Folks, I’ve been playing way too much March of the Machine limited. One upside to my crippling addiction to building 40-card decks is I get to see how every card in the set performs. Sure, there’s some big differences between draft and Commander, but trust me, the card we’re highlighting today scales up well in a four-player game.

The last highlight in the Commander Corner, Rona, Herald of Invasion, was around #850 in EDHREC popularity at the time. Today’s highlight is currently #1277, which really surprised me, and is somehow beneath even The Tarrasque. I guess I underestimated the prevalence of other Rakdos-colored commanders like, rather fittingly, Rakdos, Lord of Riots. That’s right, today we’re talking about…

During my set review, I only had room for a small blurb about this card, and oh boy did I not do it justice. Generally, commanders without haste who rely on any kind of combat damage can be pretty hit or miss. After all, relying on untapping with your commander for it to do anything tends to suck at certain tables. Thankfully, of course, Rankle and Torbran have haste.

While the original Rankle, Master of Pranks allowed for some card draw/discard and the original Torbran, Thane of Red Fell didn’t have to connect with an opponent to work, you get quite a bit of bang for your buck with the combo of both. As a bonus you get to use all those Rakdos-colored cards that just don’t fit in too many other places.

Ground Rules (For Your Flying Commander)

Each player creating a Treasure token might seem a bit disadvantageous at first, but you get the first crack at the mana most of the time. You can break the symmetry with effects like Mayhem Devil. It’s pretty easy to see the value in making each player sacrifice a creature. The final ability is a bit more combat-oriented at first glance, but ping effects also do quite well here, especially cards like Impact Tremors.

Be aware, this is very much a build-around commander. Rankle and Torbran can help enable and accelerate, but you won’t be doing very much with them on an empty board. With that in mind, let’s go over some of the best options for maximizing their potential each turn.

Bedevil And Bedazzle Your Opponents

Two of the most obvious things you can use are Mayhem Devil and extra combat phases. Mayhem Devil does everything you want alongside Rankle and Torbran, getting triggers from the Treasure and creature sacrifices, dealing 3 damage per trigger to players with the final ability. You can punch in for about 18 damage at someone’s face pretty easily with one attack and the resulting triggers this way. Combat steps similarly ramp up the number of triggers you’ll get for every card which cares about them. There’s a lot of cards to grant extra combats, so I won’t bother listing them all, but watch for their inclusion in the decklist later.

Given that you’ll usually find a way to get a Treasure with Rankle and Torbran, you can use them in quite a few ways. The first is obvious: Goblin Welder can dump huge artifacts into play at the cost of a single Treasure token. Whether that’s Portal to Phyrexia, Bolas’s Citadel, or something else entirely is your decision, but I prefer to go big if I’m on this plan. Unfortunately, some of the biggest hits are also pretty expensive.

Make Your Opponents Get the Point

The most common mistake I see when people talk about this commander is thinking that Rankle and Torbran will help you ping creatures for more damage, and this is not the case. It rather specifically hits players and battles for more with the last effect, and you’ll need to plan accordingly. You can use cards like Pestilence or Thermo-Alchemist to deal huge chunks of damage in short bursts, but most of those require some careful planning and deck construction.

Of course, you can also swarm the board with small creatures, and rush your opponents with an army of 1/1s which hit for 3 each, or sacrifice creatures you don’t mind sending to the graveyard. Creatures like Virus Beetle, Solemn Simulacrum, Vindictive Vampire, and Syr Konrad, the Grim all help you meet the latter goals, while cards like Bitterblossom, Goblin Rabblemaster, and Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin help with the former.

I think it’s best if you try not to use Rankle and Torbran as ramp. Sure, they can make some mana for you, but considering the cost of your initial cast, it’s probably best to try and keep your curve mostly low. Cards like Curse of Opulence, Shiny Impetus, or plain old mana rocks are better for this purpose. Speaking of curses, a lot of those are good here too! Particularly Curse of Disturbance, Curse of Shallow Graves, and Curse of Obsession work pretty well here.


Finally, let’s go over some of those red/black cards which aren’t usually cutting it in your average five-color piles. As you might imagine, I’ve gone through every single card ever printed with red and black in the casting cost. There’s some notable ones you might not remember. Azra Oddsmaker helps fuel any graveyard synergy while filtering draws. Blood for the Blood God! can get down to a manageable seven mana pretty easily in this deck. Dreadhorde Butcher is a great way to beat in for big damage while also getting sacrifice value later.

Ready for some quick fire suggestions? Florian, Voldaren Scion, Garna, Bloodfist of Keld, Juri, Master of the Revue, Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, Lagomos, Hand of Hatred, Mahadi, Emporium Master, and even Rakdos Charm can all fit depending on your build. There’s far more, but I can’t fit them all.

The Deck

It might seem like the deck is lacking a fully coherent direction, and that’s true. But, what it lacks in clear direction it makes up for in freedom. You have three paths to choose from, and there’s a decent amount of overlap between each one. All that’s left is to put it together and clean it up some. Luckily for you, I’ve already done a good bit of that work, and the end result is in the decklist below.


Creature – 33
Hoarding Broodlord, Archpriest of Shadows, Rankle, Master of Pranks, Virus Beetle, Burglar Rat, Elvish Doomsayer, Blood Artist, Erebos, Bleak-Hearted, Priest of Forgotten Gods, Loyal Apprentice, Magda, Brazen Outlaw, Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin, Norin the Wary, Braids, Arisen Nightmare, Kalain, Reclusive Painter, Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge, Morbid Opportunist, Lizard Blades, Anax, Hardened in the Forge, Zulaport Cutthroat, Captain Lannery Storm, Viscera Seer, Sanguinary Priest, Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, Vindictive Vampire, Lagomos, Hand of Hatred, Mahadi, Emporium Master, Azra Oddsmaker, Thermo-Alchemist, Goblin Rabblemaster, Professional Face-Breaker, Juri, Master of the Revue, Mayhem Devil

Artifact – 9
Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Talisman of Indulgence, Rakdos Signet, Fellwar Stone, Oni-Cult Anvil, Goldvein Pick, Bolas’s Citadel, Umezawa’s Jitte

Enchantment – 10
Dreadhorde Invasion, Sticky Fingers, Descent into Avernus, The Eldest Reborn, Curse of Opulence, Curse of Obsession, Revel in Riches, Shiny Impetus, Impact Tremors, Brazen Cannonade

Instant – 4
Chaos Warp, Rakdos Charm, Blood for the Blood God!, Soul Shatter

Sorcery – 6
Feed the Swarm, Victimize, Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering, Faithless Looting, Diabolic Intent, Mana Geyser

Land – 37
Command Tower, Smoldering Marsh, Dragonskull Summit, Foreboding Ruins, Luxury Suite, Sulfurous Springs, Blightstep Pathway, Rakdos Carnarium, Temple of Malice, Exotic Orchard, Tainted Peak, Evolving Wilds, Shadowblood Ridge, Terramorphic Expanse, Blackcleave Cliffs, Bloodfell Caves, Geothermal Bog, Canyon Slough, 10 Swamp, 9 Mountain

That’s the deck how I’d build it right now, but as always there’s a lot of room for creativity and improvement. There’s a lot of expensive staples I didn’t include, especially cards like Dockside Extortionist, and even a few hidden gems I’ll let you discover for yourself. You can go super high-power, or super budget from here without much difficulty.

I’ve really enjoyed March of the Machine so far, but I think I’m going to give some other sets some spotlight for a while before we return to MoM for another one. Besides, there’s still a whole bunch of cards from Aftermath and the Commander precons I haven’t talked about, right? That’s all folks! I’ve been Luka “Robot” Sharaska, and thanks for coming back to the Commander Corner!

Luka V. Sharaska (they/them) earned the nickname “Robot” by having a monotone voice, a talent for calculating odds, and a perfect poker face. Robot has been playing Magic for more than a decade, starting during the days of New Phyrexia in 2011.

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