Increasing Lethality with Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh

Sam Black • January 18, 2024

One of my favorite cEDH decks has been my Rograkh/Thrasios deck. This deck is built to play a good early game thanks to Rograkh contributing extra mana in the first few turns with cards like Mox Amber, Springleaf Drum, and Gaea's Cradle, and a good midrange game thanks to Thrasios's ability. It's designed to have a wide variety of different creature-based infinite combos that it can assemble such that it's not really a problem if any particular combo is stopped because another can easily come together. The purpose of the deck is to play an interactive game and focus on resilience with a good amount of lethality while not necessarily consistently presenting wins on turns 3-4. I enjoy playing it, and I've done pretty well with it, but I didn't have a good result at the last tournament I played and got a bit discouraged.

cEDH is an extremely high-variance format; it's very intricate and nuanced with more decisions than you can really count, but often none of that matters when someone just has a crazy draw or the table seriously misevaluates what matters. Going 1-3-1 or whatever once isn't very strong evidence that a deck is bad, but I have a lot of ideas and I'm trying to find something great, so it's enough to get me to keep exploring.

My deck is built to use Thrasios as a value engine, but I'm not sure that's a good idea. Having Thrasios with Training Grounds/Biomancer's Familiar/Seedborn Muse is great, but it's a kind of great that's very threatening and not very lethal, so it usually just means someone breaks up your engine somehow. My new idea is that I'd like to use Thrasios as a combo piece to win when I have infinite colorless mana, but not to try to lean into the Thrasios midrange plan, and instead build a turbo deck with a combo piece in the command zone.

Turbo decks without black are rare, as the tutors and rituals are seen as fairly important, and there's some validity to that, but green is also good at finding specific cards and generating mana, and I've really liked Rograkh and Thrasios as commanders.

So what would such a change look like?

In short, more focus on speed; more fast mana and combo cards, and less focus on interaction and second-tier card advantage engines.

Cards I've Added to Rograkh/Thrasios

Mana Creatures

Fast Mana

Additional Combo Cards

Draw Sevens

Ragavan and Magda are actually additional combo cards as well, specifically if I have both Cloudstone Curio and Relic of Legends, then either of them allow me to make infinite mana with Rograkh. But what have I had to give up to make room for all of this? 

Cards I've Cut from Rograkh/Thrasios


I like all of these cards, but they're all much better at stopping other players from winning than they are at protecting my own attempt to win. Theoretically, with a faster deck that becomes somewhat less important.

Thrasios Engines

As mentioned, this just isn't the kind of game I'm looking to play now.

Miscellaneous Interaction

Again, a lot of cards I like a lot, but the idea is that I'm trying to focus on my own game rather than worrying so much about policing opposing permanents.

Other Card Advantage Engines

Slower and more situational than the premium engines, like Mystic Remora and Rhystic Study, these are important for playing an interactive game, but too slow when you're trying to win fast.


Generous Ent is worse without Force of Vigor, as part of the idea is that it's like a land you can pitch. It's also worse with more Elves as I'm less likely to have a free mana early. Paradise Mantle is on plan, but I haven't loved the card. I don't know if it's better or worse than Citanul Stalwart, but I like that Stalwart can immediately tap Magda. Trinket Mage is nice, but doesn't find things that are essential and loses some utility without Haywire Mite.

Previous versions of this deck have relied very heavily on Dockside Extortionist, which isn't a bad plan; Dockside's great, and I can play a lot of ways to find and abuse the card, but it's very much an expected part of the metagame, and people play a lot of cards like Collector Ouphe, Blind Obedience, Manglehorn, and Dauntless Dismantler that stop it from working properly. The card I've recently added to solve this problem, which I've loved, is Cloud of Faeries. This deck highly prioritizes finding Gaea's Cradle, and if I have Cradle then most combos that work with Dockside to make infinite mana also work with Cloud of Faeries instead (Cloudstone Curio and Temur Sabertooth; Barrin doesn't work). I'm excited about adding the Relic of Legends combos with Ragavan and Magda as well (note that if Treasures enter tapped then Magda doesn't make infinite mana here, but it does make infinite Treasures which I can sacrifice to find all of my artifacts).

I'm curious how having Displacer Kitten and Etali will play. My thinking is that I should be able to get to seven mana for Etali fairly often, and it should be generically strong to cast, and it wins with Displacer Kitten, and Displacer Kitten likely does enough random strong things to also earn a spot, but I'm really not sure. Here's the list in full:

Rog/Thras by Samuel H Black

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Commander (2)
Instants (22)
Lands (29)
Creatures (27)
Artifacts (11)
Sorceries (5)
Enchantments (4)

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So that's my "minor" adjustment to my work in progress, but I also have a new idea I've been thinking about.

Rograkh & Francisco

There's a decent amount of hype around Francisco, Fowl Marauder, particularly due to the combo with Agatha's Soul Cauldron and Walking Ballista. It helps that these are both pretty good cards and the full combo requires very little mana to get going. It also helps that Francisco is black, so you get tutors for this combo, and Entomb-type cards also work for finding Walking Ballista.

I've mostly seen people interested in pairing Francisco with Thrasios or Kraum to get blue cards, but whenever I play partners without Rograkh, I really miss it, and I think it might just be the best partner. I also think it pairs well with Francisco to make an extremely fast deck with two of the cheapest partners available.

Red generally isn't great at tutors, but when your combo involves two artifacts, one of which you want in the graveyard, cards like Goblin Engineer, Gamble, and Reckless Handling get a lot better.

So let's look at how these two play together.

This is absolutely a turbo deck, so you need to know what kinds of end game states you're capable of.


Francisco + Agatha's Soul Cauldron + Walking Ballista. You need to have a nonland on top of your deck when you explore for this to be lethal, so it helps if you can get some counters on Francisco first.

Underworld Breach + Grinding Station and any zero-mana artifact: this lets you mill your deck. If the artifact taps for mana you get to generate mana while you do that, if it doesn't, you go until you find one that does. From there you should be able to assemble another combo.

Dualcaster Mage + Saw in Half + anything: this gives you infinite Dualcaster Mages that can infinitely copy whatever other spell is on the stack. I'm not playing Twinflame or Heat Shimmer, but you certainly could.

Cloudstone Curio + something to go mana-positive with Rograkh, that could be Relic of Legends with Ragavan or Magda, it could be Dockside Extortionist, it could be Birgi in play with a red creature that costs (or 2 if mana neutral is good enough); from there you need something to do with the mana or this loop. That could be Aetherflux Reservoir or Walking Ballista for an easy win, or you could use the mana to loop a creature with a profitable enters-the-battlefield ability, like Orcish Bowmasters or Imperial Recruiter, to find Orcish Bowmasters, otherwise you need to find something more complicated involving drawing cards. If Birgi enabled the loop, you could pick up Birgi after making infinite mana and play the backside and hope to draw into something.

Bolas's Citadel + Sensei's Divining Top + Aetherflux Reservoir, but you can probably find Reservoir once you have Citadel + Top, and you can often find Top once you have Citadel.

Tainted Pact + Praetor's Grasp for Thassa's Oracle.

I'm probably missing some, but those are the combos I'd be looking to put together.

The best way to assemble these combos generally isn't tutoring for specific combo pieces unless you think you can win immediately. In general I think you're looking to tutor for a big card draw spell, like Necropotence or Ad Nauseam, and resolve that so that you can win with redundant combos or backup for your combo. So your basic strategy is just to make mana, tutor for a draw spell, draw cards, then try to win, so the deck is built with that plan in mind:

Combo Pieces

Fast Mana

24 spells and 25 lands: half the deck is mana, and that's split to draw an even mix of lands and nonlands.


Card Advantage Engines


Braids, Arisen Nightmare

The One Ring

Bolas's Citadel


I think Braids, Arisen Nightmare is a little overlooked, but it's fantastic in this deck, which has no problem finding things to sacrifice, and it'll usually draw 2-3 cards every turn. You won't always resolve the big one-shot draw spells, so it's important to have access to some more persistent card advantage sources to play through resistance.

Other Creatures

Goblin Welder is just a good card in a deck with this many artifacts, especially with cards like Entomb that can find Bolas's Citadel. The Pirates help get Francisco started and are also good to sacrifice to your assorted cards that want you to sacrifice creatures, and Orcish Bowmasters is just a mandatory card for black decks that also works well with a lot of your cards.

Interactive Spells

It'd be nice not to have to play any of these, but I think it's good to cover your bases.

Draw Spells

Not a lot of good draw spells available, but these few are very important. Here's the list in full: 

Rog/Fran by Samuel H Black

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Commander (2)
Instants (20)
Artifacts (21)
Lands (25)
Creatures (15)
Enchantments (4)
Sorceries (13)

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I'm pretty confident that the core of this deck wants to look basically like this and that any variations won't dramatically change how the deck plays. There's room to tweak exactly which combos you're playing, or otherwise adjust some of the weaker cards in any of the categories or move things around, playing more or fewer cards in any category; the next best card in each category is about as good as the worst card I'm currently playing, and the worst is about as good as the second worst, so there's a lot of room to fine tune, but I think this is a pretty reasonable starting point.


I've been curious about Rakdos Turbo decks before, but never enough to build one, but I think this set of commanders is particularly appealing compared to the other options. I don't have a lot of experience playing turbo decks, and this deck is new to me, so I would expect that there's a good chance that more Final Fortune effects are probably right and stuff like that. If it goes well, I'm sure I'll have updates on it later, otherwise, there are always more things to try.

Sam Black is a former professional Magic player, longtime Magic writer, host of the Drafting Archetypes podcast, and Twitch streamer. Sam enjoys a wide range of formats, especially limited and unofficial fan formats like Old School and Premodern in addition to cEDH.