Rakdos Midrange

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Edit: Looking to bring this to GP Calgary this weekend.

Lands: (24)
4x Dragonskull Summit
4x Blood Crypt
2x Rakdos Guildgate
5x Mountain
9x Swamp

Creatures: (20)
4x Vampire Nighthawk
1x Sire of Insanity
4x Falkenrath Aristocrat
4x Gloom Surgeon
3x Knight of Infamy
2x Desecration Demon
3x Thundermaw Hellkite

Spells: (15)
2x Mizzium Mortars
4x Searing Spear
2x Dreadbore
2x Rakdos's Return
2x Doom Blade
3x Pillar of Flame

Sideboard: (15)
2x Appetite for Brains
1x Mizzium Mortars
2x Ratchet Bomb
2x Tribute to Hunger
2x Duress
1x Sire of Insanity
2x Slaughter Games
3x Skullcrack 

Original post content

I'm looking to get a little more tweaking and tuning in before tomorrow night (and in general) and have a couple specific ideas in mind.  I have tried playing the deck with Tribute to Hunger instead of Murder because I have such a robust removal suit, there isn't usually much choice in what to sacrifice.  This also allows me to drop the Devour Flesh in the sideboard for Bonfire of the Damned.  I still don't 100% know how I feel about this swap but I'm actively testing it out.

Another change I'm looking at is dropping Sire of Insanity and both Master of Cruelties for 3 Desecration Demon.  It gives me another big body on the field that also can help with removal, but it leaves me open to attacks against aggro decks that could not care less about a creature sac because they have pleanty more to back it up.

Lastly, might it be better to run Grafdigger's Cage over Rakdos Charm in the side against Reanimator and the odd GB graveyard shenanigans?

What is the general consensus on these changes?  My meta has pretty much everything in it: Aristocrats, control, aggro, and junk are what I see most often.  I have played the odd Jund Midrange match as well.
I'm bringing back my decklist for comments because I'm having doubts about my theorycrafting;  So here's the deck I've been running for a few weeks now with moderate success.

Lands: (24)
4x Dragonskull Summit
4x Blood Crypt
4x Rakdos Guildgate
4x Mountain
8x Swamp

Creatures: (20)
4x Vampire Nighthawk
1x Sire of Insanity
3x olivia voldaren*
4x Gloom Surgeon
4x Knight of Infamy*
2x blood scrivener
2x Thundermaw Hellkite*

Spells: (15)
4x Mizzium Mortars
3x Searing Spear
2x Dreadbore
2x Rakdos's Return
4x Pillar of Flame*

Sideboard: (15)
3x Appetite for Brains
2x Rakdos Charm
2x Devour Flesh
2x Duress
3x Slaughter Games
3x Skullcrack



Made changes in the quotes. Olivia is much better in a midrange deck than the aristocrat and you want the full 4 of pillar against a good chunk of the meta. I think a 2 of scrivener is good because by the time you see him you should be needing cards, which he'll help with.

Other than that the list looks solid. 
Maybe find space for Keyrunes? They survive sweeps and they profitably block Thragtusk et al.
Honestly didn't expect Rakdos to get the best keyrune.
I may look into a couple of those changes.  I would currently entertain moving to 4 Knight of Infamy and down to 3 Gloom Surgeon.  But that is all in response to my night at FNM tonight.  I brought the list from the OP.

So results were 2-1.  I was super close to 3-0 and making top 4, but had 4-color Aristocrats get a nut draw on me in the final game.  Unfortunately the first two games were against mono red and R/G aggro respectively.  Both games were basically a run over for me, which means the list deals with aggro well!  I'm happy about that.  The last game was, as mentioned, against 4-color Aristocrats.  I feel this is a tough match and really didn't know what to do against it.  I sided in Skullcrack over Searing Spear and would have been nice to draw one;  especially after he brought in Unflinching Courage in game three.  Alas I did not draw a skullcrack and he managed to take over the game with a lifelink swing for 6.

All in all I feel the list is pretty good right now.  I'm still not 100% on Master of Cruelties and am still considering the Desecration Demon switch, but I don't have the demons yet and am still polling for input on this change. 
One I have Skullcrack in the sideboard, I usually have 4x. Never fewer than 3x.
Yeah Skullcrack was my side in choice against aristocrats.

I've also been looking at Rolling Temblor for the aggro match.  I'm not sure if I should shimmy some room for it in my sideboard or if I should run a couple in my main.  Even though I beat both aggro decks I played last night, I didn't actually sideboard anything for any of the games.  I feel having that blow out to aggro would be really helpful, just not sure where I want to fit it in.
Alright, I have made a change and have one last possible change to look at, I believe.  I have officially dropped both Master of Cruelties for Desecration Demon.  I've left the single Sire of Insanity though because I really like having it around.  The only other change I am looking at is getting a couple Bonfire of the Damned in the main.  Could possibly make room for them by dropping 1 Searing Spear and 1 Mizzium Mortars.  Any thoughts on that?

[u]Changes:[/u]
-2 Master of Cruelties
+2 Desecration Demon

[u]Possible change?:[/u]
-1 Searing Spear
-1 Mizzium Mortars
+2 Bonfire of the Damned

I simply found that Master was a dead draw too many times.  I would either be sitting on 4 mana and unable to cast him, or he would have considerably less impact on the board than a Demon would.  For this reason and the fact I think Demon just fits the deck's gameplan better than Master, I have finally gone ahead and made the swap.

The idea of Olivia instead of Falkenrath mentioned earlier might be good, but am yet to get my hands on an Olivia playset to test it out.  It feels like Aristocrat really helps me pump home damage, but Olivia can damn near take over games on her own, so I'm definitely looking for more discussion on that while I find some people to play it against.
I support 2 Bonfire main, I don't support cutting any number of Searing Spear of them, it's just too versatile. I would probably cut a Murder and a Mortars.
I'd cut the Gates for basic lands. You won't need that much color fixing in a 2 color deck. I wouldn't run Olivia over Falkenrath Aristocrat. Olivia's amazing but you'll hate having 1 in hand that you can't play cuz there's already 1 on the field. perhaps 2 and 2? I dunno...

I'd also like to suggest Blood Scrivener. I've been running him MD in an Aristocrats list and he always seems to turn up when I run out of gas and need card draw.

EDH decks I play:

 

Prossh: http://community.wizards.com/forum/commander-edh/threads/4101381

 

Derevi: http://community.wizards.com/forum/commander-edh/threads/4115936

 

Kaalia (the beats)

 

Zur (disgusting combo)

 

Damia (Bug Elf deck)

 

Numot (Stax)

 

Griselbrand (French)

 

Ghave (Uber combo)

 

Muzzio (Oops, Blightsteel)

Midrange, not aggro. In aggro, Aristocrat tops your curve. In midrange, Olivia tops your opponent.
I can certainly move to more basics, but I might keep 2 of the gates to be safe.  I have also decided I absolutely need Bonfire in the deck.  So far I'm thinking 2, but could be convinced more is better.  The only problem I have, is I don't know what to cut for it.  Tehbeast said cutting spears is probably a terrible option and I'm inclined to agree with that, so does cutting Mizzium Mortars come in as the best option?

On a side note, I have a really hard time deciding what my sideboard plan is against Junk Aristocrats.  I know the bring in the Skullcracks, but I'm never 100% sure what I should be cutting for them (common theme with my two issues here).  I also tend to bring in the Slaughter Games to try and break up the combo by naming Cartel Aristocrat.  Should I go for Lingering Souls instead?  Or is brining these in maybe not the best idea?

Cut 1 Murder and 1 Mortars. Keep 3 or so Mortars around total, with the rest in your sideboard.
I could make room for a 3rd Mortars to sit in the side, but I'm curious to the reasoning behind wanting to stay around 3 total.  What would I be looking to side that in against, keeping in mind I have 2 Bonfires and Mortars already?
Updated list with Bonfires in place of a Doom Blade and Mortars.

I'm ressurecting this because I still need some help sideboarding against Junk Aristocrats.  I always bring in Skullcrack, but feel that siding out Searing Spear is probably not the best option.  Would it maybe be a better idea to side out Rakdos's Return and maybe a mortars?  Looking for help with this because I feel like I don't really have a solid gameplan there.
Mortars knocks out anything that's no bigger than an unbuffed Smiter, especially Archangel of Thune (thought she's a good reason to keep Doom Blade handy), while Bonfire requires either luck or an assload of mana (or both, frequently) to be effective against threats.
Updated the list in the OP and bumping this because I'm considering this deck for GP Calgary this weekend.  I have still been unable to locate myself 2 Bonfires, but will continue to search up to the last minute.

I added another Pillar and Doom Blade main board unless I find a pair of Bonfires.  The sideboard got touched a little too, as you find my 3rd Mortars there as well as a 4th Pillar.  I am considering dropping or changing Rakdos Charm with the big drop in reanimation lately, but I'm not entirely sure what I would want to stick there.  Currently I don't bring in a ton against aggro, so maybe picking up a couple more aggro hate cards would be worth it (or even Burning Earth with some small adjustments to the mana base?).  Electrickery could also be a good choice to help with the Junk Aristocrats and (probably) W/B Humans match.
I have also decided that Doom Blade is actually probably bad.  It does everything Dreadbore does, but it doesn't kill Planeswalkers or Olivia.  Considering dropping the 2 Doom Blades for a 3rd Dreadbore main and a 4th Pillar.  That also frees up an extra slot in my sideboard for a second Sire to bring in against control.

Edit:  Sorry, thought this was an edit to the previous post, not a new one. 
Some number of Shock might be worth considering here.
100th post on 5/29/12 500th post on 8/20/12
Shock may be nice, but what would I cut?  The only thing I could think to replace is maybe 2 pillars, but with all the undying and token generators I'm predicting Pillar is looking pretty strong.
Alright.  I am back from GP Calgary with results.  They will be a little rough around the edges because I forgot my notebook on Saturday so couldn't take match notes as I played them.

Overall record:  4-4

Round 1 - BYE (2-0 W)
My opponent sat down and asked what I thought about a first round bye.  He just registered for the promo.  Off to a good start?

Round 2 - W/B Humans (2-0 W)
The list was very reminiscent of AJ Sacher's winning list from 2 weeks ago.  Game one he was tight on mana and couldn't get out enough cards per turn to overwhelm me.  Eventually Thundermaw came down to smack the spirit tokens away and seal the deal.  Game 2 I drew the most perfect hand I have ever seen with this deck.  4 lands (Crypt, Summit, Swamp, Mountain), Nighthawk, Aristocrat, and Thundermaw.  Needless to say I curved out perfectly on him and won in quick order.

Round 3 - Mono-red Aggro (1-2 L)
First game he got a pretty sweet draw, but I had kept a hand with a pretty good removal kit followed by some nice draws.  I managed to put a massive damper on his gameplay and pull ahead for the win.  Bringing in Ratchet Bomb for some board wipe, I headed into game 2.  My hand was less than excellent, so I decided to toss it in hopes of better luck with 6.  I found it with some land, a Gloom Surgeon, and a couple removal spells.  However, his draws consisted of Reckoner, Reckoner, Hellrider.  I had to scoop on turn 6 with no possible outs left to play towards.  Game 3 I kept the same plan with the deck.  Also ended up getting what I considered to be a great hand against him.  2 Gloom Surgeons and a Nighthawk with some lands sounded pretty awesome to me.  Unfortunately, he had 2 Reckoners in his opening 7 and I did not draw any removal for them before it was too late and most of my board and life total and been smashed away by the 2-for-1 giant of a card.  I eventually stalled it out and started to mount a comeback with the help of a Nighthawk, but he drew into a Hellrider and swung for quite a chunk.  Sac'ing my board state to kill a reckoner and hope to draw removal for the hellrider, I played to my only remaining out.  Aaaand I did not draw it.  Off the top came a swamp.  Brining me to a grand total of 5 black sources and 1 red.  Such is magic sometimes.

Round 4 - Jund (1-2 L)
In what would later become a trend with Jund, I started to get some fantastically mediocre draws, some pretty sweet land locks, and BONFIRES.  Game one was probably the best of the thee with lots of back and forth swing for control.  Eventually I was stuck between a rock and a hard place, then he top decks a bonfire.  So be it, to game 2.  This game started out slow, but got off to a roaring start as I Slaughter Games naming Thragtusk on turn 4.  Let's just get those bad boys out of the way.  He eventually over-extended his Olivia into a free Searing Spear kill and Thundermaw cleaned up the rest of his life total.  Game 3 I establish some board presence to wait out my draws for the money makers, when suddenly BONFIRE for.. I don't remember, 4 or 5.  Alright that card is pretty good, time to play to some outs.  While waiting on some creatures and removal to contend the board again, Thragtusk's trusty beast token and Olivia beat me down.

Round 5 - R/G Aggro (1-2 L)
At first I thought this guy was Jund.  It actually took me about 4 turns to realize that he wasn't running Kibbler's Jund aggro list (or something similar), but was indeed running straight R/G good stuff.  Game one was super quick in his favor and just beat me down.  Game 2 I had pretty great draws splitting between creatures and removal.  I kept him locked down and never let him get ahead on board.  Eventually he was at 0.  Game 3 I got stuck on 3 lands (all in the 7 I kept) and eventually just died.

Round 6 - Jund (2-1 W)
Round two against the beast in the room.  Game one I got stuck on 4 lands (which normally isn't too bad), but was usually unable to cast more than one spell per turn.  I was drawing more CMC than I could use well, and just wasn't getting the cards I needed.  Once I had a Knight, Aristocrat, and Nighthawk out to try and get through his Huntmaster's, BONFIRE.  Yep that one hurt.  It also killed me.  Game 2 was won entirely on the back of Vampire Nighthawk and Slaughter Games on his Thragtusk.  Nighthawk was the star, stalling the board until I could drop two Aristocrats and beat him down.  Game 3 I don't remember very well, but it involved a bonfire smacking me around (again) and a putrefy taking out my Thundermaw.  All looked bad, but I top decked another Thundermaw (eat that miracle *shakes fist*).  He swung the last few points of my opponents life to 0.

Round 7 - Grixis Control (2-1 W)
Typical grind-tastic matchup.  Game one was back and forth struggles with Olivia with a few overextentions that let a Spear or Mortars kill her off.  Eventually I managed to clear the way and take home the win on the back of Thundermaw.  Game 2 I got a Slaughter Games off on his Olivia turn 4 and thought I was sitting pretty good.  From here on, I don't remember exactly what happened, but I believe I was not drawing creatures and he had a Nighthawk out that was just doing WORK on me.  I eventually got a Thundermaw out, only to have it Turn//Burned;  Then removed the Nighthawk and replaced it with one of my own, but couldn't catch up in time and was widdled down.  Game three was more drawn out plays with no Slaughter Games on Olivia.  This time he landed the Slaughter Games on Thundermaw turn 5.  Ouch.  From here it was grind for the fences.  The game went to extra turns with a 4/4 Olivia on the board for him + a Planeswalker, though I cannot recall exactly which one (Think it was Mind Sculpter Jace).  On the second to last turn (mine) I top deck my Rakdos's Return and WHAM.  It finishes the game.  Crazy close one with some fun mind games going both ways.

Round 8 -  Jund (0-2 L)
Alright, I already know I'm out of day 2 at 4-3, but damnit I want to beat this deck.  Game one I get locked on 3 lands again and with my miserable wall of Gloom Surgeons and Knight of Infamy was all but open to the bonfire... And of course it came.  BAM Miracle for 4.  Alright my board is toast and my life was soon to follow.  Such is this game we play.  Game 2 I'm doing better on land with some removal handy and manage to get ahead on board, then we all know what happens.  BONFIREEEEEEEEEEE.  Alright my board is toast and I'm playing mega catch up mode.  After the next few turns of trying super hard to not flip his Huntmaster if I could help it and getting out a Nighthawk, he does it again.  BOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNFIREEEEEEEEEE.  This one's for a truck load (I think 8).  After that I was super low and fell to his Olivia poking me down the next turn.  3 bonfires in one game.  Each of them at ridiculously good times.  Card's pretty sweet.  It also appears I was not meant to best Jund this weekend.

So after the weekend, I'm thinking about changing up the removal kit to be a little more robust and minimize bad spell draws.  I'm also looking to slide in some Rakdos Keyrunes.  I wont update the OP list until I've testing this new one a little and grabbed some input from anyone willing to toss in their 2 cents, but here's what I'm looking at:

Lands: (24)
4x Dragonskull Summit
4x Blood Crypt
2x Rakdos Guildgate
5x Mountain
9x Swamp

Creatures: (20)
4x Vampire Nighthawk
4x Falkenrath Aristocrat
4x Gloom Surgeon
3x Knight of Infamy
2x Desecration Demon
3x Thundermaw Hellkite

Spells: (16)
2x Mizzium Mortars
2x Tragic Slip
2x Dreadbore
1x Doom Blade
2x Rakdos's Return
2x Bonfire of the Damned
3x Pillar of Flame
2x Rakdos Keyrune

Sideboard: (15)
2x Appetite for Brains
1x Sire of Insanity
2x Ratchet Bomb
2x Tribute to Hunger
2x Duress
1x Grafdigger's Cage
2x Slaughter Games
3x Skullcrack

Changes from GP List:
-4 Searing Spear
-1 Dreadbore
-1 Sire of Insanity
-1 Pillar of Flame
+2 Tragic Slip
+2 Bonfire of the Damned
+1 Doom Blade
+2 Rakdos Keyrune

Sideboard changes:  (these were actually last minute changes before registering the deck at GP Calgary)
-1 Mizzium Mortars
+1 Grafdigger's Cage
More Sire of Insanity.
It hurt me a little to cut the single Sire in the main, but I was rarely drawing it when it could be considered good and my area meta seems to sit nicely on aggro and Jund.  Most of the time, these two matches turn into us just emptying our hands onto the field so a Sire is just a big body (not that that is bad).  I cut him and the 4th Pillar for the 2 keyrunes to see if the little extra mana ramp + crazy good keyrune creature would be more favorable in more situations.  I will still bring in that Sire for any and all control matches though, and will put a second one in the side if these 2 guys in my city stop running reanimator... Actually I might just make that change anyways.

Edit:  Updated my last post with what exactly I changed. 
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