for one card—assuming you play Endrek the turn before Razaketh, he gives you eight Thrulls for casting your commander and dies before the demon enters play—and will single-handedly let you tutor up whatever game-ending combo you want and the ramp to race it out that turn.

It might seem like I’m adding a lot of fluff to the deck here, but it’s crucial to the deck’s gameplan to have three to six creaturres in play already by the time Razaketh hits the field.



Dark PetitionRune-Scarred Demon

This is pretty simple.  Both cards cost way too much to cast, especially when there’s cheaper options out there. You don’t have enough spells to turn on the spell mastery for Dark Petition reliably, or else I’d be keeping it.


Vampiric Tutor, Grim Tutor

James told me budget wasn’t an issue, and I’m taking that to heart. Grim Tutor is one of those cards that’s far more expensive than it has any right to be thanks to never getting a reprint, but a three mana tutor with a life payment is much, much better than a five or a seven mana tutor. Similar logic applies to Vampiric Tutor, as even though it’s technically card disadvantage the power to get whatever your hand needs to the top of your deck on turn one is absurd. More than anything else this deck craves consistency. Cheap, early tutors give you exactly that.



Burnished Hart, Black Market

Both of these are way too slow for where we want to be.


Hedron Crawler, Millikin,ManakinGrim MonolithBasalt Monolith, Doubling Cube,SacrificeSoldevi AdnateRain of FilthLion’s Eye Diamond, Overeager Apprentice

There’s three general sections here: creatures, rocks, and rituals. Hedron Crawler, Manakin, and Millikin aren’t the best ramp spells, but they get a pass because they turn into tutors once your commander is in play.

Grim Monolith and Basalt Monolith might not quite be the most broken mana rocks of all time—you’re already running those—but they’re pretty darn silly. Combined with your other ramp spells, they can power out a turn four Razaketh pretty easily. Doubling Cube is a bit of a pet card of mine, but in the worst case it lets you get your general out a little faster than normal, and in the best case it takes an already ramp heavy board and ensures you have four to six mana floating after the demon comes down.

Now we come to the rituals portion of the deck, and with it the single most important card in the whole deck—Sacrifice. It’s not a card people think about all that often, or even one that most people know about, but it enables the most explosive plays. Even with all of the slots I’ve dedicated to ramp in this deck, it seems pretty implausible to count on having more than one or two mana left over the turn you play Razaketh. But if we have a situation where there’s four creatures to sacrifice and even a single untapped land available, you can tutor up Plague Belcher, Phyrexian Altar, Gravecrawer, and Sacrifice. Play Sacrifice with Razaketh taking the fall to give you eight mana, then cast the combo cards you tutored up and kill the table. I really can’t overstate the importance of this card.

Soldevi Adnate gives you the same functionality as Sacrifice, except you need to play it the turn before Razaketh in order to reap those game-crushing benefits. That’s a perfectly fine hurdle to face, and while it isn’t quite as strong as it’s nonpermanent cousin the Adnate is absolutely worth a slot.

Rain of Filth doubles down on the all-in nature of the deck by letting you sacrifice your lands for an extra burst of mana. Once again, extremely risky, but these are the cards that let you be fast enough to get under most disruption—and keep up with the other competitive decks.

Lion’s Eye Diamond is Black Lotus, simple as that. Just use it in response to a Razaketh activation to get three mana while “keeping” the card you tutored for. Alternatively you can use it to cast Razaketh, as discarding your hand doesn’t interfere with the command zone at all.

Overeager Apprentice is the card I’m most unsure of in the list, as I can’t say how often you’ll have a spare card to discard without testing. But a burst of three free mana is always going to be welcome.



Gate to Phyrexia, AttritionMindslicer, Black Sun’s ZenithDecree of Pain, Ashes to AshesDamnationGo for the ThroatDismemberHero’s DownfallSudden SpoilingNot of this World

At this point it’s pretty obvious that I’ve added a lot more cards than I’ve cut, and those slots need to come from somewhere. I’m cutting the vast majority of the reactive spells in the list because we can’t spare the mana to use them on our crucial combo turn and played earlier they do more to slow us down than our opponents.


Infernal DarknessDefense GridChains of Mephistopheles

These are the kind of interactive spells I want. Preventative measures that you can slam early on to trip up your opponents for several turns and slow them down just enough that you aren’t worried about them outracing you. Chains of Mephistopheles will play havoc with any blue players at the table and wreck any deck aiming to play along the traditional lines of card advantage. Defense Grid keeps everyone to their own turns and does wonders to ensure nobody interrupts you when you try to end the game.

Infernal Darkness is nowhere near as good as Contamination, but played early it can shut off your opponent’s mana bases for several turns while you build up your ramp. Cumulative upkeep is a pain, but remember that you can sacrifice it the turn you intend to go off and avoid the pesky payment.



Whip of Erebos, LifelineReanimateDread ReturnBeacon of Unrest

To be honest, I’m cutting this entire section. Reanimation spells look like they’re here to add a layer of redundancy to the deck and let you grind through a few pieces of disruption, but it just isn’t necessary.


Living Death

If it becomes obvious they can stop whatever combo you’re setting up, tutor for Living Death and reset the board next turn—or now, if you have the mana. Just remember to feed all of your creatures to your sacrifice outlets first. Living Death also doubles as an early game wrath that gets around every protection not named Sigarda, Host of Herons or Tajuru Preserver, which could be hugely important if your group has powerful creature-based decks, aggro or otherwise.



Bloodgift DemonLightning GreavesSwiftfoot BootsLiliana of the Dark RealmsSorin Markov

These are a hodgepodge of cards that didn’t really fit into other categories. Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves are usually guaranteed slots in a deck as surefire ways to protect a crucial commander, but as I mentioned earlier Razaketh does everything you need in one shot at instant speed. Even Sacrifice is instant speed, so it really doesn’t matter if your opponents gun for him. In fact it’s beneficial to you if they waste interaction on Razaketh.

Bloodgift Demon is an ok card, but we really aren’t interested in card advantage and it’s a little slow, even in a normal deck.

Liliana and Sorin don’t really provide anything the deck wants. Liliana of the Dark Realms is a glorified ramp engine and a very slow one at that. Sorin, on the other hand, has a huge amount of his power tied up in the ability to set a player’s life total to ten. But our gameplan involves infinite damage, rendering the original Sorin completely irrelevant.



Bojuka BogCrypt of AgadeemThespian’s StageWestvale AbbeyBloodstained MireMarsh FlatsVerdant CatacombsPolluted Delta, 21 Swamp

Bojuka Bog and Crypt of Agadeem are getting cut to reduce the number of lands that enter the battlefield tapped, while Thespian’s Stage and Westvale Abbey are simply being replaced by Swamps because their utility is extremely limited for us, and the fact that Swamps interact favorably with a few cards—Gauntlet of Power, Caged Sun, and Magus of the Coffers.

The four fetchlands are simply didn’t synergize with anything. You had no reason to want to shuffle your deck, no cards other than Bloodghast that benefitted from landfall or having lands in your graveyard.


28 Snow-Covered Swamps, Lake of the Dead

The change to Snow-Covered Swamps is happening for two reasons. First, it keeps anyone else from benefitting off of your Extraplanar Lens. Second, it lets you benefit from any other black players with Extraplanar Lens, since every commander deck uses this trick these days. There’s actually a debate that you might be more likely to not give your opponents free mana by playing normal basics, but I’ll leave that up to your judgment since you know your playgroup and I don’t.

Lake of the Dead is an oft-overlooked card as it comes with heavy downsides. However, it’s perfect for an all in deck like this. Note that neither the land sacrificed when Lake of the Dead enters play nor the land you sacrifice to its second ability needs to be tapped, so on the turn that you play Lake of the Dead it doesn’t set you back at all. Save this to be your land drop on the turn you play Razaketh and its three free mana at no cost.

Putting it all together, here’s the finished list.

The Final List

Commander: Razaketh, the Foulblooded

Creatures: Hangarback Walker, Gravecrawler, Leaden Myr, Plague Myr, Pawn of Ulamog, Palladium Myr, Crypt Ghast, Magus of the Coffers, Nirkana Revenant, Hedron CrawlerGeralf’s MessengerSu-ChiCathodionPriest of Gix, Carrier ThrallButcher GhoulDoomed DissenterMyr SireSifter of SkullsMarsh FlitterSengir AutocratEndrek Sahr, Master BreederGrave TitanMillikinManakinPlague BelcherSoldevi AdnateTriskelionMikaeus, the UnhallowedOvereager Apprentice

Artifacts: Mana Crypt, Expedition Map, Mana Vault, Sol Ring, Jet Medallion, Ashnod’s Altar, Extraplanar Lens, Phyrexian Altar, Thran Dynamo, Gauntlet of Power, Gilded Lotus, Lifeline, Caged Sun, Grim Monolith, Basalt Monolith, Doubling CubeStaff of Domination, Defense Grid, Rings of BrighthearthNim DeathmantleLion’s Eye Diamond

Enchantments: Chains of MephistophelesInfernal DarknessContaminationBitterblossom

Spells: Vampiric TutorGrim TutorDemonic TutorExsanguinateSacrificeRain of FilthBubbling MuckDark RitualCabal RitualLiving Death

Lands: Ancient TombCabal CoffersCavern of SoulsDeserted TempleLake of the Dead, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, 28 Snow-Covered SwampUrborg, Tomb of YawgmothVesuva

Cards to Add

Butcher Ghoul    0.15
Doomed Dissenter    0.15
Myr Sire    0.15
Manakin    0.15
Overeager Apprentice    0.15
Soldevi Adnate    0.15
Pawn of Ulamog    0.25
Cathodion    0.25
Carrier Thrall    0.25
Sengir Autocrat    0.25
Hedron Crawler    0.25
Millikin    0.25
Sacrifice    0.25
Priest of Gix    0.39
Sifter of Skulls    0.49
Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder    0.49
Triskelion    0.59
Rain of Filth    0.59
Marsh Flitter    0.99
Plague Belcher    0.99
Basalt Monolith    1.49
Infernal Darkness    1.49
Nim Deathmantle    5.49
Defense Grid    5.99
Living Death    5.99
Geralf’s Messenger    9.99
Doubling Cube    11.99
Grave Titan    12.99
Staff of Domination    22.99
Lake of the Dead    24.99
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed    27.99
Su-Chi    29.99
Rings of Brighthearth    34.99
28 Snow-Covered Swamp    35
Vampiric Tutor    44.99
Grim Monolith    69.99
Lion’s Eye Diamond    139.99
Grim Tutor    224.99
Chains of Mephistopheles    399.99

Total    1118.5

James said that he had no constraint on his budget and I took that literally. At one thousand, one hundred and eighteen dollars this is by far the most expensive overhaul I’ve ever undertaken. I did everything I can think of to make the deck as fast and consistent as possible, and I look forward to hearing about the carnage it wrecks.

My next article will be something a little more lighthearted, or at the very least a lot less competitive. If you want your deck to be featured in a future Dear Azami, send the decklist to [email protected], along with a brief description of what issues the deck is having and what budget you want me to work with.

Levi Byrne has been with the game since Worldwake and has a rabid love for fantasy writing that goes back decades. Despite some forays into Legacy he plays Commander almost exclusively, and has a love for the crazy plays and huge games that make Magic what it is. He was the go-to advisor of his playgroup on deck construction for more than five years before joining Dear Azami.

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