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Innistrad Set Review – Red

Before I forget (again), here is the long-awaited Limited review of Snapcaster Mage:

[draft]Snapcaster Mage[/draft]

Limited: 3.5

I can’t imagine not running this guy, even with something like one or two targets. He’s still a 2/1 flash, so he will trade well, and it shouldn’t be hard to save him until you get some value. Most decks will have a fair amount of good things to flash back, especially if you have other good blue milling cards, which you should. The later in the draft, the lower his value, assuming you don’t already have good targets, but early he’s a very good pick. Once you have him, just prioritize spells, and you’ve got yourself a solid source of card advantage!

[draft]Ancient Grudge[/draft]

Ancient Grudge

Constructed: 3.0

I’m not rating this low because I have a grudge against it, I’m rating it low because all the formats that it’s insane in already have access to it. It’s definitely awesome, and a great card to have around, but being multicolor restricts it greatly in Standard, despite it being a staple in Eternal formats (Modern kind of counting, since it’s fine there too). With Tempered Steel, Birthing Pod, and Swords running around, I expect this to be a reasonable sideboard card for any red/green deck.

Limited: 0.5

With all the handy household implements the humans in this set seem to be fond of, I certainly wouldn’t object to having a Grudge in my sideboard, but I’m not really looking to maindeck one.

[draft]Ashmouth Hound[/draft]

Ashmouth Hound

Constructed: 1.0

Doggone it, another woofless Constructed (yes, I decided to restrain myself for once in my life; there are other jokes I could have made).

Limited: 2.5

This little doggie battles pretty well, easily taking down 3-4 casting cost creatures, and even blanking a number of opposing foes. It is still soft to cards like Geistflame, but you should be able to get plenty of mileage out of it otherwise.

[draft]Balefire Dragon[/draft]

Balefire Dragon

Constructed: 1.0

So, this is supposed to hit them so hard they don’t even exist, potentially unraveling the fabric of reality itself? That would be more likely to happen if it ever got cast in Constructed, which it won’t.

Limited: 4.0

Ah, the classic “dragon that wins the game when it attacks” that is in every set. As usual, it’s good, and the format even seems slow enough to make it a very viable plan.

[draft]Blasphemous Act[/draft]

Blasphemous Act

Constructed: 2.5

This starts to look reasonable once there are three creatures in play, and is a bargain once it gets up to 5+, especially considering the single colored mana cost. I’m not sure how many red decks really want Wrath of God, but it’s now available.

Limited: 3.5

I’ve talked about how mediocre Wrath effects tend to be in Limited before, but I’ve never been afraid to beat a dead horse, so here we go. It’s hard to convince your opponent to overextend without playing something out, limiting the total cards gained, and once the opponent knows about them, it won’t work very well at all. This even gets harder than most Wraths, since if they stop at two guys, you might not even be able to cast it. That all being said, it does blow up the world, and having access to that is certainly better than not.

[draft]Bloodcrazed Neonate[/draft]

Bloodcrazed Neonate

Constructed: 1.0

Sperling did a pretty good job of explaining why this sucks, and you’d have to be crazy to disagree. Sorry, Nate Dogg, no regulating this time around.

Limited: 1.5

If you don’t have removal to back it up, the drawback is quite significant. Even in a deck with two Rakish Heirs and eight removal spells, I had to chump attack more often than I was happy with. Plus, even if you do get a solid hit in, they can usually just trade the second time around.

[draft]Brimstone Volley[/draft]

Brimstone Volley

Constructed: 2.0

Five is a lot of damage, and [card]Furnace Scamp[/card] enables it quite nicely. I’m not a huge fan of playing situational Lava Axes in Constructed (or Limited, for that matter), but if you are, this seems like an option worth exploring.

Limited: 3.5

It’s pretty hard to go wrong with this; it either is a very solid three damage for three mana, or it overperforms and blasts a five-toughness guy, with the additional option of going to the face.

[draft]Burning Vengeance[/draft]

Burning Vengeance

Constructed: 1.0

I know all those flashback cards are burning a hole in your pocket, but this isn’t Lightning Rift v2.0 (with a vengeance).

Limited: 1.0

You need a ton of flashback before this becomes an option, and I highly doubt that’s going to happen very often. If it does, the more power to you, and I’d love to play that deck, but I’m not taking Burning Vengeance early in anticipation of such.

[draft]Charmbreaker Devils[/draft]

Charmbreaker Devils

Constructed: 1.0

Apparently the second time isn’t the charm, since Nucklavee version two is much, much, worse. Having to wait until you untap pretty much rules this out; the devil is in the details.

Limited: 3.5

My favorite combo with this so far is Into the Maw of Hell, but even something as tame as a Geistflame should be good value. Plus, it even comes with an 8/4 monster, which sadly means that I don’t get to cast Into the Maw very often before the game ends.

[draft]Crossway Vampire[/draft]

Crossway Vampires

Constructed: 1.0

What do you get when you cross a Warpath Ghoul with a Goblin Shortcutter? Oh right, an unplayable.

Limited: 2.5

The casting cost is a little tough, but the stats are solid and the ability is relevant. The best use seems to be following up a Bloodcrazed Neonate, and then ideally having another good play on turn four, such as Nightbird’s Clutches. If you have less than 10 Mountains, the utility of this drops enormously, so keep that in mind.

[draft]Curse of Stalked Prey[/draft]

Curse of Stalked Prey

Constructed: 1.0

Curses, foiled again!

Limited: 1.5

A special set of circumstances has to exist before this becomes a good playable; you have to have plenty of creatures, plenty of removal, and still space for this durdle card. So far it’s been left on the bench more often than not, because those conditions are somewhat hard to meet. It’s tough finding room for a non-creature non-removal spell that only works when your guys are hitting them.

[draft]Curse of the Nightly Hunt[/draft]

Curse of the Nightly Hunt

Constructed: 1.0

Curses, foiled again!

Limited: 1.5

Strangely enough, this is very similar to Curse of Stalked Prey; you need space for a do-nothing, and creatures enough to make it a do-something. At least this one is a little more brutal; playing this in order to make one or two guys chump attack gets them pretty good. Red-green seems like the obvious combination for this, but it also shines as a sideboard card if your guys outclass theirs.

[draft]Curse of the Pierced Heart[/draft]

Curse of the Pierced Heart

Constructed: 1.0

Ok, this one I’ll actually talk about, since it at least pretends to be good enough. Cursing them to a slow and painful death sounds good, except for the slow part. One damage just isn’t enough, even if it’s unblockable and hard to kill. Control decks aren’t that anemic nowadays.

Limited: 1.5

I’m not entirely sold on this yet. Even if you are the deck playing Bump in the Night, any random 2-drop is likely to do more damage, and can actually block. If you don’t have enough creatures, you might have to run this, but it doesn’t seem like the optimal situation. You want burn to finish the game, not be in your opening hand.

[draft]Desperate Ravings[/draft]

Desperate Ravings

Constructed: 2.0

With Forbidden Alchemy in the format, you’d have to be pretty desperate to play this. It does add a little credence to the idea of an UR burn deck, possibly with [card]Delver of Secrets[/card], but the “at random” part worries me. You could actually cast this and be worse off than before, which isn’t exactly what I look for in Constructed.

Limited: 3.0

What can I say, I’m a sucker for card advantage. You obviously have to be both colors to get full value, since playing this just for the red half is a desperate gambit indeed. It fills the graveyard, though hopefully not with your best cards, and lets you go deep in the lategame (remember to hold excess lands and all that).

[draft]Devil’s Play[/draft]

Devil’s Play

Constructed: 3.0

This may well be the best Fireball variant to date. Sure, it might be counterable, but it comes back for a second helping, and very few cards can threaten as much damage by themselves. It nukes two guys, if needed, and can lie in wait in the graveyard for the whole game, ready to pounce at any time. You don’t need many of these, but even just two or so gives you a significant amount of lategame, and the first casting isn’t that mana inefficient.

Limited: 5.0

By all that’s right and just in this world, couldn’t this at least be mythic? I’ve played with and against it, and it’s exactly as absurd as it looks. I’m not playing around when I say that this is the best card in the set, since it covers all the bases: it’s a two for one, it can win the game by itself, and it deals with all the other bombs. At least the flashback isn’t splashable, though the main part is, and I can’t imagine this will get passed very often. I mean, Fireball you for 9, Fireball you for 7 just isn’t fair (and neither is Fireball your guy turn four, flash it back 10 turns later).

[draft]Falkenrath Marauders[/draft]

Falkenrath Marauders

Constructed: 2.0

I don’t want to completely rule this out, but 2+4+6+8 is so much worse than 5+5+5+5, so calling it “the next Demigod of Revenge” is a bit of an exaggeration. If they kill it within the first few attacks, your damage output just isn’t high enough, especially with [card]Hero of Oxid Ridge[/card] as an option. You just can’t tap this much mana and not get anything against removal without good reason, and a 2/2 that grows by two a turn really isn’t enough.

Limited: 4.0

If you can get the first hit in, they probably can’t block it, and it soon turns into The Abyss. This guy is gonna Falk some people up, that’s for sure.

[draft]Feral Ridgewolf[/draft]

Feral Ridgewolf

Constructed: 1.0

I’m just about out of canine-related puns, as fast as these reviews tend to wolf them down.

Limited: 1.0

The mana investment is just too high on this to really make it worth it; unlike [card]Kessig Wolf[/card], you have to pay mana just to trade with their guy. I get that it’s a mana sink so you can flip your Werewolves, but that doesn’t excuse it just being a bad card.

[draft]Furor of the Bitten[/draft]

Furor of the Bitten

Constructed: 1.0

It may come back to bite me, but I’m going to go ahead and declare all durdle auras like this unplayable, from now until furever.

Limited: 1.0

A mediocre advantage with a significant drawback, all in Aura form? Sign me up!

[draft]Geistflame[/draft]

Geistflame

Constructed: 1.0

I liked (losing to) [card]Firebolt[/card] as much as the next guy, but this is actually [card]Engulfing Flames[/card], Firebolt’s lesser-known and puny cousin. Red has plenty of ways to take advantage of 1-toughness creatures, and no need to resort to this.

Limited: 3.0

Geistflame has impressed me so far; it never gets less than a card, in total, even if sometimes you need to use both halves. When you get a whole card for half of this, it makes you feel less bad about running the block + Geistflame combo on one of their bigger guys, which ends up happening often. I like this, and would happily play multiples in my maindeck.

[draft]Hanweir watchkeep
Bane of hanweir[/draft]

Hanweir Watchkeep/Bane of Hanweir

Constructed: 1.0

Who watches the watchers (who are watching the real cards)?

Limited: 3.0

I like either half of this, though it probably isn’t surprising that I’m a fan of a 1/5. I’d play a 1/5 defender most of the time regardless, and having the option to flip into a 5/5 is nothing to sneeze at. Plus, look at that badass crossbow/arbalest thingie he has!

[draft]Harvest Pyre[/draft]

Harvest Pyre

Constructed: 1.0

What do you mean you can’t do damage to players? You’re pyred!

Limited: 3.0

This bears remarkable similarities to [card]Corpse Lunge[/card], and I bet it isn’t too hard to figure out why. Depending on your deck, one may be easier to power than the other, and the first one or two are fine without any additional effort on your part. Once you start to try and jam three or more in there, you really are gonna need some Forbidden Alchemies or Desperate Ravings to enable them.

[draft]Heretic’s Punishment[/draft]

Heretic’s Punishment

Constructed: 1.0

Any deck that can spend its entire turn tapping out for this (and wants this kind of effect) probably isn’t playing expensive enough cards to actually warrant it. As the top end in a burn deck, it provides you with some sort of inevitability, but at way too punishing a cost.

Limited: 3.5

I guess you don’t get actual infinite shots, but if you need more than the six or seven you normally get, you weren’t winning anyway. The biggest cost is obviously the time, though eating their best creature every turn usually solves that as well. If you miss, you probably do get punished, for what it’s worth.

[draft]Infernal Plunge[/draft]

Infernal Plunge

Constructed: 1.0

In order to use this, you really just have to take the plunge and accept that you are playing pure combo. Of course, creatures don’t usually have a place in pure combo, and trying to shoehorn in something like Memnite just doesn’t seem like it will work. In older formats, [card]Culling of the Weak[/card] is definitely better, though I wouldn’t put it past someone to try and “break” this plus Memnite plus Past in Flames.

Limited: 0.0

I don’t care how many morbid cards you have, this is just unacceptable.

[draft]Instigator gang
Wildblood pack[/draft]

Instigator Gang/Wildblood Pack

Constructed: 1.0

I hope I don’t get ganged up on in the comments, but I just can’t see how any of the 4 mana+ Werewolves are remotely playable. At that point, both players are reasonably expected to cast something every turn, and not doing so is a huge sacrifice. A four mana 5/5 isn’t even that insane, even if it smashes for 8, so I’d pack these in my binder instead of my deck.

Limited: 4.0

There will be blood if this comes out, since they aren’t living through very many 8-point attacks, and that’s not even taking into consideration the bonus given to the rest of your team. This is one of the few flip cards I don’t mind taking first, and even sends a good signal.

[draft]Into the Maw of Hell[/draft]

Into the Maw of Hell

Constructed: 1.0

The names in this set are seriously out of control; they are as good as this card is bad.

Limited: 3.5

[card]Plague Spores[/card] you! The colors might be less intense in this set, so the land destruction part isn’t as relevant, but the relative dearth of removal means that the deal 13 is much more valuable. Removal is rare in the land of Innistrad, so use it wisely.

[draft]Kessig Wolf[/draft]

Kessig Wolf

Constructed: 1.0

This looks like the picture of the famed Throat Wolf (or what I imagined, at least), and that’s about as interesting as it gets.

Limited: 3.0

He may not be super exciting, but you are realistically never cutting this from a base-red deck. Worst comes to worst, you trade off when they attack, and usually he bashes without you needing to spend mana.

[draft]Kruin outlaw
Terror of kruin pass[/draft]

Constructed: 1.0

The fact that both halves die to basically any removal means I’m going to go ahead and pass on this beast.

Limited: 4.0

Much like Instigator Gang, it doesn’t take very many hits before this kills them. Unlike Instigator Gang, the unflipped side is actually a very good card on its own. Winner!

[draft]Night Revelers[/draft]

Night Revelers

Constructed: 1.0

This guy needs to revel up quite a bit before he becomes Constructed-worthy.

Limited: 2.5

If you need a [card]Bonecrusher Giant[/card], he’s your man, and even has haste some 10% of the time (or whatever the number actually is).

[draft]Nightbird’s Clutches[/draft]

Nightbird’s Clutches

Constructed: 1.0

Unless you want to spend all night birding the people with wins, I’d avoid playing this at your next FNM.

Limited: 1.5

Don’t let the low rating fool you; when it’s good, it’s very good. The beauty of this is that you will get it late for exactly that reason. You obviously have to be very aggressive, at which point it becomes a pretty sick double-Falter.

[draft]Past in Flames[/draft]

Past in Flames

Constructed: 3.0

A lot has been said about this, but what it really boils down to is that this is either insane or unplayable, and it really depends on the number of rituals allowed. Nobody is playing this in order to flashback a [card]Ponder[/card] or a [card]Go for the Throat[/card]; they are ending the game, immediately.

That unfortunately restricts it to Modern and older, since Standard (thankfully) just doesn’t have the Rituals necessary to make this broken. Whether it will be broken in Modern or Legacy remains to be seen, though the possibility is certainly there. I’m leaning towards the positive; at some point, there will be enough Rituals/card selection to make this a deck in these older formats.

Limited: 1.0

I’d be impressed if you could draft a deck where this is great, considering how much mana it takes. If [card]Dead Weight[/card] was a Sorcery, it would be a lot more plausible; exactly how many spells do you expect to play after casting a 4-5 mana one?

[draft]Pitchburn Devils[/draft]

Pitchburn Devils

Constructed: 1.0

Too expensive for burn decks, and unlike actual pitch spells, you have to pay five whole mana for this.

Limited: 3.0

Never has a two for one been so easy. All you have to do is cast this, and your job is basically done! 3/3 is big enough to trade for just about anything, letting the Devils pitch themselves at another hapless target. If you have the misfortune to play against green, or let white flip [card]Thraben Sentry[/card], you can even settle for getting just one card and trade away both halves of the Devils. I like this card, and anticipate it going later than it should, because 3/3’s for five always seem dorky.

[draft]Rage Thrower[/draft]

Rage Thrower

Constructed: 1.0

You can’t just throw this in a deck and expect it to work; it’s some kind of combo card, maybe, but costing six mana and being very unimpressive by itself pretty much seals it.

Limited: 3.0

It may not be the fastest, or even all that big, but any board with a Rage Thrower is a dangerous board for the opponent. They can’t take that many two-point shots and live to tell the tale, so once you have this out, all you have to do is survive and he will take care of the rest.

[draft]Rakish Heir[/draft]

Rakish Heir

Constructed: 1.0

When things get heiry, you don’t want a vanilla 2/2 in your deck, even if he does have the capability of raking them over the coals when you curve out perfectly.

Limited: 2.5

The fact that he grows himself makes him quite playable, and once you start getting into the realm of four or five other Vampires, you are talking about a legitimately good card.

[draft]Reckless waif
Merciless predator[/draft]

Reckless Waif/Merciless Predator

Constructed: 2.0

Any one-drop that can potentially bash for three on turn two is worth looking at, especially now that [card]Preordain[/card] is gone, drastically reducing the number of one-mana plays you can expect your opponents to make. I’m not really that impressed, still, since drawing this any time after turn one is probably going to result in you getting beaten mercilessly; Constructed decks generally cast a spell each turn. The margins just seem waifer-thin here; if they have a 1-drop, or are on the play, things just don’t go well.

Limited: 2.5

I’d just about always run this, if only for the mise factor of having it in your opener in just crushing them. It isn’t great, by any means, but it seems reasonable.

[draft]Riot Devils[/draft]

Riot Devils

Constructed: 1.0

Aren’t puns just a laugh riot?

Limited: 2.0

This is the definition of filler; if your curve/creature count demands it, it’s in there.

[draft]Rolling Temblor[/draft]

Rolling Temblor

Constructed: 1.0

Rolling this out on turn three just doesn’t seem like a realistic play. It doesn’t kill fliers, the flashback is infinite, and two damage isn’t really even all that impressive.

Limited: 2.5

I’m actually way less happy with this than I expected. It looks good, but doesn’t play all that well. There really aren’t all that many guys that die to it, and it often ends up being very awkward. I wouldn’t fault you for benching it.

[draft]Scourge of Geier Reach[/draft]

Scourge of Geier Reach

Constructed: 1.0

Five mana for a non-hasted 3/3 or 4/4? That’s a reach, alright.

Limited: 3.0

If this is at its smallest, they don’t have much out. Hooray! If it’s huge, it dominates the board. Also hooray!

[draft]Skirsdag Cultist[/draft]

Skirsdag Cultist

Constructed: 1.0

Do you like Dags?

I love Dags! I’m just not dumb enough to play them in Constructed.

Limited: 3.5

I’ve yet to see this in play and not be good. Turning any creature into a Shock is sweet, and even more so when you consider how removal-light this set is as a whole. Tack on how well it enables Morbid, or plays with white’s token-making, and you have a card that every deck wants.

[draft]Stromkirk Noble[/draft]

Stromkirk Noble

Constructed: 2.0

Growing by one every turn gets out of control quickly, and if your red deck can’t clear a path, something is wrong. The anti-humans clause is fairly irrelevant, but the rest might combine to be a pretty solid turn one play. I would say that it sucks that all of red’s 1-drops are horrible mid to late, but I’m the one who has to play against them, so it seems acceptable to me.

Limited: 3.0

This is brutal enough on turn one that I’m willing to forgive it being bad later. The psuedo-evasion is relevant more often than you would think, and a well-timed removal spell can put them in a very ignoble position.

[draft]Tormented Pariah
Rampaging werewolf[/draft]

Tormented Pariah/Rampaging Werewolf

Constructed: 1.0

It still torments me that a card called “Rampaging Werewolf” is so underwhelming.

Limited: 2.0

This is about as boring as it gets. If you need the 3/2 for four, run it, but otherwise steer clear.

[draft]Traitorous Blood[/draft]

Traitorous Blood

Constructed: 2.0

I wonder if they are almost out of ways to describe a Treacherous Act of Mutinous Treason and/or Rage. Maybe it’s time to go back to the Threaten well, with something implying intimidation or coercion. And uh, this card is worse than Act of Treason unless your are mono-red.

Limited: 2.0

The usual caveats about aggressiveness apply, though there are a couple legitimate sac outlets this time as well. If you have ‘em, great, and if not, make sure you are beating down before you run this.

[draft]Vampiric Fury[/draft]

Vampiric Fury

Constructed: 1.0

Yes, “furious” would describe just about anyone who loses to this in Constructed.

Limited: 1.0

Talk about situational pump spells; unless you are on 7+ Vampires (ideally + is like 10), this is pretty bad.

[draft]Village Ironsmith
Ironfang[/draft]

Village Ironsmith/Ironfang

Constructed: 1.0

Hopefully they ironed out all the kinks with Werewolves this set, and are saving the awesome Constructed ones for the next.

Limited: 2.5

The value of cheap Werewolves goes up quite a bit, since it is not uncommon for the opponent to miss a two-drop, whereas they are rarely missing a three. The one toughness on both sides is kind of weak, but Ironfang gets through well enough, making this playable if not something you can really sink your fangs into.

Top 5 Commons

5. [card]Kessig Wolf[/card] 4. [card]Geistflame[/card] 3. [card]Pitchburn Devils[/card] 2. [card]Harvest Pyre[/card] 1. [card]Brimstone Volley[/card]

As is the norm, red has one of the best commons in the set, and is as shallow as it can possibly be. Unless you are splashing for removal, you better be beating down, since red doesn’t have much else. It’s a sad day when blue does everything red does, but better, and even green has a good common removal spell too.

Top 5 Cards for Constructed

5. [card]Brimstone Volley[/card] 4. [card]Blasphemous Act[/card] 3. [card]Ancient Grudge[/card] 2. [card]Devil’s Play[/card] 1. [card]Past in Flames[/card]

Past in Flames gets the nod for pure danger rating; if something in the set is going to be broken (besides Tiago), it’s going to be this card. Past that, Devil’s Play and Ancient Grudge both seem quite good, with Act and Volley being much more speculative. Red didn’t end up with a ton of goodies, but hey, they can’t all be Goblin Guides.

I’ll see you back here on Sunday, as I tackle Green!

LSV

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