Other LSV Core Set 2020 Limited Set Reviews:
White | Blue | Black | Green | Gold, Artifacts and Lands
Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte. The Scarab God.
5.0: The best of the best. (Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Skarrgan Hellkite. Ethereal Absolution.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Thief of Sanity. Judith, the Scourge Diva. Experimental Frenzy.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Gate Colossus. Mortify. Biomancer’s Familiar.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Blade Juggler. Skewer the Critics. Skyknight Legionnaire.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Sauroform Hybrid. Watcher in the Mist. Wojek Bodyguard.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Ornery Goblin. Syndicate Messenger. Plague Wight.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Radical Idea. Noxious Groodion. Ghor-Clan Wrecker.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Wall of Mist. Axebane Beast.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Feral Maaka. Knight of Sorrows. Prying Eyes.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Expose to Daylight. Persistent Petitioners.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Font of Agonies. One with Nothing.)
Act of Treason
Limited: 1.0 // 3.0
Act of Treason and other Threaten effects tend not to be good enough if you’re using them for purely aggressive purposes. Where they get interesting is in a R/B sacrifice deck, and there are some seeds for that here. Bloodsoaked Altar and Bone Splinters are the main outlets, and if I had two good ways to sacrifice, I’d be happy to play an Act of Treason.
Cavalier of Flame
Cavalier of Flame may be slightly behind the rest of the cycle, but it’s still a hugely impactful card. It lets you cycle any cards you don’t want, can pump your whole team (and sometimes even give itself haste), and occasionally will do a couple damage when it does. That’s more than enough to be a solid early pick, even if it’s not quite as hot as some of the others.
Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
Limited: 1.0 // 3.0
How good Chandra is hinges completely on how many spells you have to cast with her -2 ability. If you have 4+, Chandra will be good (though note that you do have to pay their costs still). If you have only a couple spells, she’s largely mediocre, as her other abilities don’t do a ton.
Chandra, Awakened Inferno
Big Chandra does just about everything you could ask for. She wipes the board of small-to-medium creatures, can pick off big ones in a more targeted fashion, and can use her +2 ability to put the opponent on a fast and inexorable clock. To top things off, she isn’t even counterable, making sideboard cards like Negate a joke. It’s hard to imagine the situation where Chandra isn’t awesome, and I’m happy giving her the highest possible grade.
Chandra, Novice Pyromancer
Novice she may be, but Chandra gets the job done. Even as just a double ping, she would be fantastic, and she has multiple other useful modes too. Her mana ability gives you a way to play something huge or two spells in the same turn, and if you have an Elemental army she is happy to lead it. That’s a lot for four mana, and I’d be very happy to pick Chandra early.
Limited: 1.5 // 2.5
The Cat ranges from a decent 2-drop to an awesome accelerant, all based on how often you get to tap it for mana. It’s also nice that in decks that care about it being an Elemental, which will have plenty of options to tap for.
Chandra’s Outrage is classic good removal. It kills just about anything at instant speed, and even leave the opponent with some scorch marks on the way out.
Unless you somehow end up with multiple Chandras, I wouldn’t recommend playing this. It only lets you rummage away some specific card types and copying Chandra abilities is super narrow.
While you do want a couple ways to trigger this, it’s hard to end up with actual zero, and the stats are good enough that I’d always be looking to start it. It’s a cheap flier that can block well, and every now and then you get to let it off the leash and attack for a lot of damage.
Flying on your turn is a neat way to give red some evasive attackers without messing up the color pie, and I think this is a cool design. It’s also a good aggressive card, and most red decks will be interested in the Aeronaut.
Destructive Digger is flexible and can definitely fill a hole in your deck if you need some lategame action. A 3/2 for three impacts the board well enough, and if the game ever stalls out you can start trading lands for cards. I like exactly one of these, and wouldn’t prioritize it too much.
Despite this being a huge Dragon, I’m not a big fan. It’s about one mana more than I’m comfortable paying, and having each player draw seven cards is likely a disadvantage if you’re able to hit them with a 5/5 flier. You don’t need that kind of variance when you’re winning, and you don’t need this card.
Drakuseth, Maw of Flames
At seven mana, you will need to do some work to cast Drakuseth. That means making a deck that can control the game, and ideally has some ramp elements to it. If you can cast and attack with Drakuseth you basically win on the spot, and that’s worth quite a bit to me. Breathing fire on three different targets is huge, and almost impossible to come back from.
Ember Hauler does his job and doesn’t complain, and is a fine card in any deck. A 2/2 early and a Shock as needed–it doesn’t get much better than that for two mana.
I’d hope not to play Fire Elemental outside of Elemental-themed decks, but if you do have to, it’s still a decently-sized body.
It takes a little work to make Flame Sweep playable. In some decks, this will kill half your creatures, at which point it’s clearly not worth it. In others, it will devastate your opponent and leave your board untouched, so try and draft enough fliers or 3-toughness creatures so you can make the second scenario happen.
Limited: 1.0 // 3.0
Fry is an excellent sideboard card and not something I’d recommend you maindeck.
As weird as this card is, it’s got a lot of stats and a couple neat abilities. I like it for the combination of good brawling ability and card selection, with the ping ability being a bonus more than anything else.
This is a really funny card, and definitely grabs my attention. It gets a fair bit better if you’ve got some fliers, though you mostly want this in aggressive decks regardless (and they aren’t too picky about their 2-drops).
Limited: 1.0 // 2.0
I’m looking for 5+ Goblins before I play this, which makes it a mediocre build-around at best. It’s just a lot of mana for a 2/2, and if you whiff on the ability, it’s a very bad deal.
Goblin Smuggler is going to end a ton of games. You do want to be on the aggressive side before playing this, but once you are, it delivers. Haste adds a lot here, as it will often mean one less turn for the opponent to find an answer. This shines on stalled boards or as part of a curve, which is something I value in aggressive cards.
If you need a trick, I wouldn’t be angry about playing this one.
As long as you can swing the RR cost, Keldon Raider is a good addition to your deck. It’s large, it offers card filtering, and it isn’t too expensive.
I’ve been impressed with the Brawler. By herself, she attacks as a 3/4, and it’s very easy to make her into a 4/4 or 5/4. She also provides a lot of toughness and a good Elemental payoff, as well as being a sweet combo with Goblin Smuggler. You don’t need to do a lot of work to get value from the Brawler, which is my kind of build-around.
Leyline of Combustion
All the Leylines are just stone unplayable in Limited, though this one at least has vague sideboard possibilities against control decks.
The removal in this set is not weak, which makes cards like Maniacal Rage way too risky of a gamble. If you really don’t have other options, you can try and cheese them out with this, but I’d recommend against it.
Limited: 1.0 // 3.0
Marauding Raptor is undeniably powerful but requires some deckbuilding costs. If you have only a couple creatures with 2 toughness, I like it (especially since that implies a lot of big creatures), but you can’t stick this into a random red deck and expect success.
Mask of Immolation
This coming with a 1/1 makes it a great value card, as it can ping anything and give you an engine for the entire rest of the game. I like this best in token decks, sacrifice decks, or aggressive decks, which is a wide range.
If the format ends up being extremely fast, this could go up a notch, as it does a good Fathom Fleet Firebrand impression. I don’t care a ton about getting multiples, so you can pretty safely ignore that part.
I like that the Dragon fixes your colors and helps set up some multi-spell turns, which is a good bonus on a 5-mana 3/3 flier. I can’t imagine not playing this and would take it early unless you’re already set on 5-drops.
Reckless Air Strike
Reckless Air Strike is a clear sideboard card, as trying to snipe artifacts and fliers in the maindeck is unnecessarily reckless.
Reduce to Ashes
I’d basically always play this and am never thrilled about the prospect, which is a fine place to land. This kills most everything and even exiles it, making it one of red’s better answers to big creatures.
Limited: 1.0 // 2.0
This is a build-around for sure, and not an easy one. I’d want 4+ cheap removal spells in order to try it, and even then it seems a little dicey. It’s a tough ask, needing enough mana to play both cards in the same turn and having 3 targets, so don’t go out of your way to try and play this.
Ripscale Predator is hard to block and has a lot of stats, though at six mana you really don’t need to prioritize it. Aggressive red decks often don’t want any six-drops, and controlling decks would rather have better defensive cards, so this mostly wants to live in ramp decks or midrange decks that skew aggressive.
The combo with Risen Reef is awesome, and even past that, I’m a fan of the Scorcher. It nicely supports Elemental decks and go-wide decks, and does so at a very reasonable cost. Plus, four mana for 3 1/1’s is just a good deal, so you don’t even need to be doing anything fancy.
I wouldn’t play such a low-impact card unless you really need Elementals and are very aggressive, so plan on keeping this one on the bench.
Shock is reliably good, and that doesn’t seem likely to change in this set. It kills plenty of things and does so at the lowest cost you can find.
It’s almost impossible to care about both abilities in the same game, and given the low power levels, I’ll be happy if I never end up with Tectonic Rift in my deck. I don’t hate it as an answer to Gift of Paradise, and it can be an aggressive finisher, but it’s just not great at anything.
Even as a build-around, I’m not buying this in Limited. It’s too much work to temporarily get an Elemental back, and even with some 1-toughness Elementals you are still asking for too many things to go right at once. This even has to attack, which means it will die in combat almost every time.
Uncaged Fury is a powerful combat trick, as it does a ton of damage on anything with 4+ power. That makes it worth running even in decks that don’t want tricks, as the damage potential is just so high.
This attacks as a 3/1, making it playable regardless of what color the opponent is, and sometimes will just dominate against an opponent playing white. That’s a great deal, and one I’m glad to sign up for.
Top 5 Red Commons
Red is aggressive as usual, though the Elemental theme adds a new dimension on top of that. Besides Chandra’s Outrage, none of its commons are showstoppers, but it’s got a good selection of solid cards.