MtG: The Rat Race

The Rat Race, a Magic The Gathering deck
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This black/red rat-themed horde deck depends on rapid deployment of small creatures to overwhelm the enemy early in the game. Creature and spell selection are all based around this strategy, with little attention paid to long-term survivability. Accordingly, this deck typically wins early or not at all.

The Rat Race is a Mirage-era deck, but most of the cards (46 of the 60) are core or Ice Age. Of the rest, two are Homelands, six are Alliances, four are Mirage, and two are Fallen Empires. Because of its use of mostly low-casting-cost creatures, it runs with a reduced complement of land (eight each of Swamp and Mountain). The four slots this frees up are used for non-creature spells.

The choice of rats for the deck theme suits the strategy for two reasons. Firstly, rats are inherently cheap creatures to summon, requiring either one mana (four cards) or three mana (eight cards). Additionally, the three-casting-cost rats increase in strength as more rats come into play: Pestilence Rats have power equal to the number of other Rats in play, and Plague Rats have power and toughness equal to the number of Plague Rats in play. The deck has four of each.

Of the remaining creatures, four are one-casting-cost for speed of deployment and four are small/medium flyers.

The average casting cost for creatures is 2.4 mana. For Rats, it is 2.3 mana. Eight of the creatures, or 40%, are single-casting-cost. There is a 65.4% chance of drawing at least one single-casting-cost creature in the initial seven-card hand.

Fully a third (eight cards) of the spells are for removing obstacles; two are bury instants, two are Lightning Bolts, three are Fireball-type spells, and one is an oddball called Pyrotechnics. Six of the spells inhibit blocking by the opponent or exploit the lack of same; four of the spells are creature buffs. Of the remaining spells, four inhibit attacking by the opponent and two are anti-flyer instants.

This is an old, well-played deck that has been tweaked any number of times and is pretty much in settled form. It is generally successful as far as execution of strategy goes. Running with less than a full complement of land is risky and is something that I generally never do, but experience has shown this not to be a major issue for this particular deck, and having four extra spells more than makes up for it.

(c) 2018 Old Man Metal

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