Is Light Up the Night Too Good for Arena?

Light Up the Night

Light Up the Night from Innistrad: Midnight Hunt

  • Card Name: Light Up the Night
  • Mana Cost: XR
  • Card Type: Sorcery
  • Rules Text: Light Up the Night deals X damage to any target. It deals X plus 1 damage instead if that target is a creature or planeswalker. Flashback—{3}{R}, Remove X loyalty counters from among planeswalkers you control. If you cast this spell this way, X can’t be 0. (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)
  • Illustrated by: Wei Wei

We kid. We kid!

Or do we?

Rakdos Story Time, Redux

Last time when we talked about Coppercoat Vanguard in White Weenie, I recounted a recent story about trying Champ-Champ Nathan Steuer’s Rakdos deck on the ladder.

I had actually just submitted the article The Winners’ Metagame to CoolStuffInc, and ended up chuckling to myself. It’s obvious that the Handshake Rakdos deck was not made for this world. For the bodies and the substrate. For primates stuffing themselves into miniskirts and polo shirts trying to convince themselves that they are something more than monkeys playing make-believe.

The Handshake Rakdos deck targets an elevated metagame. In the abstract, Rakdos is one of the more challenging decks for beloved Mono-Red to face. The typical Arena Rakdos deck has twenty-four lands. Three of those lands will show up in one’s opening hand thanks to the Best-of-One shuffler. Arena-Rakdos defends itself starting turn one with four Cut Downs, and can slam shut the door with all four Graveyard Trespassers starting turn three.

But not so the Handshake Rakdos!

Built for a long game (with no Arena shuffler), it plays a little more land.

More than that, it shaves Cut Down and Graveyard Trespasser. Steuer and literally half the Pro Tour Top 8, all banking on great Limited records, didn’t think they were going to need some of those tools from their higher Standing starting records; and if they had to best a Monastery Swiftspear? Maybe they’d get by on skill.

So when Yours Truly slid into a Handshake Rakdos — knowing all this — it was well and truly JUSTICE that I got browned, baked, sizzled, and broiled by an opponent opening on basic Mountain.

Light Up the Night is the BestWorst Card in Rakdos Midrange

It’s the best!

The “burn” variant including Light Up the Night performs demonstrably better than “regular” Rakdos midrange, at least according to Pro Tour Hall of Famer Frank Karsten.

  • Rakdos “Burn” Midrange: 67.3%
  • Rakdos “Stock” Midrange: 54.5%

There are some obvious caveats to this. First, more than a quarter of the Light Up the Night folks actually ended up in the Top 8 at the Pro Tour; and made up a team with multiple Pro Tour and World Champions. There is a clear skill edge embedded in their results that goes beyond playing a weirdo Fireball.

54.5% is a great win rate for a deck at the motherloving Pro Tour though! It’s just much, much worse than the deck that won the whole shebang.

Is it the best?

Light Up the Night is one of the key distinguishing features of a deck with a very meaningful level of differentiation; so we can extrapolate that — skill aside — it’s gotta be a big part of the equation. Light Up the Night in concert with Chandra, Hope’s Beacon is a particularly compelling one-two punch.

But it also has to be the worst… Depending on what room you’re in. If you’ve just finished crushing the Limited portion and it’s time to turn your attention to a finely curated Winners’ Metagame of future victims, get ready to tap for X.

But on the ladder?

In an Arena Event?

Light Up the Night is an under-performer. You really want your Cut Downs just to keep your head above water, I fear.

Here is Our Hero giving it a go with Light Up the Night, et al:

You know the drill. Typically we absolutely farm Arena Events to build our collection and keep our pockets full of gems. But what about this Event?

Is it possible that the Winners’ Metagame deck just doesn’t win (or at least not so much) when paired with regular, old, opponents?

One way to find out! Check out the video.


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