Previous HOU Set Reviews
White | Blue | Black | Green | Gold, Artifacts, and Lands
Even if you never destroy an artifact this entire format, you’re going to be happy first-picking Abrade. 3 damage for 2 mana at instant speed is a great deal, and having the ability to cast Shatter is a nice little bonus.
Blur of Blades
The first Blur is likely fine, as picking off 1-toughness creatures or winning a combat is worth 2 mana, but these don’t stack well. Most decks won’t have that many good targets, so I’d start one of these and sideboard the rest. The incidental damage adds up, but isn’t enough to really push this into premium range.
An efficient beater that threatens to take down anything in combat is a great deal for 2 mana, and this even can punch the opponent for 6+ damage if you have the resources. Given that I’d play this without the second ability—this is a high pick and one I’ll be happy with in any red deck.
Even as strictly a sideboard card, Chandra’s Defeat is powerful and efficient enough to warrant being picked over most playables. It’s absurd once it comes out of the board, and will swing matchups way more than whatever 6th pick common you’d have taken instead.
Even if 7 is on the high side for mana costs, Chaos Maw wipes the board well enough to make up for that. If you can survive long enough to cast this, it stops everything small and gives you a 6/6 on the ground, making it very likely you live through the next turn. This is what a ramp payoff looks like, and I’d gladly take some Maw in every control deck I draft.
Despite replacing itself, Crashing Through just doesn’t do enough to justify a slot in your deck. It cycles to little effect, and will not impact the game often enough to make it good.
This is more basic than a pumpkin spice latte, and I think it’ll make the cut more often than not. If you need a 2-drop, which you usually do, here you are.
The first version of this is a card I’d always play in aggro, as a 2/1 haste that stops a 1/1 from blocking is worth 2 mana. Add in the 4/4 haste version that legit takes out a blocker and you have a mover and a shaker, and a card that fits into any red deck with ease. It’s better in aggro, but by no means is that necessary.
A pinger every other turn is still a pinger, as it blanks their 1-toughness creatures and makes combat favorable. This can also sit there whittling down the opponent’s life total, and given that I’d play this card even if it only had one of the two abilities—I’m pretty happy picking it up.
Most red decks will be happy running this as a 2-drop with relevance in the late game, and the blue-red spells deck will actively seek it out. It’s no Thermo-Alchemist, but it’s still on-brand for the spells decks, and works just fine in normal decks.
Frontline Devastator packs a lot of punch. At this point, a 4-mana 3/3 is slightly behind what I’d want to play, but afflict 2 punishes the opponent for blocking, and the pump ability lets this punch above its pay grade. It can take out big creatures or kill both defenders on a double-block, while also threatening to hit the opponent for 5 or 6 damage. I wouldn’t want too many of these, but having one or two sounds awesome. This looks similar to Emberhorn Minotaur, and ‘ol Horndog played out pretty well.
Limited: 1.0 // 2.5
Without any Deserts, this is mediocre at best. Once you have a few Deserts, it’s solid, though not as good as gold. It pressures the opponent effectively, and is a fine use of your 5-drop slot, though that’s not a slot you usually have trouble filling.
This is an upgrade on Desert Cerodon because I’ll take a worse cycling cost in exchange for menace. This also could be the beneficiary of a slightly slower format, though I make no promises along those lines.
Hazoret’s Undying Fury
This card seems quite bad to me. Even if every other nonland card in your deck costs 5 or less, you are still only 80% to hit 2 or more, and at that point you are probably playing 5-8 mana worth of spells. Given that it costs you 6 mana and you skip your next untap step, I think this is too much downside to get a 2- or 3-for-1. Without the skipped untap step, I’d be in, but adding that is too great a cost.
Then again, I could be wrong and this nets you a 3-for-1 and 10 mana worth of stuff, but I don’t think that will be the case often enough.
Hour of Devastation
I’m still a little wary of 5-mana sweepers, but this can be devastating enough that I’d be willing to run it in a midrange or control deck. It has outside chances of letting your 6/6 monsters survive in red-green, and you might be able to set up a board state where it’s a solid 3-for-1 if it’s in your opening hand. Don’t windmill slam this, but know that it’s a good way to try to get to the late game.
You have to match the progression exactly here, so that means playing a 1 into a 2 into a 3 and so on. That’s just not realistic for Limited and as sweet as this might be, it’s too much of a stretch for my tastes.
This is exactly the kind of card that benefits from cycling, as it’s dead most of the time and the best card in your deck the rest. Letting you cycle it when it’s bad makes it an easy card to include in any deck that attacks the opponent, and I expect to live in fear of this card the entire format.
There’s absolutely nothing to complain about when it comes to Khenra Scrapper. It attacks for 2 safely for a while, then starts exerting itself once the opponent has more blockers. That’s a great deal for 3 mana, and fits into aggressive and midrange decks alike.
This is precisely the definition of a mediocre trick. It will win enough combats to be worth it, while not being something I’m going to stretch to play.
Limited: 1.0 // 3.0
In a spell-heavy deck, this card is rock-solid. Casting a spell each turn isn’t that hard in a deck with 10+ spells, and a 4-mana 5/5 is enough above rate to be worth the trouble. It even is somewhat immune to -1/-1 counter based removal, which is a cute upside.
This has good stats and punishes the opponent for blocking, which is a nice combination. It needing to attack each turn isn’t much of a drawback because it won’t chump attack almost ever, though it does make this a little worse in a control deck (though it’s still playable unless you are pure control).
Neheb, the Eternal
A 4/6 for 5 is beefy for red, and it isn’t hard for Neheb to survive combat, at which point you are getting 3-4 mana for free. That can lead to some explosive turns, and makes Neheb a very solid 5-drop (while still falling short of bomb status).
This is clean, simple removal, and can even go to the face if necessary. It’s no Lightning Strike, but I’d still take this first pick and feel good about it.
Puncturing Blow is a step below Open Fire, but it’s still quite good. It kills almost anything, and even prevents eternalize from happening. It being a sorcery is the biggest mark against it, but I’m still never cutting this.
Even though this requires Deserts, those aren’t hard to find, and it’s insane when it does trigger. I’d play off-color cycling Deserts if I had this, and would first-pick this and find the Deserts later.
The aggressive spells deck is one that takes some doing, and I’m not sure what that looks like yet. If it ends up being a thing, this goes up in value, but for now I’m assuming it’s a somewhat niche playable.
Blocking this is painful, and not blocking it could lead to a bunch of free mana. This falls off a bit late game, as playing a spell for free isn’t all that enticing, but it still forces in damage no matter what. I like Wildfire Eternal, even if it takes a few moving pieces to be really good.
Top 3 Red Commons
The top red commons are pretty clear-cut, and are all quite good. Red looks strong as an aggressive color, while having cards that fit well into slower decks as well. It seems poised to be great still, regardless of the speed of the format.