There wasn’t anything I was particularly keen on in my booster today (beyond my first copies of Precognitive Perception and Forbidding Spirit) but there was something from a guild I’ve yet to mention; Rakdos!

Light Up the Stage

Light Up the Stage is a 2 Generic ManaRed sorcery that lets you exile the top two cards of your library and then play them before the end of your next turn. It is effectively additional card draw but on the proviso that you cast the cards relatively quickly. Whilst that is an interesting mechanic, the real draw1 here is that you can use the Rakdos keyword spectacle to get away with only paying Red for this sorcery. Paying Red for 2 cards is pretty damn good!

On the face of it, you may think that this is ideally a card to be played later in the game (somewhere around turn 5-6) when you want to restock on cards and you have the mana to pay for anything that should crop up. You could go through your combat phase to deal at least 1 dmg to your opponent and then, on your second main, cast this with the intention of using whatever you find with some left over for the next turn. That works well but you can quickly get shafted if you then find 2 land cards or some kind of sorcery which is of no use to you (i.e. Act of Treason which is likely2 useless to you after combat).

A better play is to use a manaless ability of some sort (i.e. Spear Spewer) that can trigger spectacle so that you can cast this in your first main phase. You now have a bit more flexibility as to when you cast the remaining cards if you are able to (with a fallback to your next turn if required - remember the cards can be cast at any point before the end of your next turn). It is important to note that the card says you may play the two cards you’ve exiled but it doesn’t change the rules governing mana cost3 or timing (i.e. you can’t play a land if you’ve already played one, you can’t cast sorceries during combat, etc). Due to this, I’d always recommend you hold onto land until you’ve cast this sorcery as if you find land you can play that freely from the exiles and still have one in hand for a later turn; otherwise, if you’ve already played a land, you’ll find you’ve just wasted a card if you find two lands as you won’t be able to play one of them4.

Which brings me to another tactic for this card: if you’re desperately low on lands turn 3-4, this gives you a way to try and find some. A typical Rakdos deck is going to lean more towards the cheap creatures side of things so the chance of finding a low-cost creature and a land are probably fairly high with this ability. I pulled this off myself on MTG Arena a few days ago turning what looked to be a losing game around pretty quickly.

I still think that the “trigger spectacle in first main” is the better option for this card as it gives you all the choice and, as I’ve said before, choice is one of the most important things in Magic. That said, if you’re playing this in the late game and have a ton of mana, this isn’t necessarily a bad prospect even if you can’t trigger spectacle although I’d be loathe to pay 2 Generic ManaRed when I know I could get it for Red! At the time of writing, this is the most expensive uncommon card from Ravnica Allegiance on the reseller markets5 so it is clearly of interest to a number of people…

Before I finish I’d like to take a bit of time to admire the artwork for this card. Dmitry’s artwork is mainly of humans and anthropomorphic creatures but this one is quite different; I love how it is only on close inspection that you realise the fire-breathing creature at the back is utterly gigantic and that he isn’t lighting some small lantern but a giant stadium torch. Clearly “it’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights” is very different for the Rakdos!

  1. *rimshot* ↩︎

  2. I say “likely” as you may be able to take control of a creature with a tapable ability which would still be useful. On the whole though you want to use this ability to hit the opponent in their face with their own creature and then sacrifice it to something like Bankrupt in Blood *mwah ha ha ha* ↩︎

  3. They aren’t free to cast like they are with Etali, Primal Storm↩︎

  4. Unless you have something like Wayward Swordtooth in play. Of course, sometimes finding two lands with this ability is useful as at least you’ve removed two blockers from the top of your library; think of it as an alternate scry 2. ↩︎

  5. Selling for an average of £1.43 just ahead of my previously mentioned favourite Rhythm of the Wild at £1.08. ↩︎

This post is part of a weekday series where I open up a booster pack and pick a card to discuss. Whilst these are often the best cards from the set, I'll often pick one that is a bit niche or one that has cool artwork or flavour text. If there's a particular card you want me to take a look at, get in touch or join my Discord community.