Return to Ravnica Set Review – Red


5.0: Multi-format All-Star (and undoubtedly worth too much money). [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card].

4.0: Format staple. [card]Bonfire of the Damned[/card]. [card]Thragtusk[/card].

3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. [card]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/card]. [card]Restoration Angel[/card]. [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card].

3.0: Archetype staple. [card]Intangible Virtue[/card]. [card]Gravecrawler[/card].

2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. [card]Think Twice[/card]. [card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card].

2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. [card]Naturalize[/card]. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although explanation of why is obviously important.)

1.0: It has seen play once. [card]One with Nothing[/card]. (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%)

Annihilating Fire

[draft]Annihilating Fire[/draft]

Constructed: 2.0

It wouldn’t be the end of the world if your mono-red deck chose to fire off a few of these, but it’s not likely that this knocks [card]Searing Spear[/card] or [card]Pillar of Flame[/card] out of any deck.

Limited: 3.5

The best red common is usually a good one, and [card]Annihilating Fire[/card] doesn’t disappoint. It’s even better for real red drafters that this costs RR, preventing greedbags such as myself from splashing it in their non-red decks.

Ash Zealot

[draft]Ash Zealot[/draft]

Constructed: 2.5

This is a lot of card for just two mana. First strike and haste are already pretty good, and punishing anyone who plays a flashback spell is a relevant bonus. You can’t ash for much more than this, and if there is a good mono-red deck, I’d be surprised if this wasn’t part of it. The casting cost does limit it, but that seems only fair.

Limited: 3.0

I don’t know if I’m missing something, but there is no way to trigger this in Limited, right? If I’m wrong, only like 15 people will point it out, so that’s probably fine. Of course, even if there is no way to make the second ability relevant, a 2/2 first strike haste guy for two is quite acceptable.



Constructed: 1.0

I like my horns like I like my chicken: battered. Until this becomes fetchable with [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], there are better and cheaper ways to kill artifacts. In older formats, [card]Ingot Chewer[/card] laughs this guy out of the park, and in Standard, just run [card]Ancient Grudge[/card] or something.

Limited: 2.5

Paying only slightly more than normal for a 4/3 is easily worth the ability to munch on Keyrunes, but don’t be afraid to not play this or side it out if your curve is awesome.

Bellows Lizard

[draft]Bellows Lizard[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

If there was a rating bellow 1, this would surely receive it.

Limited: 1.0

In an aggro deck, you should have better things to do with your mana than pay two to deal an extra point of damage. In a control deck, you should just have better things. I can see sideboarding this in against a super-fast deck with a bunch of 2/1’s, but that’s about it.

Bloodfray Giant

[draft]Bloodfray Giant[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

As eager as this guy is to jump into the fray, it’s been a long time since a 5-power trampler for four would automatically be under consideration. Creatures are just too good nowadays, much to this guy’s disappointment.

Limited: 3.5

This is a giant beating. As a 4/3 for four, it’s already pretty good, and the addition of trample and unleash makes it borderline great. I know it’s just a dude, and one that often can’t block at that, but five points of trampling power (and four toughness) for such a low mana cost is actually something special—especially at uncommon.

Chaos Imps

[draft]Chaos Imps[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

Cards like this are pretty far away from Titans, for better or for worse. If this had haste that would be one thing, but a Dragon that has to sit at home for a turn isn’t great. It’s important that your six-drops interact well with removal, and this just doesn’t.

Limited: 4.0

Oh, just a 7-power flying trampler, nothing to see here.



Constructed: 1.0

You can cobble together as many 5-power guys for four mana as you want; your brute squad deck still won’t rescue any princesses.

Limited: 2.5

Hitting for five when unopposed is good, and blocking large things that cost more mana is good. If you are some combination of aggressive and have no removal, this might not be all that great, and you should keep the creatures you’ve seen in mind while sideboarding. Too many cheap 2-power guys, and it might be time for the [card]Cobblebrute[/card] to hit the bench.



Constructed: 1.0

Charging three mana for [card]Trumpet Blast[/card] is still not good, even if it now has a dynamic cost that scales downward.

Limited: 1.5

Unlike giving a guy -4/-0, adding the one-mana version of this really doesn’t help much. You can’t often get value by just +2/+0’ing a random guy, so this is basically still [card]Trumpet Blast[/card], and will continue to get played only in decks that want that effect.



Constructed: 2.5

This card is surprisingly sweet. Pinging their 1-drop has proved important enough to devote cards to (see: [card]Gut Shot[/card]), and even though the difference between 0 and 1 mana is immense, this has another powerful mode. Pinging their entire team is an easy way to pick up a few extra cards, and paying only 2 mana for the privilege is awesome. Given both options, this will compete reasonably well with [card]Pillar of Flame[/card]. I expect Pillar to win more of the fights, but some decks will want both, and if 1-toughness guys start to outnumber [card]Gravecrawler[/card]s and [card geralf’s messenger]Messengers[/card], [card]Electrickery[/card] might get there.

Limited: 3.0

I’m reasonably happy playing a one-point ping already, so adding a potential huge card advantage option does little to dissuade me. There are plenty of tricks you can do with this card, and setting up the right blocks to take advantage of it is critical to getting the maximum amount of value. The existence of it also makes 1-toughness guys less good in general, because they are going to be free cards for your opponent some percentage of the time.

Explosive Impact

[draft]Explosive Impact[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

…is not how I would describe the effect this will have on Constructed.

Limited: 3.5

I’m surprised this wasn’t already a card, since it seems like such a natural design. Six mana for 5 to anything is awesome and simple. Despite it costing a lot to kill a creature, this being able to nug players makes me happy enough playing a bunch of them, something I usually caution against when it comes to six-mana spells.

Goblin Rally

[draft]Goblin Rally[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

If this came with a lord that pumped all the Goblins, maybe we’d be talking, but that’s probably deranged. Getting four dudes for five mana is just not quite enough, especially given the fallout that [card]Lingering Souls[/card] creates for token decks in general (if we are talking about how to get four guys for five mana in an insane way).

Limited: 3.5

There are many uses for a slew of Goblins, not the least of which is chump-blocking until your sweet card draw spells bury the opponent in card advantage. I guess you could also [card]Dynacharge[/card] things up, but that sounds a little too efficient for my tastes. This is the red version of [card]Tidings[/card], highlighting the differences between the colors perfectly.

Gore-House Chainwalker

[draft]Gore-House Chainwalker[/draft]

Constructed: 2.0

It’s hard for me to get past the ridiculously terrible name, but this is actually a somewhat interesting card. 3 power for two mana is getting somewhere, and even though I like this less than [card]Ash Zealot[/card], there might be room enough for both in an aggressive red deck.

Limited: 3.0

Rakdos really does bring the beats—the red half especially. I can imagine playing a sick curve of unleash guys and just crushing mercilessly, with each unleash guy making other unleash guys stronger. If your first unleash guy puts the opponent on the back foot, it means the successive unleash guys are more likely to be unleashed, which is pretty sweet. This is exactly what you need to start things off right, and even if you don’t always want a 3-power guy, a 2/1 blocker isn’t the worst either.

Guild Feud

[draft]Guild Feud[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

Hey look, another card that I can barely decipher the meaning of. I feel like the effect of this can’t possibly be worth trying to figure out what it actually does, but I’ll give it a shot.

Yeah, I was right. It’s a sweet top-down of two guilds fighting, but doesn’t really do a whole lot in terms of Constructed play. That first sentence also makes me wince every time I read it.

Limited: 1.0

If your deck is all insane creatures, you probably want to just win with them. I can see this being pretty crazy in some matchups, but casting this and losing a fight is a disaster of epic proportions. You are out six mana and they got a free creature in play, which is huge. Still, if you are confident that your creatures can beat up their creatures, this might have a shot.



Constructed: 2.0

Reverse [card]Tendrils of Agony[/card] is a cool card. It doesn’t work with Rituals and all that, like the normal Tendrils, but it does work as an efficient burn spell in a deck full of cantrips and other cheap burn spells. It’s a bit fragile to be your only engine, so this as an additional threat in a burn deck seems more plausible to me.

Limited: 2.0

It’s going to be pretty clear when you want this, and it’ll be good when you do. The best way to make this good is to draft a sweet deck, since they always have a ton of spells. My guess is that 8+ spells is a good starting point, less if your deck is super aggressive and doesn’t mind only getting 2-4 out of this guy.

Lobber Crew

[draft]Lobber Crew[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

Sweet, every time you cast a multi-colored spell you get a [card gruesome encore]Crewsome Encore[/card].

Limited: 2.5

I like 0/4’s and I like winning the game, so this is a hit in my book. It is more well-suited to a defensive deck, despite its ability being purely player-targeted, but I can see this making it in some aggro decks. As a finisher, it does present an unblockable source of damage, and getting in some extra pings off multicolor spells isn’t irrelevant.

Minotaur Aggressor

[draft]Minotaur Aggressor[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

The least aggressive thing about this is the casting cost, which unfortunately is the most important.

Limited: 1.5

Paying seven mana for two toughness isn’t usually a great deal, though getting a hit in first doesn’t seem that hard. It’s going to win most of the fights it gets in, and having haste goes a long way. If your deck wants a seven-drop, this will do.

Mizzium Mortars

[draft]Mizzium Mortars[/draft]

Constructed: 3.0

I really like this card. I’ve played a lot of [card]Flame Slash[/card]es, and paying an extra mana for the [card bonfire of the damned]Bonfire[/card] option seems awesome. It is unfortunate that you can’t overload it from the graveyard with [card snapcaster mage]Snapcaster[/card], but this still works well in a Snapcaster deck. In control decks that don’t care that much about Bonfire damage, this looks like a sweet alternative.

Limited: 4.5

The only problem with the two mana option is that you might be tempted to waste it on something early, when this card really is best served as [card]Flame Wave[/card]. It’s pretty clear how busted this is in Limited, I suspect.

Pursuit of Flight

[draft]Pursuit of Flight[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

Unless you are in pursuit of [card]Spectral Flight[/card]s 5-8, just use your blue mana to cast the original.

Limited: 1.5

Even a bad [card]Spectral Flight[/card] can get them dead, and with Rakdos as a deck, playing this as a [card]Giant Strength[/card] with an upside isn’t that uncommon. Ideally you splash a few blue sources to give your guy wings, but sometimes you just want to get in there. If you’ve drafted Izzet aggro, this flies there too, though that seems less common than Rakdos.



Constructed: 1.0

Unless the perfect (fire)storm of cards converge onto Standard, I don’t think this version of [card]Lightning Rift[/card] will achieve the fame and/or playability of the original.

Limited: 1.5

You don’t need to get that many triggers out of this for it to be worth it, so if you have enough multicolored cards (8+) this looks decent. You do have to think about when you are going to be casting those spells; don’t go counting your [card rakdos cackler]1-mana 2/2 unleash guys[/card] as action here. A control deck is a more natural fit for this, and it won’t be all that often that everything works out perfectly to enable it.

Racecourse Fury

[draft]Racecourse Fury[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

Unless it’s a furious race to go 0-6, don’t play this.

Limited: 0.0

A land plus a card in order to haste your guys is definitely not worth it. It adds one mana to the casting cost of your team, at which point you could have just played them a turn sooner.

Splatter Thug

[draft]Splatter Thug[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

Even a 3/3 first strike for three isn’t all that special these days, and it not being able to block is a fairly substantial drawback. I’d leave this one leashed.

Limited: 3.0

As one of the harder to block unleash guys, [card]Splatter Thug[/card] is going to be in high demand. The fact that he serves reasonably well on defense as a 2/2 is also relevant, and even defensive decks won’t mind playing a couple of these.

Street Spasm

[draft]Street Spasm[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

This might be as real as the streets, but it’s also just worse than [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card].

Limited: 3.5

As a sorcery-speed [card]Heat Ray[/card] that can’t hit fliers, this is a good card. Adding the ability to just wipe their board makes it awesome.

Survey the Wreckage

[draft]Survey the Wreckage[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

As much as I love the flavor of a Goblin surveying the wreckage he’s caused, I won’t be wrecking anyone with this in Constructed.

Limited: 0.5

If they have some [card rogue’s passage]special lands[/card] to prey upon, this is a potential sideboard card, though not even great at that.

Tenement Crasher

[draft]Tenement Crasher[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

If you think of Constructed as a party for all the cool Magic cards, this is the obnoxious drunk guy who tries (and fails) to crash it.

Limited: 2.0

Five points of haste power at common is fairly impressive, even if you don’t want more than one (maybe two) of these. As finishers go, this’ll do in a pinch.

Traitorous Instinct

[draft]Traitorous Instinct[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

This saw brief amounts of play when [card]Primeval Titan[/card] and [card valakut, the molten pinnacle]Valakut[/card] were a thing, but luckily for us, that is no longer the case. Without good theft targets, it’s going to be tough to get this in there, and my instinct says that there are none around currently.

Limited: 2.5

I’ve been more impressed with this than I thought I’d be. Rakdos aggro really does want a couple of these most of the time, and I’ve seen it end many games thus far. If you are serious about beating down, stealing their best guy and making it bigger goes a long way.

Utvara Hellkite

[draft]Utvara Hellkite[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

As cool as the trigger is, what the hell are you doing with an 8-drop that takes a turn to get going?

Limited: 2.0

I’m a huge fan of 7-drops, but 8-drops are another matter entirely. Trying to cast and attack with this is ambitious at best, so unless you have a squad of [card]Axebane Guardian[/card]s, it’s probably not going to happen. It wins the game when it attacks, so there is always that, and I’ve been known to play [card]Axebane Stag[/card]…



Constructed: 2.0

[card]Ingot Chewer[/card] has a legitimate contender now, and there are interesting advantages present on both side. In Vintage, this is better once you hit five, but doesn’t get around [card]Thorn of Amethyst[/card] or [card]Chalice of the Void[/card] as well as the Chewer. In [card]Hypergenesis[/card] and [card]Living End[/card], it’s pretty clear that Chewie is the choice. In Modern, this might be sweet against Affinity, acting as [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] or [card]Plague Wind[/card]. Paying an extra mana over [card]Shatterstorm[/card] could be worth the extra flexibility. Regardless, this is an interesting new contender in the wide world of artifact kill.

Limited: 0.5

If you want to kill Keyrunes, [card]Batterhorn[/card] is a better option, and not hard to acquire. I guess there might be a deck where you side in [card]Vandalblast[/card], though I suspect it won’t be very common.

Top 5 Red Commons

5. [card]Traitorous Instinct[/card]
4. [card]Gore-House Chainwalker[/card]
3. [card]Explosive Impact[/card]
2. [card]Splatter Thug[/card]
1. [card]Annihilating Fire[/card]

Red has some sick commons. The first four are great in almost any deck (though [card]Gore-House Chainwalker[/card] loses a bit of its luster in control), and burning them out from over 10 is a distinct possibility. [card]Traitorous Instinct[/card] is much more narrow than the rest, but in a dedicated Rakdos deck is exactly what you want.

For Constructed, red (not Rakdos) mostly just gets [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card], with [card]Ash Zealot[/card], [card]Electrickery[/card], and [card]Vandalblast[/card] as secondary considerations. When you include the Rakdos cards, there are definitely more, but those are yet to come!


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