It’s time for red, color of burn spells and haste guys, with some goblins thrown in for good measure. As usual, the ratings scale is as follows:
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. Celestial Purge. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although explanation of why is obviously important)
1.0 It has seen play once. One with Nothing. (I believe it was tech vs Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
5.0: I will always play this card. Period.
4.5: I will almost always play this card, regardless of what else I get.
4.0: I will strongly consider playing this as the only card of its color.
3.5: I feel a strong pull into this card’s color.
3.0: This card makes me want to play this color. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 100% of the time.)
2.5: Several cards of this power level start to pull me into this color. If playing that color, I essentially always play these. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 90% of the time.)
2.0: If I’m playing this color, I usually play these. (70%)
1.5: This card will make the cut into the main deck about half the times I play this color. (50%)
1.0: I feel bad when this card is in my main deck. (30%)
0.5: There are situations where I might sideboard this into my deck, but I’ll never start it. (10%)
0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding). (0%)
As fun as it would be to stick it to them, this is better left for Limited. In the land of the 60-card decks, we need a little more bang for our buck.
It’s funny how much one point of power can add to a card. Sparkmage Apprentice was never a high pick, and you didn’t even almost play him, yet Blisterstick Shaman is the opposite. Granted, the formats are quite different as well, since Ravnica didn’t have a cycle of Myrs and a ton of x/1 infect guys, but my point still stands. The key is that a 2-power guy is an actual card, whereas a 1/1 isn’t really, making Blisterstick Shaman a legitimate two for one most of the time. I would take him just under the premium removal spells in the set.
Man, burn spells really have it tough in Standard nowadays. Lightning Bolt and Searing Blaze are pretty tough to beat, and I would be pretty frightened of the spell that managed to do so. Once you concede that you aren’t beating them, the next step is to consider a deck that wants more burn spells than that, but Burn the Impure doesn’t fit there either, since it will rarely deal damage directly to the opponent. The only thing this really has going for it is its name, which is awesome.
Barbed Lightning for two mana is a steal, even if it only nugs the opponent in half your matchups. This easily one of the best commons in the set, and should only get passed for something like Spread the Sickness (depending on color preference) or a bomb uncommon/rare.
BOOM! I wouldn’t call this a Constructed knockout, but at least it has some good flavor.
The range on this card reflects the fact that it is a great spell in the right deck and unplayable in the wrong deck. If you are aggressive metalcraft, it is excellent; I saw Conley dome people out from very high life totals multiple times with it. Dealing 4 + the total power of your creatures is quite the swing, and combines very well with an army of Chrome Steeds and battle cry guys. On the other hand, in a non-metalcraft or non-aggressive deck, this shouldn’t get anywhere near your maindeck, which is why it will go very late most drafts (all the better for those who want to give their opponents a concussion).
Yeah, this is Constructed; you get to pick any card you want for your deck, so there is no need to settle for a very narrow one out of necessity. Try playing this and you will undoubtedly get…beaten.
Just because this is the artifact set doesn’t mean you should just immediately jam any artifact removal spell into your maindeck, particularly one as narrow as this. Most decks will have 1-3 targets, which isn’t enough to make me want to maindeck Crush, though it is an excellent sideboard card. While the format is still young, it will lead to even more impressive blowouts, since people won’t play around you having a single Mountain untapped and get crushed by you killing their equipment midcombat. If you are short cards, playing this is reasonable, but under most circumstances I would advise against starting it.
If you want to abuse this, there are two ways to go about doing so.
The first is to set up the top of your deck with cards like Preordain, Halimar Depths, and Jace in order to cast a HUGE spell for free. The problem with that is finding a spell that’s worth all the trouble, especially since you could just, you know, cast it normally.
The second use involves many of the same cards, but this time uses Galvanoth as an incremental card advantage card, playing cheap sorceries and instants for value every turn.
Both share one common flaw: you have to untap with a 5-drop creature in play, one that dies to any removal spell under the sun. I think Galvanoth would have been printable as a cheaper and smaller guy, since as is he is just too pricey to really get value out of him.
This ability is all upside, but the stats on this guy aren’t impressive enough to galvanize any sort of positive reaction by themselves. I’d say that most deck with a couple spells will run Galvanoth, especially if they are on the more controlling side, since value is value. I did have him in a deck with 9 sweet spells, and that still didn’t lead to too many free cards overall. Not a high pick, but a fine card to run (and your opponents will probably overvalue him, since he looks like a card advantage machine).
Another six mana spell? Too many of these leaves me gnathing my teeth in frustration.
There are dinosaurs a-plenty in red now, with this guy, Flameborn Hellion, Kuldotha Ringleader, Ogre Geargrabber, and more. Playing one or two is fine if you have to, but don’t pick them early, since they are all pretty close to each other, and all are pretty mediocre. Trample is a nice bonus, as is an artifact-sacrificing outlet, so sometimes this guy’ll make the cut over the others, depending on the rest of your deck.
This guy is a driving force in the Kuldotha Rebirth deck, bashing for a significant amount of damage most games. Even without backup, red decks have played much worse to great success, and once you add in all the Goblin tokens and Signal Pests, it gets pretty wild. There is only one deck this really goes into, but in that deck it is pretty important.
RR on turn two is a pretty tough sell, especially in the color combination that also wants to play Leonin Skyhunter and Kemba’s Skyguard. Drafting a deck with this guy in mind is definitely possible, especially given how much better Kuldotha Rebirth has gotten (Ichor Wellspring and Myr Sire are the big reasons). Control decks just won’t play this guy, which does make taking him early a bit of a gamble, so I think I would be most comfortable picking him around 6-8th if you are likely to be aggro.
I know people love dragons, so I’ll try and avoid igniting a firestorm when I say that I’m a little tired of them. This guy at least has haste, which is a prerequisite for a Dragon to be Constructed playable, but his mana cost and ability don’t quite pass muster.
Dragons are dragons, after all, but seven mana still is a lot. I would take Burn the Impure or the like over this, though not much else. Don’t even worry about artifact counts or anything like that; this guy should end the game quickly enough as is.
He might not be Bloodbraid Elf (for which we are all grateful), but adding 4 to 7 power to the board in haste form is nothing to scoff at. The random evasion clause is not all that relevant, though it lets you dodge Squadron Hawks, Wall of Omens, and Sea Gate Oracles, and the card is fine even without it. Kuldotha Rebirth needed a Hero, and this guy just might be it.
Don’t mistake this for a bomb of any sort, since it isn’t that much better than a random 4/3. It’s no Hero of Bladehold, that’s for sure. It should probably go below the good removal and above all the durdle creatures.
More like Into the Trash for all the play it’s going to get in Standard, unless the landscape changes completely. I can see it being played once the third set comes out, and Block play is almost guaranteed.
This card is a pretty big blowout if you ever get to cast it, which is admittedly tricky against infect. I think I’m just going to transcribe the house discussion about it:
Me: [card burn the impure]Incinerate[/card] or [card into the core]Dust to Dust[/card] pick 1 pack 1?
Web: I’d take the Burn the Impure, it’s just more consistent.
Gwalls: Into the Core for sure, it’s so ridiculous if you can land it.
Me: Yeah, it’s higher variance and higher power, both things Gabe and I can appreciate.
Web: Well, I don’t throw away cards, so a consistent one for one works just fine for me.
That pretty much sums it up, as well as giving you a look at how Gwalls and I think about the game versus how Web does (the classic greed vs consistency battle). I would also take this over Burn, but wouldn’t fault anyone for making the opposite choice.
Even Koth is having a hard enough time staying employed these days, so I wouldn’t imagine his messenger doing much better. I’m going to assume I don’t need to explain why a 2-power guy with minor evasion for three mana isn’t going to find any safe havens in Constructed.
Hurloon Minotaur is a perfectly reasonable addition to a draft deck, despite not being the most exciting. Add to that the fact that around 3 of the 7 other players are likely to be green (assuming you aren’t), and you have a card that I wouldn’t be ashamed (ok, maybe a little) to run in the maindeck.
You would have to be fiending for a six-drop to consider this behemoth, especially given the fact that Inferno Titan is legal. Plus, you also need to play artifacts, since you can’t just fire him out there as a vanilla 4/4, making it even more awkward.
Look, a mini-Massacre Wurm! How cute. What’s scary is that this is a miniature version of anything, since it is already the biggest beating imaginable. A 4/4 that eats between one and four of their creatures, with a few points at the dome for good measure, is just insane. Sacrificing an artifact isn’t even much of a cost, since he costs six mana and all (so you should have some piece of scrap lying around).
I’m afraid this guy won’t be leading any charges in Standard, which means for him there will be less battling and more crying.
A little better than the other big buffoons simply because he costs five rather than six, Kuldotha Ringleader still isn’t that exciting. Having to attack every turn might not be the biggest drawback, but it still is a drawback, and a five mana 4/4 isn’t exactly a hot commodity.
If mastery of any format interests you, avoid playing cards that are both very situational and underpowered, which this happens to be. I guess it kind of is an answer to Tezzeret, in that you can take the guy they animate and kill Tezz, but they still have their 5/5 in play to bash you with.
All I need is two good sacrifice outlets and I’m game to run this card, which isn’t that unattainable. Between Barrage Ogre, Rusted Slasher, Piston Sledge, Culling Dias, and Kuldotha Rebirth (as well as less good options like Ferrovore or Oxidda Daredevil), a sacrifice red deck might be a reasonable archetype, and Metallic Mastery fits quite well. What I wouldn’t do is just play this in random red decks, since a more conditional Threaten isn’t my idea of a good time.
I tried to resist the urge to make a pun here, but it looks like I failed miserably. Ogre well, maybe next time.
I have a hard time imagining the base red deck that benches this; after all, who can resist a 4/3 for four? If the mana cost is an issue, that’s one thing, which does make this not a complete auto-play, but any deck running 8+ Mountains is going to play as many Resisters as possible.
I don’t care how many rallies are held, I’m going to have to be forced at gunpoint to ever play this in Constructed.
I would have to be pretty committed to the swarm plan before I played this, since it is one of the clunkier tricks in the set. Not only is it only good when on the attack, the bonus really isn’t all that sick, though partially because it’s so marginal, it will take people by surprise.
Ruling this completely unplayable seems like a mistake, since the effect is somewhat interesting. Granted, Fireball doesn’t usually make it into Constructed, but exiling might be relevant against something like Wurmcoil. Shuffling back in is a small bonus too, thought I admit I would be surprised if this made it out of Block.
Fireball has been a first pick ever since booster drafting was invented, and Red Sun’s Zenith is no different. Sure, it might not be able to hit two targets, but getting a crack at drawing your ridiculous bomb again is insane. Kuldotha Flamefiend does beat it, but I’m not sure any of the other uncommons do.
This is definitely one of the better cards in the set for Constructed. Thanks to planeswalkers, Jace in particular, both halves of the card are relevant even for the control decks, and it looks like swarm aggro decks are going to be quite popular come the new format. There are actually an unprecedented number of Pyroclasms in play now, and between this, Pyroclasm itself, Arc Trail, and Forked Bolt, red has a ton of choices. Valakut in particular can make good use of this card, especially if it is running Overgrown Battlements.
I have been notoriously critical of pure Wraths in the past, since resetting the board doesn’t inherently win you the game, but they are still very good. This does pale in comparison to the rest of them in this format, simply because all of the other ones are more like Plague Wind (I mean, Sunblast Angel, Contagion Engine, Massacre Wurm, Phyrexian Rebirth…is this real?), but that doesn’t make it a card you are unhappy to open. This does let you set it up well, both because you know it’s coming and because it won’t kill your x/4 guys, so keep that in mind if you are fortunate enough to first pick it.
Too much work, too little reward. First you add these, then a bunch of random artifacts to power them, and the next thing you know it spirals out of control and you are just playing Kuldotha Red plus a bad four-drop.
If you have a reasonable shot at metalcrafting, go challenge people to some duels! Equipment pairs particularly well with this guy, letting you build your own unstoppable battlecruiser (at least until Fume Spitter comes along).
Top 5 Red Commons for Limited
As usual, red starts with the best common and dries up quickly. The top two are both pretty much removal spells, with the ones after that being pretty mediocre at best. Like I said in earlier reviews, red leans on artifacts more than black and green, so having shallow commons isn’t a big deal.
Top 5 Red Cards for Constructed
I like that red got a nice tool for control decks (and burn decks) and some nice battle cry dudes for the swarm strategy. Everybody wins! Slagstorm is definitely going to impact Standard significantly, and Wardriver is a huge gain for the Goblins decks. The time might not be right for Red Sun’s Zenith or Into the Core, but I wouldn’t completely count them out.
Tomorrow I wrap up the colors with Green, which is determined to troll my blue decks until I stop playing them (like that’s going to happen).