This week's Planeswalker Duel Deck is ready to party, just in time for the new year!  Before we kick things off, take a moment to check out my introduction to the project, if you haven't already.

Sarkhan the Mad is pretty wild. At the time of its release, it felt like WotC was trying to experiment pretty wildly with different Planeswalkers, to very mixed results. Chandra Ablaze was focused on being very Red. Sorin was expensive, and required lots of one color to play. Jace the Mind Sculptor had 4 different abilities. Gideon Jura didn't have an ultimate and became a creature. And Sarkhan the Mad only counted down in his loyalty. 

Sarkhan found a home in Jund, getting extra cards or turning some goofy creature into a fat dragon to break the mirror match. But other than that, he's been relatively homeless. When it came time to choose themes for this deck, Sarkhan's normal status as a Dragon enthusiast didn't do much for me. There have been a lot of Sarkhans, and the Dragon design space isn't that deep. 

Fortunately, another plan began to take shape: Sarkhan seems tailor-made for the Rakdos Cult! Doesn't mind doing damage to himself. Sacrifices others for significant benefit. And there's a certain gleam in his eye... You can see it too. Just look. 

Let's imagine he's run away and joined the circus:

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Sarkhan the Mad by Andy Hurst

'Sarkhan the Mad' - 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: $15.69

Cards

Murderous Redcap

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.33

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/180906_200w.jpg

When Murderous Redcap enters the battlefield, it deals damage equal to its power to any target.
Persist (When this creature dies, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner's control with a -1/-1 counter on it.)

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Gravedigger

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192882_200w.jpg

When Gravedigger enters the battlefield, you may return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.

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Swift Warkite

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.15

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/96497_200w.jpg

Flying
When Swift Warkite enters the battlefield, you may put a creature card with mana value 3 or less from your hand or graveyard onto the battlefield. That creature gains haste. Return it to your hand at the beginning of the next end step.

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Anathemancer

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.28

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/31695_200w.jpg

When Anathemancer enters the battlefield, it deals damage to target player equal to the number of nonbasic lands that player controls.
Unearth {5}{B}{R} ({5}{B}{R}: 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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Borrowed Malevolence

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/119674_200w.jpg

Escalate {2} (Pay this cost for each mode chosen beyond the first.)
Choose one or both —
• Target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
• Target creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.

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Zulaport Cutthroat

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.35

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222543_200w.jpg

Whenever Zulaport Cutthroat or another creature you control dies, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.

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Sarkhan the Mad

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $2.55

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/34908_200w.jpg

0: Reveal the top card of your library and put it into your hand. Sarkhan the Mad deals damage to himself equal to that card's mana value.
−2: Target creature's controller sacrifices it, then that player creates a 5/5 red Dragon creature token with flying.
−4: Each Dragon creature you control deals damage equal to its power to target player or planeswalker.

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Nantuko Shade

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.19

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/94313_200w.jpg

{B}: Nantuko Shade gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

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Cinder Barrens

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/196737_200w.jpg

Cinder Barrens enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {B} or {R}.

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Cauldron Dance

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.30

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/139914_200w.jpg

Cast this spell only during combat.
Return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield. That creature gains haste. Return it to your hand at the beginning of the next end step.
You may put a creature card from your hand onto the battlefield. That creature gains haste. Its controller sacrifices it at the beginning of the next end step.

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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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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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Garna, the Bloodflame

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212314_200w.jpg

Flash
When Garna, the Bloodflame enters the battlefield, return to your hand all creature cards in your graveyard that were put there from anywhere this turn.
Other creatures you control have haste.

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Dead Revels

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.03

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183419_200w.jpg

Spectacle {1}{B} (You may cast this spell for its spectacle cost rather than its mana cost if an opponent lost life this turn.)
Return up to two target creature cards from your graveyard to your hand.

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Blood Aspirant

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206770_200w.jpg

Whenever you sacrifice a permanent, put a +1/+1 counter on Blood Aspirant.
{1}{R}, {T}, Sacrifice a creature or enchantment: Blood Aspirant deals 1 damage to target creature. That creature can't block this turn.

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Auger Spree

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215942_200w.jpg

Target creature gets +4/-4 until end of turn.

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Smothering Abomination

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.62

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/104813_200w.jpg

Devoid (This card has no color.)
Flying
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice a creature.
Whenever you sacrifice a creature, draw a card.

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Reassembling Skeleton

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.21

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/243962_200w.jpg

{1}{B}: Return Reassembling Skeleton from your graveyard to the battlefield tapped.

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Fireblade Artist

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183210_200w.jpg

Haste
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may sacrifice a creature. When you do, Fireblade Artist deals 2 damage to target opponent or planeswalker.

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Judith, the Scourge Diva

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.50

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182949_200w.jpg

Other creatures you control get +1/+0.
Whenever a nontoken creature you control dies, Judith, the Scourge Diva deals 1 damage to any target.

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Footlight Fiend

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183357_200w.jpg

When Footlight Fiend dies, it deals 1 damage to any target.

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Carnival // Carnage

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.07

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

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/183064/magic-ravnica-allegiance-carnival-carnage

Light Up the Stage

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.24

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/243900_200w.jpg

Spectacle {R} (You may cast this spell for its spectacle cost rather than its mana cost if an opponent lost life this turn.)
Exile the top two cards of your library. Until the end of your next turn, you may play those cards.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/243900/magic-commander-adventures-in-the-forgotten-realms-light-up-the-stage

Cremate

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/66543_200w.jpg

Exile target card from a graveyard.
Draw a card.

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Mayhem Devil

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $1.69

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188173_200w.jpg

Whenever a player sacrifices a permanent, Mayhem Devil deals 1 damage to any target.

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Blood Cultist

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.23

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/27619_200w.jpg

{T}: Blood Cultist deals 1 damage to target creature.
Whenever a creature dealt damage by Blood Cultist this turn dies, put a +1/+1 counter on Blood Cultist.

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Rakdos Carnarium

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.15

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}.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/254449/magic-commander-innistrad-crimson-vow-rakdos-carnarium

Mountain

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215722_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {R}.)

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/215722/magic-core-set-2021-mountain-269

Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215721_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Apprentice Necromancer

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.46

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/180825_200w.jpg

{B}, {T}, Sacrifice Apprentice Necromancer: Return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield. That creature gains haste. At the beginning of the next end step, sacrifice it.

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Tenacious Dead

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/167900_200w.jpg

When Tenacious Dead dies, you may pay {1}{B}. If you do, return it to the battlefield tapped under its owner's control.

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Divest

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/219551_200w.jpg

Target player reveals their hand. You choose an artifact or creature card from it. That player discards that card.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/219551/magic-double-masters-divest

Lyzolda, the Blood Witch

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.48

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/13889_200w.jpg

{2}, Sacrifice a creature: Lyzolda, the Blood Witch deals 2 damage to any target if the sacrificed creature was red. Draw a card if the sacrificed creature was black.

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Rocky Tar Pit

Market Price: $0.73

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/171246_200w.jpg

Rocky Tar Pit enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}, Sacrifice Rocky Tar Pit: Search your library for a Swamp or Mountain card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/171246/magic-commander-2018-rocky-tar-pit

Blade Juggler

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/183058_200w.jpg

Spectacle {2}{B} (You may cast this spell for its spectacle cost rather than its mana cost if an opponent lost life this turn.)
When Blade Juggler enters the battlefield, it deals 1 damage to you and you draw a card.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/183058/magic-ravnica-allegiance-blade-juggler

Shenanigans

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/191351_200w.jpg

Destroy target artifact.
Dredge 1 (If you would draw a card, you may mill a card instead. If you do, return this card from your graveyard to your hand.)

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Delirium

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/5027_200w.jpg

Cast this spell only during an opponent's turn.
Tap target creature that player controls. That creature deals damage equal to its power to the player. Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt to and dealt by the creature this turn.

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Mudbutton Torchrunner

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128904_200w.jpg

When Mudbutton Torchrunner dies, it deals 3 damage to any target.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/128904/magic-modern-masters-2017-mudbutton-torchrunner

Borrowed Hostility

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/120463_200w.jpg

Escalate {3} (Pay this cost for each mode chosen beyond the first.)
Choose one or both —
• Target creature gets +3/+0 until end of turn.
• Target creature gains first strike until end of turn.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/120463/magic-eldritch-moon-borrowed-hostility

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.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/182119/magic-ravnica-allegiance-rakdos-firewheeler

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.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/243913/magic-commander-adventures-in-the-forgotten-realms-bituminous-blast

Blazing Specter

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $1.00

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/7438_200w.jpg

Flying, haste
Whenever Blazing Specter deals combat damage to a player, that player discards a card.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/7438/magic-invasion-blazing-specter

The Game Plan

We're looking to sacrifice our own stuff for fun and for profit. Our main fodder is skeletons, so they can come back at some point for more hijinks. Because we have Swift Warkite, Cauldron Dance, Dead Revels, Garna, and Gravedigger, we'll be trying to take advantage of some enters-the-battlefield abilities or death triggers. Reader, if you happen to find it fun when cards change zones, then this is the deck for you! 

The removal here isn't terribly plentiful, considering that we're a Black/Red deck, but boy do we have some absolute bangers. Bituminous Blast is amazing; we'll get to torch a creature and then get a free card on top of it, too. Agonizing Demise and Augure Spree can kill most things. And some of our creatures like Redcap and Rakdos Firewheeler don't kill as much, but they get to change zones so much that they might be able to cumulatively make a greater impact. It's been making the rounds in Standard and Historic these days, so it's far from a hidden gem, but look to have Mayhem Devil in play when you start going off and watch the damage pile up. 

The Rares

 Poor Judith had a tough time finding a home in Standard while she was around, but she's an All-Star in a deck where we're looking to send monsters to the grumper. We're playing several creatures that have unimpressive bodies, and Judith gives them a more impressive presence immediately. 

 The goal is obviously to sacrifice gold creatures to get both benefits. But even if we can only choose one, the options are solid. Dealing damage and drawing cards are great, and Lyzolda seems like a great forgotten gem that can produce a potent effect in a game. This kind of project is exactly the kind of environment that Lyzolda needs to thrive. 

 A little weird to have a single Eldrazi in a deck that also has a card like Lyzolda that cares about color. But the effect is so extremely potent that we must include it. We don't want to run out of cards in this deck, and with the Abomination around, it's likely that we won't. Do not sleep on the fact that Abomination also presents a 4/3 flyer for only 4 mana, too. That can end a game in short order. 

This doesn't exactly fit into the game, but I do think it's a rad creature from yesteryear that deserved some shine, and the ability is solid. I feel like there's a fine chance that a paper reprint set will downshift this like Vintage Masters did, but until then, just make sure everyone respects this Former World Champion. 

Unsung Hero

Cauldron Dance

One of the great feelings of casual magic, and this project specifically, is that there will be a lot of unique situations and game states that come up that we've never seen before. Just all new stuff. Maybe it'll be incredible, or it'll be a catastrophe, or even meme fodder. Cauldron Dance creates a lot of special situations. You'll need to make sure you read this to really understand what you're getting, but swapping out cards from the yard with cards in hand can be super fun, and grants even more benefits to your sacrifice outlets. If you've never played the Dance before, treat yourself! It's an extremely fun Magic card.