Guilds of Ravnica Constructed Set Review: Red

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Before I introduce the grading scale, I offer the usual caveat—the grades don’t tell the whole story, and what I write about each card provides context.

Ratings Scale

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind SculptorTarmogoyfSnapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s ProdigyCollected CompanyRemand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace BelerenRadiant FlamesShambling Vent.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of ThoughtZulaport CutthroatExplosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory AdeptAnticipateTransgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living GuildpactNaturalizeDuress.) 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.)

Arclight Phoenix

Constructed: 3.0

Red kicks things off with a bang, as Arclight Phoenix is one of the best threats in the set. At its base cost, it’s a bit below the curve, though haste does mean that it hits planeswalkers well enough. If you can bring it back once, you’re ahead of the game, and it’s definitely possible to do so without going too far out of your way. Where Arclight Phoenix really gets popping, and the reason it is one of the cards with the highest ceiling in the set, is when you put it into your bin without ever casting it. Discarding or milling this and bringing it back is absurd, as you get a free 3/2 haste that may come back multiple times. Izzet is the way to go here, and decks that can abuse Phoenix are going to be a very interesting part of the metagame.

Electrostatic Field

Constructed: 2.0

Thermo-Alchemist saw some niche play, though that deals 1 every turn no matter what. That’s worth more than an extra point of toughness, so I doubt many people will be fielding this one.

Erratic Cyclops

Constructed: 2.0

Eight is a lot of toughness—if there are decks that can only kill creatures via damage, this could be a punishing way to try and end games. It’s likely too much work, but I’d keep an eye on this anyways.

Experimental Frenzy

Constructed: 3.5

You don’t need to be able to see the future to predict how great this is going to be, as it’s not only powerful on its face but it has immediately made red decks the front-runner in this new format. When your deck is really low curve and nearly mono-color (or actually mono-color), it’s not hard to rattle up to four cards a turn off this, and trivial to get two. It even has a built-in safety valve, as you can pop it if you end up with too many cards in your hand. Part of the reason this card is so good is that it attacks at an angle very different from the rest of most decks that will play it. It’s an enchantment, and hard to remove, and lets you bury your opponent in card advantage. Plenty of control decks will lose to this with a grip full of removal, and as such, this may actually push decks to have a solid answer or risk dying to it.

Goblin Banneret

Constructed: 2.0

Needing to pump this probably spells its doom, but it is a 1-drop that can provide a lot of value if the conditions are right.

Goblin Cratermaker

Constructed: 2.5

I already ranted about the “colorless nonland permanent” in my Limited review, so I’ll skip that and get straight to the good stuff. This is a solid 2-drop that has utility at just about every point in the game, and that flexibility is prized in Constructed. It can attack for 2 with the best of ’em, and trade for any small creature or any artifact (or Karn, or Eldrazi). That’s worth a couple of slots, and this will see play.

Lava Coil

Constructed: 3.5

Lava Coil has quickly become one of the premier removal spells in Standard, as it is efficient enough to break even or trade up in mana cost, while being powerful enough to take down almost anything. The exile effect is just gravy, and piping-hot gravy at that.

Legion Warboss

Constructed: 3.0

Being a clone of Goblin Rabblemaster is definitely a good thing when it comes to Constructed, and Legion Warboss will not disappoint. It may not swing for quite as much damage itself, but it buffs the tokens permanently, and left unchecked will end the game. Note that the tokens don’t always have to attack, just the turn they are created, so there is a bit more gameplay there as well.

Maximize Velocity

Constructed: 2.5

This promises a lot of damage for very little mana, making it a nice combo piece to have floating around. It’s a cheap spell for Arclight Phoenix, and gives Izzet Spells decks a nice card to combine with Crackling Drake. This is also the kind of card that’s crap unless it’s insane, so it will either do nothing or deal 10, with little in between.

Risk Factor

Constructed: 2.5

Wow, a punisher card that doesn’t suck. That’s impressive, and there isn’t a ton of risk to playing this in your super-aggressive red deck. The fact that this happens twice is clearly the joke, as just once would be fairly easy to shrug off. For decks that want to play a 2R deal 4 (to the face), this is definitely good enough, even if sometimes your opponent will let you draw 3 and win the game before you get a chance to use the cards.

Runaway Steam-Kin

Constructed: 3.0

This may not build up too much steam in Standard, but in Modern it can go off quite nicely. Steam-Kin provides you a ton of mana in a big storm turn, while also slamming for damage as needed. Mono-Red Storm is a deck people always wanted to be good, and Steam-Kin may make it so.

Top 3 Red Cards

3. Legion Warboss
2. Lava Coil
1. Experimental Frenzy

Red got some hits this time around. Not only does it have multiple awesome engine cards across many different formats, it also got a great piece of removal and multiple good threats. This is way deeper than red normally gets, and it’s sweet seeing how many different decks these cards go into.

4 thoughts on “Guilds of Ravnica Constructed Set Review: Red”

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