As befits a prankster, Rankle, Master of Pranks is a long-lost Lorwyn card, thrown forward in time to when he can wreak the most havoc. Lorwyn block suffered under the tyranny of Faeries—the combination of a cheap token producer in Bitterblossom plus the Time WalkAir Elemental hybrid that was Mistbind Clique meant no other deck could put up results. The Top 8 of 2008 Worlds, as found here, was a great example: out of the top lists, six ran a full set of Bitterblossoms. Faeries was a menace and a mistake—mirror matches were painful, and Morningtide’s theme of Class warfare didn’t amount to anything up against the flying armies. My pet deck at the time, Rogues, went 0-3 every Friday night.

Here’s what I recall the deck being at the time—as a poor college student, I couldn’t afford Blossoms of my own, and had few Thoughtseizes to my name.


Creatures (27)
Prickly Boggart
Nightshade Stinger
Frogtosser Banneret
Oona's Blackguard
Stinkdrinker Bandit
Earwig Squad
Boggart Mob

Spells (10)
Nameless Inversion
Morsel Theft
Lands (23)
17 Swamp
Howltooth Hollow

The curve was great if you nailed the turn one Prickly Boggart or Nightshade Stinger, followed by a Blackguard or Bandit, then turn three Earwig Squad. If you stumbled, though, it lost to everything—and the Faeries matchup was miserable.

Ironically, while he’s a Faerie himself, Rankle feels like the Rogue deck condensed into one card, with just a hint of Liliana of the Veil. Coupled with the closest thing we’ve seen to Bitterblossom since 2007 and a very sneaky Dark Confidant analogue in Robber of the Rich, Rogues has what it takes to take Standard by storm.


Creatures (18)
Robber of the Rich
Stormfist Crusader
Murderous Rider
Judith, Scourge Diva
Rankle, Master of Pranks

Spells (19)
Bag of Holding
Dreadhorde Invasion
Light Up the Stage
Theater of Horrors
Carnival // Carnage
Lands (23)
Blood Crypt
Fabled Passage

The mana is tough, no getting around that. Without Dragonskull Summit, Temple of Malice, or another suitable dual, you’re left with Blood Crypt and the slow but passable Fabled Passage. I’ve never missed Unclaimed Territory more; of course, with Eldraine out for 70-odd hours, I’ve never missed it before. Hopefully, subsequent sets will reintroduce better fixing; until then, we have the blessed Blood Crypt and the London mulligan.

It also seems odd to let them draw cards with Stormfist when we’re trying to deprive them of resources, but the ping per turn tightens up your clock and turns on your Theater of Horrors. It might be better off as Spawn of Mayhem, but I like the lower cost and card draw of the Crusader.

The purpose of this deck is to play out your hand and put pressure on the opponent via your board state: an early Dreadhorde Invasion lets you start building an army or feed your Rankle; and Bag of Holding, Robber of the Rich, and Theater of Horrors let you hide cards from Rankle until you’re ready to deploy them. The Prerelease last weekend only cemented my love of Adventure cards, which play like invulnerable flashback cards. It’s especially appreciated in this deck, as a Murderous Rider in exile is a card that can’t be lost to your own Rankle.

A few Rogues are necessary to help out Robber of the Rich, but Rogues are hard to come by in Standard—no one is excited about playing Hackrobat, after all. But what if we try out Rankle in a format that has more Rogues to recruit?

Modern Rogues

Creatures (15)
Robber of the Rich
Nezumi Shortfang
Rankle, Master of Pranks
Earwig Squad

Spells (22)
Inquisition of Kozilek
Force of Despair
Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage
Liliana of the Veil
Kolaghan's Command
Lands (23)
Bloodstained Mire
Blood Crypt
Bloodcleave Cliffs
Cavern of Souls
Unclaimed Territory

The mana’s certainly better, and we’re able to bolster our minor Rogue theme with a few Rogue payoffs that keep Robber of the Rich active. I’ve been trying to find a place for Nezumi Shortfang, as it’s one of the few instant-speed discard effects available, and this deck is precisely the spot for it. A turn two Bitterblossom sets up a turn three Earwig Squad, while spare Lilianas and useless Inquisitions can be fed to Force of Despair to allow you to keep the pressure on.

The overall point—and the power of Rankle—is that cards that give you options are often the most powerful cards. Rankle offers a half dozen permutations of disruptive abilities, and that’s why he’s sneakily, and appropriately Rogueishly, the most powerful card in Throne of Eldraine.

A lifelong resident of the Carolinas and a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Rob has played Magic since he picked a Darkling Stalker up off the soccer field at summer camp. He works for nonprofits as an educational strategies developer and, in his off-hours, enjoys writing fiction, playing games, and exploring new beers.

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