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Carrie On – Guarding the Underworld

No one has yet talked about Underworld Cerberus. Why not? Let’s examine him a bit closer:

Underworld Cerberus

Just in case you missed that, it’s a 6/6 for 5 that requires a triple-block if they want to try to stop him. That’s huge! I know creatures are getting more and more efficiently costed, but this guy is right up there with the best of them. In a creature mirror, this is a serious threat. He races really well as you can’t chump to slow him down. He is going to require an answer.

It doesn’t just stop there. The rest of the text contains some surprisingly relevant abilities. The first one stops people messing around with their graveyards. It’s double-sided though, so don’t run him alongside a reanimation package.

The second bit really complements his aggressive nature. If he dies, you get to return all creature cards in your graveyard to your hand. This is like a creature deck’s dream come true. Too often have I curved nicely and gotten my opponent low, only to have everything destroyed and then sit there, slowly top-decking singleton threats they can pick off with ease. With Underworld Cerberus, they are going to need to exile him in some way because otherwise I get a whole fistful of creatures to play with, ideally some of which will have haste. Notably, even creatures that die alongside a Cerberus get returned, since it’s a “dies” trigger, and everything else will already be in the graveyard by the time it resolves. It would be much more awkward if you couldn’t just curve into it on turn 5.

While I was looking for other creatures to play alongside Underworld Cerberus. I noticed something I had previously missed: Rakdos has some incredibly efficiently costed creatures at the moment.

rakdos curve

You could even take this curve one step further, since [card]Sire of Insanity[/card] would be a really insane 6-drop in this deck. You probably don’t want a 6-drop in this deck because you want to keep it aggressive, but I would definitely have it as a sideboard option against control decks.

[draft]exava, rakdos blood witch[/draft]

I particularly like [card exava, rakdos blood witch]Exava[/card] here. I definitely think Exava will see more play post-rotation. Currently she competes with [card]Falkenrath Aristocrat[/card] for a spot, but the Aristocrat is leaving, allowing Exava to finally shine. Exava and Falkenrath have a lot in common, but I would want Exava in this deck even if I had the choice between the two. Why? Because quite a few of my creatures are going to have unleash. This is going to be sweet when she and a bunch of unleash creatures get returned to me by a Cerberus and go rattling in again the very next turn.

The other option to give your creatures that extra power after getting them returned would be Hammer of Purphoros. Hammer is going to be a sweet card for aggressive decks post-rotation. It survives the wrath that kills all our creatures and then grants them all haste on the way back down. I wouldn’t want to run the Hammer just for the haste effect, but it works well with the Cerberus recursion and its activated ability is another way to keep you going in the late game.

[draft]Hellhole Flailer[/draft]

[card]Hellhole Flailer[/card] has seen some Standard play before, so it’s not completely crazy to expect him to show up again. I like that if my opponent were to (rather sensibly) use a point removal spell on my Cerberus I could sacrifice the Flailer in response to deal them (probably) 4 damage, then return it to my hand to be replayed next turn. In this way Flailer can net 8 easy points of damage. What’s not to like?

I have a deck idea for you to play around with:

[deck]4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Gore-House Chainwalker
4 Spike Jester
4 Hellhole Flailer
2 Lifebane Zombie
3 Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
2 Desecration Demon
3 Underworld Cerberus
3 Hammer of Purphoros
4 Magma Jet
3 Dreadbore
4 Blood Crypt
8 Mountain
4 Rakdos Guildgate
8 Swamp[/deck]

I really love the creatures in this deck. It’s just so big! And not a drop of green mana in sight.

[draft]rakdos guildgate[/draft]

The downside to this list is the mana base. I think you have to run the Guildgates, even though you desperately don’t want your mana to come into play tapped. The scry lands would definitely be better, because at least you get to tune your draw a bit with them, but the BR one isn’t out until the next set(s).

[draft]desecration demon[/draft]

It is for this reason that I went with [card]Desecration Demon[/card] over Rakdos himself. Both are flying 6/6s for 4, and the Demon will be far easier to cast, but I am annoyed at the possibility of him getting tapped when I want to attack. It’s possible you can still afford to play Rakdos but it felt a little too greedy. Plus, his casting restriction can be significant if you topdeck him late.

[draft]lifebane zombie
mindsparker
pyrewild shaman[/draft]

The 3-drop slot was irritating. [card]Hellhole Flailer[/card] is awesome but he doesn’t have much to go with him. I considered [card]Lifebane Zombie[/card], [card]Mindsparker[/card], and [card]Pyrewild Shaman[/card]. All give me 3-power for three mana and have different abilities that you might want to use. I went with Lifebane because the opportunity to get super value off it is just too tempting. However, this definitely needs to change if the meta isn’t very green or white.

[draft]blood scrivener[/draft]

One last card you might like to consider for a deck like this is [card]Blood Scrivener[/card]. A 2/1 for 2 isn’t all that in this deck, but you are planning to play out your hand using Underworld Cerberus as your insurance policy against overextending into wrath effects. As such, you can afford to turn on Blood Scrivener. I decided I didn’t want to go this route but I mentioned the potential of Sire of Insanity earlier and they definitely play well together.

It will be interesting to see whether this 6/6 for 5 will see play in Standard in the months to come. He’s certainly good enough value and I like the recovery plan he brings with him. If you are attending a prerelease this weekend I wish you luck, fun, and many mythics, and if you aren’t attending then why on earth not?! Set looks sweet, cancel those other plans and go! See you next week.

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