Previous Dominaria Set Reviews
Let’s take a look at the grading scale, with the usual caveat that what I write about the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade.
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Radiant Flames. Shambling Vent.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat. Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Anticipate. Transgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living Guildpact. Naturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation 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.)
Champion of the Flame
Loading up a creature with Auras is a time-honored tradition dating back to Rabid Wombat days (12-year-old me thought that card was incredible). Arcane Flight is a real card, and a deck with cheap Auras, protection spells, and Champions could be quite threatening. There is always some kind of Bogles deck around, and maybe this shifts it back to U/R from U/W.
Fight with Fire
I don’t think either mode is priced to move in Constructed, but a 3-mana kill spell and a 9-mana “win the game” spell is kind of interesting. I would have liked to see this at instant, at least for Constructed.
The First Eruption
Having to sacrifice a Mountain really kills this for me. I like the combo of sweeper + ramp spell, as this can really let a big red deck smash aggro, but losing a land at the end of things makes this a costly gambit. Without that, you could run this against control as a one-turn delayed Seething Song, but as is, this is a sideboard card at best.
The Flame of Keld
Red really gets to dump its hand for profit these days, though Bomat Courier is a slightly more powerful way of doing so. If you have a creature in play and peel two burn spells, this does +6 damage, but that may be asking a lot. Overall, I think this will see niche play at best, but the effect is powerful and there is potential here. If there’s a turbo all-in aggro red deck, this could fuel it.
Goblin Guide this is not, though it might get there in formats where there are more cheap cantrips. If you can reliably dump two spells in the bin by turn 3, Lavarunner could enable a Delver-style deck.
It’s a brave new whirled now, as Chainwhirler has added a ton of power to all sorts of different red decks. The mana cost is restrictive, but the effect is more than strong enough to be worth it. This punishes small creatures, attacks through medium ones, and even chips away at players and planeswalkers while its at it. A 3/3 first strike is a real attacker, and even an effective blocker when need be. This will be at its best in Goblins, next to Goblin Warchief, but is showing up in all sorts of red decks as one of the premier 3-drops. One side effect of this might actually reduce the effectiveness of the Chainwhirler, as people will start removing 1-toughness creatures when possible.
Goblin Warchief was excellent last time it was in Standard, and even sees a decent amount of Legacy play (though not as much as it used to). It doesn’t have as much support as it did before (RIP Goblin Piledriver), but it’s still got Skirk Prospector and Siege-Gang Commander, plus a new ally in Goblin Chainwhirler. That’s enough to make Goblins worth looking at, even if they might be a little green dude or two short right now.
I really hope this doesn’t make it into heavy rotation, but given that it is a 3-for-1 and can kill lands/hexproof things, I did want to mention it.
Jaya feels like a weird mix of Chandras—she’s got something similar to the mana ability of Torch of Defiance and the windfall ability of Flamecaller, but she’s lacking the defensive ability of either. That leaves her firmly in niche category, where she would need a very specific scenario to be playable. 5 mana without a way to protect herself is a tough sell.
Jaya’s Immolating Inferno
Jaya’s Immolating Inferno, on the other hand, knows how to party. If you can fit 10+ legends into your deck (bonus points if some are hard to kill), this can really put a hurt on aggro decks. It even gets to nug control decks in a pinch, though I imagine you’d side it out at that point. I really like the synergy between this and Chandra as well, as the +RR ability works quite nicely with the Inferno.
Keldon Warcaller badly wants to sing you the song of his people, though he’s not that likely to find an audience. If there is an aggro Flame of Keld deck, this could kick things into high gear, but a 2/2 for 2 with no other abilities is not what I call a good deal.
Burst Lightning was a Constructed staple, so it makes sense that Shivan Fire would see some play. Don’t get me wrong—missing out on face damage is huge, but this does kill creatures at two distinct points in the curve, which red decks will sometimes want.
The gang is all here, and it’s been quite the gift to Standard. Siege-Gang is a very powerful card as it floods the board, gives you a ton of chump blockers, and is resistant to any removal except sweepers. It pressures control decks and planeswalkers, and helps stabilize against aggro, making it a very well-rounded card. It takes a lot for a 5-drop to compete in today’s Standard, but Siege-Gang has the power to do so. Look for this in all sorts of decks, as it has plenty of build-around potential while also just being a good card to cast.
This one is a little more niche, though it’s powerful when it works. Right now that looks like enabling Gate to the Afterlife, though in a dedicated Goblins deck it could also combine with Siege-Gang to wreak some havoc as well. This has good prospects, and is a real addition to Standard.
RIP Skizzik, 2000-2002.
Squee, the Immortal
Squee might do some funky stuff in older formats, though I don’t see him replacing Mistmoon Griffin in Legacy quite yet. This effect is unique and powerful, so there is likely some way to abuse it.
R/G Monsters is always on the lookout for more big dumb animals, and Verix delivers. This is a below-average 4-drop that makes up for it by providing a ton of power later, and a deck looking to protect itself from mana flood should be interested in winging it.
Build-a-Bolt is pretty sweet, and helped by the fact that the Wizard tribe has some very powerful members (including Snapcaster Mage in Modern). There isn’t a ton of face burn in Standard, and this could definitely light people up.
Top 3 Red Cards
Red got some hot ones. Both Goblins are very powerful and will see plenty of play, and Lightning offers a threatening burn spell at low cost. Red seems like it will be a strong force in Standard, and in many different decks.