Many years ago, there was a black/red control deck in standard called Machine Head. Despite doing doctorate-level research on old Magic coverage, I'm still not 100% sure why that name stuck. I've concluded it was either due to the appearance of the widely heralded Phyrexian Scuta (who looks like it has a machine head), or maybe it was the card Void, which depicted Urza Planeswalker's Titan Engine (and that thing definitely has a giant machine head). Or it was a reference to the Bush song. Much like the origins of Stonehenge or San Diego's name, I don't think anyone really knows for sure.

Anyway, Angrath, the Flame-Chained seemed like he had the vibe of an older school black/red board control deck, so I thought I'd resurrect it and build a slow and grindy pile.

Breathe in, breathe out:

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Angrath, the Flame-Chained by Andy Hurst

'Angrath, the Flame-Chained' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Andy Hurst

Event:

Rank:

Freeform (Casual)

Market Price: $12.21

Cards

Nightfire Giant

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/91071_200w.jpg

Nightfire Giant gets +1/+1 as long as you control a Mountain.
{4}{R}: Nightfire Giant deals 2 damage to any target.

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Rakdos Carnarium

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/254449_200w.jpg

Rakdos Carnarium enters the battlefield tapped.
When Rakdos Carnarium enters the battlefield, return a land you control to its owner's hand.
{T}: Add {B}{R}.

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Carnival // Carnage

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183064_200w.jpg

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Bloodfell Caves

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215898_200w.jpg

Bloodfell Caves enters the battlefield tapped.
When Bloodfell Caves enters the battlefield, you gain 1 life.
{T}: Add {B} or {R}.

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Igneous Pouncer

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/52120_200w.jpg

Haste
Swampcycling {2}, mountaincycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Search your library for a Swamp or Mountain card, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle.)

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Smoldering Tar

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/7664_200w.jpg

At the beginning of your upkeep, target player loses 1 life.
Sacrifice Smoldering Tar: It deals 4 damage to target creature. Activate only as a sorcery.

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Casting of Bones

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/81810_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
When enchanted creature dies, draw three cards, then discard one of them.

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Mountain

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/235547_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R}.)

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Plague Spores

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/7589_200w.jpg

Destroy target nonblack creature and target land. They can't be regenerated.

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Dismantle

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.03

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/219529_200w.jpg

Destroy target artifact. If that artifact had counters on it, put that many +1/+1 counters or charge counters on an artifact you control.

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Void

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/118455_200w.jpg

Choose a number. Destroy all artifacts and creatures with mana value equal to that number. Then target player reveals their hand and discards all nonland cards with mana value equal to the number.

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Bone Splinters

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216203_200w.jpg

As an additional cost to cast this spell, sacrifice a creature.
Destroy target creature.

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Theater of Horrors

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/243935_200w.jpg

At the beginning of your upkeep, exile the top card of your library.
During your turn, if an opponent lost life this turn, you may play lands and cast spells from among cards exiled with Theater of Horrors.
{3}{R}: Theater of Horrors deals 1 damage to target opponent or planeswalker.

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First-Sphere Gargantua

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/191734_200w.jpg

When First-Sphere Gargantua enters the battlefield, you draw a card and you lose 1 life.
Unearth {2}{B} ({2}{B}: Return this card from your graveyard to the battlefield. It gains haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step or if it would leave the battlefield. Unearth only as a sorcery.)

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Wildfire Emissary

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.01

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/118601_200w.jpg

Protection from white
{1}{R}: Wildfire Emissary gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

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Cult Guildmage

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183191_200w.jpg

{3}{B}, {T}: Target player discards a card. Activate only as a sorcery.
{R}, {T}: Cult Guildmage deals 1 damage to target opponent or planeswalker.

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Rakdos Guildmage

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/37207_200w.jpg

({B/R} can be paid with either {B} or {R}.)
{3}{B}, Discard a card: Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.
{3}{R}: Create a 2/1 red Goblin creature token with haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step.

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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215720_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Bituminous Blast

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/243913_200w.jpg

Cascade (When you cast this spell, exile cards from the top of your library until you exile a nonland card that costs less. You may cast it without paying its mana cost. Put the exiled cards on the bottom of your library in a random order.)
Bituminous Blast deals 4 damage to target creature.

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Emberstrike Duo

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/18620_200w.jpg

Whenever you cast a black spell, Emberstrike Duo gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
Whenever you cast a red spell, Emberstrike Duo gains first strike until end of turn.

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Rakdos Ragemutt

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/66600_200w.jpg

Lifelink, haste

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Rakdos Firewheeler

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182119_200w.jpg

When Rakdos Firewheeler enters the battlefield, it deals 2 damage to target opponent and 2 damage to up to one target creature or planeswalker.

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Agonizing Demise

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/52130_200w.jpg

Kicker {1}{R} (You may pay an additional {1}{R} as you cast this spell.)
Destroy target nonblack creature. It can't be regenerated. If this spell was kicked, Agonizing Demise deals damage equal to that creature's power to the creature's controller.

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Abnormal Endurance

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/168592_200w.jpg

Until end of turn, target creature gets +2/+0 and gains "When this creature dies, return it to the battlefield tapped under its owner's control."

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Dark Temper

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/28521_200w.jpg

Dark Temper deals 2 damage to target creature. If you control a black permanent, destroy the creature instead.

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Dark Bargain

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.03

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212712_200w.jpg

Look at the top three cards of your library. Put two of them into your hand and the other into your graveyard. Dark Bargain deals 2 damage to you.

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Hackrobat

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183179_200w.jpg

Spectacle {B}{R} (You may cast this spell for its spectacle cost rather than its mana cost if an opponent lost life this turn.)
{B}: Hackrobat gains deathtouch until end of turn.
{R}: Hackrobat gets +2/-2 until end of turn.

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Bloodhunter Bat

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215969_200w.jpg

Flying
When Bloodhunter Bat enters the battlefield, target player loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.

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Addle

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.24

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/7408_200w.jpg

Choose a color. Target player reveals their hand and you choose a card of that color from it. That player discards that card.

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Crypt Angel

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.48

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/7465_200w.jpg

Flying, protection from white
When Crypt Angel enters the battlefield, return target blue or red creature card from your graveyard to your hand.

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Pyre Zombie

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.31

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/7605_200w.jpg

At the beginning of your upkeep, if Pyre Zombie is in your graveyard, you may pay {1}{B}{B}. If you do, return Pyre Zombie to your hand.
{1}{R}{R}, Sacrifice Pyre Zombie: It deals 2 damage to any target.

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Conquer

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/2508_200w.jpg

Enchant land
You control enchanted land.

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Angrath, the Flame-Chained

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $4.65

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/155674_200w.jpg

+1: Each opponent discards a card and loses 2 life.
−3: Gain control of target creature until end of turn. Untap it. It gains haste until end of turn. Sacrifice it at the beginning of the next end step if it has mana value 3 or less.
−8: Each opponent loses life equal to the number of cards in their graveyard.

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Crimson Muckwader

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/59895_200w.jpg

Crimson Muckwader gets +1/+1 as long as you control a Swamp.
{2}{B}: Regenerate Crimson Muckwader. (The next time this creature would be destroyed this turn, it isn't. Instead tap it, remove all damage from it, and remove it from combat.)

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Deepfire Elemental

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/72091_200w.jpg

{X}{X}{1}: Destroy target artifact or creature with mana value X.

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Hellhole Rats

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/13877_200w.jpg

Haste
When Hellhole Rats enters the battlefield, target player discards a card. Hellhole Rats deals damage to that player equal to that card's mana value.

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Cinder Shade

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/7454_200w.jpg

{B}: Cinder Shade gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
{R}, Sacrifice Cinder Shade: It deals damage equal to its power to target creature.

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Angrath's Rampage

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188100_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Target player sacrifices an artifact.
• Target player sacrifices a creature.
• Target player sacrifices a planeswalker.

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Urborg Volcano

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.46

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/140139_200w.jpg

Urborg Volcano enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {B} or {R}.

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Tainted Peak

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.33

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/254455_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{T}: Add {B} or {R}. Activate only if you control a Swamp.

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Arrogant Bloodlord

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/34788_200w.jpg

Whenever Arrogant Bloodlord blocks or becomes blocked by a creature with power 1 or less, destroy Arrogant Bloodlord at end of combat.

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The Game Plan

Let the game take a nice long while, and bleed out the opponent with our various tricks. As a black/red deck, we've got more removal than we know what to do with. Our various creatures can eventually assume control and win at their leisure once the game's been locked up.

Our early creatures are kinda strange—they're potent, but not right away. So there might be plenty of games where we're just using them for their early bodies, and in the games where we draw them late, we get some upside. Rakdos Guildmage/Cult Guildmage and the Crimson Muckwader can heavily impact a game! But if we need to throw them under the bus to keep off some early pressure, let's not sweat it. No need to hold onto that Emberstrike Duo to unlock its true potential. Its true potential will end up being "chump blocker" in many scenarios. We've got so many late game bombs, surviving until the later stages of the game is a top priority.

Once we end up getting a little further into the game, the value engines start revving up. Rakdos Firewheeler and Hellhole Rats are almost certainly going to be two-for-ones. Nightfire Giant and Deepfire Elemental can rock entire games on their own, provided we've got enough mana and time to let them go off. Bloodhunter Bat and Rakdos Ragemutt provide an unusual life boost to a black/red shell.

Like Arnold said in Predator, if it bleeds we can kill it. Our deck is jam packed with removal spells, and we should be able to kill lots of enemy creatures. Sometimes there's some strings attached: Angrath's Rampage gives them a choice, Agonizing Demise can't get black creatures, Dark Temper might not be able to kill everything depending on our board state, and Bone Splinters requires some extra tribute. (Pro tip: let's save the Bone Splinters if we can for after we threaten something with Angrath, the Flame-Chained minus ability. I promise we'll be happier that way.) But we can put a lot of enemy bodies in the ground. Just watch out for enchantments, because our outs there are rather slim (read: non-existent).

The Rares

Back in the days of Invasion Block, when creatures were worse and damage went on the stack, Pyre Zombie was a powerful, if slow, option for board control decks. He's unfortunately aged like the corpse he is, but we can still make it work with him. Think about making him your Bone Splinters sacrifice so we can negate the card disadvantage.

I used to think this card was the coolest thing ever, then I never actually put it in a deck. Well, Crypt Angel, your time is now! A 3/3 flyer with pro-white for five mana is decidedly medium given today's creatures, but letting us recur a red creature is potentially quite strong. I think a Cinder Shade for more immolation, Igneous Pouncer for more mana smoothing/big hits, and Deepfire Elemental are my favorite possible targets.

I really like this name/art combo, and I love how R&D finally got the flavor of Rakdos pitch perfect on the most recent visit to Ravnica. Theater of Horrors is a great card advantage engine that just needs a little bit of work to kickstart. But keep in mind once you've damaged an opponent, you can play anything that's been exiled by the Theater of Horrors, not just what's been exiled that particular upkeep. BFFs with Smoldering Tar.

What a strange card! But back then, only white got the real wrath effects so black and red had to make due with the weirdos. Still, the ability to get a mass destruction effect that lets us break the symmetry is appealing. And if we think we know the most dangerous casting cost around (hint: likely to be somewhere in the four-to-six range) we can annihilate our opponent's chances. Although it's not present in this deck, the foil of this card looks really dope, and thanks to its presence on the Timeshifted Sheet, I don't even think it's that expensive.

Unsung Hero

This lil fella was so strange back in the days of Dissension. The Selesnya Guildmage was widely heralded as the strongest one, and yet the Rakdos Guildmage version could provide some removal or hasty bodies… with significantly more resources required. Nevertheless, the ability to kill stuff is important, and hasty bodies can still be valuable even with a higher price tag. The Rakdos Guildmage sums up this deck nicely to me—a little awkward and clunky, but capable of taking over a game, given reasonable circumstances and some time.