The Guide to RUG Chord

The release of the last set before Standard rotates is an interesting time. More cards are legal than at any other time, therefore the most card interactions are available. However, given the quantity of cards already printed, it is unlikely that the last set will produce many entirely new archetypes, just add to the existing ones. The deck I’d like to talk about today is an exception.

RUG Chord is based on the convoke mechanic, and plays more cards from Magic 2015 than any other deck in Standard. This gets me excited. I love brews. And so do you. Why? Because every Magic player loves brews!

I started with the list Tulio Jaudy took to the Top 4 of his Brazilian World Magic Cup Qualifier, changed a couple cards, and arrived here:

RUG Chord

So what is this deck trying to do? The plan is to use Young Pyromancer and Goblin Rabblemaster in conjunction with well-placed burn spells to generate a token army, and power up Chord of Calling. With Chord you have access to a number of silver bullets, notably Reclamation Sage, Izzet Staticaster, and Hornet Nest, which can all generate huge blowouts. Once you have Izzet Staticaster or Hornet Nest, Chording for the other creates a swarm of Hornets.

Additionally, Chord finds the big finish, Keranos, God of Storms. You haven’t lived until you’ve Chorded for Keranos in your upkeep and triggered him on draw step. The power of Keranos cannot be overstated. Rounding out the deck, Courser of Kruphix acts as a third engine card, generating value similar to Young Pyromancer and Goblin Rabblemaster by ensuring you don’t miss land drops. Also, playing with the top card revealed means you can shuffle away unwanted cards with Chord.

The burn suite may look odd, but each spell has a role. Stoke the Flames is a perfect fit with Young Pyromancer and Goblin Rabblemaster. Tapping the Goblins Rabblemaster summons before they have to attack comes up pretty often. That said, four mana is a lot if you lack creatures, so I think playing only three Stoke the Flames is right.

Turn // Burn has impressed me. It’s the only card that answers Desecration Demon on its own, and it combos well with Izzet Staticaster. I cut down to two for a while, but it is too important for removing creatures with more than 4 toughness.

Izzet Charm is great against UW Control and Jund Planeswalkers, but is limited by not being able to go upstairs. Lightning Strike is the most generic burn spell of the bunchit’s fine in every matchup, but not insane in any of them. It’s important to have some one-mana spells when playing with Young Pyromancer, so Magma Spray is a good fit. Exiling Chandra’s Phoenix and Voice of Resurgence is a big game, so I think it’s better than Shock. The deck is highly customizable, so while it’s important to have a critical mass of burn spells, you should change up the numbers to suit your expected metagame.

Over the past three weeks I’ve played with this deck quite a bit online, and I’ve been impressed. It’s hard to come up with a new idea in such a well-explored Standard format, but this one works. That said, it has trouble with board sweepers. Anger of the Gods, Drown in Sorrow, Mizzium Mortars, and Supreme Verdict can be hard to overcome. Polukranos and Boros Reckoner are also problematic. It’s important to play carefully around these cards.

Here’s a sideboard guide for a few of the most popular matchups:

Black Devotion, Black/White



Their best threat is Desecration Demon. Turn // Burn is your only true answer to the card, so try to save it. If you don’t stick a Pyromancer, Rabblemaster, or Courser, it can be difficult to win. Xenagos, the Reveler acts as additional copies of these engine cards out of the board, and is generally excellent in the matchup. If you see Banishing Light out of the white version, board in the second Reclamation Sage. Usually, it’s great to get two Rabblemasters going by playing the second one pre-combat, but be careful to play around Bile Blight in this matchup.




Mana Confluence is at its worst here, and with a slightly lower curve, I think it’s okay to cut it. The second Reclamation Sage is worth considering if you see Eidolon of the Great Revel or Satyr Firedancer. (The first Sage is always great against Chained to the Rocks.) I keep in Turn // Burn in case Boros Reckoner comes out of the sideboard. Without Turn // Burn it’s almost impossible to beat a Reckoner.




Rabblemaster is not at its best in this matchup. It is often difficult to engineer a situation where his rabble wont suicide attack into bigger creatures. Staticaster is great against Master of Waves Elemental tokens unless the opponent is lucky enough to have two Masters. In that case it is necessary to get creative with Turn // Burn, Polukranos, or the second Staticaster. Turn // Burn also does good work against Thassa, God of the Sea. It’s possible the second Reclamation Sage is better than the remaining Rabblemaster because of Domestication.

Rabble Red



This match-up is great. Basically all of your cards match up well against theirs.

Jund Planeswalkers



It may seem odd to keep in Hornet’s Nest against a deck with such a great late game, but it serves as insurance against overloaded Mizzium Mortars. Izzet Charm is fantastic here, so be sure to save it for countering planeswalkers, Rakdos’s Return, and Mizzium Mortars, rather than shocking creatures. Your best plan is to get Keranos into play ASAP and bolt everything until you win. If they have Desecration Demon it’s important to leave in Turn // Burn.

UW(b) Control



If they are casting Planar Cleansing, don’t put in the Reclamation Sage

Control is relatively unpopular at the moment, so I don’t have that much experience against it. I believe that’s a good thing because the matchup doesn’t strike me as good. However, after board you have a fair number of Gods and planeswalkers you can hopefully ride to victory.

RUG Chord interacts on a different axis than the rest of Standard, playing the roll of aggro, combo, or control based on the situation. It is a super fun and creative deck that I highly recommend trying out in the last few weeks before Khans of Tarkir changes everything. Shout-out to Tulio Jaudy for doing well with such a cool deck! After rotation, I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more ways to abuse Chord of Calling and Goblin Rabblemaster.

I’m streaming every Thursday night at twitch.tv/channelfireball from 8 p.m. PST to about 11 p.m., so be sure to tune in! This week I’ll get some more games in with RUG Chord, and do some M15 Limited practice in preparation for Grand Prix Salt Lake City this weekend. See you on Thursday and in Utah!


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