Previous AER 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.)
If this is good enough, it’s barely good enough. The dream is somewhat worth chasing, as a 2/1 that makes a 1/1 is a good deal for 2 mana, but it’s really going to depend on what aggressive red decks look like and how many x/3 blockers are running around.
Between this and Freejam Regent, red may have enough improvise payoffs to really go aggro on a deck full of cheap artifacts. If this gets down to about 3 cost, it’s a real beating, and that seems doable if the rest of the deck is made up of good enough cards.
The same caveats about Enraged Giant apply before you should feel free to jam this, with flying and firebreathing being enough better than trample and haste to get a slightly better grade.
Searing Blaze this is not, but it’s close enough for government work. Hungry Flames will kill enough of the creatures that matter, while pinging the opponent for a relevant bit of damage. Whether this sees play is contingent on there being a highly aggressive red deck, but that seems at least somewhat likely.
The main use this has is in a deck that can create tokens (either artifact or creature). You then blow them up creatively, and it finds the great artifacts or creatures from your deck, of which you are only playing a couple. That seems worth exploring, even if cards like this have never quite gotten there. It can also downgrade opposing cards, but that’s less exciting.
Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
Kari Zev is pretty close to a 3-power creature for 2 mana, and that’s something aggressive red decks may be interested in. She triggers revolt each turn, is hard to interact with in combat, and can create a Monkey each turn for sacrificial fodder (though that seems a little cruel to poor Ragavan).
Kari Zev’s Expertise
The power level on this is high enough that it threatens some big turns in Constructed. If you side this in against a deck with large creatures, you can set up a pretty sick combat by playing this and a free removal spell at once. It does still seem like a sideboard card rather than a main deck one, but a good one at that.
This looks like another potent sideboard card. Against a deck with many 2-toughness creatures, playing the Rebel and starting to gun them down sounds appealing. You do need artifacts lying around, but improvise decks may be in the right place to take advantage.
Release the Gremlins
I don’t know if it’s Sideboard Day or something, but red is getting a lot of cards that look quite powerful out of the board. Release the Gremlins is one of them, as it’s an effective way to punish artifact-based decks, though not a card I’d run in the main deck.
This will see a fair amount of play—it’s cheap, efficient, and gets the job done. The format will dictate exactly how much play, as a wealth of 3-toughness creatures will clearly reduce the effectiveness of Shock, but I still see this as a staple.
No. I don’t care how big the 7/11 is—still no.
Top 3 Red Cards
Red didn’t knock it out of the park here, but it got some good removal spells, a couple big improvise threats, and a lot of sideboard options. For a small set, that isn’t bad.