Ixalan Limited Set Review: Red

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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.

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. (Glorybringer. The Scorpion God. The Locust God.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Archfiend of Ifnir. Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. God-Pharaoh’s Gift.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Sunset Pyramid. Angler Drake. Sand Strangler.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Open Fire. Ambuscade. Gravedigger.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Desert of the Mindful. Oasis Ritualist. Oketra’s Avenger.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Unsummon. Puncturing Blow. Naga Vitalist.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Tah-Crop Skirmisher. Harrier Naga. Counterveiling Winds.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Moaning Wall. Khenra Eternal. Without Weakness.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Defiant Khenra. Disposal Mummy. Djeru’s Renunciation.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Forsake the Worldly. Chandra’s Defeat.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Solemnity. Luxa River Shrine. One with Nothing.)

Angrath’s Marauders

Limited: 2.0

It’s pretty odd to have both a 7-mana double striker and a 7-mana double damage creature, but I guess both Pirates and Dinos like doubling. This at least takes effect immediately, opening the door for some sweet alpha strikes if you’ve got evasive creatures on deck. Still, it’s a 7-mana card, and not every deck is in the market for that, on top of the need to have a board presence to begin with in order for this to be good. It is also good with burn spells, which is a nice little upside.

Bonded Horncrest

Limited: 3.0

Aggro decks should snap this up, as the stats are well worth the potential to be stranded. It’s definitely not a good fit for control, but the power level is there if you’re ready to enable it.

Brazen Buccaneers

Limited: 2.0

More aggressive Pirates, more exploring, and more hoping to hit a +1/+1 counter. Ahoy!

Burning Sun’s Avatar

Limited: 4.5

A 6/6 for 6 with a free Searing Blaze attached? Yes please. This is powerful, provides card advantage, and is a bargain at 6 mana. Chomp.

Captain Lannery Storm

Limited: 3.0

Captain Storm (that’s me when I’m Cube drafting, by the way) takes no prisoners, and she gets in there for value as soon as you play her. She attacks as a 3/2 at worst, and can ramp your mana if you don’t need to sac the Treasure right away. She’s a good addition to any deck, aggressive or controlling, on rate alone.

Captivating Crew

Limited: 4.0

Repeatable Threaten is a powerful ability, and you aren’t even paying for it, given that this is a perfectly serviceable 4/3 for 4. This is incredibly hard to beat if you had a good aggressive start, though I wouldn’t cut it from control decks either. The opponent has to leave tons of blockers back out of respect, giving you extra time to develop your board, and maybe even get up to 8 mana for the double steal. Consider me captivated.

Charging Monstrosaur

Limited: 3.5

Ground Rorix has never been so aptly named, as this charges in and puts a beating on the opponent. If you curve into this, you’re going to win easily, and even in a not-great draw this carries a lot of weight. It’s just too gigantic and runs over chump blockers, making it an awesome threat.


Limited: 0.5

Nobody has ever actually sided this in, and it should likely stay that way.

Dinosaur Stampede

Limited: 1.5

I don’t like this in the big Dino deck, as 6+ drops are finishers in their own right. Where it is interesting is in the more midrange/aggressive red-green Dino deck that focuses on 2-5 drops instead. I could see this making the cut, and adding a much needed 4-6 damage at the end of the game.

Dual Shot

Limited: 0.5

This is another sideboard option, mainly used for preying on Vampires (just like in Shadows Over Innistrad).

Fathom Fleet Firebrand

Limited: 2.5

Try saying this three times fast, or just skip that and play it in your aggressive decks. This is good on turn 2 and does a respectable job later, which is all you can ask for out of your 2-drop.

Fiery Cannonade

Limited: 2.5

Assuming this doesn’t maul your own creatures, I like it in the main deck. It’s very effective against Merfolk and Vampires, and can even help against Dinosaurs. Feel free to side it out aggressively, as it’s going to be quite bad in some matchups.

Fire Shrine Keeper

Limited: 1.0

While I do like mana sinks in general, the Keeper cycle has mostly been a miss for me. Eight is just so much, and I don’t really want a 1/1 menace in my decks either.

Firecannon Blast

Limited: 3.5

This is some high-quality removal, and I’m going to have a blast killing my opponent’s 6-drops with it. This clears the way early and snipes large things late, which is a very good deal for only 3 mana.

Frenzied Raptor

Limited: 1.5

4/2s trade down for 2-drops too easily for this to be a high priority, but it will make the cut if you care that it’s a Dinosaur. There are plenty of decks where that is enough, and it’s unlikely anyone else at the table will be stealing this from you.

Headstrong Brute

Limited: 3.0

Headstrong Brute is going to be one of the aggressive Pirate mainstays in the set, as a 3/3 menace for 3 is a fantastic deal. This will beat the crap out of most opponents, and especially if backed up by removal, can never be effectively blocked. Given that it can’t block itself, the normal caveats about not playing this in control decks apply.


Limited: 0.5

Outside of formats with a dedicated sacrifice theme, Threaten effects tend to be pretty bad. Hijack isn’t a card I expect to play, though I can see siding it in against big Dinosaurs every now and then.

Lightning Strike

Limited: 3.5

Lightning never strikes twice, especially now that this is uncommon. It’s still just as good as every other time we’ve seen it, as 3 damage for 2 mana is not a deal I’ll ever turn down.

Lightning-Rig Crew

Limited: 3.0

The Lobbers have upgraded their rig, and now have an extra point of toughness. I like the defensive body in control decks, and like the unblockable damage in aggro decks. All told, this is a card I’m happy to play everywhere, even if I don’t have tons of Pirates. Also note that this can attack to trigger raid, if such a thing is needed.

Makeshift Munitions

Limited: 0.5

Here is your sacrifice deck, I suppose. It still does seem pretty makeshift, and I’m not excited about the prospect. The rate here is just too inefficient, and there aren’t enough steal effects to really justify going for it. You can throw Treasure, but making it isn’t free, and paying 1 mana and a Treasure per damage is just too much.

Nest Robber

Limited: 1.5

The best place for this looks to be a lower-curve aggressive Dinosaur deck, likely red-green. Otherwise, it’s a mediocre 2/1 that doesn’t scale all that well into the late game, though I suppose it can steal a game if you are in a close race.

Otepec Huntmaster

Limited: 1.0 // 3.0

In a dedicated Dinosaur deck, this is the perfect ramp card. It helps cast your gigantic threats, and gives them haste to enable some very fast draws. Even in the late game, this is quite relevant, which isn’t true of most mana dorks.

Rampaging Ferocidon

Limited: 3.5

A 3/3 menace for 3 is big game, and the aggressive ability should favor you as a result. This races effectively, and really pressures the opponent early or late.

Raptor Hatchling

Limited: 3.0

Even without combos, this provides a solid roadblock on the ground, and will save you some damage before giving you a 3/3. Once you factor in how good it is against 2/1s and how sick it becomes with enrage combos, you have a nice little card on your hands.

Repeating Barrage

Limited: 4.0

Now this is a brutal card to play against. When your opponent kills your 4-drop and has two creatures out, it feels like you are in a gigantic hole. I’d play a 3-mana 3-damage spell without question, and having the ability to buy it back is huge upside. It works well with evasive creatures, with big creatures, and can even be enabled by reckless attacks if need be. At the risk of repeating myself, take this card early and play it often.

Rigging Runner

Limited: 2.0

In hyper aggressive decks, this can really bring some beats, and if you start with 2-drop into 2-drop plus Rigging Runner, your opponent will certainly feel like things are rigged. Outside of those decks, this is wildly unplayable, so only run this if you are sure that you can support it.


Limited: 1.5

In a deck with a couple of good enrage targets, this seems like a fine addition. Outside of that, it’s not a card I’m excited to play, as giving trample is clearly not worth going through this effort. If you want this, you’ll be able to pick up some copies.

Rowdy Crew

Limited: 3.5

Draw three plus discard two at random is definitely upside, and can often be better than just “draw a card” (mostly when your hand isn’t that good, which is true for me almost all the time). As for how often this will be big, I’ll just leave you in the hands of Frank Karsten, PhD.

This card is good and you should play it, though it’s not a bomb by any stretch.

Rummaging Goblin

Limited: 1.5

Taking a turn off to cast this is usually of dubious value, and having to discard before drawing makes this a lot worse than an actual looter. Add those up and you have the definition of a marginal playable.

Star of Extinction

Limited: 2.0

A 7-mana wrath is a few mana more than I like, making this less of an all-star and more of a solid build-around. Destroying a land is a nice bonus, but I’m still not looking to slam this and run with it.

Storm Fleet Arsonist

Limited: 3.0

A 5-mana 4/4 that picks up a 2-for-1 a good chunk of the time seems like a deal to me, and I’m happy running this as the top end of aggro or the middle of the curve in midrange. As long as you have some creatures that can plausibly attack, this will pull its weight. There are decks where sacrificing a land is extremely painful, and even against aggro, this does add up. Resources are resources, and losing one is bad.

Storm Fleet Pyromancer

Limited: 2.5

Storm Fleet Pyromancer is a fine way to spend 5 mana in a beatdown deck, and can pick up a little value out of a midrange deck as well. You will sometimes end up in a spot where it doesn’t have good targets, at which point it’s a pretty weak play, and without raid this is quite bad. That all adds up to a fine card, but not one of the better pyromancers I’ve ever seen. I do like attacking a 2/2 into a 4/4 with this in hand, though if they don’t block and you just play a 3/2 that shocks the opponent, that isn’t huge.

Sun-Crowned Hunters

Limited: 2.0

I really like this as the top of the curve in a Dinosaur aggro deck, or even red-black Pirates. It puts a ton of pressure on the opponent, and is one of the enrage cards where you can just kill them if you combo off. I don’t think this is great in a Dinosaur Ramp deck, as you want your 6-drops to be a little more defensive, but picking up the first one of these seems worth it for most red decks.

Sunbird’s Invocation

Limited: 2.0

This is a decent finisher. It does have the downside of doing nothing for 6 mana, but if you can follow it up with a few spells, it should crush the opponent in a landslide of free cards. Slow decks will have a ton of trouble beating this, and if you can stabilize against a fast deck, this will ensure eventual victory. I could see this being even better than a 2.0, but I’m starting it here because skipping turn 6 is a substantial drawback.

Sure Strike

Limited: 1.5

This sure is a mediocre combat trick. You will win almost every fight, which is nice, but it costs 2 mana and doesn’t pump toughness, limiting it to in-combat applications only. I suspect you won’t feel too bad if you don’t pick one of these up, so I wouldn’t prioritize it.


Limited: 0.5

In hyper-aggressive Pirates decks, maybe, just maybe, this is a 24th card. It’s just not worth a card to get +2/+2, and playing it in the same turn in order to get haste is pretty hard to set up.

Thrash of Raptors

Limited: 2.5

In a midrange Dinosaur deck, this will thrash your opponent very quickly. A 5/3 trample is a great deal for 4, and this plays nicely with fight cards and combat tricks. Outside of Dinosaur decks, this is a marginal playable, but a 3/3 for 4 isn’t so bad that you can’t run it with just a few other Dinos.

Tilonalli’s Knight

Limited: 1.5

It does look like the low-curve Dinosaur beatdown deck is being pushed, as this Knight fits in perfectly. If you are attacking and have 8+ Dinosaurs, go for it, but otherwise leave this out.

Tilonalli’s Skinshifter

Limited: 1.5

The whole point of clones is that they let you copy your opponent’s cards when you are behind, which this doesn’t do. It does lead to some really aggressive beatdown draws, and if you can play a good 4- or 5-drop into this you will probably run away with the game. That’s still a bit win-more for my tastes, and if they bounce or kill the creature you target in response, you get totally owned. For the most part, I recommend against crawling in your skin, and suspect this will be one of the more disappointing cards despite the high upside.

Trove of Temptation

Limited: 1.0

This is a very strange card, and I am indeed tempted to try it. Making a mana per turn isn’t quite good enough, but being able to stack them up and use them to play something really big is a real upside. Forcing the opponent to attack is cute too, though if they have any reasonable attacks then this does nothing since they just need to send one creature. If the stars align and you have a controlling ramp deck with good midrange blockers, maybe this does the trick, but I have my doubts.

Unfriendly Fire

Limited: 3.0

Being able to hit the opponent makes this a card I’m happy to see, much like any good friend. It’s fine to have multiples, and even though it’s not the most efficient card in the world, you are never cutting it.

Wily Goblin

Limited: 1.0

Maybe this makes waves in Constructed, but I don’t see it in Limited. It’s too small and too hard to cast early, making it a card without a home.

Top 5 Red Commons

5. Storm Fleet Pyromancer
4. Thrash of Raptors
3. Headstrong Brute
2. Unfriendly Fire
1. Firecannon Blast

Red’s commons drop off very quickly after Brute, with Raptors and Pyromancer being cards I don’t want to take early. Firecannon Blast is great, so that at least helps, but red is shallow, as it often is.

4 thoughts on “Ixalan Limited Set Review: Red”

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