Ravnica Allegiance Limited Set Review: Red

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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.)

Act of Treason

Limited: 1.5 // 3.0

Act is always a fun one. On the surface, it looks like an aggressive card where you take their biggest blocker and whack them over the head with it. As threatening as that may be, that’s not the best use for this, and this is a marginal aggressive card at best (because it’s pretty situational, and when it isn’t good, it does basically nothing). Where Act of Treason really shines (and gets a 3.0 rating) is in a deck with multiple ways to sacrifice creatures. Then it turns into a removal spell that gives you a free attack and the benefit of the sacrifice outlet, which is quite powerful. It’s also a card you’ll get late, because it’s rare that anyone else will want it.


Limited: 3.5

This card is indeed fire. It may start small, but it’s going to be a 4/4 at worst, and will easily be a 6/6 or 8/8 at various points. The effect also lasts until your next turn, which means it can be a good blocker if needed. I wouldn’t go too far in changing what creatures I play because of this, but it does get worse if you’ve got a bunch of 1/1s in your deck.

Burn Bright

Limited: 1.0

I guess you can use this defensively, unlike Trumpet Blast, but that’s not what I’d call a burning change. If your deck has a lot of small creatures, this may be worth a slot, but neither Gruul nor Rakdos really lend themselves to that, so this seems like it doesn’t fit in this format.

Burning-Tree Vandal

Limited: 3.0

Riot is a neat ability. The smaller the creature is, the more you’re incentivized to choose the +1/+1 counter, so I like the riot creatures with attack triggers as a way to make the choice more interesting. Burning-Tree Vandal gives you at least one rummage, and will often trade off, which is a fine way to spend 3 mana. I’d still mostly choose to have a 3/2, but if they have a 2/2 in play you might as well haste it up and trade right away.

Cavalcade of Calamity

Limited: 1.0

There are more go-wide payoffs in red than I’d expect, given that there aren’t a ton of enablers. I guess you could go off with Goblins from Goblin Gathering or Spirits from black afterlife cards, but I’m skeptical. Cavalcade of Calamity looks like more trouble than the payoff is worth, as you need a ton of small creatures to make this worth it.

Clamor Shaman

Limited: 3.0

Clamor Shaman is going to make some noise. This is excellent in any aggressive deck, and heavily pushes you toward choosing the haste mode. If you can clear their only blocker, then next turn have a removal spell to put them down to one blocker again, you probably have won the game. You can even attack with this when they have two blockers, and they will often be forced to block this and let everything else through, which turns into a ton of damage. The only thing holding this back from a 3.5 is that it’s not great in anything but aggro, so if you know you’re going to be aggressive, feel free to take this highly.

Dagger Caster

Limited: 3.5

Dagger Caster is great to begin with, but there are a couple of ways to make it one of the best cards in your deck. The easiest is Bladebrand, as this is a two-card combo that wipes the opponent’s board. It’s a really strong pairing and both cards are fine on their own, which makes me think this is worth speculating on for that alone. This does good work on its own, as it can pick off x/1s and give you good attacks, where you send in 2/2s into 3/3s and whatnot. I’m pretty high on Dagger Caster, and suspect the Bladebrand dream is real enough that it will be an early pick.


Limited: 1.0

This looks like sideboard material to me. Every now and then, the opponent will have 3+ targets, at which point this is worth bringing in (it is very efficient if you can cast it).


Limited: 4.0

This card lives up to its name. I’m actually a little cooler on X-spells than most people because Limited is fast enough these days that they aren’t deal-10s, but Electrodominance gives you such a tempo boost that I’m into it. Casting this with X at 4+ isn’t that hard, and can kill one of their threats plus drop a midsized threat of your own. That’s good enough for me, and sometimes this will do a ludicrous amount of damage. Instant speed also leads to ambush possibilities, which is a nice bonus.

Feral Maaka

Limited: 1.5

It’s not a catastrophe if you have to run this, but it sure isn’t good. 2/2s for 2 with no abilities don’t quite maaka the cut these days.

Flames of the Raze-Boar

Limited: 2.0 // 3.5

If you can reliably summon the spirit of the Raze-Boar (a.k.a. have a creature with 4 power), this card is amazing. If not, it’s an expensive way to kill a creature. I’d be fine speculating on this in general, and would be excited to have it in most Gruul decks and some Rakdos decks.

Gates Ablaze

Limited: 1.0 // 3.5

I love this as a Gate deck payoff. In a deck with 4 or fewer Gates, Gates Ablaze is unplayable, and it’s only OK if you have 5-6 Gates. Once you get to 7+ this becomes awesome, and does exactly what a slow Gate deck wants. I’m looking forward to lighting people up with this one.

Ghor-Clan Wrecker

Limited: 1.5

Ghor-Clan Wrecker is mediocre in all modes, though the 3/3 version sounds better. It fills out your curve, but is not a priority at all.

Goblin Gathering

Limited: 1.5 // 2.5

By itself, Goblin Gathering is a little below rate. Not a ton, so it’s not a disaster if you have to run one, but definitely not exciting. Once you have 3+, Goblin Gathering becomes the real deal, and even gives you a reason to run some of the go-wide payoffs. I don’t think this is a huge build-around, but it’s a nice bit of extra action for a common.

Gravel-Hide Goblin

Limited: 3.0

This rating is predicated on you being red-green, because in Rakdos this is a 1.5 at best. This has a good threat of activation going on, where the opponent often won’t be able to block and you don’t even need to spend mana. It also eventually gets to the point where you can pump it twice, making this a solid threat early and a real card late.

Immolation Shaman

Limited: 3.0

A 1/3 is a little dorky, and I don’t think the triggered ability comes up all that often. Later in the game, this does get to hit for solid amounts of damage, and a 4/6 is big enough that I’ll always run this.

Light Up the Stage

Limited: 3.0

You may think I’m rating this highly because I like Divination, and you aren’t completely wrong. Still, if you cast this for 1 mana it’s very powerful, and note that this lasts until the end of your next turn. That gives you a good window to play the cards, including lands, and makes it closer to Divination with upside than worse than Divination. If you don’t have good spectacle enablers, I would downgrade the rating, but most Rakdos/Gruul decks should be able to utilize this well enough.

Mirror March

Limited: 0.0

I’m not into this. You pay a big up-front cost, and you don’t get a permanent advantage unless you trigger a bunch of ETB abilities. The coin-flipping part adds some spice, but if you assume Mirror March makes one token on average, that’s close enough for evaluation purposes (and makes this clearly not good enough).

Rix Maadi Reveler

Limited: 3.0

This card is sweet. Weird, but sweet. The discard isn’t optional, in either case, so keep that in mind, but it still makes this a good card for either cost. It gets a lot better in Rakdos, obviously, but I’d still play it in Gruul as a Rummaging Bear.

Rubble Reading

Limited: 0.0

I’ve read this story, and it doesn’t end well. Please don’t put land destruction in your deck.

Rubblebelt Recluse

Limited: 3.0

Must attack is not a huge drawback on a huge monster, so Rubblebelt Recluse is basically just an undercosted giant. I’m in for that, and will happily play a pair of these.

Rumbling Ruin

Limited: 3.0

As strange as this text is (and flavor too), this will ruin some people. At worst, it’s a 6/6 for 6, and if you manage to untap with a big adapt creature it can lead to getting a ton of damage through. This would make me prioritize adapt creatures a little more, though it works out fine with riot creatures too.


Limited: 3.0

Nothing wrong with 2 damage for 2 mana, and this has the upside of getting around afterlife too.

Skarrgan Hellkite

Limited: 4.5

All modes of Skarrgan Hellkite are great, though there’s a lot of incentive to have it come in with a +1/+1 counter. The activated ability is very powerful, and once you get to 8 mana it is almost unbeatable (especially given that you have a 5/5 flyer in play). The backup plan of a 4/4 haste flyer is a good one, and if they are at a low life total you may want to go down that road.

Skewer the Critics

Limited: 3.5

This is good at 3 mana and hyper-efficient at 1 mana, making it easily the best red common and a card I want as many of as I can get. The name is cute too.

Smelt-Ward Ignus

Limited: 2.5

I guess this guy dealt it, with “it” in this case being “two mediocre offerings for 2 mana.” It’s a 2/1 early for curve purposes, and has a mediocre ability later. That’s enough to play it in most aggro decks, especially with sacrifice cards, but nothing I’m getting excited about.

Spear Spewer

Limited: 3.0

The rating here is tricky. In a deck with spectacle cards, Spear Spewer is an auto-play and a great way to make your deck work. That puts it into solid 3 territory because the decks that want it really want it. It isn’t great in control or midrange decks without spectacle nonsense, so keep that in mind, but the effect here is powerful enough (even if symmetrical) that I’d take this early. As a side note, I don’t find this kind of card (Goblin Fireslinger being the earlier example) to be very interesting when they enable spectacle/bloodthirst. The ability is just always on when this is in play, and there’s nothing the opponent can do about it. That’s not very good game play, and I don’t see why this has to be a common at such a good rate.

Spikewheel Acrobat

Limited: 1.0

Wow, if you spectacle Spikewheel Acrobat out it can… still trade for a 2-drop. Wheee.

Storm Strike

Limited: 2.0

Adding scry 1 to Kindled Fury isn’t bad since that card was already a playable trick. Spectacle also encourages blocking, making Storm Strike a mana-efficient way to get an advantage.

Tin Street Dodger

Limited: 1.0

I’m not this hard up for spectacle outlets, so I’d rather dodge this if possible. It costs a mana to use, and is very weak when you don’t activate it.

Top 3 Red Commons

3. Spear Spewer
2. Scorchmark
1. Skewer the Critics

Spear Spewer could actually edge out Scorchmark if spectacle decks end up being great, but I’d start here. Rubblebelt Recluse is also quite good, giving red four very solid commons (Skewer especially is just amazing). Red looks unsurprisingly aggressive, and all these cards play well for that strategy.


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