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Throne of Eldraine 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. (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.)

Barge In

Barge In

Limited: 1.5

An attacking-only combat trick with minor upside? Where do I sign up??

Bloodhaze Wolverine

Bloodhaze Wolverine

Limited: 2.5

If you have zero ways to trigger this in your deck, it’s mediocre, but all it takes is a couple draw effects before this becomes a good 2-drop. Fun fact: Ben Stark learned that wolverines were real in 2017.

Blow Your House Down

Blow Your House Down

Limited: 1.0

Flavor: 3/3 Pigs

As great as the flavor is here, I’m not looking to play this in my deck very often. When you do tend to want “can’t block” effects, you want them to hit all the creatures, not just three, though I do think this is a cute sideboard card against someone with multiple Walls.

Bonecrusher Giant

Bonecrusher Giant

Limited: 4.5

Bonecrusher Giant combines an undercosted creature with a decent burn spell, and you even get to choose if you want one or both. That’s a great deal, and one you’ll always be in for. Note that the damage prevention from Stomp makes it so that if their protection from white creature blocked a white creature, it can still die because protection will no longer prevent damage.

Brimstone Trebuchet

Brimstone Trebuchet

Limited: 2.0

This is a decent way to peck the opponent, and reach means that it can keep all sorts of pesky little creatures off your back. In a deck with plenty of Knights, this certainly gets better, but it’s playable even without that.

Burning-Yard Trainer

Burning-Yard Trainer

Limited: 1.0 // 3.0

If you reliably have a target for this, it comes across the table for a lot of damage. You will want to both be aggressive and have lots of Knights, so make sure those conditions are met.

Claim the Firstborn

Claim the Firstborn - Foil

Limited: 1.5

There isn’t a ton of support for a RB sacrifice deck, though there are enough pieces that it will occasionally come together. While this may be priced to move for Constructed, not being able to steal big things is a bigger drawback than the bonus of this costing one, so I’m not excited about playing it.

Crystal Slipper

Crystal Slipper

Limited: 1.0

The effect here is so marginal that I’m loathe to include it any deck. Yes, when you draw the perfect ratio of lands and creatures, drawing exactly one card like the Slipper can be pretty good, but anytime your draw is off at all leads to a disaster.

Embercleave

Embercleave

Limited: 4.5

Embercleave is one of the best cards in the set. If you are attacking with as few as two creatures, it’s trivial to cast this, and usually what will happen is that you’ll win a combat and they will take a bunch of damage, leaving you with a huge trampling double-striking threat. That’s insane, and the really nuts part is that even if they kill whatever is wielding this, you can just re-equip it and kill them with something else. This does so much damage and ends games extremely rapidly as a result. Don’t pass this, and consider switching to red if you open it in pack two.

Embereth Paladin

Embereth Paladin

Limited: 1.5

Embereth Paladin is a little fragile for my tastes, and even with adamant it is unlikely to survive combat. That makes it a marginal playable, though if you can get a hit in with this, it does deal quite a bit of damage out of nowhere.

Embereth Shieldbreaker

Embereth Shieldbreaker

Limited: 3.0

There are enough artifacts running around (or sitting around) to make this hit most of the time, and it’s efficient enough to be a good early play. Unless you know they have artifacts, I would usually just play this on turn two instead of doing nothing, though if they have something like a good piece of equipment, you may want to save it.

Ferocity of the Wilds

Ferocity of the Wilds

Limited: 1.0

Like Crystal Slipper, this will impress when it slots in perfectly with a bunch of non-Human creatures, but in a creature-light draw it’s just way too costly to be worth it.

Fervent Champion

Fervent Champion

Limited: 1.0

In an extremely dedicated Knights deck that also has some good equipment, feel free to run this. Otherwise, it just attacks and dies without making much of an impact. Sorry, Javier–I’m sure you’ll get your time in the sun in Constructed.

Fires of Invention

Fires of Invention

Limited: 0.0

As much as I have the fire for this in Constructed (Time Warp beckons in Modern), this is a stone blank in Limited. Without doing fancy things, this does way too little to be worth a card.

Fling

Fling

Limited: 1.5

The lack of a good Act of Treason really limits Fling, so I mostly see this as a finisher in a deck that has a ton of creatures (well, I mostly see this as a marginal playable, but if you *were* to play it, that would be why).

Irencrag Feat

Irencrag Feat

Limited: 0.0

Like Fires of Invention, this is not a card geared towards Limited. It’s too hard to cast, and by the time you can cast it, there’s no guarantee you’ll even have something big to drop.

Irencrag Pyromancer

Irencrag Pyromancer

Limited: 2.0 // 4.0

This is the rare build-around that starts high and gets even higher if you put the work in. Granted, if you have literally zero ways to draw extra cards, this isn’t playable, but it’s decent with even one or two cantrips. Once you have 4+, it becomes a machine gun, and can ravage the opponent’s forces with ease. Plus, it even blocks well, which is a nice bonus.

Joust

Joust

Limited: 3.5

Joust is a very good removal spell in a Knights deck, and a marginal inclusion otherwise. I’d prioritize this at 3-4 Knights, and windmill slam it at 6+. There are enough Knights that this will basically always make the cut, and is worth taking early.

Mad Ratter

Mad Ratter

Limited: 1.0 // 3.5

If you can get this going, it will overwhelm the opponent in a tide of Rats. It’s a build-around worth working towards, and I’d be happy taking this early and trying to pick up a bunch of cantrips.

Merchant of the Vale

Merchant of the Vale

Limited: 3.0

I’m a big fan of Merchant of the Vale. It does a good job filtering through cards by itself, and once you start factoring combos like the draw-2 cards, it becomes a critical part of your deck. Plus, it can brawl if needed, making it an all-around good card.

Ogre Errant

Ogre Errant

Limited: 2.5

If you need a big dumb animal, here you go. Ogre Errant would probably smush me into the ground for saying that, so I’ll show myself out before that happens. You don’t need other Knights for this to be playable, but it helps, and I especially like the combo with Embereth Paladin.

Opportunistic Dragon

Opportunistic Dragon

Limited: 4.5

Unless you have sacrifice effects, this Dragon essentially exiles whatever it’s taken until the opponent slays the Dragon. That ability on a 4/3 flier for four is fantastic, and this is a huge beating at any stage in the game.

Raging Redcap

Raging Redcap

Limited: 2.5

There is plenty of equipment in the set, and this conveniently is a Knight, so it’s easy to make Raging Redcap overperform. That said, if you have zero pump spells, this isn’t quite good enough.

Redcap Melee

Redcap Melee

Limited: 3.5

Redcap Melee is a very cool “sideboard” card. I use quotes because this one in particular is worth maindecking–at worst you sacrifice a land, which makes it a fine lategame removal spell. If you do kill a red creature, it’s super-efficient, and either way I’m taking this card early and always running it.

Redcap Raiders

Redcap Raiders

Limited: 2.0

If you have enough non-Humans to reliably pump this, it’s a decent attacker. It isn’t a great defender, and without help is puny, so make sure it’s got backup.

Rimrock Knight

Rimrock Knight

Limited: 3.0

Rimrock Knight gives you a cheap curve filler and a marginal combat trick, which is actually fine in combination. You will end up feeling pretty good when you use this to trade your 2/2 for a 4/4, as getting the 3/1 later more than makes up for the card disadvantage.

Robber of the Rich

Robber of the Rich

Limited: 3.5

Robber of the Rich tells the tale of Robin Hood quite nicely (and that’s why it’s an archer with reach). This nets you a card most times it attacks, and doesn’t even need to survive in order for you to play the card. It also technically lets you use other Rogues to play those exiled cards later, though there aren’t tons more of those in the set. This card has a lot of text, but it’s all upside, and overall this plays like a 2/2 that draws a card when it attacks. That’s very good (though it can’t play lands off their deck), and I’d be happy with this in any red deck.

Scorching Dragonfire

Scorching Dragonfire

Limited: 3.5

Shockingly (or should I say strikingly), the 3-damage spell for two mana is a good card. Carry on.

Searing Barrage

Searing Barrage

Limited: 3.0

Five mana for five damage is serviceable, as we’ve seen before, and sometimes this’ll clip the opponent for an extra three damage. That works for me.

Seven Dwarves

Seven Dwarves

Limited: 1.5 // 7.0

That’s 1.5 out of 7.0, just to be clear, because this card is not good. Sure, sometimes you will want a 2/2 for 2, and even more rarely you’ll draw two of these at once, but don’t think this is a quest worth going on. Amusingly, the text overwrites the game rules, so even in Limited you can’t play more than seven of these.

Skullknocker Ogre

Skullknocker Ogre

Limited: 1.5

A 4/3 for four is all well and good, but the effect here is a disadvantage. The opponent getting to randomly loot lets them stock up lands and try and cash them in, plus they get to control when they get hit to a degree, which means you are less likely to get the trigger when their hand is good.

Slaying Fire

Slaying Fire

Limited: 3.5

This is a little better than Scorching Dragonfire in heavy red decks, as dealing four and going to the face is great, but either way you’ll be happy with whichever burn spell you end up on.

Sundering Stroke

Sundering Stroke

Limited: 4.0

Seven mana may be a lot, but guess what–so is seven damage. This is a funny card because it’s highly splashable as a finisher/sweeper, while also being insane in mono-red. I’m in to, uh, sunder my opponents, and like that you can take this early and potentially splash it if you don’t end up in red.

Syr Carah, the Bold

Syr Carah, the Bold

Limited: 4.0

Syr Carah feeds you a steady stream of cards if left unchecked, and at worst can ping the opponent’s creatures. Not that this effect does let you play lands, since half of these don’t, and you just have to read them to see which does which.

Thrill of Possibility

Thrill of Possibility

Limited: 3.0

I was always fine running a Tormenting Voice in my decks, and this working with a set mechanic (the draw-2 theme) and being an instant just makes it that much better.

Torbran, Thane of the Red Fell

Torbran, Thane of Red Fell

Limited: 3.0 // 4.0

In a heavy red deck, this is an excellent card. It acts as a 4/4 while buffing the rest of your team, and even makes your spells deal more damage. In a two-color deck, it’s harder to cast and does less, so the rating drops a bit.

Weaselback Redcap

Weaselback Redcap

Limited: 1.0

Goblin-riding-a-weasel equity aside, this is a card that takes too much mana to effectively use. I don’t want to spend two mana to make my 1-drop trade for their 2-drop, so this is best left in the sideboard.

Top 5 Red Commons

5. Bloodhaze Wolverine

4. Thrill of Possibility

3. Raging Redcap

2. Merchant of the Vale

1. Scorching Dragonfire

The top two commons are well above the rest, and this order changes dramatically once you go from Knights to draw-2s (and vice-versa). Red seems like a mixed bag, though it’s got plenty of great high-rarity cards, so I’m sure it’ll be one of the better colors as usual.

Discussion

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