Dragons of Tarkir Constructed Review – Red

For Constructed, things work slightly differently. First of all, I don’t review every card in the set, just the ones I think have Constructed applications. If I missed a card you think is awesome, feel free to post it in the comments or ask me about it on Twitter. I try to evaluate cards without using best-case-scenario mentality, but I’ve certainly missed cards in the past, and if you can think of a good reason a card could be great, I would like to hear it.

My other reviews:


White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Gold/Artifact/Lands


White | Blue | Black

Limited Resources Reviews

Commons & Uncommons

Ratings Scale

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Siege Rhino. Courser of Kruphix. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Stormbreath Dragon. Seeker of the Way.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Chained to the Rocks. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Perilous Vault. Heir of the Wilds.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Naturalize. Savage Knuckleblade. Sandstorm.) 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.)

Commune with Lava

Constructed: 1.0

They should have just called this Chandra‘s Revelation, given how hard they are hitting this space recently. Unfortunately for Commune with Lava, Outpost Siege and Chandra do this a lot better, with Ire Shaman being the likely next-best candidate. I just don’t know how big X has to be before you get enough cards out of this, and given that you spent that much mana, is that even any better than casting a Fireball or the like?

Crater Elemental

Constructed: 2.0

This blocks anything on the ground until you want to sacrifice it, at which point it can take out just about everything. If you do manage to get up to 8 power, this can beat down, though I don’t know if that’s necessary. The confusing part about this card is figuring out where to play it. It’s got some good defensive abilities, but there aren’t a lot of defensive red decks around these days, and it’s an unreliable attacker at best. It might be a sideboard card if a red deck is looking to jam up the ground, though it could be an important defensive element if a red control deck emerges.

Descent of the Dragons

Constructed: 1.0

Turning a bunch of tokens into 4/4s is the best use I can think of for this card, and that is at least powerful. It can technically downgrade your opponent’s forces, but there aren’t many creatures that are so much better than a 4/4 that you’d spend even part of a card nuking them. If this were an instant I’d be more optimistic, but at sorcery speed I don’t see myself wanting to try to upgrade my army this way.

Draconic Roar

Constructed: 2.5

In a deck with a decent amount of Dragons, this can be better than a Lightning Strike, and Lightning Strike is already quite good. You don’t need tons of Dragons, because much like Silumgar’s Scorn, using this in the first few turns is functionally the same as Lightning Strike even if you don’t have a Dragon. The drawback is that later in the game you can’t just point it at the opponent, and even worse, against a creatureless deck having a Dragon doesn’t help. Because this totally whiffs against decks with no creatures, it’s a big cost to play this if the metagame has too many of such decks present. In an aggressive deck with 6+ Dragons, having 1-2 main and the rest in the board doesn’t seem unreasonable, and when this works out you get a sizable advantage.

Dragon Fodder

Constructed: 3.5

It’s surprising how exciting a sorcery-speed Raise the Alarm is, but Dragon Fodder is exactly what red decks are looking for. The 3-drop spot is fiercely contested, so getting 2/3 of Hordeling Outburst for 2/3 the mana is a great deal, and you can still just play both if your deck needs an abundance of tokens. The synergy this has with Goblin Rabblemaster, Atarka’s Command, Jeskai Ascendancy, and Stoke the Flames is impressive, and the base card itself is not bad either. Many decks will play this, with varying amounts of combo potential built in. 1-for-1 removal that isn’t named Bile Blight just got a lot worse against red decks, so build your mana bases to support BB now.

Dragon Tempest

Constructed: 2.5

Frank Karsten wrote about a UR Flying deck that plays this, though he himself admitted that it was quite the brew. The haste part is what interests me the most, because I can’t see getting X to any reasonable amount without already having won the game, though making all your Icefall Regents and Thunderbreak Regents ping for 1 is not irrelevant. I do like that the damage ability stacks, making this one of the few haste-granting enchantments that does something in multiples. That lets you build around it without getting destroyed when you draw either zero or three copies, instead of exactly one.

Dragon Whisperer

Constructed: 3.0

If Purphoros has his way, red devotion will once again be a deck, and Dragon Whisperer will be part of it. Even if the forge doesn’t heat up, this is not that far away from being a fine card in its own right. It attacks for 2, in the air if needed, and can hit for more if you have excess mana lying around. Where it really shines is when the board stalls out, and it can start making Dragons every turn. Granted, decks that play aggressive RR creatures don’t usually play for board stalls, but if this can be good enough on the beatdown plan and also good enough if that plan fails (failing specifically in a way where you still have a board), it’s a powerful card. Plus, Nykthos does fuel this, and red devotion likes mana sinks.

Impact Tremors

Constructed: 2.0

At this point, I’ve played with tokens decks more than other deck in recent Standard, and I still have no desire to include this. I just don’t think it makes a big enough impact, as I expect to deal more than 1 damage per token when I spend mana on a card that does nothing on its own. It’s possible that a mono-red deck with Dragon Fodder, Rabblemaster, and Hordeling Outburst can use this to decent effect—red decks are interested in unblockable damage. You don’t strictly have to use tokens, but playing normal creatures into this doesn’t seem very effective. If you are playing more colors than just red, I’d rather play Jeskai Ascendancy—and if you are a little slower, Outpost Siege—so don’t be fooled by the thought of 10 damage for 2 mana. This is one of the worst topdecks imaginable, and the kind of deck that wants Impact Tremors can rarely afford to topdeck blanks. I’m definitely not writing this off completely, but there are cards in this set that I’m excited about, and that list does not include Impact Tremors.

Ire Shaman

Constructed: 3.5

Good evasion and a great megamorph ability make this a welcome addition to any aggressive red deck. You need to want both the 2-mana and the 3-mana versions of the card, but that describes most red decks in the format. Getting a good early drop that prevents mana flood will really power up red decks, and the chances I sleeve up a mana base full of Mountains has gone up.

Lightning Berserker

Constructed: 2.5

Red is flush with powerful aggressive cards in this set, though this may be the most aggressive. It really swings for the fences, and dies a shocking death if anything gets in its way (though it takes out whatever stopped it too).

Qal Sisma Behemoth

Constructed: 2.0

A 5/5 for 3 is a solid deal, even if paying 2 mana is a hefty recurring expense. Where I like the idea of Behemoth is in the red mirror match, where this requires multiple burn spells to get taken down. Unfortunately for the Behemoth, paying 2 mana to attack and get chumped by a Dragon Fodder token is not very exciting, so I doubt this will see a lot of play.

Rending Volley

Constructed: 2.5

Combust just lost its job, as Rending Volley fulfills the same role at half the mana. This still kills Deceiver Exarch and Pestermite, as well as Restoration Angel or Celestial Colonnade, and costing 1 instead of 2 is a big deal. In Standard, there is a little less demand for this effect, but it’s still a good one to keep in mind.


Constructed: 3.5

The parade of removal just doesn’t end! Roast is the latest in a long line of efficient spells that kill things for cheap, and in this case, “things” includes the mighty Siege Rhino (though Mantis Rider laughs all the way to the bank). Red has resorted to playing white for Chained to the Rocks much of the time prior to Dragons, and now that Roast is an option, Mono-Red has all the tools it needs to deal with big ground creatures. Even something like red/green benefits greatly from Roast, and trying to build an un-Roastable creature base is very challenging. What will likely happen is that the cheap but conditional removal like Roast, Valorous Stance, Ultimate Price, Lightning Strike, and Wild Slash (plus others) will fluctuate based on what creatures are being played, and vice versa, leading to the best kind of format, the one with a lot of shifts and counterplay. Plus, the name is great.

Thunderbreak Regent

Constructed: 3.0

This is an aggressive card. It’s a 4/4 flier for 4, which is already close to playable, and it shoots bolts of lightning at anyone who dares target it. For aggressive decks that want to cheat on land counts, this is much more castable than Stormbreath Dragon, and for decks that want more than just Stormbreath, this is a fine option too (and it even punishes the opponent if they mess with your Stormbreaths). Not having haste is a drawback for decks that want all their topdecks to be as live as possible, but the ability to always deal at least 3 if the game goes any number of turns is valuable enough that Thunderbreak Regent is a good option.

Twin Bolt

Constructed: 2.0

I’m not that in love with this card. It’s not a bad card, and cards like it have seen a lot of play, but the exact mix of cost and effect doesn’t quite line up for me. For 2 mana, I’d rather have Draconic Roar, Roast, or Lightning Strike, as those kill the larger creatures that are problematic, and at 1 mana, Wild Slash is very efficient when you have drawn a bunch of tapped lands. Once you start talking about sideboard space, Arc Lightning is the more powerful option, and power is what you want out of sideboard slots. Twin Bolt is clearly close to being playable, and there may be some metagames where it is appropriate to play it, but for the most part I feel that there are enough burn options that do slightly more for the same mana, slightly less for half the mana, or a lot more for an additional mana, all of which I prefer.

Zurgo Bellstriker

Constructed: 3.5

*Cue gong noise*

If you think I’m not going to make that noise whenever I cast Zurgo in testing, clearly you have never tested with me. Besides providing a great opportunity for sound effects, Zurgo is a very strong 1-drop. He’s great on turn one while still being a passable draw on turn seven, the second being a rare quality among 1-drops. He is legendary, but aggressive red decks will still play two or three anyways, as he will meet an untimely demise often enough to make drawing multiples acceptable.

Top 3 Red Cards for Constructed

3. Roast

2. Ire Shaman/Zurgo Bellstriker *tie*

1. Dragon Fodder

Red gets to shoehorn four cards onto the list, but only because Ire Shaman and Zurgo are too close to choose (and Roast provides an important new tool for red). Either way, red got some good new aggressive cards, with all of these looking like additions to red beatdown. I also like that Dragon Fodder and Roast are good in decks like Tokens or RW Midrange, giving red a little more depth than it would have otherwise.

1 thought on “<i>Dragons of Tarkir</i> Constructed Review – Red”

  1. Pingback: » Dragons of Tarkir Constructed Review – Green

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top