The War Report: You Dirty Rat!

So the Lunar New Year happened recently and with it many games will do something to celebrate the occasion, from Lunar New Year sales to in-game events, this is a holiday that is recognized though not implicitly celebrated. Eastern Astrology has their own version of birth signs, though they are centered around the year rather than our system which focuses on birth month. Anyway, 2020 is the year of the Rat, and instead of the rest of this article being about sales or video games, we’ll be talking about Magic: The Gathering. Wizards of the Coast wanted to get in on the celebration, and released another Secret Lair product, this time focusing on rats! As it’s been some time since I’ve brewed up anything new, I thought I’d try my hand at making my own rat deck. I’ve wanted to try out some of the cards that read “you can have any number of copies of X card in your library” for a while now. The most prominent cards featuring this rules text that have been made into EDH decks are:

Persistent Petitioners are the newest of the bunch and the first outside of black to my knowledge. They are set up for mill strategies and I’m not super into that. Shadowborn Apostles are pretty cool as once you get enough of them out you can start cheating fatty demons into play, but I already have decks doing that sort of thing so I passed on that as well. As you can see, there are two options when it comes to rats you can have numerous copies of, but I like the lower curve of Rat Colony over Relentless Rats. I was tempted to include multiple copies of both, but figured it would be best to stick to one due to some other packed in synergies. Also costing three CMC just to get additional toughness isn’t really worth it. I’ll take the power buff and smash into things or have a 1 toughness chump blocker that can still kill the biggest of threats. If nothing else, it’s pretty nice to be able to cast two rats instead of only one when you have four mana. There are several commanders people typically use for their rat decks, but for me the choice was obvious:

Marrow-Gnawer is not prohibitively costed, and he is also a rat so he’ll benefit from some other rat friendly cards. As soon as he hits the board, he can potentially make 3-4 of your rats unblockable due to fear. If he manages to stick around long enough, he’s as badass as Krenko at token production, as you can tap him to sacrifice a rat and get X more rats, where X is dependent on the number of rats you control. So if you have four rats out, you tap him to sac one and still make four, as he sees himself as well. So it’s basically the same thing as Krenko when all is said and done, you just have to own at least two rats for his ability to snowball. Let’s take a look at all of the rats we’ve included first.

You Dirty Rat!

Despite this being sort of a “rat tribal” deck, there aren’t a lot of other rats here. The reason for this is we’re going to include 25 copies of Rat Colony in order to draw them regularly and continue to bolster our plan. Little 2/1’s aren’t frightening until you get out six and swing for a ton of damage. Keeping with that theme, if we have a Pack Rat or Swarm of Rats on the board, we will be getting even bigger rats that will still buff our Rat Colonies as well. Crypt Rats can be a finisher in a pinch, and we’ll go over our ways to make a ton of mana in a little bit. Chittering Rats is just a little bit of hand hate, while Throat Slitter is a ninja who can be cheated into play with our other rats while destroying a creature on the way in. Ink-Eyes is another great card that can put in some work and is one of our bigger stand alone threats. Though not technically a rat, Midnight Scavengers melds with Graf Rats into a crazy Eldrazi rat that buffs the team as well. Next, we’ll look at rat support:

Supporting Thine Rats

None of these cards are actual rats, but they have viable rules text for the theme. Piper of the Swarm gives your rats menace, can create rat tokens, and can steal opponent’s creatures — talk about a package! Chittering Witch supports the theme by creating rat tokens for each opponent you have (usually 3). She can also sac creatures to wither others. Ogre Slumlord creates rats each time non token creatures die, but also gives your rats deathtouch which is amazing when you’re killing huge things with little creatures. Patron of the Nazumi is a spirit that allows you to offer a rat to cut mana costs, but also has some life drain stapled on. Finally, Ratcatcher is a tutor for rats on a stick, and that can come in handy.

Big Black Mana

Being a black deck, we have ways of making a ton of mana, and as such we have some things we might want to do with that. Crypt Ghast, Magus of the Coffers, Cabal Coffers and Cabal Stronghold will make you big mana for small investments. The Ghast can also extort which can move some life totals over the course of a game. Gary will also allow you to make some explosive life shifts if played at the right time. Bubbling Much is also a good option to make a metric fuckton of mana to funnel into a huge Torment of Hailfire for the win. If nothing else, you can dump your hand onto the table and get a good swing in rather quickly.

Other Cards of Note

Mostly a selection of some noteworthy artifacts here. Secret Salvage is a dumb card that will never work in EDH, until it did. You can literally exile a Rat Colony, then search for all other copies of it in you library and put them into your hand. You have the big black mana thing going already, so why not play them all right now? You don’t have haste so that might make you vulnerable, but it’s still a pretty amazing interaction. Thrumming Stone can be equally busted, as all of your spells will gain ripple 4, so when you cast Rat Colony from hand you can look at the top four cards of your library and cast that card for free if it pops up, but then you get to ripple again. We really need some hast in this deck, don’t we? Heraldric Banner, Icon of Ancestry, The Immortal Sun and Vanquisher’s Banner are all tribal boons, which give small anthem effects along with doing other cool things.

Overall I think the deck looks like fun, but due to some of the cards I’m choosing to use, it’s not quite budget at around $300. You can see the full deck list here.