Guilds of Ravnica Limited Set Review: Red

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Before I introduce the grading scale, I offer the usual caveat—the grades don’t tell the whole story, and what I write about each card provides context.

Ratings Scale

Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte. The Scarab God.
5.0: The best of the best. (Bolas’s Clutches. Icy Manipulator. Lyra Dawnbringer.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Josu Vess, Lich Knight. Tatyova, Benthic Druid. Slimefoot the Stowaway.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Cast Down. Time of Ice. Adeliz, the Cinder Wind.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Vicious Offering. Blessed Light. Shivan Fire.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Cloudreader Sphinx. Caligo Skin-Witch. Grow from the Ashes.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Fungal Infection. Academy Journeymage. Mammoth Spider.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Krosan Druid. Soul Salvage. Ghitu Journeymage.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Relic Runner. Ancient Animus. Deep Freeze.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Divest. Homarid Explorer. Arbor Armament.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Rescue. Cabal Evangel. Drudge Sentinel.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Kamahl’s Druidic Vow. One with Nothing.)

Arclight Phoenix

Limited: 3.5

A Snapping Drake with haste is good enough already, and given enough jump-start cards, you may even be able to get this back (if you’re lucky). Either way, I’ll take a good aggressive flyer with upside, and would be glad to play this in Boros or a beatdown Izzet deck.

Barging Sergeant

Limited: 2.0

Boros decks won’t have room for that many 5-drops, so I’m not that high on this. Still, it does give you 5/3 worth of stats and attacks immediately, so it’s a fine way to top off your curve.

Book Devourer

Limited: 2.5

As a bit of a book devourer myself, I can respect the craft here. This is a big creature that hits hard, and the trigger is beneficial—keep back any extra lands or low-impact cards and get a whole new grip.

Command the Storm

Limited: 3.0

Being an instant goes a long way—we’d play it no matter what, but at least now it’s got some flexibility to it. I’d rather have this in my 5-drop spot than almost any creature, so I’m fine taking this one early. Plus, as with any color that touches Izzet, spells have a slight bonus thanks to the various cards that care about them.

Cosmotronic Wave

Limited: 2.5

Aggressive decks love this one weird trick, as it gets lethal through and picks off small creatures, all in one card. It may seem like the two abilities are contradictory, but that just offers more flexibility, making this a powerful common.

Direct Current

Limited: 3.0

This card wasn’t quite priced to move, but it’s great anyway. It can kill two small creatures or one large one, all at the cost of an extra land or useless card. This also can go to the face, so keep that in mind when deciding how aggressively you should chump block.

Electrostatic Field

Limited: 1.0 // 2.5

In a heavy spells deck, this fulfills the role of defender and of finisher, all in one. I’m still a little skeptical of 0/X defenders in a land of mentor, but repeatable, unblockable damage is a nice thing to have on a 2-drop. This is no Thermo-Alchemist, as it doesn’t get a free point of damage every turn as a baseline, which is what’s keeping it from being a 3.0.

Erratic Cyclops

Limited: 3.5

Erratic Cyclops is huge, and can attack for large (and appropriately erratic) sums of damage. This is fantastic in a spells deck and pretty solid on defense even in a deck light on spells. The only place I wouldn’t want it would be in an aggressive Boros deck that doesn’t have enough spells to enable it (you want 6+, some of which are expensive).

Experimental Frenzy

Limited: 3.5

I think this card is great. I’m not sure, because it’s weird as hell, but it looks like it would be awesome in a deck with a low curve. Getting to play lands off the top helps you multi-spell, and if you ever get stuck with too many cards in hand, you can get rid of this. I definitely am going to need to experiment with this, but I think it’s a good one.

Fearless Halberdier

Limited: 1.5

The only thing I fear is having to play this card. It doesn’t get mentored well (a symptom of it choosing to go guildless), and it doesn’t have particularly impressive stats.

Fire Urchin

Limited: 1.0 // 2.5

In a spell-heavy deck, this is a serviceable 2-drop. It blocks well enough and can attack as a 2/3 or 3/3 later in the game. That’s not exciting, but even the brilliant Izzet need someone to clean up after their experiments, or run errands, picking up whatever weird crap they need to run experiments with.

Goblin Banneret

Limited: 2.5

I like this in an aggressive Boros deck. It attacks for real damage, and often will trade with something while giving you a +1/+1 counter for your troubles. Remember to pump this before attacks if you have something to mentor on to, as it won’t even trigger if there aren’t any legal targets.

Goblin Cratermaker

Limited: 3.0

Shock and Shatter on a stick is a good deal, especially when that stick is a 2/2 for 2 that can attack and block early in the game. I’d play this in any deck, and would take it early to boot. The flexibility and efficiency have me sold, though it would read better if it just said “artifact” for the second ability (I know, I know, Eldrazi in older formats makes it relevant).

Goblin Locksmith

Limited: 1.5

Art: 4.0

I love the Goblin way of picking a lock, though I won’t be in a hurry to toss this in my deck. There aren’t that many defenders, and 2/1s for 2 are a dime a dozen.

Gravitic Punch

Limited: 2.0

Gravitic Punch is going to finish a lot of games, and is more a Boros card than an Izzet one. Note that it does not deal damage to creatures, so it’s really just a fancy Lava Axe (or two). This can be fizzled by bounce or removal on the creature, so in an ideal world you’d target something that’s under Luminous Bonds or Capture Sphere to mitigate that.

Hellkite Whelp

Limited: 3.0

Even a baby Dragon is a Dragon, and this will chew up the opponent and their small creatures without much trouble. As far as 5-drops go, this is one of the better ones.

Inescapable Blaze

Limited: 3.0

This is going to end a lot of games. 6 damage to the face is a ton, and this kills almost anything you could possibly want to kill. I’m more than happy to pay 6 for this effect, and not having to worry about being countered is a nice cherry on top.

Lava Coil

Limited: 3.5

I like power and I like efficiency, so I’m definitely in for a card that has both. 2 mana to kill all but the largest creatures is a great deal, and exiling them to prevent undergrowth shenanigans is some free value. Red got some good uncommon burn spells, and I expect them both to be high picks.

Legion Warboss

Limited: 3.5

A lone 2/2 may stop this from doing all that much, but if you can remove their blockers, this spirals out of control in no time. I’d jam my deck full of combat tricks if I had Warboss, as the opponent try to trade for this 100% of the time.

Maniacal Rage

Limited: 1.0 // 2.0

Maniacal Rage is wildly unplayable outside the most aggressive of Boros decks, but it can steal games there. It’s vulnerable to bounce and removal, though the payoff is solid if you can dodge those. Remember that you can use this as a way to remove a blocker in a pinch, though it’s one of the more painful ways of doing so.

Maximize Velocity

Limited: 1.5

I’d really only run this if my deck was insanely aggressive or had a heavy spells-matter theme. I’m looking to maximize card quality more than velocity, and this is a way to throw away cards if you don’t have a specific plan for it.

Ornery Goblin

Limited: 1.5

One of the best on-board tricks from Innistrad returns here in Ravnica, though this name is not nearly as funny to me as Ashmouth Hound was. This is a dorky 2/1, though it holds its own against 1-toughness creatures, so it will have moments of greatness.

Risk Factor

Limited: 2.5

I’m a fan of taking risks in aggro decks, and this is a great place to do so. If your offense isn’t performing, this does basically nothing, but if you are pressuring the opponent, this puts them between a rock and a hard place. Often you’re going to get 4 damage from the first cast and three cards off of the jump-start, making this a great deal.

Rubblebelt Boar

Limited: 2.0

*Snuffling noise intensifies.*

(This is a fine card, and can help you trigger mentor, but it’s no prize pig.)

Runaway Steam-Kin

Limited: 3.0

In a base red deck, this is a really sweet card. If you can draft an Izzet deck with a ton of jump-start, you might even go off, but it’s mostly just a cheap 4/4 (given a few turns).

Smelt-Ward Minotaur

Limited: 2.5

This pulls together multiple themes, as you both need to be aggressive and have plenty of spells before this really pulls its weight. It will be pretty good in that style of Izzet deck, and some spell-heavy Boros decks will run it as well.

Street Riot

Limited: 1.5

At 5 mana, this looks pricey to me. The red decks don’t seem that focused on going wide, and even though trample is nice, you need to have good creatures before it really pays off.

Sure Strike

Limited: 2.0

Sure, why not? This helps with mentor when you cast it pre-combat, and will win most combats when your opponent blocks your 3/1 mentor creature. Red decks need this effect more than normal, so this looks a little better than it usually would be.

Torch Courier

Limited: 1.0

I can accept that I underrated Goblin Motivator, but this one is so much worse. I really don’t think this is good enough, even with all of this mentor running around.

Wojek Bodyguard

Limited: 3.0

I’m a fan of Boros flunkies here, as the deck isn’t designed to go solo to begin with. Bodyguard is an actual burly mentor creature, and is exactly what this deck wants to play on turn 3.

Top 3 Red Commons

3. Wojek Bodyguard
2. Direct Current
1. Command the Storm

Red is quite aggressive, and it’s looking like Izzet will be too (Boros obviously is). Its commons aren’t all that strong, but put together, will form a solid aggressive deck.


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