I like red quite a bit in M13, and I believe it is one of the best colors in the format. I think it pairs best with green, but also excels when paired with black and blue. Red/white can be reasonable if you get the Captain’s Call, Krenko’s Command, and Trumpet Blast deck, which I have only drafted once but lead to a pretty convincing 3-0. One of the reasons I like red best is that it is so flexible; when I discussed blue and black, I had to often evaluate a card in context—aggro or control—to help give you an idea of where it shines. Red seems to mesh very well with either, with a few exceptions.
This not-quite Incinerate has performed well for me. It’s excellent to have an answer to the cycle of friendly-color two-drops, by that I mean Flinthoof Boar, Harbor Bandit, Crimson Muckwader, and Arctic Aven. It also conveniently handles Vampire Nighthawk. This format isn’t exactly flooded with removal, Searing Spear is a very desirable effect, and it does what you want at a cheap price. The fact that this card is an instant is just icing on the cake, being able to spoil exalted combat steps and blow out Mark of the Vampire or Tricks of the Trade. It works well with Archaeomancer, or you can simply remove a blocker to let some of red’s smaller creatures bust through. The ability to go straight to the face is super relevant as well—red can get players pretty low, and if you can have that clutch Searing Spear or Chandra’s Fury to put them away before they stabilize, then that can easily be the difference maker. I like to pick Searing Spear over any common except Murder. It may not stack up as well on power level alone, but being in a better color is important to me.
Mogg Flunkies is AWESOME! It’s the kind of card that I always have a soft spot for. It’s incredibly aggressive, and when you get the ball rolling with, it can be pretty difficult to defend against. Intuitively you would think that having a bunch of Mogg Flunkies in your deck would make you want to play a couple Reckless Brutes, and while that’s true, it’s not as important as it appears to be. Let’s say I have a bunch of Mogg Flunkies, this would make me want to play 1 Reckless Brute instead of zero, not 3 or more. The Brute is just too bad against Ravenous Rats and Elvish Visionary. I would say the Mogg Flunkies is at his most powerful in red-green since it has Arbor Elf and other creatures like Centaur Courser that don’t mind rumbling in combat. On top of that, this color combination wants to be pretty aggressive so he’s a perfect fit.
Turn to Slag
Sorry Turn to Slag, but we aren’t in Mirrodin anymore. In Scars block Turn to Slag was an all-star, it killed just about every rare and there was a plethora of equipment to go around. This time, we have the cycle of uncommon rings, and most people play them though they aren’t all that exciting. So there is some value there. I have been on the receiving end of having my Kitesails meet an untimely death. I like Turn to Slag most in a blue/red deck, because it’s easier to survive with a high life total and get to turn 5. The five-mana price tag is just a little too much in heavy red or red/grenn, considering you rarely/never kill a creature with it that costs five or more. When you have to put this card in your deck knowing you will never get mana advantage off it, then it kind of sucks. Here I am saying bad things about Turn to Slag, but I still rank it 3rd and acknowledge that it’s a good card and you always want it.
There are almost no playable artifact creatures (basically just Primal Clay and Chronomaton) so the Boar’s evasion is limited to just red creatures. He doesn’t always just die when you cast him and he’s pretty difficult to defend against. There really aren’t many four-drops competing for his slot in the curve, and he’s miles better than something like a Canyon Minotaur. In green he’s nice to cast a little earlier off an Arbor Elf, and he races pretty well in blue after something like a Wind Drake and before a Faerie Invaders. He is pretty weak in a red mirror match, but I personally put a high priority on Volcanic Strength so I don’t find myself struggling much in red mirror matches.
Krenko’s Command never ceases to impress me. Red has almost no playable two-drops outside the Mogg Flunkies, and if you want to try to stay aggressive, then you are going to want Krenko’s Command. As I mentioned, I have had pretty positive experiences with the Trumpet Blast deck and Krenko’s Command is a perfect fit there. I also love Krenko’s Command in combination with Arms Dealer, it turns the uncommon into more than just a Pinpoint Avalanche and into a machine gun effect mowing down just about any creature that an opponent can produce.
Rummaging Goblin would be pretty mediocre in almost any other set, but for some reason he seems to fit pretty well in my red decks. Maybe its because I often have an Arms Dealer to make him less bad, but I just like the fact that often red can play a more grinding game than the other colors, and having the Goblin means you are basically never going to mana flood. He works excellently in blue-red or if you get lucky and end up with Grixis. On top of all that red has no playable six casting cost spells, so once you hit five mana the Goblin is all gravy. He allows you to rip through your deck and continue to interact with your opponent until they inevitably flood out. This effect is very valuable and desirable.
Chandra’s Fury doesn’t totally click when you first look at it. Its power is totally reliant on your opponent’s willingness to play 1-toughness creatures. As a Lava Axe it is very marginal, but when you get one creature with it then it becomes playable, and approaches bonkers when you can kill multiple creatures with it. I like Chandra’s Fury best against black-white exalted decks since it can easily trap very good cards under its sweeping ability. It works exceptionally well against cards like Tormented Soul, Servant of Nefarox, and Aven Squire. All the exalted stuff running around on top of cards like Krenko’s Command and Captain’s Call can make the Chandra’s Fury pretty attractive.
Goblin Arsonist is actually just fine, when you want that type of effect. For example, Goblin Arsonist into Mogg Flunkies is totally acceptable and actively something I want to do, whereas Goblin Arsonist into Fog Bank is embarrassing and should be avoided at all costs. You can pick the Arsonist much higher if you have multiple Mogg Flunkies or Arms Dealer, but to put it bluntly you don’t really want Goblin Arsonist in any deck unless you have a strong reason to—either a Goblin theme or a super aggressive plan. It may look nice as a defensive card, but when you put a card in your deck with the hopes of trading for a Silvercoat Lion or a Walking Corpse, which won’t always happen thanks to exalted, then you have to seriously question the consistency or overall power of the card.
Fire Elemental is a card I liked when the set first came out, but now I like it less and less. It is fine in a green deck, though not great. You usually have Sentinel Spiders or other beef so he is pretty replaceable with many commons. I think he is at his finest in a black/red deck, because if you have a good amount of removal then he can be your finisher and end the game quickly. In the same way that Chandra’s Fury can be nice against a black-white deck, I think the same can be said for the Elemental. He can just run over a field of black and white creatures because they are so small, and it’s even hard for them to double block when many of them are 1/1s and 0/4s with exalted.
Goblin Battle Jester
Last but not least we have Goblin Battle Jester. My first time playing with this card I was really impressed, even relating it to Kami of Fire’s Roar which was a very good card in its day. Yet, when Kami of Fire’s Roar was a force to be reckoned with, they made cards a little bit differently, and a little worse. I have found the Battle Jester quite weak in solidly two-color decks, and only marginally playable in a heavy red deck. I end up playing a few more Wild Guesses than I would like, to try and get value from his ability. Oddly, red usually doesn’t have too much trouble punching through damage with its creatures in this format, because unless you play against a good green deck most of the creatures are as big as yours or smaller. Not many creatures can brawl with Mogg Flunkies and live to tell the tale. Plus, it’s hard to play multiple red spells in a turn with the Battle Jester, because all the cheap cards you’re incentivized to cast early, and you basically never cast a Canyon Minotaur and a Turn to Slag in the same turn to get through those last few points. On average I’ve found the Battle Jester deals about 2-3 extra damage, when you can trigger him, and you have to work to get that value. I don’t much like it.
I think this week’s review of red was a little more detailed than normal, but that’s a good thing. Red is either the best color in the format, or second best behind green. Coming up I have GP Boston and the Players Championship, so I’m not certain when I’ll be able to finish up this series—regardless, I look forward to it and I hope you do too!
qazwsxedcrfvtgbyhnuj on modo
@OwenTweetenwald on twitter